Nixie grabbed the nape of Sam's shirt, hauling him off the ground for the third time in a row.
"Thanks," he muttered to her, annoyed that she seemed perfectly at home here on the forest floor. Sam was tripping over every dead branch and leaf that blew into his path.
She flashed him a quick smile over her shoulder in a completely out-of-character attempt to make him feel better. "You humans need to get out more often. You live in a world of straight edges and manufactured sunlight. This is my world. Pure, untamed, wild. Perfect."
Sam twisted in place when he felt something crawling up his back. Nixie kicked a small spider off him. "Yeah, I'll, uh... take the human world, thanks. Bigger than me or not. I'm not made to be able to survive here at this size." He dug his knife out of his jacket, ready for the next creepy-crawly to cross his path.
Ever since watching Dean step away from them, it had been a constant battle of survival for Sam. Where Nixie was able to walk straight through, he would run into dangers he hadn't even known existed. One leaf he'd stepped on had collapsed into a small pitfall, leaving Nixie to haul him out ass backwards. Spiders had jumped him three times now, and he tripped over every dead branch in his path. Before now he'd thought he was a bit more graceful, but next to Nixie he felt like a lumbering Sasquatch.
Her footsteps were light and graceful. Even without her wings she passed over the forest floor like a ghost, barely moving the leaves she stepped on. If he hadn't been standing next to her, he wouldn't have known she existed. Her clothes, so odd before, now served to blend into the mottled backdrop. If she left him she would fade into the dark better than a chameleon.
Of course, earlier she had told him that would not be enough to escape her brother. We are close enough now that he senses me as well I sense him. All he needs do is follow that sense. Without your brother Dean there to stop him I would already have been taken. He would never allow me near water of any type again. I would live on, a broken sprite for all eternity while he destroys this realm and moves on to the others.
"I'm starting to think you'd’ve been better off going without me. I'm just slowing you down," Sam admitted. He dared to glance over his shoulder, where he could hear Dean arguing with Lityerses in the background. Huge crashes came to them as Dean dodged every blow thrown at him. Sam prayed he'd be able to keep Lityerses busy long enough for them to reach their destination. They were making bad time with him along for the ride.
"That is not true, Sam," Nixie protested. "Remember, without you and Dean I would not have made it anywhere close to here."
"Yeah, but I'm not meant to find my way through the forest like this. You might be better off going on without me." Even he could hear burbling in the distance now, signaling how close they were to their goal.
She shook her head, and stubbornly grabbed Sam's arm. "You will come with me, Sam. Dean would not forgive if anything were to happen to you."
Pulling him along, she continued to push through the underbrush. Sam let her lead him. It wasn't like he wanted to be left alone in this world... huge trees towering above... the sounds of predators in the night... Sam doubted he'd make it ten minutes on his own. But it bothered him, knowing he was slowing her down. Every second they wasted was another second Dean could lose his fight.
He tripped over a fourth branch as they approached another tree trunk. Picking himself off the ground again, he glanced up, trying to spot the top of the towering trees. The darkness of the night closed in around them now, only leaving a few of the bottom branches be visible.
Sam's heart sank when he realized he couldn't hear anything from Dean or Lityerses anymore. He twisted around, pulling his arm out of Nixie's grasp. He could see Dean and Lityerses standing face to face in the distance, but...
"No..." Sam whispered. Lityerses had both hands on Dean's arms, and gold was slowly creeping up them. He could see the realization hit Dean's face, blossoming into shock. "Dean..."
Nixie grabbed his arm again. "Sam, we do not have the time!"
He shrugged her off. "Go, I'll hold him off."
Her eyebrows arched up. "What can you do to stop him?"
Sam sighed, grabbing onto the tree next to him and starting to climb up. "I don't know, but it'll have to be enough. Just... get to the spring! I'm counting on you! And so is Dean!"
It was only a minute before he heard the giant footsteps start up again, crashing in his direction. He snuck a peek at Nixie, seeing her steadily make her way through the leaves on the ground. From this point of view, he could see the spring. It was tiny, but clear water bubbled up from the ground, cascading down rocks into a small stream. With any luck, she'd be there in less than five minutes. He only had to hold off Lityerses for that long.
Yeah, hold off a guy twenty times my size who can turn anything he touches to gold. Simple.
By the time Lityerses reached his tree, Sam had pulled himself up onto a branch a few inches over Lityerses' head. He stood at his full height, snapping off a small branch. The moment Lityerses passed under him, he chucked it at his head.
Lityerses reached his hand up, brushing the twig out of his hair. His head twisted up, dark eyes peering up into the tree. "Who is there?" He demanded. "I have already removed three slayers from this world, one more will be no problem. I have a sprite to stop."
Assuming he was talking about Dean and the others, Sam laughed. "Wow, three slayers. I'm so impressed. Because I'm sure that where you come from, anyone who picks on those weaker than them was respected and revered. After all, just a touch and your enemies turn to gold, right? I mean, that's not even fair."
Lityerses narrowed his eyes, searching for the source of the voice. "And who are you to question me?"
Sam stepped out of the shadow of the branch so Lityerses could see him. Nixie must almost be at the spring... he only needed to give her a few more minutes.
Seeing him, Lityerses laughed. "You? You are the last, great defense against me?" He snorted. "You are nothing, little bug."
"Yeah, maybe. But at least I don't pick on those weaker than me."
With a scowl, Lityerses growled. "I don't have time for this." He reached out, stroking the trunk of the tree Sam was on. Gold started to streak up, filling the tree with intricate lacings.
Sam stumbled away, backing from the trunk of the tree. The gold didn't stop its march towards him. Shit... he thought to himself. Lityerses started to back away with a sneer on his face as he watched Sam desperately scramble away. Seeing his chance, Sam took aim, bracing himself against the branch.
Before the gold tendrils met his boots, he jumped.
Flying through the air, he didn't even have time for a quick prayer. If he missed in the slightest, it was all over. He'd either be a pancake on the ground, or a tiny gold statue to match his brother. He closed his eyes.
After what must have been endless seconds of flight, he slammed into something hard, and solid. He cracked opened his eyes, seeing the golden rose amulet he'd landed on. I did it, he thought in amazement. He'd managed to grab onto the amulet that gave the power of the golden touch!
"Hey douchebag!" He shouted up at the giant whose neck he was hanging from. "What goes around comes around!"
He punched Lityerses.
To his utter astonishment, it worked. Gold started to spider out from his touch, webbing in all directions. Sam yanked his hand away from the golden chest. Him grabbing the amulet must have taken the power from Lityerses, turning it against its owner. A huge shock of relief coursed through Sam. He hadn't believed it would work.
"NO!" Lityerses shouted, almost deafening Sam. He grabbed at the amulet, pulling it away from his chest. Sam closed his eyes against the bile that rose from the swift swaying motion. Lityerses reached his other hand at Sam, going to grab him in a fist. But the gold stopped him from being able to reach any further. It consumed the rest of his body, making him into what he wanted the rest of the world to be. Cold, lifeless. Gold.
Sam sighed with relief when the hands stopped grabbing at him. It was over. He'd thought he was done there for sure for a few minutes. On the other hand, he was now hanging, suspended 6 feet in midair clutching a rose amulet. Sam leaned his head against the rose, his hands starting to lose feeling in them. His stomach clenched with nausea as the amulet continued to sway in midair.
After a few minutes of concentrating on not falling, he saw a blue light shoot up from the small spring. Water arched into the air, spiraling around a glowing ball in two columns of glowing light. The glowing ball bobbed its way over to Lityerses and Sam, coming to a swift halt right next to Sam. The light faded, revealing Nixie at the center.
She took one look at Sam dangling in midair and sighed. "Well, that was anticlimactic. You needed me here why, again?"
Sam felt his hands start to slip as they grew sweaty from exertion. "Uh, Nixie? Anytime."
She laughed. "Of course." Her small hands slipped under his arms, lifting him down. She lowered him to a mossy rock raised above the ground. Flitting back up, she freed the amulet from Lityerses' cold grasp as well. Dropping back down to Sam, she held out the amulet. He watched in amazement as the water around her surrounded it, wrapping it in the rippling blue light of her magic. The amulet dwindled down in her grasp until it was smaller than her pinkie. She tucked it into her shirt, safely away.
"I will go free the others," she whispered to him. "Be safe. I will be fast."
There was a streak of blue light, and she was gone.
Sam hugged his jacket to him, eyes nervously darting around at the dark world that surrounded him.
It was cold.
Dean couldn't hear anything, couldn't see anything, couldn't feel anything. The silence was deafening, the absence of all his senses pure torture.
From what he could gather, from memories disjointed by his affliction, he was trapped. The last clear memory he had was of Lityerses' hands gripped around his arms, the icy coldness spreading up both, spreading out from the clenched fingertips. And then everything went black. Ever since then, he had been locked in the darkness. He wasn't even sure anymore that he still had a body - it had been so long since he could feel anything but the cold. The biting, unforgiving cold of the grave.
Time crawled by endlessly, with no ability to mark its passing.
There was no way for him to know if Sam was alright or if he'd been trapped same as Dean. He could only wait, and hope, and pray that his brother would be able to get Nixie to the freshwater spring, healing her wing so she could remove the curse from Dean and the others affected.
Hopefully Lityerses wouldn't get to him too.
Trapped like this, Dean fretted in the dark limbo. It may have only been minutes that had passed since he was trapped... or hours... days. Years. An eternity of darkness. A new kind of Hell. The torment of not knowing.
Alone in the dark, he was forced to dwell on what had become of his brother. Was Sam okay, had Lityerses captured him, killed him, turned him to gold... every second became an eternity of suffering.
The solitude made him fear he had let Sam down... his small, vulnerable brother out in the world alone... no protection, no way home. Even if he escaped Lityerses, without Dean there would be no way for him to get out off the forest. They were miles from civilization, and even further for people Sam's size. He would be trapped, forced to fend for himself until killed by Lityerses or a forest predator.
After an endless amount of time like this, Dean felt an unexpected warmth start to spread. His nose twitched. It took a few moments of stunned disbelief to soak that in. He could FEEL his NOSE twitch!
From there, the warmth spread outward, washing through him like a warm tub of water pouring down his body. The blackness turned to grey and he realized his eyes were open.
There was a fluttering near his cheek, forcing his eyes to try and focus. A solid grey wall became blurry grey shapes, became colored shapes, became small colored blobs and then it all snapped back into focus. He let out a gasp when he saw what was hovering next to his face, jerking back in shock. "N-Nixie!" He managed to gasp, his voice rough from his time as a statue, dryer than a bone. "Your wings... they're fixed!"
She giggled, flying close to his face again. Dean held his breath, nervous about someone so small flying around him like that. It just wasn't natural to have a tiny girl buzzing around his head.
Her wing was repaired, all four surrounded in a glowing radiance. All the bruises were gone from her body, her skin as pristine and flawless as a crystal. The beauty she exuded was otherworldly, ethereal.
She twitched one of her arms at him. "Open your mouth," she said in a commanding voice.
Dean couldn't bring himself to argue with her. He opened his mouth, and a small stream of water trickled in, washing away the last pains from being a statue. It was the coldest, purest water he'd ever tasted. "Wow," he muttered to himself. Water had never tasted so good.
Once the water stopped flowing, she caught his gaze again. "Sam took good care of me. For such a small human, he is very brave. Come, your brother, he waits for us." She darted away from him, flitting between the trees. Nothing but a sparkling blue trail showed her passing.
Dean took a step forward, and almost fell flat on his face. His legs were slammed by the worst pins and needles he'd ever felt before, made worse by the time he'd spent as a statue for who-knows-how-long. With a groan, he picked up his jacket and hesitantly followed the fading trail Nixie left. He could only hope it led to Sam.
He kept a careful eye on the ground, just in case.
Sam sat on the mossy rock, lonely in the dark.
Nixie had been gone for an hour now, because of all the distance she had to cover to reach the first statues that Lityerses had turned in that parking lot. He hoped she'd be back soon, and wished she'd thought to change Dean back before leaving. It was a sobering feeling sitting out here alone in the dark. A stark reminder of his helplessness. Everything towered over his head to an all new level of immensity. He missed the reassuring feeling he got with Dean around. And without Dean, he would never get out of this forest. They were at least a mile in by hiking, even more that Dean had driven. And Sam would never be able to drive a car himself. Or even get into the car.
With any luck, the statue standing above him would dissuade the predators that might seek him out as a midnight snack. It sucked being this small with nowhere to hide. But if he left this rock, his brother might not be able to find him. He had to wait here for Nixie and hope.
He kept a hand on his knife, just in case.
It was better than nothing.
Another half hour passed, and a blue light approached him in the dark. It bobbed through the night like a sparkling will-o-wisp. Sam turned, smiling when he saw the small sprite, trailed by the glimmering water from earlier, although there was far less of it now. She alighted on the rock next to him, landing without a sound.
"It is time for me to return home," she said softly, reaching up to stroke his face.
"Dean... is he..."
"Your brother is fine. He will be here soon. He worries for you so." She smiled at him. "This, you and your brother have earned." As blunt as always, she handed him a clear orb that rippled in the soft blue light that emanated from her wings. "If you are ever in dire need, break this and I or a sister of mine will come for you. It is water, bathed in the power of my sisters. We are indebted to you and Dean, Sam."
Sam stared up at her at this, unsure what to say. "Nixie..." He said.
With that said, she leaned into a brief embrace. Sam breathed in her scent - a clean scent that reminded him of mountains and forests, clouds and freedom. While she held him this way, she whispered in his ear. "Sam? Trust your brother. He means well, even if he has trouble showing it." A small peck on the cheek and she was gone.
The blue lights around her sparkled faster, twisting into a vortex of power. She and Lityerses disappeared into it, the vortex closing with a ripple behind her.
Sam dropped his hand from his cheek, where she'd kissed him. The cheek tingled from her touch. The remaining blue lights circled, slowing down over time. The orb he carefully tucked away in his bag.
Loud footsteps came from behind him, passing over the foliage on the ground that had given Sam such a hard time getting through not so long ago. Sam craned his neck to see Dean step up behind him, boots bigger than the rock he was standing on coming to a halt right behind his small sanctuary in the night. Dean's eyes were as round as Sam's as he watched the portal dissipating into the darkness. The sparks died off, leaving them standing in the darkness, surrounded by trees.
A small rippling effect briefly ran through the ground as the portal winked out. Mushrooms sprouted in a circle, growing to full-size before slowing down. The grass ripened, growing greener and more vibrant as it sucked up some of the leftover magic. Even the spring had a surge of power, bubbling up with more force. A delicate fairy circle was left there, and would always remain as proof of Nixie and her dark brother, given power and life by the small Fae's spell.
Dean knelt down next to the rock once it was just the two of them. "You alright there, Tom Thumb?"
"Oh, I'm fantastic. It was awesome, getting my ass handed to me just walking on the forest floor. I don't think I'm cut out for camping on my own anymore."
Dean smirked at that. "Good thing you had Nixie with you then, protecting you from all that danger." He dropped a hand next to Sam.
Sam batted away Dean's proffered hand in annoyance. "Hey, I'll have you know I took Lityerses down on my own, while you were busy being a golden garden gnome over there!"
His brother raised his brow at that in disbelief. "Really."
"Yeah, I was trying to distract him from Nixie the way you were earlier. Turns out if you jump off a tree and grab the amulet, you can change its wearer into gold, instead of the other way around."
"Huh. Didn't see that one coming." Then the rest of Sam's story sunk in. Dean's eyes widened. "You jumped off a tree?"
Realizing his mistake far too late, Sam stammered "Uuhhh..." helpfully. He backpedaled from Dean as fast as he could, knowing his brother would overreact. It didn't do him any good, of course. It was impossible to run from someone so much bigger.
A huge hand swooped down, snatching him easily off the rock as Dean stood back up. "You leaped off a goddamned tree, at a guy who would happily skewer both of us alive or at the very least turn you into a tiny little hunter ornament to hang off his rearview mirror? That about cover it?"
"Hey, it worked, didn't it?" Sam protested, trying to catch his balance on the moving flesh under him as Dean stood to his full height. It was hard to be convincing when he couldn't even get his feet under him. Completely unfair.
Dean sighed angrily down his nose at Sam. "Sam, you need to be more careful! I can't lose you so soon after only just finding you!"
Sam finally pulled himself to a stand when the hand stopped moving. "Dean, I'm fine, so stop freaking out about it! I took out the bad guy, didn't I? And everyone's okay now. Nixie saw to that. It all worked out."
"Fine, whatever." Dean snapped angrily. "But you're staying in the pocket till we reach the motel room, Tarzan."
And from his tone of voice Sam somehow knew any of his protests about that would fall on deaf ears.
Later that night found the two brothers sitting together to watch a movie - Godzilla vs. Mothra, to make up for the way Dean had so rudely interrupted the last showing Sam had tried to watch on his own. Neither of them had said much to each other since getting back from the woods, just quietly watching the movie. The whole time Sam sat on a plush pillow and Dean relaxed on the other half of the bed. Dean's eyes occasionally flicked over to Sam, like there was something he wanted to say, but couldn't.
Sam tried to ignore that as much as possible. He just wanted to watch the movie, go to bed and pretend nothing had ever happened. Every time Dean picked him up without warning it felt like a little more of his independence was sapping away. He hated that feeling.
Once the movie was over, Sam stood up on the pile and stretched out his arms. He wobbled slightly and started to make his way to the nightstand, ready to turn in for the night.
"Hey, Sam, wait."
Sam paused, halfway off the bed. There was something in Dean's tone... He sounded serious.
He climbed back up, curious what was up with his brother.
Dean reached a hand towards Sam, stopping a few inches away. Sam stared at it for a minute, and glanced back up at Dean suspiciously.
Dean sighed. "Just... get on. Please. We need to talk."
Sam hesitantly stepped on. After being unwillingly scooped off the ground earlier that day he wasn't overly happy with Dean. Plus, he was still grouchy about being buttoned up in the pocket during the ride home. He refused to admit Dean had been right about that. It had been the car ride from Hell, bounced all over the place even with the pocket closed against him falling out. Both times. He was certain the ride home had been worse since Dean didn't have Nixie sitting in a pocket to worry about, but the last thing he wanted to do was bring it up to Dean. At least the ride had been quicker.
Dean lifted him to chest level, holding his hand far enough out to be able to get a good look at Sam. "Sam, are you alright?"
This question caught Sam off guard. He'd been expecting more anger about him being reckless earlier. "Yeah, I'm fine." He said, avoiding Dean's eyes.
Dean smiled with relief at that. "Good."
Sam squirmed a little on the hand, feeling exposed the way he was suspended in the air. "Was there anything else, or did you go through all this just to check how I was doing? Cause I'm tired, sore, and ready for bed."
Dean sighed again. Better just get it over with. "Sam, I'm sorry about earlier."
"You were... wait, what?" Sam said, surprised. An apology was the last thing he'd expected.
Dean closed his eyes. "You were right about Nixie... about giving her a chance. I'm sorry I didn't want to listen... Sam, I do need to trust you more. It's just... I've been hunting alone for a long time. Even before Dad up and vanished he rarely went on hunts with me. I know that." Sam blinked with surprise at the sudden outpouring of emotion from Dean. The hand holding Sam lifted up higher until his entire line of sight was filled by two stern green eyes. "Sam, I do need to trust you more. But... you need to trust me too. Or even admit to yourself you don't trust me. Sam, I'd never let anything happen to you. You have to know that."
Sam tucked his head against his chest, solemn. "Yeah," he muttered. His face burned with shame, remembering how Nixie had told him much the same thing about Dean before she left. "Yeah, I know."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to dump that on you all at once." Dean lowered his hand back down. "I'll let you get to bed now. You want me to put you down on the floor?"
Sam stayed quiet for a few minutes, staring down at the fingers holding him up. Dean pulled the hand back up, trying to catch Sam's eye. "Hey, you okay?" He said softly, concern tinging his voice.
Sam pulled himself out of his mind funk. "Yeah, I was just thinking." He peered up at Dean. "Do... would you mind if I slept in your pocket again?"
"Uh, sure? You're welcome to sleep there whenever. But... I thought you hated the pocket. Especially after being stuck in it earlier."
Sam smiled. "It’s not as bad as I thought it was. And I know it had to happen earlier... I just hated being trapped like that, even when there's a good reason for it. Honestly, despite earlier, it's probably the only place I feel safe at night right now. Especially with the nightmares hitting me almost constantly, after... my..." Sam trailed off, eyes getting wet from memories. He couldn't bring himself to finish the sentence.
"And... Dean, I do trust you. It’s just hard sometimes." Sam gestured down at the hand supporting him, brushing his hand lightly against the rough skin on the thumb next to him. He could almost sink his fingers into the ridges that covered it, he was so small. The thumb rubbed carefully against his side in response, almost as thick around as Sam's entire body, and as much as he hated to admit it, far more powerful. "I'm not used to being this much smaller than the people around me. All these years this size, I was only around my family, or friends this size. I avoided humans completely. I mean, if you want to, you can just grab me, stuff me in your pocket and that's it. Like earlier. I'm too small to do anything about it, can't stop you, can't get out. It’s not a great feeling, to be trapped like that, unable to do anything to help yourself. Helpless."
Dean blinked in surprise, face turning red in dismay. "Sam, I never meant to make you feel that way." He said quietly, in realization. "I just... you were..." He rubbed the back of his neck, upset at the revelation. "...Dammit."
"Dean, I know you didn't. But the fact remains that it happened, and it'll probably happen again. Even though you mean well, when that happens, you have to remember I have no choice in the matter. I can't stop you like this. And you also have to remember that I'm still getting used to this. It's a lot to throw at a guy all at once, and living with someone so big… it makes it hard for me to trust you completely...... but I'll do my best Dean, I promise."
Dean smiled back, touched. "That's all I ask. And I'll do better with grabbing you. You have my word. I never want you to feel helpless with me. Because you're not helpless. Not with me. And you never will be. I just... Sam, I just want to keep you safe, that's all." His fingers unconsciously curled around Sam's small form.
Sam patted one of the fingers curled nearest him reassuringly. "Yeah, I know you do."
They sat like that in a companionable silence for a few more minutes. Eventually, Dean glanced at the time, blinking in surprise when he saw how late it was. They hadn't gotten back from the forest until past midnight. "Well then, guess you're bunking with me for the night, kiddo."
Shutting off the TV, Dean settled back onto the pillows. He lowered his hand to his chest, letting Sam slide off in the center. Sam wandered slowly over to the side pocket, concentrating on his footing. It was hard to keep his balance on the constantly moving chest. He could feel every bone, every muscle under his socked feet, flexing in time as the mammoth chest rose and fell with each breath. Dean let out a rumbling sigh as he leaned back into the pillows to get comfortable, the ground itself vibrating under Sam's feet.
For once, he didn't get that familiar, helpless feeling that usually came over him at the realization of how much smaller he really was compared to his brother. This time, it was reassuring, an understanding that this giant hunter he was standing on would do anything for him. Even if he was slightly overprotective on occasion. Sam knew he couldn't completely blame Dean for that - Dean, at the back of his mind, blamed himself for what had happened to Sam all those years ago when they were first separated. Knowing Dean, he probably always would.
Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Dean eyeing him curiously. Sam pointedly ignored his older brother. He supposed it was odd to have someone walking across your chest like that, two small feet padding along like they were out for a hike. He couldn't imagine what it would be like to have someone so small sleep in his pocket. Hell, he had trouble imagining anyone less than half his size.
Once he reached the pocket, he slipped down, once again enjoying the rare warmth and security he found there, exactly the way he remembered it from before. In here, he was protected from a world he just wasn't made to survive in alone.
Sam glanced up from where he was laying for the night. From where he was lying down, all he could make out was the underside of Dean's jaw, tilted off to the side as he got ready to sleep. "Goodnight!" Sam called up.
The jaw moved. "'Night, Sammy." Dean said with a smile in his voice. There was a pause. "You know, tonight has been one long chick flick moment, right?"
Sam grinned at that, remembering Dean's old aversion to 'touchy, feely’ crap. "Dude, never mind the chick flicks. We just had a full on girly slumber party back there."
Dean laughed, unknowingly shaking both his pocket and Sam with the resulting vibrations. "Well, Samantha, I'm definitely not doing your nails."
Rolling his eyes, Sam dug his heels into the chest under him. There was no outward reaction from Dean.
"Sam?" Dean called a few moments later.
"We made a hell of a team back there, didn't we?"
Sam smiled at that. "Yeah, we did."
He could hear a smirk in Dean's voice. "Hey. Now remember, just because you gank one demon and a megalomaniac from another dimension doesn't mean you're ready to take on the world. But," and here Dean paused for a moment. "I'm definitely gonna be relying on you to watch my back from here on out." His voice trailed off into silence.
A swell of pride built up in Sam at Dean's words. Hearing that assurance from Dean meant everything to him. It meant Dean had accepted him as a hunter, size be damned.
Once the silence stretched past a minute, Sam stole one last glance up at his brother before rolling over and getting settled, deep in the pocket. The pocket flap he folded, turning it into a slightly flattened pillow. He pretended not to notice the hand Dean carefully draped over him as the lights went out. Comforted by the consistent movement of Dean's breathing, he slipped into a dreamless slumber, surrounded by everything he'd come to realize meant 'home' to him.
For the first time in his life, he felt truly safe.