The winding road in front of them had Sam convinced they had been on the same stretch of land for hours. The music was turned all the way up, and Dean's tired eyes were intensely focused. He didn't need coffee, he needed music. Their last job had been up in Maine, and it had to be below freezing outside. Sam rubbed his arms to warm them up; Dean glanced over at Sam and frowned slightly when he noticed that he was cold, but he quickly adverted his eyes.Sam missed the look and Dean didn't say a word. Sam gave up on trying to get the message across to his brother and he reached for the heat dial. When his hand was almost there Dean's reflexes kicked in and he slapped his brother's hand away,
"Sorry little bro" Dean said focusing his eyes back on the road, "heat burns up gas, gas costs money, and I can't let you burn up our money" he said shifting in his seat.
"Can't you just play another poker game or something? Swindle honest people out of their money... it's what you do best." Sam said gruffly. Dean winced mentally but he sneered instead of letting Sam know that that stung,
"Like the people I play are honest" he laughed squeezing the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. Sam grumbled and turned over in his seat, his face up against the cold window. Dean sighed and stole another glance at Sam. He remembered when he couldn't get Sammy to shut up, now he couldn't get him to talk. Sammy – no, Sam hated Dean. Sammy worshiped the ground his brother walked on. But that kid was gone. Dean remembered when Sam thought his big brother was invincible, unstoppable, a superhero. Now Sam thinks he's Dad's puppet, a good little soldier, a moron. Dean shook his head and let the blaring music chase away those thoughts. Sam continued to shiver, but he kept quiet about it. He huddled up against the window taking shallow breaths, and blowing into his hands. Dean squirmed uncomfortably in his seat watching Sam get colder. He sighed but kept glancing over at Sam, no matter how hard he tried to focus on the road. He couldn't take seeing Sam shiver, it was some instinct in him that made it unbearable. Finally, Dean gave way to the instinct and pulled over sharply.
"What the hell?" Sam asked turning over and glaring at Dean,
"There's a blanket in the back Mr. Frost" he grumbled and Sam rolled his eyes,
"You could have told me that an hour ago." Dean rubbed his forehead with his calloused hand and sighed.
"You want that blanket or not?" He asked and Sam grumbled some curses under his breath getting out of the car, closing the door with a slam. Dean sighed and rested his arms on the steering wheel, placing his head on his cool jacket, closing his eyes for a brief moment. He didn't understand why, after all his brother had said, after all he had done to make it perfectly clear that he wanted nothing to do with Dean, Dean still needed to take care of him. He couldn't understand why he needed Sam, why he couldn't just let his little brother go, be normal. However he knew that as long as Sam was alive he'd be Sammy. He'd be Dean's little brother and family is everything. Without his family, Dean would fall apart. Yeah, they were screwed up, but they were what Dean had, and he wouldn;t trade them for the world. That's why he's going so crazy trying to find his dad. It was something cerebral, almost instinctual, Dean had to make sure Sam was okay. Whether Sam wanted his help or not.
Sam walked to the trunk grumbling, stupid Dean, why wouldn't he just turn up the heat? He opened the trunk with a sigh still grumbling under his breath. He saw three duffel bags in the dark trunk but no blanket.
"Stupid Dean" Sam grumbled again pushing the bags aside. He was halfway into the trunk groping around in the very back for four minutes until his hand brushed up against something soft. "Gotcha" Sam said pulling out the elusive blanket. It was a faded white, with a hint of color that suggested at one point it had been blue. Its edges were tattered and it was smaller then Sam thought it would be, but it would do. He wrapped it around his shoulders and suddenly the memories flooded over him. He was gripped with the fear of a little boy once more; his big eyes flew around him wildly for a minute before he realized where he was. He laughed at himself and shook his head. He hadn't felt that way in a long time, so helpless, so scared. He didn't want to admit it to himself, but all he wanted when he was wrapped up in that blanket was Dean. He wanted his big brother to save him, to rescue him from the shadows around him, to tell him everything was going to be alright. He wanted Dean to make stupid jokes and smile, the way he used to. With the light in his eyes that Sam hadn't seen since…since…since he went away to college. Sam let out a long, low breath. He hadn't realized how different Dean seemed, it had been a few years since Sam had seen him. Yet the brother Sam had known was still there just…different, harder to see. He seemed farther away, just out of Sam's reach, just beyond some barrier that Sam hadn't known was there. The wall that was between them was visible to Sam now, Dean stood, just on the other side, waiting for Sam to climb over. He had gone away, and he could never get those years back, he had left his brother, and the last pinpoint of innocence that was left in Dean's eyes went out. Sam shuddered and pulled the blanket closer around him, closing the trunk. He had gone away, he didn't regret that, but now he was going to have to make this better. He was going to have to scale the wall. Inside the car, Dean was tapping his fingers on the dashboard impatiently. He sighed and ran his hand through his hair sitting still was getting to him. Sam opened the door a little more gently then he had slammed it,
"Hey, you slam the car door again, I'll kick your ass"Dean groused, Sam shook his head and plopped back down in the seat. He didn't say anything as Dean started the car again, or as they pulled down the street, the one that looked exactly the same as it always did. He didn't say anything as the sun slowly came up and the dark trees showed their colors, they looked less frightening in the light, but then again, most everything did. He watched through thefaint blue cotton the world around him. Everything seemed so much bigger, so much scarier but the fact that Dean was sitting next to him was a bigger comfort them it should have been. He couldn't remember the last time Dean was such a protector, though he supposed it had never really stopped. It was as if being wrapped up in the blanket reverted him back from Sam to Sammy. Back to the scared little boy in the back seat of the car, he didn't like being Sammy anymore, but the cold kept him wrapped in his childhood. Sam watched his brother from under the blankets soft folds. He hadn't realized how much he glanced over at him, checked up on him… protected him. His eyes were full of worry, as if he expected something to claw through the Impala door and grab his little brother. When they finally pulled up to the motel that would be their home for the next few days Sam let himself crawl out of the blankets protective casing and stretch. He felt stronger already. Dean got out of the car without even glancing over at Sam. Sam chuckled at how Dean could pretend he didn't care, but after tonight Sam would never doubt that his brother loved him, he knew that in Dean's mind he was still Sammy. And the promise that he had made to his little brother on that cold, scary night still held stronger then a legally binding contract.
"Hey" Sam said climbing out of the car, folding the blanket up,
"What?" Dean asked turning around the old frustration lacing his voice,
"Catch…Superman" he said tossing the blanket to him. Dean caught it with one swift movement of his arm. He looked at the blanket in his hand and back at his brother, a smile on his lips. And for the first time in years Sam saw a pinpoint of light in his brother's cold amber eyes.
"Thanks…Sammy" Dean whispered hoping his brother hadn't heard. Sam shook his head and jogged up beside his brother who was halfway through the motel door,
"Dude" he saida grin tugging at the corner of his lips,"it's Sam."