Title: The silence of white noise

Author: Starrylizard

Rating: Gen, PG13, Sam and Dean, spoilers for "Fresh Blood."

Notes: A coda to "Fresh Blood." girlfan1979 asked for a follow up to Time to face the music - some drunken, sad, pain-filled or just plain honest moment when one of the boys brings up the story. Some little moment in the season 3 "year". Thanks to Rinne for the quick beta.

Words: 844


The bar was dark, seedy; quiet in the way of being so loud that it had become a soothing background hum of white noise. Sam looked around, blinking slowly as he watched his brother weave through the crowd – a cheesy grin for the pretty blond nearest the bar, a nod as he strode past the guy he'd beaten not half an hour ago at pool, a tilt of his head as he checked out the waitress as she leaned over to clean a table – returning to Sam in the back corner with the next round of beer.

"You know, you don't have to hang out with me if you'd rather…" Sam left the question in the air with a wave of his hands and a tilt of his head toward the blond at the bar. "I can find my way back to the motel myself."

Dean shrugged, leaning his seat back until his shoulders were square with the corner of the room. His seat gave him a good view of the entire bar and, with his feet on the table, effectively blocked Sam in his seat. "Not in the mood tonight."

Sam nodded, not really in the mood to argue and strangely happy for the simple comforts of his brother's company and the loose-limbed haze of too much alcohol. He'd finally come out with it, told his brother to quit it with the transparent gung-ho act he was upholding. Then he'd killed a hunter, no, not a hunter, a vampire, he reminded himself. He'd killed a vampire with his bare hands. Tonight he wasn't in a talkative state, but neither was he really in a frame of mind where he wanted to be left alone with his thoughts.

Dean suddenly reached over and smacked at Sam's hands, snapping him out of his reverie. The condensation from the beer bottle was slowly soaking into Sam's bandaged fingers, making them itch, and he hadn't even noticed he'd been scratching at them. Sam looked up and rolled his eyes, only to find Dean already settled back with his beer, eyes staring thoughtfully out into the crowded bar.

Sam leaned his own chair back against the wall, wobbling a little before suddenly finding his balance as Dean's boot came down on the seat and steadied it for him. Sam frowned and Dean laughed.

"Not sure you would find the motel so easily anyway, Sammy. Maybe you should go easy there. I thought college was meant to teach a guy how to hold his liquor."

"Living with dad probably taught those skills better," Sam shot back.

Dean shrugged, refusing to take that particular piece of bait tonight. Sam always had been a moody drunk, which was the main reason why Dad had never bothered Sam with the need to increase his alcohol tolerance. It wasn't worth the mess it caused.

"At least college kept your hunting skills busy." Dean mumbled this quietly, but Sam must have been lip reading or something, because his eyebrows suddenly turned down into that broody, thoughtful look that came before a grilling.

"Dean?" was all he said.

"It's nothing, Sam. It was Halloween; we were in the area. Thought we'd roll by, see how you were doing, didn't think we'd find you out playing college frat games in a haunted house."

"You were checking up on me?" It wasn't really a question. Sam's chair snapped forward so hard his elbows hit the table. He leaned in, eyes suddenly focused on Dean's. "Why didn't you see me, call me, come talk to me? …Something?"

Dean shifted uncomfortably under his brother's scrutiny and set his beer aside. He must have had a little too much as well to have let that one slip. "Aww, Sam, you know why. You told us not to come, not to call. We respected that, Sam. It's not like you couldn't pick up the phone and call either. It was a two-way street."

Sam looked away, took a swig of his beer and felt it slide cold into his belly where it sat like a rock and made him feel suddenly ill. They'd been there, seen him. He looked up only to find Dean's gaze had drifted inward, a smile plastered on his face.

"What?"

"It's nothing, Sam."

"What? Tell me, Dean."

Dean's grin grew wider, before he laughed, waving his beer a little as he spoke. "It's just, you should have seen Dad at the cemetery. Reckon he must have had the security guard chasing his own shadow for hours after you were done."

Sam's mouth formed a small "o" of surprise that slowly turned into a grin. He shook his head, before leaning back again in his seat, eyes drifting heaven-ward, but focused somewhere much higher than the stain-spattered ceiling.

"Dad did that, huh?"

"Yep. I was keeping watch."

"To Dad," Sam stated simply, raising his bottle to the ceiling above.

"To Dad," Dean repeated. "Grouchy son of a bitch that he was. Taught us everything we know." Sam smiled at that, their bottles clinked together and they drank a silent salute.