When he finishes his homework, he carefully puts his books in his pack and sets the pack by the door before going to brush his teeth. Dean's already in the bathroom, staring at himself in the mirror. Sam's noticed him doing that a lot lately.

"Is something the matter?" he asks, standing in the doorway.

Dean makes a face at himself, stroking his chin. "Nope. You done?"

"Yep. You do yours?"

"No homework tonight." Dean pokes at his hair and looks at Sam in the mirror. "So? You gonna stare at me some more, or brush your teeth?"

Sam shrugs. "You're in the way," he says practically.

Dean shoves over, enough so that they can both get their toothbrushes under the tap. Sam's mouth is full of foam when he asks, "You're always staring at yourself."

Dean bends over and spits. "Just checking to see if I need to shave."

Sam peers at Dean's chin. It doesn't look too bristly. "I don't think so. Besides, why would you shave right before bed?"

"Feels good, nice and smooth." Dean smirks. "You'll understand when you get older."

"You're not that old," Sam says, and swishes water in his mouth.

"Hey, in some cultures I'm a man already, dude."

"What about this one?"

Dean snorts and ignores it. "Go to bed already."

"Is Dad coming home tonight?"

"Dunno. Said he'd be late, or maybe tomorrow."

Sam bites his lip while Dean messes with his hair some more, and asks, "Is he gonna be okay?"

"Huh?" Dean frowns at him. "Dad? Course he's okay. Just a stupid poltergeist. Could do this one in his sleep."

"That how come he didn't take you with him?"

"Well, somebody had to babysit."

Sam takes an indignant breath. "I don't need a BABYSITTER, I'm –"

"Ten years old," Dean says, rolling his eyes. "Yeah, and last time you got left alone what happened?"

Sam's gaze drops to the floor. "Was an accident," he mumbles.

"Dude, tripping and falling? That's an accident. Starting a bath and then sticking your nose in a stupid book and forgetting the water until it's like Lake Winchester in here? Not accidental, okay?"

"I TOLD you it wasn't gonna happen again! I just –"

"Just forgot, I know." Dean smirks at him, then reaches out and messes up Sam's hair. "S'alright."

Sam smoothes his hair and sighs. "Okay."

"Hit the sack, squirt."

"It's early."

"No it isn't, and if Dad does come home right now and you're still up, you're gonna wish all you'd done was leave the water running."

Sam nods, because yeah, it's probably true. Dad kinda laughed over the water thing, once he stopped yelling, but he's really strict about bedtimes and reveille and all that.

The bedroom's cold, but he's pretty sleepy, and it's kinda weird that he can't go to sleep. Just lies there, wishing they had an electric blanket or something, wondering if Dad's okay, if any minute now he'll hear the front door and Dad's deep voice, asking what Dean's doing still up.

He watches the little alarm clock, cool green dial bright in the dimness. When it hits eleven he slides out of bed and pads into the living room.

Dean's sitting on the couch, watching something on tv, and he frowns. "You okay, Sammy?"

"Couldn't sleep." Sam squints in the light, walking over to climb on the couch next to him. "Whatcha watching?"

"Some stupid show. You need to sleep. Want some water?"

Sam shakes his head. "It's cold."

Dean sighs, glances at his watch. "Okay," he says. "Come on."

The bedroom doesn't seem quite as cold when Dean's with him. He hops up, thrusts his feet under the covers, and waits for Dean to lie down next to him.

"Just don't ask me for a bedtime story," Dean grumbles, pulling the covers up over them both. "I'm fresh out."

"This is okay," Sam says.

"Holy crap, your feet are freezing! Damn, Sammy, it's not THAT cold."

"Couldn't get warm."

Dean watches him for a moment, then puts his arm out. Sam slides closer, tries not to sigh when Dean's arm tucks him up close.

"So what's really bugging you?" Dean asks softly. "Is it Dad?"

Sam buries his face in the bend of Dean's neck. Dean doesn't like to snuggle like he used to, and it's been a while since he's let Sam do this – he says Sam's too old, be a man, all that stuff. But Dean smells good, like soap and toothpaste, and his jaw is covered with little soft bristles, and Sam's getting bigger but he still fits, feels his hair catch on Dean's sandpapery chin.

"I guess," he whispers.

"Dude, Dad's fine. Kicking some butt, helping somebody out. You know? He can take care of himself. You watch."

Sam nods. He feels really sleepy now, much more than before, and he yawns before he says, "Can you stay?"

Dean's chest rumbles with a laugh, but it's not a mean laugh. "Getting pretty old for big brother to sleep with you, you know? Didn't you say you don't need a babysitter?"

Sam sighs. "I got -- I got a funny feeling, Dean."

"What kind of feeling?"


"You have a bad dream or something?"

"No. Just."

"All right. Okay, just – go to sleep."

"Okay. Night, Dean."

"Night, pain in the ass."

Sam huffs, and there's another rumbly chuckly laugh, but Dean's arm holds him close, and Sam presses his nose against Dean's collarbone and closes his eyes.

When he wakes up, the apartment smells like coffee and bacon, and he knows Dad's home. Dad's fine, Dad's kicked monster butt like always and it's okay.

Sam smiles a little in the darkness, and then pokes Dean in the side to wake him up.