Set in season 4 after episodes 4 and 7 , Metamorphosis, and It's the great pumpkin Sam Winchester. I do love this season! It's so angsty! Re-watching it made me see all the subtle little pushes and words thrown around to try and twist the brothers apart, from the angels and the demons and it got me thinking.

Even though they have a strained relationship at this time, they still have each other's backs, and all Dean needs is his little brother to reach out to him, to admit they're both scared and they'll deal with it together. I think it would have made all the difference to connect again if it was a life and death situation, so i created it.

Inspired by Ruby saying how amazing she was when Lucifer was freed and how no one knew! She was so smug about it all like she'd been waiting the whole time or meeting with Lilith behind EVERYONE'S backs. I wanted to throw a spanner in the works...or knife, whatever. This is also set before Lilith finds out she has to die to break the final seal. I get the feeling she wasn't that thrilled with their plan once she knew her own ending.

I do love Supernatural! Just the way it is. But sometimes I wish some of these fics were an extra scene or episode. You guys will keep me going long after Supernatural has done.

Summary: Ruby knows Dean doesn't trust her, doesn't like her, hell any excuse to kill her. When Dean starts getting too close to the truth, Ruby has to risk it all to meet with Lilith one final time to get Dean off their scent. What other way to get to Dean than by going for his little brother. Hurt Sam, protective Dean, cursed blade. Never healing wound.

Or the fic in which Lilith and Ruby have to do something drastic to distract Dean from the big picture. Cursed Blade, never healing wound, really hurt Sam, big brother to the rescue.

Warning: I've had a lot of coffee and I wanted a hurt Sam fix. Swearing, gore. It's late...this was pure and selfishly all done cos I wanted some broments.

God I love this show…

0x0x0x0

Ruby met Lilith only three times since the earth began, just three single, secret times to make sure no one ever knew they were in it together, that their final plan actually succeeded. This was the only way, no one could know.

No demon, no angel or any other creature in between. Information could be tortured right of someone with the right pressure. They were bound to their paths, to secrecy, no matter the cost.

There was a lot of cost but hey, demons. Don't care.

It's not like they could hire a secret meeting room in Hell and have a board meeting about it. Not even Azazel knew the full plan, only his part to find the perfect children and he really committed to that task. And every other demon involved before and after were dead.

Well, they had to make sure things were kept under wraps, you know how easy it was for a rumour to spread in hell?

Certain bases had to be covered, certain individuals had to do a certain task at a certain time and place, some of them literally only needed for that one task that would start to knock the dominoes. It was precise and delicate.

There had been fuck ups, of course. But Ruby and Lilith, they did not fuck up. They were the ones who cleaned it up, kept it in check. They got rid of the fuck ups, and everyone else in between.

Ruby had a lot of patience for her role. She knew it would feel endless, that she would be on hell's most wanted, that she would be required to cross some lines of her own to get the job done. She was down for that. She'd worked hard in the shadows, twisting the truth, laying a few traps for a certain pair of flannel-wearing brothers, even tossed in a few favourite spells of her own. A nightmare here and there, some energy draining, maybe a few supercharged spirits to stall the boys over the years. And damn, she was good at it.

And after aeons of work, of planning, finally the soft hearted Winchester boy was beginning to fall, down into that brimstone road paved with good intentions. Ruby was giddy with the excitement of it, she finally had him. Not in the way she'd pictured at all, but hey, he was a good soul and he was easy to bend when he was breaking. And she did like a challenge.

Still, It was so sweet, she could smell it, seeing it unfold, knowing how she'd pushed and pulled just right to get him right where she wanted him. Sure she had to pull his life to pieces, take away everything he loved, hurt him so badly he stumbled onto that dark ledge, but hey, look at him now.

Sam Winchester, at a demon's mercy. He trusts me she thought boldly, he was starting the end.

And he didn't even know it.

Then, there was Dean's return.

Coming back from Hell, being the shining light of Sam's life again and totally ruining the chances of leading Sam down into the dark side.

Ruby had to risk it, for the apocalypse-end-all-life biscuit.

She had to meet with Lilith one more time. They had to stop this before anything started. They did not fuck up.

The risk was high, that was an understatement. If anything or anyone saw them together their cover was blown. Word in hell was Lilith wanted to kill Ruby, tear her apart with her bare hands, her intestines used for bunting-that kind of thing. Well, working with a Winchester, a traitor to hell, turning against your own kind? Imagine them having a casual meet and greet. Demons would revolt. Hell would be in chaos. The precarious balance would slip and heaven would win.

They couldn't have that. They only needed heaven to think they would win. Those righteous dicks were on with playing their own game, one they hadn't had very much practice with, but it was working. They'd already reduced Sam to an abomination as far as they were concerned, wedged a pointy stick between the brothers on the value of right and wrong, turning Dean against Sam on the mission of something Holy. They were only concerned with the older Winchester and Hell's secret society to bring on the end were fine with that. Whatever they wanted Dean for they could have him, it took the spotlight off Sam.

It was all playing out, not quite as planned but hey, it was slowly coming and that was all that mattered. Soon it would be their time to shine.

Demons, especially talented ones, like Lilith and Ruby, after a while get used to each other's presence, their static. Eventually you learn the skill to know wherever the other was anywhere in the cosmos.

Like a vampire with a scent, but a thousand fold.

Being entwined in a plot this big you had to have your bases covered.

So when that familiar tickle of electricity sizzles into the rundown church hanging into the cliffs, like gnarled hands clawing out from the sea under a moonlit bathed sky.

She smiles dimple deep.

"Ruby…" Red lips curved upwards at the name as she felt the presence appear in the room.

There was the snap-squelch of a neck breaking and a body hitting the floor, the fading glow of a soul being destroyed hung in the air like acrid smoke.

The corpse was long since dead, already greying and beginning to rot amidst the pile of skittering dead leaves brought in by the breeze. The demon inhabiting that body now nothing but ash.

"Lilith." Ruby smiled. "It's been a while."

Red lips curved up again and her body turned, the once white long dress now red-rust floated over the body on the ground, it's mouth open in a silent scream.

"It has." Lilith drawled.

She tsked with her tongue on pearly white teeth between the blood red lips. "Every time we meet there are consequences Ruby."

The demon stepped forward, brown hair blown back in the breeze. She opened her mouth to speak but one ivory eyed glance from Lilith and Ruby swallowed her words.

"I don't like killing my own." Lilith shrugged, flowing forward with echoing steps from the body. "Do you know how hard it is to find a good fraction, a loyal following who obeys without question?"

Ruby grinned back. "I know this is a risk...I know the consequences." She glanced down at the decaying body behind the blood stained dress as Lilith came to a stop before her. Ruby's black orbs flashed as she hardened her stare. "Killing a few of our own is a small price to pay." She defended.

Blood red lips pursed together again before beaming a bright white smile. "It is…"

"I'm here-"

"Still." Lilith snapped. Her own cold voice was the only noise bouncing back in the darkness.

"A price I can do without." She stopped before Ruby, eyes glowing. "Bodies mean questions."

The rattle of bones charred the silence as the body behind them shook and crumbled. The dust withered in the breeze before disappearing into the cracks along the cobbled stone floor. Nothing remained of the body that was, only ashes and whispers along the cold silence.

There could be no trace left behind for this meeting. No possible link to either of them or they would fail.

"He served me well Ruby."

Ruby's lips thinned.

"Why did I have to kill my kin this time?" Bone white eyes seared into Ruby.

"Dean Winchester." Ruby spat, disgusted.

She could feel Lilith tense in the darkness, her jaw tick at the name.

"He's getting too close." Ruby started. "He's already pulling Sam away from us, softening him...It won't take long. He's already talked Sam out of his...training…he won't use his gift."

"Sam did stop Samhain with them? Yes?" Lilith asked, tilting her long neck.

"He did." Ruby admitted. "But he's not practising, they're getting weaker. He won't meet with me and when Dean is near, and he's asking too many questions…"

Lilith frowned. "What does he know?"

Ruby shook her head. "Nothing. Not yet. He'll find anything for an excuse to kill me though..."

"Sam stands with him on that?" Lilith pursed her lips.

"No. Sam stopped him once." Ruby said softly. "He stood in the way for me…" She could clearly picture Sam holding Dean back from using the knife on her, from that first time Dean had followed them into the night. "Sam might have saved me, but even he's conflicted now...he won't lose Dean for me. And Dean…" She laughed.

The wind whistled through the roof, knocking broken tiles down to crack against the cold stone. Ruby lowered her voice.

"He won't ever trust me. He wants me dead. How can I get close enough to-"

Lilith waved her hand. "He doesn't need to trust you. Sammy does." She singsonged his name, wrapping some of Ruby's hair through her fingers playfully.

"He's already starting to falter there. It's only a matter of time before Dean starts to chip away. Sam would do anything for Dean...I'll admit it. He's good. He won't ever stop, and when he does, we've lost the only key."

"Shhh…" Lilith smoothed a pale white hand over Ruby's cheek, down to her lips, she held her finger beneath her chin and drew her head up. "Dean will never get that close."

Ruby swallowed, breathless. "We can't risk everything, everything we've done-" Lilith shushed her with one pale finger over her lips.

"Everything we've done and will continue to do will not be risked. Sweet sweet Ruby. We will be the ones to set the light bringer free."

Ruby closed her eyes and sagged against Lilith's hand, twining in her own and giving them a squeeze.

"We will be the ones, through it all Ruby, the ones he rewards!" Lilith lifted Ruby's hands in hers and spun them in the shafts of moonlight, her dress swaying like a death curtain.

Lilith giggled. "Hell on earth." She whispered, cupping Ruby's face.

Ruby's eyes flashed black as she smiled.

"Hell on earth." She echoed.

"Besides, " Lilith beamed. "We're too good. You think I'd let Dean Winchester ruin all our good work. He won't get close to us. He just needs a little...push..."

A large wave crashed against the cliffs beneath their feet and the building groaned.

The demons whipped up their heads. They'd spent long enough in the same place.

"As much as I enjoy our time together, " Lilith paused, turning away from Ruby. "This must be the last time."

Ruby nodded, grinning smugly. "Only three times."

Lilith grinned. "Three good times."

"Then, until the end." Ruby promised.

"I'll be with you at the final door. I'll be waiting." Lilith beamed.

She reached into her dress and pulled out a slim silver blade, arched at the hilt with two curves, like crescent moons but sharper, It glinted, even in the low light.

She lifted it, caressing it in the shafts of moonlight and spun it to sparkle.

Taking a deep breath, eyes glowing Lilith breathed onto the blade a black breath and chanted.

"Vela ta ish no-oul van shkiera."

The blade glowed red, from the hilt down to the razor sharp tip. Black runes engraved themselves in thick smoke before fading, the blade dimming until it only glinted silver once more.

Lilith handed the blade to Ruby to inspect.

"To get to Dean, we go through Sam."

Ruby glanced up quickly, eyes wide, her mouth opened to protest.

"You are the only one who can stop the effects of the blade. They will need you Ruby." Lilith said confidently. "Dean will need you, to save Sam." Lilith paused. "And he will save Sam."

"I'll be ready." Ruby nodded, handing the blade back. She'd never failed in anything Lilith had ever asked of her and that wasn't about to change now. Ruby did not fuck up.

"I've got the perfect place." Lilith smirked, lips flicking up at the corner. "I'll whip up a little storm."

Ruby smirked. She lifted her hand, palm facing Lilith as the other demon did the same.

Their palms glowed a dull red together, fingers entwining into each other's hand as they locked eyes one final time. It was all heading for this, everything relied on this working so they could get to the final lock. All those years of pushing and pulling humanity, seducing them into the darkness, endless years of planning and preparing and it was all for this.

For Sam.

The star child born of light, will be the one to fall, then bring upon Lucifer's long night.

They had the key.

They would spring him free. There was no room for failure.

Ruby flickered out from the old church, leaving Lilith smiling at her left over static, palm still hung in the air.

"The things you do for love…" Lilith tsked her tongue against her teeth.

As the first demon sheathed her blade and lifted both hands toward the cracks in the roof, she clapped her hands together as a boom of thunder shook the church, the rotted floorboards started to groan and snap, the sea beneath in a frenzy to catch the falling debris.

Lilith flickered out of existence as the church was consumed by the sea.

There could be no trace left behind.

Xoxoxox

In an old farmhouse, far off the city limits in Lawrence, Lilith stood tall, eyes bone white gazing into the darkness.

"How about a little distraction you can't miss." Lilith giggled as she drew on her power, lightning cracked and cackled along the dark night, thunder clouds rolling in like angry waves.

She'd just released an exponential amount of energy, any demons nearby would be drawn to it, would sense her glittering presence.

The Winchester boys would come, it was only a matter of time. And Lilith really didn't have a problem waiting, she had since the dawn of time.

Lilith clicked her heels as she walked to the suddenly upright chair in the centre of the room, she sat, lips smirking as she felt the first few demons arrive.

"Mistress…" The demons bowed.

"My children…" Lilith commanded. "Thank you for coming." She watched them kneel before her like she was a queen.

"What do you command Mistress?"

"I plan to draw the Winchester's here, I want to have a little fun." Her eyes lit up.

The demons grinned at each other, eyes dancing black.

"We're going to kill the Winchesters?" One demon asked in a hiss.

Lilith smirked with the corner of her mouth. Oh if they only knew…

"Yes, the brothers will come, and they will die, bloody and slow and messy." Lilith's eyes danced with the desire. She held up a hand pausing the horde.

"I have a little surprise for the youngest, leave him alive, just enough... for me."

The demons cheered together, as more gathered the storm thickened above them, thunder rumbling the earth below their feet.

"Prepare the others. We don't have long." Lilith ordered.

The demons set about plotting their schemes.

Lilith had to eat her own laughter. These demons would not get close enough to kill the Winchesters, maybe enough to throw them around or leave a bruise, but the brothers were good. That was the point. These demons didn't compare to her power and that was all she needed. The distraction, the chance to get close enough and for it to be believable. The Winchesters would succeed in killing the horde, many would perish this night, but the first demon only shrugged. "A small price to pay…" she whispered to herself, echoing Ruby's words.

She didn't need demonic strength. She needed to only draw the boys here, then she could get close enough to the youngest. Dean would have no choice but to race to save Sam and he would let Ruby in, or he would lose his brother. And Dean would not risk losing his brother, even if it meant working with demons. He'd never know it was a double bluff. Oh how Lilith wished she would be the one to tell him.

She smiled again to herself. No one knew. It was just too good.

Lilith lifted her head to the skies, listening, something was changing.

The static shifted in the air until she could feel it. The star child was coming.

Her red lips again curved upwards gleaming shark white teeth.

"Children." She called out. "Places please ...our guests are on their way."

The demons laughed low in their throats, disappearing into the night.

The farmhouse again remained only darkness and dust.

Xoxox

The brother's hadn't had the most eventful evenings. Since Hell and Heaven had decided to start to claw their way into their lives they were feeling the strain. The angels didn't care what happened to Sam much to Dean's annoyance and Hell wanted to carve some revenge into Dean, much to Sam's. It seemed everything was out to get them, one or the other anyway and they were using it against each other.

Since Dean had found out about Sam using his powers, with Ruby of all creatures shit had hit the fan. Dean bust up their room that night saving busting Sam's face the same way. Well, he might have also had a swing but...c'mon Sam had been lying to him all this time. There was an unwritten rule about lying to each other in this line of work, not knowing got you killed and as much crazy shit that had happened to them Dean thought he could still trust Sam in that.

Dean had found out Mary, their own mother was a hunter, their grandfather too and this whole mess started well before either of them were even born. It was enough to royally fuck with their heads.

Dean got it, he did. Sam had lost him in the worst possible way and he'd been alone, left in the dark. It made you do some pretty dark stuff. And Dean had admitted Sam's powers freaked him the fuck out, but he got it. Sam had to deal with this...this curse on his shoulders and Dean couldn't help with that. He couldn't fix it. But he was there for Sam, and he always would be. Somewhere in the chaos they'd lost that, then again they'd physically lost each other.

Dean had been ripped to pieces in front of him. Couldn't blame the kid.

Dean would be there for his brother, to carry the burden. Whether that meant dragging his ass back on the right path or dragging him out of the fire, he was still Sam's big brother.

And ever since Jack Montgomery, Sam had promised him never to use his powers again. Said it was like playing with fire. And Dean felt his chest loosen up just a little.

And then… well, the angels had been dicks about stopping the witch raising Samhain and Sam had been left with no option but to use his powers. It was Sam or Samhain and Dean knew which one hands down anytime he'd take out of that equation.

Dean had admitted to Sam that night that he knew why Sam had to do what he did. But he didn't have to like it.

So that Halloween night when Sam hardly had any energy left to support his own weight, much less hold in the winces on his headache Dean had half-carried him from the car and laid him out in the hotel to sleep it off, he'd spoken softly to him.

"Ya know...I get what happened tonight. I'm not saying it's okay." Dean had whispered in the low light of their hotel. "I saw the knife, I know...he wouldn't let you get to it and he knew you'd have killed him with it. It was you or him...and I'm glad it was you." Dean swallowed. Sam had been pretty out of it and in pain. And Sam had told Dean that this was normal, 'cos he hadn't used them in a long time.

"But you're scaring me man…" Dean's eyes had watered as he hovered by Sam that night, close enough to touch.

"I don't like seeing you like this." Dean had said quickly, worried when Sam's nose had continued to bleed and he wanted to drag him to the ER. "You're life isn't worth these powers…" Dean had panicked. "Ava! Max, that kid with the weird twin...they all got dead. It doesn't matter how! And I'm not letting that happen to you."

I don't want you to be hunted. Not by hunters not by heaven...

After all he'd never seen Sam using them apart from on that low level demon when he followed them and found Ruby alive and well, and hadn't that been a kick in the balls.

He'd never seen how much effort it took for Sam to use them, how painful it was. Not like Sam was joyriding on the high of it all. He'd full on passed out at the crypt after, nose bleeding, eyes unfocused. But he was alive, and the town and everyone in it was alive because of them.

And watching Sam sleep that hallowed night, lines of pain still etched on his face Dean was beginning not to feel like it was the end of the world. Sure Sam used his powers, but they saved the town. If the roles were reversed and it was Dean laying there, Dean licked his lips and pulled a hand over his tired face. He was starting to think he'd have done the same thing.

Since Sam had woken up with the migraine from Hell that next morning after Samhain he'd felt the atmosphere shift with his brother. He knew Dean didn't like him messing with his powers, neither did he really. It was a means to an end. It was meant for killing Lilith, the thing responsible for taking Dean from him in the first place.

But having Dean back with him, having Dean hunting with him again and actually someone having his back. He felt the weight start to shift from his shoulders. Dean admitted he wasn't mad about what happened with Samhain and the relief Sam felt when he was nearly passed out the night before, head still ringing made him all too vulnerable to Dean's soft words. It had been too long since Dean had spoken to him like that.

"I know they're...bad…evil..." Sam had whispered, his eyes shining in the dim light. "But I'm not...gonna not use them if ...if't means saving you. Saving people."

Saving people, hunting things. The family business.

Dean had nodded. Eyes bright himself. And Sam had felt weak enough to reach out and hold Dean's hand in his own tightly, and promptly passed out. He didn't have any regrets about reaching out when he saw Dean's face the next morning and a little of the bitterness was gone from his eyes.

He didn't have any regrets from Uriel's threat either, when the uninvited angel decided to show up while Dean was out getting lunch and he told him to stick it. Sam was starting not to care what the angels or demons thought. He had his brother back and he didn't feel the gaping hole of loneliness want to swallow him up anymore. It was starting to feel like they were brothers again, like before Dean went to Hell and just a flicker of Dean's smile would warm Sam in a way he hadn't been able to feel in four months.

So, when I say the brothers had an uneventful evening, I really mean it. After all the drama of the last six months, heaven, hell and everything in between. A simple hunt was really on the cards and something they needed. Killing the big bad and saving the day. Not some angel crap, not some demon crap but good old fashioned ghost in the attic.

They'd followed a possible haunting in Texas, in a two century old house that was up for renovations. They figured the building work had kicked something loose. So after gearing up and heading out ready to put some dead to rest, they'd been terribly disappointed.

It wasn't a ghost in the attic, or even a ghost.

Turned out to be a homeless man just trying to stay dry, who really needed someone to talk to. Nothing supernatural about it. After dropping him at the walk in clinic they'd returned to the hotel, tired, disappointed and a little underwhelmed.

Dean was starting to think it was about time he'd heard something from Cas, or even got a glimpse of Ruby tailing them but there had been bupkis. Both had been AWOL for the last few months. Hey, Dean wasn't complaining.

Dean helped himself to the first shower while Sam sorted their weapons duffel, laid the salt lines and cleansed the room. That was another necessity, since on one of their no-tel motel crashes recently, it had actually been haunted and kicked up a storm in the middle of the night.

He was just about to fall onto his own bed when his laptop, still switched on in the corner starting panic- beeping.

Sam lifted his head up frowning, it sounded like an alarm.

As he went over to the laptop the screen flashed a notification and Sam's eyes grew wide as he gasped.

He'd set up an algorithm months back to detect certain weather patterns, electrical storms, solar changes in energy and even static surges and the laptop was lighting up with them all, all happening now, all happening…

In Lawrence, Kansas.

Sam's eyes roved the page as he looked up locations and patterns, the storm was building and it was circling one place, somewhere outside of Lawrence, in a giant swirl over nothing. Sam double checked the map.

That area was just farmland and agriculture.

Why? Why was it happening now?

Two more programs Sam had set up beeped and buzzed their own alarms.

Sam blinked at the flashing notifications.

"Holy shit…" He whispered.

Dean had just finished his shower, water hot and satisfying to end the rather disappointing turn of events. He shrugged. Sometimes the cases are a hit and miss and sometimes they end up way over their heads. At least this time, Dean thought, no one got hurt. One for team Winchester.

Sudden heavy banging disturbed the steamy silence in the bathroom as Dean nearly jumped out of his skin.

"DEAN!" Sam's shout was muffled as Dean scrambled the get the door open, gun already in hand and aiming past Sam to whatever threat there might be.

Sam was pale, breathing heavy as he held various notes with scrawled messages in Dean's face.

"What!? What the hell man?" Dean questioned when it was clear there was no threat. Dean tightened the towel around his waist and shivered in the cold as all the steam left the bathroom behind him.

Sam swallowed loudly. "It's Lilith." Sam croaked. "She's here."

Dean's eyes grew wide as he pushed past Sam, clothes already being scooped up to be worn.

"Where? Now?" Dean demanded. Already preparing himself for the hunt. Guns in hand before he'd put on his pants.

Sam also packed as fast as he could. "Outside Lawrence. There's nothing there but farms and fields but it's her."

"You're sure?" Dean asked.

"It's the same storm, the same pattern- the exact same pattern as…"

Dean looked up as Sam stopped speaking.

"Sam?"

Sam locked eyes with his brother. "The night she took you to hell." Sam whispered, words cracking.

"Sam, that isn't happening tonight. She isn't living longer than the night. Got that?"

Sam nodded, face pinched.

"We get the location and we gear up. I mean everything we have. We go in ready or we don't go in at all."

Sam nodded again.

"Okay, pack your stuff. We leave in ten."

"I've been ready to kill this bitch for a really long time." Dean muttered to himself.

Dean tensed his jaw. He was ready to destroy that evil bitch for what she did to them. What she did to Sam. Dean would do anything to take that fear out of Sam's face, the worry that Lilith might try to take him away from Sam again. He was not going to let that happen ever again.

Wracking his brain for anything and everything they might need Dean made a mental note to drop by a storage bunker just out of their way for supplies. Bobby mentioned there were over a hundred dotted all over the country, they were always well stocked. Most people who knew about them were too told or too dead.

The motel room door slammed shut, keys still hanging in the door lock and swaying long after the rev of the Impala and the screech of tyres on asphalt were gone.

They would end this tonight.

X0x0x0x

The supply bunker was an old hunters hideout. Off the beaten track and only on limited hunters radar. Dean cleaned it out.

He wanted to be prepared for whatever they might face. He packed up on salt, holy water, silver, blessed iron rounds and anything else he thought he could use. Even picked up some holy water tranq guns and a hidden blade in an ornament blessed by the Pope.

Sam was quiet on the drive to and from the bunker. Pensively biting his nails or staring into the night. Dean knew where his mind was going. He remembered himself all too well…

Sick em boys…

Dean still heard the hell hounds tearing at his flesh as his little brother watched on helpless and screaming, pinned to the wall. Dean squeezed his eyes shut to stomp out the memory.

"Sam." The elder glanced across at his sibling. "You with me?"

"Why now?" Sam whispered. "There hasn't been anything for months Dean and now-"

Dean clocked Sam's erratic breathing and pale face from the corner of his eyes. He kept his gaze on the road.

"How did you know?" Dean kept talking. He needed Sam's head in the game with him.

"I...ugh...I set up some detection programs. It would look for any demonic signs, any strange storms or sudden solar energy. She hasn't even raised a blip on my radar until tonight. Ruby tracked her before…" Sam drifted off.

"How did you figure out the pattern?"

"Ash taught me."

Sam bit his lip. He felt the impala speed up along the highway. There were only about an hour out to the exact coordinates of the storm. They would soon see the sky lighting up with power.

"Are we ready?" Sam asked in a small voice. Having Ruby with him in the past chasing Lilith, he wasn't afraid of hunting her. He didn't even care what happened to him back then but now...Dean was all he had in the world and he was back. What if...what if it happened all over again?

"No." Dean said honestly as if he could hear Sam's thoughts. "Doesn't matter. We have anything and everything with us to throw at her and we throw it all. Everything we have. She doesn't get to live after what she did." So much for not going in if they weren't ready.

Sam nodded.

"Should we…" Sam stalled. Swallowing his words.

Dean tightened his fist on the wheel. "Should we what?"

"Dean...Castiel- any of the angels… they have the power to end her…"

Dean grit his teeth. "I already tried." He admitted stubbornly. While you were packing your stuff.

"Haven't heard from them in months. I don't see them suddenly showing up when we need them...that doesn't seem to be how they work."

"Just us then…"

"Just us."

The way it's always been.

Dean glanced to his brother and saw the worry and hesitation in Sam's eyes.

"Ruby didn't happen to find any other demon killing weapons we don't know about did she?"

Sam shook his head. "No. There isn't...there isn't one. Not to kill Lilith. Ruby said the only thing that could kill her…"

Dean tightened his grip even further.

"Was what?"

"...was me." Sam croaked.

"You!?" Dean snapped. "She mean your powers!?"

Sam suddenly felt like a child again.

"Sam you-"

"I know! I know! I'm not going to use them!" Sam snapped like a petulant teen.

"No man, that's not what I mean- look I saw what happened to you after Samhain. You haven't used them in months- much longer than last time and this is Lilith! You don't even know how much juice that would take out of you. I'm not risking losing you." Dean snapped back. "Her death isn't worth losing you. I am not watching you get hurt again. That's not happening."

"Look you said she couldn't use her mind mumbo to kill you right? But she can throw us around. You don't need to use your powers. We can stop her. Together."

Sam locked eyes with Dean intently. His anger deflated when he saw the worry in Dean's eyes reflect his own. They were both worried about losing the other.

"I'm with you man. Are you with me on this?" Dean revved the engine.

"Yes." Sam sighed. Blinking the wetness from his eyes.

"Good. Cos' there's no one else I'd trust to have my back."

Sam smiled from the corner of his mouth. "I'll always have your back."

Dean grinned.

"Let's finish this."

Xoxoxo

As the impala shot through the black night, they started to see the storm in the distance. Bright blue and white flashes of lightening flickered behind dark rolling clouds. The wind picked up and tossed leaves and twigs against the windshield as the Chevy pushed 90.

They were closing in. The hairs on their arms raising with the static.

Sam tried not to let his fear of losing Dean distract him. They would have each other's backs, like always and they would get the job done.

Xoxoxox

As the brothers set out on foot toward the eye of the storm, they left the impala tucked away a few corn fields from the large barn they were heading straight for. There wasn't another building for miles. This had to be the spot.

Dean wasn't taking any chances, he had with him a small arsenal to send any number of fuglies back to hell. He imagined Lilith wouldn't be on her own tonight and he was ready. As they approached the barn doors, the storm suddenly died.

Wind once whipping at their faces fell away and the leaves being tumbled with it suddenly started to drop. The clouds cleared as the rumbles of thunder petered out and with it the bright moon shone high in the sky.

Dean glanced behind him to his brother. "Well that's not worrying at all." Dean hissed in the silence.

The barn doors jutted and creaked as they made their way inside. The air heavy with hay and burning ozone.

Something was definitely here.

As the brothers stepped deeper into the dark barn, the silence felt heavier. The brothers shared a glance before moving forward.

There was a white painted chair in the centre, unoccupied. The brothers stopped before it and glanced around.

"Something doesn't feel right." Sam whispered, the hair on his arms standing on end.

Dean nodded his agreement. "Where is she?" Dean spoke quietly.

"Oh, were you looking for me?" A shrill voice coolly asked.

The brothers spun, weapons raised to face Lilith, eyes bone white and grinning, she sat upon the white chair with her legs crossed.

"Hi!" Lilith beamed as the brothers drew up their weapons.

Before either brother had time to fire they were both flicked off their feet and flying into separate walls, guns clattering to the ground, duffel's spilling out as they were ripped from their hands.

Lilith laughed loudly. "Oh I have missed this!"

Dean hit the wall with a grunt and plume of dust as he fell in a crumpled heap, coughing in fresh air after it was all just bashed out of him.

Sam cried out in the opposite direction, hitting the wall hard he fell limp to the ground, blood covering his temple.

As Dean shook his head and stood to his feet he heard before he saw the demons start to circle around him.

Spitting out a mouthful of blood, he pulled out the demon blade and eyed up the ten or so demons making their way to him.

Lilith stood watching in the distance, a smile playing on her lips as she watched Dean draw up his arms in a fighting stance and the demons started to advance.

As the First demon glanced back toward where the youngest Winchester was, she started making her way toward him. Still the younger hadn't roused yet. She'd been careful with how much power she used to knock them both back. She needed them both alive for this to work after all. But all this excitement was really making her wish she could play rough with them a little more.

Dean had killed four or five demons already in the swarm that rushed him. The demon blade easily slashed those close enough to be killed and nicked enough that they hissed and jumped back, some cradling their wounds. Some smoking out.

"Come and get me you black eyed sons a bitches!" Dean yelled as he egged them on.

Two more darted forward and right as Dean ducked left and stabbed one in the heart and slashed one across the throat.

In his spin he noticed Lilith in her long once-white dress walking over to the other side.

Walking toward where Sam was thrown, and was still laid out cold on the floor.

"No...Sam!" Dean darted forwards to intervene, Sam was too open and vulnerable he couldn't risk her getting too close.

The three remaining demons blocked his path, each grinning with black beady eyes.

"Gonna' skin you alive Winchester…"

Dean kept watch of Lilith getting closer to his brother. Sam still hadn't moved.

"Real original…" Dean mocked, flicking the blade up into his fist and changing the angle.

As one demon dove for him Dean slashed out with the blade through the first's skull and swung back around to slice into the other's back as it screamed out and arched backward falling to its knees.

Dean made quick work of slashing its throat as it writhed, then spun as he faced the last one.

"Looks like all your friends have gone…" Dean spat, wiping the blood from the demon blade on his jeans.

The demon staring Dean down smiled. "I've got more friends." It snickered. "The others don't want a piece of you." It laughed again, dark eyes following Dean's across the barn.

"They want your brother."

Dean's eyes darted to the far corner where Sam still lay, Lilith was getting ever closer, taking her sweet time with each sauntering step and there was more movement in the shadows as more demons emerged and headed for Sam.

Dean grit his teeth and threw the blade.

It embedded perfectly into the demon's chest who was still laughing as it choked on its last breath. That demon fizzled out as it died and fell lifeless to the floor.

Dean snagged the blade as he ran past, blood spurting free in the ferocity, speeding his way to his brother.

"SAMMY!" Dean's voice boomed around the barn.

Sam jerked, eyes snapping open with a gasp in time to see Lilith's shadow at his feet.

He heard Dean's screams echo from behind her as Dean raced toward him.

"You'd do well to stay down." Lilith said as she stopped and bent before Sam.

Sam grunted as he clambered to get up, blood running in small rivulets down his face.

"Get the hell away from me!" Sam seethed.

Reaching into his jacket Sam unbottled the Holy water and blessed silver flakes with a flick of his thumb and threw them in an arc, catching Lilith on the side of the face, neck and chest. She screamed as her skin hissed and bubbled and wrenched herself backwards. The demons surrounding Sam moved past Lilith as she shrieked and closed in around Sam, cornering him. There were a dozen, maybe more.

Dean was already fighting his way into the horde, Sam could see the bright sparks of orange and red as each demon died but he was still too far away.

Sam pulled out his cell phone and pressed play before throwing it far into the distance.

Distinct Latin echoed around the barn as the recorded exorcism played out.

Lilith stood tall again, face still steaming and eyes glowing hot with anger glaring into the younger Winchester.

"Make him pay for that." Lilith hissed, wiping her face as a group of demons rushed forward to Sam.

Some demons jerked with the pull of the Latin, too low level to fight off the exorcism and succumbed to the ground, black smoke choking out of them as their bodies writhed.

Pulling out a silver blessed blade from his belt, Sam took a fighting stance and dove for the nearest demons that were left.

"Come and get it." Sam shouted, darting forward, getting ever closer to Dean.

One demon waved a hand and Sam flew back again, shaking the barn wall of dust as he hit it and cried out. The blade slipping from his fingers.

Struggling to get his breath back, Sam launched himself from the wall across the floor, scrambling for his blade but the nearest demon kicked it away and took the opportunity to take a boot to Sam's ribs as Sam coughed and rolled out of its stomping feet.

"Oh I've been waiting for this..." The demon seethed with glee, stepping forward to place another well aimed kick to Sam's middle.

Sam spat out a mouthful of blood and coughed, rolling himself away and onto his feet with a wobble.

He could see Dean behind the crowd of demons battling his way over. By the body count at his feet Sam would say he was doing an excellent job. Demons just kept coming though.

Sam didn't have time to tense before another wave of energy knocked him across the floor and toward the chair in the centre of the room. Lilith only smirked as she watched him skid in front of her, hay skittering with him, hands grappling for purchase on the smooth concrete.

Rolling onto his side again, dizzy, Sam struggled to pull himself up and stand on swaying legs. His and Dean's open weapons duffel was only a few feet in front of him, if he could just…

An arm swinging him round suddenly had his jaw meeting a fist and he was spun off balance.

"Ugh!"

The demon advanced, fists reaching for Sam as he tried to step back. Another few caught him upside the face, one in the stomach before his heel stood onto something and he nearly tripped on a familiar canvas and Sam dropped down as fast as he could and ducked and rolled.

Sam scooped up the duffel bag and pulled out the shotgun as the demon was nearly on him again. Firing two rounds into its face stopped it dead in its tracks, body collapsing as half the head was blown off this close range. Skin still steaming from holy water laced rock salt shells.

Sam reloaded and took out the few still running for him. The demons hissed at their burning wounds, smoking out or ditching their hosts, most fled.

Dean was rolling on the floor to Sam's right, a demon on top of him fighting for the knife trying to wrestle it out of Dean's hands.

Sam took aim and fired into its back as it screeched. Dean swung the demon's own hand holding the knife up and under its chin into its skull as it crackled and died.

Swiftly throwing the body off Dean yanked out the knife and stood side to side with his brother.

Both had a few bleeding scrapes and wounds on their faces. Dean wiped the blood from running in his eye, while Sam used his sleeve to wipe his split lip.

The brother's looked at each other, panting, and steeled their gaze.

Some of the demons had already fled, most were now the husks of the bodies they'd left behind like empty shells but there were still four that hadn't had enough.

Sam aimed and fired in quick succession as Dean charged forward with the knife to finish them off.

With the brothers working side by side, no demon got a lucky strike in this time and all met their deaths swiftly.

Reforming their defensive line, Sam and Dean stood together again as they eyed up the last threat.

The last, a broad heavyset demon only flinched as the holy water laced rock salt cartridges hit. The brothers looked at each other before backing up to the duffel.

Reaching in, Dean pulled out iron rounds for his .45 etched with spell work and threw the dart gun to Sam.

"Head. Heart. " Dean rushed as the brothers took aim and fired all they had.

The taller demon shook with the impact of so many bullets, the darts soaking holy water into it's meat suit would soon make it unbearable to wear.

As it still continued to stagger forward it chuckled, then reached out an arm and the brothers again were flung apart.

Dean lost the .45 and his demon blade in his spin to the ground and the demon chose to advance on him.

It's large fists tightened in Dean's shirt as it heaved him up and punched him across the face.

"Ugh!"

Lilith watched the whole time from her chair in the centre, her eyes drinking in the violence and carnage. Soon she would need to play her part. She sighed, she could enjoy the show until then though.

As Sam skidded across the floor, fists still tight on the dart gun, he jerked to a stop and took aim at the demon, firing eight more darts into the back of its head and neck, already running back to his brother.

Spotting the demon blade on the ground Sam dropped the empty dart gun and dove for it. Grabbing it tightly in his hand, he ran to the demon punching Dean and sunk the knife deep into the centre of it's back.

There was a burst of orange lightning as the demon shook and died, fists letting go of Dean's jacket as it fell forward.

Dean jerked himself loose, swaying as he stood. Sam pulled the knife free from the last demon with a squelch.

Only the sound of their heavy breathing echoed in the dark.

"Oh, I do love a little action."

Lilith suddenly chuckled directly behind the brothers.

Sam spun with the demon knife as she lifted a hand and launched him backwards. Sam hit the wall again and the breath rushed out of him. He didn't dare let go of the death grip he had on the demon blade.

When the floor finally stopped spinning Sam looked up to see Lilith standing over Dean on his knees.

"...No….nuh!...NO!" Sam choked, lurching forward to get up. Sam's arm swung up as he reached for his power to grip Lilith but one look at Dean's strained face and Sam let it go. He couldn't hurt Dean by using them, he wanted his brother to trust him and this was the way.

Lilith squeezed her fist as Dean held his chest and struggled to breath.

"NO!" Sam ran for them, blade in hand.

Throwing her arm down, Dean skidded across the floor further away from Sam.

"Sammy…" Lilith whispered, suddenly in front of Sam. "You really shouldn't have come." She flung him back to the wall with a body jarring thud.

Appearing just in front of Sam, Lilith's hands reached down to squeeze around Sam's neck, pushing him back and against the wall as she dragged him up.

"I might not be able to use my talent on you, but I can use my strength…" She squeezed her hand as Sam choked, feet lifting from the ground.

Pulling on energy deep down inside him, Sam tightened his hold on the demon blade and slashed downwards. He was aiming for Lilith's throat but only nicked her across the shoulder and chest in his awkward angle.

It was enough.

Crying out she drew back, dropping him, hand pressing to the flashing wound as it sizzled and burned.

Sam was already heaving in a fresh lungful of air, fingers fumbling and slipping on the wall to find purchase to pull himself up.

Lilith groaned at the back of her throat at Sam.

"I'm going to hurt you for that." She hissed, hand clamped over her bleeding shoulder.

"SAMMY!"

Dean was already up and running for Sam, expertly swiping his hand in the weapons duffel as he charged. Any weapon would do, he needed to get her away from Sam and that was all for now. He gripped the silver blessed blade tight as he ran.

Lilith screeched her displeasure as she whipped around and sent Dean careening backwards again, blade ripped from his hands.

"He just doesn't quit does he!?" She growled at Sam, as he raised the demon blade to her. She glared at the blade. Sam knew it could hurt her. He could see it in her eyes.

"I'm gonna kill you." Sam whispered, his eyes hard.

Lilith just laughed at him. "Sweetie you can try…"

As Sam lunged for her she flicked the knife from Sam's hands and jerked forward to slap him across the face.

Before he could recover her hand flicked him back against the wall and pinned him.

"Ngh!" Sam's head hit the wall again and he faltered, gaze dizzying as his head rung. Sam lost his balance as he tried to stand away from the wall, the pressure suddenly letting him go left him dizzy.

Sam heard Dean's second yell as Lilith tossed him away again.

Suddenly white eyes were boring into Sam's, too close.

"SAMMY!" Dean screamed his brothers name, he sounded too far away. Lilith was stepping too close, reaching out to him.

Dean ran with everything he had back toward them. He saw the demon blade spin away from his brother and he dove for it.

Dean saw Lilith backhand Sam and slam him up against the wall. Sam wavered, shaking his head.

"No no no!" Dean muttered as he ran, demon blade poised ready to strike.

As Dean closed in the last few strides he had enough time to see Sam's eyes go wide and see the flash of silver from Lilith's side.

NO!

Sam struggled to bring his hands up to stop her bringing the blade down over his heart, he managed to wrestle her wrist sideways and the blade veered in front of his heaving chest.

Lilith grunted and Sam was suddenly knocked back, head hitting the barn wall again, as his body slid down.

It was all the momentum Lilith needed. She followed the force behind her shove and drove the blade down in an arc.

As Sam's legs went out from under him Lilith's blade made contact and Sam choked back a scream.

Dean was already swinging the demon blade to her back when he saw her psychic push and Sam hit the wall behind him. She surged forward and Dean saw the full blade follow its path down over Sam's chest, his legs gave way and the blade tilted higher sinking to the hilt into Sam's shoulder.

"Ngggghhhhh- aaahhhhh!...nuh!" Sam gasped, body sliding down the wall. Face tight with pain.

Lilith spun, with a smile, a mother fucking smile on her face as she met Dean's own downward arc of his knife and she jerked to the side. The blade only skimmed her forearm.

Lilith hissed as she snatched her arm back against her, the bloody slash still bubbling.

No longer between them Dean glanced a look at a very pale, bleeding Sam, curling into himself, hands hovering above the blade, his face tight with pain.

The First demon's laughter brought Dean's gaze back to her haunting face and her blue eyes rolled backwards.

"You don't have a lot of time." She smiled, eyes white, raising a hand to the brothers. "Wish I could watch."

Dean tensed but he didn't feel himself being lifted or thrown across the room.

"Van-ooar." Lilith whispered.

Sam cried out as the blade in his shoulder suddenly glowed a bright red. Shocking like pain started out from the blade tip to the hilt and shuddered through him. It felt like his whole arm was being broken piece by piece and it was spreading fast.

Already throwing his arm back to pelt the demon blade toward Lilith Dean took aim and let go, the blade spinning toward her.

Lilith's laughter echoed around him as she flickered out, the blade spinning through nothing but air.

As the demon killing blade clattered to the floor, Dean quickly eyed the barn on his way to his brother. There was no more movement in the shadows, all the bodies were smoking or still.

There wasn't another threat for now.

Dropping down in a crouch to Sam, he took some of Sam's weight before he completely fell on his ass, already sliding down the wall, Dean held his arms out to steady his brother, careful of the blade in his shoulder.

"Sammy!?" Dean eased him down gently, using the wall for support.

Eyes squeezed shut Sam was struggling to take a deep breath and keep still.

"Hey! Hey hey… it's gonna' be okay… I got you." Dean was nodding. Already assessing how deep the blade went, if there was an exit wound all the while checking Sam's pulse.

"Ngh-" Sam gasped. "D'n...get it- get it out…" Wide eyes sought out Dean.

"Easy man, it didn't go through. You're gonna be okay…" Reaching into his pocket Dean was already bunching together bandannas to press around the blade. He needed to keep the blade as still as possible until he could get Sam somewhere safe to patch him up.

There was already a darkening patch of red blossoming over his shoulder.

"No...ugh...D'n…" Sam pleaded, eyes boring into Dean's. "Get it out…" he whispered. "She spelled it."

Dean's eyes blew wide as he glanced to the blade.

Sam cried out as the blade glowed again and he shuddered with another wave of pain.

"AGH!...D'n…"

"Hold on!" Dean growled, whipping his jacket off and his flannel underneath, leaving him only clad in his t-shirt, he balled up the flannel and supported Sam's other shoulder. He needed to stop the bleeding as soon as the blade was free.

Looking him in the eye with a silent apology, Dean's right hand gripped around the handle.

Jerking back as if he'd been shocked Dean shook his hand.

"Son of a bitch!"

Sam winced at the sharp jolt in his shoulder.

Dean readjusted, wrapping some of his jacket around the hilt he made quick work of tightening his hold, both on the hilt of the knife and Sam's side and with a silent nod from Sam's pain filled eyes he jerked the blade free as fast as he could, throwing it to the ground and using the balled up flannel to press into the now freely bleeding wound.

Sam bit off a scream as the knife was pulled free, neck straining as he threw his head back. The shock had him choking on a breath and the pressure from the make-shift bandage had his eyes rolling back as he went limp.

"SAMMY!" Dean shouted. He kept up the pressure, with two hands now as Sam was out cold. He could still feel his racing pulse and hear his raspy breaths.

"Son of a bitch!" Dean seethed. Sam's head dipped to the side, face pale. Dean bit his lip. This was so not good. Glancing to where Dean discarded the weapon, he saw the blade flicker red twice then fade out still wrapped in Dean's other jacket, Sam's blood soaking through the sleeves peeked out on the grey floor.

Still pushing on the wound, Dean tried to calm his own racing heart.

He was in way over his head with this one. Blood was already soaking into the cracks in Dean's fisted hands. Shit. They were going to need a hospital.

A sudden noise behind him had his head nearly snapping to see, but it was just the wind knocking the door ajar, and the hiss of hay across the cold cement.

He noticed Sam start to stir and focused his attention to Sam's pale face. He swallowed down his panic for the moment. They needed to get out of here, they needed to find out what the hell was on that blade. Dean didn't let the panic sweep him under. Sam's words coming back to send shivers down his back.

"She spelled it."

Sam slowly came to, face twisting in a grimace as his slow blinking eyes found Dean.

"Hey…" Dean whispered softly. "You're okay...it's okay." He continued the pressure over Sam's wound for as long as he could. Checking Sam's eyes focused on him, if not glazed over in pain they were at least with him and following his movement.

"N'd to...leave…" Sam croaked.

"Yeah. We're outta' here...can you stand?"

Sam looked unsure he could do much of anything. Both of their adrenaline was beginning to fade and their injuries making themselves known.

Sam gave a tiny nod and gave Dean a shaky smile.

Dean grinned. Okay, he could work with that.

"I'm gonna do all the work, just go with me...okay? On three…" Dean started to reposition his hands, lean down toward Sam and start to scoop him up, using the barn wall as a leaning post.

Sam grunted as he was suddenly vertical, good arm wrapped around Dean's shoulder, the eldest lead the way, hauling Sam with him.

"You need to stop...you say...okay Sam?" Dean grunted under the weight. It wasn't too far to the barn doors but it felt like forever. "SAM!?"

Sam choked back a cry. He couldn't find his voice from the sharp pain in his shoulder. It was spreading down into his whole arm and chest.

"Y'h…" He rasped. He knew Dean heard him from the brief squeeze around his waist.

"You're doing great Sam…" Dean muttered as they made it outside. The impala was only on the other end of the corn field but Dean wished he'd parked her closer.

As Dean wrapped more of his arm around around Sam's waist to grip around his belt loop at the side Dean suddenly stopped and Sam gasped as he was jostled.

"Shit!" Dean cursed, left hand feeling slick and wet. Already lowering Sam down and against the barn's outside wall, Dean grabbed the make-shift pressure bandage and knelt in front of Sam to press it back against the wound.

Dean's eyes blew wide as he took in the blood stain spreading across Sam's front.

From Sam's shoulder, nearly down to his hips on his right side was dark crimson shining in the darkness. Some had already soaked into Sam's jeans. This was too much blood, Sam was losing too much blood. Half of Dean's own arm was smeared with crimson streaks.

"Hey…" Dean again leaned in with his body weight as he applied pressure to Sam's shoulder as his brother squirmed beneath him. "Hey...M'sorry...you're bleeding too fast Sam. We have to stop this. Now."

As Sam groaned at the throbbing pressure in his shoulder he locked eyes with Dean.

Dean could feel Sam's racing heart as he pressed harder on the wound. It just wasn't stopping bleeding, no matter how much he pushed.

"Sammy…" Dean swallowed.

Sam's head tipped up at him. "S'm'thing's 'wrong…" He whispered, voice weak. Sam could feel it, down deep in his bones. This wasn't just a normal stab wound and he was afraid of what that meant.

"I need to bring the car to you." Dean said in a small voice. As if he was letting Sam down. "I can't move you too much, you're losing too much blood Sammy…"

"I know…" Sam said softly. Weakly raising his hands he took over Dean's pressure and pushed down onto his shoulder with a grimace. "I'll b'fine...go…"

Dean looked unsure whether he should leave Sam, but he couldn't drag him another mile losing as much blood as he was, he'd never make it to the car.

Dean swallowed the lump in his throat and squeezed Sam's white fist holding the bloody flannel bandage.

"Don't you dare let go of that...I'll be right back." Dean promised.

When Sam blinked up at him, as if in permission to leave Dean spun and sprinted toward the car, keys already in hand he covered the distance as if hell was on his back.

Dean popped the trunk and ruffled along the canvas bags at the side for a pressure bandage, a thick blanket, gauze, anything he thought that could help.

Throwing them into the front seat with himself he was already gunning the engine before his door was shut and speeding off towards the barn.

Sam was as promised, pale and shaking but fine, right where he left him. Hands still tight against his bloody shoulder when Dean skidded to his feet.

"Sam! Hey…you still with me!?"

Sam nodded, weakly, but he did it with conviction.

"You…" Sam coughed. "N'd...blade…."

"What!?"

Sam cleared his throat. "Get t' blade...we n'd to destroy it...I think…might work..."

Dean's brain worked overtime, realising in a split second that to stop all of this Sam was thinking they needed to destroy the blade Lilith had used to stop the spell.

"I'll get it." Dean promised. That was as good a plan as any. "First you need to keep warm and I need to put as much gauze on that as I can."

Sam let Dean move him slowly, dragging him to the car and haul him across the front seat. Dean made Sam lay down, building a bandage upon gauze upon a blanket and anything else he could find to wrap around his shoulder, finally a blanket over the top of him.

Sam heard the passenger door squeak and slam and Dean's thundering footsteps as he ran back for the knife.

Dean saw the glint of it, along with the bright red smear of Sam's blood on the wall, almost black in the low light. The blade, still wrapped half in Dean's jacket and peppered with Sam's bright blood was thrown where he left it, the visible hilt still gave an eerie red glow as he approached it.

He threw the other half of his jacket around it and snatched it up, not letting any of it touch his skin. Dean ran back to the car as fast as he could.

His mind all the time screaming at him to get Sam to a hospital. Now.

Dean tossed the jacket wrapped blade into the back seat and climbed in, lifting Sam's head to rest on his lap, Dean used his free hand to apply pressure to Sam's still bleeding shoulder as he groaned.

"I know Sammy, M'sorry…" Dean muttered as he gunned the engine and the Chevy sped onto the highway.

Dean could feel Sam shaking under his hand. Feel the distinct tremors wracking his brothers body.

Suddenly Sam cried out. Hot poker like jolts of pain radiated down from his shoulder.

"Nuh!" Sam clenched his teeth.

"Sammy!?" Dean snapped. Eyes fighting between the road and his brothers panicked gaze.

"D'n!" Sam's back arched as another jolt shook him. "Ah!"

"SAM!" Dean fisted his hand in Sam's jacket, leaning harder into the wound. He could already feel blood soaking through the layers upon layers of blanket and gauze.

"Dean!" Sam choked. "Stop….stop!"

"Sam! You need a hospital, you're losing too much blood!"

"It won't h'lp…" Sam gasped. "Need to burn it…"

"Sammy, hold on...not much further okay, just a little more." Dean had no idea where he was driving to other than civilisation. He knew there was a hospital somewhere on the route into the city and he was aiming for that. There was just too much blood covering Sam and Dean tried not to let that searing panic take over him.

"No...no...D'n...stop….stp' the car…" Sam groaned.

"Sammy?" Dean asked, foot already easing off the accelerator.

"Salt 'n' burn it…" Sam whispered.

As another shaking jolt shook Sam under Dean's hand he was already swerving into the side of the road. Nothing but darkness for miles ahead and behind. This really wasn't the place he wanted to do this.

Lilith's words still echoed through Sam's mind.

"You don't have a lot of time."

"Wish I could watch."

Easing Sam from his lap and gently laying his head down, wadding more blanket over the blood still oozing through his fingers Dean leaned over Sam for the bundled knife in the back.

"Sammy… you with me…?" Dean checked as he lost eye contact for a second.

Sam audibly swallowed. "W'th you…" He muttered weakly.

"Burning this should stop whatever the hell she did to you right?"

Sam suddenly had a moment where panic nearly took over. He didn't know what language Lilith spoke the spell in and he didn't know if burning it would destroy what she'd started but there wasn't another option here. If this didn't work… Sam swallowed, eyes wide. He didn't want to go there.

"It should…" Sam croaked.

"Son of a bitch!" Dean cursed.

He threw the bundle at the ground, sprinkling rock salt and lighter fluid liberally over his balled up jacket and lit a match.

From his angle Dean could still see Sam's face tilted toward him, laid back on the seat watching from the wide open drivers side door.

As soon as the match took flames shot up toward the sky consuming the jacket and blade within.

The top layer melted away as the jacket flared into thick angry flames and revealed the silver blade within.

Once the flames touched the glinting silver Sam's body writhed in agony.

"NGH-" Sam choked. Breath catching in his throat. His wound burning hot-white agony as the blade was consumed by fire.

"Sammy!" Dean ran back up to Sam's side, cradling his face with his hands. He could feel Sam tense and choke on his gasps as he shook, neck corded and strained under the onslaught. He could feel an unnatural heat radiating off Sam.

Turning to check the fire, the blade was still intact, shimmering silver in the inferno, the jacket blackening and turning to ash around it. It looked like the fire hadn't even touched it.

"S'not...s'not working…" Sam strained, leaning into Dean's hand. "AH!"

"Shit!" Dean frantically glanced around, face pinched with worry.

"CASTIEL!" Dean screamed into the night. "CAS YOU GET YOUR FEATHERY ASS HERE NOW!"

Nothing stirred in the darkness, only the crops gently in the breeze at either side of the road. The impala's headlights cut a path into the darkness, it's engines rumble the only sound other than Sam's strained breaths for miles.

The fire burnt out, the jacket fuelling the flames now ashes and as the last orange embers faded out, the blade still glowed red on the gravel as if nothing had ever touched it.

"Dean!" Sam heaved. "Ugh!" He was starting to feel light headed, the blood loss really starting to sap his strength. Shock was setting in and Sam was starting to hyperventilate. He didn't see a way out of this situation, he couldn't help Dean if tonight he finally bit it.

He'd leave Dean alone. Unprotected.

Sam locked eyes with his brother, the pleading glance plain to see.

"Don't you dare give up on me!" Dean rushed, leaning down to press his lips against Sam's forehead. "Don't you dare give up Sammy...just hold on, please just hold on." Sam gasped under his chin, mouth opening to try to take in a deeper breath as he struggled.

"Dean."

The low voice had Dean snapping around to face the angel Castiel.

X0x0x0xx

Ruby watched and waited from the sidelines, spell work cloaked her from the demons nearby as she blended into the night.

She could hear the uproar of a battle within the barn and tried to stop the strange wave of excitement and worry from taking hold.

She knew she could trust Lilith to get the job done and done right. But there was still...a gnawing.

Something pulling at her, like her teeth worrying her bottom lip. A flutter of...emotion at what was happening inside.

Ruby realised this feeling, she had felt it before and not in a very long time.

It was fear.

And fear for the youngest Winchester of all people.

She could clearly hear the brothers cries from within the barn and fought herself to remain stoic and still.

Her breath hitched as the night fell quiet.

Then when she heard the unmistakable sound of Sam's scream, she had to stop herself from jolting forward.

She had to fight the feeling to save him there and then and wasn't that fucking ironic.

Ruby, the demon part responsible for bringing Sam to his knees, wanted to rush in like a knight-literally from hell in shining armour. She swallowed her feelings and pushed them down deep.

She would need to be ready when the time was right.

Her eyes flashed black. She couldn't let a mortal feeling ruin the chances of their plan. This was what she always wanted and it was finally coming to be.

The Winchester boy was simply the arrow she needed to pull to hit the target.

Ruby let her eyes flash back to her suits deep brown. She couldn't help feel like the soft hearted Winchester boy was getting under her skin.

Snapping her attention back to the barn she heard Lilith's telltale giggle and felt her static vanish, the barn fell silent once more.

Silent from any screams or shouts, silent from any static from demons.

It was just the brothers in there now.

Ruby crouched as she watched and waited.

The barn doors suddenly groaned open and she saw Dean, dragging a blood covered Sam with him through the doors.

Ruby felt her stomach twist, unease began to worm its way through her.

She couldn't help the sudden fiery spark of anger towards Lilith. She'd stabbed Sam with the blade, judging from the sheer amount of red staining Sam's front, no doubt getting too carried away with her anger when she could have just slashed.

Ruby tensed her jaw. The brothers didn't have much time before things got bad.

"Fuck." Ruby hissed.

Dean lowered Sam and spoke in hushed words as she saw him pelt to the car to bring it back.

She stayed in the shadows, fighting the urge to run to them, until the younger boy was loaded into the car and watched as Dean ran back for the blade.

Good. She thought. At least they'd have it with them and then she could destroy it.

She watched intently as Dean tenderly laid Sam's head across his lap and floored it. The black metal eating up the tarmac.

The demon followed the Chevy until it stopped, swerving to the side of the road, headlights cutting into pitch black night.

Panic gripped her as she heard Dean's shouts for his brother. She could sense Sam fading, and fast. They really didn't have time for this.

"C'mon Dean…" Ruby whispered.

She saw him trying to destroy the blade in fire and salt and she half applauded his efforts. Nice work. She thought. But that isn't going to help him…

As the blade burned she could feel it's spell tighten hold around Sam and had to stop herself from running forward again, aware of the panic beating it's way through her body.

She heard him cry out and she bit her lips between her teeth. This really wasn't going the way they wanted. She needed to act and do something soon or Sam would be lost. She almost regretted letting him get hurt.

When the angel arrived, Ruby slithered lower into the dark. She was still cloaked from his presence but she was taking no chances. She heard them talking, saw the angel try to heal Sam and fail.

"You'll just make it worse…" Ruby hissed to herself.

She could see the fright lighting up in Dean's eyes as his options ran out.

Sam cried out and Ruby felt herself tense. Her breath on edge as she waited nervously. Sam was weak but still alive, for now…she had to hold out. She had to trust Dean would do whatever it took.

When she saw Dean start to cast the circle she smiled to herself. Sweet relief washed through her like warm bath water and she took control of her emotions.

It was time.

x0x0x0x

"Cas!" Dean boomed. "Sam- fix him. Now!" Dean growled.

The angel simply looked past Dean, his frown growing serious.

Castiel was suddenly next to Dean, arms hovering over Sam's shoulder as he concentrated over the youngest Winchester.

"This is...dark spell work." Castiel mumbled.

"Lilith stuck him with a spelled blade." Dean fumbled over his words, rough breaths catching. "Fire didn't work, it's only hurting Sam more! Stop it!" Dean demanded, desperate.

Castiel's sad eyes looked up to Dean by the driver side door.

"This is an ancient spell Dean. I cannot remove it."

"What!" Dean snapped.

"This was done by a powerful demon Dean. Only a powerful demon can remove it…" Castiel let his hands hover over the wound as Sam hissed. "He doesn't have long." The angel said sadly.

"Fix him!" Dean yelled. "Dammit Cas!"

"I am sorry Dean, I can only replace the blood Sam is losing, but that is an uphill battle. It will not stop it, simply buy us some time."

"Do it!" Dean snapped. Lips trembling. Some time. Dean would take that.

The warm glow emitted from Castiel's hand lit up the inside of the impala as Sam tensed under Dean's hold.

Some clarity returned to Sam's eyes after but they were still pinched tight with pain.

"Sammy…?" Dean whispered.

"M'okay…" Sam muttered, the energy leaving him slowly again.

"You tried to take on Lilith? Alone?" The angel asked as Dean took over cradling Sam's head in his lap again.

"I called for you, before...you didn't show. She had a whole horde of dickbags waiting for us."

"I am sorry." The angel said genuinely. "I was safeguarding a seal, I only came because I heard the distress in your voice just now."

"What do we do!?" Dean demanded, face looking down at his brother. Sam was still so pale, eyes blinking sluggishly.

"We need a powerful demon to uncast this spell, or your brother will die."

Dean's jaw ticked.

"M'sorry…" Sam mumbled against his hand. "Shoudn't h'v let her get...get the drop 'n me…"

Dean shook his head, eyes bright and wet under the Impala's interior light. "Don't you dare try to apologise. This isn't on you. This isn't your fault." Dean leant down and pressed his forehead against Sam's.

"UGH!" Sam jolted again, breaths heaving. "S'getting worse…" Sam bit out.

Dean didn't let the tears building and stinging his eyes fall. He would not let Sam die tonight. That wasn't even an option.

Swallowing down the hard lump in his throat Dean let his head fall back and looked out across the sky, eyes darting around. Sam could see the cogs turning in Dean's head as he fought for a plan.

"Cas, hold down on that wound." Dean ordered. "You apply as much pressure as you can, and you don't stop, not for anything." Dean was squeezing Sam's hand in his as he passed to let the angel take over in his spot.

Sam grunted as Dean's presence left and Castiel appeared, heavy chest crushing weight replaced Dean's warm embrace as he lost sight of his brother.

"NGH!" Sam choked. "Dean!" Sam fought the angel. "No...don't do anything stupid…" Sam fought to sit up, to fight the angel holding him down but he didn't have the strength.

Tilting his head back Sam followed Dean with his pained eyes, heart racing as he saw him open one of their journals and start laying out a circle on the road.

"No! Dean!" Sam struggled, his strength renewed as his worry for Dean swiftly overrode the pain. His gaze flicked back to the angel. "Don't let him do anything stupid," Sam pleaded at Castiel. "Don't let him make a deal!"

Sam tilted his head back to watch Dean again, twisting himself to see despite the gnawing pull on his shoulder. Castiel pressed down even harder and Sam's vision whited out for a second.

When his gaze came to and there was no longer black dots dancing across his vision, Sam had enough time to recognise the words falling swiftly from Dean's lips and then saw the flash of fire as the summoning was complete.

Blinking owlishly at the now occupied space, Sam caught the black eyes of Ruby standing in the circle facing Dean.

Frowning, Sam felt a wave of dizziness rush through him and struggled to hold onto consciousness.

"Dean!" Castiel called. "Sam is getting weaker."

Sam heard the pair of crunched footsteps head toward him as his eyes slipped closed and blackness swallowed him whole.

As Dean finished the summoning, throwing the cedar wood into the centre, the flames erupted a bright white and then died.

Through the hazy smoke Dean spotted her shadow before he saw her face.

"Dean." Ruby pinched a fake smile. "I'd like to say it's great to see you again...but it's not." She remarked.

"Taking up a chance to kill me?" She said sarcastically.

Dean glared hard toward the demon, pure hate hot in his gaze. He let her finish before he spoke.

"Oh you're not here for me." Dean said darkly. "I need you to fix Sam." Dean's voice cracked, but his stare never wavered.

Ruby frowned, face softening until she looked past Dean to his limp little brother laid out and bloody across the impala's front seat.

"He's getting weaker." The angel called out over his shoulder.

"What the hell happened!?" Ruby demanded, rushing past Dean to get to Sam.

The angel regarded her warily but with a nod from Dean left Sam's side and backed away.

"I do not trust demons." Castiel said.

"Neither do I." Dean snapped at the angel, his gaze coming back to Ruby. "But it doesn't matter. If she can un-cast the spell." Dean softened. "If she can save Sam...then…" Dean's voice petered off.

Ruby's eyes widened at the blood covering the youngest, it had spread well across his shirts, over the leather of the seat and glancing back at Dean, smeared across his arms and chest in angry red slashes.

"What happened?" She asked as she gently approached Sam.

"Lilith." Dean grated.

Ruby snapped her head up. "Lilith!"

"She stabbed Sam with a blade she'd spelled…" Dean nodded toward the black ashes on the gravel to their right, the blade still shining brightly in the centre. "We burnt it in salt, it didn't do shit but hurt him more." Dean licked his lips. "Only a demon can remove the spell...just-" Dean softened his gaze. "Just stop it." He whispered.

Ruby nodded, feeling something akin to honour to be let into the brothers tight knit circle. Even if she knew of the blade and her and Lilith's plan, she couldn't help the urge to go to the brothers and help them.

Sam's breathing was shallow, his face too pale and clammy. Sweat had stuck some hair to his forehead and some gathered to the side of his neck, matted with blood. God he looked like he was at death's door.

Ruby let her hand touch directly over the wound, removing the layers upon layers of gauze. Her palm touched hot red blood, already welling up between her fingers. She could feel the pulse of the spell start to take over Sam's own energy pulse. Soon it would consume him.

Ruby's eyes snapped up to Dean's. "Lilith used a draining spell." She glanced back down to Sam's still face. She used her own energy to force some life back into Sam to get him to open his eyes but nothing happened.

"What does that mean!?" Dean asked, hovering in the doorway.

"It means, this wound will never heal. Sam won't stop bleeding and it's not just draining his blood but his life force. This spell takes energy from your soul."

Dean felt his stomach drop.

"Can you stop it?" Dean asked softly.

Ruby swallowed thickly. She'd hoped that little burst of energy she just snook into Sam should have roused him but it didn't.

"I think so…" Her words faltered. Her hands hovered over Sam's wound again and she pushed in some more of her own energy to try to bring Sam to consciousness. Again, nothing happened.

"Fuck." She snapped. Eyes roaming over Sam for any other injuries, anything she missed for why this wasn't working. Lilith used too much damn force! She screamed in her head.

For the first time she was panicking about whether she could actually save the young Winchester and not about the end of the world.

"Why isn't he waking up!?" Dean said worriedly.

"Just give me a minute!" Ruby snapped.

Again she spread her palms on Sam's sticky blood as she pressed down onto his chest.

"What did she say!?" Ruby asked. When she didn't get a response, she glanced black flashing eyes up to Dean. "What did Lilith say to him when she stabbed him!?"

"Uh...Van- something...I don't know the exact words!"

"Then it's a life force focus- spell. She's set it in motion, spells like that can't be stopped...You have to stop the force or kill the demon."

Ruby felt fresh blood soak through her hands. "Sam!" She shouted. Ruby sent a small wave of pressure to jolt Sam in the hope he'd snap his eyes open.

Nothing happened.

Ruby shook him.

"Shit!" Ruby snapped. "Dean, I need you to hold him- we need physical contact...I need you to bleed on him- to connect you-you're brothers- that bond will work. But you'll feel the effects of the spell too, I need you to call him back to you anyway you can. Sam is too weak, it's taking hold of him too fast! Get his eyes open, and I'll do the rest." Ruby was already switching places, directing Dean's hands and moving to the trunk before she finished her instructions.

Dean locked eyes with the soft browns of the demon, saw the urgency and something akin to care flicker in her hazel eyes. He nodded.

"Cut your palm- hold it exactly over Sam's wound." Ruby shifted out of the way so Dean could be close to his brother. Dean was already slicing his hand open and laying it onto Sam's bloody chest.

"You share blood, it will connect you to Sam but also the Spell. Don't let it take hold of you. You need to fight for Sam. This is the only way…" Ruby rushed. "If you can get his eyes open and his focus on you I can stop the force doing the damage...you have to get him to wake up."

Dean nodded. As soon as his bleeding hand touched Sam's open wound he jerked. It felt like hot surges of electricity were rushing into his body and he tensed. The longer he held his hand to Sam the more the force felt like it was trying to crush his bones to dust, in his hand moving up to his shoulder.

"Dean?" Ruby asked, already casting her own circle around the blade on the ground and rummaging through the trunk for ingredients.

"I'm good." Dean grit his teeth against the pain. "Do it."

Using his free hand to scoop under Sam's shoulders he pulled his limp brother up and onto his side as he sat in the front seat, Sam draped across him. Dean's bleeding palm still cradled around Sam's chest and on the wound.

"Is this what he's feeling?" Dean winced as his arm shook. The pressure was spreading through his chest and threatened to steal his breath.

Ruby glanced his way, her eyes cast down as she moved about marking sigil's in the dirt. "You're connected to the spell now, but it's bound to Sam." She opened her mouth to say more but stopped herself. "What Sam's feeling is much worse. Wake him. Now."

Dean didn't need to be told twice.

"Sammy...c'mon man it's Dean. I know this is shitty but I need you right now." Dean whispered into Sam's ear. "I need you to listen to this and come back to me…I need you back here with me Sammy...please…"

"Keep talking to him!" Ruby rushed outside as she gathered her wares. She smashed a quartz crystal in a singing bowl and wiped some of Sam's blood from her hands across the herbs then set them alight at the North edge of the circle.

Castiel stood by, watching the scene unfold.

Ruby snapped her gaze to him before she knelt before the silver blade.

"You wanna say some prayers for us feathers?" She chided.

"I am praying for their lives." Castiel responded.

"How about you use that energy and you help me...I need a boost." Ruby said matter of factly. As she knelt before the salt circle, she held a hand out to the angel.

"I need to focus my energy into that blade and a little bit of grace would do that much faster."

The angel merely watched her. "I do not work with demons."

Ruby's jaw ticked. "I'm not asking you to work with me, I'm asking for your help! To save Sam!"

Something similar to the human emotion of fear flashed in Ruby's brown gaze as she knelt before the angel and he stepped forward, hand out to wrap around hers when he felt her honesty.

"I will help to save Sam." Castiel nodded.

"Great." Ruby spat. "I'll add aiding angels to my wanted list…" She hissed under her breath.

Dean was still cradling Sam, grip tight and warm holding Sam to his chest. The surges seemed to get stronger and a few nearly took Dean's breath away but he still spoke softly to Sam, not missing a moment even when pain threatened to choke his words.

"Sammy, man...I'm here. I'm' right here and I'm not going anywhere... just need you, need you to come back to me okay. Please...please Sammy just open those eyes for me."

"Dean!?" Ruby called from the ground.

"Sam. We're running out of time. You need to fight. Fight with me Sammy."

"Ah! He's not waking up!" Dean shouted.

"Keep talking to him, he's fighting it Dean I can feel it! Just help him fight it!"

Ruby glanced to Castiel. "As soon as Sam is awake, the spell will fight him to take over- we have to focus our energy onto the blade. Onto destroying the power source. Okay?"

Castiel nodded and knelt down before the circle with Ruby, hand closing tighter around hers.

"You care for Samuel." Castiel casually mentioned, light enough that only Ruby could hear.

Ruby faltered. She swallowed a wave of emotion down as she straightened her thoughts.

Blinking back suddenly blurry eyes Ruby got back to the focus at hand.

"He doesn't deserve this." She whispered back to the angel. "He's never hurt me."

As Dean whispered softly against Sam's face he felt his brother tremble, only subtle at first then the shaking got stronger.

Sam's forehead scrunched up as his eyes squeezed shut and he blinked to open them fully.

Dean sagged with relief into Sam. "Sammy! Man...it's good to have you back!"

"He's awake!" Dean shouted to the others. The relief was short lived as white-hot agony knifed through Sam's shoulder and through Dean's hand.

"SON of a BITCH!" Dean jolted.

"NGH!" Sam bit of a choked scream as he tensed against Dean, a sob caught in his throat, new and angry hot flaring pain seemed to be alive and trying to shred them to pieces.

"DON'T LET GO OF HIM!" Ruby shouted to Dean. She nodded at the angel then focused her mind to the blade. She felt the light bright white energy merge from Castiel through her to the shining silver in the centre of the circle and set her intent.

Destroy this blade. She wished with her mind.

Castiel winced as the blade fought back against them but he only felt Ruby push harder and start to fight the effects.

The glowing silver at first was bright red, the brothers cry a testament to how hard the spell was fighting them. Then when Ruby re-doubled her efforts he saw the blade flicker, the red glow begin to char and burn like molten metal.

"NUH!" Sam grunted against Dean. He could feel the spells hold on him start to slip and loosen then grapple for any kind of grip as it was being torn away, like knives stabbing and slashing for purchase. Dean held onto him tightly, shaking with the effort to fight off the spell.

"Hold on Sammy." Dean whispered and Sam did, he held on with anything and everything he had.

Sweat started to pour down Ruby's face, the strain much more than she'd ever imagined. Without the added grace from the angel the blade would have consumed Ruby too. She could almost sense it's death throes as it fought the inevitable and then finally there was a loud shink as the blade snapped in two.

Glowing orange started to take over the dagger, black charring its edges until it was nothing but floating ash and with a burst of black smoke. The spell broke.

Ruby grunted and sagged forward, the angel easily stopped her face plant to the ground as she panted for breath.

Sam and Dean suddenly gasped as they felt the last tendrils of the spell break hold and leave them, both leaning heavily against the front seat and each other.

"Sammy…" Dean rasped. After a beat.

Sam nodded on Dean's chest. "S'done…" He muttered, too weak to move.

They stayed like that, feeling each other's heart beat rapidly start to slow between their chests as they got their breath back and Dean tilted Sam to his side, fresh gauze being wadded against the now trickling wound in his shoulder.

Sam leant his head back on the leather seat. Eyes half lidded following Dean's ministrations.

"It's stopping…" Dean sighed in relief as he checked the wound.

Sam swallowed against the strong coppery smell that covered the entirety of him and his brother.

"Sorry…" Sam mumbled when he caught sight of the blood soaking into the grooves of the leather around him.

Dean huffed a laugh. "It's okay Sammy…" Dean arched his arm around Sam's shoulders and smoothed the younger Winchester's hair back across his forehead.

Blood still streaked Sam's face, his neck and the same mirrored on Dean's entire torso.

"Just don't ever do it again." Dean said with a small smile.

Sam winced, his eyes clenching shut, he suddenly fell limp in Dean's arms.

"Sam!"

After the final candle from Ruby's circle extinguished she knew her spell had worked.

Castiel still had a strong grip of her hand and helped her to her feet.

"He's okay." Ruby called out to the worried older brother. "He just needs rest. He'll be okay."

Circle still smoking, Castiel waved his hands and the entire thing turned to dust. He let go of Ruby and caught her glance as he looked to the side.

"You did well tonight demon."

Ruby nodded. "You ain't half bad yourself for a self righteous dick with wings."

Castiel didn't smile, but the corner of his lips curved up.

"Is this over!?" Dean called out from the car.

Castiel walked over and leant in the driver side door, gaze brushing over the Winchesters.

"It is over. The spell is broken." The angel smiled at the relief in their eyes. "I cannot heal the damage from this spell, but you will both live. I must return to heaven." Castiel hesitated as he stepped back, looking like he wanted to say something else.

"I will hear you in the future Dean. Simply call my name."

Dean nodded. "I appreciate that."

The angel vanished in a flutter of wings.

Staring into the space the angel had just been, Dean noticed the demon Ruby staring at the ground, avoiding his gaze.

Dean sighed. Sam was breathing softly beside him, body too exhausted to stay awake and Dean gently broke himself away, covered Sam with their spare blood free blanket and stepped outside to the demon.

Ruby didn't look up as Dean stood before her.

"I ugh...I should thank you." Dean stuttered. "And...uh apologise."

Dean licked his lips, finding it hard to catch the demon's gaze.

"You've saved Sam tonight. He wouldn't have made it without you." Dean nodded, finally looking into her brown eyes. "Thank you." He said solemnly.

"I didn't do it for you." Ruby answered honestly, her own stare seeing past Dean to the sleeping boy in the car.

Dean followed her gaze behind his back to Sam passed out in the front seat. Head awkwardly leant along the back of the seat.

"He needs you ya' know. He wasn't the same when you were in hell."

Dean turned back towards the demon, mouth opening to respond but there was nothing but the breeze.

Dean glanced up and down the road. But Ruby was gone.

Looking up to the stars, relief stinging his eyes Dean heaved a sigh. This was too close tonight, he'd nearly lost Sam. His chest shuddered as he heaved out a panicked breath. This could have gone so differently and it stole Dean's breath for a moment as his eyes watered.

The blood covering him suddenly felt cloying and stiff. It had dried into the cracks of his hands, around his nails and stuck to his chest through his thin t shirt. Dean's own injuries were a throbbing reminder of what had happened tonight and he climbed back into the car beside Sam, careful not to jostle him.

It wasn't over yet. He needed to get Sam patched up and in an actual bed.

"D'n…" Sam roused, forehead pinched.

"Hey," Dean said softly to Sam's left. "How you doing?"

Sam licked his lips. "M'not thinking b'out it…"

Dean scoffed. "Don't blame you kiddo'. Get some rest okay. I'm gonna get us a room somewhere, we need to finish patching you up."

Sam groaned as his shoulder protested any more carnage.

"I know man." Dean empathised. "It's okay, we've got some good whiskey."

Sam tried to chuckle but ended up shaking his whole chest and hissing in pain.

"Uh…might take you up on that." Sam said softly.

Dean readjusted Sam, still half draped across him as he shut his door and swung the Chevy back onto the road.

Dean glanced across at Sam, sprawled awkwardly across the front seat, bloody blankets and bundles around him. Thick red smears across his neck and chest. Dean took in the dark under shirt poking out the top of his blanket clad chest. It was white earlier.

"We need somewhere dark." Dean informed.

"We look like we're in a slasher film."

Sam smiled sadly. "M'sorry about the car."

Blood covered almost all the leather in angry streaks or smears and pools and it was a bitch to get out.

"Don't be man. S'okay." Dean said earnestly. Happy that Sam was even alive with the amount of blood covering them and the car.

"We'll stop soon okay. Not long." Dean muttered as it fell silent in the car. They were hitting streetlights and corner stores and soon a motel.

"Oh...great." Sam groaned. He knew what that meant. His shoulder throbbed as he thought about stitches.

"How you feeling anyway?" Dean asked. "I saw you get thrown around by Lilith, and I definitely saw her knock you out...let's not forget the demon beat down."

Sam winced, all his other injuries starting to scream their protest.

"I'll live." Sam whispered. Too weak to carry on the Winchester 'I'm fine' line. They both knew he wasn't.

As the Chevy rocked forward the cab lit up with downtown lights and Dean navigated the corners, making the jostle easier on Sam and slowly pulled the Chevy to a stop.

"I'll uh…"Dean looked down at himself. "I'll put on a jacket and get us a room…one at the end." Dean thumbed to the last line of motel doors at the back of the lot, the streetlamp busted out front.

Dean worked fast, expertly wiping the visible blood from his face, pulling on his leather jacket and casually booking a room. He didn't need questions right now, he needed Sam safe and horizontal. Resting.

Almost as soon as Dean left the car he seemed to be back at Sam's door, leaning in, reaching across to wrap Sam's good arm around his shoulder and maneuver his brother out of the car as pain free as possible.

Sam hissed against him, faltering on unsteady legs.

"Not far now Sam." Dean whispered as he felt Sam tense.

Pulling his brother with him, both vertical, he used the car to lean on while he threw the blankets with one hand to cover the front seat. He'd deal with that later.

"Ready?" Dean asked as he felt Sam sway into him, Sam's hand flailing to grip hard in his t shirt.

"Y'h." Sam bit out.

Slamming the door he turned his brother to the dark room at the back of the lot. It wasn't far but Sam was already sagging against him.

There was no one around this late in the night so Dean didn't have to worry about witnesses at least.

Reaching their motel door Dean quickly used his key card to enter, leaning Sam against the door frame while he put the card in his teeth and hauled Sam through.

Dean dragged him to the furthest bed and let him drop slowly onto the mattress.

"Uh…" Sam grunted from the change in gravity. It was making his head spin, then again that might be the blood loss he thought.

"Be right back. Don't move." Dean ordered and swiftly ran back to the car.

Sam had a moment where he was alone to firmly squeeze his eyes shut and take some deep calming breaths.

He definitely wasn't up for a Winchester patch up session right now.

Dean appeared again, first aid box and duffel's in tow. He locked the door and laid a salt line at the door and windows.

Sam hadn't moved since he sprawled him across his bed.

Coming back to his brother, Dean used the spare car blanket to bundle beneath Sam and helped de-layer Sam from his jacket and flannel. Sam hissed as the fabric pulled on his skin. There was so much blood both dry and still wet he felt like it was peeling off him.

"Jesus." Dean muttered, not even bothering to save the clothes. He tossed them in the trash.

"Need to cut that off." Dean nodded to the bare t shirt Sam was clad in. The blood had soaked into nearly all of it. He didn't look like he should have survived tonight.

Dean made quick work of propping Sam up slightly with motel pillows, making sure he had one for his head to fall back on. Sam looked like he could barely keep it up.

Pulling off Sam's boots, Dean tossed them to the other side of the bed and sat beside his brother for a moment.

"Whiskey?" Dean asked gently, bottle in hand ready.

Sam grimaced, hands fumbling to reach the bottle neck he took a long deep swig. Sam hissed then repeated the action before handing it back to Dean who took his own long drink.

Sam coughed at the burn at the back of his throat. He felt the amber liquid start to warm it's way through him and take the jagged edge off his throbbing shoulder.

Dean licked his lips, catching Sam's bright eyes.

"Okay?…"

Sam scrunched his face up, heart already pounding at what he knew was coming. His nerves were frayed, he was exhausted and he really didn't want to be sober through this. He lifted his hand again and signalled for the bottle back.

"Don't blame you kiddo'…" Dean smiled sadly as Sam took another few mouthfuls.

Resting his head back Sam panted.

"M' gonna cut that off, we'll take it slow okay?" Dean said softly.

Sam only nodded.

Using the first aid scissors Dean cut Sam's shirt from his waistband to the collar and gently pulled away the slick cotton that had half dried to Sam's skin.

Pulling enough away to be able to work Dean caught a close up look at the angry shoulder wound.

It was a deep jagged bloody diamond, oozing dark red blood, just beneath Sam's collarbone.

Dean winced at it.

He started wiping the area around it, careful of how sensitive Sam's skin would be and made sure it was sterilised. Dean quickly cleaned his own hands in rubbing alcohol and got the suture needle ready and threaded.

Pouring a liberal amount of antiseptic on a gauze Dean sought out Sam's eyes for permission to carry on.

Sam's brow furrowed and he nodded.

Dean muttered a silent apology as he covered the wound with the gauze and Sam's body shook under his hand.

"Ngghh!" Sam clenched his teeth, head thrown back on the pillow, neck strained at the burn he couldn't escape.

Dean made fast work of soaking up the fresh trickle of blood and making sure the area was as clean as it could be without hurting Sam more.

"Sam?" Dean asked as Sam's eyes were clenched shut.

"Sammy? Hey…" Dean reached out to grip one of Sam's bloody hands. It was shaking.

"M'okay…" Sam finally breathed. Blinking to clear the haze in his vision.

"More?" Dean asked as Sam's eyes focused on his and he offered the bottle again.

Sam groaned but took the bottle and necked a few more swallows.

"I'll be as fast as I can." Dean said softly.

"S'okay…" Sam whispered. "Get 't over with."

Dean started scooting closer to Sam, careful not to bounce the bed and leant over Sam's shoulder. It would need at least ten stitches but Dean could do that within a few minutes and then Sam could finally rest.

God knew they both needed that after tonight.

Sam was tensing already, eyes following Dean's hand with the suture needle.

Locking eyes Dean took a deep breath and watched as Sam did the same. Good he thought.

As Sam breathed out just as deeply, Dean took the opportunity to make the first stitch and the air whooshed out of Sam.

"Ugh!"

Dean made quick work repeating his movements, stitch number two, three…

All the while Dean kept a close watch of Sam's face, his free hand feeling Sam's heart drum against his fingers.

Stitch four, five, six…

Sweat started to bead on Sam's forehead, his breathing starting to rasp, jaw tight.

Seven, eight, nine…

"Sammy...deep breaths c'mon…" Dean pleaded. His brother was starting to hyperventilate, pulse thundering under Dean's hand.

Sam grunted in the back of his throat. Fists tenting the bed sheets around him. He didn't have the strength to answer Dean. All he could focus on was the stinging pain that seemed to radiate across his whole chest, trapping his breath and with it his ability to speak.

As Dean made the tenth stitch, he heard Sam's breathing catch in the back of his throat.

"Sammy...you're breathing too fast man. Slow it down…"

Dean stopped his torture, palms facing Sam to show he wasn't carrying on. There was maybe only four or five stitches left until Dean was happy it would hold, he wanted to get this over with.

"...c'nt…" Sam rasped. "D'n…"

Sam's breath caught again and Dean leaned closer.

"Hey!" Dean snapped. That worked. Sam's eyes focused on him. "Breathe with me…" He inhaled deeply and slowly, coaxing Sam to do the same.

Sam tried to take a deep breath, pulse thundering in his own ears but the moment his chest expanded, the stitches pulled and Sam lost it. His already frazzled nerve endings had too much, too soon.

Suddenly going lax in Dean's grip, Sam passed out. Pulse still beating a storm against Dean's hand.

"SAM!" Dean shook him. Sam didn't respond.

"Shit!" Dean cursed, fingers fumbling to feel Sam's pulse at his neck and feeling the thundering beat start to slow. Sam's breathing was starting to even out, rasps no longer audible.

Heaving a sigh of relief Dean let himself relax. Sam was okay, he'd just gone through too much tonight.

Dean didn't blame him. Apart from the clear pale skin around the wound Sam was covered in dark red stains. Angry red smears and streaks covered the rest of Sam's torso, up on his neck and face, even in his hair.

Dean made speedy work of the last few stitches, making sure the wound was closed, then poured a decent splash of alcohol on before pressing down with the gauze. The last thing they needed was an infection. Dean took a long drink from the bottle after, calming his own shot nerves. The wound finally was clotting too, no more gushing blood or pools in Sam's collarbone.

Sam didn't even twitch through the final touches, and Dean took the chance to finally clean up his little brother, and wrap his shoulder in enough gauze it would be Sam-proof.

Small miracles. Dean thought. At least he didn't have to torture his brother anymore.

Tossing the bloody rags and Sam's destroyed t shirt which he just cut the rest off in the end, in the trash, Dean made sure his brother was comfortable and propped up so there was no pressure on his aggravated wound. That would be a bitch to heal. Dean made a mental note to get the sling they had in the trunk out.

Now Sam's skin was blood stain free, Dean could see the angry dark bruises start to bloom across Sam's ribs. He'd swear one looked like a boot print. The same angry blues and purples curved around Sam's neck.

Dean clenched his jaw. Sam's face was no better.

Dean carefully laid a few butterfly bandages on the deeper wounds across Sam's eyebrow and temple and cleaned his bloody lip.

Laying out some pills and bottle of water on Sam's nightstand, satisfied by now he wouldn't puke them up, Dean took a moment to actually stop.

Too much had happened tonight and Dean realised his own pulse was hammering a beat as he let himself think over just how close it had all been. How close he'd been to losing Sam tonight.

"Jesus." Dean breathed.

He spent the next hour cleaning Sam's blood from his own hands, arms, chest and just threw his own thin tee away in the same bloody pile of trash with Sam's. Dean wrapped the cut across his palm in the spare roll of bandage and made a note to refill the first aid kit. They'd gone through a lot of supplies tonight.

Despite how tired Dean was he knew sleep wouldn't come until he'd checked in on his brother who was still yet to wake up. Sitting next to Sam's bed Dean rearranged the weapons and cleaned the ones they'd used tonight.

It was late into the night before he heard Sam start to rouse.

His younger brother started to twitch in his sleep, eyes rolling beneath his lids, breaths starting to shake his chest as they seemed to catch in his throat.

Eyes snapping open on a gasp Sam's head shot up and he instantly groaned in the back of his throat from the jarring movement on his shoulder.

"Sammy! Hey!" Dean was already in Sam's line of vision, hands carefully holding Sam still.

"Easy…"Dean said, calmer. "Demons did a number on you man, take it easy…" Dean leaned closer to his brother. "It's okay...we're okay."

Sam swallowed and groaned, head falling back.

"W- where are we?..." Sam whispered, voice thick.

"Far enough away." Dean answered. "How you doing?"

Sam looked like he was afraid to move. "Uh…"

"Don't answer that." Dean corrected, holding out the pills and water for Sam. "You need these. Then get some more rest."

Sam accepted, Dean feeding him the pills and holding his water as Sam tried to awkwardly accept with his good arm. It seemed every single movement jostled the pain from embering coals to burning inferno and he couldn't deal right now.

After swallowing the pills, exhausted, Sam's eyes slid shut again and he drifted off.

Dean took a deep breath, and wiped a hand over his face. Sam would be okay. He'd make sure of it.

He would be in a hell of a lot of pain, and for a while too. The wound was deep and wide and even using his left arm would pull on the wound.

Dean made quick work of securing Sam's left arm in their spare sling and pulled off Sam's bloody jeans. He covered his brother with his own quilt and finally sat on his own bed.

Dean didn't even remember falling asleep, half sat up until sometime in the early rays of morning light Dean jerked himself awake falling into the side table.

Jerking awake, suddenly alert Dean glanced around the room for any signs of a threat.

There was nothing.

Sam's deep and even breathing was still calm, his brother still sleeping propped up with blankets in the same position Dean had left him. The salt lines were secure. The door still locked.

Only the first few fading rays of dawn were piercing the worn curtains.

Dean glanced to the digital clock on the nightstand.

4:05 am.

Huh.

Dean blinked a few times and finally decided to get up and make coffee.

Getting to his feet had him holding back a groan, his back and face throbbing at the sudden gravity change.

"No more demons…" Dean muttered to himself as he poured a cup of coffee.

Catching himself in the mirror Dean saw his own bright blooms of bruises covering the side of his face and eye.

Ow

And judging by how stiff and sore the rest of his body felt he knew that would look the same.

Sam's breathing suddenly changed, from deep long breaths to short coughs.

Dean paid close attention, moving to sit on his own bed beside his brother again. His coffee resting on the nightstand.

Sam's eyes fluttered open, he took a deep sobering breath and then leaned forward to sit up.

It's a good job Dean wasn't taking a sip of his coffee or his mouthful would have exploded all over the room, cup too.

"SAM!" Dean launched himself to Sam's side, hand bracing his brother as he sat up. "Hey take it easy!"

Sam blinked up at Dean with wide eyes.

Still pushing to sit himself up, Sam managed with Dean's help and let himself lean against the headboard and pile of pillows, a little more vertical.

"M' okay." Sam said in a small voice.

"Jesus Sam! Just- just don't overdo it okay?" Dean watched with worried eyes, heart beating out of his throat. "You ruin my stitches-"

"Really…" Sam said clearing his throat. "M'okay...just sore."

Dean blinked down at Sam. "The whiskey isn't that good." Dean scoffed.

As Sam shifted to get a little more comfortable, Dean made a second coffee and handed it to his brother.

"Here…" Dean handed Sam the half full cup.

As Sam reached for the cup, the blanket shifted and a dark brown bundle fell out onto the carpet with a dull thud.

Both brothers glanced to the floor, Dean's eyes wide.

"Shit!" Dean jumped into action, already moving the small hex bag to burn in the sink.

"Wait!" Sam yelled, struggling to stand. "Wait! Dean!"

Spinning around, hex bag in hand Dean looked equal parts terrified and furious.

"What!?" Dean exclaimed.

Sam smiled at him, hands balancing himself. "Dean, it's okay…"

"What the hell is okay about a fucking hex bag in our room, under your-"

"It's brown leather." Sam said matter of factly. "Ruby." He whispered.

It took a moment from the panic to clear from Dean's face and then he looked at the bag in his hand and seeing Sam sat up, smiling and nothing on fire or any burning pain, his fist holding the hex bag relaxed.

"What!?" Dean snapped.

Sam genuinely chuckled at Dean's baffled response.

"It's okay- that's from Ruby. It isn't here to hex…" Dean sat on his bed across from Sam listening intently. "It's to heal."

Dean didn't look happy.

"Check your pillow." Sam said to his brother.

When Dean did peel back his own pillow the same bag was indeed on his bed. Huh.

"It's to help us heal. It's alright."

Now he thought about it, the sledgehammer in his head was definitely quiet and his body didn't feel as stiff or sore as it did a few minutes ago.

"Ruby?! How did she even know where we were!?"

Sam shrugged.

"And how do you know what this is?"

"Uh…" Sam licked his lips, suddenly feeling awkward under Dean's questioning stare.

"Hey!" Dean demanded, serious. "How do you do even know what this is!?" Dean's eyebrows drew together, he looked pissed, but Sam knew the look of worry on his brothers face any day and he felt bad for putting it there.

Sam swallowed.

"Has...has Ruby had to do something like this before? Sam?...has she had to heal you before?"

"Uh…"

"Fuck Sam!" Dean snapped. "How many times!?"

"On- only a few times...that I know of…" Sam fumbled.

"That you know of!? What the hell Sam!"

"There was a few times I came to in a motel or a hospital and I had no memory of getting there, of getting patched up...and-"

"And?" Dean prompted.

"And...those bags were always with me…"

Dean shook his head, one bandaged hand rubbed his weary eyes.

"I need another coffee." Dean muttered as he got up to pour himself another. "And we...Sammy, we need to have a talk."

Sam cringed.

Xoxoxox

Ruby watched from the shadows as the brothers pulled into the motel. She watched the oldest Winchester wipe his brother's blood from his face and go the booking office. From this angle she couldn't see Sam's face sprawled out in the car but she could feel his energy and it was weak. Usually Sam gave off the brightest aura she could almost see the hue of his glow if she concentrated but tonight, it was dim and dull and she had to fight the urge to go to him.

She followed them from the fields to this no name motel and stood patiently. Once Dean had pretty much dragged Sam to the safety of their room she released the breath she didn't know she'd been holding. She knew Dean would look after Sam but she still had to fight the urge to full on knock on their door and help. Ruby pulled a face at the thought. She was a demon dammit. They did not help hunters. But she couldn't stop circling the thought in her head.

She watched through the crack in the curtains, closer now, Dean tenderly patching up his brother and wiping the bright red blood from his skin.

It had been a close call tonight. Too close in fact.

Ruby still had the cold pit in her stomach thinking back to just how bad this could have gone. Without the angel, she wasn't happy to admit. She'd have lost the star child tonight and their plan would be crushed before it even began. She began to realise how easily all their efforts could have been for nothing and had a new respect for everything Dean had done for his brother and her tonight.

Back when Dean was in hell, she'd nearly lost Sam a few precious times when he was too injured or too out of it to get himself somewhere safe. It was hard getting through to Sam to hold on back then, he didn't value his own life without his brother by his side. So she made sure she was around so he still had a life.

But Dean, Dean could make Sam hold on, make him fight to stay alive and she needed that. She needed him strong. And if Dean could do that for Sam, then she would protect them both until the end.

As dawn approached Dean drifted off in his own bed and Ruby finally relaxed her fist and with it the healing bags she'd made up from her own stash of rare ingredients. She'd had to make a few of these rare beauties over the four months Dean was in hell. When Sam was too closed off to take her help, she made sure she got him to someone who could. Whether that was a hospital or clinic or just dragging him somewhere safe to rest with a bed so she could fix him up herself.

Her healing bag would make sure, again tonight, that the weariness and pain dragging them down felt lighter and their wounds would heal a lot faster.

Letting herself in, never disturbing the salt line or even touching the door Ruby watched the brothers sleep.

She carefully tucked the healing bags under Sam's blanket and Dean's pillow to be hidden. They needed to be close to the people they would be healing and they would work better if she cast the spell close.

Taking a moment to run her eyes over Sam's prominent features she felt herself smile. They would both survive tonight and be stronger for it, their bond strengthened.

Ruby let the spell fall softly from her lips, whisper- soft words ignited the healing bags and she saw them both glow a bright white, carefully setting her intent on both Winchesters she stepped back and felt the brightness she'd always known as Sam start to shine again. The bags wouldn't need too long to start to work.

She was pleasantly surprised to see Dean's own aura shine a bright blue. The protector, of course. She'd never noticed Dean's brilliant colour before and took a moment longer to admire the brother's light.

Hesitantly Ruby backed up, feeling Dean start to rouse from sleep she smiled softly and disappeared.

Ruby watched from the crack in the curtains as the brothers woke up, the pain and fatigue easing from their features.

She would leave them, for awhile at least to be brothers again. When the time was right she would need both of them to play their part.

Letting her eyes flash black Ruby vanished from the early rays of dawn lighting up the parking lot.

She cared too much for these humans than she dared admit. But the conflict of emotion soon was squashed back down. She couldn't let herself get soft. She couldn't lose sight of the final plan. Though she still felt a rising anger towards Lilith for being too heavy handed, she knew at the end of the day, she would have to use the boys.

Ruby took a deep breath. She couldn't dwell on that now. She had a job to do.

Ruby did not fuck up.

They would soon have the final seal and Sam would open the door.

It was everything she had ever wanted, wasn't it?

Xoxox

At first there was an uneasy tension in the room, like Dean might explode with the emotions running across his face, Sam couldn't decide if Dean was pissed at him or worried or both.

Sam was the first to break the silence, as Dean sat coffee in hand across from him.

"Dean…" Sam started softly.

Dean held a hand up, pausing Sam, taking another sip of coffee. Eyebrows drawn into a frown Dean looked like he was trying to find the words.

"Tell me about them." Dean finally said.

Sam blinked.

"Tell me about all the times when I wasn't here, that Ruby had to patch you up- hell, how many close calls you had when I wasn't here to watch your back."

"Dean, don't-"

"I wanna' know." Dean said matter of fact. "I want to know what happened to you when I wasn't around."

Sam knew what Dean was doing. He was blaming himself for everything that had happened when Sam was alone, while he was being tortured in Hell, not like it was a beach resort Dean had just fucked off to. Sam could see the haunting guilt lacing Dean's bright green eyes and it made his chest tight.

Being such a close call tonight had shaken something loose from the eldest Winchester, the hard edge to him smoothed out.

Sam watched Dean with sad eyes. "It's not on you." He whispered.

"It kinda' is Sam." Dean finished his coffee. "I promised you nothing bad would happen to you. And it did. And I need to know Sammy…"

"I don't blame you." Sam said strongly despite the lump in his throat. "Never did."

"I know." Dean smiled sadly at Sam. "I still need to know."

There was silence in the room as Sam's thoughts rushed.

He finally licked his lips, and took a deep breath.

"I uh...I ended up in a hospital twice." Sam said shakily.

"What happened?" Dead asked gently after a moment. His gaze softened and focused on Sam.

"Uh...spirit."

"Where?"

Sam frowned. "Uh...Missouri." He couldn't quite remember the first time that well, he'd been pretty out of it back then.

"How bad?" Dean probed.

Sam broke eye contact for a moment, staring at the floor. Dean sat patiently and waited for him to finish.

"Uh…" Sam swallowed. "Concussion, a few broken ribs...nothing...nothing I couldn't handle." Nothing compared to what you went through.

"Landed you in hospital though." Dean said. Eyes carefully watching Sam, he was definitely not giving all the details.

Under Dean's piercing gaze Sam finally crumbled and carried on. If Dean really wanted to know he'd share. But he'd make damn sure Dean knew he wasn't responsible.

"Okay, if you really want to know...everything, you need to know that nothing that happened, nothing was on you. None of it Dean."

Dean didn't speak, which Sam took as permission to continue, he knew Dean would still blame himself, but he needed to get it across to Dean. Sam would never blame his brother and he needed Dean to get that. For that to sink in.

He'd been broken without his brother around, empty, lost. But he never once blamed his brother for any of it.

"I ended up in the hospital because...the spirit I was hunting was haunting new built apartments. No bones to burn, or anything they were attached to. It was on the third floor, and as soon as I started the house cleansing, things got tight. I had to...uh...I had to improvise and...it left me wide open."

Dean remained quiet.

"The last thing I remember... was falling. Then waking up in the hospital."

Sam caught Dean's eyes as he let it sink in.

"It threw you from a third floor window?" Dean guessed and by the flicker of, was that guilt? Across Sam's face Dean knew he'd guessed right.

"I was okay." Sam swallowed thickly.

"How long were you in the hospital?" Dean wasn't mad, especially with how he spoke to Sam but his jaw was tight and his eyes were hard.

"Four days." Three of those I don't even know about because I was still unconscious but you really don't need to know that.

"When'd you wake up?" Dean asked, voice tight.

Sam closed his eyes. He'd forgotten how good Dean could read him.

"Day four." Sam surrendered.

Dean nodded, eyes dark. "And the other time?"

"Dean-" Sam pleaded. He felt vulnerable and guilty and ashamed under Dean's gaze. He didn't want to have to lay anything else on his brother. The weight already on his shoulders was enough.

"And the other time?" Dean repeated calmly cutting Sam off.

"Uh…" Sam stalled. "Water wraith. Nebraska."

"What happened?" Dean asked softly.

Sam closed his eyes. He really didn't want to have to explain this one to Dean. It was hard enough explaining it to himself.

"I was stupid." Sam said, voice tight, eyes wet. "That's what happened."

"What did you do?" Dean watched on, concern shining in his eyes.

"Nothing." Sam shrugged. "I got...shit faced drunk an- and I went out looking for a hunt. Then when I found something, I didn't even do anything...I just…"

Sam cleared his throat. He remembered standing at the lake, frost biting his face, the cold stealing his breath but really not caring about any of it, even his soul felt heavy. He didn't have the strength to carry on that night.

"I just let it find me." Sam stared into the stained motel carpet. He couldn't bare to see Dean's face or the disappointed look he knew would mar it right then. Sam couldn't face that right now. He'd let his brother down enough.

Neither brother moved or spoke for a long moment.

"Did you want to..." Dean asked after what felt like forever, quiet soft words released into the silence.

"I...I don't even know." Sam answered honestly. "I wasn't dealing well...I wasn't even dealing..."

"When was this?" Dean asked gently.

Sam shook his head. "I…" Sam scoffed. "I don't even know." He smiled at Dean sadly, bracing himself for the look of displeasure on his brothers face but there was none. Dean was...Dean was looking at him like he hadn't seen him in years, fully focused, eyes full of empathy like he could absorb all of Sam's sorrows and pain.

"It wasn't long...after…" After you were torn apart and dragged to Hell in front of me. "Kept hitting brick walls, couldn't find a way to get to you, get you out...get me in...there was just nothing- no demon would deal- not for anything…"

Dean reminded himself to ask Sam a little more about that later.

"...so I didn't care when the wraith pulled me into the lake. I tried everything I could think of to find you. And every time was a dead end. And I just...lost it." Sam swallowed. There, he'd said it. Now Dean knew.

Knew what a selfish shit he was. Throwing his life away when Dean had sacrificed his so Sam could live.

"I get it." Dean whispered. Words so soft Sam had to strain to hear them. "After Cold Oak...I would have done anything to stop...I don't even know what to call it. The emptiness, the dark hole I was just gonna' fall in."

Sam looked up at Dean's own confession.

"So I get it." Dean reaffirmed.

The relief Sam felt nearly made his head spin.

Sam wasn't trying to kill himself. Don't get him wrong, he'd thought about it a bunch of times. But he just couldn't do that to Dean, to Bobby.

And if he had to hunt, then he might as well just throw himself into it. Not like he had anything to lose.

And at the time, he really just didn't give a fuck anymore. About anything.

Dean clearing his throat broke the silence.

"How'd you land in hospital?" Dean kind of regrettably knew how, but he wanted Sam to say it. They'd been too distant recently, fought, and Dean missed being able to take the burden off Sam's face. Missed being able to read his brother, level with him. Hell he missed how close they used to be to be honest.

"Technically I didn't drown. It was near." Sam licked his lips. "Hospital said they got an anonymous call and found me, out of the water, in a recovery position, someone had made sure I was breathing okay…"

Sam raised his eyebrows at Dean, who did the same.

"No one else was around, no witnesses. But one of those bags was in my coat when I woke up and the impala was parked outside the hospital."

Wow. Dean cringed. He was so grateful Ruby had got to Sam in time, especially when he'd nearly given up, but the thought of her driving his car…

"Then one time, I saw her. I didn't know it was Ruby at the time… but I remember bits…" Sam stalled, eyes glancing down to anywhere but his brother's face.

"Bits?" Dean squinted, tilting his head.

"Uh...I may have crashed a hunt someone was already on, kinda got caught in the crossfire…" Sam winced.

"You got shot!?" Dean asked incredulously.

"Just grazed…but I was in the rocky mountains, I didn't prepare for a shoot out. I didn't…"

"Have anyone watching your six." Dean said sadly, catching Sam's eyes.

"I was reckless." Sam admitted, guilt lacing his voice. . "I didn't even pack a bag, just went off guns blazing…"

Dean bit his lip.

"Sorry you had to turn into me to survive."

"But that's the only way I could have survived. Don't apologise Dean. It was the only thing that made me feel close to you." Sam cleared his throat. "I know you're not on the Ruby fan list...but without her...I wouldn't be here. She did...what you would do…she chewed me out. Made me get a grip."

"She found you in the Rockies to give you a pep talk?"

"No. That time I came to in a clinic. I remember seeing a woman, remember walking downhill- maybe not so much walking-moving...someone was telling me to hold on. When I woke up, the Doctor said there was no one else with me. I figured...I'd just dreamt it up."

"When did you know it was her?"

"She showed up after I'd finished a hunt- this was months later. This one actually went okay…" Sam took a deep breath. "Wendigo, in Colorado. I was actually prepared for this one." Sam smiled. "Packed a bag and everything."

"Well I'm glad you started using your big head."

"There was no one to save, I only got wind of it because someone saw it while camping, got freaked and called it in. It hadn't taken anyone yet. I guess it was just out of hibernation." Sam twisted on the bed, angling his body to show Dean three deep healed slashes curving across his ribs on his back.

Dean winced.

"I got it. But not before it got me."

"They look like a bitch." Dean winced at the scarred wounds. The angle would make it impossible for Sam to stitch by himself, half on his side and half on his back. They were long and deep enough that it must have slowed Sam down. He wouldn't have been able to get the pressure right to stop the bleeding either which meant…

"Ruby?" Dean asked.

"Yeah." Sam sighed, running a hand through his hair.

"Wendigo was toast, I was...running on adrenaline by that point. I nearly made it back to the car too…"

"But you were losing too much blood." Dean stated, eyes flicking to Sam's wrapped shoulder. A stark reminder of what had happened tonight when he'd nearly lost Sam. Dean's eyes softened.

"I remember seeing the 'pala, tripping over something- probably my own feet but I never made it to the ground. And I'm suddenly leaning on someone and they're dragging me to the car, shoving me in the front seat, chewing me out for not having back up, for not being prepared...and then…" Sam paused.

He remembered waking up in his hotel room, lights low, side pressed full of bloodied bandages and a shadow moving around the room. He remembered the dread sinking in at the time and the panic that rushed his system as he caught the other person's eyes in the dark. And they were black.

That had been a terrifying surprise.

Xoxoxox

"Don't bother. Not gonna' kill you." Came the cool voice from the shadow. She stood just in front of a street lit window, her face was half hidden but her eyes were like dark pits.

Sam was already lurching for his gun, side screaming in pain. He managed, gun tight in his fist, he needed two hands to steady the aim. She just stood there, hand on hip, the other holding the first aid box.

Sam's arms shook. Sweat beading on his forehead. He was half lying on the bed, gun shaking, couldn't even muster the effort to stand.

His side burned.

Sam caught a glance at his side and the spreading dark stain. He saw and felt his shredded shirt.

"Get out." Sam grated.

"Like I said…" the shadow stood into the low light and Sam could see her face. See her sideways smirk. "Not gonna' kill you."

She threw him the first aid box.

"You're doing a great job of that yourself." She tilted her head. "You gonna' drop that gun so I can stop you bleeding to death."

Sam's eyebrows drew together, the gun wavering.

"Ruby?" Sam whispered.

She shrugged.

"H-how…?" Sam gasped.

"First, lie down or you'll pass out. And drop the damn gun."

Sam didn't let go of the gun but he did lower it and she approached him.

Sam's head rushed and he felt dizzy. He couldn't believe what was happening and it was all catching up to him too fast.

"W-what…"

Wadding a pile of gauze together in her hands, Ruby reached over and pressed it around Sam's side.

His head swam. He had so many questions he needed to get out but his mind was already spinning and he couldn't form the words with his suddenly thick mouth, and then the pain hit.

And everything went black.

Xoxox

"I passed out. Woke up in my room to find...a demon...bringing over the first aid kit." Sam scoffed. "She...she patched me up and tore me a new one. That's when I figured out who she was."

Dean shook his head.

"You know it's bad when a demon's saving your ass." Dean raised his eyebrows. "Don't get me wrong… I'm glad she was the one to get to you." Dean made sure he caught Sam's eyes. "But you left yourself wide open...to anything. You know better than that Sammy."

Sam nodded. "That's what she said."

Sam rolled his bandaged shoulder and winced as the stitches pulled. It was nothing compared to the burn from before so he'd take that as a win.

"She told me...I needed to get a grip...sort myself out. That I was an idiot." Sam smiled across at Dean.

"No arguing there." Dean raised his hands, palm facing Sam.

"After that, I tried to find her. Followed any demon signs I could and that's when I caught wind of Lilith...and I wanted revenge."

Dean nodded. "After tonight, I'm ready to take a turn on that." Dean's eyes darkened as his gaze took in Sam's blossoming bruises. The trash can full of heavy red clothes.

"Did you try to go after her yourself?" Dean asked after a moment.

Dean was already panicking about what horror show he was imagining and already knew about that Sam had been getting involved in when he was in hell. Never mind the parts he didn't know about and judging by Sam's heavy shoulders, Dean would never know the full extent Sam had had to endure without him.

"I followed some demons to a...meeting I guess. They were talking about Lilith needing some of them for some special tasks, that she was gonna be meeting them at the next full moon. So I waited...I listened and I promised myself I'd kill her for what she did to you. To us."

"You tried to go after Lilith? On your own?" Dean's eyes were wide, with worry and fear. "Sammy…"

Sam shrugged. "It was the only thing I could focus on. The only lead I had…" Sam shook his head. "It didn't matter anyway. When I went back to find them, to find Lilith...she wasn't even there. Just… a lot of demons."

"I bet that went down swell." Dean said sarcastically.

"It wasn't the worst hunt I've done." Sam's lips curved up in a sad smile. "Got most of em…some smoked out, got away...they were the ones who followed me back to my room."

Dean closed his eyes with a sigh. Jesus Sam!

"That's when Ruby showed up- she was with them, they were...really angry...when she started killing her own. And she told me she could find Lilith…" Sam swallowed, eyes darkening. "I wanted to kill her so bad...that's all I focused on."

Dean nodded. He felt the same way now.

"Did you ever get close?" Dean asked.

"No. She was never in one place long enough…" Sam muttered sadly. "Until tonight…"

Dean hissed. "Yeah, I'm actually fine with never having a re-do of tonight."

Sam winced as he gave a small smile. "Agreed."

Dean watched Sam's smile fade quickly and his eyes darken.

"Hey." Dean said.

Sam looked up.

"We will kill her. Okay? Just not tonight." Dean narrowed his eyes, it was a promise.

"I know." Sam nodded.

Sam cleared his throat. "Uh-how did you...how did you break the spell? Did Cas-"

"He helped." Dean said softly. "Owe him a fruit basket huh...and Ruby." Dean rolled his empty cup in his hands absently. "They ugh- Ruby worked a spell of her own and Cas lent her some juice. That seemed to finally break it. They destroyed the blade." Dean sighed. "Was pretty touch and go for a while though."

"M'sorry." Sam mumbled. The ache in his shoulder a reminder of what they'd been through tonight.

"It's okay Sammy." Dean smiled sadly. "How is it?"

Sam shrugged one sided. "Okay."

Dena just stared.

"It's not awful..." Sam admitted.

That seemed to satisfy Dean for now.

Shifting forward Sam stood slowly on shaky legs.

"Whoah- what are you even-"

Sam laughed as Dean's hands were suddenly on him, steadying him on his good shoulder.

"You wanna' help me take a leak?" Sam smiled.

Dean scrunched up his face. "No. Dude. Gross." Dean didn't move his hands though. "Sure you can make it to the bathroom on your own?"

Sam had a moment where he realised he was leaning into Dean and without his brother holding him up, he would be on the floor.

"Ugh. Okay, point taken...wanna' just help to the door?"

"I think that's best huh Bambi." Dean snarked.

"Shut up I am not-"

The moment they started making their way to the bathroom door Sam's legs stumbled and he pitched forward. Dean, fully expecting this was ready, and he pulled Sam back into himself and wrapped an arm around Sam as he pulled Sam's over his shoulder.

"You were sayin'?" Dean grunted under the extra weight.

Sam was panting by the time they got to the door and Dean held on for an extra few moments before he let Sam reach for the wall and awkwardly lean into it as he stumbled forward.

A few minutes later, Dean heard the toilet flush and the tap squeak and then Sam's soft voice.

"D'n?"

He found Sam bent over the sink, his one free hand splayed against the counter top, his face pale and his hair hanging down in front of his eyes.

"Sammy? Hey?" Dean was careful to brace Sam's good side against himself as he steadied him.

"Ugh..." Sam grunted, his eyes squeezed shut.

"C'mon, I think this is enough adventure for now." Dean readjusted his hold on Sam and turned them. "You need some down time."

Sam nodded weakly against him, his breathing starting to get shallow. Dean knew he was running on empty and hurried his movements all the while careful of Sam's shoulder.

The elder Winchester moved swiftly and soon had Sam leaning back into his pile of pillows and blankets.

It didn't take long before Sam's eyes closed on their own and his body again succumbed to the much needed rest. Dean shifted the blanket covering Sam and smoothed Sam's hair back from his face.

Other than a few bloodied scrapes and vivid bruises, his colour was beginning to return and his breathing was strong and steady. He'd be weak and sore for a while, but Dean didn't have any foreseeable plans apart from bed rest and takeout. Mainly forcing Sam into the bed rest and himself indulging the take out.

Sitting back in his chair beside Sam's bed, restocked with another cup of coffee, Dean watched his brothers chest rise and fall.

He idly noticed the bundle of brown leather on the bedside table and curiosity got to him, he reached for his hex bag and rooted around inside.

Scrunching his nose up at some of the odd looking items Dean leaned closer and sniffed at what looked like a dried out grey flower. Instantly pulling back with disgust he threw the bundle back onto the side table and huffed out a few breaths through his nose, trying to dislodge the gross smell.

"Friggin' witches." Dean mumbled.

Dean took the rest of the early morning with his feet up on his bed, angled toward Sam in his chair, watching him sleep. He let his own exhaustion take him under and tried to forget about Sam's confession of what life was like when he wasn't there. Dean had imagined it a thousand times over but now he could see it in HD replay with Sam's words narrating it. Before sleep claimed him, Dean made a mental note to find out what other misadventures Sam had had without him, maybe when his little brother could stand without face planting the carpet, and then he could tear him a new one.

For now, Dean was content to hear Sam's pain free breathing gently pull him into peaceful sleep.

xoxoxox

I hoped you liked this one, I had fun writing it!

Thanks for reading!

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