Good morning and happy Monday! This is just a random little one-shot that I wrote over a year ago. It's one of my favorite stories I've ever written and is my 70th posted story! Can't believe it. :) It's also my birthday today so I decided what better day to post my 70th story? Hope you enjoy!

Setting - anytime s11-s15

"You're not my favorite person today."

"I'm not your favorite person on any day," Sam remarked, too calm for Dean's liking.

Fear chilled his spine while the rocks at his back scratched through his t-shirt. Dean paused in his struggles and squinted at his brother. He needed to keep him awake. Keep them both awake. He was finding it incredibly difficult to focus beyond the shattering pain in his head.

Swallowing back the pain, fear, and disorientation, Dean tried again to aggravate his brother. Anything to keep him awake. Keep him focused. "Yeah, well today you're my least favorite person."

Sam didn't respond.

"This was a terrible plan." Dean was getting desperate. He yanked hard against the icy cold cuffs restraining him to the wall. Stay with me, Sam.

"Yes. Yes it was," Sam said, very quietly. "I remember saying so when you suggested it."

"Now's not the time to point fingers," Dean muttered, pulling on his bonds again.


He'd already torn up the skin on his wrists and the cuffs weren't giving at all. Not that metal usually did. Only gentle coaxing with his lockpick set or a paperclip would work on handcuffs. He had a paperclip in his sock, but given the fact his hands were cuffed to the wall high above his head, the paperclip might as well have been on the moon.

He'd tried. Actually, honestly tried. But he wasn't a yoga-master or particularly flexible and even though he had plenty of upper body strength, he hadn't been able to get his boot and his hand to meet up above his head. Broken ribs didn't help anything. Neither did a broken head. The contortionist effort had not been kind to him.

Yanking on the chains in frustration, he glanced down at his brother and the anger went straight back to fear.

"Sam!" He shouted; unheeding of his throbbing head.


Crap, crap, crap!

"Sam, damn it! Answer me!"

This had been a terrible plan.

They'd split up.

That had probably been their first mistake.

Or maybe it was their twentieth, Dean wasn't sure at this point. All he knew was that they'd made a big mistake and were paying for it dearly. This was supposed to have been an easy job. Investigating a ghost of the Seattle Underground who refused to stay underground wasn't supposed to be anything but easy.

Thanks to Sam's meticulous research, they'd anticipated the miles of tunnels and dead ends and collapsed buildings.

What they hadn't anticipated was the drug smugglers who were using the tunnels - and the haunting - to their advantage.

The ghost turned out to be the least of their problems.

They'd split up and it had been almost four hours since he'd seen his brother by the time Dean had run afoul of the smugglers. He'd fought hard, but he hadn't been expecting an attack. Not from the living anyway. By the time he regained consciousness, he was being strung up against a rock wall, wrists chained together and arms pulled high above his head.

He'd thought things were bad and then he'd managed to get his concussed eyes uncrossed and found his brother lying unconscious, beaten and bloody, on the ground a few yards away from him.

His estimation of how bad things were had escalated rapidly.


It took five tries, three longer than the last time, before Sam struggled his way back to consciousness with a moan of protest.

The air left Dean's lungs in a breath of sweet relief.

"Hey, you with me?" he called out, knowing he needed to keep talking or Sam was going to fade back to blissful unconsciousness again. "Sam. Answer me."

"Yes." Sam swallowed hard, his eyes barely open. But he was trying.

"Ok. Ok. Good. Alright. Look. I can't...I can't get it. The paperclip," Dean clarified. He didn't think Sam was concussed but he definitely wasn't focusing well. Not that Dean was focusing well, either. He swallowed hard against the nausea and said, "We're gonna have to do this together."

Rubbing his sweat-soaked face against the sleeve of his t-shirt, he shivered. Their jackets and weapons had been taken leaving them both just in t-shirts in the chill of the underground chamber. He couldn't feel his fingers - whether from the cold or the numbness that came with having his hands above his head for a solid two hours now. Shivers ran through him and he knew hypothermia was a real threat to both of them.

He watched as Sam finally managed to get his eyes open all the way and pointed in his direction. Once they were holding eye contact, Dean said slowly, "I need you to get it. The paperclip."

It was crazy and probably impossible and very likely their only hope.

After stringing him up, the burliest of the smugglers had delighted in practicing his boxing. Broken ribs, a concussion, and a whole lot of cuts and bruises had been Dean's reward for being a non-voluntary volunteer punching bag. The goon had then picked up the biggest wrench Dean had ever seen and hefted it but had been - mercifully - interrupted before he could use it.

The smugglers had sailed off into the night to deliver their goods with a cheerful assurance that they'd be back in a week and finish what they'd started.

If either of them were still alive by then.

"Where's it?" Sam mumbled. His mouth was bloody - whether from being punched or biting his tongue Dean didn't know - and he was panting shallowly.

"Right boot."

Sam closed his eyes and Dean held his breath. He didn't pass out this time, though, just took a slow, deep breath, then opened his eyes again. Dean watched his brother glance from his face down to his boot and back again. Sam wasn't a wimp but right now he looked like he was considering the merits of crying.

Dean couldn't even force an encouraging smile. He knew what he was asking and he knew how difficult it was going to be for Sam to accomplish his request.

Sam had been on the ground, his wrists roped together tightly in front of him, when Dean had regained consciousness, but Sam hadn't started out there. He'd been the first non-voluntary punching bag and, since they hadn't been pressed for time yet, Burly had been able to swing his gigantic wrench.

Apparently it had only taken two enthusiastic hits to Sam's left knee before he'd passed out from the pain. They'd unchained him and left him tied up on the floor knowing he wasn't going anywhere on his busted knee. It had taken Dean a good ten minutes of shouting himself hoarse before Sam had responded. Ever since, it had been touch and go.

For both of them.

Sam had been fading in and out. The slightest shift of his knee, and he went ashen and unresponsive. Considering how badly his head was pounding and how fuzzy he felt, Dean knew he was fading in and out himself. Time was skipping in and out of focus, he was struggling to breathe, his broken ribs not at all appreciating being trussed up the way he was, and he knew they were out of time.

Taking a deep breath, Dean said, "You get that paper clip and we're home free, Sammy."

Sam just closed his eyes.

Dean was trying to come up with his next inspirational - if completely fictitious - statement when Sam started to move.


He was inching forward, using his elbows to drag himself while trying not to move his left leg at all. It was painful to watch and Dean didn't want to imagine how much Sam was hurting.

When Dean had asked if his leg was broken, Sam hadn't been sure. Broken or not, his knee was swollen badly enough that his jeans were stretched out so tightly that he was going to have to be cut out of them.

"Doin' good," Dean encouraged through gritted teeth. It was getting increasingly difficult to draw in a breath and his ribs were screaming in protest.

Sam might have laughed or it might just have been a sob. Either way, he dragged himself another few inches, then stopped, his head hitting the ground hard enough that Dean cringed. Hands fisted where they were bound in front of him, Sam lay there gasping and shaking.

Dean wanted to urge him on, but really what was the point? The smugglers weren't going to be back for a week. Sam was either going to make it to him or he wasn't. He could only go as fast as he could, no matter how impatient Dean was or how much encouragement he shouted.

A wave of dizziness overcoming him, Dean rested his head against his upraised arm and closed his eyes.

Never should've split up. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

They also probably should have done a bit more research before they'd committed themselves to a hunt in the labyrinth beneath the city.

Either way, it was too late now.



"Stay awake."

"I'm awake." He was. He just couldn't get his eyes open.

"Dean, hey, you said together."

"Yeah." It took all his concentration but he peeled his eyes open. Frowning he asked, "How'd you get so close?"

Sam was only about a foot away now.

"You passed out," Sam whispered, dragging himself closer. "Been get you to respond."


Sam nodded, then closed his eyes as he moved forward again.

Dean shook his head a couple times, trying to dispel the cobwebs. It was a little easier now that Sam was so close. So close and yet so far, Dean's pessimistic brain thought before he could shut it up. Not that there wasn't a good reason for pessimism. Sam had to get the paperclip out of Dean's boot with his hands tied together and then somehow manage to stand up long enough to get the paperclip into Dean's hand.

Yeah, we got a ways to go.



"We're only getting one try," Sam said, looking up at him with bloodshot eyes. "I...I don't know if I'll be get up again if something the paperclip."

And just like that, they had a new problem.

Sam must have seen the dismay in his eyes because he stopped moving and asked, "What?"

"Uh…" Dean glanced up at his wrists, then slammed his eyes closed as a wave of dizziness and nausea swept over him again.


"Yeah...yeah. hands."

"What about them?" Sam huffed, then broke off with a curse that didn't quite cover his moan of pain.

"I...they're...they're numb."

Sam didn't answer. His fists were pressed to his forehead. After a long moment, Sam's hands relaxed and he drew in a congested breath. And then he reached out and finally got his hands on Dean's left boot. His arms wouldn't take the strain or Dean's knees would've gone weak with relief right then.

It was too difficult to look down at his brother to see how things were going, so he closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall.

"Still with me?" Sam asked, his cold fingers squeezing Dean's ankle.

"Mmhm. Just...can't look down…"

"Scared of heights?"


Sam's fingers were clumsy and probably just as numb as his were so it took a lot longer than it should have for him to find the paperclip. Dean was relieved, but knew they still had a long way to go. More specifically, Sam had a long way to go.

After a minute or two passed without movement, Dean figured it was his turn to call out, "Still with me?"


Sam's voice was barely a whisper and Dean wondered how much still with him Sam really was. As with most things at the moment, there was precious little he could do about it. He hated being so helpless.

A tug on his pant leg brought him out of his thoughts. He steeled himself, then looked down at his brother. Sam was pulling himself up painstakingly slowly, hands gripping Dean's jeans. Glad he was wearing a belt, Dean kept his eyes on his brother.

It took a long time for Sam to pull himself into a sitting position.

It took even longer before he recovered from that exertion.

Dean kept up a steady stream of encouragement in case Sam was listening. He wasn't honestly sure if Sam was even conscious despite the fact he was still sitting up, braced against his right leg. The scream of pain he'd let loose when he'd moved wrong would have woke the dead. It had certainly brought Dean out of his lethargy.

Sam was right. They were only going to get one chance at this. If he, by some miracle, managed to stand up, that was it. If he went down before Dean got the paperclip they were screwed. If Dean dropped the paperclip they were screwed. There was also the issue of whether or not Dean would be able to manipulate the paperclip with his numb fingers.

Basically there were a whole lot of reasons they were screwed. But one problem at a time.

He'd run out of breath and very nearly out of hope, when he heard a long, low groan.



Maybe he had been out cold.


"Just shut up," Sam snapped, then groaned again. "I'm sorry. Sorry."

Lowering his voice, Dean said, "It's ok. I'm sorry, too."

Sam nodded against his leg and then started moving again. Dean kept his mouth shut and started praying. He couldn't see his watch; didn't want to. He couldn't really see what Sam was doing, either, but he could all too easily hear how much it was hurting him to be doing it.

If they survived this, there was a hospital visit in their very near future.

Dean gritted his teeth as Sam yanked on his jeans. The broken edges of his ribs grated against each other with the shift of his body and left him seeing black spots. From the awful sounds Sam was making, he was probably seeing black spots too.

The next few minutes were pure torture for them both. Sam was dragging himself up, one hand gripping Dean's belt while he kept his other hand wrapped around the precious paperclip. Somehow he'd managed to get his good leg under him and he was struggling against the pain to stand up. Every move he made sent bolts of pain through Dean's chest and up to his torn-up wrists. He'd been wiggling his fingers, partially as a distraction and partially to attempt to restore some circulation.

The distraction worked because one moment Sam was on his good knee and the next he was standing up almost to his full height.

Dean's eyes widened as Sam collapsed against him, hands tangling in his t-shirt and face pressed into Dean's collarbone.

Gasping for breath, Sam's hot tears were soaking into Dean's shirt, but he was standing. On one leg and shaking like a leaf, but he was standing.

"Sam," Dean whispered. He wanted to shout for joy, but didn't have the strength.

Shifting, Sam mumbled, "If you drop this damn paperclip, you'll be chewing your hands off to get free."

Dean snorted, heart jumping with relief that Sam still had a sense of humor.

"I'm serious." Sam slowly lifted his head. His skin was grey and wet with tears.

"Yeah. I know you are." Dean met his gaze. "I'm not gonna drop it."

Sam nodded, shifting his weight and releasing his death grip on Dean's shirt. He looked up and Dean could see the stone cold determination fill his eyes and knew right then and there that they were gonna get out. Sam had made it this far and he wasn't quitting now.

Squeezing and releasing his fists, Dean prepared himself for the pivotal moment. He didn't bother saying anything else now. They both needed all their concentration on the task at hand. Sam leaned against the wall and took a slow, deep breath, then lifted his hands.

Gritting his teeth, Dean looked up and watched for the paperclip. Considering both of them had their hands bound, it was a sticky process. Fingers brushing against each other, Dean finally grasped the paperclip.

Again, he wanted to shout for joy.

Instead, he said urgently, "Don't go down, Sammy. Don't. Don't move."

He waited until Sam nodded and braced himself more securely against the wall, then got to work. The position was terrible. Awkward and painful and the fact Dean's head was swimming didn't help anything at all. Even so, they'd been trained at a very young age on escaping cuffs and ropes and knew how to do all sorts of other things the average citizen didn't know how to do.

It took three times as long as it would have on a good day, but he got the cuffs unlocked.

His arms dropped like lead weights and he almost fell to the ground.

Sam called his name and he locked his knees just before they gave out.

Pins and needles ran through his hands and arms and he gritted his teeth against the pain. He started rubbing his hands together because he didn't have time to even allow himself a moment of relief. Glancing to his right he grinned when he met Sam's gaze.

"Didn't drop it."

"Good thing."

Sam's eyes slid closed and Dean moved just in time to shove him against the wall when he started to slump.

"What did I say?" Dean gave him a shake with hands prickling with sharp pains. "Don't go down. I'll never get you up again."


"Yeah. I know. Hang on."

Their options were extremely limited and considering they were both on the verge of imminent collapse, Dean looked around the room frantically. They weren't going to get far with Sam's hands still tied because he wasn't walking anywhere without support.

"There's gotta be a knife," Dean said, his head pounding viciously. " gotta stay here and I'll be right back."

Sam's face crumpled and he squeezed his eyes closed, groaning. And then he nodded, still braced against the wall.

"Ok." Dean smiled briefly. "Ok. Hang on."

Leaving him and hoping for the best, Dean pushed himself off the wall. He stumbled immediately and barely regained his footing before he hit the floor. Slamming a hand against the wall, he pressed his other hand to his head and tried to breathe through the pain. Nausea got the better of him, though, and he leaned forward, vomiting onto the dirt.

Sam was calling his name and he lifted his hand from his head to give his brother a wave that he hoped would be reassuring.

"Yeah…'m ok."

He spit a few times, then wiped his hand across his mouth. Shaky and dizzy, he lifted his head and moved forward, hand tracing against the wall as he walked. His eyes were crossing and his vision was blurred, but he didn't have any trouble finding the tool box at the far end of the room. Burly goon had tossed his wrench into the box as he'd walked out.

Reaching the box, Dean dropped to his knees and spent a moment with his head lowered, trying to keep it attached. The pull of blessed unconsciousness was strong, but he knew it wasn't an option.

If he went down, they would die.

Hands shaking badly, he fumbled through the tools until he found a knife that was probably duller than a butter knife, but would have to do. Gripping it in one still tingling hand, he braced his other hand against the wall again and laboriously got to his feet. His vision went grey and heat washed over him, but he fought through it.

Through his wavering vision, he could see Sam, still standing, across the room.

Determination renewed, he crossed the room much more quickly than he had moments before.

Sam's eyes were barely open, but tracked him as he drew closer.

Grinning, Dean held up the knife. Sam didn't move but there was a bit of relief in his eyes now. Dean leaned against the wall next to him and reached for his hands.

"Hold still, ok?" he cautioned, his own hands not even close to steady.

Sam didn't move and didn't say anything.

The rusty, dull blade was a piece of crap and the entire process left him out of breath and frustrated, but finally he cut through the ropes without cutting his brother's skin. Dropping the knife, Dean massaged his brother's hands, figuring they were probably as numb as his had been. They were also ice cold.

"You're freezing," he said, dulled mind sluggishly moving to the next problem to be solved. "Man, we gotta get outta here."

He shifted and pulled Sam's arm over his shoulder. How they were going to manage the trek out of the underground maze of uneven ground and collapsed beams, he didn't know. Sam leaned against him with a gasp of pain and it crossed his mind that maybe they'd be better off if he went alone to get help and left his brother here.

But splitting up was what had gotten them into this mess in the first place and he wasn't eager to make the same mistake again.

"Ok. Ok, we're gonna take this slow. Just...let me do most of the work, ok?"

Sam was still silent, but nodded.

They took one step and Dean knew it wasn't going to work. He was barely steady on his feet and Sam wasn't steady at all. The sound he'd made when they'd moved forward was a sound Dean never wanted to hear again as long as he lived.

Frantically looking around the room for...for what he didn't know. An answer? A miracle? An ambulance?


"I'm not leaving you," Dean said firmly, mind racing for what exactly he planned to do if he wasn't leaving his brother.

"Go. Get help." Sam was breathless and getting ever heavier on Dean's shoulder.

There were no options.

Dean gritted his teeth, tightened his grip on his brother and said, "I will carry you out of here if that's what has to happen. I am not leaving you."

To his surprise, instead of continued insistence to the contrary, Sam sighed and whispered, "Ok."



"Uh...great. Ok. So...let's go."

They started again and Dean couldn't distinguish between their pained groans. The trek across the room took twice as long as it had for him moments ago. Sam was barely more than a dead weight on his shoulder, dragging his left leg behind him and twisting his fingers tightly in Dean's t-shirt to stay upright.

Dean didn't say anything to encourage forward movement. He didn't have the breath to and his head was spinning so badly he was afraid he was going to throw up at any moment. Sam didn't seem to require any words of encouragement. Despite barely being able to move at all, he resolutely dragged himself forward.

Reaching the doorway, they paused to catch their breath. Once his vision cleared, Dean scouted the area and a surge of relief flooded him.

To the left, on a fallen beam, he saw their jackets and weapons. Obviously the smugglers had been extremely confident in the thought that they weren't going to get free or they never would have left their gear so close.

"They don't know us, do they?" Sam asked, his voice quiet; slow, but amused.

Dean smiled.

Sam leaned against the heavy wooden door frame and said, "Go."

Waiting until he was braced against the frame and somewhat steady, Dean nodded, then turned away. Walking without a hand on the wall or even the feeble support of his brother it was a bit more difficult than it should have been, but Dean made it to the pile of their stuff. Grateful for the overconfidence of fools, he gingerly reached down for his coat.

Chills shook him as he pulled his coat on and realized exactly how cold he really was. Yet another reminder that he really needed to get them out of here soon. Bracing a shoulder against the wall, he gathered Sam's coat and their guns.

Behind him, he could hear his brother dry heaving. Gritting his teeth, Dean took one moment longer to check both their phones.

No service.

His phone was almost completely out of charge but Sam's was about half full. They had a chance now. If they could get somewhere to catch a signal. If they could - and it was a big if - their problems would be solved. They'd established themselves as Feds to the local PD when they'd arrived. Call the police, get some help getting out of the tunnel and they could mention they'd run into the drug smugglers while investigating the missing persons case they'd said they were working.

Bing, bang, boom, hospital room.

Dean swallowed hard against the rising nausea and tried to block out the sounds of his brother's distress. He turned around and slowly made his way back across the room. By the time he got there, Sam was clinging to the doorframe and looking like he'd somehow managed to pass out while still on his feet. Well, foot.

"Ok," Dean said softly, reaching out and grabbing his brother's shoulder. "Ok. We're almost there. Here, here...let's get your coat on. Man, you're freezing. Come on…"

He kept up the mindless encouragements and got Sam into his coat without either of them falling over. By the time he finished, Sam had his eyes open again and Dean was struggling not to be sick. All the exertion had been very bad on his aching head.

For a long moment, they just stood there. When he thought he could move without throwing up or passing out, Dean patted his brother's chest and said, "Just gotta...get a signal. Home free."

Sam nodded and Dean pulled his arm back over his shoulders.

The next twenty minutes were agony. They could only go for about three or four minutes without pausing to give one or both of them a moment to recover. The poor lighting was doing nothing for Dean's swimming head and the uneven ground was hell on Sam. Every time they stopped, Dean pulled out their phones and prayed for a signal only to be disappointed.

Guiding Sam forward again, Dean told himself they would have to find a signal sooner or later. Wouldn't they? He refused to entertain the notion that they might be stumbling deeper into the tunnels rather than finding their way out.

They only made it a few feet this time.

And then they were falling.

It happened so fast that Dean barely had time to register the fact he'd tripped over a cement block and completely lost his grip on his brother.

He heard Sam's shout of pain a split second before the lights went out.

There was a hand running through his hair and Dean smiled.

And then he stopped smiling because everything hurt and his head was broken in half and who the hell was touching him?

Stop, oh for the love of...


Huh. Ok. Sam. That's Sam.

He probably shouldn't have been as pleased with himself as he was for recognizing his brother's voice. But, given the fact his head was in at least two thousand and twelve pieces, Dean figured he could be proud if he wanted to be.


Shut up. Yes, I hear you, Sam. Shut up.

Sam didn't shut up.

He hasn't shut up since he learned to talk. Why the hell did I ever teach him how to talk?

"Take your time." Sam's voice was gentle, considerate, and so was the hand that was resting on Dean's head.

Sensations began filtering back into his struggling brain. The stickiness of blood on his left temple. The smell of dank, musty underground. The pain of a cloth being pressed against his bleeding head. The way he was both floating and held against the cold ground by thousand pound weights.

He moved his hands, trying to find something to hold onto. Pebbles bit into his fingers, dirt pressed under his nails, and every single thing hurt.

"Easy." Sam. Again.

What do you know about easy? Dean tasted the bitterness of blood and the disgusting aftertaste of sick. He licked his lips and they were gritty and made him gag.

Sam didn't say anything this time, but the familiar weight of his hand was still resting on Dean's head and it helped somehow.

Awareness floated toward him slowly, edging away the darkness.

It took at least a dozen tries, but then Dean got his eyes open.

"Hey." Sam smiled.

His lips were almost blue and his skin so pale that Dean wondered...

"We dead?" Wouldn't be the first time.



"We're not dead, Dean."

Sam sounded pretty certain even if he still looked pretty dead.

Smacking his lips, Dean longed for a drink of water. But dead people didn't drink water, did they?

"You're not dead."


"I'm sure."

Dean squinted up at his brother's ghostly form and asked, "Wh'happened?"

"You tripped."

"I did?"


"I died from tripping? What a loser."

Sam laughed. It was weak and quiet but he laughed.

Dean closed his eyes for a few seconds. Or maybe it had been longer because when he opened them again, Sam looked really worried and really happy to see him.

"Dead?" was the first thing Dean could think to ask.


"I'm cold." Dean hated himself for saying it because now that he'd said it, he was all too aware of how cold he was and the violent shivers that were shaking him.

Sam didn't answer.

"Did I die and you're just not telling me?" He was amazed that he managed to get that many words out all in one go. His tongue was three sizes too big and merely moving his mouth sent bolts of pain through his head.

"No." Sam sighed. "You hit your head. Concussion. You're gonna be ok."

Dean blinked, then stared at his brother. The pain in his head was nearly drowning everything else out, but nothing would ever be able to drown out his instincts. Instincts that were screaming at him to remember. Screaming at him that there was something he was supposed to do.

Screaming at him that something was wrong with his brother.

Sam was a faint spectre against the dark wall behind him. Eyes closed, he was sitting there so still that Dean wasn't sure if he was breathing. But he'd just talked so he must be breathing, right? Unless they really were dead and Sam just didn't want to tell him.

Still trying to remember what he needed to remember, Dean shifted. The movement hurt but did help clear his mind a little. He stared up at the ceiling and tried to think.

The rough wood ceiling. Uneven beams. Dirt. Broken cinder blocks.


They were underground.

Pleased with his deduction, Dean concentrated harder.

He was on the ground. His head was on Sam's leg and Sam was holding a torn bit of fabric to his bleeding head. He'd tripped. That's what Sam said.

And then he remembered.

"Sam." Heart in his throat, Dean fumbled until he got his hand wrapped around his brother's wrist.

Skin ice cold. Pulse slow. And he wasn't shivering.


Shaking his arm, Dean raised his voice, "Sam!"

"Not dead, Dean," Sam mumbled, not moving and not opening his eyes. "Not dead."

Not yet, anyway.

"Sam," Dean urged, not even sure what he wanted Sam to do.

The exertion drove his stomach up his throat until he started gagging again.

Nothing came up and Sam moved his hand until it was against his forehead. The chill helped ease the nausea and Dean lay still for a few seconds, trying to catch his breath. Swallowing hard, he blinked up and was relieved to see Sam looking down at him.

"Better?" Sam asked, so quietly that Dean wouldn't have known what he'd said if he hadn't read his lips.

"Yeah." Dean squeezed Sam's wrist again. "Need to go. Get out...out of here."

"Can't. Can't walk." He smiled, but it was a scary, vacant smile. His eyes closed in a slow, lazy droop. "They're coming."

Crap, this is bad.

"Sam. No one's coming. We...we gotta…" his voice trailed off as things went dark around the edges again. He shook Sam's wrist again. "Sam. Can't...can't stay."

"It's ok." Sam patted his head and it was clumsy and on an ordinary day, Dean would have given him hell for it. "I told you. They're coming. I called. Signal. We got a signal."

He was struggling to make sense of all of that when Sam pulled his wrist away.

"Sam," he said, trying to grab him again.

And then a cell phone floated into his vision.


They had a signal.

The phone slid out of Sam's fingers and nearly clocked Dean in the face. Sam patted his chest and smiled.

"Search and rescue. They're coming."

Relief was like a living thing. It crept over Dean and wrapped him up and held him tight. Or maybe it was just his brother holding him. Either way, the pain and desperation and fear faded as relief filled him with warmth.

He grinned, looking up at Sam and finding him smiling too. Wrapping his fingers around Sam's wrist again, he licked his lips and finally found his voice.

"You know you're my favorite person, right?"

"I better be," Sam whispered.

Dean laughed.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed the story.

I am hoping to get last years Christmas story finished in time for this Christmas. :)