Happy Valentine's Day to all SN readers and my friends at SFTCOL(AR)S in particular!

Minor, minor, MINOR spoilers for late season 2 and season 3, based on interviews with Mr. Kripke.

Just so you know, this story has no relation to my previous fics, and is based solely on canon from the show…projected forward one season.

I want to thank my beta gemini grl11 for proof reading and helping me with the end of this story.

I don't own Supernatural, Sam or Dean or anyone else related to them. Reviews craved.

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Shore Leave

February 14th, 2008

Valentine's Day

7:00 PM

Sam fidgeted nervously in front of the closed hotel room door. He considered knocking again, but figured that would make him seem anxious. As if the perspiration on his brow and the shaking of his hands weren't clues enough.

Funny, he could stare down ghosts and demons with a poker face and steady weapon, but blind dates made him want to run away and hide. He wondered for the hundredth time why he'd ever let Dean talk him into this.

Oh, yeah. 'Cause I'm an idiot!

The nervous perspiration was actually making it worse, since February in New York wasn't exactly the warmest time to be outside anyway. Let alone at night. On a stranger's doorstep. Waiting for the freakin' door to open. Sweating.

They really shouldn't be doing this. The demon was still out there, and all hell was breaking loose. Literally in some instances. They had no idea what was going to happen to them next. Why jump through these hoops and set up dates for a holiday that neither of them had the time or the energy for?

Dean had argued that the very lack of predictability in their lives and their uncertain futures meant that they ought to enjoy every little opportunity that life threw at them. God knows they are rare….

Sam was positive that his older brother simply wanted to get laid and needed him out of the room for a while. So, he went out on the blind date that Dean set up for him. Like a good Little Brother.

Maybe fratricide was an acceptable option. They'd never convict him. Anyone that had ever met Dean would stick up for Sam and give him an alibi….

No. If I kill him, I'll never be able to get back at him for this. I guess he can live…for now….

Sighing, he mentally checked everything he had on him.

Cell phone? Check.

Half a dozen roses? Check.

Box of chocolate? Check.

Two hundred dollars in his wallet, from Dean, for a nice dinner? Check.

Flask of Holy Water? Check. Can't be too careful these days….

Single condom that Dean forced him to take along…just in case? Check.

Yeah, like that's gonna happen…. Not with any girl Dean picked out for me.

He was about ready to give up and walk away when the door finally opened…revealing the girl Dean had spent all day convincing him to see tonight.

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11:00 AM

Just outside of Schenectady, NY

That morning….

Sam woke to the sound of the hotel room door slamming shut. Blearily cracking his eyes open, he made out a very blurry Dean walking in, carrying two bags and what looked like one of those fruit drinks that come in plastic jugs. An odd choice for him, Sam thought. Dean must have felt his stare, because he looked up suddenly from unpacking the food on the small table.

"Morning, Princess…finally decide to get up?"

Sam frowned, glancing at the nightstand but not seeing a clock, "Huh? What are you doing up so early? You never get up before me…."

It was Dean's turn to frown, apparently, as he crossed the distance to Sam's side and thrust a hand out to feel his forehead. Sam looked up at him in bewilderment.

"You okay? Blurred vision or a headache?" he asked with concern.

Sam slowly shook his head, "How about both? But my eyes are starting to clear up…why? What time is it anyway?"

Dean held up his watch, "It's almost lunchtime, Sammy. You've been asleep all morning. Not surprised…we didn't get in 'til three. Hell, you were asleep before I finished binding your ribs."

If only Dean had mentioned that little fact one second earlier…. As Sam tried to rise, the pressure on his throbbing ribs forced him back down with a muttered oof. He groaned and looked back at Dean.

"What happened? Last thing I remember I was trying to put those banishing pouches in the north side of the house."

The poltergeist they'd been trying to get rid of had been a particularly nasty one, and it hadn't taken too kindly to them trying to remove it. Sam had narrowly dodged a flying recliner in the living room, and had to fight his way into the basement to place his last pouch. It got fuzzy after that.

"Yeah," Dean confirmed, "that thing decided to use you as a sledgehammer and remodel the basement. Slammed you all the way through a wall, man."

Ah, that would explain the lack of memory of the last few hours, he thought, and the splitting headache.

He pointed to his aching chest, "That what this is all about?"

Dean nodded, checking Sam's eyes, "Think you bruised a rib or two. I wrapped it just in case. That, a couple of stitches on the back of your head, and you were all patched up. I don't see any signs of a concussion. At least not a bad one. You were real lucky man. If that wall hadn't been so rickety already…. "

Sam nodded and felt through his hair to inspect Dean's handiwork. Not that he needed to. He met Dean's eyes again.

"Thanks. What about you?"

Dean smirked, "Me? It takes a lot more than a Casper with Bob Villa envy to hurt me. Besides, it only had eyes for you."

"Glad I could help," Sam snorted grumpily.

"Yeah, I appreciated it. I got to save your ass…again…and Marianne even kissed me to say thank you."

Sam groaned, but not because of the pain in his chest, "What is it with you anyway?"

"What?" Dean feigned innocently.

"Forget it…" Sam sighed. He was too tired to mock Dean. That said something right there.

Dean must have picked up on it, since his face softened a little, "You hungry?"

No. Sam shrugged, "A little, I guess." He accepted Dean's proffered hand and slowly managed to rise into a sitting position. Dean snagged the bags off the table and settled onto his own bed, handing one to Sam.

Sam sniffed the bag as he opened it, "What is it? Sausage?" he asked somewhat unnecessarily.

Dean grinned, and then shrugged, "It was the only place I could find nearby that was still serving breakfast. Not pancakes, but any port in a storm, right?"

Sam's stomach answered first…by growling loudly. Dean laughed, "No need to ask permission…dig in."

He didn't have to be told twice. He unwrapped the fairly large sausage and egg biscuit and took a bite. It was by far the best breakfast he'd had in weeks. A smile tugged as his lips as he took another bite.

"So…" Dean said suddenly, "do you know what day it is?"

Sam looked up, and answered while still chewing, "…hat? You 'esting my 'emory 'ile I'm eating?"

"No, I'm just wondering if you realize what day it is."

Sam swallowed and went to take another bite, "Unless it's my birthday and you got me a present, then I don't care."

"Cute," he stared for a beat, "Well?"

Sam sighed, "Umm...February 13th, I think."

Dean grinned, "Close. It's the 14th.

"And?"

"Dude, it's Valentine's Day."

"Oh. Okay..." Sam replied, confused. So what?

"'Oh?' What do you mean 'oh'?" Dean snorted, "We gotta find dates for tonight."

Sam looked up at him from his biscuit, "Dates?"

Dean looked at him with mock pity, "Yeah, Sammy...you know, where you take a girl to dinner, but don't pump her for information about a case?" then added, "Well...there could be pumping involved---"

"Don't finish that thought, Dean..."

"Prude."

"Chauvinist."

"Hey...just because I don't fall into bed with every werewolf that I come across---"

Sam's mood crumpled, "You promised that you'd never bring that up again…."

Dean seemed to realize that he'd hit a raw nerve, and had the grace to look sympathetic. "Sorry, Sammy. My bad."

An awkward silence fell over them as Dean cleaned up the food bags, and Sam sank back onto the bed to relax his ribs. Dean was trying to pimp him out again. Great.

Just what I need...

He thought the matter was done, and let his eyes start to drift back shut, when Dean spoke up.

"Well?"

Sam looked at his brother through hooded eyes, "Well what?"

"I think we should get dates for tonight. What do you think?"

"I think my chest hurts, my head hurts, and I should sleep for about two days."

Dean made a face, "Come on, Sammy...you can't spend a holiday like this one laid up in bed...well actually---"

"Dean," Sam interrupted, knowing where the thought was heading. Where Dean's thoughts are always heading. "We don't even know anyone here. What do you want us to do, pick up some girls off the street?"

He laughed when Dean waggled his eyebrows suggestively. I shouldn't have asked. As it turned out, Dean was way ahead of him.

"Gotcha covered, little brother. Turns out I met a very interesting---"

"And available."

"---young woman at the store a little while ago. She's a gymnast…likes moonlight walks…and can bend her---"

"Okay, okay…I get it. You picked a girl up. Good for you. But, I'm not in any condition to go out woman hunting, so I think I'll sit this one out, alright?" Sam retorted, closing his eyes again.

"Come on, Sammy. I'm you're big brother, I can get you a girl," Dean said in a voice laced with what others might mistake for generosity. Sam knew better.

"Are you trying to get rid of me?"

Dean looked offended, "Dude. I wouldn't put you out when you're injured…give me a little credit!"

Sam's resolve faltered. Either Dean was serious, or Sam was losing his touch at reading him, "Dean, I'm sorr---"

"But the magic fingers in that bed you're lying on would be awesome during sex. So, yeah…I kinda need the room, bro."

Sam glared at him, "I can't believe you! You'd put your own brother out just so you can get some?!"

Dean held up his hands, appeasing, "No, no! I told you, I want you to have a date too. I'm not gonna toss you out in the street. Come on, Sammy. Listen, I'll find you a date for tonight---"

"No."

"---I'll find a nice, pretty bookworm and you can spend the whole evening in the library or in a book store…or whatever you crazy kids do nowadays."

"Let you find me a girl? Where? If you did what you used to do in high school---"

Dean jumped up and approached the bed, holding his hands out in surrender, "Okay, dude. We got off on the wrong foot here. Let's start over."

Sam groaned as Dean reached down and pulled Sam into a sitting position and then sat down next to him. Dean wrapped his arm around his shoulders in a seemingly friendly gesture, but it mostly served to keep Sam upright when he tried to slide back to the pillow.

"Listen. Older brothers have needs…" he began. Sam moaned, more over the pain in his ass than the one in his ribcage, "…and sometimes, we need help satisfying these needs. And, dude…it's been like…three months since I had my needs met. I'm asking for your help here, Little Bro. I need you."

It was Total. Unrelenting. Bullshit. Sam rolled his eyes, but considered on a more devious than usual course of action. If successful, not only would Dean drop this, but Sam might just get the room to himself tonight and be able to sleep. He paused at how much he felt like sleeping already…even after just waking up. He met Dean's eyes and put a congenial expression on his haggard-feeling face.

"Okay. But you'll find a girl FOR ME, not one of your bar-side bimbos that can't spell their own name. Got it?"

Dean beamed, "Anything for you, Sammy. Just tell me what you want and I'll find her. I've got all day!"

Sam smothered a grin, he'd make it too hard to find...then Dean would give up and take his date somewhere else...and then Sam could go back to sleep. Funny, he thought again about wanting to sleep so soon after waking up, but his ribs were killing him, and all he wanted was to swallow a few painkillers and climb back under his sheets.

Dean wanted to hit the sheets in a different way, apparently.

"Alright..." Sam started, feigning deep thought, "If you can find a woman who is beautiful, smart, classy, and doesn't hang around bars and pool halls...who isn't looking to bang a guy on the first date…and who doesn't mind dating a guy with alot of bruises who can barely move...then I'll do it. You think you can find a person like that?"

"Of course I can. I can find anyone you want," Dean replied confidently. He dropped his arm and somehow produced a pair of white pills and a cup of water. Sam took the meds gratefully, even though his tired mind couldn't figure out where Dean had gotten them.

Dean let Sam sink back onto the pillow, showing a little concern from behind the smug exterior, "Now, you get some sleep, and I'll start hunting. I'll bring back some lunch later."

Sam settled back on the bed and watched Dean don his coat. He sure is making a good show of it... Sam scoffed quietly. Dean wouldn't be able to find anyone…he lacked the patience to search for such a boring, by Dean's standards, woman.

"See ya soon, Sammy...remember not to open the door for strangers."

Sam was already too drowsy to flip him the bird, and just closed his eyes as the door slammed shut.

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1:00 PM

The hotel room

Sleep eluded him. He'd dozed for awhile after Dean left, but between his inability to find a comfortable position and thinking about Dean, he couldn't relax. It was stupid, but he felt more than a little guilty about giving what he considered to be an impossible task to Dean. It wasn't that he doubted his brother's ability to find women, just that he figured Dean would never find one like Sam described in their usual hangouts.

What bothered him was that Dean seemed so earnest about it all. Sam couldn't deny that Dean needed a break…they both did. And who was he to say that Dean didn't deserve a happy night off? They'd been through so much in the last six months…if anyone deserved a night to himself (and a female companion), it was Dean.

Abandoning his attempts to sleep, Sam rolled out of bed and staggered towards the bathroom. He removed his t-shirt and tossed it across the bed before he reached the door. He'd shower, change a few bandages, and then find something to do that night so that Dean could get what he wanted. Certainly there was an all-night coffee shop open around these parts, or a university library that he could con his way into and read all night. Or fall asleep with a book while huddled in a secluded corner of the building. Wouldn't be the first time….

He caught a glimpse of his reflection as he entered the bathroom. His face was mostly unhurt, aside from a nasty looking bruise that stretched across the left side of his neck. His torso, however, was another matter. His chest and sides were a mottled shade of purple, and his back was no better. He removed the wrapping that Dean had applied and gingerly felt his ribcage. Just bruised…nothing broken….

He finished undressing and stepped into the shower with a tired sigh. His head wasn't hurting anymore, which was a good sign, he supposed. The warm water felt good as it cascaded down over his sore shoulders and back. The painkillers were still in his system, and he didn't have enough energy to do much more than wash his hair, so he just stood there enjoying the warmth. He lightly dozed, resting his bruised back against the linoleum wall of the shower.

The sound of the room door opening and closing jerked him back to full consciousness.

"Hey, Sammy!"

Dean's voice relaxed him. That was sloppy, Sam…anybody could have busted in while you were napping in the freakin' shower!

"In here…." he called lazily.

He frowned when Dean opened the bathroom door and entered, "Dude. Letting out the hot air here…."

"It's worth it. Guess what?" Uh-oh. Dean sounded entirely too proud of himself.

"What?"

"I found you a date for tonight. Told you I would."

"A date?" Great…who could this be…?

"Yeah, Sam, a date…. Remember, the time when you talk to a girl without the interrogation? We went over this."

Sam tossed a handful of water over the shower curtain. The startled yelp that followed pleased him.

"Who did you find, Dean?"

"Oh, you'll like her. Don't worry; she's right up your alley."

Sam shut off the water, "Really?"

"Yeah," Dean replied, his voice fading as he retreated to the bedroom, "I'll fill you in when you come out."

Sam frowned, but finished drying off, wrapped the towel around his waste, and followed Dean out into the main room. There were more food bags on the table. Lunch, as promised. Dean had been busy.

"Okay, who'd you find?" he asked with a note of apprehension. Whoever his brother had found, he'd probably have to squirm away from and find something else to do for the rest of the night.

"She's perfect for you, I know it," Dean asserted. He looked over at Sam, appearing all self-satisfied and smug, "You're gonna have a good time tonight."

"Look---" Sam began.

"I know what you're thinking, Sam," Dean cut him off, "You don't think I'm capable of finding a girl that's right for you."

Crap. He wasn't hiding it very well, apparently. Now he had to backpedal.

"Dean…"

Dean held up a hand, "No, no, don't worry. I'm not offended. You've just forgotten how powerful my ability to find women is. It's okay. I'll restore your faith, Sammy."

Sam smirked, and sat down on the bed, "Oh? Well, teach me Obi-wan."

"I ran into her in a coffee shop when I was looking for something for us to eat," Dean began.

"Who?"

"Your date."

"Yeah, I know that…I mean, who is she?"

"Can't tell ya."

"What?"

"It's a blind date, Sammy. I can't tell you who it is."

"Then how will I know if I'm gonna like her?"

"You don't. But you will, don't worry. Big brother's looking out for you."

"Dean---"

"Damn, I'm starving, let's eat. Then we'll plan out our dates."

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7:05 PM

The Blind Date

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Why did I let him talk me into this? I'm meeting a girl at a hotel. Gee, I wonder where Dean's hoping that will lead…. He should have known when Dean forced him to take the "lucky" condom. His mood was tail-spinning fast…and the longer he spent waiting on this mystery girl's doorstep, the more he wanted to just go back to his original plan of finding a quiet library and reading all night.

How long does it take to open the door?

The freezing wind that had started up a few minutes earlier wasn't helping, either.

His thoughts were interrupted when the door suddenly opened, revealing Dean's choice for his date. The cold draft seemed to abruptly cease when Sam saw her.

"Sarah?"

Sarah Blake beamed at him, "Hey, Sam."

He was too stunned to move for a moment, then awkwardly thrust out the candy and flowers he was clutching, "Um…Hap—Happy Valentine's Day."

She smiled, "They're beautiful. Oh. Come in, it's freezing out here."

He couldn't feel it. He hesitated for a moment before stepping past her into the cozy room. He was having trouble thinking of something to say. Somehow, 'it's been a while' sounded too lame. Instead, he just asked the obvious question, "How…?"

She laughed, "I was up here to pick up some pieces for the auction house, and I ran into Dean at a coffee shop across town. He said you were 'desperate for a date…any date' and wanted to know if I'd take pity on you tonight even though I hadn't seen you in almost a year and a half. That's almost an exact quote."

Sam frowned and blushed at the same time, "Sounds like Dean…."

He looked up suddenly, "Uh, Sarah…listen…I wanted to come back, but---"

She took his hands in hers and shook her head, "Hey, it's okay. Dean told me you guys have had a pretty rough time since you were last in the neighborhood. I understand."

I doubt that. He squeezed her hands, "I wanted to. Really. It just…it was never the right time."

She stepped closer, "Well, maybe tonight's the right time."

He blinked, her forwardness taking his voice away again. He'd noticed the effect she had on him the last time they were together. It was harder to resist this time, even so long after his first encounter with her.

"So, where are we going for dinner?" she said, still smiling.

He laughed, "Uh, I picked out this place nearby…it's called Emilio's. You like Italian food, right?"

"Hmm, love it."

"Well, okay then, are you ready to go?"

"Sure."

"I'll call a taxi."

"You didn't drive?"

"Oh," he stammered, "Well, no. Dean wouldn't let me take the car…he said he wanted to impress his date."

He made awkward small talk for the next ten minutes while they waited.

When the cab finally arrived, Sam found Sarah's coat and helped her into it. She smiled when his hands brushed her neckline, and he found himself blushing again.

He also found that touching her sent an almost electric spark right through him.

Thank you, Dean.

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10:25 PM

Sam stumbled as Sarah guided him across the foyer of the hotel room. He thought that was incredibly funny.

"You s-shouldn't have made me drink that third beer, Sarah…." He slurred.

Sarah grinned up at him, "Well, I had to get you to stop singing along with the restaurant's music somehow. Here we go…."

She guided him down onto the bed, slipped his coat off and let him fall back lazily, "I'm gonna get out of these shoes; I'll be right back."

He watched her step into the small bathroom. He smiled at her retreating form, "I missed you…."

She glanced back with a somewhat sad expression. He noticed even through his drunken haze, "What is it?"

She shook her head and brightened suddenly, "Hey, I got that postcard you sent me…the World's Largest Ball of Twine…."

"Hee…yeah. I didn't want to send you that but Dean made me…."

Sarah returned to the bed and sat down at the edge, by Sam's leg, "Wow, that's a romantic thing to say, Sam…."

He waved his hands clumsily, "No, no…I didn't mean it like that…. I didn't think you would want it. Dean made me send it so that you'd know I was still thinking about you…or something…."

She cocked her head and slowly slid down to rest beside him on the blanket, "Hmm…were you still thinking about me?"

"Yes," he said without hesitation, "I just figured you would have moved on by then."

She smiled again, and leaned forward to kiss him, "Well, I didn't. And you're sweet…even when you're drunk."

He returned the kiss, breaking it only to get air. It was just as he remembered. "Hmm…so…did you see anybody else after I left?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Never found anyone that interested me…my dad tried to set me up with one of his friends' sons, but…he was a drag."

Sam giggled, "Bet he didn't take you to salt and burn a ghost on the second date…."

She laughed, and slid her hand along the curve of his outstretched bicep, "No…he wasn't nearly as interesting as you."

"Or as handsome…or as tall…or as stunningly sexy---"

She laughed and leaned closer, embracing him. "Self-congratulate much? What mirror are you looking in?"

He leaned forward and kissed her again, "Funhouse, always. Easier on the ego."

"You've been around Dean too long…."

"Can't argue that…."

"I won't say the 'sexy' part is wrong though…."

"I've got great hair too…."

"Shut up and kiss me again, Sam."

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7:00 AM

February 15th

Sam's eyes slowly drifted open. He took little note of his surroundings as he yawned lazily and sighed. He was still tired. Must have had a rough night….

He finally noticed the hotel room. He noticed that he was in a different hotel room than he was supposed to be. Hmm….

A quick glance to his left revealed an empty space in front of the window, with just the white curtains and heater controls in view. The heat was turned to high, which was good, since he felt a slight chill where the cool air met his shirtless chest. Shirtless. Odd, he usually wore a T-shirt to bed...

Swiveling his head to the right…got him a face full of hair. Brown hair. Brown, soft, lusciously perfumed hair. He noticed at the same time that his right arm was weighted down, as if under something.

Or someone.

Oh.

OH.

The previous evening came crashing back to him. He remembered drinking beers over dinner at Emilio's, Sarah laughing as he sang out of tune with the restaurant's instrumental music. Except that he had not followed the music and improvised. What was that? The love song from Lady and the Tramp?? What the fu---

Dean will never let me live that down if he finds out….

He vaguely remembered stumbling back to…here…with Sarah, and talking about the previous year and all the reasons why he hadn't come back to see her. And how scared he was that, even now, he was putting her in danger again….

That was all said in between…well…in between.

Judging by the lump of blankets, hair and soft, warm alabaster skin he could feel curled up against him, he assumed that his fears had not been shared. The lump stirred, and before he was ready for it, Sarah's beautiful face was in front of his. She mumbled a slightly slurred 'good morning' and kissed him.

Suddenly, the events leading up to this were crystal clear…and he didn't have a care or a fear in the world. He returned the kiss enthusiastically.

"Good morning to you too…" he breathed, once they pulled back.

She moved and slid her arms through his, pulling him closer, "Feel okay?"

"Hmm?"

"You were pretty buzzed last night…you were worried about having a hangover today…."

He stared into her eyes for a moment, all but losing his train of thought, "I'm…fantastic."

She ran a hand down his bare chest, "How about the bruises? I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"You can hurt me all you want…." He said breathlessly.

Sarah chuckled, and settled her head between his shoulder and the pillows, "That sounds awfully naughty... When do you need to call Dean?"

He grinned, "Dean will sleep 'til noon, trust me."

She raised her head and pulled closer, "Oh, well then…we have some time to kill. Want to get some breakfast?"

He started to answer, but in shifting his weight beneath the covers, he came to the realization that he no longer had any of his clothes on...not only his shirt but…everything was missing. He wondered how had escaped his attention before. Though I guess that makes sense….

After a quick, surprised, glance down to confirm, he looked back at Sarah, who noted the movement with amusement.

"Um…I don't think I'm in any condition to get up right now…."

She laughed again, "You weren't so bashful last night."

How drunk was I last night? He only remembered a little buzz….

Embarrassment bubbled up through him. He couldn't fight the blush that shot up his neck and into his face, "Uh…I…"

She cut him off before his self-conscious reaction took hold, "Well…we don't have to go get breakfast…we can kill a few hours some other way…if you want."

He answered, although he was sure that his physical reaction to the question had given him away already, given their proximity, "Hmm…how about brunch instead?"

She blinked at him for a moment before she got it and smiled, "Ok…what do we do until then?"

Maybe Dean is right…we should take our opportunities as we get them…may not be a tomorrow after all….

"I'm sure we can find something to do in a nice hotel room like this…."

She responded by curling impossibly closer to him. Before the blood left his brain completely, three little words floated through his thoughts.

Thank you, Dean.

END