Title: Childish Things, Chapter 3

Summary: Sam and TeddyDean meet again.

Warnings: A few cuss words (this is Dean Winchester we're talking about!)

Author's Note: The final chapter – yay! Please review!

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"Do you think Armor-all will get this blood out of the upholstery?"

"I don't know," Sam shrugged, "but if it does maybe you could get a promotional deal with the company – you know, 'For those tough demon blood stains, I reach for Armor-all'."

"Yeah, yeah. Yuck it up, college boy. Maybe I'll use that mess on top of your head to mop it all up."

Dean smiled as Sam launched into a defense of his hair and his dignity, tuning out the specifics as he wiped down the Impala's front seat. They had just completed a difficult hunt, for once without serious bodily harm to either Winchester. The post-hunt rush of relief and satisfaction had left him feeling amiable and relaxed, and he wondered what a psychiatrist would have to say about the fact that eviscerating Hell Spawn was his primary form of recreation. Come to think of it, he wondered what a psychiatrist would have to say about Hell Spawn in general.

"God, I can't believe how sticky this shit is! How did it even circulate inside that thing?" Sam griped, scraping a globule of congealed yellow fluid from the steering wheel. "Maybe it didn't circulate. The blood could have been some sort of electrostatic conductor or something…"

The disgusted, slightly amused expression was gone from Sam's face, replaced by the oh-so-familiar look of 'my giant, overactive brain has a theory'. Sometimes Dean thought Sam might have some bizarrely genius form of ADD. He wondered how his little brother's head had managed to keep from exploding.

"…you listening, Dean?" Sam's slightly exasperated voice cut into his thoughts and he chuckled. Now who had the ADD? Sam pursed his lips, looking slightly offended.

"Chill, Dude. I'm tired and my baby is covered in yellow mucus from hell."

"It's not actually mucus- in fact I think it might-"

"Sam. I repeat – I'm tired." Sam did that queer little openmouthed eye-roll of his, but shut up and turned back to cleaning his side of the front seat. Several minutes of quiet scrubbing and muttered curses later, Sam threw his rag out of the car in disgust.

"That thing's saturated – I need a new rag, otherwise I'm just moving it around." Still partially smeared with yellow goo himself and looking slightly pouty, Sam would have looked amusing if the Impala weren't in such immediate distress.

"So get one! There's some old Tees in the trunk."

Sam hauled himself out of the car and a few seconds later Dean could hear him rummaging through the trunk. They had fallen back into an easy camaraderie lately, working together in a well-oiled machine when they hunted , joking and bickering good naturedly during their downtime. Dean would never admit how much he had missed his brother when Sam had left for Stanford. Those years without him had seemed long and humorless. Their dad was an amazing hunter, but he was all business all the time, and hunting with him had seemed clinical and militaristic. Hunting with Sammy was like some sort of insane, dangerous, manic adventure.

"Um… Dean?" Sam called hesitantly from the back of the car. He sounded strange, and Dean felt a sudden surge of concern. The never-ending loop of gotta protect Sammy that ran through his mind always amp-ed up during hunts, and it made him jumpy about his brother for a while even after the danger passed.

"Sam?" He made his way to the trunk, hand resting on the hilt of his knife, just in case.

Sam wore a look of mingled confusion, surprise, and embarrassment. He was holding TeddyDean in his hands. Oh. Shit. Dean had stashed the bear in the back of the trunk years ago, never intending Sam to find it. He had almost forgotten it was there himself. Quick – think of something to say.

"Hey! TeddyDean! Whadda you know…" Brilliant, Dean. Way to sidestep a potentially awkward situation. Sam blinked at him and looked down at the stuffed animal.

"You kept him." Sam said, sounding equally confused and touched. Dean shrugged uncomfortably. This was quickly turning into a colossal chick flick moment. Any minute now cartoon bluebirds would appear and burst into song.

"Don't make a big deal out of it, okay? And grab those tees already, will you? That stuff's gonna harden if we don't clean it up, and God help you if my baby is disfigured by demon slime because you couldn't hustle with the rags." He stalked back to the front of the car, not waiting to see if Sam followed his directions, praying that he would just drop it. He was too tired to properly deflect his brother's questions.

Sam returned to the front seat with the tees in hand and a small, stupid grin on his face. Dean glared at him, but he returned to scrubbing without a word, and they finished the cleanup in silence.

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A faint moan pulled Dean from the depths of a blissful sleep, and he was upright with knife in hand before he was fully awake. He took a moment to orient himself – Hotel room, Wrightville Nebraska – him and Sam sharing a queen sized bed in the only available room. Sam moaned again and Dean recognized the distressed sound of his brother trapped in a nightmare. He sighed and scrubbed a hand over his face before returning the knife to its place under his pillow. He wanted to wake Sam, but if he were having a vision and Dean woke him, they could miss potentially life-saving details. Laying down again, he reached out and rested a hand on Sam's back.

"It's okay, little brother." He whispered, hoping that Sam could hear him through whatever macabre thing he was living in his head. It seemed to work and he stilled under Dean's hand. A minute passed in silence, and Dean was drifting back to sleep when Sam rolled over and said his name in a small, hesitant tone.

"Yeah, Sammy." Dean mumbled, trying to rouse himself again. A choked sigh was his only response. "Vision?" he asked

"No." came the curt answer. Oh. One of those.

"You okay?"

"Yeah, but… I just don't want to go back to sleep yet." Dean heard the unspoken 'will you stay up with me?' in his brother's voice and sat up a little, resolved to being awake.

"Do you want to turn on the TV?"

"No."

"Okay, do you wanna….. talk?" Dean asked tentatively.

"Why did you keep my teddy bear, Dean?"

Wow, pounced right on that one, didn't ya, Sammy?

"Ah, Jesus, Sam… Do we have to have this conversation now?" Or ever?

It was quiet for a moment, and Dean felt an infuriating surge of guilt. He could almost hear the miserable thoughts he knew were seeping into Sam's mind, leftovers from whatever painful memory had replayed in his sleep. Goddamn it but he was a sucker when it came to his brother.

"Look. Everyone has something they hang on to from their childhood. You know, sentimental value, personal history, blah blah blah…. You're the big fan of 'normal', I just thought you might want it some day."

The truth was, he had originally planned on saving it for Sam's kids – the kids Dean was going to make damn sure he got the chance to have. TeddyDean was part of the secret promise that he had made to himself and to Sam - that someday his brother would have another chance at the happiness he had had, and lost, with Jess. But if he were to be truly honest with himself, keeping the bear had been as much about holding on to his memories as it was about Sam. Little Sammy had named the bear for him and imbued it with supernatural powers, and when Dean looked at the ratty old thing all he saw was the admiration and love his little brother had had for him. TeddyDean was proof that he had done something right with Sammy.

"Oh. Thanks, Dean. You know, I never really wanted to get rid of him."

"Yeah, Sammy, I know." Dean sighed. He smiled as his brother shifted gears and began to prattle on about his electro-whatever theory concerning the demon they had killed earlier.

Ten minutes and several jaw-popping yawns later Sam seemed to be drifting off again, but he roused himself for one more question.

"Dean, what do you hang on to? You know, from your childhood."

"Sam, go to bed." he mumbled, burying his face in the pillow. Sam chuckled but settled, his breathing gradually evening out and softening into sleep. Still awake, Dean listened to the gentle rhythm of in out in out beside him, his brother's question replaying in his head.

"Dean, what do you hang on to?"

Watching Sam's sleeping form through the dark, he answered.

"You, Sammy. I hang on to you."

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AUTHOUR'S NOTE: Ta da! All done! Thanks to everyone for the kind feedback. It's encouragement to start my next project, guaranteed to contain more angst and fewer stuffed animals. :)