Author's note. So this is a AU story about what would happen if Sam didn't want to hook up with Jessica, but Dean did. :) Sam is at Stanford and he and Dean are still close, but John and Sam are still not getting along at all... So, chapter two is here. :) Chapter three is more than half way done, but considering school an stuff it still might take a while... But for now enjoy this and Please R&R :) Big thanks to Bee, for cheering on me and to Maya, my amazing beta! You guys rock!

Disclaimer: Don't own a thing

CHAPTER TWO

When Dean got home, he found Sam in bed, fast asleep, which both surprised and worried him. Because Sam had been very upset and worried about Jessica, and if he could fall asleep anyway, he really had to be exhausted – probably as exhausted as he looked – and that was definitely not a good thing.

Dean sighed and carefully, not wanting to wake his brother, put a hand on Sam's forehead to check for his worst enemy when it came to protecting Sam. A fever. Dean hated fevers and illnesses simply because he couldn't protect Sam from them. They always sneaked up on them when Dean least expected them to and – even worse – Dean had no weapon to kill them with. Sam's forehead wasn't hot, but not really cool either, and Dean frowned. Were they really going to go down this path again? Sam stirred under his touch and opened his eyes.

"Hi," Dean said softly.

Sam blinked sleepily at him before his eyes opened completely and he asked, "Jess?"

"She's okay, or at least will be. Don't worry about it. Just go back to sleep."

"Okay," Sam answered obediently and then a faint, "Thank you," before he closed his eyes.

Dean sighed again and gave Sam one more worried look before he got undressed and went to bed himself.

SSSS

Sunday went by without Sam looking any worse for wear than he had, and he was gone before Dean woke up on Monday morning. Dean spent the day looking for potential jobs, since he had a distinct feeling he would be staying for a while. Dad was going to kill him, but Dean couldn't really bring himself to care. Sammy first, that had been the standing order over the years, and if John suddenly didn't like it – too bad for him. Dean would never bail on his brother when he needed him.

Dean unlocked the door to Sam's dorm room later that afternoon and immediately spotted Sam sprawled out on his bed, asleep. There were red spots on his cheeks and the hair on his forehead looked damp. Dean made a face as he put the groceries down on the counter. He didn't need to feel Sam's forehead to know his worst enemy was back, but he did it anyway, feeling relieved when Sam's skin felt hot, but not dangerously hot. At least the kid wasn't burning up.

Sam jerked awake from Dean's touch and looked at him with glossy, frightened eyes.

"Shh, it's okay, Sammy. It's just me."

It took a couple of seconds for Sam to process the information, but just moments later, awareness was back in his eyes and he ran a hand over his face. "Hi."

Dean smiled. "Hi, sleeping beauty. How are you feeling?"

Sam sat up, groaning slightly as he did. "Got a killer headache."

"I bet. It's the fever."

"I'm running a fever?"

Dean's lips tightened. "Like you didn't know."

Sam rubbed his face. "I didn't. I swear. I thought it was the stress from the test."

"Stress from the test, huh?" Dean huffed angrily. "No wonder you're running on empty. You're no more capable to take care of yourself than a newborn kitten!"

"Dean!" Sam said angrily. But then a look of panic crossed his face. "But, I can't be sick again! I just can't! I'm gonna miss classes and I can't afford that. I've got more tests coming up that I need to nail! Please, Dean. I just can't."

"Well, it's not like you have a choice, so you better deal with it."

"No, Dean. You don't understand. I've missed a lot lately. I really can't afford not to go. I just can't."

Dean narrowed his eyes. "Dude, how many times have you been sick since I last saw you?"

Sam waved off his concern. "It doesn't matter. What matters is that I really need to go. Please, Dean."

Dean shook his head. "No, Sam. No fucking way! You're staying here, even if it means I'll have to tie you to the bed!"

"Come on, Dean. I'll take a couple of Advil, and then I'll be fine. I can both study and beat this. I know I can," Sam said in a small voice and looked pleadingly at Dean. With his eyes glossy and the cheeks red from the fever, he reminded Dean of a much younger Sam. Reminded him of the child Sam once was. The child Dean had spent his whole life to take care of and protect.

He sighed deeply and realized it was time to try a different approach. Ordering Sam around had never really worked. Not even for Dean.

"Sam, look at you. You're pale and tired all the time. You have lost weight, and you keep getting sick. You're running on empty, Sammy. Probably have for a long time, and you can't keep pushing yourself like this. Sooner or later it's gonna make you so sick you'll end up in the hospital, losing even more time away from school. You don't want that to happen, do you?"

"No. But I need to take these classes. I really do." The tears were back in Sam's eyes. "Please, Dean."

"No, Sammy," Dean replied gently. "You need to rest, but don't worry. I'll help you."

"How are you gonna help me? Are you planning on taking the classes for me?"

Dean snorted. "Hardly. But I'll figure something out, and I'm gonna stay here and take care of you until you're well again – well and well rested."

"Don't you need to hunt?"

"I'll take a break."

Sam eyed him wearily. "Dad's not gonna like it."

"I don't give a damn what Dad thinks. I'm staying with you for as long as I need to get you better – end of discussion."

Sam looked at him in wide-eyed disbelief. "You don't give a damn what Dad says?"

"Damn right I don't."

Sam continued to stare at him for a moment and then lowered his gaze to his hands. "Thanks."

"You're welcome," Dean replied with a half smile, pleased to see that Sam seemed relaxed, but just seconds later the worry was back on Sam's face.

"But how are we gonna afford it? I don't have any money. I had a job, but I got laid off because I got sick too much."

"Don't worry about it. I had a feeling you would end up sick again, so when you took that test of yours, I went looking for jobs and I've got two."

Sam's eyes widened again. "Two?"

Dean smiled proudly. "Yeah. One at a garage and one at the campus bar."

"But can you really work two jobs? What if you get sick, too?"

"Don't worry, little brother. I'm strong as an ox and – unlike yours – my immune system is in excellent shape. I'll live, and besides, the bar one is only every other weekend and when you geeks have a special occasion. So stop worrying. Money won't be an issue, and the rest we'll figure out together. I promise."

Sam looked at him for a long time. Probably trying to figure out if I really will be able to fix this, Dean thought wearily and felt both relieved and grateful when Sam said, "Okay. But you really are a pain in the ass."

Dean grinned. "Yeah, and I'm planning on staying that way, so you better deal with it."

Sam sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. "God, my head hurts."

Dean's mood quickly changed from victorious to worried. "I'll go and get you a couple of Advil. Why don't you lie back down?"

"Okay."

Dean returned with two Advil and a glass of water. "Here you go. Anything else hurts?"

"No, just my head," Sam answered tiredly.

Dean pattered Sam's chest lightly. "Okay, try to get some sleep. I'll wake you up for dinner."

"Not hungry," Sam murmured sleepily.

"Like I'd care. You're gonna eat, period," Dean huffed and put the blanket tighter around Sam's shoulders.

SSSS

Later that evening, Dean stood in front of the mirror, checking out his appearance, trying out a couple of smiles. He knew he had to be at his best to pull off his next mission. Finally, he decided it wouldn't get any better and went to check on Sam before he left.

Sam was fast asleep, resting peacefully. His fever was up to 101.9, and he hadn't eaten much for dinner, but Dean had managed to get him to drink both water and orange juice, and felt pretty pleased with himself. Especially since he was pretty sure he had found a solution to Sam's study problem. With a happy grin, he took his coat from the hook and headed out.

Dean quickly ran a hand over his hair, making sure nothing was sticking up funny before knocking on Jessica's door.

He had to knock twice, and was just about to leave when the door opened. "Dean! Hi! What brings you here?" she asked with a big smile.

Dean smiled back, surprised over how happy her smile made him feel. "I came to ask you a favor."

"A favor? What kind of favor?"

Dean shifted nervously, because they had reached the point where his plan – if he had read the signs wrong – could backfire. "Actually, it's more a favor for Sam."

"For Sam? I didn't think he wanted to have anything to do with me." Jessica sounded sad and heartbroken, and Dean felt his heart sink. Maybe this wouldn't work after all.

"He never said that. Just that he didn't want to be your boyfriend. And the thing is that he's in a kind of bad place right now. He's sick again and-"

"He's sick again?" Jessica interrupted worriedly. "It has to be like the forth time in two months or something."

"Really?"

She nodded gravely. "Yeah. He's not taking very good care of himself. It's like you said, studying and good grades are all he cares about. I think it's a very good think you came here. He needs someone to look after him."

Dean smiled warmly, partly because it was a part of his plan, and partly because her concern for Sam made her a good person in his eyes. "Yeah. Probably, but the thing is he's all worked up about all the classes he's gonna miss, and it's an almost impossible task to get him to rest. So… I was thinking since you take the same classes, that maybe you could copy your notes for him, maybe telling him the most important stuff...," he trailed off, not completely sure how this college stuff worked.

"Oh, sure! No problem. I'd be glad to. We're not taking the exact same classes, but I'll ask John and Jake to do the same."

"Thank you. It's very kind of you. I understand it has to feel a bit awkward, since he turned you down and everything."

"No. It's okay. I meant what I said the other day. He's one of the nicest guys here, and it's not his fault I was stupid enough to fall in love with him."

"It's okay. We all make mistakes."

Jessica laughed. "If you say so, but I have a feeling you know what you want, and how to get it."

Dean cocked an eyebrow. "You think so?"

Jessica blushed. "Sorry, that came out all wrong."

"Don't worry about it. Look I need to go back to Sam so..."

She ran her hand over her hair. "Yeah, of course. How is he anyway? It's nothing serious, right?"

"No, not yet, anyway. Just a fever and a headache."

"Okay. Tell him I said hi."

Dean nodded. "Sure."

"See you later, then. When I come by with Sam's notes."

"Yeah, sure. Take care, and thanks again."

She smiled. "Like I said, I'm happy to help. I want him to get better, too."

"Okay. Bye."

"Bye."

Dean turned and left with a content smile on his lips. It had all worked like a charm. Another victory for the Winchester charm.

SSSS

The knock on the door startled Dean a bit, and he quickly threw a glance over at the bed where Sam was fast asleep, like he had been since they got home from the doctor's. Luckily, he didn't seem to get disturbed by the knock, and Dean quickly hurried over to the door, before the person outside would get a chance to knock again.

When he opened the door, he was greeted by Jessica's smiling face. "Hi, I just wanted to bring over some notes for Sam," she said and held out a large stack of papers.

Dean quickly went out into the hallway and carefully closed the door behind him. Meeting Jessica's confused eyes he said, "Sam's asleep and he had a rough night so…"

Jess worried eyes met his. "He's worse?"

Dean sighed slightly and tiredly ran a hand over his hair. "Yeah, he woke up in the middle of the night saying his ear hurt, and his fever was up, so I took him to the doctors this morning. They said it was an ear infection. He's on antibiotics again."

"An ear infection?" Jess replied in surprise.

Dean grinned. "Yeah, I know. It's such childish disease."

He watched as Jessica tried to suppress a smile. "Don't be cruel. I'm sure he's miserable."

Dean turned serious again. "Yeah, he is. The doctor said he is completely run down and needs lots of rest."

"But he'll be okay, right?"

Dean set his jaw and nodded grimly. "Yeah, he is. The doctor said the antibiotics will cure the infection, and I'm planning on hanging around for awhile to make sure he rests."

"You're a really good brother," Jess said softly.

Dean shrugged and looked away, feeling embarrassed. "I try."

"Well," Jessica said and held out the stack of papers to him again, "I should be going. Tell Sam, I hope he'll feel better soon. I'll be back tomorrow with more."

Dean flashed her his best smile. "Yeah, thanks a lot. I know Sam will appreciate it."

Jessica smiled. "Okay, see you tomorrow, then."

"Yeah tomorrow," Dean answered before he went inside, quietly wondering why the thought seeing her again made him feel so happy.

The third time Jessica dropped by with notes, Sam was awake and well enough to talk to her, and they decided she would come back the next day and bring some of Sam's other buddies with her so they all could fill him in on what he'd missed.

The two guys seemed to like Sam a lot, and were a lot less annoying than the kids Dean had met when he worked at the bar, which could have something to do with the fact that they were sober, but still… They also made Sam laugh a lot, which was a good thing in Dean's book, because usually Sam was way too serious for his own good.

He tried to stay away as much as he could, and when they still hadn't left by dinner time, he made them spaghetti with sausage and was rewarded with one of Jessica's bright smiles.

"He can cook, too? How come he's still single?"

"Because he's a complete jerk and everybody who has spent more then five minutes with him knows that," Sam said teasingly, and quickly ducked to avoid Dean's hand when it shot out to whack him over the head.

Everybody laughed and Dean felt slightly pissed, but the warm smile Jessica gave him took the edge off, and he decided the little bastards could have this one.

An hour later, they still hadn't left and Sam started to look exhausted. Dean looked over at Jessica and managed to catch her gaze, silently begging her to make them leave. He knew it was a long shot, but to his surprise, she got the messages right away, and five minutes later, they had all left.

Dean looked over at Sam, who sat on his bed looking tired, cheeks slightly pink from fever or excitement. Dean hoped for the latter.

"You okay?"

Sam smiled. "Yeah, I'm fine."

"You sure?" Dean walked up to the bed and put a hand on Sam's forehead.

"Yes!" Sam rolled his eyes, but didn't try to move away.

Dean nodded, satisfied with then coolness of Sam's forehead. "Good. Why don't you go to bed?"

Sam obeyed, but the curses, and words like "jerk", "bossy" and "overprotective" that he murmured under his breath, told Dean that Sam definitely was on the road to recovery.

SSSS

Dean popped a beer open for another annoying college kid before taking the rag to sweep off the counter. This job really sucked. Collage kids were lousy tippers and annoying as hell, and he couldn't even hustle. He might not have much conscience left, but he drew the line with hustling from Sam's friends. So, yeah, this work really sucked, but money was money and he needed it.

"Hi." A vaguely familiar voice interrupted his thoughts. He looked up and was greeted by Jessica Moore's pretty smile.

"Hi, what can I get you?"

He flashed her one of his most charming smiles out of habit, but also because – for some reason – he was really happy to see her. He hadn't seen her much since Sam got well enough to go back to school, and he had really missed her.

"Just a beer, please."

Dean raised his eyebrows. "Beer, huh? I thought college girls preferred wine coolers and sissy stuff like that."

Jessica laughed. "I'm not like most girls."

Dean grinned. "So I've noticed."

She took a drink directly from the bottle, ignoring the glass he had put in front of her. She managed to do it without looking bold or vulgar – just tough as nails and gracious at the same time, and Dean felt a shiver run through his body. She really was something, and how Sam could not be interested was beyond him. But his brother was strange when it came to girls.

"I didn't know you worked here."

"Just every other weekend. Need the money since I can't do my ordinary gig when I'm staying with Sam."

"What exactly is your ordinary gig?"

Dean froze for second, wondering what to tell her, but quickly decided to go with the lie that was at least a bit closer to the truth than the ones he usually pulled, but still always impressed the chicks. "I'm a private investigator."

"Oh." She sounded both surprised and impressed, and Dean felt pleased with himself. Especially since this lie – for some reason – was the one that Sam found easiest to pull, which meant he could get back up if he needed. Not that he knew why he would need that since he usually didn't hang around long enough for anyone to get a chance to take a closer look, and Sam was definitely on his way to complete recovery, but still…

"So do you like it?"

"The P.I. job?"

"No, this one."

He shrugged. "Like my usual gig better, but it's not that bad, and like I said, I need the money."

She nodded knowingly and took another swig. "How's Sam?"

"Pretty good. He's still not eating much, but he's getting there."

"I don't think he has in a long time," Jessica said quietly.

Dean took a deep breath and let it out slow, trying to quell the anger. He wanted to kick Sam's ass so badly for not taking care of himself, but at the same time he felt guilty for not checking on him more often. Sam was his responsibility. It was his job to take care of him, and he had failed.

"Well, I'm changing that now."

Jessica nodded again. "That's good." She bit her bottom lip and hesitated before saying, "You know he's been out of money a lot lately, right?"

Dean's face hardened. "Yeah, I know. But I'm gonna make sure that doesn't happen again."

Jessica looked relieved. "Good. I know the guys have loaned him money, but none of us has that much to spare…"

Dean nodded, silently cursing on the inside. What had Sam been thinking? A Winchester did not owe people things. Dad would kill him if he knew. But then it hit him, Sam had only tried to do as he had been taught. Trying to survive no matter what. "I understand, but like I said, it won't happen again. Is there anyone I need to pay back?"

"Jake has lent him the most I think, but it's no rush. He doesn't care."

"I'll make sure he gets his money as soon as possible."

Jessica looked at him in awe. "You really are a good brother. Sam's lucky to have you."

Dean blushed. "Yeah, well, I try."

"Hey! Bartender! Can we get some attention over here?" A man shouted from the other end of the counter.

Dean sighed. "Sorry. I need to go"

Jess smiled softly. "It's okay. I should be going, too."

Dean caught her hand before she had a chance to turn around. "I was thinking, since you've been so great to Sam and all, maybe I could buy you lunch or something? You know – to thank you."

"You don't need to do that," she replied softly.

"I know. But I want to."

Jessica bit her lip nervously. "You don't think Sam will mind?"

"Why would he mind? And if he does – who cares? He had his chance and he blew it. And besides, it's not a date – just lunch."

"Okay."

"Bartender!"

"Just a sec! I'm coming! Tomorrow at twelve?"

Jessica smiled. "Tomorrow is fine."

SSSS

He squeezed her hand before letting go. "Good. See you then."

"You look awfully happy. What's up?" Sam asked, peering at Dean over the rim of his glass.

"Nothing. Just having a good day in generally," Dean answered calmly.

"Yeah, right," Sam replied sarcastically.

"What?"

"You having a good day usually means that you've killed something or got laid, and since you're not hunting for the moment, it's gotta be a girl. So, spill. Who is she?"

"I don't think that's any of your business."

Sam looked hurt. "Okay. Sorry I asked. Won't happen again."

"Come on Sam. Don't be like that. It's Jessica, okay?"

Sam started at him for a moment. "Jessica. Do you think that's so smart?"

"Why not? Are you jealous? Because, if that's the case, let me remind you about the fact that you had your chance and blew it," Dean said defensively.

Sam rubbed his face tiredly. "I know that, Dean. I'm not jealous. It's just that I don't think you dating Jessica right now is a good idea."

"Why not?"

"Because I just hurt her, which means she's fragile right now and, considering how your dates usually end, she's gonna end up hurt again and I'm afraid she can't take that right now."

"What's wrong with my dates?"

"They end with sex, and then it's over."

"It's good sex. Never had any complaints," Dean muttered.

Sam smirked. "I'm sure it is, but that's hardly the point."

"And besides, it's not a date – just lunch."

"And you gonna to stop there?"

Dean shrugged.

"Dean…"

"Just shut up, Sam! This is none of your business!"

"It is my business! She's my friend and I'm not gonna stand here and let her get hurt again!"

"Who says I'm gonna hurt her?"

"Because you always do, Dean! Because most women wants more than just one night of sex. No matter how good it is!"

Dean held up his hands in mock surrender. "Okay, okay! Chill man! I stop with lunch, okay? Gee, Sam, if I didn't know any better, I would think you're in love with her or something."

Sam blushed. "I'm not. Just don't want her to get hurt. She's nice."

Dean sighed. "Yeah, she is, and I promise not to hurt her. Scout's honor."

Sam just snorted, but was convinced enough to drop the subject.

SSSS

Of course Dean didn't stop with lunch. When did he ever? There was dinner and a movie, and more lunch dates, and it went on and on. Dean never said a word, but Sam knew anyway, because Jessica never stopped talking about it. It was Dean this and Dean that all hours of the day, and it was a good thing Sam loved them both, or he would have gone insane.

One thing bothered him, though – the ending. Because there was going to be an ending, and soon. By now, Sam was completely recovered, and he knew their Dad had called Dean at least twice, practically demanding he go back to work. But Dean had told him no, claiming Sam still wasn't well enough for him to leave, that he still was worried about his brother. Sam knew that part probably was true, because Sam had a feeling Dean would die before he stopped worrying about him, but that was so not the point. The point was that there was only as much stalling they could do. Sooner or later, John would call their bluff, probably by coming to check on Sam himself. Because, even though Sam knew his father most likely never would forgive him for leaving, he wasn't so dense he didn't care if his youngest son lived or died, and such a long period of sickness was sure to concern even John eventually – especially since it affected hunting. Sam had tried to come up with a solution, because both Jess and Dean would be heartbroken when Dean had to leave. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't find one. Well, there was one. He could get sick again. Then Dean would have to stay and Jess and he could fuss over him together, which seemed to be their favorite thing to do – next after sleeping together. Sam sighed. He had tried, he really had. He had tried to eat less, to not wear enough clothes – everything. But nothing worked. Dean had done a very good job of nursing him back to health, and Dean and Jess had teamed up on him, watching him like two hawks – or lovebirds with hawk eyes – making it impossible for him to get away with anything but healthy behavior. He sighed again before sticking the key in the lock to his dorm room. He had had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach all day, and when he heard Dean's voice, respectful but with a touch of disappointment, repeating, "Yes, sir," several times in his phone, he knew the day he and Dean dreaded, and which Jess would have dreaded, too, if she had any clue what it meant, had come.

Dean snapped the phone shut with an angry and frustrated sigh and turned to look at Sam just as he closed the door behind him.

"Hey," Sam said quietly, "was that Dad?"

"Yeah."

"Let me guess, he ordered you to get your lazy ass back to hunting."

Dean ran his hand over his mouth and down his chin in that distressed way that was so him.

"More like threaten to kill me if I didn't."

Sam gave a heavy sigh and sat down on the bed beside his brother. "Well, that sucks."

"Yeah," Dean agreed. "It does."

"So… I guess that means you and Jess is over."

Dean jerked up his head and stared worriedly at Sam. "What? Why? Did she say something to you? Did she tell you she wanted to break up?"

Sam frowned, because considering the conversation Dean just has had with their dad on the phone, it was a very strange thing to ask. "No, but you're leaving."

Dean looked challengingly at him. "Yeah. So?"

Sam stared at his brother in belief. "Are you telling me you're planning on having a relationship with her?"

Dean looked down at his hands. "Maybe."

Sam laughed.

Dean gave him an annoyed look. "What's so funny?"

"Dean, you don't do relationship."

"Maybe I changed my mind."

"Changed your mind? Come on, Dean! You can't be serious. You're the one who always says relationships and hunting don't mix. And what happened to the guy who thought that women are best served in bed, without any strings attached?"

"Maybe it's different this time," Dean murmured quietly.

"What?"

"I said maybe it's different this time."

"What do you mean different?" Sam asked carefully, not used to Dean being this quiet.

Dean didn't answer.

Sam's eyes widened. "Oh my God, Dean! You're in love with her, aren't you?"

Again, Dean didn't answer – just buried his face in his hands.

Sam bit his bottom lip. This was even worse than he thought – a lot worse. Putting a comforting hand on his brother's shoulder, he asked, "So what are you gonna do?"

Dean looked up at him, the look on his face so heartbroken it almost took Sam's breath away. He wasn't used to his strong brother looking so lost and scared. "I can't let her go, Sam. I just can't."

Sam nodded. He knew Dean couldn't, because Dean was in love and he had never been that before. Plus Jess was happier than ever, and they were Sam's two favorite persons in the world, and therefore they deserved to be happy.

"So what are you gonna do?"

Dean sighed. "I don't know. It's not like I can disobey Dad and hang around."

Sam swallowed the – for him – obvious answer, because he knew all to well what it cost to disobey their father, and he was well aware that Dean was nowhere near ready to pay that price.

"You could come around every month or something," he offered quietly. "You can tell Dad you need to check on me. You would have no trouble making him believe that – after all, I am the black sheep of the family.

"Sammy…," Dean growled warningly.

"Sorry, Dean. I didn't mean to go there. What I'm trying to say is that, no matter what you decide to do, I'll have your back, okay?"

Dean blew out a breath. "I know. So you think that me coming around, like, once a month would be enough for her?"

Sam nodded. "Yeah, especially if you call her every day."

Dean looked up at him. "You think she'll go with that?"

Sam nodded again. "Yeah. I think she'll love that. She would think it is all romantic and stuff."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"How come you know so much about what women like all of a sudden? Wasn't it you who called me two months ago asking for advise?" Dean asked, eyeing him suspiciously.

Sam smiled. "I don't know what women like. I know what Jessica likes you to do."

Dean looked surprised. "How?"

"Dude, you're all she talks about! It's Dean this and Dean that all day long. The only way for me not to know what she'd like you to do or not do is to be deaf, and unfortunately, that's not the case."

Dean grinned happily. "I told you I'm amazing with chicks."

Sam just rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Dean."

They sat in silence for awhile and then Sam asked, "So what's the story this time? What are you gonna tell her?"

Dean swallowed hard. "Well, I told her I was a P.I."

"I know. I've been backing that one up. Are you sticking with it?"

Dean shrugged. "I guess so. Have any better ideas?"

Sam chewed on his bottom lip for a few seconds. "You could always tell her the truth."

"The truth?" Dean laughed. "Come on, Sam. You can't be serious!"

Sam looked hurt. "I am! You're in love with her, and she's in love with you. You're planning on coming back to her and all. Are you really gonna live your whole life with someone who doesn't know who you really are?"

"She knows who I am, just not what I do. And it's not like you're any better, Sammy. How many people around here know who you really are?" Dean said defensively.

"No one. But that's not the point, Dean. And you know that. I'm not the one in love."

"And if you were the one in love, you'd tell her?"

Sam nodded gravely. "Yeah. I would."

"Well, in that case, let me give you an advice. Don't. Chicks can't handle the truth," Dean said bitterly.

Sam narrowed his eyes. "How can you be so sure?"

Dean held his eyes. "I just am, okay"

The raw look of hurt and betrayal in his brother's eyes told Sam Dean really did know. The question was, how? And what had he missed? But no matter what it was, it had obviously been messy and Sam decided it was time to show some support. To prove that, even if he wasn't such a good brother as Dean, he was loyal and supportive when it counted. Especially since he knew all too well he owed Dean a lot more than just loyalty.

"So, P.I., then?"

Dean gave him a surprised but grateful smile. "Yeah."

"Okay."

There was a brief silence before Dean said, "Umm… you think you could keep an eye on her, check so the protecting charms and stuff is still there, stuff like that?"

"You put up protections in her apartment?"

Dean nodded.

"Sure. No problem."

"Good. Good. And you better stay out of trouble and call me if you're out of money, feeling sick, or if anything else is wrong, you hear?"

"I thought I wasn't allowed to call you when I was sick." Sam replied innocently.

"Sam, don't make me kick your ass the last thing I do before I leave."

Sam grinned. "Sorry, dude. I was just yanking you chain. I promise to behave. And take care of Jess," he added seriously.

"Thanks, man," Dean said and clamped his hand on Sam's shoulder. "I'll go and talk to Jess. I'll be back before I leave, okay?"

"Okay."

SSSS

Sam stood by the door, watching Dean, who stood by the Impala, talking to Jess, probably telling her the same thing he had told Sam, minus the "check the protecting stuff," and hopefully adding something along the lines of "I love you." It was hard to watch Dean leave again, made him feel all lonely, but it was a reassuring thought that he'd be back soon. Because he would. With the way he and Jess looked at each other right now, he doubted they would last a week apart.

They started kissing and Sam discretely turned away, not that Dean cared, but he knew Jess did, and he didn't want to embarrass her – or himself for that matter. It was just as much a little bother could take.

Dean and Jess broke apart and Dean waved to Sam to get over. Sam walked up to them and, once again, Dean clamped his hand down Sam's shoulder. "Stay safe, Sammy, and look out for Jessica for me, okay?"

Sam nodded gravely.

Dean turned to Jess and kissed her again. "Bye, Jessica. See you soon, and take care of that knuckleheaded brother of mine, okay?"

Jess laughed. "Okay. Be careful. I love you."

Dean blushed and blew her a kiss before he got into the car and drove away.

Sam and Jess stood together for the longest time, watching the car disappear, and then Jess looked up at him with pleading, fearful eyes. "He will be back, right?"

"He said he would, didn't he?"

Jess nodded.

"Then he will, Dean never breaks his promises."

TBC…..