So despite my vow I caved in and watched two clips from 'Fresh Blood' that were sent to me. And, it has to be said, had welled up before I got even halfway through either of them! Have I mentioned lately just what an amazing job Jensen & Jared can do with the simplest of scenes?

Having watched them I had an idea floating through my head that I just had to give in and write. I know there have been some amazingly good tags to this episode but I wanted to add my own humble offering.

As I mentioned before, I've only seen the two clips not the whole thing so I apologise for any inaccuracies..

Dean walked out of the diner and looked round automatically for Sam. When he saw him leaning against the hood of the Impala, staring out at the view and clearly lost in thought, Dean sighed.

Great.

Sam had been in that mood for the last two days and Dean was rapidly reaching the end of his tether. Steeling himself he walked over, still partly hoping that there was some way to avoid the discussion he just had a sinking feeling was coming.

"You got out of there pretty quick – the waitress try and grab your ass or something?"

Sam glanced at him but didn't smile at the attempt at humour.

"I just needed some fresh air."

Dean gave him a look that clearly showed how much he believed that particular statement.

"Uh-huh. And it would have nothing to do with the 'dark and brooding' act you've been pulling for the last few days?" he said.

Sam ignored the jibe and Dean sighed at the lack of response.

"Is it Gordon?" he ventured after a moment and Sam shook his head almost instantly.

"No. Gordon was a monster the first two times we met him, this just cleared up the whole 'human' issue. Trust me, I don't regret getting rid of him one little bit."

Dean frowned a little at the vehemence behind the words but he couldn't exactly argue. He'd been more than happy himself to see the former hunter bite the dust.

Of course if it wasn't Gordon then that left only one thing and he braced himself as he prepared to start what was definitely not going to be a fun conversation.

"So if it's not that, then it would be.." he tailed off but Sam knew exactly what he meant and his gaze flicked towards Dean briefly and then back to the view.

"Yeah." was all he said and as tempted as Dean was to just say 'Ok' and leave it at that, he knew it would do neither of them any good.

"Look, I know this is hard but."

He didn't get a chance to finish.

"Don't, ok? Don't sit there and tell me it's ok, that I have to accept it, that you don't regret it. Just – don't."

Dean winced at the slight hitch in Sam's voice and wished, not for the first time, he had some magic wand that could make the whole thing go away.

"I wasn't going to say that." he said defensively and Sam turned to face him, eyebrows raised.

"Alright, what were you going to say?" he challenged and Dean sat there for a second opening and closing his mouth in a way Sam would have found amusing if he'd been in the mood. Finally he gave in and threw his hands up before letting them drop back onto his knees.

"You know what? I got nothing. Honestly, I really don't. You're never gonna see that this is not your fault or that I don't regret what I did, however much the outcome might freak me out a little, and I'm not gonna give in to your blind optimism that we can ignore this till it goes away. I'm sorry, Sam." he said sadly and Sam shook his head.

"For what? For not being able to fix everything? We've been over this before, Dean, you're the only one who thinks you should be able to." he said softly.

Dean cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Yeah, well. It doesn't exactly solve our problem, does it?" he said and it was Sam's turn to sigh.

"No, I guess not. I'm not sure what will, except the obvious."

Dean rubbed the back of his neck and kicked absently at a loose stone with his boot.

"Maybe we can't fix this but maybe we could make some sort of deal before we both end up going crazy – what do you say?"

Sam winced. "Do you have to use that word?" he said and Dean shook his head exasperatedly.

"Fine, we could make some sort of 'agreement' – that better?" he said dryly and Sam smiled a little.

"Alright – like what?" he said cautiously.

"Like I agree not to shut you out so much, that I won't make light of the situation all the time, and you agree not to dwell on it every second of the day. I know we can't ignore it, it's like the biggest elephant in the room ever, but that doesn't mean we should let it spoil everything. Cos even if I get lucky then that's still a whole year we've wasted. And if I don't, it's the last year we've wasted." he said seriously.

Sam swallowed. "Ok, but you have to agree one more thing." he said and Dean looked at him apprehensively.

"What's that?"

"That you're not gonna give up. I'll learn how to take care of the Impala, I'll learn whatever you want me to. But that doesn't mean I'm gonna stop believing that I will find a way out of this for you. Because I can't handle the alternative any better than you could."

Dean felt his eyes sting and blinked to try and clear the sudden wetness. The memories of that appalling moment when Sam had been truly gone were far too clear still and as much as he'd been trying to avoid imagining Sam in his position, it was suddenly all too easy to picture.

"Ok." he said finally, wondering if his voice sounded as rough to Sam as it did to his own ears. "I'll do that if you promise me you won't blame yourself if it doesn't work. And you won't do anything that would undo the deal I made. I won't have you saving my life by sacrificing yours."

Sam looked at him in disbelief. "But I'm supposed to let you do just that?"

"Sam."

The warning tone was not lost on him and he knew they could argue this point until they were both blue in the face without agreeing on an answer, so he grudgingly conceded the point.

For now.

"Alright, I won't knowingly put myself directly in danger to get you out of the deal." he said and Dean's gaze narrowed.

"That's a lawyer's answer."

Sam shrugged. "It's the best one you're gonna get." he said simply and Dean recognised the implacable stubbornness that told him to quit while he was ahead.

"Well I guess that's settled then." he said and Sam gave a small smile that was slightly better than nothing.

"Looks like."

Even though there was nothing more to be said neither of them was in any particular rush to move. Instead Dean shifted so he was resting a little more of his weight against the car and watched the sky as it changed colour.

The fact this new position meant his shoulder was resting against Sam's was just a coincidence of course.

Sam felt the warmth against his shoulder and leaned into it, knowing Dean would understand the gesture. When you were a Winchester the smallest action usually spoke better than a thousand words.

And resulted in less bloodshed.

As they both watched the fading light Dean reflected that in some ways their little talk hadn't really solved anything. The deal was still there, still hanging over them, and neither of them were any closer to reaching a compromise about just how far Sam would go to fix it.

But on the other hand they had both agreed to try and make the most of the coming year, and that had to be worth something. Because he'd been serious before, about not wasting precious time. There'd been enough of that in the past and when it came down to it, deal or no deal, no one knew how long they had. Especially in their line of work.

It was definitely a less than ideal situation. But perhaps it was an opportunity of sorts, for Dean to let Sam in just a little bit more. To understand that maybe his brother wasn't so little anymore, and was in fact more than prepared to defend him as fiercely as he'd always defended Sam.

As he thought about it, Dean realised maybe that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to come to terms with.

Because in the end all they really had was each other and, just like always, that would have to be enough.

For now at least. The rest they could deal with – another day.