Dean scowled over at Sam, who was sitting in the back seat

Title: The Amulet: Part 1
Genre: Gen, Pre-series
Rating: PG13 for language
Disclaimer: Supernatural rocks, but doesn't pay the bills. :P
A/N: fannishliss was my beta for this and I love her to death for it. . Editing my stuff is like jumping out of a helicopter and into a swamp full of starving crocodiles and she amazingly not only survived but whacked every single one of those critters on the nose and got them to behave. o.o Yeah I know she is a miracle worker. Give her lots and hugs and kisses in the comments! ;)

Summary: Pre-series AU, When the boys get into a fight about Dean's missing amulet there are unforeseen consequences.

Dean scowled over at Sam, who was sitting in the back seat. The two of them had been arguing for the full hour that Dad had been meeting with Bobby, and neither one of them had any intention of dropping it. Well, at least until their dad came back and clobbered the two of them for the non-stop bickering.

The fight had started that morning when Dean couldn't find his amulet--it was not a necklace, it was a freakin' amulet--that he had taken off the night before during his shower. He couldn't help it if it bugged him to have something around his neck while he was showering. Afterwards, he had been too tired to remember to put it back on before heading to sleep. Everything would have been fine, too, if the amulet hadn't mysteriously gone missing in the morning.

Dean had searched around and underneath the bathroom counter, trying to figure where the crap it might have gotten to. Then he remembered Sam. The dork had taken a geeky interest in the amulet as of late, mostly to satisfy his boredom with research. Dean, of course, had been reluctant to let Sam near his person long enough to study the amulet, and he didn't want to take it off for the kid to look at either. All right, so he had just wanted to annoy Sam, but it was his freakin' amulet, not Sam's! Even if Sam had given it to him, a long time ago.

So even though he was pretty annoyed, he had fairly calmly awakened Sam with a pillow in the face, asking the brat where the crap his amulet was. And to Dean's shock and indignation, he'd denied having taken it! Yeah, right! So of course Dean had been obliged to let Sam know that even though the kid had sprouted two inches seemingly overnight, Dean was still taller and stronger. The ensuing rough-housing had woken up their dad and resulted in both of them getting the back of their heads knocked in.

Once Dad was up though, he was up--even though he had been up till way late and was clearly running on only an hour or two of sleep. This caused both Dean and Sam to have a ticked-off and grumpy father to deal with for the rest of the morning, at least until Dad decided they were going to visit Bobby. That really meant that Dad would be visiting with Bobby, while Sam and Dean waited in the car for however long it took.

"Look, Dean, I told you already, I don't have your little necklace! You probably left it back in the motel!"

"Yeah, right, man! I looked high and low for that thing, and it's not a necklace, you dork, it's an amulet," Dean growled out angrily.

Sam glowered back and slouched in the back seat. "Well, even if I had taken your necklace, which I didn't, you still shouldn't have woken me with a freakin' pillow in the face, you jerk."

Dean snorted. "Yeah, you play the innocent card all you want, Sammy, but I want my fucking amulet back. You can't just take my stuff whenever you want, all right?"

Sam looked incredulous, "You've got to be joking. You take my stuff all the time, Dean!"

"Whatever, man--I do not. Your stuff is all junk anyway."

"It is not!"

"Dude, all you have are stupid books that you lug around everywhere and a broken snow globe."

Sam flushed. "And you know who broke my 'stupid' snow globe Dean! You!"

The kid was yelling now, and Dean was happy to oblige back, though he probably shouldn't have brought up the snow globe. That was still a sore subject for both of them. "Yeah, well, I wouldn't have fucking broken it if you hadn't been being such a bitch about it all the time, Sam."

Sam lunged from the back seat, swiping at Dean as he did so. Dean quickly became enraged, his eyes flashing lighter green in his anger. He dodged Sam's attack, before grabbing Sam's wrist and twisting.

"Fuck." Sam tried to get free.

Dean glared at Sam without mercy and growled out, "Just admit it, Sam, and I'll let you go."

Sam remained silent, so Dean twisted a little more. His little brother let out a gasp of pain. "Damn it, Dean! I didn't do anything! Let go!"

"Admit it!"


The fucking brat didn't think he was serious. Dean twisted Sam's wrist further, until Sam was using his whole body to try and lessen the strain on it. Sam let out a smothered cry at the movement. "Say it, Sam!"

"Dean, you're hurting me!" Their eyes met for a second, and when Dean recognized the real pain in Sam's eyes, he let go.

Sam let out a sigh of relief and cradled his wrist close to his body. Dean felt a stab of guilt. "You shouldn't have tried to have a go at me, dude." Sam wouldn't meet his eyes.

Dean turned back around and slouched into the front seat. What was taking their dad so long anyway? He glanced into the backseat where Sam was still playing the kicked puppy. Damn it. Dean grabbed the handle on his door and opened it. He just needed some fresh air or something. It was too fucking hot in the Impala.

Dean slammed the door shut and leaned against the car for a minute, before changing his mind about the distance he needed from his brother at that moment. Maybe if it was just him, dad wouldn't mind having him listen in to his and Bobby's conversation. He was quiet as he made his way into the house, opening the front door slowly, thankful it was quiet like it had been recently oiled. Dad's voice and Bobby's were coming from the kitchen in low tones that Dean couldn't quite make out. He looked around--books covered every available surface like always. Not very interesting--but then something caught Dean's eye: a shoe box, on a table in the corner of the room, brimming with various odds and ends, a broken light bulb, a little statue of liberty... Dean was bored, and rifling through the box stood him in less danger of getting kicked out on his ass than listening in on his Dad's conversation with Bobby, so the shoe box it was.

He walked over and shuffled through the box, pulling out a couple of things that he thought might be cool, while avoiding the shards of glass from the light bulb. Finally, once he was almost ready to sneak around to the kitchen, he caught sight of a little necklace at the bottom. Well, no, it wasn't a necklace--more like an amulet on a very masculine leather cord. Dean smirked. If Sam didn't want to give him back his amulet he would just get himself a new one. Surely Bobby wouldn't miss it if it had been with the rest of this junk.

Dean grabbed it and put it on, holding it out on he cord to examine a bit closer. It was a cool design made out of lead and mixed with another heavy metal that Dean suspected was painted. He figured that it was some kind of ritual symbol that Sam would know about once he showed it to him. Well, if he showed it to him. Dean's eyes narrowed in thought and he tucked the amulet under his shirt. Stupid Sam would probably steal this one too.

Satisfied with what he had found. Dean figured he'd head back to the Impala. Sam, the little freak, was most likely still wallowing, but there was nothing Dean could do about that. He was happy enough to have gotten Sam back for taking what was Dean's. After all, Dean didn't have to put up with an Indian giver. His lips twitched from his self-satisfied smile into a frown, and a little stab of hurt made it through his consciousness before he shut it down. Why couldn't Sam just 'fess up and give the amulet back? Well, that wasn't Dean's problem anymore. He had a new amulet to replace the one Sam had given him all those years ago. Still, once Sam did give him the amulet back… Dean shook his head and slipped back out of the house and into the car.

It seemed as though Sam was still sulking from their earlier conversation and Dean rolled his eyes and slouched into the seat. It was going to be a long wait.

About ten minutes went by with no sound from either of them before Sam finally broke. "I really didn't take your amulet, Dean." Sam was quiet as he spoke. He waited for a reply, and when there was none forthcoming he continued, "Maybe… maybe we can convince Dad to drive us back so that we can look some more."

"I already looked, Sam."

Dean could practically hear Sam biting his lip. "I know, but four eyes are better than two, and, I wouldn't want you to lose your neckla...—amulet, I mean…"

"Give it up already, Sam. I know you took it, and I know me and Dad lie a lot for a living or whatever, but that doesn't mean that you can lie to either of us."

There was no reply from the backseat, just another stifled sigh.

Another half hour later, Dad finally came striding out of the house with Bobby on his heels. The two of them spoke for a second before John walked over to the car and got in. Bobby waved goodbye as Dean sat up and Dad started the engine. Sam remained silent in the back seat.

The rest of the eight-hour ride to some hick town that Sam and Dean had never heard of was one of their quietest.

It had been a month since Sam and Dean's fight about his old amulet, and Dean was starting to suspect Sam had been telling him the truth about not having it. After all, even Sam couldn't hold out telling Dean the truth for that long. Or at least giving into guilt and leaving the amulet on the counter or in Dean's bag anonymously. No, there had been no sight of the amulet, and Dean figured that it was a write-off in the "items lost to motel rooms" category. It made him feel kind of guilty for a bit after realizing this. He had gone pretty hard on Sam for it, but it was in the past and what was done was done, so he moved on.

Sam hadn't done the same, though. Ever since that argument, Sam seemed to retreat into himself, more than he had ever done before. Some days Dean was able to get Sam to come out of whatever shell he had made for himself, but by the next morning it was up again and stronger. It bugged the crap out of Dean, especially today.

"Dude, hurry it up! I got to drive you to school, and the only way it'll be worth it is if we are there in time to see that Chelsea chick." Dean had finally graduated, and Sam was in his first year of high school. Still that didn't mean that Dean couldn't flirt with the cheerleaders. He smirked before looking at his watch, annoyed. The only way he would see her was if they went right now--the girl had a thing for going a half hour early--something that Dean couldn't understand but was happy to know.

"Um… Look, man, I'll just walk today." Sam walked into the room with his shoes and socks in hand, not meeting Dean's eyes as he sat down to put them on.

Dean rolled his eyes, "Whatever, man, get a move on. I won't have an excuse to be at the high school if I don't drive you." He was expecting at least an eye roll from Sam and was a bit disappointed when he didn't get it. Instead Sam reached for a piece of toast to eat on the way just as Dad entered the room.

Sam was pulling on his backpack to follow Dean out the door when Dad stopped them. "Where you get the bruise on your wrist, Sam?" They had both paused when they heard their dad speaking and both winced at the subject matter. Dean knew that Sam hadn't exactly been settling in well to his new school, but he had figured the kid could handle any bullies that tried to mess with him. Still though, occasionally Dean caught sight of bruises that Sam was fairly competent at concealing. He really needed to find the bastards that were hurting his kid brother, but damn it so far he didn't have any leads.

Sam looked at their dad blankly for a moment, taking time to come up with some kind of lie Dean guessed, before answering, "I was playing basketball with some guys at school and sorta landed wrong… Would have been fine if Chad hadn't stepped on it after, but you know…" Dean's eyes widened, that was a pretty realistic lie for Sam, but both Dad and Dean knew it wasn't true. It made Dean wonder what the truth really was.

"Well, be more careful next time; it's stupid to get hurt for no good reason, Sam." Their dad looked piercingly at Sam, but let the lie go.

"Yes, sir…" Sam seemed relieved and ran out the door in a hurry. Dad and Dean exchanged a look, but Dean just shrugged at the silent question in his father's eyes. There was definitely something up with Sam, probably more than just the stupid argument they'd had.

Dean grimaced, waved to his dad, and followed in Sam's footsteps. He would figure out what the heck was going on, maybe later on tonight when their dad would be gone.

The drive through town was tense for both Winchester boys, Dean glanced over at Sam every so often, but Sam kept his eyes on the scenery. The kid was looking worse and worse as the days went by, with shadows under his eyes that didn't belong there. Dean bit his lip--at the moment he didn't have any real suspects as to who had been badgering Sam at his new school. There were always the classic idiots, but Dean knew that his reputation for beating the crap out of kids was already firmly implanted into most of the wrong-side of the tracks kids. So that just left the prudes and the ditzes, and Dean didn't really think any of them would meet the necessary requirements to be able to bug Sam enough to affect the kid. Not that he knew a lot of them.

While Dean was studying Sam out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the bruise that their Dad had pointed out earlier. It was a fresh one that stood out starkly against Sam's now pale skin. Dean frowned, whoever it was who was bugging Sam had been restraining him for something else. A churning pit of anger welled up in Dean. The fucker was going to pay as soon as Dean found him.

Sam flinched as Dean moved around, grabbing for a new cassette tape. "Stop, Dean." For a second Dean froze confused before rolling his eyes. The kid had the biggest freakin' bubble that Dean had ever heard of.

Still though, nobody messed around with a Winchester and got away with it-- not for long at least.

Dean glowered as he popped open a beer can. So much for his idea of grilling Sam about his accumulating nicks and bruises that night. The kid had been able to slip away by calling the "study group" card, the little geek. Seriously, in Dean's opinion, no one should ever study that much. Not that Sam would ever listen to that opinion. Dean sighed--maybe he would go to a bar and try out his hustling skills along with his new fake ID. It was better than sitting at the apartment doing nothing for the next three hours waiting for Sam to get home.

When Dean woke up that morning he had a raging hangover, but luckily it was Saturday so he didn't have to deal with Sammy's angst along with it. He wandered around the apartment for a minute, finding aspirin and water which he quickly downed before making his way back to bed. It was noon, but he could still sleep for a few more hours.

The next time he woke up his headache was mostly gone, but the remnants of it complained as his ears picked up the noise of his dad and Sam arguing angrily with each other. For a minute Dean was tempted to just use his pillow as a shield from the noise, but eventually he got up. While Sam was being a bit of a bitch lately, getting into arguments with everything that moved it seemed like, he still didn't deserve to stand up to their dad alone. Dean found the two of them in the living room--if you could call it that-- in time to see Dad grabbing Sam's wrist and shaking it slightly.

"What the hell, Dad!" In no time Dean had moved in between the two of them, defensively facing his father with Sam to his back. A brief look of annoyance crossed John's face.

"Get out of the way, son. Your brother and I were having a conversation."

Dean scowled. "A conversation?"

Dad's eyes narrowed. "Yes, a conversation. Now move, Dean."

Dean moved reluctantly out of the way. Sam was glancing between the two of them with a wariness that Dean didn't like at all. Dad closed his eyes for a second before opening them and focusing back on Sam. "Now, Sam, tell me again why the hell your P.E. teacher decided that you were no longer safe staying in our home?"

Sam flushed and glanced at Dean who looked at Sam with wide eyes. "I… he noticed that I had a lot of scrapes and whatever all the time, I guess."

Dad scowled darkly. "You guess?"

"Yeah, I guess, can we leave this alone now?" Sam again glanced over at Dean who was still in disbelief.

"No, Sam, we can't just leave this alone, and you know why? Because when I get a call from your principal saying that they might call social services on us, it's a not a subject that we can just brush aside! Now, I told your principal I was pretty sure that there were some bullies at her school that were picking on you, and you know what she said?"

Sam cowered. "No, sir."

"She said that while there were a couple boys who you might have had incidents with at one point or another, you had promptly made yourself known as someone not be messed around with by laying one of the boys out on his back. So bullying was a pretty damned sorry excuse for your bruises. This true, Sam?" John's voice shook as he spoke.

Sam went pale and flinched away. "I thought you wanted me to stand up for myself…" Dean felt a shiver run down his back; his dad was taking this too far.

"I do want you stand up for yourself, Sam! But now we have a big fucking question mark as to why you are so roughed up every single day!"

There was no reply from Sam. Dean felt a huge aching pit settle in the middle of his stomach. Who the hell had been hurting his little brother? Dad was… Dean let go of the thought before he even had it. There was no way in all the fire and brimstone that his Dad… Dean felt the urge to run to the bathroom and throw his guts up, but forced himself to stand his ground.

Dad sighed. "Look, Sam. I know I have told you boys that you need to fight your own battles, but you need to tell me who has been messing with you. The rest of the conversation I had with your principal didn't exactly go well, and I wouldn't be surprised if we had someone stopping by in the next few days." Dean tried to ignore the sense of relief he felt that his Dad had finally calmed down a bit. Sam didn't need this, didn't need this at all.

Sam winced, but remained silent. A minute passed before anyone said anything. "All right then," Dad sighed. "I at least need to know what the damage is so that we can figure out a story, one that won't fall through the cracks." It was a deliberate stab at Sam's lack of confession to the family and the lies that he had been telling for the past few weeks. Sam flinched a little but did nothing else.

"Well? Take off your shirt, Sam."

"What?!" Sam squeaked.

Dad rolled his eyes. "I need to know how bad you're hurt, and since I obviously can't trust you to tell me, you're going to have to take your shirt off so I can see." Dad narrowed his eyes at Sam, taking him in for a minute.

When Sam made no response, John nodded decisively. "Do I have to come over there and make you?" Dean tensed up, ready to leap into the fray if it started.

Sam's eyes were wide as he shook his head, his eyes still flickering between his dad and Dean. Finally, after another second's hesitation, Sam took off his shirt. Dean gasped at the damage while Dad's face froze. While Dean knew that Sam had been secretive about--well everything lately, he really had no idea how bad it was. When he found the fucker that did this he was going to kill him.

"Damn it, Sam," Dean whispered.

Sam turned frightened eyes on him before flickering down to the floor in shame. Stupid kid. He should have come to them and not had it forced out of him like this.

"So, um, what's the excuse then?" Sam looked up and searched his father's eyes for an answer, before sighing at the answer he found there.

The three of them were silent until John finally spoke aloud what they were all thinking. "Looks like we're packing up, boys."

Sam hurried to put his shirt back on and made short time getting into the other room. The Winchesters wouldn't risk losing one of their own to social services, and they would have to hurry in case the principal didn't waste any time calling the authorities.

It only took them an hour to get all packed up and ready to go. Dad had prepaid for that month already, but would still be hopping the contract that he signed. Those things didn't mean much to him anymore, though. At least with this move, they would be getting Sam away from whatever bastard had been beating him.

As they drove out of town, Dean decided to climb in back with Sam to try and get the kid to let him look at his bruises. Sam was reluctant but eventually gave in to Dean's probing and allowed him to take a look. He had definitely not had a fun time of things for the last while. Dean could tell that there were several bruises that were almost healing and others that were fairly fresh, and he wondered who could have done this to his brother. It was fucking weird that Sam would have let someone get away with this much damage, because even though Sam was a bit of a wimp when it came to telling school bullies to shove it, when things got bad enough he didn't have problems for the most part. Plus, the principal had already made it clear that whoever beat Sam hadn't been bullies, which in her mind left only one option, and if Dean was honest he couldn't figure out another option either.

After all, despite all the knowledge that Dean and their dad had pressed on him, Sam was still fairly protected from the real world. Dean made sure that he knew where Sam was at all times, and that he monitored him fairly closely except for when Sam was at school. So if it wasn't happening at school… Dean was fucking confused.

Sam finally got Dean to stop poking him and pulled his shirt back on for the second time that day. The kid was still being quiet and tried to ignore Dean unless he did something that was particularly annoying, and Dean was trying to hold off on that sort of thing, because, well, clearly Sam had had a rough month already.

After another endless drive, they finally stopped at a motel that looked about on par with where they usually stayed when on the go. Once Dad let them know what their room number was, Dean hopped out and grabbed the bags, Sam trailing after him slowly.

It was tense for the next few hours; their dad went out and grabbed some fast food for them all while Sam and Dean sat in silence. After they ate they all got ready for bed and Sam and Dean were forced to share a bed for the first time in little under a month. There was some awkward shuffling before they finally settled down and everything got quiet again.

Dean lay in bed for a while, waiting to hear Sam's breath even out in sleep. It never did, or at least not until Dean had drifted off to sleep himself.

The next few days went by slowly, both Dad and Dean badgering Sam about who it was that had hurt him, and only getting odd looks and long silences in return. It was bugging Dean out of his mind, and Dad too, since on the third day he dropped the two of them off at a motel to get a room, before driving back to a bar they'd passed a few minutes earlier.

Once they finished settling into the room (with Sam turning on the TV to some stupid documentary), Dean wasn't satisfied with letting Sam get away with not telling them anything. You could play the hurt card for a while, but then it was over and you had to 'fess up.

Dean walked over to the TV and flicked it off.

"Hey, I was watching that!"

"Yeah, well, now you're not, dork." Dean rolled his eyes and walked over to Sam on and the bed and sat down next to him. "Now. Do you want to tell me what's going on?"

Sam looked at him warily. "What do you mean, what's going on?"

Dean's eyes narrowed. "I mean who the fuck was beating the crap out of you the entire time we were in Springville."

Sam gave him a weird look. "What? Dean, are you kidding me?"

Dean just stared at him.

Sam blinked looking confused, "It wasn't that big of a deal." He glanced sideways at Dean. "Dean, it's okay."

"No, it's not fucking okay, Sam!"

"Dean, stop!"

"Why the hell won't you talk to me anymore, Sam? You always take everything way too seriously lately and I am sick of it!"

Sam's voice came out strained, "Look, I'm sorry. Hey, it's okay, Dean. Dean! "

They heard the lock turn in the door, and they both turned to see Dad coming in through the doorway. Their dad took one look at them, his eyes widening before roaring, "Dean, let go of Sam now!"

Dean blinked in confusion. What the… He realized that he had pushed Sam face down on bed with his arm twisted around behind him. With a gasp he jerked back and stared horrified at Sam who had a fresh bruise appearing on one cheek bone. He swallowed dryly. Sam wouldn't meet his eyes.

Dad made it over to Sam and Dean in two strides, grabbing Dean by the arm and jerking him away from his younger brother. "It was you, Dean!? What the hell were you thinking? Why?" Dad seemed to be at a loss for words, and Dean was just as lost.

"I don't know! I wouldn't have…" Dean looked horrified at Sam, unable to understand what was going on. He had just been having a conversation with Sam, and then he vaguely remembered holding Sam underneath him, grinding his knee into his younger brother's back--a move that he was sure was painful and would have left a mark.

Dean let out a sickened gasp of air. "Sam, Sam, I swear I didn't mean to, Sam." His brother still wouldn't meet his gaze. Dad swore.

"Damn it, Dean! Christo!" There was no response from Dean even though he half wanted there to be. It would have been better if he had been fucking possessed. He had hurt his brother.

Suddenly Dad was reaching and grabbing at Dean's neck, and for a moment he thought that his dad was going to strangle him, but instead he grabbed hold of the amulet and tore it off his neck. Their dad eyed the symbol before barking out roughly, "Where the hell did you get this, Dean?"

Dean blinked in confusion. "What? Oh. Bobby's." He glanced over at Sam who was now paying attention to the two of them, but still not meeting Dean's gaze. "Sam, I mean I, lost my amulet, and I went inside at Bobby's for a minute and found it…"

"You stole it from Bobby?" Dad said incredulously. Both Sam and John were staring bullets at Dean now, and he winced a little bit--he hadn't told them about it for just this reason.

"No! Well, I guess. It looked like he was going to throw it away anyway, so I just grabbed it. And…" He shrugged, now that he thought about it he really shouldn't have, but at the moment… Dean eyed the amulet and resisted the urge to grab it back.

"Fuck, Dean, do you even know what this is?" Dad spoke harshly, making Dean wince.

"I was going to have Sam tell me…"

"But you didn't, Dean! Fuck." John looked back to Sam who was still on the bed watching the two of them. "Sam, did you know that Dean had this?"

Sam shook his head. "I… I just thought maybe Dean had found his necklace after all… maybe stuck in one of the bags or something. He didn't exactly show it to me or anything."

Dean shook his head. "No, I never found it, Sam. Pretty sure it's lost back in that motel room now." He felt like his throat was unbearably dry. If he just hadn't lost his amulet then he wouldn't have ever picked up the new one. He was pretty sure he knew where his dad was taking this.

With the amulet in hand Dad stalked over to rummage through his bags before pulling out-- to both his sons' shock--Dean's original amulet.

"You had it!?" Sam said disbelievingly, while Dean just felt his stomach plummet further into his gut.

"I grabbed it when I saw it on the counter that night so you wouldn't forget it, Dean. Just forgot to give it back to you." Dad glowered at Dean. "You don't just put on supernatural artifacts, Dean, without knowing what they are first!"

He walked back towards his two sons, "I don't know why the hell Bobby would have had this, but this symbol is from ancient Babylon, son! And you know what it means? To release rage! You could have fucking killed your brother while wearing it and not even know it. What were you thinking!"

Sam and Dean winced, wide-eyed at what they were hearing. "And you!" Dad turned his attention once again back to Sam. "Why the hell didn't you tell me when you brother started fucking beating you up when I wasn't around!"

Sam paled, looking away from the too of them. "I… I thought it was just Dean, that he was ticked off at me cause of the amulet…" Sam trailed off.

Dean sank to the floor. "Sam, I, I wouldn't ever hurt you, not if I had… fuck, man." Sam winced, but remained silent, continuing to try and stare a hole into the carpet.

Dad rubbed his hand against his forehead. "Look, Dean, you stay here. Sam, you're coming with me. We'll stay in separate rooms tonight before heading up to Bobby's in the morning."

Both boys immediately jumped on that. "What? No, I don't want to-- I'll be fine with Dean."

"Dad, you already took the amulet…"

"Quiet!" Dad boomed out, his eyes narrowed on both of them. "It'll be safer this way. We don't know if the amulet might have lasting effects or not. Sam, up, now."

Sam stumbled to his feet with a backward glance at Dean before walking out the door. Dad stayed a second longer, giving his oldest son a tired look and closing the door firmly behind him. Dean made it for about a minute until he finally ran into the bathroom and threw up. He had really messed up this time.

At six o'clock the next morning, three restless Winchesters started on their way north back to Bobby's. Dad was stewing silently while Sam and Dean tried desperately to ignore one another's worried glances throughout the ride. Finally he had to stop for gas, and Dad left them for a few minutes to go and pay. Instantly Sam turned around and reached for Dean's shoulder.

"It's all right."

Dean swallowed thickly in his guilt. "Yeah, that's what you said to me every time." He glanced at Sam, meeting his gaze for a second before looking away. "I honestly couldn't remember before, Sam, but now that the amulet's gone, I… some things are coming back and I…"

"Don't, Dean," Sam said.

Dean looked up in panic, afraid he was doing something that he wasn't aware of.

"I mean, don't blame yourself, man," Sam went on. "It wasn't even that bad, really. I could have defended myself at any time if it had gotten really bad."

"Yeah, you could have, but you didn't."

"Yeah," Sam sighed. "Look, I promise that if you ever start acting psycho on my ass again I will totally let you know. I just thought that maybe I had finally blown a fuse for you!" Sam laughed a bit nervously before continuing, "I thought you just might have given up being the perfect one all the time, that's all." He snorted. "Guess the only thing that can make you do that is being cursed by your own jewelry."

Dean's eyes narrowed. "Amulets are not jewelry, dude! They are accessories for the well-dressed hunter."

Sam quirked his eyebrow and smiled, "Right!" After a silent pause, they cracked up laughing.

Dean studied Sam's face carefully once he calmed down, and Sam looked back in return. "Are we cool then?"

Sam bit his lip and nodded. "Yeah, things will be okay for us, Dean." Sam glanced away, belying the conviction in his words. "Or at least as long as you don't pick up any more weird necklaces. Just stick with the one I gave you alright?"

"Dude, amulets aren't necklaces! But yeah, all right. I really am sorry, Sam."

His brother smiled at him a little half-heartedly, "It's all right, Dean."

Their dad came out of the gas station, and Sam turned back around as he got in. Things would be all right, in a while.

The End