It's been a while, I know, since i posted a supernatural fic. But this just came to me and I couldn't resist.

Thanks to Supernoodle for pushing me to write it and post. Cheers hon!

Dean's eyes narrowed. Sam was approaching cautiously and a cautious Sam meant one thing. He was tiptoeing around Dean because he was going to say something Dean wasn't going to like. Dean decided to beat him to it.


It was a quiet protest, muffled by the need for sleep, and spoken from the sluggish instinct to refuse to give ground. Sam rolled his eyes. His brother was head strong, well able to take care of himself and stubborn had never met a better candidate for the title, however, it was these same qualities that had led to Dean receiving a rather nasty concussion.

"Yeah, sure you are, tough guy," Sam replied.

"M'not goin'," Dean pushed. "Jus' wanna sleep."

Sam paused, considering his brother. They had danced these steps before and it was never pretty. But the case was still open, Sam needed to work on it and he didn't have time to check on Dean during the next twenty-four hours like the doctors had advised him to. Sam gave a mental shrug. Dean could protest all he wanted, Sam just wasn't going to back down this time. There wasn't another option.

"We're already here," he replied, bending down to the open car door and wrapping a hand around Dean's upper arm. "Up we go."

Dean bit back a groan as he attempted to get his feet under him, but he complied. The junkyards lights were too bright to take and movement only aggravated his head ache and the feeling of nausea, but he heaved himself out of the car because his brother had told him to and Dean, injured and off his game, was responding instinctively to the hotwiring that had saved his life on countless occasions.

Sam realised holding his arm wasn't going to be enough as Dean listed heavily against the car, supporting himself and taking slow, deep breaths. As carefully as possible, Sam ducked under Dean's arm, pulling him upright again and positioning him against his own body. Dean fought to keep his weight off Sam, but with the first step pride went out of the window and he sagged weakly.

Sam manhandled him to the front door with as much tenderness as he could manage under the circumstances and hammered the door, waiting for Bobby to answer. He kept his grip tight on Dean, unsure of his brother's ability to stay upright should he let go.

Bobby opened the door, his expression already concerned. When Sam had phoned from the hospital, his first thought had been that one of them had died. But Sam, realising his mistake, had been quick and to the point. Dean had sustained a concussion, a bad one, but not enough to earn a stay in the hospital. Or, more likely, Dean had threatened to sign out AMA and Sam had thought letting his brother have his way on this occasion was the lesser of two evils. Sam had asked Bobby if he'd take the hunter in for the night, unwilling to let him go home alone and unable to take him to the haunting.

"He needs to rest, and he won't do that in the car," Sam had explained. "Plus, the doctor's want someone to wake him every couple of hours or so. Standard knock on the head crap they always give you, but in this case, I think it might be worthwhile."

Bobby had agreed readily, there wasn't much he wasn't willing to do for either of John's sons. He'd made up the guest room, but as the two men staggered into the house, Bobby doubted the boy would make it even halfway up the stairs. His face was as pale as he'd ever seen it, waxy looking with a sheen of sweat and tinged green. His eyes were practically shut and Bobby reached out to dim the lights, remembering from past experience that the light had been a huge factor. Beneath Dean's eyes were dark smudges, betraying his weariness and Bobby quickly and quietly ordered Sam to put Dean on the couch.

Over the years all three of the hunters had slept there at one time or another, quite contently as it happened. The beat up old thing seemed to sag in just the right place, was long enough to accommodate a full grown man and warmed up nicely.

Sam gently deposited Dean with all the care he might use with a newborn and Dean muttered a slurred thanks, leaning back and allowing his eyes to close fully. Sam straightened and made his way back to Bobby, standing at the doorway to the room.

"Looks like a doozy," the older hunter noted softly.

Sighing, Sam ran a hand through his hair. "He's pretty out of it, but aware enough to hate this."

"I'll bet," Bobby agreed. If there was one thing Dean Winchester hated, it was being taken care of. Independence had come early into the life of the boy and even though Sam was old enough and more than capable of lending a hand, letting go of that self-sufficiency was hard to do.

Sam was speaking again, and Bobby tore his attention from the injured man to him.

"The doc's gave him some meds, but he's having a reaction to it. Temps elevated and he's pretty uncomfortable, but he really just wants to sleep so the pain's manageable. If he asks, you can give him some more, but I think he'll just try to tough it out. He's been sick twice and all he's had is some water. He's also being stubborn, but he's reverting to type, so just put a touch of order about your words and he'll do it. Can't help himself."

"Your daddy ingrained that into him," Bobby smiled, shaking his head. "He's just acting on instincts."

"Yeah, I'm going to have to remember that next time he's calling trouble," Sam replied.

"Don't forget he's well able to act independently," Bobby advised.

Sam sighed. "How do you think he ended up in this state?"

Sam had left not long after and Bobby had fetched some pillows and a blanket and coaxed Dean into waking just long enough to get him to lie down. Throwing the blanket over the younger hunter, Bobby had told him he was going to remove his boots, but by the time the first one had thudded gently to the floor, Dean was out again.

Sitting in the near dark, a book and a whiskey at hand, Bobby settled into his favourite armchair and enjoyed the peace. It wasn't something he generally found when he had guests. For as long the Winchesters had been showing up unannounced on his doorstep, their visits had been anything but quiet.

In the beginning it was a brooding, furious John, rattling around the house at all hours and taking his rage out on Bobby's scraps, hammering into them all his pain and exhausted, still searching for more. In those days a tiny, silent shadow had drifted behind him in the form of his first born and it wasn't any wonder the kid had taken so long to find his voice in the wake of his father's blind anger. Didn't stop his brother, of course, howling for a mother who no longer answered. Bobby had wondered if he'd go mad from the noise and had been forced to act where usually he'd have left the man to live his life and raise his family the way he chose.

Bobby had redirected John's emotion. Pastor Jim may have sent Winchester to him for learning, but first he needed to want to. Back then, John just wanted to kill the thing that took his wife and going in like that would only orphan his sons. John thus occupied, Bobby had to find a way to prise Dean from him. The kid was naturally reluctant to let his Dad out of his sight, but Bobby had been prepared for that and had managed to kill two birds with a single stone by turning Dean's focus onto his little brother. Sam had stopped screaming for attention and Dean had someone new to pin himself to.

As the years went by, John had opted for silent running, but his boys had more than made up for his lack of communication; arguing, playing, rough housing and Sam's constant chatter filled the house, overwhelmed Bobby on occasion and scared the hardened hunter to the core when Dean, aged eleven, came asking him to patch up his father, who couldn't get out of the Impala.

As the family grew older, first Dean, and then Sam were also in need of medical attention and while John was more than capable of taking care of them, it became almost routine to bring them around to Bobby's if they were going to be left out of a hunt because of their injuries. Bobby, as he had learnt with John, grew accustomed to cranky housebound Winchesters.

Bobby smiled. Until Dean's concussion settled itself, this was going to be one of the quieter visits. And, if he was honest with himself, it was nice to see the boys again.

Dean had slept nearly the entire time he'd been there, save for the three times Bobby had shaken his shoulder in order to ask the routine questions to assess his condition. Dean's green gaze had held more than a hint of irritation during the last time and Bobby had determined he wouldn't have to wake him again. Unless he wanted to find interesting new places to remove a boot from.

Since Dean was well on the way to recovery, Bobby left him to it and immersed himself in his book. The author had been dead for centuries and had made some giant leaps of logic that had Bobby shaking his head in wonder and snorting derisively, but the man knew his demons. While the old mechanic had read the book cover to cover on numerous occasions, he still got a jolt of electricity whenever he cracked open the pages and got to the good stuff.

He was so engrossed, it took a second to register Dean's movements and he was only halfway across the room when Dean grimaced and let out a soft sound of frustration.

"Dean?" Bobby called softly, laying a hand on the young man's arm.

His eyes opened slowly. "Dad?"

Bobby froze. Dean would never forgive him if he realised Bobby knew what he had just said, but the ache in Dean's voice sent an accompanying pain through him, leaving him undecided. He watched as Dean's eyes slid shut, allowing himself to breathe again. He had been more asleep than awake and Bobby was ridiculously grateful for that.

He rubbed his hand over his face roughly.

When John had died, with Dean so torn about it all, with Sam frightened to say anything and the two of them at each other's throats, Bobby had thought he was witnessing the family's separation all over again. John became the ghost hovering on the edge of vision, a scar that refused to fully heal, an ache in the bones and the one thing that would help them. To say it had been difficult was an understatement.

And apparently, he was still the one Dean wanted when he was hurt.

Bobby watched Dean sleep a little longer before rising on creaking knees and pouring himself another drink. This time, when he returned to his chair, he left his book discarded and his alcohol no chance to warm.

Sam tapped the door an hour and a half later with considerably less force than his earlier approach, and Bobby hid his smile. Hurricane Sam had been dialled down to moderate to forceful winds, and that was a line Bobby was planning on sharing with Dean as soon as he could. The boy had an appreciation for word plays that knew no bounds and it was always fun to wind Dean up and watch him go to work on Sammy. Sam could consider it his payment for dropping Dean on him.

Sam crept almost comically into the living room, peering at his brother the way he used to as a child, wanting desperately to be involved in whatever Dean was doing but knowing that more often than not, he was going to be pushed away.

"He's all right," Bobby murmured. "Leave him be."

Sam didn't take his eyes off Dean. "Really?"

"Go take the spare bed, Sammy."

Sam nodded, but didn't move. Bobby watched him for a moment, making up his mind. Dean would be well cared for, even if he didn't want it, no matter how much he protested, because Sam was already doing it.

And Sam had help.