♪♫♪ … ♪♫♪

Dean lunged for the keys, and Sam jumped back, dangling them high in the air. Sure, Dean could reach them easily (yeah, on his toes! Oh, snap!), which was why he had to keep hopping back, out of reach. At last, he pressed his free hand against his brother's chest, trying to push him away. He jiggled the keys. "First let me hear it, and then we'll go." Dean's upper lip curled in distaste when Sam's brows shot up to his hairline, challengingly.

Dean looked down, shaking his head while he knuckled his eyes. Finally, he replied monotonously. "You're my favorite brother." His voice was gravelly; also relatively weak, but it was there, and it was music to Sam's ears. He had winced as the words left his mouth, more so at the pain than anything else, but he kept a smirk on his face, trying to tell Sam otherwise.

Oh, and Sam, of course, couldn't stifle an ear-to-ear, boyish grin from taking control of the lower half of his face, but he managed not to hug his bother—yet, at least; as soon as this was over… He lifted his hand from Dean's chest and scratched idly at the back of his head. He couldn't help it when his eyes watered up—he was happy…!

… That his brother could go on, snapping out orders, sarcastic retorts, mocking celebrity icons, and could also merrily go back to flirting shamelessly. Justice and order was about to be restored in the world.

"You want to be left alone for a few minutes?" Dean grunted and made another go at the keys, but Sam did another super ballerina leap back. "Dude—" He croaked, miserable.

"I said we'd go, I didn't say you'd drive." Hah! He so won this.

"I haven't forgotten you scratched up my car." Hah! He so handed the keys over without as much as a blink. It wasn't until they were in the car when Sam finally questioned what he had said.

"Favorite brother? You hiding a few other brothers in your pocket, Dean?"

"Yeah, I'm packing enough Sammies for a dog sleighing team." He answered back in a beat, the roar of the mighty Impala's engine drowning out the end of his sentence, but no worries; Sam had heard him loud and clear. He watched his brother's lips move like a child watching the candy man fill up their plastic baggie with penny candy. There was sound coming from them! Granted, he sounded like he'd just gotten his tonsils removed, but it was sound! It was Dean's voice… coming out of Dean's mouth! Halle—freaking—lujah.

Sam's goofy smile got impossibly wider. "Good, 'cause either way, you're stuck with me."

Dean rolled his eyes, and chose for once, despite the fact that his voice was back, not to comment. However, when Sam didn't cool it with his visible giddiness, he muttered with feigned annoyance, "oh, knock it off."

"Like you're not dying to get sentimental."

"Oh, bite me, princess."

♪♫♪ … ♪♫♪

"Should we knock?"

"It's our room!" Dean stopped abruptly in front of the door, fishing around for the key in his pockets. He continuously cleared his throat like he expected his voice to disappear again. He scrunched his mouth to the side in thought as he tilted, his fingers feeling around in the wide pocket of his jeans for the silver key. A Hershey's Kiss mistakenly slipped out and fell to its death.

Sam watched from the corner of his eye while shifting weight from one leg to the other. "You lost—"

"The key." Dean interrupted weakly, holding up the key to prove his point. "You want to do the honors?"

"Just open the door." And so he did, and they cautiously walked into the dark motel room—in first, and Sam following. He flipped the light switch, not surprised at what they found.

"You said you'd help me." The boy said, his face emotionless as he stared at them from his spot on Dean's bed. Go figure, Dean decided. He wouldn't have went for the floral decorated bed either, although it irked him to see Drew scraping off the glow in the dark stars and moon on the headboard. The little guys had grown on him!

"That was before—"

"Before what?" The dark haired child hissed, and Dean cocked a defensive brow. It didn't help when he spotted his .45 on the nightstand between the beds, within the little elf's view and reach. Sam cleared his throat, uncomfortable.


"I what?"

"Stop interrupting me!" It came out so childish that Dean almost turned around and asked him if he'd like some cheese with his whine. "I talked to your mother on the way here…" He trailed off with the younger boy's eyes flashed dangerously, and he slowly stood up. It was obvious how lethargic he was from being away from his body so long, even if he was there on some subconscious level. "And she's bringing—"

"Bringing what?" Drew asked lightly, his long, thin fingers reaching around the handle of the gun. His back was turned to the brothers, and he turned around, pointing it behind Dean's shoulder, at Sam.

"Help." Sam offered simply, staring him down. Why the hell did Dean leave a gun out? And not to mention the few knives on the table across the room, sprawled out next to the laptop. Dean half-expected to walk over to the table, and see that notepad was opened, and all work and no play makes Drew a very dull boy typed over and over, and over…

"I want you to get me away from here." His hands had started to shake. He was really gripping that gun tightly.

"Sure, Sam, go pop open the truck." Okay, and Drew did not look amused. His gaze flickered over to Dean, and the older male shuddered at the lifeless glare he possessed.

"You're pathetic." He stated evenly, and Dean objected with a snort.

"Hey now, that's no way to talk to someone who loaned you their voice." His words came out gruffly, and he stumbled on the last syllable, breaking into a coughing fit. "God, you wouldn't happen to mind if I happened to wander over there and got a drink of water, would you?" He heard Sam scoff, and possibly roll his eyes.

"Yes." Drew snapped, giving the eldest Winchester a dirty look.

"Well, too bad, 'cause I'm thirsty." And just like that, he walked over to the side of the room in long strides, the aim of the gun shakily following him.

"Stop!" The young boy yelled at him, frantic. "I said stop! Stop moving, or I will shoot, I'll shoot, I swear I'll shoot you dead!"

"Dean!" Sam also yelled at him, wondering what the hell he was thinking. His brain must've been traded for the return of his voice. The brunette made an attempt to move, but once again, the gun was aimed at his pretty little face. The gun practically cried, 'oh I could never shoot you! It'd be a sin, a crime of beauty!' but the tight finger on the trigger said otherwise. "Oh, come on, you already killed your younger brother, you really don't want to kill someone else's."

Oh, shit. The words had slipped out of his mouth before his brain could even process the thought, and Sam mentally cursed at himself, wondering when he started channeling Dean's I have a death wish comments, and made a note to cut it the hell out now. Still, he hadn't regretted the words.

"Sam." Dean whispered, his body especially tense. He could practically see the tension that clung to the stale air in the small room.

"He wasn't my brother—he was my mother's other son." Drew coldly corrected, his pale skin even paler now. His eyes were wider than plates, and Sam only felt… pity for him. He didn't feel fear, just sympathy, like the kid needed a hug… and to be hit in the ass with a tranquilizer dart and taken away.

"You killed him because he didn't share all your genes?"

"He wasn't anything!"

"He was your brother!"

It was all just too much—he didn't need to argue about this! Without any hesitation, Drew fired at the wide-eyed Sam—and breathlessly blinked dumbfounded when it didn't go off. Dean grabbed him from behind, wrapping an arm around his shoulders, pulling him back. "What, you think I'm going to keep illegal loaded guns lying about?"

Sam let out a sigh of relief, and almost laughed. Oh, Dean. Would he ever cease to amaze him? He watched Drew try to struggle out of Dean's grasp, but whatever. Dean, needless to say, had the upper hand, and the gun slipped out from Drew's fingers. Sam immediately grabbed for it, and when he checked it, he looked at Dean bewildered. "It's loaded, but the safety's on!"

"Whoo, imagine that. Guess—ow! The little shit just bit me!" Sure enough, Drew, or the little shit, did, and even left teeth marks in Dean's wrist. The twelve-year-old squirmed about, whining to let him go. "Oh, yeah, I'll let you go all right, into the closet." Yes, because that's what the Winchesters did with psychotic children. They locked them in closets.

"That's child abuse!"

"And biting me? That's Dean abuse." And that's quite the felony! (But deeply loved by a certain awesome crowd.)

Suddenly, there was a loud knocking at the door behind Sam, and he tucked the gun into the waistband of his jeans. When did I close the door? He wondered, but shrugged, and opened it.

"They kidnapped me!" Drew yelled when he saw his teary mother standing in the doorway, two bored looking men at her side.

"Oh, right, because you're like the puppy I've always wanted." Although his throat was still utterly sore, it looked (sounded?) like Dean's voice was getting back to normal—loud, sarcastic, and cherished.

♪♫♪ … ♪♫♪

"Hey, remember that Benders family? Maybe we should go find Elly May's long lost sister and hook them up." Later that night, Dean and Sam were eating their last meal in the motel—and the meal to mark this occasion? Burger King. (One of them had a coupon—buy one Whopper, get one free, and when you don't really have an income, you can't pass down a meal like that.)

Sam shook his head, biting in the grease—cheeseburger. A piece of lettuce escaped from the back, but he didn't care, and just let it fall onto his lap, where it fainted. "I just hope Corinne gets the right help for him."

"Yeah, maybe next she'll see a witchdoctor and bind his soul with a tree stump instead or something." Sam shot him a look, not finding the humor.

"I meant professional help, Dean."

"That's what I meant too, Sam." He shoved the last bit of his burger into his mouth, and then licked the grease and mayonnaise—real mayo—off his fingers. "That was one hell of a gig." He admitted, lying back on the bed. He folded his arms behind his head. "It was like cliffhanger after cliffhanger. Gave me one hell of a headache."

"I don't know… I'd just like to know why." After he finished his burger, Sam collected their trash, crumbling the foil into balls. He dropped them into a wastebasket that looked like it hadn't been cleaned out since the revolutionary war. Really, you can only cram down trash so many times. "How could anyone do such a thing to a baby—their baby brother?"

"Don't know, Sammy, but just think how lucky you were to get me."

"You sold my toys to buy firecrackers when I was eight."

Dean propped himself up on his elbows. "Well, gee, sorry, I was comparing me to a kid who drowned his brother, but I guess you have a valid point."

"And you made me go bald."

"Oh, shut up, now that one, that was funny."

"And you gave me a paintball, and told me it was filled with candy so when I put it in my mouth and bit down into it…"

Dean waved a finger at him. "No, you assumed that, and dad nearly killed me when you went crying to him, red paint oozing from your mouth."

"Strangely enough, all things considered, you're one hell of an older brother." Sam felt the need to end the conversation before he pissed off Dean, who could mention the time—just a few months ago—when Sam shot him in the chest—with rock salt—and he really didn't want to feel that guilt right now.

"All things considered? Go scrub the toilet. With your toothbrush."

Sam ignored that, and waved a hand at him. "Hey, you know, Drew told Corinne that we assaulted him with toothpaste and flashlights?"

Dean rubbed at his chin. "That's right. I should've gotten her to reimburse us for the toothpaste, too! Stuff doesn't come cheap you know…"

And in response, Sam picked up the pillow off his bed, and chucked it at Dean's head. Dean, luckily, caught it with his mouth, and whipped it right back. Sam ducked, sliding off the bed as it whizzed past his head. Yawning, he sat on the ground, cross-legged.

"Hey, Dean?" He waited for his brother to answer before he went on, staring down at his hands. "When we were in the house, and the ceiling caved in… I… while I was unconscious, I saw it. I mean, I saw what had happened, with Drew, you know?" He heard the springs in the bed as Dean pushed himself up so he was now sitting. "It felt so real, like I was actually there, watching it, standing there…" He lifted his gaze up at Dean's tired face, wondering what he'd say.

"So, what, you're getting just any old premonitions now? Give it a rest, Phoebe." But the concern was there, and that was enough. He smiled to himself, and from the corner of his eye, he saw their father's diary—journal, which had been neglected lately, and he picked it up, flipping through the pages for the hell of it.

In a twist of ironic fate, he managed to get a paper cut, and jumped slightly, surprised. "Ouch." He hissed, shaking his hand like it would help. Dean looked down at him, the side of his lips curved into a sly smile. "Take it like a man."

♪♫♪ … ♪♫♪

The boys ended up staying one last night before they had enough, and would rather do more flower boy deliveries than stay in the city any longer than they had to. Dean rolled his clothes into balls and stuffed them into a duffel bag, while Sam packed up various items—the laptop, their knives, bathroom supplies, and the like.

"Sure you don't want to stay another night? I read in the paper that there's another house where—" With the said duffel bag thrown over one shoulder, Dean walked past Sam, shoving him back onto the bed before he could finish his sentence. Grinning, he got right back up, and was at Dean's heels.

"We? Are done with haunted houses, asylums, barns, caves, whatever—unless it involves a haunted strip club where—"

"Anyway, I was thinking that now might be good for a vacation." Sam had to maintain a quick pace to keep up with Dean as his brother loaded the car with their stuff. Was he ever in a hurry to shag ass. "Right?" Dean gave him a look like he had just grown a third eye and said—"this was our vacation, genius." "Well, then, excuse me if I don't want to go over the scrapbook of memories for this one anytime soon."

"Cool it, smart-ass." He closed the lid of the trunk. "I happen to know where we're heading next. It's time you faced your biggest demon yet."

Sam's breath caught in his throat as he eyed his brother suspiciously. "W-what do you mean? Where are we going?"

Dean started heading back to their room for the last of their stuff. He looked behind his shoulder at the curious brunette. "To the barber." Sam's face deadpanned. "Oh, come on, a little snipping and maybe your world will get seventy percent of lighting back. Dude, how the hell do you see?"

"With my eyes—I do not need a haircut." Oh, boy, he was squinting out blazing hot daggers at Dean from behind his bangs.

"But I hear Sweeney Todd is one hell of a—"


"I'm just joshing you, Sammy. I'm pretty sure that mop of yours is the power source of all that is Sam." He raised a hand, ruffling Sam's hair. "Jesus Sam, no wonder we can't find dad—he's probably camping up in here with Jimmy Hoffa and—oof!" He exhaled sharply when he received a jab in the side.

♪♫♪ … ♪♫♪

"Hey Sam, if you could be any X-Men, who would you be?" It didn't take long for Dean's mouth to shoot off when they left Scranton. Now it was time for miles and miles of cows and horses. When Sam hadn't bother with an answer, he went on. "You're kind of like the Beast, only more hairy, or maybe you're Rogue, always sucking the fun out of everything."

Sam sighed, rolling down the window. "Jerk. And who are you? Wolverine?"

"Wolverine? Please, that guy's a midget. Even you could step on him without even noticing." He kept one hand on the steering wheel as he used his other hand to reach into a pocket and pull out a Hershey's Kiss. They stopped by Corinne's house to check up and say a few last words before they left, and the candy dish had been sitting there, calling out to him.

"There's Gambit." Sam couldn't help but scoff. Why was he partaking in this conversation? It was ridiculous. "He's a charmer, isn't he?" Dean nodded, like he's considered it before.

"Sure, but his eyes. Some chicks may dig it, but hey, some chicks also dig a little S&M, but that doesn't mean—"

"OK. There's Cyclops, but you won't go for that. You'd always have to wear glasses, and then "chicks" wouldn't—"

"Fall in love with my soulful, beautiful eyes?"

"See how grossly long your eyelashes are."

Dean looked like he'd been slapped. He reached for his cell phone that was placed between the seats and flipped it open. "What's that? Oh? Okay, hold on, please." He said, and then looked pointedly over at his brother. "It's for you, it's jealousy, but don't flirt with it for too long, 'cause envy's waitin' on the other line."

Sam groaned, rolling his eyes. As much as he would usually feel annoyed right now, he just really didn't. He didn't miss the silence from the past week at all, and for now, he was only too happy to hear Dean talk, babble, and be an asshole. Gosh, he never thought he'd miss those oh so adoring qualities, but he had, so for now, he'd put up with the unusually talkative Dean…

… For a few more miles, anyway—after that, everything is fair game.

♪♫♪ … ♪♫♪