Author's Note: This is just a short piece that I had to get down on paper. Hope you enjoy. Feedback is gold. Thank you.

Spoilers: For everything to be safe.

Warnings: Lots of cussing in this one. Seems like a cussing type of fic.
Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Kripke and Co. No infringement intended.

Off the Hook

The hunt was over.

Unlike most hunts, this one ended without injury to either one of them. They were a little dirty, and sure Sam's shoulders ached. Digging up graves was a bitch.

Now that it was all said and done, though, this one could be counted as a win.

Pretty much not the norm and Sam was waiting for the other shoe to drop. He just hoped it would be soon. He'd kill for a handful of hours of sleep. Surely that wasn't too much to ask.

Sam let the hot water pound at the muscles along his shoulders and down his back for a few minutes longer. The sensation was pure bliss and he took these moments when he could. When you lived a hunter's life, it was the small things that brought you pleasure.

With a sigh, Sam turned the tap off and stepped out of the shower. He patted his body dry and reached for his clothes.

Sam slipped into his sweats and pulled on a shirt before padding barefoot out of the bathroom. He was vigorously rubbing a towel over his wet head when his brother's muffled voiced reached his ears. Movements slowing, Sam let the towel drop to lie around his neck.

"What was that?" Sam rubbed his ears, thinking he had water in them. That would be the only explanation because he couldn't possibly have heard—

"I'm turning myself in," Dean repeated.

The other shoe fell.

It might as well have been a spiked heel for the way it pierced his heart.

Damn his brother, anyway.

But, then, that was the whole fucking problem. The damn deal hung over their heads like a bird just waiting to shit on their parade.

It was hard to forget, but Sam tried to sometimes. Occasionally, the reality was just too much for him to bear. Tonight had been one of those times he'd wanted to pretend everything was normal—Winchester normal, anyway.

It had been an easy banishment. They did the standard research, the typical recon. A little bit of lighter fluid, a pinch of salt and their recipe had met with success. That wasn't to say that the spirit hadn't crashed their salt-and-burn party. Winchesters were never that lucky. Regardless, both of them had been prepared when Josiah Towers had appeared to inflict damage.

Dean, with his gun full of rock salt had initiated the first volley. Sam, shovel in hand, had unearthed the coffin. No words were exchanged. They each knew what the other was thinking, planning, doing. It had been that way for the whole of their lives. In a matter of minutes, the evil was gone.

It was during these moments that Sam finally understood the thrill of the hunt. The exhilaration of destroying evil was only part of it. Working with Dean, being together, being a family, that's what really mattered.

And, damn it, he'd had fun! There weren't many times in his life he could make that statement.

Leave Dean to fuck it up.

Still, before he let loose with the rage building in his veins, Sam thought he should ask for clarification. It was possible he might have misunderstood. "Turning yourself into what?"

Dean muted the television and flicked the remote to land next to him on the mattress. He was leaning back against the headboard, waiting for his turn at the shower. The rule being that the one playing in the dirt had first dibs. "You know what I mean, Sam."

His brother hadn't even bothered to look at him. "No, I don't think I do. Maybe you should explain." Every word was like a knife cutting through an aluminum can, sharp and jagged.

Dean rolled his eyes and got to his feet. Shoulders back, arms loose at his sides, he finally looked Sam in the face. The armor was almost visible and Sam stood straighter in response.

"Turn myself in…to the authorities, the FBI, Hendrickson." Dean smirked. "The highest bidder. That any clearer for you, Sam?"

Without conscious thought, Sam's long-legged stride closed the short distance between him and Dean. His hands began to lift of their own accord, and he had to make the effort to lower them and not reach out and shake his brother. He settled for curling them into fists. "Why the hell would you want to do that?"

Dean raised an eyebrow. "I turn myself in, take the rap, and get you off the hook."

Sam should have seen that coming. Take care of Sammy was Dean's motto, his mantra, his prayer. It pissed Sam off. "Fuck that!" His fingers flexed. Later there would be red crescent-shaped marks with traces of blood on his palms like a stigmata, which was appropriate because Dean's overprotective bullheadedness was Sam's particular cross to bear.

"Sam," Dean started to say.

"No, no," Sam denied, shaking his head. "You don't get to do that. You don't get to make this about me."

"It's always about you, Sam." The declaration was quiet, but no less powerful.

"It shouldn't be." Sam took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "I don't even know why you're bringing this up now. Hendrickson is the least of our worries. You have three months, Dean. Three months before the deal comes due."

"That's why I have to do this now." Dean's eyes were bright, open, and honest. "I do this now and you'll be free and clear. You shouldn't have to hide, Sam. I'm just trying to give you your life back."

You already have, thought Sam, but didn't say it aloud. That argument was fucking old. "So let me get this straight, you want to give up the last three months we have—" the together went unspoken—"so that I can have a normal life?" He bit the inside of his lip to keep the anger from erupting.

"'There is no normal life. Just life, that's all.'" Dean lifted the corner of his mouth in an attempt at a smile.

"You think now is the best time to quote movies?" Sam refused to be placated by Dean's usual methods of deflection. Dean damn well knew how Sam was going to respond to such an asinine proposition. He should have been prepared for the consequences.

Dean held up his hands. "Take it easy, Sam. Just thought we needed to lighten up. It's getting way too tense in here."

"You think?" Sam said sarcastically. "What the fuck, Dean? I'm trying to get you out of this deal, but—but if…it's three months and—you want to take that away from me?" Sam's breath hitched and he repeated almost in a whisper. "What the fuck?"

"Aw, Sam." Dean's shoulders slumped. "Look, I just think it would be better for you in the long run—"

There was a roaring in Sam's ears and he went from heartbreakingly sad to fucking furious in the space between two breaths. His reaction was just as quick. One minute Dean was talking, the next he was on the floor, holding his jaw and looking bewildered.

"What the hell, Sam?" Dean rasped. He probed his cheek, stretching his mouth and closing it, checking the damage. There was no blood. The punch had been clean.

"Rain check." Sam choked out. The rage seemed to flood his entire body, threatening to spill out of his eyes in a stream of tears.

"What?" Dean gained his feet, confusion evident in his tone. "What are you—oh." Understanding dawned. "Okay, fine. I'll give you that one. But take it for the gift it is,

Sam, because that's your only freebie." Dean's eyes were hard.

"Whatever." Sam glared at him.

They stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity before Dean looked away and sighed.

"Sam, I know you don't like the idea—"

"Like the idea?" Sam grabbed onto Dean's shirt, twisting his hands into the fabric. "I fucking hate the idea." He shook his head. "You can't do this, Dean. I won't let you do this."

Dean dropped a hand onto Sam's shoulder, his thumb sweeping gently at his neck. When Sam looked at him, he could see the sorrow in his older brother's eyes. "There are some things beyond your control, Sam."

"No, uh-uh, not this." Sam shook him a little. "I won't let it happen. I won't let Hendrickson have you. The hellhounds can't have you. Fucking hell can't have you. I can't let them take you…" Sam's voice trailed off. He unclenched his hands, but kept them pressed to his brother's chest, one drifting to rest over Dean's heart. He let his head drop to rest his forehead against Dean's shoulder and he whispered, "I can't. I just…can't."

Dean laid a hand at the base of Sam's neck. "Okay," was his simple response. He gave Sam's neck a squeeze, conveying more through touch than he could ever do with words.

But Sam needed more reassurance. The words were important to him. He looked up and searched Dean's gaze. "Okay? What do you mean by 'okay'?"

"You're gonna make me spell it out, aren't you?" Amusement colored Dean's tone.

"You're going to have to." Sam stepped back and crossed his arms. "There's too much on the line, Dean."

Dean nodded, the look on his face sobering. "I get that. 'Okay' means that I won't turn myself into the authorities. It means I'll be around for as long as I can manage." Dean chuckled. "For as long as you can manage."

Sam exhaled, realizing for the first time that he had been holding his breath. "So you're going to trust me on this?"

"When have I ever not trusted you, Sam?" Dean murmured.

Sam nodded, pursing his lips, a feeling like relief coursing through him. "Yeah, okay."

Dean grinned. "That's what I said."

The End

Quote from the movie, Tombstone, basically. No copyright infringement intended.