Not my characters. Just for fun.

Warnings: timeline—anywhen post-"Simon Said"

So… I'm not entirely happy with this, but there are some parts I really really like. So… dear lord, I say that a lot, don't I?


"Hey, Dean?"

Dean looks over. Sam's at the laptop, surfing the 'net, bored out of his mind. They've been cooped up in the motel room for two days, and will be stuck for five more.

Damn curses.

"Yeah?"

Dean's about to climb the walls; he's always hated being in one place for too long.

"You ever think we might have hunted a mutant?"

Dean thinks for a moment, contemplates a dozen answers, and then goes with, "Sometimes."

Sam glances up and Dean doesn't look away in time. He's caught in Sam's gaze, and the fucking curse—"You met a mutant?" Sam asks. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Dean tears his eyes away, glares at the wall. Of course, Sam'd get the telepathy and Dean's stuck with empathy. "Wasn't important," Dean mutters.

But it's too late. Sam heard too much.

"Dean?"

Dean sighs, curses. Nothing to do but talk. He walks over to the bed, throws himself on it, lies on his back. If he stares at the ceiling, avoids looking at Sam, maybe he can get away with not telling everything.

For some reason, the curse—spell—whatever, it only works if they look each other in the eyes or touch. So, across the room, not looking at Sam—things are almost normal.

"Not too long after you left, we were in New York for a few days. Routine haunting, malicious poltergeist, you know, the usual." Dean's voice is light but he knows Sam hears more than he'll probably ever let on. "We separated for the day, Dad visiting the family and me scouting the locale, just to be on the safe side."

Sam shifted in the chair, closed the laptop. Dean didn't need to see him to know the look on his face. Pensive, wary, wondering just what might come out of his brother's mouth.

He has a lifetime of experience, after all.

"I came across these guys whaling on some kid, couldn't be more'n thirteen." Dean stretches, folds his arms behind his head. "Small kid, too, scrawny. He was doing his best, but they guys were all older, bigger. I didn't even think about it." Dean laughs softly. "I jumped right in. Once someone who knew how to fight entered the picture, they broke up, fled. The kid was on the ground, curled up. Torn clothes, dirty brown hair. Thin, underfed, bleeding."

Dean doesn't say that for an instant, he saw Sam, younger Sam, and that he couldn't breathe.

"I knelt beside him," Dean continues. "I started talking, just saying random shit, to let him know I was there. I reached out, lightly touched his shoulder. He jerked, pulled away. I was glad it wasn't winter, you know? He wasn't cold, just beaten." Dean almost glances over but catches himself. "Finally, though, he rolled over, let me help him up. He didn't want a hospital, so I brought him to our motel room. He took a shower, cleaned up, then I looked at his wounds. Just some bruises, a few cuts, a fractured wrist. I asked him if he was hungry and he was, so we went to McDonald's. We didn't talk, just ate. You know how I am with silence—"

Sam laughs a little, mutters, "Yeah."

"—I pulled out my lighter, you remember, the shark one? I flipped the top open and closed, open and closed. I noticed that in between bites, his gaze kept darting to the lighter, and then I realized—he wasn't looking at it. He was watching the flame.

"After he finished, I had no clue what to do. Bring him back to the room, let him sleep safely for a while, take him shopping for clothes, turn him out on the street… but he looked up at me, face bruised and tired, and told me thank you. Said he'd be fine now."

Sam shifts again. Dean knows he wants to speak but is hesitant because it might close Dean down.

"Since he'd been staring at my lighter, I gave it to him. He looked at it, then up at me, and flicked the top. The flame danced for a moment, then it leapt to the palm of his other hand. His eyes never left mine, like he was daring me to prove myself to be like those guys." Dean chuckles. "But I just said, 'Cool.'"

Dean sits up and glances toward Sam but avoids his eyes. "So, yeah, I've thought about it. That 'shifter back in St. Louis? But even if he was a mutant, he was still crazy, still a threat."

Dean can see Sam's nod and knows what question is coming. "Do you wonder if I'm a mutant? If Andy, Max, Rosie—we're all just mutants?"

Dean flops back onto the bed. "Of course I have, Sammy. But it doesn't matter."

Sam stands and walks over to the other bed, sinks down into it. "So, if there's a war—and there's gonna be one, you know it, Dean—which side will you be on?"

Staring at the ceiling, Dean doesn't respond. It'd be too chick-flicky to say what he thinks—that whichever side Sam is on, Dean's right there with him.

So when Dean speaks, it's to do what he knows Sam knew he would do. "You sure we have a week of this crap?"

Sam's laughter is soft. Without looking, Dean knows his eyes are closed, that he's about to drift off. "Yeah," Sam answers.

Dean turns toward his little brother and smiles.

It doesn't matter, whatever comes, whatever happens. A week of telepathy and empathy—that witch thought to break them, but Dean knows it's only making them stronger.