Sam's Guilt

It only took a second to happen and then Sam realized that he had caused the death of his only brother. Looking to where Dean was lying on the ground he suddenly was overcome with a blinding pain in his head and the three vampires that had seconds before been within touching distance flew backward as if pushed by some unseen and powerful hand. The ugliest of the three which had been the only one that Sam had even initially seen landed hard against a tree and suddenly had a rather thick three limb protruding from the center of its chest. And as Sam watched it disintegrated and turned to ash.

He turned over his brother's body and grabbed the holy water and stakes from his pockets. The second of the trio began to advance on him and feeling a fury like none other in his life he kicked at it and his foot connected with its chest with a sickening crack. That gave him all the time that he needed to jump over it and plant a stake where its non beating heart was. He watched with no satisfaction as it too turned to ash. He turned and looked back to where Dean was lying and watched as the last of the undead inched closer to his brother looking at Dean with interest. He uncapped the holy water and threw it in its face and while the thing was screaming and clawing Sam stepped forward and finished it off as well.

He then fell to his knees on the ground next to Dean and began to sob. "Oh my god Dean I am so sorry, I didn't mean for this to happen."

He rested his head on Dean's chest and continued to sob. And then he felt it, it almost felt like Deans chest was moving as if he were still breathing. "Dean oh please don't be dead…please."

He felt for a pulse in his brother's neck and couldn't believe when he found a very faint rhythm. He got behind Dean and carefully wrapping both arms around his chest he drug him to the car. As gently as he could manage he got his brother into the front seat and then ran around the car and got in himself. He pulled out his cel phone and called for directions to the nearest hospital and then drove like the devil himself were on their tail. He had almost gotten there when he heard Dean cough and then moan. "Sammy what…what…?"

Sam took the time to look at his brother quickly and noticed that he was bleeding pretty heavily from somewhere on the back of his head. "Listen Dean your hurt but I am getting help for you."

Expecting his tough and tenacious brother to put up a fight about it Sam was horrified when he said, "Okay" and closed his eyes again.

Sammy took his eyes off the road that was flying by alarmingly fast one more time to look at Dean. "Damn it Dean don't you die on me. Do you understand me? If you do I will so kick your ass."

Sammy realized that he was crying now and was only slightly relieved when Dean tried to laugh. "Okay Francis whatever you say."

They went a little further when he heard Dean groan. "Hurts Sammy."

Now the terror took over again, for Dean to admit that he was in pain he must be dying for sure. "Almost there bro just hang on alittle longer."

Sam pulled into the ambulance bay of the hospital and he ran in hollering for some help which came in the form of two big orderlies and a gurney. They carefully pulled Dean out of the car and Sam was again horrified to hear him yell in pain when they moved him. He walked alongside the gurney for as long as he could until a nurse in scrubs stopped him. "I have to go with him that is my brother. Please."

Sam realized that he didn't want to hurt this woman but if she tried to keep him from Dean he might not have a choice. She looked at him as if she knew this. "Come on over here in this little office with me and try to calm down okay?"

Sam looked wild eyed to where Dean had just been taken. "Look son I know that you are upset but if you really want to help your brother you will follow me and tell me what happened so that we can help him. First of all my name is Kathy and yours is?"

He looked at her as if she had lost her mind but knew that in order to get back to Dean he had to do this. "Sam, Sam Jones and that is my brother Dean."

She sat down at the computer terminal and started typing. "And what happened to Dean tonight Sam?"

Sam searched his brain looking for something that would fit and yet sound all right. "We were going to a cabin our friend owns in the woods and he tripped over a fallen tree branch or something and then he fell down a pretty steep embankment with lots of rocks and branches and when I got to him he was unconscious."

It seemed to Sam as if that satisfied her and she asked all the other normal questions, which he lied his way through getting more and more frantic with every one. "Please can't I see my brother now?"

She looked at him with sympathy and picked up the phone calling back to the nurse's station and asking the same question she had just asked. "I'm sorry Sam they are still working on him right now. The doctor said he will be out to speak to you just as soon as he can. Why don't you have a seat in our waiting room for now?"

Giving him a look of sympathy she asked him if he wanted something to drink. He declined and went to sit in the hard plastic chairs and though with a sickening feeling of the last time he had been waiting in the ER for his brother. He remembered the way he had felt when the last ER doctor had come out and told him that it wasn't likely that Dean would live past a few months. He put his head in his hands and prayed not ashamed of the errant tears that would streak down his face of their own accord. Because he knew beyond any doubt that this was his fault.

He allowed his mind to wander to the events leading up to what had happened. They had heard about vampiric activity which could be traced back to one very old and very dangerous vampire that Dean couldn't seem to wait to get his hands on. There plan was to go to the place where it had made the most of its kills and wait for it to show up while Dean was live bait. Sammy would then take it out with the crossbow. Dean had gone over the plan so many times that Sam had finally told him to shut the hell up.

As always Sam was supposed to do the due diligence that went along with the job attempting to find anything that he could about this killer before they got involved in battle with it. But for some reason that morning Sam had been tired and not exactly to happy in general and had really given the research thing less than his best effort. He already knew that if he had persisted that he might have found some clue that would have prevented the ambush that they had walked (well driven) into like for example the fact that this particular vampire had a mate that he always traveled with.

It was this mate that Dean had taken out as soon as the vampires had descended upon him. And the older vampire had bellowed in rage at the death of his mate. He and his two friends had begun to beat Dean and Sam was powerless to stop it. Add to that it the crossbow had malfunctioned because he hadn't done as Dean had told him and re-aligned the site properly after the last time they had used it. That one mistake had given the undead the chance to have a few minutes to play some football using Dean as the ball. And by the time Sam had the crossbow ready his brother was already down and the damage was done by these blood hungry bastards.

He had thought for sure that Dean was dead and that was when apparently his telekinetic powers had kicked in and he had thrown the vampires off of his brother. The whole thing had been over and done in a matter of seconds it seemed, but now Dean was hurt and maybe even dying still and it was his fault. How many times did he have to be told the importance of doing his part of their job correctly? He put his head into his hands and allowed free reign for the tears that he had been fighting. Oh God when were they going to tell him how Dean was?

"Excuse me are you Mr. Jones brother?"

Sam leapt to his feet and looked at the Doctor standing in front of him. "Yes sir I am, is he all right?"

The words came out in a rush and Sam felt like his heart was going to beat out of his chest. "Well he has sustained some pretty serious injuries although none of them look to be life threatening. It almost looks as if someone worked him over pretty well. You wouldn't know anything about that son would you?"

Sam all but sagged with relief at the Doctors prognosis. "No sir he just fell."

The doctor nodded "Well that's the same thing he told me so…anyway he has a concussion, and several broken ribs and his shoulder was dislocated when he first came in. I have to tell you your brother is a real trooper. We put his shoulder back into place without any pain medication at all. And he had a cut on the back of his head which required about fifteen stitches to close."

"So he's gonna live then?" Sam didn't fight the tears that streaked down his face and seeing how distraught he was the doctor put a consoling hand on his shoulder.

"He's going to be just fine. I would like to keep him overnight but he is having a fit about that. I would consider releasing him if you tell me that someone will provide pretty constant care for the next few days."

Sam nodded extremely happy that there was something that he could do to help Dean. "I'll take care of him until he's better."

The doctor nodded. "Would you like to see him now, I'll take you back."

Sam nodded and shook the doctor's hand. "Thank you so much for taking care of him."

As Sam walked back into the depths of the emergency room with the doctor he was shaking inside. How would he ever be able to face his brother after the many ways he had let Dean down. And most importantly the price Dean had to pay for Sam's mistakes. The doctor pointed to a curtained off cubicle and Sam took a deep breath pulling back the curtain and walking in. Dean had an IV in his arm, his left shoulder in a sling and the bruising on his face was already pretty impressive, and Sam felt sick to his stomach.

"Hey." He could feel himself trembling and Dean looked him over closely.

"You can come over here Sammy I'm not gonna bite."

Sam walked over to where he was and felt two tears roll down his face. "This is my fault Dean."

Dean attempted to shake his head and winced "Francis if you turn this into a chick flick moment I'm gonna smack ya with my good hand…swear to God."

Dean said it in a very harsh voice but he covered Sammy's hand with his own and squeezed reassuringly. "But it was- you don't know."

Now Dean frowned at his younger brother. "We'll talk about it all after I get out of here okay, until then just try to forget about it. Tell me one thing though did they all get away?"

Sammy shook his head. "No I sorta killed all of them."

Dean smiled at his brother. "Well look at that our baby is growing up and killing things that go bump in the night all on his own. I am so proud this is one to write in the baby book."

Dean tried to laugh but the action caused him to grab his side and wince. Sam tried to smile but he just couldn't he was sick with the guilt over what he had done and failed to do that had resulted in Dean getting hurt like this.

Noticing Sam's reaction Dean sighed. "All right Junior what the hell is going on in that big brain of yours now?"

"I told you this is all my fault."

Dean looked Sam over and didn't fail to notice the fresh tears on his cheeks. Crooking his finger he spoke softly to his brother. "Come closer Sammy."

The younger boy's eyes got wide but he leaned in towards his brother and he was amazed when Dean using his good hand smacked him hard on the side of his head. "I told you Samantha that we would discuss this later."

Sam rubbed the sore spot on the side of his head. "Owww Dean, what the hell?"

"Snap out of it we will talk about it all later, but if you make yourself sick then who will take care of me. I realize that I have already gotten the phone numbers of all the hot nurses here but still, I wanted to save those for when I was all better and had all my strength."

Sam sat down in the chair next to the cart and waited for Dean to be released. Finally after mountains of paper work and two more hours Sam went out to get the car and watched feeling helpless as an orderly pushed Dean out in a wheelchair and helped him into the car. Finally after a stop at the first all night drug store that they found so that Sam could fill all of Dean's prescriptions they arrived back at their rented cabin. He got Dean in to the room and then into bed feeling miserable each and every time Dean moved and winced.

He knew that the doctor didn't want Dean to have any pain medication just yet due to the concussion but he worried about how much his brother was hurting. At the hospital they had instructed him to wake Dean up every two hours throughout the night also because of the head injury. Although he didn't worry about falling asleep himself because he was pretty sure that he might never fall asleep again. Every time he closed his eyes he saw the events of the night. And given all of that he really didn't know how he would ever be able to forgive himself.


Dean sat and rested his head against the headboard and with the remote turned off the television. He knew that if he had to watch one more damn cartoon filled with gratuitous violence that he couldn't participate in Sammy would have to peel him off of the ceiling. He looked around the cabin and wondered where his brother had been getting his cash from because they had been here for more than a week now and not only had Sam apparently taken care of that he was also going all June Cleaver to his Beav and feeding him nutritious meals three times a day.

But on the whole Sam had Dean really worried. He looked like the walking dead and he just wouldn't stop hovering over Dean. Yesterday Dean had actually slapped Sam's hand away when he felt his forehead. He pushed to his feet and bent over a little testing the constant pain in his side. While it was no longer stabbing in nature it was still there just enough to let him know not to try anything stupid. Which of course was exactly what he had planned.

He carefully hoisted the case with the weapons onto his bed and then took a moment to recover from the agonizing pain that movement had caused him in the vicinity of his ribs.
And then carefully sitting down next to the case he lovingly ran his hand along the surface and opened it up. "Ahhh hello my little lovelies how have you been?"

He began taking the guns out one at a time and laying them onto the cleaning cloth. He was so engrossed in what he was doing that he didn't even hear Sam come in.

"Dean what the hell do you think your doing?"

Dean shot him a sneer. "What the hell does it look like I'm doing Junior?"

Much to Dean's amazement Sam walked over and slammed the lid on the case shut. "I leave you alone for half an hour to get lunch and you lift this heavy case by yourself. What were you thinking Dean?"

Now Dean looked to his younger brother with deadly intensity. "I was thinking that if I don't hunt down and kill something bad and scary soon I might just go insane little brother."

Sam crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head. "No way you aren't ready yet. All of your injuries aren't healed."

Now Dean felt his temper go. "No Francis you aren't ready yet is how I see it. And uncross your arms cause your Dad impersonation needs some work."

Sam did as Dean had asked but didn't look to happy about it. "Now sit down and let's talk about the night that I got hurt."

Dean didn't miss the terrified look that flashed across his brother's face. "Not yet Dean please…"

Walking over to Sam's bed Dean sat down and rested his back against the headboard feeling as comfortable as he could. "Sit down we are gonna talk about it."

Sam stood feet planted firmly and clearly not wanting to do as his brother had asked.

Dean had been in charge of things for a while now and he knew that Sam was scared and so borrowing a page from Sam's book he tried the dad thing. He lowered his voice and put on a stern face. "Now Samuel."

And wonder of wonders Sam immediately sat down on the end of the bed. Not wanting to loose the momentum he growled at Sam to start talking and he did. He told Dean all about how he hadn't really put his best effort into researching things and how he didn't have either a stake or any holy water on him at the time. This admission Dean was sure caused his blood pressure to shoot up fifty points at least.

"So you went in there unprepared and without any tools and hey did you at least have some garlic?"

Sam looked sheepishly at his brother realizing how much he had to atone for. "I had pizza for lunch."

Dean shot to his feet ignoring the stabbing pain and paced. "That's not all Dean."

Narrowing his eyes he looked towards his little brother. "Spill it."

Now Sam groaned "Come on I don't know if I can tell you this or not."

Dean didn't fail to notice that two tears rolled down Sam's face and he felt bad for him. Sitting down carefully next to him he shook his head. "Come on now dude you know you could tell me anything - anything at all. Remember when I was ten and I got a new bow and arrow set for my birthday and you and your friend Jeffrey broke it into two pieces. You told me that."

Now Sam looked at him with amazement. "Yeah and you tried to smack the crap out of me too, Dad had to pull you off of me and unless I forget you got your ass beat for that too."

Dean just shook his head "Yeah but you told me. Okay maybe that was a bad example."

Now Dean looked serious. "Look Sammy things aren't ever going to be normal again between us until you tell me. I look at you and can see the guilt. And no shit dude you are starting to look like the Cryptkeeper. Do you even sleep at all?"

Now he saw Sam drop his head and softly admit that he didn't. "I have a job at nights at a bar until five in the morning. They pay me in cash under the table."

Now Dean looked at him like he had lost his mind. "Since when?"

"Since the night after you got hurt. That's why I always make sure you have your pain pills early so that you are out when I leave."

Dean was surprised at the unexpected stab that admission took at him. He was the older brother and god damn it *he* took care of them. Ignoring that he looked to Sam. "Please Sammy tell me the rest of it."

After a few minutes of stalling Sam finally gave in and told Dean the rest of what had happened that night. When he got to the part about the crossbow Dean got to his feet again and started to pace while Sam just put his head into his hands and cried. Finally Dean sat down next to him again and threw an arm around his shoulder. "What a dumb assed thing to do Junior."

Now Sam just nodded and wiped his face on his sleeve. "That's not all either."

Dean raised an eyebrow and looked again to Sam. "More, there's more it's a freakin wonder I'm alive."

Not wanting to but knowing that he needed to Sam told Dean about telekinetically throwing the vampires. "Why do you think you were able to do that?"

Now Sam frowned at his older brother. "Apparently it only happens when you are getting close to death and I don't think I can handle another one of those so I don't think as a skill that is gonna be too helpful."

Both brothers sat on the end of the bed deep in thought and Dean knew that he had to ask the obvious. "So when are we gonna get back to our real life then. I will be ready soon and we need to get back to it."

Dean was not surprised to see Sam vehemently shaking his head. "No Dean you're not ready yet and I don't think I can. Not yet, let's just stay here for a while and…"

"NO! You need to get back to it Sam, I'm not gonna get hurt again. You will do better next time."

Sam looked as lost as Dean had ever seen him look. "No I can't, please don't make me I almost got you killed don't you understand how that feels? I almost got you killed."

Sam put his head back into his hands and wept and Dean could feel the guilt coming off of him in waves. "C'mon lay down here and try to sleep for a few minutes. You're exhausted on top of everything else."

"But Dean..."

Now Dean was in a fury fueled by his inability to help his brother and it occurred to him that this must have been exactly how Sam had felt. "Lay your ass down there Sam or else…"

Dean realized that in his still wounded condition or else might not be all that threatening but he gave it a shot and much to his relief it worked and Sam lay down and Dean rubbed his back for the minute or two it took before he was soundly sleeping.

Dean quietly got up and put on his coat being careful to not wake Sammy who he knew was a light sleeper. Cautiously opening the cabin door he walked to the office where he pulled out his cell phone and started punching numbers in. After about a half an hour and some success later he walked back to the cabin and quietly let himself in relieved to see Sam still sprawled out on his bed asleep. Dean thought about what he had just done and hoped with all he had that it would work.

Sam slept for about two hours and then woke up screaming from a particularly vicious nightmare. Dean was also exhausted as both the emotions and the physical activity of the day had been tiring but he was too worried about Sam to let it show. Both of them shared the lunch that Sam had brought hours earlier and then Sam gave Dean his pain pills which Dean placed under his tongue and pretended to swallow. Knowing that they should knock him out Dean sat back and pretended to doze and within a few minutes the pretense became reality as he could fight it no longer.

He woke up to find Sam getting ready to go out. "Where are you going?"

Sam looked determined. "Well since you know about it I don't have to hide anymore and I am going to work early then."

Now Dean could feel himself getting angry again. "You don't have to do this Sam."

And much to his surprise he found himself faced with an angry Sam as well. "The hell I don't, I got us into this and I will get us out. Your dinner is on the table Dean don't forget to take your medicine."

Dean was right in the middle of telling Sam what he could do with the medicine when Sam opened the door and left.

Dean grudgingly ate what his brother had left him and went back to sleep realizing that rest was the only way he was going to heal. He woke up several hours later and for the rest of the night looked often at his watch and wondered. Finally at ten o'clock he took one pain pill and fell back asleep waking when Sam came in at five in the morning. He rolled over and pretended to be asleep until Sam had settled himself into bed and Dean knew from his breathing that he was asleep. Carefully as not to wake his sleeping brother Dean got up and got dressed and sat in the chair waiting.

Around eight o'clock Dean let himself quietly out of the cabin and walked to the office where he found a familiar figure waiting. "Well you look like hell Dean."

Now he couldn't help the smile that crossed his face. "Yeah but you should see the other guy."

He allowed himself to be pulled into a bear hug and grimaced at the pressure on his injuries. "Are the ribs still hurting son?"

"Like a bitch Dad but only when I breathe."

Smiling at his son's attempt to downplay his injuries he simply nodded. "Is he still asleep? Come on lets take alittle walk and you can fill me in on everything that's happened."

It was almost an hour later when Dean let them both into the cabin and John walked to where his youngest son was still sleeping and gently shook his shoulder. "Sammy wake up buddy."

Sam came out of a deep sleep and wiped his eyes as if his father standing before him was a dream. "Dad what are you doing here."

He stood up and looked as if he still didn't believe his eyes. John hugged his youngest and like Dean was shocked at how badly he looked. Sam was always long and lean and yet he looked like he hadn't eaten in a few days and the circles under his eyes were impressive. "Go on into the bathroom and get dressed there are some things we need to talk about."

Sam looked as if he wasn't gonna budge. "But…"

"Go on now." John gave Sam a push in the direction of the bathroom.

Both father and son looked towards the bathroom in worry. Within minutes Sam emerged dressed and looking puzzled. "So Dad, what are you doing here and how did you even know how to find us?"

Sam didn't miss the look that was exchanged between his father and his brother. "I called him."

"You called him Dean? You fucking called him as in hi Dad it's Dean how have you been and where in the hell are you?" First looking with fury to his brother Sam then turned to his father.

"What the hell Dad do you only give that special number out to registered military personnel like Robocop here? I could have used that info on several occasions in my life lately. Like when Dean was in the hospital at death's door, or when I was sitting in the ER wondering if my fuck up had caused my brother to die, and all the time you had a God dammed number Dean?" Sam made a run at his brother and John stepped in between him and pushed Sam away.

"It wasn't like that Sam, he might have gotten in touch with me and he might not have. As it stands it was just luck that he did. Now I have already had enough of that attitude Samuel we need to talk."

Sam clearly was well beyond all reasoning. "Fuck you Dad. Talk to Dean your good son, the one who has your phone number."

John thought that at least he wouldn't feel badly about what was to happen, because Sammy clearly was out of bounds and even Dean just stood there with a shocked look on his face. "Dean take a walk, a long walk."

Ever his brother's greatest fan Dean tried to intervene. "But Dad..."

"Yeah be a good little soldier and do as Daddy says and run along boy."

Dean stepped towards Sam breathing hard. "If this were any other time little brother I would kick your ass."

"Ohhhhhhhh I am so trembling in fear here. Wait you wouldn't anyway, you would probably just call Dad to do it for you."

"That's it Sam I am gonna smack the crap out of you."

John stepped in between his two furious sons facing who he thought was the greater threat and this time it was Sammy. He placed his back to Dean and tried to diffuse the situation. "Dean go on and get some breakfast."

Dean reached around him to try and smack Sam and John turned around and gave Dean a solid shove backward mindful of his ribs. "Did I not make myself clear here now go?"

Not caring much for his father's tone of voice Dean took another step backward his eyes never leaving Sam's the whole time. "I sincerely hope Dad straightens your ass out Sammy cause you are turning into a real jerk."

Sam lunged again towards Dean and as he grabbed for his brother he landed solidly against his fathers back. John having had enough planted a hand in the middle of Dean's chest and then reached behind him and opened the door and physically pushed him out.

He gave Dean a look that neither boy would have ignored and closed the cabin door behind him. Turning around he found himself face to face with his younger son and suddenly finding himself as angry as they both were he grabbed Sam's upper arm and pushed him in the direction of the bed that he just got out of. "Sit. Your. Ass. Down. Now!!"

Clearly enunciating each word John was pleased to see Sam obey. Looking at him again it was very obvious that Sam was in pain and he needed to help him work through this. He sent a silent prayer up for both patience and wisdom and turned to his furious son sitting unhappily on the bed.

John stared at the interior of the cabin and took a deep breath and squared his shoulders the same way that he did every time he faced a hard fight. He had noticed that Dean had picked the habit up from him and while it pleased him to be emulated it bothered him that his son ever had to go into a battle. Either or his sons for that matter. And this fight he was about to face was the most important one of all because this involved Sam. While he knew that the boys thought he favored Dean because they were so similar truth be told he loved Sam with an intensity that actually frightened him sometimes and he could not, no would not let this boy go down the path that he had chosen in the last few days.

He turned and looked at Sam, really looked at him and underneath the fatigue and anger he saw fear. If he had to guess it could be that he was afraid of the challenge he had just knowingly issued to his father, afraid that at the end of things that he wouldn't be loved anymore or maybe afraid that he already wasn't treasured as much as his brother. But for whatever reason it was there. And John Winchester knew just how to calm his son's fears. In the end it wouldn't be pleasant for either of them but he knew it was necessary.

"First of all Sam Dean didn't have a number to reach me. He tried to contact someone that I know and see from time to time. He has tried it in the past and it hasn't helped at all. This time it was just sheer luck. He was desperate son, because he knew that you were in such a bad place."

Sam looked doubtfully at his father. "So you expect me to believe that it was just a lucky shot? That Dean didn't really scamper out and send up the Bat signal and you came running just for him?"

He saw the defiance on his son's handsome face before he uttered "I don't believe you."

John sighed, having been afraid that would be the case. "When have I lied to you Sam?"

He saw a momentary shift in the fury on Sam's face. "Just tell me when son. Just name one time. Because for that to be true I would have to lying and I'm not. If you really believe me to be a liar just say so."

He literally held his breath until Sam shook his head no. "I don't think that you are a liar Dad."

"Then you owe both Dean and I an apology for your earlier behavior. Your brother was worried about you Sammy, he would have tried anything to get you help just like you tried anyway you could to help him when he got hurt."

He saw the pain lurking behind Sammy's smug expression. "Or maybe when he needs you it is just more important than when I need you. What are you- still nursing Dean Dad?"

John put his head down and counted to ten and then at ten headed for twenty. He would not let Sam provoke him. It was becoming readily apparent that this son of his needed a major attitude adjustment and right now. This was little more than sibling rivalry gone bad along with some smart ass thrown in for good measure. But it was high time to put a stop to it.

"All right Samuel that is it. I have had it with your childish temper tantrum and that we are going to fix."

John walked over to the bed where Sam sat and unbuckled and pulled off his belt. He saw Sammy's eyes go wide but yet just like his older brother he continued to push. "Do you really think that's gonna scare me Dad?"

"Well actually Sammy boy I don't think it's gonna scare you, but I do think it's gonna smart pretty good though. In fact I know that it is and after we're all done we'll talk about whether or not you would like to make any more smart assed comments to me just for the sake of being hateful."

Although Sam tried to appear defiant John could feel the fear on his boy. Dean had gotten punished several times with the belt before due to his stubborn nature but his younger son never had. John hardened his heart to perform the task before him as always not wanting to but realizing that he needed too. Looking to Sam he could see tears lurking behind the smug look on his face and thought for probably the first time in Sam's life that he and Dean weren't so very different after all.

"Those jeans need to come down son." He saw Sam's eyes widen and for a moment he hoped that the boy wouldn't try to talk him out of what he was going to do. But to his credit Sam did as he was asked with trembling fingers and John guided his tall son across his lap wishing with all he had that this wasn't about to happen. But if raising Dean had taught him anything it was that sometimes a child needed to test boundaries and Sam had done a stellar job of that. And he would do a stellar job in return of showing this genius of his just how bad an idea this change of attitude had been.

He adjusted Sam across his lap as well as he could got a tight hold on his waist and brought the belt down. He gave the boy five quick swats and realized that they were in for a long session when he refused to even cry. So the next five he put alittle more force behind and he could feel Sam trembling with suppressed emotion. Knowing that he needed to get Sam to give in and accept this punishment he laid four swats across the backs of his thighs. "Let it go Sammy, I can keep this up all night if I need to."

The combination of the painful sting and his father's open invitation was all Sam needed and hung his head and wept. Giving him five more John stopped. "So do you think you are going to having an attitude problem again anytime soon son?"

Sam vigorously shook his head no and attempted to stand up. John sighed thinking that he hated this part the worst. "Did you think I was done son? Fraid not, there is still the little matter of you telling me to f off. Do you remember saying that Sam?"

And quickly before the boy had any more time to think about it John had his boxers down and had laid five solid smacks with his hand onto the reddened behind and grimaced as he heard the sounds of his son's crying increase. He quickly returned the boxers and his jeans to their previous position not wanting to embarrass the boy any more than he already had and then pushed him to a sitting position and waited while he adjusted trying to find as comfortable a position as he could in the situation.

Worried about how badly he was crying John wrapped him in a hug and rubbed his hand up and down the length of his back. "It'll be all right sweetheart. Just take some deep breaths."

Sam did as he was told and then John lifted the tear filled face up off of his shoulder to look into his eyes. "No more of this Sammy, I love you but I will not tolerate this kind of disrespect. You know that I love you every bit as much as I love Dean. I am sorry if I haven't been around to show you that as much as I should have but never, ever doubt that."

It must have been what Sammy needed to hear because he laid his head back down on John's shoulder and began sobbing and other than rubbing his back and neck for the most part John just let him cry it out.

Finally after a little while Sam seemed to be settling down and John knew that he needed to get to the rest of it and he stood up and looked down at his youngest. "Now that takes care of your lousy attitude Sam now we will discuss all that happened the night that your brother got hurt and see if you have any more coming."

Sam wiped his face and looked at his father as if he had lost his mind. "Any more Dad? What does that mean?"

John looked into the tear filled face with regret. "That means you may just be taking another trip over my knee Sammy boy what did you think it meant?"

Now Sam was sure his heart was going to pound out of his chest and feeling all of about five he looked at his father. "But…but I don't want any more, you can't…"

Sam would have been embarrassed at how juvenile and whiney that sounded if he hadn't been in such a panic. 'I'll be the judge about if I can or not. Now if I were you I would start to be very co-operative right about now, because that is likely to be the only thing that is going to help. Now tell me about the night that Dean got hurt and don't leave anything out."

John stood up then and Sam remained sitting uncomfortably on the bed in front of him. The boy began the story and told it all to his dad who remained pretty much impassive the entire time until he got to the part about the crossbow. "So who usually takes care of the crossbow Sam?"

Sam tried to not fidget but was not successful. "Sam?"

Now he just sighed suddenly realizing that the whole time since Dean had gotten hurt he had wanted to be punished for his mistakes and now that it seemed imminent it suddenly didn't sound so good at all.

"Well Dean does sometimes but more often he tells me to do it."

John nodded having already suspected as much. "Have you ever not taken care of it before?"

Sam felt as if the axe had just fallen because he knew that the answer to the question was gonna finish him. "No I always do I just got lazy this time I guess."

"And are you likely to ever forget again son?"

Now Sam put his face in his hands and wept in earnest. "No sir I won't ever forget seeing Dean get hurt because of me, because I was too tired or distracted or just lazy to be careful with his life."

John sat down again and embraced his weeping son and patted him on the back. "It'll be all right Sammy, Dean is gonna be just fine."

Sam raised his head off of his fathers shoulder and looked him in the eye. "So you forgive me then."

John pulled him close again. "Of course I forgive you son, none of it was intentional."

Sammy sighed a sigh of relief. "Thank God I don't think I could have handled anymore with the…the… punishment thing."

It amused him that Sam could even bring himself to say the word spanking. "Oh make no mistake there is going to be more spanking you have clearly earned that but I forgive you and so does your brother."

He saw Sam pale at that pronouncement and without any more discussion he pulled the boy back over his lap and over his jeans brought his hand down hard ten more times. He knew that it must have hurt like the devil but it was over quickly and once again he pulled Sam to a sitting position and hugged him allowing him the tears that he needed to shed. After a few minutes he could feel the crying ease and he placed a kiss on the top of Sam's head. "Are you okay buddy?"

Now Sam looked at him and looking all of about four years old. "That was awful."

Now John smiled. "I know but even with all the mistakes you've made you have done some really good things to."

Sam looked at him like he had lost him mind. "For example you saved Dean that night both when the vampires were trying to kill him and then after by getting him into the car and to a hospital. And then you took care of him and even got a job working nights without sleep to make sure there was enough money. I am very proud of you Sam, in all those ways you did all the right things. You are both a good brother and a good son."

He saw Sam duck his head to hide the sudden tears that sprang to his eyes again. "I love you. Now how about crawling back into this bed for a little while?"

Looking into his son's green eyes he saw resistance again. "Not asking Sam, telling."

Now for the first time since Sam had gotten out of bed he saw him smile. "Oh I don't know how I missed that Dad."

After Sam was back in bed even though he was fully dressed John pulled the covers up over him. "Dad could we skip the bedtime story this time?"

He smiled at his son's apparent return of spirit. "Sure I have to go and find Robocop anyway and make sure he's all right."

Sam groaned at the forgotten slam that he had thrown at his brother in the heat of anger. "I wonder if he still wants to smack the crap out of me."

Now John patted his shoulder. "Don't worry I'll take care of Dean you just go back to sleep for a while."

Sam did as he was told and within minutes was actually asleep again clearly exhausted by all the emotions of the morning. John sat on the side of the bed for a while longer and finally stood up hoping that Sam had understood all the lessons that he had tried to teach him today. And hoping that Sam was going to be the only son that would need to learn any lessons today.

************************************************************

John walked into the diner across the street from the cabins and wasn't surprised to see Dean in a booth in the corner with a fresh faced long legged waitress doing everything but sitting on his lap. He shook his head and smiled at the effect his son had on the fairer sex, well actually both of his boys the only difference being that Dean was aware of it and Sam wasn't. He slid into the seat across from Dean and was not happy to see a grayish tint to his skin. "Hey."

The waitress acknowledged his presence and asked if he wanted anything and he ordered a cup of coffee. After the night and morning he had already had a fifth of something would have been better still but he would have to make due with the java. Looking to his eldest he knew it was once again time to grab the bull by the horns. "How long since you have had one of these?"

He pulled the medication bottles out of his jacket pocket and set them in front of Dean. He watched unhappily as Dean shrugged and then winced. "I'm not sure I just take them when Sammy gives 'em to me."

John again nodded. "So how was it having him take care of you for a change?"

He couldn't have missed the spark that question ignited in his son's eyes. "It sucked, I mean like mondo sucked too not just a little."

"I don't suppose you might have at any time thanked him for all his trouble or anything like that did you?"

Now he saw Dean's face and neck become red with embarrassment on being called on the carpet about his manners. "No I was too busy busting his chops about him turning into Florence Nightingale."

John just sighed and nodded and wondered how different his life would have been if he had had daughters instead of sons. He looked for the bottle that had the pain pills and shook two onto the table. "Take these."

He saw something flicker behind Deans eyes and knew it was gonna be the hard way yet again. "I don't need them."

He leaned in close enough so that only Dean would hear what he was about to say. "You are going to take these, and go back to the cabin with me and go to bed for as long as you need. And if you refuse I am going to take you for a little drive and find a quiet spot in the woods and blister your tail for you. Understood?"

He wasn't surprised to see Dean pale. "But I'm injured Dad."

Now John nodded in agreement "Yeah your ribs and your left shoulder and the back of your head. I wasn't planning on spanking any of those areas. So don't worry."

Now Dean leaned back and looked like he was debating whether his dad would actually make good on that threat or not. And once again Dean had to prove that stubborn should have been his middle name.

"Okay then how about this? I am way too old for that now."

John gave his son a long look. "How'd that argument work for you last time Dean?"

John was pleased when his son dropped his head and a blush came across his face. "Okay then how about if I refuse to let you?"

Now John felt his own temper make an appearance, and spoke in a low and rather deadly voice. "And how'd *that* work for you last time? And of course with those ribs I don't think it would be a very long struggle and it wouldn't go well for you either."

"Okay fine then!" With an angry and brisk action Dean picked up the pills off of the table and threw them into his mouth swallowing them with a drink of water. "Happy now?"

John fought a smile, as he was indeed pleased. "Ecstatic."

"Well before I get so relaxed and pain free that you have to drag me out of here do you want to tell me about the brat." Now John did smile at Dean's description of his brother.

"So did you wallop his oh so very deserving butt for him? Repeatedly I hope."

John knew that Dean was still just angry at his brother. "You do know that this whole thing has been very tough on him don't you?"

Now he actually saw his son bristle. "Yeah seeing those blood sucking fiends trying to kick my ribs into my lungs while he tried to do routine maintenance on the crossbow musta been really rough on the poor little tyke."

John frowned at Dean suddenly tired of dealing with attitude and he shook his head. "With that attitude boy I am sure that there is a drive out to the country with me in your near future. You know that isn't what has upset you so much. You are upset because he said some hateful things which hurt your feelings."

Dean looked back at his father with disgust evident on his face. "You think that I'm mad cause he hurt my feelings? What am I a chick?"

John continued to give his son the harsh glare, which meant that he wasn't buying it at all. "Okay, okay maybe my feelings mighta been a little hurt, I mean I was the guy who was injured and suffering and suddenly I'm the bad guy too."

John could see that the strength it took to make that admission had almost worn Dean out. "He thought that you had a way to reach me and that you and I kept that from him. His anger was somewhat justified Dean."

John saw the incredulous look that Dean flashed him upon hearing that statement. "How come when I go all terminator on you and pull something like this you are never quite this understanding?"

Dean wasn't surprised to see a warning finger being shook in his face. "Trust me he paid the price for that and some other things too. I don't think he's gonna get caught unprepared anytime soon and I think he has finally forgiven himself for your getting hurt. We had sort of a breakthrough with that."

Now Dean's eyes got dark and he was momentarily quiet. "But he's……well he's okay right?"

Now John fought a smile at how quickly Dean reverted to the worried older brother. "No Dean I killed him so now you are an only child."

Dean grinned, "Cool I always wondered what that would be like!"

Noticing again the pretty waitress giving his son the eye he spoke to him. "Are you done here son? Got all their numbers already?"

Dean smiled again and patted his shirt pocket. "Close to my heart."

The comment caused John to roll his eyes and chuckle.

They both stood up to leave and Dean swayed slightly. "Whoa medication has definitely kicked in."

John closed the distance between them in an instant and put a hand on Dean's arm to steady him. "Come on let's get you back into bed son."

They exited the small diner and walked across the street quietly letting themselves into their cabin. Dean was surprised at how exhausted he was when really he hadn't done anything much at all today. And his ribs were screaming.

The older brother noticed with a smile that Sam was sleeping sprawled on his stomach and their dad's belt was lying at the foot of the bed. Even though he was still mad at him he sincerely hoped that their dad hadn't used that on Sam. He turned to see his father holding back the covers and motioning for him to climb in and he did as he was told but rolled his eyes. He vowed to himself that he wouldn't fall asleep just to spite his dad but within minutes he was softly snoring.

Sam opened his eyes and looked at the clock radio noting with surprise that it was two o'clock in the afternoon.

"Crap" he rolled over to get out of bed and his breath caught in his throat and he rolled back onto his stomach. Staying on his stomach he carefully climbed out of bed. It was then that he noticed his dad sitting in the chair watching him. "I was supposed to be at work an hour ago."

He reached back and rubbed his behind. "Damn it that still hurts."

John just continued to look at him. "It's supposed to still hurt that's how I know that it worked. And as far as work goes I called and told them that you quit."

Sam looked at his dad with disbelief. "You what!! I needed that job, we need the money."

John stood up and took a step toward Sam who took a big step backward. "I really am surprised Sammy I thought we had covered your attitude earlier. Did you need to discuss it again?"

Sam looked at him like he was insane and shook his head "No sir."

"Good then, I have enough cash to take care of things until Dean is back on his feet. Or maybe I should say when I think he's back on his feet. Now I have to go into the little town not far from here and I will be back in a few hours. Why don't you shower and let sleeping beauty rest. He is still in a lot of pain even though he would never admit it."

John walked towards the end of the bed where his jacket was and noticed his belt still on the bed. "Oh I had better put this back on I guess."

"Or burn it." John fought a smile at the disgusted way his son made that comment. Taking a hold of his arm he turned him so that they were face to face.

"That belt didn't punish you Sammy I did."

John couldn't help but smile as his son reached behind and rubbed again. "That distinction sucks Dad."

John put on his jacket and stopped long enough on his way out the door to plant a kiss on the boy's forehead. "Love you Junior."

A little later Sam was coming out of the bathroom where he had showered and changed clothes. Stowing his dirty clothes in a bag he stood up to see Dean sitting up in bed looking at him. "Hey."

"Oh so now we're talking again, tell me Francis still want a piece of me?"

Sam looked at his brother closely and was relieved to see that he didn't seem mad anymore. "No, look Dean I'm sorry I shouldn't have said that stuff to you or dad and I don't want to fight anymore either."

Now Dean raised an eyebrow "Good damn thing cause I'm thinking the day you can kick my ass I need to get a sex change operation and be done with it."

Sam couldn't help the smile that crossed his face at that comment. "Bite me big brother."

"So how bout we both sit down and watch a movie Sammy. Or we could sit down and watch some TV or we could sit down and…what that doesn't appeal to you?"

Seeing that his younger brother wasn't biting he tried another approach. "So what did you do this afternoon? Anything enjoyable? Was it a fun father son activity?"

Now Sam gave him a nasty look. "No it sucked but then you know that cause you've been there lots more than me."

Dean grinned knowing that he had finally gotten to Sam. "Yeah but you have to admit you worked up a pretty good head of steam there sweetheart. Wasn't sure you had it in ya."

Now Sam looked at him amazed. "Are you trying in your own retarded way to tell me that you're proud of me cause I gave dad a hard time and got my ass beat for my trouble?"

Now Dean grinned again. "Yeah kid I guess I am. Welcome to the club."

Sam smacked his own forehead and just shook his head. "Sam I wanted to tell you to that I….well I…I appreciate the way you took care of me the last few days. You did a good job and I shouldn't have been such a jerk about it."

Now Sam stood still unable to say a word. "But I swear to God bro if you try to hug me, I'm gonna smack you."

Now Sam fought the grin at his brother's aversion to all things emotional but unable to stop himself went to Dean for a hug. And after hugging him back Dean shook his head. "Our little secret Dude" and then he punched him on the shoulder.

John let himself into the small cabin and realized with a start that his errand had taken far longer than he thought and he hoped his sons hadn't killed each other in his absence.
He was pleasantly surprised to find them both on Dean's bed playing cards. "Hey dad."

"Hey guys. Listen there is something really unusual going on in the little town where I was this afternoon and well I think we need to go over there tonight."

John looked at Sam as he said it but it was Dean who yelled "ALL RIGHT!"

Both his father and brother looked towards where he was sitting on the bed. "You could not honestly think that I would let you go out with us tonight Dean."

Narrowing his eyes he looked at his father. "What do you mean Dad?"

Now John felt the stirrings of his own temper. "I mean that you are still hurt and on pain medication and no way in hell are you coming with us tonight."

"That was a nasty trick to force me to take the damn pain pills and then use that as a reason to not let me go with you tonight."

John slowly shook his head fighting for control of his anger. "No trick son, even if you hadn't had any pain medication you still would not be going. You are still recovering from some serious injuries."

Dean knew that he was fighting a loosing battle but refused to give his father any satisfaction. "Whatever."

John stepped to the side of the bed. "Give me your car keys Dean."

Now John knew that the boy was good and mad. "What?"

"Did I stutter? Give me your car keys so that five minutes after we leave you don't come after us. Is that not stated clearly enough for you?"

Sam could see that Dean was breathing hard and looked as angry as his dad did. "No."

John placed a hand on his son's hip and gently turned him onto his stomach and landed four hard smacks onto his behind. It happened in a matter of seconds and Sam thought that if he had blinked he might have missed it.

Dean rolled onto his back and fixed his father with another angry stare. John responded by holding out his hand. While he continued to look sternly as his eldest he was sincerely hoping that the boy would just give in because his injuries still worried his father. And just as John had begun to think things were gonna go badly Dean fished into his front jean pocket and handed the keys to his dad. "Good boy."

Now John walked over and picked up the pain medication. "Have you taken any since this morning when I gave them to you?"

Dean looked sullen and muttered no. John shook out two from the container and getting a glass of water he brought them to Dean. "Take these."

Dean looked unhappy but put them into his mouth and swallowed. "Okay open up your mouth and let me see."

Now Sam knew Dean was furious. "What am I fucking four years old dad?"

John held his ground. "Do it."

Sam watched in amazement when his brother opened his mouth and then was told to stick out his tongue and there the pills were. His father sighed and shook his head. "Swallow them this time Dean."

All but grabbing the glass of water out of his father's hand Dean did as he was told. Once again John rubbed his shoulder which Dean shrugged off and then grimaced at the discomfort that angry move had caused him. "Good boy."

Both Sam and his father prepared to go our hunting and within a few minutes Dean was asleep again. They quietly let themselves out of the cabin and Sam was surprised when his father stopped at the Impala and began to let the air out of both front tires. "Dad what are you doing?"

"You don't really think that he just has one set of keys to this thing do you Sam? He probably has three or four stowed in his bags. This is just a precaution for his own sake." They both climbed into Johns vehicle and drove off to face some unspeakable horror and all the while Sam kept thinking that was gonna be nothing compared to facing Dean when they came home later.

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