This is a disclaimer.

AN: Title from Tennyson. Well, sort of. In a roundabout kinda way. VAGUE SPOILERS for 4.07

Sleepeth beneath the thunders of the upper deep

"The thing is," Dean said seriously, leaning forwards over the table like he was about to impart the most important words ever spoken to Sam, "the thing is, see – the thing –"

"You're drunk," Sam said morosely.

"That too," Dean agreed equably. "But the thing is, right, that we're – like – we're stuck, man. We've always been stuck. We were stuck before we were ever even born."

Sam eyed Dean's expansively gesturing right hand apprehensively. There was a full shot glass clenched in his brother's long fingers, and he really didn't want to get whiskey on his shirt.

"Stuck with what?" he asked, and flinched visibly when the shot glass swept through the air towards him.

"This," Dean said solemnly.

Sam waited for a minute, but that seemed to be all Dean was prepared to say on the subject without further prompting.

"This?" he prodded at last.

Dean nodded. "All this," he said. "The hunting and the demons and the skeevy motel rooms and the really bad Mexican food and the fake credit cards and that Kid Rock album you've kept under the passenger seat of my baby for the last ten years."

"I'm not actually sure Kid Rock's been around for ten years," Sam said thoughtfully, pouring himself another glass of whiskey with slow, precise movements.

Dean drained his glass and set it down on the table with a thunk. "If it's not him, it's someone worse," he declared. "Anyway, the point was that we're stuck. And you gotta – I mean, we gotta – we gotta hand me that bottle, will ya?"

Sam wasn't convinced that was a smart idea, but he was a little too drunk to be smart right now anyway.

"We gotta what?" he asked, watching Dean pour.

"We gotta deal," Dean said, like it was some kind of great revelation. "With it. We gotta deal with it. We can't just... this isn't about us anymore."

"Are you... tryin' to make a deep and meaningful point about anything, or are you just shitfaced?"

"It was always about us," Dean said. "It was Mom and you and Dad and you and now there's, like, everyone else. Everyone. Bobby and Ellen and Jamie and that homeless guy I gave all my change to this morning. Everyone. We got responsibility, dude."

Dean always did have a way of talking in italics when he was so far past sober he couldn't find it with a telescope. Usually there was blood and stitches and screaming involved, too, and Sam was finding the current more relaxed ambiance strangely enjoyable. He'd never been one for going out and getting drunk for no good reason, but staying in and getting drunk had been a really good plan.

And he even had a reason.

"Responsibility, my ass," he said. "Angels want to kill me."

"I'm your brother and I wanna kill you some days," Dean said. "What's your point?"

"You're on their side," Sam accused.

"We both are, dumbass. That's what I'm tryin' to tell you."

Sam sighed irritably and poked at his unoffending shot glass, sitting on the table. "I screwed up."

"You do that a lot."

How had he gone from drunk off his ass to insightful and sarcastic in a matter of seconds?

"I'm not sorry," Sam said defiantly. "I'd do it again."

Dean's turn to sigh. "I know."

"Then what?"

"I wish you wouldn't. But then, you know. I spent a lot of years wishing you wouldn't do stuff. Like fight with Dad so much. Or be so pissy all the time. Or leave."

Sam couldn't meet his eyes anymore.

"The point is, Sammy-boy, that." Dean stopped and drew a deep breath. "That. You gotta grow up, man. Responsibilities. Capice?"

"I already told you I didn't –"

"Responsibilities," Dean said loudly, "are not about what you like. Or want. Or agree with, even. They're what you have to do. For someone else."

"Say it," Sam said suddenly.

Dean stared. "Say what?"

"You know what," Sam said, a little desperately. "Say it. Ask me. Tell me that – that you don't want-"

Dean didn't move for a long while after that, watching him silently. Then he knocked back a shot and got to his feet. "Bed," he said. "Come on."

The floor was doing this weird seaside up-and-down thing as Sam followed him across the room, but he managed to keep his feet and fall onto the mattress beside Dean. It was a tight fit, but it was the closest bed to the kitchenette and damn if he was navigating that corner there, it looked totally vicious, the kind of corner that jumps out at you unawares and takes you down with one diabolical blow to the head that caves your skull in and gives you severe concussion and there he was back at the blood and stitches again and maybe standing up hadn't been such a good idea after all.

"The thing is," Dean said quietly, to the ceiling, as far as Sam could tell, "is that I shouldn't have to. See?"

Actually, no. From Sam's point of view, sprawled out on his stomach on the bed with his leg and hip and shoulder all pressing into his big brother's and his eyes drifting shut, all he could see was Dean.