Chapter 12

Sam spent his days walking around the property for exercise and sleeping. He spent time with Ellen and Ash daily and thankfully Dean had stopped baring his teeth every time they were around. Dean still felt proprietary when it came to Sam but he acknowledged to himself that Ellen and Ash were good for Sam. Dean had pledged that he would do a better job of taking care of Sam and if that meant having other people around Sam, so be it. At least for the short term.

Sam and Dean still hadn't addressed any of the serious subjects, preferring instead to spend time quietly with one another instead of risking a fight. At least that's how it seemed. Sam no longer pushed Dean to tell him why he seemed so angry and Dean quit hounding Sam about why he was so quiet. There was still a lot of healing that needed to take place.

Sam, for his part, was still having strange dreams featuring his mom and Jess but he no longer dreamed that Dean wanted to harm him. Dean was many things but he was a protective older brother first and foremost. Every once in a while Sam found himself chanting the phrase "They're here" to himself. He didn't know what it meant but it creeped him out. He thought about asking Dean what he thought but was afraid Dean would have him committed if he voiced his concerns.

Sam knew he hurt his brother every time he shied away from him. Unfortunately so much damage had been done between the brothers that Sam didn't know how to make the first move in repairing it. He knew he was being apathetic. He just really lacked the energy to get into it with Dean. They seemed to have reached an accord and Sam didn't want to risk pushing Dean away again.

Dean had been helping out at the Roadhouse. His natural charm worked wonders on the clientele and his tips would have been phenomenal if he had worked the evening hours. Working there allowed him to spend time around Jo but primarily he wanted to pay back Ellen for allowing them to stay on her property but he insisted that he be with Sam in the evenings and at night. Those were the times when Dean felt closest to Sam and he didn't want to give that up yet.

Sam didn't realize that Dean had figured out his nightmares were back. When the dreams came Dean would hold Sam and sooth him until he fell into a peaceful sleep again. For Dean it was like returning to a simpler time when his only job was to watch Sam. No hunts, no credit card scams, and no depression.

Dean had once heard that depression was anger turned inward. If that was true then he thought Sam had one nasty case of it. Dean, trying to be honest with himself, realized that he was depressed, too. But his depression manifested itself in outward displays of anger. He had to work hard every day not to lose his temper, be it at Ellen, Ash, Jo or even Sam.

Ellen and Ash had both noticed Dean's anger management problems and discussed it between themselves. They didn't dare say anything in front of Jo because she always leapt to Dean's defense. To them it seemed as though the situation between Sam and Dean was a powder keg ready to explode. Dean struggled mightily with his anger and Sam seemed to sink into further despondency. At least both brothers were mending physically. Hopefully with time their other issues would mend as well.

"Hey Dean, telephone call for ya," Jo sang across the bar at Dean. Dean never paid attention when the phone rang anymore. He didn't think he'd checked his cell phone for messages in over a month. He was with Sam most of the time and that was the only person he truly cared to hear from at the moment.

"Hello? Hey Bobby. How's it hanging?" Dean was surprised to hear Bobby's voice. For some reason he hadn't thought to let Bobby know when Sam fell ill and was in the hospital. Kind of strange considering it was Bobby who had pointed out that Sam didn't seem to be doing very well.

Bobby, although accustomed to being alone, had missed having the Winchester boys around. He had a simple salt and burn that he thought would be up Dean's ally and he was hoping Dean would bring Sam down to visit. Bobby quickly explained the job to Dean and asked him to think about it and let him know in a day or two. Bobby then asked about Sam.

"Hey Jo, could you please tell my brother he's got a phone call? I think he's out back with Ash," Dean asked. Dean was energized at the thought of hitting the road again but not at the expense of Sam's health. Although Dean enjoyed spending time with Jo he was ready to part company with "Aunt" Ellen and "Cousin" Ash for a while. Maybe if he could get Sam alone they'd be able to get things back on safer footing. Back to normal.

Sam ambled slowly into the bar from outside. "Who is it?" he asked Dean.

"It's another one of your babysitters," Dean smirked at Sam. He really hoped they'd be able to take the Impala out on the hard road again. God, he'd missed that.

Sam just rolled his eyes at Dean and took the phone. "Hi Bobby. Yeah, I'm good. Oh really? We'll talk it over and get back to you. Thanks for the offer." Dean could only hear Sam's side of the conversation but it sounded as though Bobby had told him about the perspective job for Dean. Sam's expression was pretty flat but that was the new norm these days. Dean couldn't tell what Sam thought about Bobby's invitation.

"Step outside?" Dean asked, holding the door for Sam. Sam slowly walked around outside to the back of the bar and leaned against the Impala with Dean next to him. It used to irritate Sam that Dean always hovered near Sam's elbow as if he thought he was going to pass out but as with most things lately the irritation had faded to acceptance.

Dean, feeling impatient but not wanting to influence Sam's decision, asked, "What do you think about what Bobby said?" Dean still couldn't gauge Sam's feelings on the matter.

"I say we go for it. Bobby doesn't seem to mind babysitting me," Sam said with a ghost of a smile, "and I can see you're itching for some action." Sam knew Ellen and Ash had worked hard to provide him with some stability and that he should probably not leave the shelter they offered so soon. But he didn't want to deny Dean this opportunity. Lately Sam had felt like he was a burden to Dean and he didn't want to be one.

Dean's face erupted into a huge smile. "When do you want to leave? I need to change the oil on the car, do some laundry, and break the news to my adoring fans that we'll be away for a while. So much to do and so little time." Dean felt a surge of euphoria.

"I can do the laundry. You won't let me within ten feet of the Impala unless I'm just a passenger so I can't help you with the oil. As for your adoring fans, only in your dreams." Sam was trying to work up some enthusiasm for the trip. As the moment it was enough to see Dean so happy. "I'll go let Ellen know we'll be taking off in the morning. Will that give you and her," Sam gestured to the Impala, "enough time?"

Dean motioned to Sam to get a move on it, "Plenty of time." Dean watched Sam shuffle back toward the front of the bar. "Hey Sam? Thanks. You won't regret it, I promise." Sam smiled and nodded before continuing on his way.

Dean had the car ready to go in no time and went inside to tell Jo they were leaving in the morning. He saw Sam, Ellen and Ash sitting at a table at the far end of the room. Dean could hear Ellen saying, "Are you sure, honey? We love having you around. It seems like it's too soon for you to be moving on with your kidney and all." Dean couldn't quite catch what Ash said but Sam reached out and slugged him in the arm.

The three of them stood up and Sam hugged first Ellen and then Ash. Dean felt that familiar jealousy again as Sam touched his "new family." Sam never seemed content with just his brother and it was starting to wear on Dean. But he consoled himself with the thought that he and Sam would be back out on the road again. Just the two of them. Just like normal.

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Author's note:

Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed this story. It was my first ever fan fiction and it means a lot to me that you would spend your time reading it.

You might have noticed that I've ended this story with an eye to a sequel. Sam's a burden and Dean's jealous. Hmmm, sounds like the makings of an interesting road trip.

Thanks again. Unit next timeā€¦