Time did weird things in Faerie, apparently, because Sam was adamant that he'd been gone longer than two days and two nights, though he couldn't say for sure how much longer. Long enough to make him really hungry, anyway, so Dean drove out to an all-night diner on the outskirts of Asheville, where he watched with a mix of sympathy and amusement while Sam ordered eggs, toast, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, French toast and a pitcher of iced tea.

"You're going to be puking for a week, you know that, right?"

"I don't care." Sam inhaled a piece of toast and reached for the next one.

"Your funeral," Dean said.

He ordered coffee, and was on his second cup by the time Sam came up for air long enough to speak.

"So, Dean?"


"How'd you know it was me back there?"

"Why, was it supposed to be difficult?" Dean smirked and gave Sam a few seconds to glare at him, but honestly, he was kind of enjoying the chance to brag. "Truth is, they tried too hard."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"That changeling was like a perfect photocopy of you at the moment you disappeared. Nobody goes a whole day -- or more -- without looking at least a tiny bit different. And they'd dolled up Janet in that dress; no way they wouldn't have at least made you comb your hair."

Sam gave him another glare at that, but apparently decided that responding would take away from his valuable eating time.

"So if the changeling wasn't you," Dean continued, "then either you weren't there at all or something else had to be you. And when Her Bitchiness said she'd let us go if I got you to agree..." Dean shrugged. "In the stories, the fairies never ask a riddle unless there's actually an answer. Which meant you were around, and I knew you'd want to go if I asked. So I looked, and you were the only thing in the place that didn't look like a circus freak. Plus, everyone else was backing off from me like I had the plague while you were trying to get close. So that's how I knew. And besides," he grinned, "I'd recognize those Bambi eyes anywhere."

Which was as close as he was ever going to come to saying, "I took one good look at you and I knew, you doofus."

"Hey," Sam said around a mouthful of eggs, "no Bambi jokes."

"Aw, come on! I think I've earned my amusement here. And it really was funny."

"No, it wasn't."

"Admit it, Sam, it was hilarious! You had bells. And daisy chains. And ribbons."

"Shut up."

"Sparkly ribbons, Sam. You were, like, the bastard love child of Bambi and My Little Pony!"

"Argh!" Sam pushed his plate back and slumped forward to rest his head against the table. "Sure," he said in a muffled voice. "Make light of my trauma. I'm scarred for life, and you're laughing."

"Don't be a drama queen."

"I'm going to need therapy till I'm ninety."

"Dude, you're a Winchester. There's not enough therapy in the world, so we learn to suck it up. Stop whining and let me have my fun."

"Can I stop you?"


"Fine." Sam heaved a resigned sigh. "Go ahead. Get it out of your system."

"Yes, deer."

The end