Disclaimer: The Winchesters belong to Eric Kripke and I will be forever grateful to him for sharing them with us. I hope he doesn't mind me borrowing them from time to time; I promise to return them as I found them.
A/N: Thanks to Kelli for beta reading and for giving me encouragement in all areas of my life. I don't know where I'd be without her!
He stood outside a diner; far enough away that he wouldn't be noticed but not so far that he couldn't see inside. The diner had a large window and the bright lights inside made watching easy.
"Dude, you really need to get your nose away from that computer for a while." Dean said to his brother when he didn't so much as look up as a young girl in a short skirt walked by.
Sam glanced at him. "Huh?"
"That's my point."
"You have a point?" Sam asked, distracted.
Dean smirked and Sam smiled to himself from behind the laptop.
"Okay, College Boy," Dean said after a few minutes of silence. "What's so interesting over there anyway?"
"Could be our next case.." Sam said turning the computer so Dean could see it.
Dean only nodded, barely looking at the screen.
"What's wrong?" Sam asked.
Dean feigned interest in a French fry, avoiding his brother's stare. He shrugged. "Nothing."
Sam knew that wasn't true; Dean's mood had changed too quickly. But he didn't press. He knew better than to push Dean to talk when he clearly wasn't ready. He twisted the computer back around but turned his attention to the burger in front of him. They finished eating in a semi-comfortable silence.
He retreated further into his hiding place when the boys left the diner. He would follow them for a while even though he didn't have to. He would always know where they were.
Sam knew there was something on his brother's mind but also knew that unless he kept the communication open, Dean would retreat completely into his own world. He didn't press him to talk about what bothered him but did keep him talking about other topics. If Dean fell into a complete silence, it would be harder to get him to open up. Dean drove for another couple of hours before pulling into the parking lot of a motel.
The room was the same as just about every other room in every other motel. Dean dropped his duffle bag on the floor and continued to the bathroom. Sam stretched out on one of the beds and kicked off his shoes. He thought about the last few months and how things had changed for his brother. They'd reunited with their father only for Dean to realize John didn't have all the answers. He'd made mistakes and continued to do so and while that was no different than any other parent, it was hard for Dean to accept. He had started to question their father's decisions and while he'd begged Sam not to shoot while the demon possessed him, his feelings for John had changed.
The three of them barely escaped the demon only to nearly die when a possessed truck driver plowed into the side of the Impala. Sam regained consciousness in the hospital days later and learned that while John had been admitted along with him and Dean, he checked himself out against the doctor's wishes. He had a vague idea that maybe the demon was inhabiting John again, but he was in no condition to go after his father and right now Dean needed him.
While still a patient himself, Sam spent hours at his brother's bedside willing him to get well. Dean was barely alive before the truck hit them and the doctors weren't optimistic about his chances but Sam knew that Dean would recover. He couldn't explain how he knew; there was no vision involved, but somehow he knew. That's why he didn't try to find other help for his brother. That, and because of what happened with the faith healer he'd found after Dean's heart attack.
Dean did wake up and he did recover. Physically. But something in him changed when he found out John had left them. Again. Dean fell into silence when Sam told him John was gone and he stayed that way for a long time. There was nothing Sam could say or do to get him to talk; he wouldn't even entertain Sam's idea about the demon. But Dean did take solace in his brother's company and even though he did nothing to make Sam feel comfortable during his visits, he relished them. Sam knew his brother was hurt by their father leaving and while it seemed to outsiders that Dean was pushing away his only remaining family, Sam knew that wasn't the case. Dean was merely doing what Dean did.