AWAKE:

5. -- The custom wheels on his classic defy and own this, today's sad and desolate road; the rubber rolling endless into the horizon. The emptiness that becomes black asphalt and yellow paint create guidelines to the unknown, willingly leading him down. Down to see the one person that laid out the vacancy sign on him so long ago.

But there he was.

Palo Alto.

Stanford University.

Sam's apartment.

Cutting power to the big block engine, Dean waited for the silence to fill the air before motioning out into what was commonly known as, "the real world." Squaring away his too worn out clothes, and silently making sure he was presentable, he exited his car and pushed all the air from his lungs. It had been two years since he last stood beside his brother, saying a cold and bitter goodbye. Twenty-two months since he had heard his voice since their last phone call.

Too long.

Sam would say it was too hard to speak to his big brother, the threat from his job a constant worry that became too much over time. They ceased conversation on account of Sam's concerns, a paradox that confused Dean everyday, including this one. But he didn't want him to worry, so Dean left his little brother to do what he had set out to do, and that was that.

Until tonight.

Stepping into the fraternity style apartment, Dean let himself in quietly, noticing a few college kids making small, meaningless talk. Red pong cups in the right hands of all, their idle hands ticking with obvious need to do something. Anything unrelated to their studies. 'Damn university punks,' he thought while nodding in their general direction, making awkward eye contact but forging on without so much as a "hello" his way.

He made his way to the delegated kitchen and poured himself a cold one; he had to "fit in" after all, and what better way than through alcohol consumption. Shocker.

Sipping the poor excuse for beer, Dean turned on his heel and there his brother was.

"Dean?" Sam looked from his brother's face back to the small crowd of student out in the living room. "Dean, what are you doing here?" Following the question, he ran an uncomfortable hand through his hair and sighed.

"I'm sorry, who?" Dean's response came out before he knew the joke he was playing had actually begun. "I'm here for the booze man, sorry. Don't know you."

Pushing past his gangly younger brother, Dean smirked and downed the remaining liquid in a hurried fashion.

"Dude?" Sam's voice again. Confused just like the beating of his heart.

He turned back, holding his hands up and dropping his head in confession, "ya got me. Hiya Sammy, how goes the college life?"

A single hand gripped his bicep and before he knew what was happening, Dean was being dragged from a safe zone into awkward silence.

"I was just playing around, Sammy, jeez."

"It's Sam now, Dean. What are you doing here?" His eyes scanned the room surrounding them, his gaze locking on one particular location more than any other. "Got someone waiting on you in there Sammy boy?" Dean asked. His raised eyebrow insinuating suggestion of the fairer sex.

"Dean. What. Are. You. Doing. Here?" Fingers still encased around the older Winchester's arm were growing impatient and tighter still, the urgency in his voice evident.

His facial expression having changed, Dean pulled from Sam's grasp, and shaking his head, he exhaled a pain that Sam immediately associated to the memory of their last meeting. "Sorry to have bothered you brother. I'm out."

He stalked away, dropping the remains of his beer in the overstuffed trash can. He made the choice to leave and in doing so never turned back, anger getting the best of him. It would be okay, Dean knew. Some local bar. Young sex, a cheap motel and tomorrow he'd be back to his old self, the pangs of rejection long since left at this frat house door.

Along with his little brother. The same guy he drove three thousand miles to visit.

Sam watched as Dean faded from his view, the fear always associated with his brother returning as if it had never left. He hated wondering if this time would be the last time. Or if he walked out that door, would he ever consider walking back through it again in the future?

Hands on tall, defined hips, Sam shrugged to himself and fast paced his legs towards the door.

He hears his name being called on the opposite side of the thick glass shielding himself from the world. There were no physical tears to show for his boiling failure as a brother, but inside he was dying.

Rolling down the Impala's window, Dean leaned slightly, his attempt at a carefree stance amidst the emotions reeling him in and pushing him out.

"Forget something?" Dean asked Sam, who was now standing by the door, a sad smile linking his lips to a blinding truth: sorrow for constantly pushing him away. "No. Not really. Sorry about that dude, you wanna come in for a real beer?" Clapping his hands together in a sign of compromise, Sam pleaded with his eyes for Dean to accept his apology.

"Yeah man." The words were quick. Too quick, but Sam knew the hidden feelings he had trampled on were slowly coming back around to the brother he had grown to know so well.

Walking back towards the old building, the brothers held the silence as if it were theirs to control. Sam was happy Dean hadn't left. Dean was pleased his little prick brother was apologetic, a happiness he would never own up to.

An hour passed. Then three. Sam finally posed the question that had originally proved to be a party foul: "So...why ARE you here, Dean? I mean, is everything alright? Is Dad okay?"

Ten beers in was all it took for Dean to pierce the veil of bitter sweet memories. "He's fine, everything is good. I just came here to see how you were doing, is all. Really."

Sam nodded, a minnow sized smile lacing his cheeks. "Oh, good to hear. By the way man, when was the last time you slept? You look like hell dude."

Dean laughed at the irony. "I drove three thousand miles. Drank roughly thirty beers since my departure and arrival. Slept with three chicks whose names I couldn't even begin to tell ya. Contemplated turning around three thousand times, but the one thing I didn't do Sammy, was sleep."

Sam's mouth dropped slightly at the admittance of Dean's actions over the last three days.

"So you're telling me that you've been awake for seventy-two hours straight, Dean?"

Dean nodded.

Drowning another beer, he burped and kicked his shoes off. "Time for me to catch some zzz's bro. See you in the morning."

Sam's chuckle could be heard two rooms down, where his girlfriend lay, pretending she were asleep.

Jess was happy for Sam. He never got to see his brother.