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.

And I know the rule. If I break them, I buy them.

A/N: It was either write another story or work on school assignments. I've had this one-off in my head for a while and I decided to just get it out so I can start thinking about the next one. I have a break from school coming up. Yay!

Considering how much time the brothers spent together, it wasn't totally unexpected that they would fight now and then. But, as Dean sat at the bar, he realized just how bad the fight had been. It wasn't like the time they split up with Dean following their father's orders and Sam heading off to California to find John, but in a different way, this was just as bad.

He took a long swallow of the beer that the bartender set in front of him. He and Sam had stopped for the night in yet another nameless town on some back road in North Carolina. They were in between jobs and not headed anywhere in particular. Sam was grumpy all day; not wanting to listen to Dean's music, picking apart everything Dean said, and being a general pain in the ass. Dean didn't know why he'd been so impatient with his brother, but all he wanted to do was just sit and drive; he didn't want to think and he didn't want to talk. Sam kept pushing…

And what the hell did any of that matter anyway? Why did Sam want to know what happened between Dean and John after he left for school? It was years ago and didn't make any difference to what was happening now. John was missing and they were trying to find him while destroying a few bad guys along the way. But why did it bother him so much that Sam was curious?

He took another sip of his beer, watching the pretty blonde as she sat down a few stools down from him. She ordered a shot of Tequila with a slight Southern drawl, seemingly familiar with the bartender. They laughed at something Dean hadn't heard and when the bartender turned his attention back to the only other customer, Dean also ordered Tequila.

The blonde smiled at him and held up the shot glass.

"Cheers." she said and moved closer.

Dean couldn't help but notice her smile. He tapped her glass with his. "Cheers."

She ordered another round. The bartender rolled his eyes, then left a bottle on the bar before going to wipe down tables near the door.

"What are we drinking to?" she asked, pouring their drinks.

Dean grinned at her. "You tell me."

"Aw, who cares? Let's just drink."

Dean tapped her glass again. "I'll drink to that."

"So what brings you to our fair town?"

"Just driving through."

"All by your lonesome?"

Dean felt a momentary pang. "I'm all by my lonesome right now."

She smiled and held out her hand. "I'm Emily."

"Dean." he shook her hand.

"So what about you?" he asked. "You obviously live here."

"Sad but true." she walked behind the bar and grabbed a beer, then leaned on the counter in front of Dean. "I know the owner. Sometimes I waitress for him."

"And other times?"

She shrugged. "So you looked pretty thoughtful when I walked in. What were you thinking about?"

Dean examined the beer bottle. "Nothing in particular."

"Do you have a wife? A girlfriend?"

Dean snickered. "No."


He looked at her.

She held up her hands. "Just covering the bases. You look like a guy avoiding some kind of confrontation."

"I'm on a road trip with my brother and we kind of got on each other's nerves today. I left him at a motel down the street; give us both time to cool off."

"A road trip with your brother." she put another shot of Tequila in front of him. "That sounds like fun."

Dean fingered the shot glass, avoiding Emily's gaze.

"So where are you headed? she asked after a moment of silence.

"We're going to meet our dad." Dean said. It was only a partial lie and it's not like he owed this stranger any explanation.

"Cool, a family reunion. It's just me; no family."

"Oh yeah?" Dean looked at her.

"My parents split up when I was little. My dad took off, Mom died a few years later. My brother," she hesitated. "he died in a car accident last year."

"I'm sorry."

She shrugged and poured another shot. "Thanks. To Jimmy."

They both stayed in their own thoughts for a moment.

Dean couldn't help but wonder what Sam was doing; hoped he was getting some sleep. The dreams about Jessica had stopped but his sleeping patterns hadn't improved much.

"What's your brother's name?" she asked suddenly.


"Older or younger?"


"Jimmy was my big brother. My protector." she smiled sadly. "I miss him."

Dean didn't know what to say.

"Must be hard." she continued. "Being the big brother. Do you feel protective toward him?"

Dean nodded, staring into his glass.

"Jimmy felt that way about me, too. I hardly had a date in high school because all the boys were afraid of him." she laughed. "He was a big teddy bear though."

She poured two more drinks.

"You should take it easy." Dean said. He had no idea where this evening was going, but he didn't want her to pass out behind the bar and end all the other possibilities.

She looked at her glass. "Tell me about Sam."

Dean looked down at his little brother as he slept. The nine year old had a bad day at school and came home in a foul mood. He took it out on the only other person he could. But Dean, who had his own bad day, wasn't interested in his brother's histrionics. At the end of patience after hours of Sammy pushing his buttons, Dean did something he rarely did. He yelled at Sammy and told him to leave him alone. Still he didn't stop, and Dean pushed him. The smaller boy tripped over a toy and fell against the wall. Only his pride was hurt, but he ran off to the bedroom screaming at Dean. If John had been home, there would have been hell to pay but they boys were alone. Dean tried to apologize, but Sammy wouldn't let him. It wasn't until the next morning that the younger brother softened.

Most thirteen year olds wouldn't have been too bothered that their kid brother was mad at them, but Dean wasn't most thirteen years old. He cared very much that Sammy was mad at him and didn't sleep all night.

Dean looked at Emily. "Why do you want to know about Sam?"

"I'm curious; making conversation."

"He's my brother." Dean shrugged.

Emily poured some peanuts into a bowl and put it on the bar between them.

"It's just the three of us." Dean said. "Sam, me and our dad."

"Where's your mom?" Emily asked.

Dean took a handful of peanuts from the bowl. "She died in a fire when I was four."

"That's horrible; I'm sorry."

"I heard my dad yelling and I ran to Sammy's nursery. He was just a baby. My dad gave Sammy to me and told me to run. I did."

"Wow." she breathed.

Dean finished the last of his beer. Emily put another one in front of him.

"Sammy, would you just hurry up?" Dean demanded.

The fourteen year old yelled something from the bathroom, but Dean couldn't understand what he said.

"Dad is waiting!"

Sam threw the bathroom door open and it banged against the wall.

"I don't care! I don't want to do this!"

Dean sighed. "I know, but –"

"But nothing, Dean! Why do I have to go? He's just going to make me wait in the car. I'm tired of doing everything he says."

"He's your father, Sammy. Doing what he says comes with the territory."

"You're as bad as he is. I wish you'd both just leave me alone."

"You're such a brat!" Dean grabbed his brother by the shoulder as he tried to push past him. The two grappled until John rushed in and broke up the fight.

The brothers didn't talk for two days.

"You two must be pretty close." Emily said.

Dean nodded, his hands wrapped around the bottle of beer. "I'd do anything for him."

"And I bet he feels the same way."

"Yeah, I guess so."

Emily smiled. "You've done a lot for him over the years, haven't you? Like Jimmy did for me."

"What kinds of things did Jimmy do?"

She poured another round. "He always made sure I had what I needed. He took care of me before he took care of himself. You do that, don't you?"

Dean shrugged.

"I would have done anything for Jimmy and I bet your Sam feels the same way."

"You're my brother. And I'd die for you."

Dean nodded, pushing the memory away. "I think he does."

"You're doing what?" Dean demanded.

"I'm going to college."

"How? Where?"

Sam handed his brother a folded piece of paper. Dean unfolded it, but his eyes stayed on his brother.

"I got a scholarship, Dean." Sam said excitedly. "To Stanford. Do you know what that means?"

Dean read the letter. "But, Sammy, what about the hunt?"

"Dean –"

"Come on, Sammy, you don't need this. Besides, Dad won't go for it."

"I don't care, Dean. I want to go to college. I want to make something of my life; be normal."

Dean rolled his eyes. "Normal. Please. What the hell do you know about normal?"

"That's just the point, Dean. I don't know. We go from place to place, hunting things, killing them. I don't want to do that anymore."

"We help people, Sammy. Besides, what about Mom?"

"What about Mom? I don't even remember her, Man!"

Dean grabbed Sam by the collar and forced him up off the couch. Sam didn't fight back and let himself be thrown up against a wall. The brothers stared at each other. Dean only let Sam go because their father walked into the apartment.

"You didn't talk again for almost four years?" Emily asked.

Dean shook his head. He downed another shot.

"I'd do anything to be able to talk to my brother again."

Dean looked thoughtful.

"What about you?"

"I need to talk to Sam." Dean slipped off the bar stool and nearly fell to the floor as he pulled the car keys from his pocket.

"Hold on, Cowboy. You're not driving anywhere."

"I don't want to be in a fight with my brother. I need to get to him."

"You said he was in the motel down the street. I'll walk with you."

Dean reached for his wallet. Emily held up a hand. "Don't worry about the tab."

Emily put an arm around Dean to steady him as they left the bar. The only motel in town was three blocks away; she wasn't sure he'd make it without throwing up but she wanted to be sure he got there.

"Do you know the room number?" she asked as they walked into the parking lot of the motel. "Do you have your key?"

Dean slipped his hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out the motel room key. The key chain had the room number on it and she led him there. Dean had to lean heavily against the wall to keep from falling down while Emily knocked on the door. It was late, but there was a light burning inside. The door opened a moment later.

"Hi. This belong to you?" Emily smiled.

"Dean? You okay?"

"Sammy!" Dean grinned, falling toward him. Sam caught him and eased him down to the floor.

"He's fine." Emily said. "He probably won't be so good tomorrow though."

"I don't think you'll be doing very well either."

Emily grinned. "Don't worry about me."

She started to walk away.

"Hey," Sam said. "Thanks for bringing him back."

"This is where he belongs."

Sam looked at his brother; Dean was on the floor leaning against the wall. His eyes were closed.

"Yeah," Sam said mostly to himself.

He closed the door and turned his attention to his brother.

"Hey Sam?" Dean said quietly from the passenger side of the car the next morning. He was wearing dark sunglasses and sitting not quite straight in the seat.

Sam glanced at him as he navigated out of town.

"About yesterday," Dean continued. "I – uh – I'm sorry."

Sam looked at him, surprised.

"If you want to know what happened while you were gone, I'll tell you." Dean slipped lower in the seat. "Later."

Sam smiled to himself and pushed the gas pedal a little harder.