Hey, all. Nothing major here, just bits and snippets from the days before IMTOD, while Dean works on the Impala. Enjoy!

Sam woke up. He lay there for a full two minutes and didn't do anything. Normally, Sam was an "up and at 'em" kind of sleeper. He woke up and got up all at the same time to kick the tail end of whatever was in his way. But not today. Today he had to explain to Bobby why they'd come in at midnight smelling like smoke and stoically silent. Today he had to coax his brother out of his depression and pain. Today he had to figure out what his priorities really were.

It didn't make getting up seem like a good option.

Dean stirred on the couch, made a sleepy sound. Sam sat up. "Dean? Are you awake?"


Sam smiled weakly. "Right."

Dean sighed and rolled over to face his brother, but didn't open his eyes. "Where's the car?"

"Dad's car?"

"What would I want with Dad's car? My car."

Sam's heart sank. Dean had lost Dad. The repercussions were going to be disastrous, he could already tell. And now Sam had to figure out how to tell his older brother (already emotionally traumatized) what, exactly, had happened to the Impala. "Well…it's out in the yard."

"Yeah? How's she looking?"

Oh, boy. "She could be worse."

Dean opened his eyes and gave Sam the look that made him feel like Sammy. "Sam…?"

The youngest Winchester looked away. "Okay. She barely even looks like your car." Dean swore and swung his legs over the side of the couch, grimaced and put one hand to his side. Sam was scrambling out of his sleeping bag. "What's the matter?" The doctor had said that the inner contusions had healed, but there were still scratches and bruises all over Dean's still-recovering body. Sam felt slightly cheated. If there was going to be a miracle, shouldn't it be an all-the-way kind of miracle? Dean rolled his eyes.

"Just sore. Can you blame me? You came this close to having to pick out an urn. I want a black one, by the way." Dean meant it as a joke, but it was hollow. An attempt for Sam, to fool him into thinking his older brother was "coping" . Sam didn't laugh, and he didn't buy it. Dean stood up and reached for his duffel bag, started to rout through it, looking for a fresh shirt and jeans.

"What are you doing?" Sam was up, standing next to his brother with an incredulous expression.

"I'm dressing, Sam. Now, stop watching, you perv." Another empty jibe.

"Not that, Dean. It's three in the morning. Where are you going?

Dean gave him a look that clearly said, are you stupid? "To see my car." He threw off his rumpled t-shirt and twisted into a new one.

Sam's jaw dropped. "Are you kidding me?"

Dean looked up from pulling on his jeans. "Uh…no."

"Dean, it's three a.m., Dad's dead, you almost were, and now you wanna go running around outside to look at a freaking car?"

Dean considered this thoughtfully. "That's right." Sam almost backed off. Dean wasn't joking now; there was annoyance there instead of false playfulness. But he remembered…the ventilator tube down Dean's throat…'Sir, please stay back, we're doing everything we can for him'…'Are they even alive?!'… Sam set his shoulders and prepared for battle.

"No. No way. You're insane. Doctor said to take it easy."

" Is the doctor here?"

"No, but I am, and there's no way I'm letting you--"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, you aren't going to "let" me? I hate to say it Sam, but it isn't like I need your permission."

Sam didn't back down. This he could do. Arguing was what he did. "Dean, just wait until morning. Go back to bed for a couple hours. Rest a little more. It can't do any harm."

"Sam, my baby's out there all by herself, and I'm going to keep her company. It can't do any harm." He said it in a tone Sam hadn't heard before. Ever. It was mean and callous and cold. The words could have been amusing. But they weren't. They felt like a slap on Sam's face. He looked away, suddenly aware that he might have a bigger problem than whether or not Dean got his full eight hours of sleep.

"Oh. Sure. Do you want me to come with you?"

Dean was heading out the door, tugging on his boots. "I don't care, Sam. Do what you like." Sam never thought his own name could sound…wrong until then. It sounded bad. Not like how Dean said it, had always said it, even when the road was long and the hour was late and his patience was gone. It'd never been said like that before. Sam listened to his brother's receding footsteps for only a moment. He considered letting Dean go alone. It would have been good for him to have space to grieve. But Sam had always had that little streak of selfishness, and he didn't want to be alone. So he slipped into a pair of sneakers and threw a jacket over his pajamas and tromped out after his brother.

Dean was standing on the porch, eyes scanning the yard until they came to rest on the Impala. He swore violently (using several words Sam had never heard in that context before) and darted forward. Sam followed close behind. "Oh, baby." Dean put a hand on the mangled hood, the cold metal making him shiver. Sam shook his head.

"Bobby said we should scrap her. There's not a lot we can do."

It was silent for a long while. Dean's eyes flicked up and down the twisted frame, taking in every speck of damage. "Yeah," he said finally, "Not a lot 'we' can do. But 'I' can fix her."

That was the sound. The sound that said Dean was getting in over his head, getting that tunnell vision that never ended well. Sam shook his head again. "Really, Dean. I'm with Bobby on this one. You can buy another car." He'd fought for this car before because he had been afraid it would be all he had left of his brother. Now, though, he had his brother and the car was just a meaningless piece of machinery, busted up and unusable.

"No, I can't."

"Okay, I'll buy you another car. Whatever you want, Dean, I swear."

"Sam, this isn't about transportation. It's about the Impala . This is Mom's car. This is…was his car. They took care of it, and now it's mine, and I'll take care of it. I can fix this." Sam pretended not to note the odd use of 'this' instead of 'her'. But he knew it was time to back down.

"Okay. Okay. What…should I do? I mean, to help."

Dean snorted. "Help? Trust me, Sam. You'd be doing more harm than good. Just let me." He got down on his hands and knees, even though it was dark and the only light came from the porch lights on Bobby's house, and started to crawl under the mangled body of the Impala. Sam looked at him, gaping. Dean wanted his space sometimes, sure. But outright denial when Sam tried to institute some time together? Never.

"Oh. Okay." Sam stepped back. It sounded hurt, which was good. He wanted it to. Wanted Dean to see that it had hurt his Sammy and that the only way to make it better was to take it back and say, 'Sure, I could use some help I was just kidding lets deal with this together, Sammy, right, you and me?'. But he didn't. Dean stayed under the car, fiddling with something. Sam didn't have a choice.

He turned around and went back inside.

"Dean?" Sam got on his hands and knees to peer under the Impala's remains. His brother was sweating now, his t-shirt soaked clean through in a good six inch diameter around the collar. His fingers, though, were still firmly entrenched in the belly of his car, working feverishly at what looked to be the muffler. Dean grunted in reply. "Hey." Sam got down on his back and scooted his way over to Dean's side, as close as he could get without any awkward man-on-man physical contact, looking up into the grease covered entrails of machinery. "How's it going?"

"Alright. I think I'm gonna have to take most of this stuff out and put it back in once I get the frame back in shape."

"Sounds hard."

"It's no cakewalk."

"Want some--"

"Nope. I got it."

"That's not what I was going to say." Sam turned his head to look at his brother. "I was going to ask if you wanted some breakfast. Bobby's up now. He's got bacon and eggs, I think." He sniffed. "At least, that's what it smells like."

Dean brought his arms down, rested one on his chest and wiped his forehead with the other. "What time is it?"


Dean turned his head . "Seriously?"

"Yeah. Let's go in."

"Actually…" He slid out from under the Impala, deftly slipping on a pair of old, worn gloves. Sam didn't know where he'd gotten them. The trunk, maybe. "I still have a long way to go. I was hoping to have at least the engine put back in place." The younger brother followed his sibling.


"So, yeah. I'll probably be in for lunch."

"No breakfast? Come on, Dean. It's the most important meal of the day." Sam tried to make it light-hearted, sing-songing it in true health-ed teacher form, but that wasn't the truth. He just wanted this stupid obsession over a ruined hunk of metal to end. He wanted more than anything to interrupt that interest, to put himself higher up on the priority list than a car. But he knew this obsessive behavior wasn't really about the Impala.

And Sam Winchester was determined that if his brother wasn't going to go to the breakfast, the breakfast was going to come to him.

Twenty minutes later, he came tromping out of Bobby's old, beaten shed carrying a pair of old, beaten lawn chairs and two plates full of burnt sausage links and wet eggs. He settled down on one and took fork to meal. It wasn't bad, really, despite the fact that Bobby was obviously no Betty Crocker. Sam waved his fork around to get his brother's attention. Dean stood back and put his hands on his hips, an enigmatic expression on his face.

"What are you doing?"

"Me? I'm eating. What are you doing?" The tone was innocently polite.

"You're eating with an extra chair and an extra plate of food?"

Sam smiled. "I never said I was eating alone." They looked at each other for a moment, Sam holding a politely inviting smile firmly in place, and Dean looking as if he was halfway between laughing hysterically and screaming obscenities. Finally, the elder just made a scoffing, amused grunt and set his screwdriver down on the ground.

"I give." He settled into the other lawn chair, made a face at the eggs. "What kind of moron doesn't cook eggs all the way?"

"The kind of moron who tells Dean Winchester to scrap his baby." They ate a few bites in silence. Sam looked up. "She's looking a little better. I mean, now that you've sanded her down a little."

"Yeah, it's getting there."

"How long do you think it's going to take?"

"Couple weeks. But I don't know for sure."

"Oh." Sam wracked his brains for smalltalk. But he didn't really smalltalk with his brother. They bantered, they argued, they teased. There wasn't anything in the smalltalk dictionary to say. So Sam started to talk about the only thing he had been thinking about, apart from his brother, all day, even though he knew it could end badly. "Hey, Dean?"


"Do you remember that one time in San Antonio when Dad tried to fix our refrigerator? He ended up splitting the ice box down the middle and the ice was all over the floor? I learned half my swearing vocabulary right there." Sam smiled faintly, but didn't dare to look at his brother yet. "And then you came in and tried to help, but you turned down the tempature so much that all our food was frozen rock solid. Dad wasn't mad, though. He thought it was funny. Do you remember that?"

Sam's only response was the scuffle of boots across the dirt as his brother silently got up and walked away.

"Don't worry, Sam. He just needs time, that's all. Sometimes, that's all a man needs." Bobby threw down another cold mouthful of beer. That show with Patricia Arquette was on, and this was a particularly good episode. Unfortunately, Sam wasn't about to let him have some peace, not with Dean still outside and the sun having set an hour ago.

"I know. It's probably nothing. But the way he looked when I brought up Dad…"

With a sigh, Bobby turned the set off and swiveled in his recliner to look at the morose kid he'd become inclined to take under his wing. "Let me tell you something. Your daddy and I met just a year or so after he started huntin'. He was still wet behind the ears and he still missed your mama so bad. But here's the thing. He did the same thing your brother's doin' now. He just went all quiet if you mentioned anything about the fire. And I know Dean doesn't mean to, but even then, he just copied his dad, and that's all he's doin' now. Like father like son."

"But then, why won't he even talk to me about it. It's not like I haven't seen him hurt before."

"You lost your girlfriend, right?"

Oh, Jess. "Yeah."

"When you lost her, did you tell stories about her, and talk about her to Dean?"

"No. I didn't want to put that on him."

"So you're sayin' you didn't want Dean to try and shoulder some of the pain?"

"I guess so." Bobby made a well, there you go gesture. Sam nodded, clenching his jaw in frustration. "But I want to shoulder some of it. I don't want Dean to carry it all by himself. He's been carrying this whole family for twenty-two years. I just want him…" He paused.

"You just want him to be okay."

Sam nodded and started to pace. "I mean, I didn't know how much he'd been dealing with. Not until this last year." He swore quietly. "With all this demon stuff, he's working overtime to keep us all together. He told me that. He's just trying to keep us together. A family, you know? And now that's gone, and I don't know what I'm supposed to say to make him stop hurting."

"Maybe nothing. Maybe you don't need to say anything. You just stay close and let Dean know that he's not all alone in this. I think it'll work out."

"Hey, is anybody in here?"

Sam started, looked in surprise at Bobby, who shrugged. "In the living room, Dean." The oldest surviving Winchester came tromping in, heavy boots shaking dust from the carpet with each step. His brother eyed him, taking in a dirty face, greasy hands, and stained jeans. "How's it going?"

Dean made a noncommittal sound and threw himself onto the rickity couch, bringing one arm up to his face, shielding his eyes. "It's too dark to see out there anymore."

"There's still some food in the fridge, if you want it. Hot dogs from dinner." Sam brushed a stray lock of hair away from its current position in between his eyes. "Not burned, either."

Bobby grunted indignantly. "You wanna cook it youself, princess, feel free."

"Thanks, but I'm just gonna hit the sack. Still enough hot water for a shower, Bobby?"

"Should be." Sam felt vaguely angry. Why wasn't Bobby concerned? Bobby didn't have the right to not care about Dean. He should be pushing a confession, too. The anger fizzed faintly behind Sam's eyes.

"Goodnight, then, Dean."

The older sibling paused. "Good night, Sam." He disappeared behind the bathroom door.

On the ouside, Sam just smiled and nodded. But on the inside he whispered, "It's Sammy."

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