Here's a very short AU ficlet I got the urge to write this morning. I'm in the middle of writing another long one-shot but this wouldn't leave me alone. It's probably been done a million times before but I had to get it out of my head and down on paper.

Summary: Demon deals never end well, right? Warnings for some bad language, Winchester angst and sad puppies.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything but apparently Kripke keeps my soul in a shoebox under his bed.

A Gift Of Sorts

Dean crouches down; the kid is sitting alone on the couch, one of his enormous hands covering his eyes. Dean reaches out, grips the kid's wrist and gently tugs the hand away. Relieved to find the kid hasn't been crying or anything because Dean isn't sure he could handle that.

"You good?" Dean asks and then berates himself. Stupid, stupid question. Of course the kid's not good. In the last twenty-four hours he's been knocked unconscious and pinned to a wall by a demon. The demon. But there are no broken bones or gaping wounds which usually equals good times in Dean's book but this kid is a civilian and getting KO'ed by a very unhappy possessed janitor must seem like a shitty way to spend a Friday night.

The kid lifts his head and two bruised eyes momentarily stun Dean with the intensity of their gaze. "Thank you for saving me, for killing him—it."

Something stabs through Dean's heart. Something ice cold and mind numbingly painful. He should be happy, should be fucking ecstatic. He'd been waiting a long time to see the Colt blast a hole in that particular evil son of a bitch.

Those yellow eyes are closed now.

Dean pushes the cold feeling away. Distracts himself by glancing around the nicely decorated lounge and wonders how long he could live somewhere like this before he'd start to feel the first pangs of cabin fever. He looks back at the kid and realizes the kid is waiting for him to say something.

"Don't thank me, it's my job."

"Ever thought of a career change, something less creepy-as-hell perhaps? I hear accounting pays well." The kid grunts, pushes a hand through his hair and tries to stand on shaky legs. Dean's hand twitches, wanting to reach out and take the kid's arm but he shoves it into the depths of his jacket pocket instead.

XXX

Dean opens the front door just as the Impala pulls to a halt outside the house. He feels a touch of comfort at the sight of the sleek black car. A constant presence in his life. He doesn't say anything else to the kid; instead he jumps the porch steps and makes a beeline straight for the car.

It's not that he doesn't want to say his 'goodbyes' it's just that he's not entirely convinced he could stop himself from throwing the kid over his shoulder and making a break for it.

Dean doesn't look back. He yanks the passenger side door open, slips into the seat and instantly closes his eyes. It's warm inside the car which is pleasant after the harsh chill of the autumn wind. The figure in the driver's seat turns to look at him, concern palpable on his face. "You okay?"

"Yeah."

"Is the kid okay?"

"Yeah. I think." Dean pauses before adding, "He's going to be just fine."

"What is it with this kid? I mean, we don't usually do follow-up visits but you seem really concerned about him. He's got his family, right?

Dean nods. "Mom, dad." And grins, "a cute sister." Dean counts them off on his fingers and frowns when he notices he's holding up four fingers instead of three. "He has a great family."

"So why the after-care?"

"He just—he reminds me of someone..." Dean coughs, the words are drying out his throat. "Sammy." It's a whispered exhale. Dean swallows, his Adam's apple bobbing as he tries to work some moisture back into his mouth. He really needs to stop talking about this.

"Who?"

Dean can't help flinching. "Bobby, let's get out of here."

Bobby grunts, pushes his cap up to itch at his scalp and guns the engine. "I've heard there's a voodoo priest causing some problems in San Diego."

"Sounds awesome." Dean thinks of the warm sun on his face, the endless sandy beaches, how nice it would be to breathe in great lungfulls of ocean air. Fresh and clean. The best place to make a new start perhaps.

A new start without Sam at his side. Bobby is his family now, blood and genetics aside.

Dean spares a parting glance towards the house, his stomach doing a flip when he sees one of the curtains twitch. Sam is standing there, at the large bay window, staring at the car. Their eyes lock and Sam grins shyly—evidently embarrassed at being caught spying—he gives Dean an awkward half-wave.

Dean lifts his hand, waves back. As the car starts to move, he swivels round in his seat and doesn't take his eyes off the window (off Sam) until the Impala turns the corner and he can't see him anymore. It aches like loss always does.

This is what he wanted, isn't it?

Dean just didn't expect that getting what you want would hurt so much.

-end-

A/N: I should probably add here that this piece is intentionally vague and somewhat basic in its premise (otherwise it'd be a multi-chapter and not a ficlet) but there are hints as to what has happened. The fine details I wanted to leave to your own imaginations.