Disclaimer: Don't own Supernatural or it's two very handsome characters. But boy do I wish I did.....
A/N: This is my first story, so be nice please. It's not beta'd. Any and all mistakes are mine and mine alone.
"Don't you miss Stanford, Sam?"
Sam shrugged and took a sip of his beer while he thought of how to answer his friend, glancing over to the pool table where Dean was playing. He and his brother were in Maine after finishing off a poltergeist that had been wreaking havoc in a hotel beloning to an old friend of their dad's. While in the little seaside town they had run into three of Sam's friends from Stanford who were vacationing for the summer. Sam had been delighted to see Justin, Krista and Jonathan, and had convinced Dean to take the hotel owner up on the free all-inclusive week he'd offered them as a thank-you.
"Yeah, I guess." He finally answered. It was true, he did miss Stanford. But with their hunt for their father he hadn't really thought a lot about it. All his thoughts on that period in his life had been about Jess mostly. And he was enjoying being back with Dean. He wasn't willing to give that up yet, not even to go back to Stanford.
"So why don't you come back? You have a full ride, you know that. I'm sure I can talk to my father, have him pull some strings for you." Krista said, giving him a full dimpled smile. "He can get them to overlook your leaving before the semester ended, get you that interview you missed."
"I have something I have to do, it's important. A road trip with my brother." He wasn't sure how to explain things. He wished he could tell his friends the truth but that was out of the question. He had never told anyone at Stanford the truth, not even Jess. They'd think he was nuts.
"More important than your education? Than becoming a lawyer? Sam, you said it was your dream." Jonathan leaned forward and stared at him. "I know he's your brother, but come on. He didn't even come to visit you in the years you were at Stanford. Then he shows up and yanks you away from your life? What kind of brother does that?"
"Someone mention me?" Sam turned when Dean's cheerful voice sounded from right behind him, distracted for the moment from his friend's words. He took in the gleam in his brother's eyes and knew he'd been successful at the pool game he'd been hustling.
"We were just talking about Stanford, and Sam told us about how you two are on a road trip. It sounds…fun…..wandering aimlessly around the US with no real goals." Jason replied, his tone clearly showing what he thought of Dean. Sam frowned at the condescension in his friend's voice, but pushed it aside. He was hearing things. Jason wasn't that kind of guy, he'd never be rude to Dean.
"Yeah, we are. Thought we'd see the country a bit," Dean replied carefully, his gaze calculating.
"Must be expensive, you know, with that….car....you drive. It must just guzzle the gas. How do you afford it, I mean without a job and all," Krista commented, emphasizing the word car and coughing delicately.
Dean turned his gaze on Krista. "It's a classic. And we may not have a trust fund like you, but that doesn't mean we don't have money." His words were simple, but Sam heard the venom behind the calmly spoken words and could feel the tension rising at their table. Dean didn't take kindly to insults to his baby, and Sam knew that's what he would see Krista's comment as. There was no way around it, Dean and his friends didn't seem to be getting along, no matter how he tried to deny it.
It was time to intervene before things got too heated. "Hey, Dean, I'm ready to turn in. Why don't we head back to the Hotel?" He gave his brother what he hoped was a convincing look before turning to his friends. "So, I'll see you tomorrow then?"
"Yeah, definitely honey. We're going hiking, and then we're going out for dinner." Krista stood up and gave Sam a hug, then turned to Dean. "We're going to Leandro's, you can join us if you want, though it may be a little…upscale…for your tastes." She coughed delicately again and gave Dean an innocent look.
"Yeah, maybe. I'll think about it." Dean said before turning and walking out. Surprised at the meekness in Dean's voice, Sam said a hasty goodbye to his friends and hurried after his brother.
~* ~~ ~*~ ~~ *~
Dean was silent the entire way to the hotel, and the minute they got back to their room muttered something about having a shower before disappearing into the bathroom. Sam watched him, staring at the closed bathroom door until he heard the shower running. Dean had been acting weird, quiet and withdrawn, since they had met up with Krista, Justin, and Jonathan two days before. He just hadn't noticed it until now, he'd been so caught up with his friends, having fun on their impromptu mini vacation.
He was surprised to hear Dean come out of the shower; he hadn't noticed he'd been sitting on the bed the whole time. He sat there watching Dean putter around, sorting through his duffel and getting dressed, then flopping down onto his bed to flip through the channels on TV.
"So, you're going out with your friends tomorrow, eh?" Dean asked suddenly, turning the TV off and looking at him.
Sam sat up straight, the casual way Dean was talking instantly putting him on high alert. "Yeah, like Krista said, we're going hiking, then we're going out to dinner, but you were invited too." He chose his words carefully, trying to sound as casual as Dean was. "You might like the hike; local legend says a young man fell off the bluff but his body was never recovered. Now he murders young men, pushing him off the cliff the same way he died. We could check it out while we hike."
"I was thinking, you're enjoying yourself, so why don't I head up to that vengeful spirit in Pennsylvania Bobby called us about yesterday? I'm only in the way here. You can stay the rest of the week and I'll pick you up when on Friday. It's only Monday, so you can have three more days with your friends without me tagging along embarrassing you." Dean carefully ignored the mention of a possible hunt. Sam was trying to placate him and he wasn't in the mood for it.
Sam opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again before finally finding his voice, but all he could manage was a shocked "what?"
Dean shrugged. "I just think it'd be easier if I took care of the spirit, give you some time with your friends. It's not like I'm all that welcome here anyway, your friends have made that clear."
Sam didn't know what to say. Dean sounded…lost. Not like his confident, almost arrogantly self-assured brother. "You aren't embarrassing me, Dean." Finally finding his voice, he stared earnestly at his brother, not understanding what was going on at all. "Nobody ever said you weren't welcome, and they do like you." Ok, maybe he was stretching it about his friends liking Dean, but he had to say it.
Dean laughed a humourless laugh. "No? Then why do they constantly tell you I'm a bad brother for dragging you away from Stanford? Why does Krista feel the need to insult my car and my tastes every chance she gets? Why does Jonathan talk to me like I'm a retarded five year old?" His voice got louder as he talked, and he jumped up to pace the room.
"Dean, they're just joking around, they don't mean it."
"Don't they Sam?" Dean stopped and whirled on around to face him. "Or are you so determined to pretend you're still at Stanford that you refuse to see it? Hell, you've joined them in their fun with me enough the past couple days!" He threw up his hands suddenly and grabbed his duffel, shoving things into it as fast as he could and zipping it up when he was done. "Forget it. Like I said, I'll go deal with the spirit Bobby told us about, and meet you back here on Friday."
"Dean, wait." Sam jumped up and grabbed Dean's arm as the older Winchester started for the door. "I-"
"No, Sam." Dean interrupted, yanking his arm away. "It's better this way. You have fun with your friends, I'll take care of the job. Actually, why don't we forget about Friday? You can just call me when you're ready to come back to the real world. I wouldn't want to force you." Hiking his bag up higher on his shoulder he left, leaving Sam standing in the middle of the room staring open-mouthed at the door.
Sinking down onto the bed, Sam kept staring at the door, expecting Dean to come back in, a wisecrack on his lips. But as the room darkened into evening and then night and Dean didn't return, it hit him that Dean had really left. His shock turned to worry, then fear, then slowly to anger. What was so wrong with him wanting to spend time with friends? Why couldn't Dean just let him be normal for a while, forget about their dad, about Jess, about the Demon?
He lay back on the bed when his back started to protest his hunched position on the edge and stared at the ceiling, falling into an uneasy sleep a few hours later.
The next morning Sam woke to find the bed closest to the door empty, and felt tears spring to his eyes. He had thought – hoped – it had all been a bad dream. But no, Dean's things were gone, the bed was made. Nobody had slept in it. He leapt up and raced to the window to look down on the parking lot. The Impala wasn't there in the spot that corresponded with their room number. Sinking down into the chair next to the window he rested his head against the cold window pane, feeling suddenly very alone as the realization sank in that Dean had actually left him.