Title: Reprieve

Summary: The boys spend some quality time together, with what they have left. Set late season 3. Brotherly banter, splash of humour and sprinkle of angst.

Characters/Pairings: Dean, Sam, Gen, no-pairings.

Rating: PG-13 for some naughty words

Disclaimer: -sigh- No, I don't own them, I don't own much, in fact there have been questions surrounding the ownership of my mind.

Author's Note: This is my sweet charity fic for the lovely apgeeksout who graciously bought me and gave me great prompts to play with. She has been patiently waiting to see what I have come up with and has allowed me to share this mess cough fic with you.

Last but not least, massive big up to pdragon76 for her mad beta skillz. Thank you so much!!

Enjoy!

Consciousness is our only reprieve from Time. Mason Cooley

Stray beams of sun light found their way through small creases of the curtain. A ricochet of playful footsteps outside seeped through thin walls, disturbing the calm silence of the room.

Dean inhaled as he turned his head toward the other bed, exhaled as he called out to the still form. "Sammy?" It fizzled into an unheard beckon.

He dug his face into the pillow, groaned deeply. His body felt sluggish, heavy. The older Winchester cleared his throat and checked the time. They had slept for over twelve hours, arrived in town in the early hours of the morning and decided they would take it easy. They kept the alarms off and let their bodies tell them when to wake. Dean was starting to wish he hadn't returned back to sleep after the first seven hours. They woke about the same time, groaned and grunted to each other, took a bathroom break and went back to bed.

He heard Sam yawn and clear his throat. "Hmm… Dean?"

"Dude, suffering from too much sleep." Dean's voice was a deep growl, bouncing off the thin walls.

"Yep, I'm with you on that, what time is it?" Sam ran a hand over his face.

"2.45, I'm starving." Dean shot up, forced his eyes open wide as he scanned the room. "I say we grab a shower, get dressed and go get some food."

Sam scratched his head and nodded in response. His empty stomach rumbled noisily. "Hey err…maybe we could grab a drink or two after?"

Dean snapped his head towards Sam, one brow raised questioningly. He silently watched, analyzed him before smiling, then bobbed his head.

"Sounds like a plan, Sammy."

The plan unfolded in stages, literally. It was a gradual process and although they were both hungry, they were also fighting off the effects of too much sleep. Being awake was one thing, getting out of bed was another task.

Five minutes passed to find them both sat on the edge of their beds, cradling their heads with their palms.

Sam yawned for what seemed the hundredth time since he woke. He looked up, puffy eyes catching Dean doing the same. They both turned towards the door to the bathroom, stole glances between themselves and the short distance to the other room, each anticipating the next move.

Dean's elbow connected with Sam's head. The frolicsome scrap continued to the floor. The older managed to pin his brother, face down, on the sullied carpet.

"Say it." Dean smiled as he leaned in. Felt Sam struggle against his weight.

"Get off me, Dean!" Sam's muffled voice was soaked in frustration.

Dean chuckled, lifted his knee off Sam's head. He wasn't ready for Sam's eruption. Sam had their positions reversed in seconds. It didn't last long as they both connected in another brawl. This time it progressed towards the bathroom door. Dean released a playful laugh, breathless as he reached out to the door frame.

"Come on, Sammy. I promise I'll leave you some hot water." Dean's laughter continued as he pulled himself higher up the door frame, a sense of accomplishment seeping in.

Sam was hot on his heels. Gripped Dean's leg and used it to attempt to draw him down. He leaned his weight on his brother's leg and grabbed one of Dean's arms. Didn't know why his determination was so unrelenting. "No," he squeezed out. Sam felt Dean waver for a second before returning to his stance. Sam saw the chance and took it.

"Fuck. Oww." Dean held his arm, stumbled back as his watched Sam giggle and struggle into the small room.

"You bit me!?" Dean proclaimed, voice slightly high pitched, towards the closed door in front of him. "You fucking bit me, Sam!"

Sam mumbled an inaudible response before turning on the shower.

"You're a fucking pussy, you know? I thought we raised you better than that." Dean shook his head, unimpressed, and slumped back on his bed. He let his head fall back to the pillow. "He fucking bit me. Can't believe…" Dean's muttering was stifled as he rolled his face into the pillow.

--

Within an hour, both had gone through the motions of getting showered, dressed, armed and out of the door. It was late afternoon by the time they found a small local café.

"Looks good." Dean jerked his head towards the Specials notice board.

Sam looked up from the laminated menu, scanned the white chalk scribbled onto the black board. "You know, right now, Dean, I could eat anything." He folded the menu in half and slapped it onto the table.

Dean studied him closely, raised a brow. "Anything?" Right, since when? He followed his bemused tone with a simper that didn't go unnoticed.

"Well…not anything. Dude, I'm just so hungry. I'll take whatever gastronomic delights this place has to offer." Sam's sarcastic manner fizzled as the waitress arrived at their table.

"What can I get you boys to drink?" She poised her pen, ready to take down their order.

Dean straightened, smiled. "Hi Kelly, I'll have a beer, side of fries and the special." He threw her a flirtatious grin that caused her to swing from side to side, playfully dance on her feet before turning towards Sam.

"What can I getcha?"

"Err…" He stared, watched her open mouth churn and chew gum.

Time slowed, hit the brakes, the surroundings blurred and faded into the background. It was playing with him again, reminding him who was in charge. Lately Sam was convinced that if time had a side, it wouldn't be batting for the good. If it were a being of some sort, it would be a demon; soulless, malicious and evil to the core. And, of course, if it were a demon, he and Dean would devote themselves to tracking and sending the bastard back to the depths it came from. It was never that 'simple', this wasn't something they could hunt, exorcise, or make deals with. Time wasn't his answer to saving Dean, screwing with it would only prolong the inevitable; in the end his brother was damned to hell.

Sam sat frozen with his thoughts. He watch as the waitress stretched the gum with her tongue before returning to her loud mastication.

After a few seconds, she sighed, placed a hand on her hip as she frowned at him. "Sir?"

Sam widened his eyes, tried to clear the blur. He felt as if he had just woken up. Had to resist the urge to rub his eyes. "I'll…Um…I'll have what he's having."

"Okay, two beers, two fries, and two specials coming up." She bounced and looked to Dean who returned her playful grin.

"Thanks." Dean watched her leave, smile lingering until he heard Sam's grumble.

"Dean? That's gotta be illegal!" Sam rested an elbow on the table, his other hand went for the items in the centre of the table.

"What? You're just jealous she was into me, not you." Dean nodded. He leaned back into his booth, stretched his arm across the length of it.

"Whatever. She's barely finished high school, Dean." Sam huffed as he twiddled the salt shaker.

"Says 'Mr-stare-creepily-at-the-school-girl'. What was all that about?" Dean tried to hold back the concern pushing its way to the surface. Dude, you're acting stranger than usual.

"I wasn't staring. I just… kind of… zoned out a little." Sam placed the salt shaker upright and took a deep breath. He straightened, released it loudly.

"Uh huh, whatever you say." He shook his head, chuckled. "You sure pick your moments, McWeirderton"

--

Dean placed a hand over his stomach, enthusiastically patted his satisfied belly as he released a hearty, prolonged belch.

"Dude…" Sam looked from left to right while he bashfully shrank into his seat.

Dean popped the beer bottle from his lips, threw his brother a wide grin. "What?"

Sam suppressed a chuckle, shook his head as he placed the last piece of chicken into his mouth. "You know what?" He gently pushed the knife and fork together on the plate and leaned back into a slouch. "That was good."

Dean pointed his bottle towards Sam, nodded. "Sure was. We should have dessert. You think they have pie? Dude, I want pie!"

"Man, I'm stuffed," Sam stated with a light pat to his stomach.

Dean sighed, playfully kicked at Sam's feet. "Oh, come on Sammy, have pie with me."

"Dean, you haven't even checked if they have pie here. You're just assuming they even have a dessert menu." He shook his head as he scrunched a napkin, lightly threw it onto the plate.

"There's no way they have food like that and have no dessert menu."

--

Dean sulked his way out of the café. As they walked towards the car, he looked back at the establishment in disgust, shook his head. "No pie? Un-fucking-believable".

Sam laughed as he moved towards the car, pulled on Dean's arm. "Stop being such a baby. Come on, Dean."

--

They dropped the car off at the motel. The moon had claimed its place in the sky by the time they set out for the local bar.

Dean calculated a ten minute walk but indolence added another five. It was a quiet sleepy town. For the time, there were few cars and people on the road. Their rhythmic but slow steps drummed into the pavement and dispersed into the quite surroundings.

They walked side by side, close enough to hear the other's steady, lulled breathing. The whole journey was made in a comfortable unspoken silence, a Winchester silence that communicated enough for each to know their presence was ample.

--

Heavy swinging doors married the fresh cool air of outside with the stale aromas of damp old ale soaked wood. Hints of sweat, liquor, piss and vinegar tickled nasal passages on entry.

Dean scanned the room, nodded. Yeah, this bar fell into his shithole list alright, but it floated on the surface. This would do for a fairly quiet drink.

Sam silently concluded the same as they drifted towards the bar. He did an instinctively quick head count of its occupants. It was automatic. Before he knew it he'd counted twenty two. For the physical size of the bar it wasn't too busy. About half of them were no threat and stood as part of the furniture. They followed suit with the mood and theme of bar: old, worn but functional. The others were made up of fairly inebriated middle aged men, most of whom appeared to be out of shape. Hunter instincts cased them as more than manageable in a fight. He shook the thought, none of this mattered. They weren't here to hustle; he just wanted some quality chill time with his brother.

Sam stirred from his musings, turned to Dean, and acknowledged his nudge.

"Dude, are you deaf?" Dean examined him with a fading smile.

"Huh?" Sam looked through him, let his focus catch up before making eye contact with his brother.

"Drink? The reason we came here?" Dean turned, smiled to the barmaid, returned to Sam with a concerned look.

"Oh…err I'll have whiskey…make it a double." He threw in a gawky smile with his request. The barmaid reluctantly swiped the note Dean handed, and nodded to both men.

Dean waited until the barmaid left to collect their order, before he drew in close to Sam's ear, his voice deep and low. "Dude, I'm all for having a good time, but it's a little early for the double whiskeys, don't you think?" He teased him with a raised questioning brow. "'Sides, I ain't dragging your ass back to the motel. I've seen what you're like after too much whiskey and yaga."

Sam cringed at the memory of the two beverages. For a moment he reconsidered his order, shook off the doubt. He assured himself he wasn't here to get wasted, before turning to Dean to do the same. "I'm a big boy, Dean. I know what I'm doing. I can pace myself." He laughed at the somewhat contradictory statement; there was a slight sense of uncertainty in his tone.

"Yeah, you are big and that's exactly my point. You are not allowed any tequila, tonight. Not on my watch. In fact, that's gonna be your only whiskey for the evening."

"Screw you, Dean. I can order whatever I like," Sam huffed as he scooped his drink, pressed the glass to his lips.

Dean nudged his brother's shoulder, chuckling. "Sure you can, Sammy." He moved away from the bar, beer in hand.

Sam eye-rolled him, watching Dean remove his leather jacket and place it on the back of a chair. A jerk of the head from his brother prompted him to make his way to the table. Dean was still chuckling when he reached it.

"Sit," Dean squeezed out, pressed his lips together and fought with his amusement. "Sammy, sit down."

Dean composed himself, slapped on a serious face; enough to cover the bubbling laughter that wanted out. "Okay, look I'm sorry, Dude." He nodded, pulled the chair out and waited as Sam sat. "I'll let you order whatever you like."

"Jerk." Sam stood and peeled the last jacket sleeve off his arm then proceeded to place it onto the back of his uneven wooden chair.

He heard the commotion behind him, the sound of glass shattering and raised drunken voices. Sam turned just in time to watch the contents of several drinks head his way. As if in slow motion, the liquids streamed and meandered through the air before reaching their destination. The warm liquor seeped through the fabric onto his skin. His shirt mixed with a somewhat colourful array of drinks, not to mention, his front almost completely soaked through.

"I'm so so sorry. God, are you okay?" The young girl began blotting the spillage and mess on his shirt.

Sam didn't want to look at Dean knowing he would be beaming with amusement from the scene.

"It's fine, I got it." Sam took the cloth in his hand. "Really, it's ok, I got it." He handed the cloth back to the waitress and proceeded to the men's room, quickened his steps on hearing the hyena trail of laughter behind him.

--

Dean brushed off any surfacing amusement, ready for Sam's return. He enjoyed a good laugh but not all at Sam's expense, plus he didn't want to ruin his brother's mood any further. They were here to have a good time. The waitress felt so terrible, she offered them free drinks for the night. Dean took the offer, but wished it were any other night when he would have made better use of it. He wasn't in the mood to drown in it tonight, just needed enough to anesthetise things.

It seemed as though everything was a little too painful. Good or bad, he felt it sting, felt the blade slice through, the thought of not being around to experience life was more than he could handle. As if on queue, the song, 'Fixin to Die' came on. The Bob Dylan cover rang loud through the room. It was no louder than any other song that had been playing, but to Dean it felt loud and clear, sunk deep into his ears.

Sam approached their table; the dryer in the men's room had done its job of evaporating and cementing the stains to his pink paisley shirt.

As he got closer, he witnessed his brother's smile drain, followed closely by his complexion, which was replaced by a shade of grey.

Dean looked down into his drink before he tipped his head back to drain the remainder of the warm acidic liquid. He swallowed away all the fear and pain in the few seconds it took to ingest the last drop. Anyone else would have missed it. The youngest Winchester didn't.

"You 'kay?" he asked, his eyes fixed, not willing to miss a beat. He endured the silence between them before adding, "Look…we'll find a way, Dean."

Dean nodded, painted a not-dealing-with-this-shit beam on his face as he stood up. "Dude… I gotta piss like a horse!"

"Nice, really had to know that, Dean," Sam smiled, his tone laced with light sarcasm. He shook his head and took a sip of his drink.

"Hey." He shrugged his shoulders, spread his arms out to the side. "Jus' filling you in on the vitals, Sammy."

"Yeah, thanks." He bit his lip, turned his face away slightly as he suppressed another chuckle.

--

Sam waited till he saw Dean disappear behind the bathroom door. He stood up and strode towards the jukebox in the corner of the room. He dug his hand into his left pocket, fished out some coins and placed them into the machine. His fingers danced down the list and selected something lighter, more up beat. Something for Dean. He pushed down on the selection, drowned the room in REO Speedwagon, 'Can't Fight This Feeling'.

--

Dean stood in front of the mirror, hands gripped on either side of the sink. He stayed that way for a few minutes, lost track of time and wondered how long he had been. Time was something Dean once took for granted. But now, he desperately wanted and needed more. It was always one extreme to another when it came to time. Rushing against it or waiting it out. God, the waiting. In the last year, he had gained a fearful respect for time. Sam tried his best to use every second of each, fighting and racing against it. Hopelessly losing against it. It owned them both.

He let the sound of the gushing tap wash away all his thoughts. He scooped some water onto his face, used the paper towel to wipe his face dry.

--

Sam was back in his seat, drink in hand before Dean made his way his way to the table.

Dean nodded, squinted at him, and then looked between the jukebox and his brother.

"What?" Sam asked, sheepishly.

Dean chuckled, scratched the back of his head as he continued to stare at his brother. Not as smooth as you think, but thanks, Sammy. He remained standing and tilted his head towards the other end of the room.

"Come on."

"Huh, where we going?"

"This way, Sammy," he added, walked over to the unoccupied pool table.

--

Dean held out a pool stick. "I'll let you break," he offered.

Sam let his hand slide down the polished wood, nodded as he positioned himself around the table to take the first shoot.

"It's been a while." Dean took a sip of his beer.

"Yeah, guess it has." Sam flashed a smile.

"Don't worry, Sammy, I promise, I'll go easy on you, bro." He leaned his back onto the wall, arms folded, watching Sam take his second shot and miss.

Sam nodded and smiled. "You know, when I was at school, there were times…" Sam paused, collected his thoughts. Watched Dean purposefully miss a shot.

Dean looked up to Sam, eagerly waiting for Sam to continue. It was rare for Sam to talk about school.

Sam walked around the table, calculating his next shot. "So, err, I would sometimes take a bus, get off just far enough that it was unfamiliar and go to this bar." He looked around, used the stick in a circular motion, illustrating their surrounds. "Real dump, kinda similar to this one."

Dean made a confused face. He sometimes wondered about their years apart and never imagined Sam being in a bar, like this, on his own. Dean took his shot, potted one and missed the other.

Sam took one shot, went onto his next one as he continued. "So, besides having a drink or two I'd have a few games of pool, hustle to get some cash, even got in one or two fights." Sam was about to take his third shot in a row but paused on seeing Dean's reaction.

"You did?" Dean stared at him, shook his head and took long pull of his beer. He was more than a little surprised at what he was hearing.

Sam sighed, downed his third drink and nodded. "Yeah. Crazy huh? It scared the hell out of Jess when I came out of some fights with souvenirs." Sam tilted his head and shrugged his shoulders.

Dean missed his shot, but didn't care too much. He squinted as he processed what Sam had told him. "So… why? I thought you hated all that…"

He was cut off. "Yeah I did, but I guess… I wanted to make sure I still had it in me." Sam took a shot and paused before his next one.

"Had what in you?" Dean asked.

"I dunno…" He shook his head. "You and dad… had to make sure I was still a Winchester." Sam paused, looked at him before potting three balls in a row.

Dean opened and closed his mouth, couldn't find the words. The sound of balls smashing together woke him from his daze. He finished his beer, before looking at Sam who wore a smug expression. Dean looked down at the table.

"What the fuck, Sammy?" He watched Sam hide a cheeky smile behind his hand.

"Did you just? …What…" Dean made his way round the table towards his brother.

"Was any of that shit true? I can't believe what just happened here…"

Sam moved away as Dean got closer.

"Some of it." Sam released a sound resembling a giggle and it made Dean grit his teeth.

Sam grabbed his coat, smiled. "I win." He shrugged to Dean, held his hand out. "Good game." His smile faded on seeing his brother's glare.

Dean looked ready to pounce.

Sam pressed his lips together, nodded before making a quick exit through the door, followed closely by Dean.

End