A/N: And it's another one shot. Title is, of course, borrowed from the 'Dancing bears, painted wings ...' song from the 'Anastasia' film, which is, gasp, to do with memory loss! Anyway, random idea, germinated by Dean's quote in the Season One episode 'Bugs' (you'll see which quote I mean). Please read, try to enjoy, and tell me what you think about it, even if it's to tell me you hated it! Constructive criticism appreciated, though!

Disclaimer: I own nothing 'Supernatural'-related, unfortunately. I just borrow. And play with.

Warnings: ANGST, language (the bad kind), characters bordering on OOC behaviour, and a bit of Wincest!

Dancing Bears

Dean once said seriously, looking at the big family houses with their neat gardens and white picket fences, "Growin' up in a place like this would freak me out."

Sam didn't understand, and said as much.

"There's nothing wrong with 'normal'."

"Dean!" Sam yelled urgently, pulling his brother up by the shoulders and shaking him. "Dean, get up!"

Dean didn't move.

"Shit!" Sam cursed, and hauled his unconscious brother up under his arms, put an arm around his waist, and hoisted him up, limping towards the Impala and firing rounds behind him with the gun held in his other hand. "Fuck!" Sam hissed as he managed to get the door to the car open and unceremoniously dropped Dean into the backseat as the werewolf advanced, growling.

Sam slammed the trunk of the car open and urgently went through the weapons until he found the silver bullets that he and Dean hadn't known they'd needed until they found that the black dog they had apparently been chasing was actually a werewolf.

"Yes!" Sam exclaimed as he got the bullets into the gun successfully, turned around, and shot the werewolf just as it launched itself at him.

It fell mid-jump, and Sam tried to calm down his breathing as he stared at the young man – no, the werewolf, he had to keep reminding himself, it was a werewolf, not a person, this was necessary – that he had just killed. His life had been in danger, the werewolf had thrown his brother around like a rag doll, the werewolf had-

"Shit, Dean," Sam remembered, and opened the back door and stared at his brother, who was still unconscious. Sam frowned. Something wasn't quite right. Dean should have woken up by now.

Maybe the wolf had thrown him against the tree a bit too hard, and Dean would remain knocked out for a while.

"Dean," Sam decided to try and wake him, and bent inside the car and leaned over his brother, gently shaking him by the shoulders. "Dean, wake up," he tried. Dean didn't respond.

Sam tried to swallow down his panic. This was fine, it was perfectly normal. So Dean didn't wake up straight away, they weren't superheroes, it didn't always take them only five minutes to wake up after they'd been knocked out, sometimes it took hours. It was fine.

Sam stayed in the same position for a while, just watching his unconscious brother, until he suddenly realised that there was a bump on the edge of Dean's forehead. It looked pretty nasty, so Sam winced and touched it gingerly, his eyes widening as he realised the bump was pretty big and covered some of Dean's head as well as his forehead. He must have got it when the werewolf had thrown him against the tree.

Sam straightened and shut the door, his heart beating harder. OK, bumps, usually not so bad and to be expected on a hunt, but a bump on the head, a bump on the head that was that big … and Dean showed no signs of waking up any time soon.

Sam got in the front of the car and drove off, deciding that they'd go back to the motel, if Dean hadn't woken up by the time they'd got there, Sam would carry him in there, wait up for a few hours, and if Dean still hadn't woken up, he'd cover Dean's forehead with a cold, wet towel and get some sleep until his brother woke up.

Dean didn't wake up until the morning.

Sam opened his eyes and it was daylight, and Dean was standing right in front of him, head bruised and eyes wide, looking unlike himself.

He looked scared.

"Dude," Sam yawned, trying to wake himself up more so he could ask his brother how he was feeling. "You OK? What's up?"

"I … I don't …" Dean looked nervous. He paused and swallowed, his eyes constantly darting around the room as if he was expecting someone to jump out. His eyes met Sam's. "I don't know who I am."

Sam sat up straight, suddenly completely awake.

"What? Come on, quit fucking around." His voice was firm and Dean must have been joking.

"Dude, I'm serious!" Dean sounded panicked and Sam tried not to believe him. This must have been Dean's twisted idea of a joke. "Dude, I just woke up here, on this bed, and … and … and I don't know where I am, who I am, who you are!"

"You don't know who I am?" Sam was surprised. He'd have expected Dean to at least remember someone he claimed to care about so … Sam suddenly realised what he was thinking and told himself to shut up, because first of all, people suffering from memory loss almost never remembered other people if they didn't even know their own name, and Sam was damn well selfish for thinking Dean would have remembered his name, and second of all, Dean had not lost his memory.

"Dude, I can't … look, man, I'm freaking out here, you've gotta help me," Dean's voice was still panicked and he sounded so different, and he looked different, with that desperate look in his eye and his hair messed up and that big, fat purple bruise on his head.

"Shit," Sam whispered. "Shit." He should have taken Dean to the hospital, dammit, he should have checked, done it just to make sure! If Dean was really serious, then … fuck, Sam didn't know.

He got up and walked over to Dean, placing his hands on his brother's shoulders gently. Dean flinched and looked at Sam, his eyes a bit wild.

Sam kept his hands on Dean's shoulders.

"Dean," Sam said slowly, firmly, looking into his eyes, trying to find any sign that this was some joke, "listen to me. If this is your idea of a joke, I will fucking kill you, man, it's so not funny."

Dean shook his head and took a step back from Sam, and Sam felt his chest tighten and removed his hands from Dean's shoulders. It was like his brother didn't want to touch him.

"You called me Dean, right? Is that my name? And you know me? Know who I am?" Dean was perfectly serious. There was no way he could be faking that voice and that expression on his face.

Sam felt his face go slack with shock and realisation. Dean had amnesia. Dean had lost his memory. Fuck.

"Dean, I'm taking you to a hospital, right now, and don't you dare complain," Sam commanded, quickly throwing on some clothes and chucking some at Dean so he could do the same.

"Why would I complain?" Dean sounded completely bewildered, and Sam realised that Dean knew nothing of their life and nothing about how they had about twenty different fake IDs in the glove compartment.

Sam drove the Impala and Dean didn't complain, didn't even comment on the car apart from to say, "She yours?", to which Sam nodded, although technically, the car was Dean's.

Surprisingly, it was a rather quiet trip to the hospital, with Dean sitting and fidgeting and Sam pushing down the gas, his heart beating hard and his mind on overload. Dean had only asked Sam what his name was ("Sam," was all Sam said), but hadn't asked anything more about himself or Sam, and Sam was surprised to find himself asking himself what he should tell Dean about their life.

The truth was the obvious answer, but Sam couldn't quite bring himself to say anything. First of all, how the hell would he say, 'well, we're hunters', and explain the whole territory that came with the job, including their past. Dean was bound to think he was crazy. And anyway, he couldn't tell Dean, not now, not now when Dean was in such a … such a vulnerable state, for lack of a better word.

He'd wait and see what the doctor said, then he'd decide what- that is, when, he'd tell Dean.

They got to the hospital, Sam introducing himself as Sam Trinity and Dean as Dean Forest, saying they were step-brothers (Dean had glanced at him with brief surprise, but not said anything) and that they had been walking in the park the other night when a man had mugged them and had shoved Dean headfirst into a tree, and he'd appeared to have hit his head quite hard as he couldn't remember anything when he woke up.

The nurse looked at Sam critically and there was an accusatory note in her voice when she asked, "So you let him remain unconscious for the whole night? Why didn't you bring him here straight away?"

"I didn't think it was anything too serious," Sam said truthfully, and the nurse raised her eyebrows so high they disappeared under her fringe.

"I see," she said. Clearly, she thought Sam was an idiot, and Sam had to kind of agree with her. "The doctor will see you in about five minutes, have a seat," the nurse said kindly to Dean, smiling and revealing pearly white teeth as she put a hand on his arm and leaned forward slightly, showing cleavage.

To Sam's surprise, Dean didn't even glance there. He just rubbed his hand through his hair tiredly, nodded, and sat down on a chair.

Sam sat next to him in silence, and after a few moments, Dean leaned in to him, and whispered, breath hot on Sam's cheek, "Are we really step-brothers?", looking at Sam's face intently as if to judge whether he'd tell the truth or not.

Sam opened his mouth to reply, for some reason entirely unsure about what he would say, when the doctor arrived.

"Dean Forest," he read from his clipboard, and both Dean and Sam stood up. The doctor opened his mouth, but Sam interrupted him with, "Step-brothers," as explanation, so the doctor nodded and motioned for the men to follow him.

He did all the necessary tests, asked all the necessary questions, and examined Dean's head with a scan that Dean normally wouldn't have permitted, although as he wasn't quite himself, he did so with no complaint.

Sam's heart was beating so hard he could feel it in his head.

"Will he be alright? What's wrong with him? When will he get his memory back?" Sam said before the doctor could say anything.

The doctor sighed, and glanced at Dean, who was in a hospital dress and lying on the bed, awake, but barely, watching Sam and the doctor.

"Well, it depends on your definition of 'alright'. He's suffered from a very serious head injury, he really should have been brought here a lot earlier," Sam's stomach twisted with guilt, and his hand, which was propped on Dean's bed by his brother's arm, twitched, "and I'm not really sure about your last question. The injury didn't damage his mentality, but affected his memory, as you've realised. The problem is, I'm not sure whether this is short-term memory loss, or something a bit more permanent." Sam couldn't breathe. The doctor sighed again and consulted his clipboard. "Amnesia has a tendency of sticking around if nothing is done to remind the sufferer of their past life." He looked at Sam. "You're step-brothers, yes?"

Sam nodded.

"Does Dean live with you?"

Sam nodded, then hesitated. "Sometimes," he said. He didn't want the doctor asking for their address or anything. He knew he could say they were on a road trip, but that was a bit close to the truth, so he didn't want to.

The doctor nodded.

"Well, it might be good if you took him to where he grew up, or where you both lived. It'll also be good to surround him with people that he's known for a long time, yourself included. Show him things that might hold a sentimental value for him, things that he uses routinely. If possible, that is, if you know it, try to take him through his normal daily routine. When these things are repeated often enough, the patient usually regains their memory. It only takes a little thing to remind them."

Sam nodded, feeling numb, but absorbing the information. So … this might not be permanent. Dean might get his memory back.

To his surprise and disgust, he wasn't quite sure how he felt about that.

"So … you're not sure how long this will last for," Sam clarified slowly. "And … it will help if I show him reminders of his old life."

The doctor nodded.

"That's right."

"Right," Sam said heavily, and looked at Dean, who was staring at him from under heavy lids. After a few moments of silence, Dean moved his fingers and hooked them with Sam's comfortingly.

Sam gave Dean a small smile. It figured … even when Dean didn't remember that he'd been protecting and caring for him his whole life, he would still do something small and comforting like that, no matter how weird it was.

Dean stayed in the hospital for one week and Sam had a lot of time to think. At the end of the week Dean was sent 'home' with Sam with the doctor's sympathies as, apparently, "Since he hasn't shown any progress, I think it's best you take him somewhere he knows, somewhere he recognises. Hopefully, the more he's around things he's used before, things with sentimental value, something might jog his memory, and perhaps, if he's lucky, he'll get it back."

Throughout that week Sam hadn't told Dean that they were actually real brothers. He hadn't told Dean that they were hunters and anything much about their family history.

He told Dean that they were on a road trip around the country, trying to find the best state to live in permanently. Dean wanted to become a singer while Sam wanted to become a lawyer. Sam was going to go to law school, and since they were really good friends, Dean had come with him to support him. Dean's dad and Sam's mother weren't around anymore, there was a nasty car accident years and years ago, and Dean was lucky not to remember.

Sam didn't know why he did it. At first, when he started, he told himself it was a joke, it was a game, after a few more little white lies he'd tell Dean that they were actually brothers and Sam was being a selfish bastard and they were hunters and they had a job to do.

But he didn't.

The little white lies turned into huge webs of bullshit, and when Dean confessed to Sam that sometimes he felt like punching in the faces of the rude nurses who bitched and nagged at everyone for no reason, Sam had laughed and told Dean, "You've always had a volatile temper, you had anger management a couple of years ago, and it's all good now. You actually put all your anger into cage fighting."

"Oh," Dean had said, a bit surprised, but then realisation dawned in his eyes and Sam's stomach tensed before Dean's next words. "So that's why I woke up with all those scars and bruises over my body a week ago. And that's where the scars came from! Dude, I thought I was some sado-masochist or something, or just a masochist, you know, into some pretty kinky shit or whatever."

"Yeah," Sam had laughed, a little nervously. He hadn't even thought about how he'd explain Dean's scars, but this was a good way, a believable way.

Sam didn't know why he started this, but now he had, he couldn't stop.

During the week that Dean was in the hospital, surrounded by white and with no memory, Sam sold the Impala (things of sentimental value) for a thousand bucks.

During the week that Dean was in the hospital, Sam rubbed down all their weapons (things that he uses routinely) and threw them in the river.

During the week that Dean was in the hospital, Sam planned where they would make their new life.

They went back to the motel, packed their bags, and caught a Greyhound.

"What happened to that sweet ride of yours?" Dean asked Sam curiously.

Sam shrugged, feeling like he couldn't quite meet Dean's eyes. "She was getting old," he said, his stomach twisting uncomfortably, "and anyway, we need the money."

It wasn't a lie.

What it was, however, was a betrayal of Dean. Dean loved that car.

But this Dean didn't, Sam had to remind himself. This Dean couldn't even recall that Sam was his brother, so how the hell was he supposed to remember a damn car?

And anyway, they weren't Sam and Dean Winchester, hunters of the supernatural, road-tripping in the Impala all over America, anymore.

Now they were Sam Trinity and Dean Forest, two ordinary guys, step-brothers, not a lot of money, but big dreams, big ambitions (although Dean said, "Are you sure I always wanted to be a singer? I mean, singing's OK, but it doesn't give me a rush, or anything.").

They went to a state which they'd never visited before, so there was little chance of them being recognised. Dean didn't know that, of course, but Sam did, and that was what mattered.

He was making a new life for them, a better life. One where they didn't have to hunt every single evil creature under the sun, scam and con people for money, had no friends and no real lives, and no one but each other to understand.

Dean would be proud, Sam told himself, if he had his memory and knew what Sam was doing and understood that it was all for them. He hushed the voice in his head that pointed out that Dean loved hunting, hunting was his life, how would he survive without it?

He didn't need it, though, Sam was sure, Sam knew that all Dean needed was a chance at a normal life and he'd enjoy it. Enjoy it as much as Sam did.

Dean could live normal, too, all he needed was an opportunity.

They rented a small one-bedroom apartment (two beds, though, of course) and within the month, Sam was attending the local college, which, although obviously not as good as Stanford, had produced its fair share of lawyers and medics who managed to get somewhere in life.

Dean got a job at a fast food restaurant, and often complained about being bored shitless, in reply to which Sam laughed and suppressed the urge to call him 'bro' and advised Dean to hit a bar and hit on a girl, which he used to be best at.

Dean gave him a bit of a watery smile in return and said, "Yeah." After a moment of silence during which he sipped his beer, he said to Sam, who was doing his homework on the single small table in their apartment, "So, what about you? You got a girl?"

Sam stilled and slowly looked at Dean. Dean, of course, couldn't remember Jess, and Sam sure as hell wasn't going to remind him.

"No," he said slowly. "No, I don't."

Dean nodded and resumed drinking. After a moment, he grinned his usual Dean-grin, and it almost seemed like the old Dean was back and Sam's heart sped up a bit with fear, but it was a false alarm as Dean quipped, "At least now I know why you're Captain Grumpy in the mornings, you're not getting laid enough!"

It was so something Dean would say, the old Dean with all his memories, but Sam felt himself relax when Dean started bitching about the ovens in the fast food place where he worked.

The old Dean would never talk about something so mundane.

Sam found out that he liked college quite a lot, and the work took up so much of his time, that he actually didn't have a chance to find a job.

"Er, sorry, Dean," Sam said awkwardly when he explained, after Dean had joked that he was like the bread-winner and the housewife at home, while Sam took the part of the irresponsible husband-slash-geeky student kid.

Dean had shook his head, and had smiled tiredly.

"Don't worry about it, I'll do a few extra shifts. You're the one who's gonna make something of himself, after all, you deserve the money," he said.

Sam smiled, strangely relieved that he didn't have to take time out of his busy schedule to find a job, and Dean took longer hours at a place that he hated ("Sometimes, I feel like stabbing myself in the eye with a fork," Dean had confessed, and Sam had laughed, as had his brother-Dean, not his brother, just Dean, this was a different Dean and Sam wasn't lying to him).

After they'd been living their new life for one month (one month of blissful normality – Sam got As and made friends and went out to the cinema and went to parties and when he heard whispers of a poltergeist downtown he ignored them), Sam got a call on his cell. He looked at it. It was Bobby.

His heart started to pound and he felt the sweat on his forehead. No. No way. There was no way he was picking up that call and getting sucked back into the supernatural-hunting game of vengeance, no way. He was making a life for himself. And Dean. A real life for Dean, who never got cuts and bruises anymore, unless he'd been in a fight with a human person. He ignored the call.

Bobby called ten more times that day, three of them while Dean was at home after work.

Dean stared at Sam.

"Dude, aren't you gonna get that?" he asked.

"Nah," Sam said. "Ex," he lied, and Dean nodded knowingly.

"Damn, man, chicks can be clingy," he said, and Sam nodded, looking down at his homework and ignoring the name 'Bobby' that kept lighting up his cell.

"Yeah," he said quietly.

One week after that Sam got home after college and saw Dean home, which was a surprise in itself as he usually worked from nine until six at the fast food restaurant when he worked single shifts, and what was an even bigger surprise was that he was on Sam's phone, which Sam had accidentally left at home that day.

Sam strode across the room and grabbed the phone out of Dean's hand, snarling, "Who is it?"

Dean looked shocked. He can't have been told, he can't have been told, Sam's mind hissed.

Sam cancelled the call. It had been Bobby.

"What did he say?" he growled at Dean, who didn't say anything. "I said, what did he say?"

Dean's eyes were a bit wide.

"Calm down, Sam," he said, but Sam didn't want to, he needed to know what Dean had been told. "It was some guy called Bobby, and he started saying how he'd been trying to get through to us for ages but my phone didn't work, apparently," (Sam had destroyed Dean's phone – no point risking anyone from his old life calling and jogging his memory, Dean's life was safer, now, it was better), "and you weren't picking up your calls. He started saying something about a vampire nest in Ohio, something about us getting there as soon as we could."

"Is that all he said?" Sam asked, still angry. How dare Dean pick up his calls?

Dean nodded, still looking a bit surprised.

"Yeah. Vampires, man. What the hell was he talking about? Did he even have the right number?"

"He's a nut job," Sam said viciously, his heart pounding loudly, "just some crazy guy that bugs me sometimes, don't listen to anything he says."

"Alright, alright," Dean nodded, "although I gotta say, a vampire nest sounds a lot more fun than shitty work, Sammy," and Sam growled, "Don't call me Sammy," (he didn't want any reminders of their old life, didn't want Dean to get back into that habit first, then into the habit of putting his life in danger on a daily basis, and Dean could not think that a vampire nest sounded like fun).

"Jeez, Sam, calm down, what are you so pissed about, anyway?" Dean's eyes narrowed a bit. "Sam … is Bobby your ex?" he asked slowly, and Sam blanched.

"What? No! What the hell? Where did you even get that idea, Dean? And what the hell were you doing, answering my personal phonecalls, and why are you home so damn early?" he said, still angry. If Dean made another stupid move, their new life would be ruined, and it would be all because of him. Sam couldn't let that happen.

"Look, I only answered it 'cause he'd called, like, twenty times already and it was annoying me," Dean said defensively.

"So turn it off!" Sam snapped.

"No, 'cause maybe you would have called and it could've been something important. We don't have a phone, remember?" Dean sneered slightly.

"Don't you talk to me like that!" Sam growled, and Dean blinked, a bit surprised. "Why are you home so early, huh, Dean? You do have a job, you know, and people generally need to work their delegated hours so they don't get fired."

"Oh, that. Well, I quit," Dean said airily.

"What?" Sam hissed, angry and also suddenly anxious.

"Come on, Sam, working in a fast food restaurant? It's so boring, and the work is hard, and no one likes me 'cause I'm a smartass, and I seem to have these crazy reflexes and I can catch pretty much anything anyone drops and-"

"Just suck it up and be a man, Dean, work sucks, I know, but you gotta do it!" Sam interrupted him, almost yelling. Dean couldn't, couldn't start thinking that he could do something else, do a job in a different field, because what if he started doing something that required him to make use of his reflexes, what if … what if he remembered, he'd remember and he'd want to hunt again, and he'd be pissed at Sam and he'd drag him back into the hunting game and their lives would be ruined!

"But Sam, I can't do something I don't like doing, man," Dean said, sounding a bit shocked at Sam's outburst.

"Why the hell not? Are you a pussy, Dean?" Sam couldn't believe he was saying these things to his bro-to Dean, his friend Dean, but he was just so angry. "Are you not man enough to do a job that thousands of people a lot younger than you can do? Are you seriously complaining that you're bored and that you quit when we have no money?"

Dean stared at him in silence for a few moments before taking out a large bundle of cash from his pocket.

"Actually," he said quietly, "what I wanted to tell you was that I won the lottery."

Sam gaped at him in shock.

"Are you serious?"

Dean nodded, looking a bit uncomfortable.

"Yeah. I mean, I was one of, like, eight people, but still … it's quite a lot. Enough for …" Dean took a breath. "Enough to rent out a house on that posh street you keep rambling on about. So … I was wondering …" Sam's anger had faded and was replaced by excitement, despite Dean looking a bit uncomfortable. "Would you like to rent out a house together?"

"Fuck, Dean, yes!" Sam cried out, and he whooped loudly and laughed, slapped Dean on the back and said, "I knew your brain was bound to be good for something!" and within a week they were moved into the house that Sam had always dreamed of living in, a large, family house with a neat garden and an actual white picket fence! The only things missing were a dog and 2.5 kids, and a wife would be good, because Sam hadn't really planned on sharing the house with his brother, but hey, Dean had won the lottery and Dean had no memories of the first twenty-seven years of his life, so Sam guessed he owed him something.

Of course, most of the money had gone on that, so Sam sent Dean out to find a job again. Sam was still studying law, and now going steady with a girl named Kayla, who was a brunette and sweet and funny, she had never met Dean and Sam wasn't really planning on introducing them, although now that they had a normal life Dean seemed a lot less interested in sleeping around with different girls.

Dean had complained to Sam about looking for a job, and Sam had got pissed off and snapped at him, "Fine, stay at home, but how the hell am I gonna pay for my fees? You're older than me and you said you'd look out for me, but whatever," and had stormed out to college. He knew what he'd said was a bit selfish and unfair, but he didn't really care.

This was his life now, his dream life. Why shouldn't he have what he wanted? He'd let Dean see how boring it was just staying at home and Dean was bound to feel guilty anyway and go and find a job himself.

Sure enough, within a few days, Dean was working in another fast food restaurant.

His hours were longer and he looked so tired when he came home every night, but then he and Sam would usually watch a movie unless Sam was out at a party or with his friends somewhere.

One night, Sam came home late and Dean was still up, and Dean was very, very drunk.

As soon as Sam walked into the living room, Dean got up in his face, stinking of beer, and slurred, "I know we're not really step-brothers, 'm not stupid, y'know."

Sam had blinked, taken by surprise, his heart thudding hard and said, trying to sound calm and confused, "What do you mean, Dean?"

"I mean, we can't be step-brothers," Dean said by way of explanation and Sam raised an eyebrow.

"O … K. Care to explain?" he sat down on the sofa and Dean sat down quite close next to him, his head turned towards Sam.

"If we were really step-brother 'nd had grown up t'gether 'nd all," Dean slurred, "I wouldn't feel like this."

Sam blinked, completely confused.

"Like what?" he asked.

"Like this," Dean said, and leaned forward, pressing his lips against Sam's.

It only lasted a moment but Sam felt it like it lasted an hour. He jumped up, glaring at his brother in disgust.

"Dean, what the hell? How drunk are you?" he yelled. "How could you do that, we're brothers!"

His eyes widened as he realised what he'd just said. Oh shit, oh shit. He hadn't meant to let that slip. But Dean didn't question it. He got to his feet drunkenly, swaying slightly.

"Dammit, Sam, we're not real brothers, step-brothers don't have the same blood, you dumbass," he slurred, looking very much like a dumbass himself, and Sam couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Look, man, 's not my fault I feel this way, 'nd … and I wish I didn', but I can' help what I feel."

Sam shook his head.

"You don't know what you're saying." Dean couldn't feel that way about him, he just couldn't. Sam understood that Dean didn't know they were brothers, no matter how hard Sam had been trying to repress that piece of knowledge himself, but … but surely he could feel that it was wrong? Sam knew he couldn't tell Dean that they were really related, not now that all these months had passed and Dean's memories showed no inkling of returning, Sam didn't want to anger or disgust Dean with him, and anyway, Dean wouldn't even believe him.

"Sammy, you're the only good thing about my life at the moment," Dean confessed drunkenly and Sam blinked at him.

"What do you mean? What do you mean, 'the only good thing'?" Dean was drunk, there was no way he meant what he was blabbering on about. Sam could feel himself sweating. Dean was just drunk.

"You're th' only one I look forward to seein', the only one I like spendin' time with … you're the only one who gets me. Everyone else, man … we can't connect, can't even have a friggin' conversation, man! You're the only one I seem to get on with, and I don't know why!" Dean's eyes were wet and Sam's stomach was hurting. "My memories haven't come back, and I don't think they're going to, and … and my job is shit and this house is shit, it's too clean and too damn perfect, and there's nothing for me to do and … I just … I … dammit, Sam, you're the only good thing!"

And with that, Dean sat down on the sofa and passed out, and Sam stared at him for a few long moments, his head pounding, before he told himself that everything was fine and it was all OK and there wasn't any reason to worry about anything, especially Dean, who could hold his own.

The next morning neither man mentioned the night before, but Sam introduced Dean to Kayla to make it clear that he was off bounds and even kissed Kayla in front of Dean to really show him.

Over the next few weeks things were normal again, Dean worked and cooked and cleaned and watched TV and had dinner with Sam, and Sam studied and partied and fucked his girlfriend (and a few others) and ate normal home-cooked meals and watched family films with his family and had no more calls from Bobby and was living his dream, his fucking perfect normal life, when the unthinkable happened.

He got home from college one day, usual time, walked into the kitchen to see what Dean had made for dinner, and there was his brother (his brother, his brother, Dean was his brother, Sam hadn't thought of him as his brother rather than step-brother for a long time) on the floor with a gunshot wound in his temple and blood and brains all over the floor.

Sam stood over Dean for what felt like an eternity before he started screaming.

There was a note on the kitchen table.

I'm sorry Sammy, I just couldn't do it anymore.

Sam finally realised what he'd done.

Dean once said seriously, looking at the big family houses with their neat gardens and white picket fences, "Growin' up in a place like this would freak me out."

Sam didn't understand, and said as much.

"There's nothing wrong with 'normal'."

He should have paid more attention to the other thing Dean said, a voice full of mocking and unadulterated truth.

"Manicured lawns, 'How was you day, honey?' …

I'd blow my brains out."

The End.