Sometimes He Lets You
K Hanna Korossy

"'Cause you're a pain in my ass."

"Guess I might have to stick around and be a pain in the ass, then."

00000

They stared at each other a long moment, Sam searching for any kind of reaction from his brother. But Dean looked back at him with dead eyes, matching the vampire blood splattered across his face.

Gordon stirred next to him. "So…"

Sam didn't even look at him. "We'll meet you at the bar."

He could feel the hunter hesitate, then withdraw into the night. Leaving only the two of them and the body.

Business first, because that Sam knew how to deal with. "We can't leave that here," he said quietly. "Sheriff's gonna think he has another murder on his hands." It wasn't murder; it was killing and what they did, but for some reason this time it was turning his stomach.

Dean finally nodded. "I think the blood and the missing guard's gonna give it away, but whatever."

Sam moved forward, not touching Dean, uncomfortably avoiding even looking at him as together they gathered up the headless corpse and tossed it into the nearby water. Sam winced as Dean grabbed the head and threw it in after like it was a ball. Then they stood and watched the remains sink.

"You realize if vamps decompose like people, it's just gonna turn up as a floater in a few days."

Sam shuddered. "Could we just…not talk about dead…things for a while?"

He could feel Dean's raised brow. "What's eating you?"

Sam looked away. "Wash your face, Dean."

Dean swiped a hand across his face, looked at the smeared blood.

"Please," Sam added quietly.

A pause, then Dean knelt on the dock and dipped a hand into the water, splashing it on himself. He repeated it a few times before angling his face up to Sam. "Am I presentable now? Wouldn't want to offend your delicate sensibilities or anything."

Sam grimaced but glanced over at Dean, taking in the water that dripped into once-more familiar, defensive eyes. The killer was gone, his brother returned. Sam rubbed off a stubborn streak of blood at Dean's hairline with the blade of his hand, then nodded. "You won't scare the girls any more than usual," he offered.

Dean didn't respond to the weak attempt at humor, just stood and gazed at Sam a long moment. Softening into something he really did recognize. "You ready to go?" Dean finally asked, his voice muted.

Sam silently nodded.

They left together, but Sam couldn't help but feel they were leaving a piece of them behind.

00000

He should have been keeping an eye out for the vampire's nest, or for Gordon's car, but Dean kept darting looks his way. Sam ignored all of them, until his brother finally spoke up.

"You all right?"

Sam still didn't turn his head. "You didn't hit me that hard," he said.

A beat. "That's not what I mean."

Sam scoffed. "It doesn't work that way, Dean: 'how many vampires did you kill, how did you get away and, oh, by the way, are you all right?'"

"That's not how—look, you surprised me, okay? You show up without a scratch on you talking about having just been in a vamp nest, I just figured…"

"Yeah. Well, thanks for your belated concern, but I'm fine. They knocked me out to get me there, but they didn't hurt—"

"What?" The Impala screeched to a stop, Dean turning in his seat to look at him. "They knocked you out?"

Sam rubbed ruefully at the back of his head. "Yeah, with the phone. It's okay, just a little sore."

But Dean was already pushing his hand aside, feeling the lump on the back of Sam's head for himself. Frowning deeply as he pulled his hand back and grabbed Sam's chin instead, studying his eyes. "No double vision, nausea?"

"I'm fine,Dean. I know what a concussion feels like."

Dean's lips flattened. "Yeah." There was a moment's pause, then his thumb brushed away blood from Sam's split lip. The split lip he'd given his brother. Then, as if to hide the contrite gesture, he moved even higher to nudge the corner of Sam's mouth up, exposing his top gums.

Sam raised his eyebrows, but he didn't pull back from the exam.

Dean's shoulders came down an inch, and he pulled his hand away.

"No fangs?" Sam asked wryly.

"This isn't funny. While we were having a beer, you could've been…" Dean's jaw clenched.

"I'm okay," Sam assured him. "I told you, this group is different."

"Yeah, well…next time you go visit some vampires, tell me if you get whacked over the head." He started the car and pulled back out into the road. "Or, better yet, stay at the bar and have one more round. Vamps make lousy hosts, even if they don't use you for cocktails."

"Or, we could skip the extra beer and you could come back with me."

Dean gave him a side-long glance. "You do seem to get into trouble when you leave a bar on your own." He stared out the window a moment while Sam flushed. "We'll put some ice on that when we get back," Dean finally added quietly, nodding toward Sam's head.

It was an apology, a tacit, I'll do better next time. More importantly, it was his brother.

Sam allowed himself for the first time to relax into the seat and think maybe they weren't heading into one of the biggest mistakes of their lives.

00000

They were nearly at the front door, Gordon unconscious in the room behind them, when Sam frowned and tapped on Dean's shoulder. His brother pulled up short, giving him a quizzical look.

"What's wrong with your hand?"

Dean glanced at his right, the skinned and bloody knuckles, and shrugged. "Gordon and I had a little chat."

"No, I know about that. I mean the left one. It's swollen."

Dean's gaze shifted, but he shrugged, unconcerned. "It's fine—look, we went a couple of rounds, okay? I've got a few bruises, nothing serious. Quit worrying."

"Right. Does the word 'hypocrite' mean anything to you?"

Dean glared at him. Switched to exasperation when Sam just stared back. Sam put his hands on his hips. Dean finally sighed, lifted both hands for inspection. "It's not sprained or anything, Sammy—it was just a knockdown. No big deal."

True, neither limb was badly swollen, nothing a few punches couldn't account for. Still unsatisfied, Sam lifted the edge of Dean's jacket, gave him a stern once-over. No blood. "You'd tell me if something didn't feel right, wouldn't you?" he finally asked.

And saw the tiny flinch in Dean's eyes, because once upon a time, he wouldn't have even had to ask that question. "Like you told me about your head?" Dean responded tightly.

"Like you asked?" Sam shot back just as fast.

There was a moment's stand-off, a tension Sam hadn't intended to invoke, except there were so many things wrong in them, between them, these days, even concern had become a touchy subject. Then the anger leeched from Dean's face. "You okay? I'm guessing the other vamps weren't too happy with you showing up with Lenore looking like that."

Sam shifted uncomfortably in place, feeling his own anger evaporate in face of Dean's genuine worry. "It was fine. Lenore stopped it before anything could happen."

Dean nodded slowly. "So, ice for both of us, huh?"

"Yeah, maybe."

Dean nodded again. "Let's go back to the room," his grasp as gentle as his tone as he prodded Sam toward the door.

Sam went, the small glimmer of the way things used to be giving him hope. He was ready to fight for it. For the both of them, if necessary.

00000

"'Cause you're a pain in my ass."

"Guess I might have to stick around and be a pain in the ass, then."

A pause. Then, seriously, "Thanks."

Sam gave his brother a small smile. "Don't mention it."

The End