Thanks for my awesome beta buttercupgalaxy who put up with my bad writing :p
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Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural or any of the characters... this is slowly but surely getting old :)

Keeping Watch

„You can't be serious, Dean!"

"Oh, just shut up!"

"But why do we always have to stand watch? I mean…"

Dean didn't even wait for his brother to finish. He finally stopped and turned around, glaring. "Cause Dad said so, Sam. And we're following his orders. End of story."

"But Deeeeeean", Sam whined, sounding all ten years old all of sudden. "I just don't get it. I mean I'm almost seventeen now, why can't he have at least some trust in my abilities." Sam kicked a stone in frustration. "It's always - stand watch, keep your eyes open for anything out of the ordinary, get the car ready, dig up the grave. Why do we always have to do the dirty work? I don't know, it's like he just sees us as his servants or something. Why can't he take us more seriously? I mean we have a right to…"

"A right to what, Sam?", Dean snapped, getting irritated himself. "You just don't get it, do you? Dad never, you hear me, never thinks of us as his servants. And he doesn't make us do the 'dirty work' as you call it either. He orders us to do is the safe work, because he doesn't want you… us… to be hurt. He's just concerned, that's all. And that sure as hell gives you no reason to talk about him like that. So quit your nagging and do – for once – as you were told!" Dean turned to face his brother exasperated to see Sam giving him the puppy-dog eyes he hated so much because they always made him melt instantly. His brother, of course, smart as he was, was very well aware of the fact and would shamelessly take advantage of it.

Dean shook his head, snapping his thoughts back to reality. "Dude, would you please stop it already? You're way past that age, Sammy", he muttered, but he couldn't deny himself the fact that his voice had now a softer tone to it. "It's just a poltergeist, bro. Dad will have it done in a matter of minutes. Then we'll head back to the motel and you can treat yourself to a nice long shower, I'll even let you use it first. If you leave me some hot water that is." A grin played across Dean's lips. "It'll be fine, Sammy."

"It's Sam", Sam mumbled.

Dean let out a hearty laugh. "I forgot you're on the maturity trip now. I'm terribly sorry, Sam." He laughed again, tilting his head to the side in amusement. "Will you ever be able to forgive me, dearest brother? Cause you know I can't live without you and if we…"

"Shut up, Dean."

"I would", Dean smirked, "if you stopped nagging already. As it seems though…" He left the sentence hanging, grin growing wider.

Sam sighed. "I get it, Dean. But… it's more of a matter of principle I guess."

Dean groaned pitifully, already turning around to walk on. "God, just kill me now."

"No, Dean!", Sam grabbed his brother's arm roughly to get his attention back to their conversation. Dean glared at him, which made Sam loosen his hold almost immediately. "Dude, would you please just listen to me?"

Dean murmured something that sounded suspiciously like 'do I have a choice?' but Sam chose to better ignore his brother this time. At least Dean was silent now and facing him, although with impatience and annoyance written all over his face. "So what do you need to talk about, Samantha? Boy trouble maybe?"

"Dean", Sam growled, low and warning. "Can't you just be serious this once?"

"I am serious", Dean deadpanned. "Well? I'm listening."

Sam sighed another time. "You know what this is about, Dean. It's Dad."

"Of course it's Dad. When is it ever not, after all." Dean moaned lightly. "I have to admit though I do wish you'd just leave me alone with it. Sam, we had this discussion like a million times."

"But don't you get it, Dean? He's using us. He has been from the beginning. That's why he brings us along in the first place. This is just so…"

In the blink of an eye Dean's face was only centimeters from Sam's own, his hands exercising a vice-like grip on Sam's jacket collar. "Don't you dare say that, Sam, not you", Dean whispered, voice dangerously low and menacing. "After everything Dad did for you."

"What?", Sam asked, holding Dean's gaze without difficulties, even taking a step closer. He could now feel his brother's quickened breath on his cheek. "What did he do for me, Dean? Screw up my childhood? Ruin my life?"

Dean looked at Sam incredulously, total disgust in his eyes. "Dude, if you weren't my brother you'd so be on the floor by now."

"Vindicating him now are we, brother?", Sam sneered. "Oh sorry, I forgot. The only thing that matters to you is him after all. And that stupid car of yours."

Sam expected the anger in Dean's eyes to increase after these harsh words but what he got instead was something else… an emotion he rarely saw in his brother's face – hurt. Dean looked like he had been stabbed in the gut. His hands lost their grip on Sam's shoulders and slid down as if there was no strength left to keep them up there. Blinking Dean took a few steps backwards. "Is that really how you think, Sam?", he asked quietly. "And I save your sorry hide all the time because…?"

"Because Dad tells you to!", Sam snapped. "You always do what he tells you."

Dean snorted in disdain. "And it didn't occur to you that maybe I have a will of my own, too?"

"If you ask that way – no," Sam laughed dryly at his brother's disbelieving look. "Always the good little soldier, are you Dean? You're just pathetic!"

Dean took a deep breath and somehow managed to regain his poker face. "I'm just trying not to make it more difficult for Dad than it already is", he countered.

"Difficult for him?! What about me? What about us? Dean, you might not, but I want a life! A normal life! I want a childhood, I want proper education, a girlfriend, a real girlfriend for once… my longest relationship was for a month! I can't have any friends because we move all the time… because it's dangerous for them and even more dangerous for me if I get attached! Dude, what the fuck?! What is wrong with our lives?" Sam finished, panting harshly after his tirade.

Dean ran a hand through his hair and leaned heavily against a tree, looking upwards through the canopy of leaves at the little patches of night sky visible. "And what the hell did we… did I do wrong?", he added in a voice that was barely comprehensible.

"What are you talking about?", Sam snarled.

Dean's eyes met his gaze again, anger flickering in their deep green. "You're selfish, Sam, you're ungrateful and you're rebellious. You complain about not having a childhood? What about me, Sam? I've looked after you since I was four, damn it! Four! What kind of childhood is that I ask you! I did everything… everything I could think of to give you a proper childhood. I saved my pocket money for the whole year to be able to by you birthday presents, because I knew Dad would be too occupied to remember. I learned how to cook for you, Sam, because I wanted you to have proper meals and not that fast food crap, I made your school lunch, I accompanied you on your first day, I was the one who helped you do your homework, I was the one who looked after you every time you were sick. And know what? I never asked for a thank-you, because I don't need one. I did all this not because Dad told me to but because I felt I had to." He lowered his voice and looked at the floor. "Because I do care, Sam. Because you're my brother and you and Dad are everything to me. Watching you fight… it's like hell for me. That's why I try to mediate all the time. But you know how it always ends up? Dad is angry at me, you are angry at me. The only one who is not shouting at me by then is the car. So, yeah, she is important to me, too."

Dean smiled sadly as his cell vibrated, leaving Sam to stare in bewilderment and shock. He snatched the phone out of his jeans pocket and answered the call, eyes never leaving Sam. "Dad", he acknowledged, his voice betraying none of the emotion still swirling in his eyes. "Did you get it?"

There was a short pause and Dean nodded, apparently listening to the voice on the other end of the line. "Yes, sir", he said then, looking at his watch, "yeah, Sammy's alright." He let out a short joyless laugh. "Yeah, me too, Dad. Don't worry, just get the job done. We'll be waiting." He clicked the phone shut, leaned back against the tree again and closed his eyes. "He needs more time", he informed his brother. "It seems that the inhabitants have decided to turn up all of a sudden."

"Dean", Sam muttered. "I'm sor…"

"Don't, Sam." Dean cut him off. "You told me how you felt - at least I know now." There was a short pause and he reopened his eyes. "Come on, Sam, let's head back to the car."

Sam hesitated. "Dean, I really didn't mean to…"

"Yeah you did", his brother interrupted again. "Leave it, Sam. What's said is said."

"Just…. just don't be mad at me," Sam pleaded.

That sad smile returned when Dean looked at him for quite a while before he finally answered. "I'm not mad, Sammy, really I'm not. Just disappointed. That's everything." He turned and went ahead, leaving Sam to follow.

* * *

Sam guessed the distance between them and the car to be about ten minutes. Only ten minutes, but he knew that with the awkward silence between him and his brother it'd be hell of a lot longer.

He buried his face in his hands, hoping he would not bump into a tree while doing it. Even though he'd probably deserve it anyway. He had really screwed up this time and he knew it. He could handle Dad being disappointed or angry but Dean…?

And why had he gone for Dean anyway? He let his hands drop to his side in growing guilt and frustration. Dean didn't deserve it, none of it. If anyone had earned a normal life it'd be him. So why? Why did he snap at him? Sam bit his lip and tried to hold back the tears welling up in his eyes. He hadn't meant it… most of it anyways. He knew Dean cared, he knew Dean loved him and he loved Dean back with at least the same ferocity. Dean was like a surrogate father, brother and best friend all in once. Sam just hadn't ever realized how much that cost Dean. He had… taken it for granted, the teen realised. An enormous wave of guilt washed over him and he tried again to blink back the tears that were already stinging in his eyes. Probably Dean thought that he hated him now, hell he himself had voiced how pathetic he thought him to be.

Too preoccupied with what was going on in his head Sam missed Dean's warning gesture and bumped straight into his brother's back as he stopped abruptly. Instantly he felt Dean's hand on his mouth, trying to stifle the cry of surprise that was bound to come. Sam blinked confused at first but then he nodded and Dean took the hand away, pulling them both to the ground, searching for cover behind some shrubs.

"Dean", Sam began, but Dean just shook his head signaling him with a motion of his left hand to be quiet. "Damn sons of a bitches! They've got a dog", he hissed.

And then Sam saw it, too. Not too far away the light of a flashlight illuminated two dark figures approaching, a tall one, and another smaller one… the dog Dean had been talking about. If was sniffing the floor, leading its master gradually closer. It had already picked up on their track.

"We're not getting away", Sam muttered. "Better think up an excuse."

"Dad is so gonna kill me", Dean groaned. He handed his duffle bag and cell phone to Sam. "Try to get away, Sam. I can deal with it on my own. Call Dad and tell him I can't make it in time. I'll come to the motel."

"But Dean…!"

But it was already too late. Dean had risen, giving up his cover, and started towards the guard, against all odds a smile plastered across his face.

Hearing twitches break beneath Dean's feet the guard was instantly alert, gun drawn, pointing it towards the approaching man. He wasn't a professional Sam could tell that much by his stance and the way he held the gun, but he had a weapon and Dean didn't. So even though Dean could've easily outsmarted him in hand to hand, there was just no way could he compete against a firearm.

"Woah, woah", Dean muttered, bringing his hands up in a defensive position as he caught gaze of the gun pointed in his direction. "Don't do anything you don't want to, mister."

The guard didn't lower the gun. "What the hell are you doing on Mr. Calligan's property in the middle of the night?"

"Ah yeah", Dean ran a hand through his short hair, "that's kinda a long story. You know me and my college buddies we were playing truth and dare and my choice was either to break into your property or make out with Millie Rughes. Uh. Believe me you'd do the same…"

"Don't lie to me", the guard cut him short. His hands were trembling, not a good sign, Sam concluded. That man was nervous… probably new at the job.

Eyes never leaving Dean, who still had his hands up, the guard stepped closer, rounding Dean until he was standing behind him and pressed the muzzle of the gun against his neck.

"Ah… that is kind of making me nervous, Sir", Dean muttered.

"Shut up!" The man snarled. "There's no way you're here because of a game. I'm gonna get you to the police office."

Sam saw Dean's back tense. Police was never good. "Please", he heard his brother try, "if an officer brings me home my Dad will be furious with me. You were young too weren't…"

"Shut up!", the guard interrupted. "You'll come with me."

"You think so?", Dean asked quietly, and Sam could almost hear his brother's smirk. Dean craned his neck probably to see if Sam was still there but the gun limited his movement. So he took a deep breath, hoping… and took action.

Sam saw the man double over in pain without even being able to see what Dean had done. The young hunter ducked under the following gunshot, bringing the man down in mere seconds. With a swift movement he turned the guard on his belly squeezing his arm behind his back until he let go of the gun. Dean shoved it away with his foot. He looked around, ignoring the groaning man beneath him, gaze settling on the scrubs they had been hiding before. Sam saw his brother's eyes go wide in shock when he met them with his own.

Run, Dean mouthed.

Sam shook his head. He wouldn't leave his brother without backup. So Dean thought he hated him after all those harsh words? He would prove him different.

Dean however looked at him, incredulous and repeated his silent command, this time with more force. He was distracted for a mere second but that was enough for the guard to gain the upper hand again. The man wasn't as well trained as Dean was but his weight gave him advantage over the younger man. He pushed Dean forcefully away with his foot, who landed against a tree, giving him time to regain his gun.

For a few moments Sam was afraid that his brother might have passed out, but then Dean was on his feet again, bleeding slightly from a cut on his temple, but very much alive. He threw a pleading glance in Sam's direction, ducked under a gunshot and ran…

However, he had not taken the dog into account. Sam felt his stomach clench when the guard removed leash and muzzle and set it on Dean. It had him overtaken in seconds and sunk its razor sharp teeth into his leg. Dean cried out in pain and tripped, falling to the ground with a grunt.

Panting the guard came up to him again, gun pointed out in front of him. He undid the safety, took aim…

"No, you don't!"

The guard had not sensed Sam's presence, who then sprung him from behind, trying to topple him.

Dean struggled to get up but the dog still wouldn't let go and he was left to cry out in pain and horror as the gun went off.

Sam's own scream as the bullet forced its way though muscle and tissue sounded like a stranger's to him. And as his body finally went limp, relieving him from the soaring pain, the last thing he saw was the terror on Dean's face as his world finally faded to black.

* * *

Awareness came back with Dean's urgent voice, calling his name over and over again, his cold hands all over Sam's body… probably searching for injuries. At least Sam hoped so because otherwise it might be a little awkward. "Sam?", Deans voice asked again. "Sammy, can you hear me?"

Sam groaned as his eyes fluttered open. "Sam", he muttered.

Dean seemed a little taken aback. "What?"

"It's Sam, not Sammy." Sam gave another groan as he shifted his weight a little, to be more comfortable. Pain flooded his entire body, starting at his shoulder spreading into arms, legs, torso…

He winced and tried to sit up but Dean's hand on his chest kept him down. "Easy there, tiger. Give yourself a moment... breathe."

Sam nodded and Dean took the hand away. "Gave me quite a scare there, buddy", he said quietly.

"What… happened?"

"Got yourself shot, Sasquatch, quite a talent one might add." Dean scratched at the stubble under his chin, indicating he hadn't had much time to shave lately. "What the hell got into you? Jumping the man like that?"

Sam shook his head to clear his thoughts. "He would have shot you."

"So what? You decided to take my place?" Dean's eyebrow rose in growing irritation. "Dude, what the hell is wrong with you?! You could have gotten yourself killed!"

"Well I didn't."

"Still doesn't change the fact you could have. Man… Sammy, this is a whole new level of moronic. Even for you."

Using his elbows for support Sam finally managed to regain a halfway upright position; Dean had a steadying hand on Sam's back instantly. "Don't fall over again."

Sam groaned in pain. "How bad, Dean?"

Dean chuckled quietly although there was still concern in his eyes. "It's nothing but a flesh wound, Sam. Might need some stitches later but nothing else. A graze shot. Not even a bullet to dig out. You were lucky. Bad enough you passed out from that." He chuckled again, massaging his temples. Dean was pale as a sheet and there were faint beads of sweat on his brow and upper lip. He looked almost sickly. "Dean… you okay?"

Sam cringed under his brother's glare. "Don't you dare ask me if I'm alright. You were the one who decided to try his luck barehanded against an armed man."

"And what about you?"

"This isn't about me Sam!"


"No! And we're not finished either. But first we're gonna get you to the car and get that wound looked after. Damn, I should have thought about bringing a first aid box… can you walk?"

Sam blinked confusedly. "I… I think so."

"Good. Cause I can't support you this time."

"What are you…?"

"And I need some sort of a cane, a branch maybe… whatever you find. We need to get away before someone comes back for us."

And Sam understood. "Your leg?", he asked quietly. When Dean nodded, he risked a first glance at his brother's calf. He couldn't see much of course beneath Dean's jeans but the fabric was bloody and torn, also Dean's paleness was probably an indicator that he was more hurt than he was willing to admit. That was Dean though and there wasn't much Sam could do but comply with his orders because there was just no way would Dean let him take control. Not as long as he was still conscious and able to talk.

"Hey, you still with me?"

"Yeah, Dean. Sorry", Sam blinked, "the dog… what about the dog?"

Dean jerked his head to the left, regret in his eyes. Sam could make out a rather small dark form against the gray night sky. "You… you killed it?"

"Yeah well, it was either Fido there or my leg. And I kinda wanted to keep my leg."

Sam looked onto the floor.

"I'm sorry, Sam", Dean muttered.

"No", Sam said. "It was just a dog."

Dean raised an eyebrow. "No requiem? No goodbye prayers?"

"Shut up."

"Please, Sam", Dean finally managed a smile, "come on, we all know you're kind of a softie inside there." He tapped Sam's chest where his heart would be. Sam swiped his hand away and got to his feet. There was momentary dizziness but it ceased soon and Sam was surprised about how well he actually felt. "What about the guard?"

Dean shook his head. "Took off. The ricochet knocked the gun out of his hands… he was too nervous to find it again I guess. Sides… me killing the dog – it probably bothered him a bit."

"It was a Rottweiler, Dean. It would have 'bothered' anyone", Sam said, a light chuckle gracing his words.

"Yeah probably", Dean smirked.

Sam shook his head in disbelief. "You're unbelievable."

"You know me. That's just…", Dean broke off. "Do you hear that?"

Sam strained his ears. There were twigs breaking, muffled voices… for a split second the light of a flashlight shone through between the tree trunks.

"Damn", Dean cursed. "They are coming for us."

As if on cue… to make things more dramatic, it began to rain. Sam gave a grunt. "Man… can it get any worse?"

Dean shook his head, smiling. "Actually this is the best thing that could've happened. The rain will mask our scent from the dogs… come on, Sam, help me up."

Sam nodded and pulled his brother to his feet.

There was a stifled groan as Dean leaned heavily on Sam's good shoulder. "I'm sorry", he muttered.

Sam smiled sadly. "S'okay. Can't remember how often positions have been reversed."

His brother's trademark smirk made it back onto his lips. "Yeah, about time to make it up to me."

"Anything that makes you feel better", Sam muttered. "So where to?"

Dean looked around then jerked his head in some random direction. "Let's try this one. Damn folks are cutting us off from the car."

"Sorry Dean", Sam chuckled quietly as they started walking. "You'll have to do without her for a while."

"I don't like it."

Sam smiled. "I know."

"Seriously… if anyone of these sons of a bitches as much as touches her…!"

"I know, Dean", Sam repeated, smile growing somewhat wider. He opened his mouth to add another thing but then suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks.

"Ow", Dean protested as the movement aggravated his injured leg, "Dude, what the hell?!"

"Look at this." He nodded in direction of a rock face in front of them, hidden behind scrubs and a disrooted tree there was a small crevice just big enough for somebody to squeeze in.

"I'm so not going in there", Dean muttered.

Sam slapped Dean on the back. "You totally are."

* * *

"Yes, sir… yeah I know, thanks again. I'm sorry." Dean finally hung up with a heavy sigh and put his cell back into his jeans pocket.

"What did he say?", Sam asked quietly.

"What do you think he said?" Dean ran a hand through his hair in defeat. "Dad was pissed, that much I can tell you. He's going to hide the car though until we can get away. He'll pick us up."

Sam groaned. "Great. Another discussion in the making."

"Please, Sam. Not now", Dean muttered, burying his head in his hands.

"Sorry." Sam looked to the floor. Taking a deep breath he decided to change the topic. "How's your leg?"

Dean sighed. "Well it's not as if we could do anything about it."

"No", Sam closed his eyes in exhaustion, "guess not." Hiding there in the small hollow behind the crevice had its advantages but also its disadvantages. On one hand they were sheltered from unwanted glances and as a bonus from the rain and the wind as well, on the other hand though… Sam didn't know how long he would be able to stand being that close to Dean. They were taunting each other and joking like before but there was something between them Sam couldn't quite put his finger on.

I'm not mad, Sammy, really I'm not. Just disappointed. That's all. Sam hugged his knees to his chest and squeezed his eyes shut in anticipation. "Dean… I do care too, you know."

Sam could hear clothes ruffling as Dean changed his position on the hard rock beneath them. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"About… the fight earlier… I really didn't mean it." Sam reopened his eyes to see Dean turning away. "I don't want to… talk about it now, Sam", Dean said, a long sigh escaping from his lips.

"You never want to talk about anything", Sam muttered.

Dean seemed to finally decide to meet his gaze again. "That's not true."

"Yes it is." Sam looked down at his trainers. "I'm sorry, Dean. You do care about me. I should have known."

"Damn right you should have known", Dean muttered.

Sam sighed. "And I want you to know that that goes both ways."

Dean gave a groan. "Oh please stop it, we're so not doing this."

"We are." Sam managed a slight smile.

"I get it, Sam, you kinda proved it jumping that guy with the gun." Dean chuckled. "Still… it was stupid."

"I know." Sam sighed again. "I'm really sorry."

Dean nodded.

"You do forgive me, right?"

"I can't be mad at you", Dean smiled sadly. "Puberty talking I guess."

"Yeah, puberty talking", Sam repeated relieved.

"Thank you", he muttered.

"Don't mention it."

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