Don't Sell Me Out

Tag to Simon Said. Dean's not happy when Ellen pushed for the truth.

Gen. Not mine.

When Jo broke out their priciest whiskey, Ellen raised one eyebrow but said nothing. Lord knows the Winchester boys looked like they could use it, one brother visibly frustrated, the other just tired.

But Sam barely touched his drink, only pushed his cup around a bit and answering the rest of her questions with low words and troubled eyes. Dean said little as he tossed down his own whiskey and let his brother do most of the talking. He refused to look at her again, staring hard into his glass instead and tilting his head now and then in Sam's direction. He hadn't been happy with her pushing for the truth, or with Sam for sharing it, but it was a measure of their close relationship that he had respected his brother's decision to do so.

Finally she had no more questions left, not for the moment, and the words petered out, no one really in the mood for talking, nothing else really that could be said. A couple of drifters were still playing the snooker tables, short conversation and the dull clink of balls the only real sounds in an otherwise empty saloon. Behind her, Jo had started moving again after Sam had finished talking, slow and almost reluctant to disturb the stifling mood of the early afternoon air.

Leaning back against the bar, Ellen mulled over what she had just learnt, and watched the way the boys talked to each other without words. Sam had given up on his drink, pushing it away from him as he hunched over the counter, weary and smaller than the absurdly lanky man he really was. She knew then she was seeing the little brother that Dean saw. Whiskey discarded, Dean half-turned on his barstool, one elbow resting on the counter and gaze steady, until Sam felt it and lifted his head. Dean cocked his head, the question in his face, and Sam quirked his lips in short reply, dropping his eyes at Dean's unsatisfied expression.

Boys that grew up too fast, she thought darkly, not for the first time wanting to curse the stubborn bastard that was John Winchester. A smart man, a good hunter, but frustratingly shortsighted when it came to his kids. Ellen didn't doubt that he loved his boys, but working in isolation the way they did, ignorant of the wider network of hunters out there who were just like them, they tried to take on too much, thought they had to do everything themselves. That kind of responsibility could break or make a person, and though she had believed the latter of the Winchester boys after first meeting them, she wasn't so sure now, not with this new revelation about Sam.

"Let's make a move." Dean lifted his glass again, taking another swig of his whiskey. "We'll see what else Ash has for us, and then we head out."

Sam nodded, running one hand tiredly through his hair. "Yeah, alright." He stood up, and rolled his eyes in faint amusement. "I'll go see if Dr Badass is in." He turned to look at her, and ducked his head in an almost apologetic gesture she didn't understand before he left for the back rooms, with Dean watching him go.

"You don't have to leave so soon – if you stick around I have a couple of beds to spare." It wasn't the first time she'd offered, and when Dean turned back towards her, she already knew the answer before he opened his mouth.

"Thanks, but not today." His tone was deceptively calm, but the belligerence was there in his tight smile.

She lifted one eyebrow. "You sure Sam's in any condition to be hunting right now?"

The smile turned sharp. "No, but he's not staying here either."

God, it was John Winchester all over again. Holding on to her anger, she stared hard at him. "We're not the enemy here, Dean."

He shrugged, attitude suddenly shifting towards languid. "Look, you've helped us out of some tight spots, and it's not that I don't appreciate it." He smiled at her again, easy and charming and completely false. "But I don't like people who beat on my brother."

"How many times do I have to say it?" she snapped. "This is not just your fight."

She held her ground when he rose suddenly, palms flat on the counter as he loomed, and she met his narrowed gaze with one of her own. The abrupt stillness behind the bar told her that Jo had taken notice, finally catching on to the dangerous livewire that was Dean Winchester.

"The bottom line is, we don't know you that well yet." The words were biting, steely. "And pushing Sam to tell you about him, and the kids like him - I have to say, that doesn't exactly inspire trust. I don't know the hunters that you do, and I don't know which ones will decide that Sam isn't any different from the monsters that they track down. So forgive me if I'm not so sure where you and I stand in this so-called war."

He raised one hand sharply, cutting off what she was about to say. "Right now, the only thing I'm sure about isn't so sure about himself. It was his choice to tell you the truth, but I will kill anyone who uses it against him."

And Ellen didn't doubt it, could see it in the grim lines of his face. Dean had the fierce, almost obsessive devotion to family that she had seen inklings of in John Winchester. There and then Ellen realized with sudden certainty that if anything happened to Sam, if Sam died, Dean wouldn't survive this final loss of family.

He stepped back then, taking some of the tension with him as mumbled cursing and banging on the walls heralded Ash and Sam's return from the back. When Dean turned away, Ellen very quietly let go of the breath she had been holding.

"No one's going to find out through me," she said evenly, and he paused. When he looked over his shoulder, his gaze was sharp and measured, with the kind of experience she had never seen herself outside the walls of the roadhouse. Hunting turned men older and wiser quickly, and Dean Winchester had hunted alongside his father for a very long time.

But when Ash burst through into the saloon complaining loudly with an exasperated Sam on his heels, Dean nodded curtly, just once, and the expression slid away to a boyishness that Ellen knew was only half-real as he smirked and joined the noise. She watched him as he patted Sam once on the back, hand lingering consolingly for the briefest of moments before they knuckled down to what they did best.

Not through me, Ellen thought grimly, not if I can help it. And she locked down on her thoughts, picked up the used cups, and went back to business.