The three stumbled into the bunker beaten and tired. It had been a rough case and had taken its toll on everyone; physically, mentally, and emotionally. They had been chasing down a spirit who tortured its victims by using their biggest fears or insecurities against them. It had killed 7 people before they had picked up on the case and had nearly killed them before they had stopped it. And although they had taken the bastard out in the end, it left its mark on them, especially Dawn.

She looked down as she trudged her way to her room. She couldn't look either of the boys in the face the whole way back. She was completely shaken up and just needed a little time and space to get her head straight. So she picked up her pajamas and headed to the bathroom to shower.

As she stripped she noticed the gash in her right calf and the giant black bruise on her side indicating at least one broken rib. She sighed heavily wincing at the pain it caused her ribs. Then she climbed into the shower to clean off the blood and dirt of the case.

Once clean, Dawn dressed and pulled out the extra first aid kit that she kept under the sink. She had to stitch up her leg and it wasn't going to be fun. She needed some alcohol before starting in on this job, but she really didn't want to face the guys at the moment. The last thing she needed was them getting pissed at her because she didn't tell them she was hurt, but she really needed the alcohol to clean the wound and to steady herself.

So Dawn took the first aid kit to her room then set off towards the kitchen to grab the whiskey. While on her way back to her room, Sam stopped her to ask if she was okay, having seen the liquor bottle in her hand.

"I'm good. Just need a little nightcap before bed." She lied smoothly.

Sam nodded as if in understanding before saying goodnight.

Dawn let out a relieved breath as she finally closed her door. Then she walked over to the bed and rolled up her pajama pants to reveal an oozing cut. It was now or never for this, so she opened up the first aid kit, sterilized her needle and thread, took a huge swig of whiskey and then poured some on the gash. It stung like holy hell, but she knew that it was clean. After another long drink of whiskey she began sewing on her leg. It didn't take too long to do, but she had to stop several times to catch her breath and to take a few more drinks. But after 20 minutes, she had finished sewing and was wrapping her leg up.

She then got up, quickly and quietly snuck back to the bathroom to replace the first aid kit back where it belonged. She poked her head out of the bathroom door to make sure that no one was in the hall and headed back to her room. Once in her room Dawn sat down on the side of her bed and picked up the whiskey bottle. She had told Sam she needed a nightcap and maybe it wasn't a bad idea. She took a few long swigs of the whiskey before setting the bottle on her nightstand and lying back on her bed. Sleep quickly overtook her.

Suddenly Dawn was back in the house with the spirit standing in front of her again. "You'll never be good enough. No one will ever want you the way that you are. Look at you! You are nothing but a fat whore! Best end it while you can!" The spirit set a razor blade in front of her and grinned. "Just end it now. No one will care." Suddenly the blade was being pulled across her wrist by her own hand. Blood flowed quickly and she started to feel weak. She looked up to see Sam and Dean stare at her with matching looks of disgust. "'Bout time we were rid of you." Dean said. "Nothing but dead weight." Sam replied. Dawn tried screaming for them to stop, for them to help, but her voice failed her.

Dawn was suddenly being shaken awake. She cracked her eyes to see brown ones staring back at her. They were soft and kind, not like the ones in her dream. She sighed heavily causing pain to shoot through her side. Sam saw her wince and shook his head at her.

"It's time you got up. Dean and I want to talk to you, so get dressed. " Then Sam turned and walked quietly from the room.

Dawn did as Sam said and got dressed. She noticed as she got up that the liquor bottle that had been half full last night was now empty. Man she must have really been out of it to drink that much. Then she saw the blood on her sheets. She looked down at her leg and saw it there too. She must have torn open her stitches. Damn it! There is no way that Sam didn't see that. She quickly fixed up her leg and got dressed before heading out to meet the boys.

Both of the brothers noticed as she limped into the room. They could tell she was doing her best not to show it, but they knew anyway. Sam had seen the blood when he opened the door to her room earlier to try and wake her. As soon as he saw it he got Dean and showed him. Dean was furious, but told Sam to wake her.

Dawn quickly spotted a chair and made her way towards it. Sitting down heavily in the chair, she looked over at the Winchester brothers. Both of their faces were grim and neither said a word. After a moment of complete silence and stares, she couldn't take it anymore.

"Alright, out with it."

Sam and Dean looked at each other for a second before Sam turned and sat down in a chair across from Dawn.

"Why didn't you tell us Dawn?" Sam's question was simple enough, but very hard to answer.

"Why didn't you let us know you were hurt? I know you seem to think that you need to be strong, but don't be stupid. We are a team and we are here to take care of you as much as you are here to take care of us." Sam's eyes were pleading. He honestly looked concerned. And deep down Dawn knew he was, but after that Spirit, it was just hard for her to believe that.

Dawn looked down at her hands. She had no answer for his question. What was she supposed to say?

"I'm sorry. It was stupid. I… I just didn't see the point when I could take care of it myself."

"That is bull shit!" Dean shouted from the other side of the room. He had been staring at her face intently and knew she was hiding something.

"You have always told us before when you were hurt. Why now? Why didn't you tell us this time?" Dean had crossed the room to stand beside Sam.

They both waited for her to answer, but she couldn't seem to get any words out. Dean was right, she had never hid wounds from them before. Why was she now?

Dean turned and walked away motioning for Sam to follow. Once across the room, Dean spoke a few quiet words to Sam. Sam simply nodded and walked out of the room. Dean turned back to face Dawn. For a moment he simply looked her over, as if he could see right through her. Then he walked back to her and gently pulled her out of the chair she was sitting in. Then, surprising her, swung her up into his arms.

The next thing Dawn knew, she was being carried down the corridor towards Dean's room. Dean pushed the door open with his foot and strode in, setting Dawn gently down on his bed. He closed the door then turned back to face her.

"Okay… I understand something happened last night, something that has you pulling back from us… from me. But you have to talk to me!" Dean pleaded.

He had come and dropped down on his knees in front of her. His green eyes looked the sky before a hurricane, something deep and powerful hiding within.

"I…" Dawn knew she had to tell him what happened, but she couldn't find the words. Tears began to stream down her face.

Dean gently reached out and cupped her face. He desperately wanted her to talk to him. He couldn't help her though if he didn't know what was going on.

"I… the spirit, last night, he… he showed me my greatest fear. He showed me taking my own life and you guys…" she stopped trying to get control of herself, but the next words were too hard for her to say.

"We were…?" Dean looked so confused and concerned.

"You were saying it was about time. That you wished I had done it a long time ago."

With the words finally out Dawn began to sob, her ribs protesting strongly. Dean sat on the edge of the bed and pulled her into his lap and let her cry, his own tears falling into her hair as he cradled her.

"How could you think that either Sam or I would ever want you dead? Don't you know how much you mean to us? To me?" Dean's voice cracked on the last word.

Dawn looked up into his face with confusion. What did he mean?

"I love you Dawn. I know I haven't said it, but I do. You mean more to me than my own life and I wouldn't be able to handle it if anything happened to you."

Again, Dawn couldn't believe her ears. He loved her? How had she missed that?

"Nothing that happened last night was true. You are valuable and needed and I love you!"

At that, he gently pressed his lips to hers. It was a soft-gentle kiss. No demand or rushing in it, just a simple statement. Simply, "you are cherished." And in that moment, Dawn really did feel loved and cherished.

She kissed Dean back, letting him know that she loved him too. They held onto each other for several minutes, kissing, until Dawn pulled away hissing at the pain in her side.

Dean looked down to see where she was grabbing and pulled away. He laid her back on the bed and pulled up the side of her shirt to see the nasty black bruise that covered her side. He sighed before pulling her shirt back into place.

"You know you have to tell us what is going on, if not both of us, at least me. You know I'll always be here for you." Dean gently kissed her forehead.

"I know. Sometimes I guess I just get stuck in my own head. But I promise to tell you what is going on."

Dean nodded at her words and kissed her again.

"I love you Dean." Dawn whispered.

"And I love you. And know that you are important. You mean more to Sam and me than you could ever imagine. Don't ever doubt that."

Dawn nodded and cuddled into Dean's arms and slowly fell asleep.

Dean looked down and knew that no matter what happened, that he would always take care of her. She was everything to him and he was nothing without her.