Disclaimers and notes in chapter one.
A/N:Thanks as ever to my wonderful, fabulous, brilliant, funnyllama beta, TraSan.
Sam had always been quite impressed by Dean's avoidance techniques but never so much as now. Despite the fact Dean was on strict bed rest and practically tied down to the bed by a web of IVs and a tussle of blankets, Dean managed to find some convenient reason not to talk to his brother. He was half sure that Dean had somehow got Janey in on the conspiracy as every time Sam got close to wrestling his brother into talking, the diminutive doctor would appear in the doorway and state that Dean needed his rest.
Sam quickly learnt not to protest or Janey would insist that Sam needed rest too. The doctor wasn't above calling in some of the burly marines aboard who seemed to delight in forcing J.B. to get some sleep.
In the end Sam opted for what he felt would be the easier conversation first. That was how he found himself outside the door to one of the cabins. He knew all the occupants bar one were currently busy, had planned it such that he'd have at least an hour. That left ten minutes of conversation and probably fifty minutes of the other person yelling at him. He knocked briskly on the door.
"Door's open," Dan called from inside.
Sam pushed down the lever to the door and stepped inside, peering about the mess as a way to distract himself. "Hey Dan."
Dan was sprawled on his bed and his eyes snapped up to meet Sam in an instant. He scowled a little, "What do you want, J.B.? Or whatever your name is. Hope I fed you lots of useful information."
"Can I sit?" Sam asked, feeling too tired for this conversation to take place while he was up on his feet.
"Are you capable of it? I'm fairly sure of that. Can you do it? I don't know about it. How about you give me a credible explanation for why you lied to me and pretended to be my friend and we'll go from there?" Sam was beginning to think that talking to Dean wasn't going to be the easier conversation.
"I didn't pretend to be your friend." Sam tried to find a starting point, "It's just difficult."
"How about I make it simpler? You wanted the big catch to impress your bosses. I was just about enough of a sucker to believe you actually disliked the rich people rather than working for them. You and your fellow investigator played us all for fools. The end. Roll credits. Little cut scene at the end just to emphasise what an idiot Dan is. No sequel." The last was said with a dangerous flash of Dan's eyes.
Sam had promised himself that he'd tell Dan the absolute truth. He owed the man his life and Dean's courtesy of the information Dan had gathered. He just hoped the conspiracy theorist wouldn't laugh him out the door. "Mr Edenridge ain't my fellow investigator." Sam said, "He's my brother."
That got through to Dan and the man blinked then threw his head back and laughed, "Pull the other one. He looks nothing like you."
"He does!" Sam huffed, he'd idly catalogued their physical similarities one bored Tuesday after yet another incident of someone mistaking them for a couple. "He just takes after Mom more. He is my brother and we aren't fraud investigators either."
Dan said nothing, just tapped his foot on the ground and cocked his head expectantly.
Sam knew it wouldn't be that easy but he found his legs shifting, longing to just sit down, rest his hands on his knees and give the earnest puppy dog look that usually got him out of all kinds of trouble, especially with his brother. He suspected Dan was sharp enough to know that and that was exactly why he kept Sam on his feet. "We're hunters; as in the bump in the night kind of hunters."
Dan froze, not even breathing for a moment, "What?" He came back to life with a sharp intake of hair, shock and confusion splaying across his face.
"I know, it seems unbelievable." Sam shifted restlessly from foot to foot, wishing he was a bit shorter so he wasn't looming so much over the seated Dan.
"You think?" Dan's eyebrows attempting to clamber into his hairline. "So what were you doing on the ship then?"
"Investigating the mysterious deaths." Sam answered, "Jerry was in the marines with our father, I didn't lie about that, and he called us in to take a look."
Dan finally relented and motioned Sam to the bed opposite, probably as tired of Sam's shifting as Sam was. "The deaths were due to some spook then?"
"A Siren," Sam said, trying to get the words out in a rush in order to convince Dan as quickly as possible. "We thought it was a mermaid at first and there was a mermaid around. I think it was trying to warn people about the Siren though. I might have killed it by accident." Sam admitted guiltily.
"And Nathaniel's accident?"
Sam winced and ran a hand back through his hair, feeling a stab of pain from the stitched, healing slices in his shoulder. "Was due to the Siren. It lured Dean into throwing himself off the back of the boat, almost twice."
"Dean, huh? He doesn't look like a Dean." The words were absent and not really directed towards Sam.
"He doesn't look much like himself at the moment. Trust me, he hates most rich people more than I do. I think you two'd probably get on," Sam said, steepling his hands and leaning towards Dan. "I know you still have every right to be pissed at me but I would have told you the truth if I was sure you wouldn't have run off screaming."
"What makes you sure I won't do that now?" Dan leaned back away from Sam.
"I think I owe you anyway. If it hadn't been for what you said about that Wiccan girl then we might not have got the ingredients to kill the Siren then me and Dean would likely be dead."
"You killed the Siren with patchouli oil?" The note of humour in Dan's voice came as a relief. It wasn't forgiveness but it was a start.
"No, I wish. Most of the stuff was rubbish but there was enough to repel the Siren away from the island and then we just had to wait for it to drown." Sam replied. "Unfortunately the bitch stole the boat and I had to sink it to avoid her surviving."
"I didn't think you were stupid enough to leave the boat untied." Dan stated proudly.
"I was stupid enough to leave it in the water," Sam said, mentally kicking himself again. "Even Dean could see how stupid that was and he was hypothermic at the time."
"Is your brother alright?"
"Yeah," Sam exhaled his relief. "It was a bit touch 'n' go. Just lucky that Janey is that damn good. He'll be recovering and climbing the walls for a while yet."
Dan chuckled, "He really is your brother, isn't he? You've got the exasperated little brother tone down pat." Dan paused and leaned forward again, tapping fingers on his jeans. "So what's your name?"
"Sam," Sam answered quickly. "Sam Winchester."
"Like the rifle?"
Sam snorted, "Yeah, like the rifle. Our dad said he's an ancestor of ours. Dunno if he was bullshitting us or not."
Dan looked nervous for a moment then asked, "What you said about your Dad and the car crash, that was true?"
"Pretty much. A demon caused the car crash so it's kinda complicated." Sam twined his fingers, nervously rubbing his fingers with the pad of his thumb.
"Oh." Dan sat back but this time it wasn't about putting distance between himself and Sam but rather a simple instinctive act from surprise. "I'm sorry."
"Me too." Sam said, letting the silence fall between them, loose and easy rather than taut. "Look, I need to get back to Dean. I don't like leaving him alone for too long. We okay?"
Dan chuckled, low and not entirely born of humour, "Ask me tomorrow?"
Sam nodded and unfolded himself from the bed, heading towards the door. "I will," He said over his shoulder and stepped out of the door.
It was another two days before Sam got the opportunity to talk to Dean. The cruise was now on the inbound leg of the journey and perhaps the death of the Siren had been some turning point as the sun had come out. The once harsh metal deck was now covered in sun recliners, filled with rich people in various states of repose.
Dean had been released from the infirmary with a strict warning from Janey to take it easy. Somehow Dean had translated that to taking the best spot on the deck and stretching out on a deck chair. He still looked too pale but was rapidly turning to pinkish-red, showing especially on his arm compared to the grubby white of the cast. He didn't appear to be lacking for women offering to rub sun tan lotion on or add new telephone numbers to the compact directory that comprised Dean's casted arm. Apparently being a fraud inspector didn't put them all off.
Sam had to cross the sun-heated deck quickly to stop the sun bed next to Dean being taken by a bleach blonde. He threw himself into the chair, moments before the blonde would have sat, earning himself a pout off the blonde and a scowl off Dean whose sunglass-shrouded eyes were making his expression annoyingly difficult to read.
Sam just glanced towards the blonde's retreated anorexically-thin backside and arched an eyebrow up at his brother in a 'Would you really want that?' expression.
Dean's replying smirk was all the answer Sam needed.
"Look, we need to talk." Sam started to say.
Dean immediately thumped back against the back of the chair, wincing as he jarred his still-healing arm. "We really don't."
"Yes, we do."
"Dean, we need to…"
"DEAN!" Sam hissed, not caring that he was attracting more than a few stares from the people sun-worshipping on the deck.
"Don't," Dean replied with another smirk.
Sam rolled his eyes, "Look. I know you had some deal with Janey to avoid talking with me but you can't escape now."
"I didn't have a deal with Janey," Dean protested his innocence. "She just had great timing."
"Fine," Sam stropped. "But that doesn't mean you can't talk to me now."
Dean sighed and tilted himself up to seated position, turning to sit side-on to the deck chair and face his brother. "Fine, Sam, we'll talk but I still don't know what we have to talk about." He held up a finger to forestall Sam. "Yeah, I jumped off the side of the boat but I think 'Siren in my head' falls under the category of 'Things I'm not really responsible for.'"
"What about the things you said?" Sam wished he didn't sound quite so pathetic but he wanted to ask.
Dean frowned and then his whole expression widened in a surprised oh, "Come on, Sammy. That's the Siren speaking, not me. You haven't been stressing yourself over that, have you?"
Sam resisted the temptation to scuff his foot along the ground like a recalcitrant schoolboy, "Maybe?"
Dean leant forward and for a moment, Sam thought his brother was going to spill out some secrets. Instead he just cuffed Sam on the back of the head. "Idiot. Rule number two hundred and thirteen in the Winchester handbook: Never believe shit that people say while possessed."
"But you weren't really possessed, you were you." Sam protested, rubbing at the sore spot on his head.
"I was me, fine. Do you know what one of my best skills is?" Before Sam could make a suggestion, Dean continued, "Lying. I'm great at lying. I lie so often I sometimes convince myself. Guess which skill the Siren decided to use? I'll give you three guesses 'cos you can be a little slow."
Sam scowled, "It didn't sound like lies."
"Again, I'm good at lying. You can't be very good at lying and have people figure it out at the same time."
"You aren't that good at lying to me," Sam pointed out.
Dean shrugged, "I'm not usually trying that hard." Sam wanted to believe him but there was that niggling doubt at the back of his mind.
"What you said wasn't true."
"That's what I'm trying to tell you." Dean said, swivelling back onto the sun lounger and letting his back thump against the towel. "Seriously, you not been reading that dictionary I got you? Look up the definition of 'A lie.'"
Sam grabbed the side of his brother's lounger and tugged sharply, a little too sharp as instead of Dean being pulled towards him, the motion sent Dean flying off the other side of the chair with a startled 'Wha?' Moments later, Dean's head appeared on the other side, sunglasses hanging off a little lopsided and a wince of pain set in his features. Sam scrambled off his chair, almost tripping in his haste to get to his brother. "Shit, sorry Dean. Here?" He offered an arm to help his brother up.
"Not an invalid." Dean growled, trying to push himself up off the hot metal floor with his one good hand and failing miserably. A brief nod of the head was the only sign that he was conceding to allow his brother to help him up. "What the hell was that for?"
"I was just trying to pull you across." Sam said, words soft and apologetic. "I think I pulled a little too hard."
"You think?" Dean hissed, rubbing at his sore hand.
"Shit, Dean, your arm…" Sam motioned to the still-casted arm which Sam swore had acquired a couple more numbers since Dean had tumbled off the chair. He briefly scanned the surrounding chairs for any stealth blondes.
"No shit," Dean grouched in reply. Sam felt Dean's rubbing at his injuries was a little ostentatious but felt guilty anyway. "Let's just get this shit cleared up before you end up killing me. I said some stuff I didn't mean, at least didn't really mean. I also jumped off a boat so I don't think my judgment is sound here. Frankly, the only thing you should be apologising for is the dumb-ass stunt of leaving the boat into the water with the fucking Siren." Sam opened his mouth to begin that apology but was cut off by a shake of Dean's head, "Don't even start. Just know that it'll be your job to wash my baby when we're back and she's been stuck in Jerry's dusty garage for a month!" Dean smirked, "If I'm feeling nice, I'll even let you have a cloth."
"Given your growing lobster impression, I doubt you'll even be able to sit in your baby once we get to shore."
Dean frowned and removed his sunglasses, peering down at his chest, "Shit. Why didn't you tell me?"
"I would have thought all those women offering to rub in sun lotion would have given you a clue," Sam pointed out.
Dean just smirked and licked his lips.
"Dean!" Sam shook his head, "Would you like me to put some on your back?"
Dean pouted, "Can't I take up one of the other offers?"
"You really want their hands near you?"
"Better than my little brother's."
"Fine. When you are back in the infirmary with an STD, I'll be sure to tell Janey all about it."
"Pffft. I'm not stupid enough not to use protection."
Sam tilted his head and glanced down to Dean's reddening body, "Uh-huh."
Dean scowled and grabbed the plastic bottle of sun tan lotion, awkwardly squeezing a fair amount of the white goo into his palm and rubbing it gingerly into his chest. "Happy now?"
"Ecstatic." Sam said, leaning back on his own sun lounger and peering up at the sky, wondering whether he could get away with stealing Dean's sunglasses. Before he could make a grab, he heard a low rumbling noise. At first, Sam thought it was just the boat's engine sounding a little loud but there was something almost musical in quality. He glanced over to where Dean was back to blissing out on sunlight. "You heard that?"
Dean tilted the sunglasses down his nose in order to stare directly at Sam, "You hearing things?" There was no disguising the hint of fear in his voice.
"Nothing, Dean." Sam quickly reassured his brother, watching suspicion flicker across Dean's reddened face. He could still hear the noise though and he stood up from the lounger, slipping sandals onto his feet as protection against the metal deck and following the noise. Common sense dictated after recent events that following a noise was not a sound strategy but curiosity won out. He peered over the side of the boat, keeping a firm grip with his arms on the railing just in case.
The source of the noise was immediately evident. The mermaid splashed along the side of the ship, her mouth open and the noise emanating from within. She smiled up when she saw Sam and, with a quick flip, she disappeared back under the water. Sam caught a brief glimpse of a long scarred line on her torso before she vanished back under the water. It took a while for Sam to realise he was grinning and when he did, he couldn't help a laugh.
The smile stayed on his face as he returned to his previous spot, leaning over briefly to snatch the sunglasses off his brother's face and perch them on his own.
"Hey," Dean protested, glowering over at his brother. "What's the hell did you do that for? Why you grinning?"
Sam stared up at the artificially dimmed sunlight and continued grinning, "Nothing, Dean."
A/N: The End. Thanks to everyone who has read this far. Hope you enjoyed it!