A/N: I don't believe that Sam and Dean were always the awesome brothers they are now. The flashbacks we've seen have only solidified that idea in my mind. Little brothers and big brothers are ALWAYS going to fight. I have a little brother of my own; I know this. So if you don't like the idea of Sam and Dean having brotherly spats and not being perfectly adoring towards each other, then hit the back button now.
Dean huffed and stepped into the small kitchen area next to his Dad. "Somethin' you need, Dean?" Dad asked with a raised eyebrow, before turning back to the dishes. There weren't a lot of dishes to do, but the fact that they actually had a place and were staying long enough to need to do dishes was something everyone thought was pretty cool. Dean and Sam actually fought over who got to wash the dishes.
Except Dean didn't want to wash dishes right then. Dean wanted Dad to deal with Sam.
"It's Sam," Dean said, leaning back against the counter. "The idiot won't leave me alone."
"Be nice, Dean," Dad immediately corrected, and Dean stifled a sigh. "Your brother's not an idiot."
"Well, then he's a baby," Dean said. The kid was something, all right. "He always wants to play stupid games, and he doesn't seem to get that I'm a teenager now. I don't wanna play kiddy games like he does."
"Monopoly isn't a kiddy game, Dean," Dad said. "Don't tell me you're a sore loser."
Dean shook his head. "It's not that. And it's not even Monopoly. He wants to play Cowboys and Indians, Cops and Robbers, and I Spy. Baby games. I'd love to play Monopoly or something like that. But he won't."
"I know you're thirteen now, Dean, and yes, you're both at very different ages," Dad said, turning off the water. He shook his hands out over the sink, sending droplets of water into the shiny basin. "He's growing up too, though. You gotta give him the time, dude."
"Not fast enough," Dean muttered, before raising his head to his Dad again. "But that's not the worst part. The worst part is when he has a nightmare. He always comes and bugs me, Dad. Always. And I have to get up for school in the morning!" He didn't really care about school, to be honest, and the look Dad was giving him told him Dad knew as much. He moved on quickly, adding, "I never had nightmares like this when I was nine. He just..needs to grow up."
"So what do you want me to do here?" Dad asked, drying his hands on a towel. "Nightmares just happen, Dean. You know that. Not really anything Sam can control."
Dean shrugged. "Then just tell him to stop crawling into my bed whenever the big baby sees a spider in his dreams."
Dad shook his head, and Dean sighed as Dad moved to the small living room to go through the newspapers. Dad wasn't going to handle this yet. Maybe, when Sam woke him up with another nightmare, he'd take Sam into Dad's bed, and have Dad tell Sam what a baby he was being.
Besides, Sam was always complaining about how grumpy Dean was. Maybe if Dean actually got to sleep through the night, then Dean would be happy during the day. He'd try and explain that to Sam, too.
Plans secured, he headed for the small fridge, digging for a snack.
Behind the wall, Sam listened for a moment more, then slowly moved back to the bedroom he and Dean shared. He'd come out for a drink, but had heard Dean sounding annoyed, so had figured he'd wait until Dean left the kitchen. Bumping into Dean when he was annoyed usually meant you got called names.
Then Dean had started talking to Dad, and Sam hadn't been able to move.
He sat on the edge of his bed, feet hanging limply off the left side. He glanced across the room to Dean's bed, then back down at his own feet. He didn't mean to be a baby. The nightmares were just scary, that was all. And Dean always complained, sure, but then he'd wrap Sam up in a big bear hug and Sam knew that nothing could get him then. Not when Dean was guarding him.
But maybe Dean was right; Sam needed to grow up. Dean didn't have nightmares. Dean wasn't scared of stupid dreams. If he could be brave, then so could Sam.
A sharp gasp had Dean blinking blearily sometime in the early morning. Sam was sitting upright in the bed next to him, taking deep breaths. He looked freaked out, and that only meant one thing. Dean closed his eyes and resisted the urge to sigh. Sam was going to come poking at him in a minute, whispering his name like he didn't know Dean was awake, and then slide into the bed even though Dean was on the edge, which meant Dean was going to have to slide back-
When nothing happened for over a minute, Dean warily opened one eye.
Then quickly opened the other. Sam was sliding back under his own covers, turning to face the wall. Dean blinked, then blinked again. What the heck? Sam wasn't coming to him? But..but he'd had a nightmare, right? Yeah. Obviously.
So what the heck was Sam doing?
A tiny noise made Dean turn his attention back fully to his brother, and he watched as Sam's shoulders began to shake. He heard the noise again, and Dean realized his brother was crying. Completely bewildered now, Dean waited for Sam to come over and join him. It must've been a bad one, if he was crying.
But Sam never came over, and Dean wound up not falling asleep for another hour, even after Sam had cried himself to sleep.
When Sam shuffled into the kitchen the next morning, Dean was already beyond confused. First, he hadn't shown up in Dean's bed after the nightmare, and then he was up after Dean was? Those two things had never happened before.
Then Dean caught sight of his brother. His eyes were a little red, and his face was pale. He looked horrible, like he was sick, and Dean couldn't help but frown in worry. Sam had never looked this bad before. "You okay Sammy?" he asked hesitantly as Sam took his seat at the table.
Sam nodded blearily, and Dad leaned over the table, frowning at him. "You look sick," Dad pronounced. "You feeling sick?"
Sam shook his head, then reached over for his spoon. "I'm okay," he croaked, and it sounded like his throat was all torn up, or he'd been..he'd been..
Crying. Like he'd been crying for a long time. Like he had last night. Because it had been a really bad one, and he hadn't come to Dean.
What was going on here?
Dad shot Dean a look that asked the same question, and Dean shrugged helplessly. He had no clue what was up with his brother.
Sam began eating his cereal, and Dean had to do the same thing. On the way out the door to the bus stop, though, Dad caught Dean by the shoulder. "Figure out what's wrong with Sam," he said quietly.
"Yes sir," Dean replied.
Three days later, and Dean wasn't any closer to what was going on with Sam. He thought he'd have a better chance of climbing Mount Everest then he did figuring out what the matter was. The only thing he'd figured out was that he himself was really confused. Really really confused.
Every night, Sam had a nightmare. They were getting worse, every single time. But every single time, Sam would stay in his own bed and cry.
This morning, Sam looked terrible. He had dark circles under his eyes, his skin almost white, and his eyes were bloodshot. Whenever Dad or Dean asked if he was okay, though, Sam simply nodded. He was fine, as far as he was concerned.
Dean knew better.
Dad reached out, placing the back of his hand against Sam's forehead. "You don't feel warm," Dad said, frowning. "But not every sickness comes with a fever. You're sure you're okay Sam? Because telling me if something's wrong is an important thing to do, bud."
"I know, Dad," Sam said quietly. Dean clenched his fists under the table. Something, or someone, was messing with Sam, causing the nightmares, and that was never okay in Dean's books. He just needed to figure out what it was, but Sam wouldn't say.
Then Dean knew exactly how to find out, and turned back to his cereal. Maybe he could climb a hill and not the tallest mountain in the world, after all.
That night, Sam shot straight up in his bed again, gasping for air. His entire body was trembling, and his knuckles were white as they gripped the sheets. He turned over to face the wall, like he usually did now, and tiny sniffles were heard from the bed.
Dean had had enough. He threw back his covers and stepped over to Sam's bed, sliding in behind him. Sam jerked and turned around with eyes wide with fear, but the minute he saw Dean, the fear bled into confusion. "What are you doing?" Sam whispered, his voice like rocks. "Dean?"
"If you weren't going to come to me, I was going to go to you, you doofus," Dean muttered. "Seriously, what've you been thinking?"
Now Sam looked even more confused, even as he shifted to turn and face Dean. "But..you said I was a baby when I came and bugged you. And I'm not bothering you anymore at night, so why are you over here?"
Everything stopped, including Dean's breathing. Oh god. Sam must've heard him the other day, when he'd been talking to Dad in the kitchen. Which meant-
Which meant that every night, Sam had been hiding in his bed because of Dean. Dean tried to stall the wince that came with the bitter knowledge. "I was being stupid," he finally said. "I do that sometimes. Not a lot, but sometimes. And that was one of those times."
Sam still looked confused. Good; that gave Dean time to think about how to fix this. He hadn't realized how much Sam needed someone after his nightmares.
No, not needed someone, needed Dean. He never went to Dad with his nightmares; just Dean. Suddenly it was way different, and Dean didn't feel annoyed anymore. Not when Sam only trusted him and him only with the nightmares.
"Okay, listen up dork," he said, catching Sam's attention. "From now on, whenever you have a nightmare, even when you're old and wrinkly like Bobby," and he had to stop because Sam was giggling and so was he, "you can still come and sleep in my bed. Okay?"
Sam gazed at him for a minute, before he nodded, smile still on his face, and Dean inwardly sighed in relief. Problem solved.
Sam's smile fell a moment later, and Dean really should've known better. "Dean, how come you call me names, like baby and dork and dogface, but you won't let Jimmy do it?"
Dean curled his fist at the mention of Jimmy. "Jimmy's a bully," he said firmly, wishing he could punch Jimmy. Again. "Don't listen if he calls you names, and if he does, I told you, you-"
"Come get you, I know," Sam finished. "And he hasn't lately. I think it's because it's hard to talk with a broken nose."
"Well, he shouldn't have pushed you," Dean said matter of factly. "He was stupid."
"Then how come you call me names when you won't let him do it?" Sam pressed.
"Because, I told you, Jimmy's a bully," Dean said. "And I'm your brother. I get to call you names. It's my brother right."
"So no one else? Just you?"
"What about George at our last home?"
"Nope; I decked him, remember?"
"And Benny before that?"
"Decked him too."
"And Richard? You didn't deck him."
Dean grinned. Sam's eyes got big. "You did?"
"'Course I did."
"Wow. I didn't know that."
Dean only shrugged. He hadn't wanted Sam to worry about that jerk. Richard had been more than mean; he'd made sure everyone had known that Sam didn't have a mom, and then made fun of him because of it, like it was Sam's fault. Dean had done more than deck him when Sam had come running home with a torn shirt and tears streaming down his face.
Sam's look of awe quickly faded into one of annoyance. "Then how come I don't get to call you a name?"
"Because you didn't pick one," Dean came back immediately, then grinned. "I tell you what. You pick a name, anything to call me, and then I'll pick a name for you, and it'll be a secret thing between us. We won't tell anyone else."
Sam looked interested. "Not even Dad?"
"Not even Dad."
That had put Sam past interested and into impressed. Good. "Think up a name," Dean urged him. "Anything."
Sam bit his bottom lip as he thought. A few moments passed, before Dean sighed. "C'mon, there has to be something that pops like that when you think of me."
"Jerk," Sam said instantly, and Dean pretended to look shocked at the choice even as Sam giggled. Dean finally gave a long suffering sigh and rolled his eyes, before he broke into a grin himself.
"Okay. I picked the perfect name, since you're such a girl," Dean teased, even as Sam scowled at him. Dean glanced around the room and listened to make sure Dad wasn't there or awake. Then he turned to Sam and whispered loudly, "Bitch."
They both collapsed into giggles at that, and Dean had to cover Sam's mouth because he was making so much noise. "Don't tell Dad I said that," Dean said, meeting Sam's eyes in the dark. "I mean it."
Sam shook his head, still grinning. "Promise," he said, before Dean flicked him in the head.
"Good. Go to bed."
Through the wall, John listened for a moment more, then closed his eyes, chuckling to himself.
A/N (again): Didn't you ever wonder where the "Bitch, Jerk" thing came from?