Disclaimer: Not mine. I'm just playing. I'll put'em back when I'm done.

Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: A tag for 7x06 Slash Fiction

Spoilers: Obviously for Slash Fiction. If you haven't seen it, this might not make much sense.

Author's note: I don't do many tags, but this one was begging to get written. Hope you enjoy it.

It was easy to say that he had never felt this beaten down in his life and he'd been dealt some pretty nasty blows. His agenda was the same as it had been before Sam had walked out on him and he had gotten rid of the heads first and foremost. The issue was just that it gave him absolutely no joy that this action may have put a cramp in the Levi's style.

Heavy-hearted, he got back behind the wheel and felt even more lost when he considered the absence of the car that had been home since he could remember. Everything was gone, everyone had left, and all that remained was him and this seemingly unwinnable fight against an unbeatable foe.

For a long moment he sat there, considering what to do next, considering why he would want to do anything next, then he sighed, turned the key in the ignition and got back on the road. He had to go back to the motel to pick up his duffle and ... "Dammit Sam," he muttered and slapped the steering wheel lightly. "What the hell am I supposed to do now?" Would Sam forgive him? Probably not. Would he stay gone? Well, he'd walked out before and he had come back. But would he this time? The first thing that had gone through his mind when Sam had walked off was to follow him, to bring him back, but Dean knew he had to accept that Sam was pissed off at him and, more prominently, that Sam was a grown-up and could make his own decisions.

"Like I didn't see this one coming," he berated himself while pulling into the parking lot of the dingy little motel they had a room in. He parked this horror of a car, got out and just stopped there for a moment to stare at the door. "It's like Stanford all over again," he mused quietly, then dug out the key and unlocked the door.

It swung into the room and he figured that if anybody was waiting for him inside, he wasn't going to put up a fight. Why bother? Everybody left him eventually. With Sam, it had only been a matter of time.

Feeling more downtrodden by the moment, he stepped inside and pushed the door shut before he registered that he wasn't alone. And he could honestly admit that he was flabbergasted. His emotions did a rollercoaster ride before they settled on carefully hopeful. "Sam."

Sam was sitting on the footend of his bed, his duffle between his feet, his backpack on the bed behind him, and he wasn't looking at Dean. He just sat there and stared at the floor in front of his feet, hands clasped, elbows resting on his thighs. "I've been thinking," he said. His expression was so tight, Dean was afraid he'd split a seam. "I've been trying to find one reason for staying, you know," he continued. "It's obvious you don't trust me. It's obvious you think I'm total basket case." At this, he raised his head and looked at Dean, who made no move to respond. "Maybe I am. I don't know. I'm on hell vision twenty-four seven. I have to physically hurt myself to stay on track," he continued. "I can't keep going like this, but letting Amy go gave me a little hope. Hearing you say that you understood, that you supported me in that ... it made me feel that I could do this."

"You can," Dean tried, but the look Sam gave him made him shut up again.

"You don't know that. I don't even know that. Every time Bobby looks at me, I know he's just waiting for me to unravel," Sam said and rose. "Some part of me believes that I'm still in Hell, that I never got out and this is ... a mind game." For some reason that made him smile, even though that smile was anything but becoming. "Is it?"

"No, Sam, it's not. You're out. You got away," Dean tried, hoping someone to calm whatever was raging inside his brother.

"Did I? I don't feel like I got away, Dean. I don't feel like I got a second chance. I gave Amy one because I needed to believe that she was telling the truth. Fact is ... I know she would probably have killed again. For her kid or when her hunger got too strong. I know how hard it is to resist urges. I've been there. And I get why you killed her. I don't like it, but I get it. But ... I can't ..." He closed his eyes, balled his hands into fists for a moment, then focused on Dean again. "You lied to me, Dean. You've been busting my ass about lying from day one and then you turn around and do exactly the same. Where does that leave us?"

A thousand excuses rolled through his mind and none of them would do. None of them could justify why he had adopted the 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude toward his brother. He sucked on the inside of his cheek for a second while considering what to say and knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that there was only one path to take. It was unfamiliar territory for him, not a place he ventured often, but this was one of those times where nothing would do but the truth. "I was scared," he finally said and met Sam's eyes dead on.

"Scared?" Sam looked confused.

He nodded. "Yeah. When you told me you'd let her go ... I had the feeling this was going to come back to bite us on the ass. That I didn't confront you about it ... man, I was scared that any opposition would push you over the edge, that you would come apart right there. So I lied. I ... went after her and I took her out, because I really felt it was the right thing to do. But ... when it came to her kid ... I just couldn't. I want to believe that this kid can grow up right. I know he can't. I figure we're gonna run into him again someday and when we do, he'll try to kill me. He ... saw."

Sam's expression darkened. "Do you have any idea what that sort of thing does to a kid?" he asked, his tone tight and angry.

"Yeah, Sam, I know. Believe me, I do. But ... I can't kill a kid. I just can't." He snorted, threw the keys onto the table and sank down on one of the chairs. What he had to say next would probably rank among the hardest things he'd ever had to say and he wasn't entirely certain he could pull it off. But he needed to open up, needed to admit that he wasn't fine, that he wasn't up to par. "I'm not on top of my game and I feel like I need to be there for you, keep you on your feet and moving. And when I said that we're good, I meant it. Me taking out Amy had nothing to do with not trusting your judgment, Sam. It had everything to do with me being scared. Half the frigging time I don't know what I'm doing any more. I wake up in the morning and all I want to do is go back to sleep. I have nightmares about Cas, about you, about Bobby. But I gotta get up, I gotta keep moving because ... there's you. And there's Bobby. And I feel responsible for all this crap. I gotta put it all back in its box before I can ..." He stopped, not really sure what came next, fearing that if he kept talking he'd say things he couldn't take back. And through it all he didn't even dare to think that this was going to make a difference to Sam. He didn't think it would stop his brother from grabbing his stuff and leaving. And he knew that if Sam left now, he'd probably never see him again. And that thought got to him like nothing else could.

For a long time, he just sat there, eyes on the floor, feeling very overwhelmed and very beaten. But when Sam made no move to reply and didn't pick up his stuff and leave either, he dared a brief glance at his brother.

Sam just stood there and stared at him. Then he sank back down on the edge of the bed. "I knew you had issues, man, but ... I had no idea they went that deep." He eyed Dean for a moment, but the tightness had gone out of his expression. "I wasn't really gonna leave," he added quietly. "I just needed some air, to think things through."

Dean slumped back on the chair. "You should, Sam. You should get the hell away from me. I'm not good for anybody any more." He waved idly at the bedside table and the half-empty bottle of Jacks sitting there. "I mean, just look at what I had for breakfast."

"No," Sam said with a light shake of the head. "You're drinking to cover up your emotions. You gotta stop that. We gotta be on top of this thing or they'll get the drop on us." He glanced back at the bottle, then rose, grabbed it and emptied the remains down the drain in the bathroom. "No more beer. No more booze. We're gonna get you some Disulfiram if that's what it takes," he added and dropped the empty bottle in the waste basket. "It's gonna be tough, but you can ride this out."

Dean stared at him while the fact slowly sank in that Sam had no intention of leaving. He was probably still pissed off about the whole thing, but he wasn't going anywhere. And Dean was willing to go to Hell again to stop that from happening. On the whole, he considered himself a pretty pathetic piece of shit for not being able to face life alone, but that was just the way it was for him. "As long as you don't make me go to AA, I'm okay with anything you suggest," he said and tried a timid little smile.

Sam gave him a dark look. "I'm still pissed off at you, Dean," he warned. "Don't push my buttons right now. I have my own crap to deal with and I am not going to be your crutch. You gotta find something to live for before you kill yourself out of sheer self-loathing. Because, as pissed off as I am at you right now, I can't face this all on my own. I'm not going on alone. The only reason for that I'm still standing right now is you. However dysfunctional our relationship is, it's all we've got."

All he could do was agree. "I hear you," he said. "And ... I'm gonna make it up to you. I swear."

Sam pursed his lips. "Don't make me any promises you can't keep," he growled, dug out his cellphone and dialed a number. "Bobby? Hey. We're dropping off the grid for a while. Can we bunk at your place?" He listened for a second. "Well, let's just say that we're in for a few painful weeks here," he added and glanced at Dean. "He's on the wagon."

Dean sighed. Some part of him knew this was necessary, but he didn't exactly savor the idea. Booze had been a crutch, no doubt about it, but having to do without it ... well, that made for a very bleak future. Having to face this fucked-up world stone cold sober every day made his skin crawl. But he was going through with it. If for nothing other than to show Sam he meant it.