Summary – Set a few weeks after the events of 'Full Moon, Fast Cars' and before 'Cracks In The Glass', Dean's a little too eager to get back in the hunting game.

Disclaimer – Not my characters, I just use them improperly.

You like? You don't like? Review and tell me why! (Constructive criticism only please, if you don't like the subject, don't read the story.) If you haven't read Full Moon, Fast Cars, you'll probably want to read that first or this won't make much sense :)

Another tiny ficlet from the 'Full Moon' 'verse for your enjoyment :) Hope you guys like!

Learning Curve

"Told you not to go by yourself, didn't I? But no, you couldn't wait a couple of days." Sam punctuated his words with a particularly vicious yank on the needle and thread he was using to sew up Dean's stomach. Dean himself was sprawled out on the bed and halfway to oblivious, bottle of Jack in one hand, obviously mixing well with the painkillers he'd taken.

Sam finished up his stitching, muttering under his breath about stupid-ass idiots who don't listen and you'd think a college degree would suggest some common sense. The cut wasn't too deep but it carved a jagged line above one hip bone, red and angry looking.

"W'sat Sammy?" Dean's head rolled to one side on the pillow, his eyes meeting Sam's. The alcohol clouds evident in his unfocused gaze reminded Sam painfully of his dad, and the still-healing bruises on his face and stomach gave a sickening twinge. But Dean wasn't Jim, wouldn't ever hurt him. Still, he couldn't help the reflexive wince.

"Nothing, man. You're wasted. Go to sleep."

" 'm fine. Not sleepy." Dean said through a massive yawn.

Sam snorted, quietly so Dean wouldn't pick up on it, and busied himself cleaning up the surgical supplies from the first aid kit.

An obscure local paper in Minnesota had been reporting several violent abductions, combined with vague sightings of a large bird with a deformed, almost human face. The article caught Dean's eye a week ago and the older man hadn't let up about it since, despite Sam's assurances that he wasn't actually missing much if he didn't get to see a harpy before he died. But Dean had gone on and on, practically bouncing in excitement – "C'mon kiddo, it's a bird-woman! An actual bird with tits! How often am I gonna get to see that?" - until Sam relented. Privately Sam wondered which of them was actually the kid and which was the ex-teacher.

They'd arrived in town the day before. Sam had (grudgingly) admitted to Dean that he wasn't feeling one hundred percent yet, but only after bending to pick up his rucksack from the floor of the motel reception and discovering he couldn't quite stand up again. After stifling laughter until he was red in the face, Dean had scooped him up and carried him bridal-style to their room, telling the flustered old lady receptionist that it was their honeymoon. Sam refused to go near the reception again.

And so Dean had gone hunting by himself, something Sam protested about until his throat was sore. Dean had cheerfully ignored him, cleaning his newly-acquired guns with an almost gleeful expression on his face and leaving Sam behind to pace the motel room until his bruised stomach was a knotted ball of fire.

Dean had returned hours later, clutching his own stomach. He'd given Sam a weak grin and collapsed onto the bed nearest the door.

"Hey kiddo?" Dean's voice, soft and blurry around the edges, brought Sam back to the situation. The other man was watching him from his position on the bed, eyes half-lidded. One hand rested over Sam's precise stitching.

"What, Dean." Sam said, harsher than he'd meant to.

Dean cocked his head to one side, trying a small smile. "Look, I'm…I'm sorry. You were right and I should have listened to you instead of running off by myself."

"So why didn't you?" Sam pressed, unwilling to forgive and forget so easily.

"I dunno, I guess" He looked to one side, a faint flush colouring his cheeks "I just wanted to prove I could still do it. By myself, you know. That I hadn't…gone soft, or something."

"Oh." Sam turned his attention to the wall as well, fixing his eyes on the paisley patterned wallpaper. His own blush crept up on him and he tilted his face so his bangs fell forward. "I thought it might have been because of me."

"What? Why?" Dean sounded concerned.

"Well, I was kinda…telling you what to do. And, you know," Sam gestured vaguely, glancing at Dean from the corner of one eye. The other man was looking at him intently, no trace of drunkenness in his face now. "Because I'm just a kid. I was your student." He ducked his head as he said it, trying to hide behind his hair as if it were a physical shield.

Dean didn't say anything for a second and Sam's heart rate doubled. What if Dean told him he was right? What if the other man told him that after careful reconsideration he'd decided Sam was too young and too stubborn and too annoying for him, and he was going to go it alone? After all, they had barely done…anything, since that first night almost two weeks ago when Dean had said he wanted him. Furtive kisses in the dark, flushed faces and sheepish looks in the day. They hadn't talked about it, not that Dean was the type to talk about anything. But Sam had hoped…

"Sammy." The grunt of pain that followed his name made Sam look over in alarm, but by that time Dean was already wobbling on his feet. Sam caught him as he listed to one side. "Sammy, kid, look. I know you're…I know you're young, but…kid, it's not that I mind you telling me what you think. Hell, this hasn't been my gig for eight years, I need you to tell me what to do sometimes. But, well…I guess I just want to feel like we're partners. That I can pull my weight without getting you killed."

"Oh." Sam said stupidly, not quite sure how to respond. The whole partner thing hadn't quite sunk in yet, like the last two weeks on the road had been some kind of pleasant vacation and he'd have to go back to his dad and his regular lonely life at some point soon.

"Yeah." Dean's hand came up to rub at his neck before he remembered his stomach wound with a grimace. "Next time I'll listen to you. I promise."

Sam smiled, meeting Dean's eyes for a second before looking at the ground. "Okay. Thanks. Uh, you better…get back to bed. That's gotta heal if we're going after a harpy."

"Oh, didn't I tell you?" Dean said casually as Sam settled him on the bed again. "'S'not a harpy after all. Yeah, I don't know what's causing the abductions, but the harpy? Just someone's batshit ugly pet bird."

"So how'd you get hurt then?" Sam asked, frowning in confusion.

Dean smiled sheepishly. "Damn bird swooped down and tried to crap on my jacket. I tripped over and fell on a barbed wire fence."

Sam blinked incredulously for a moment. Then he punched him in the bicep (carefully, so as not to damage his careful stitching). Dean made a show of rubbing his arm and looking offended.

"Hey, no need for violence now."

"Idiot." Sam said, a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. Dean grinned back, ruffling a hand through Sam's long hair. He swatted at it playfully, catching Dean's wrist in his own hand and squeezing gently, feeling the thin skin beneath his fingertips.

"Guess we'll just have to learn to work together then, kiddo." Dean said.

"Guess so. And my name's Sam."

"Sure. Sammy."