Dean was out of the hospital, three days now. That's all he cared about. He didn't care where they were going or when they would get there. Sam was driving, Dean was leaning against the passenger door, trying to rest. He was out of the hospital, that's all he cared about.

He hadn't gotten much rest in the hospital. For all the sleeping and unconsciousness he'd done, he hadn't gotten much rest. So he was resting now. Sam was driving, Sam was in charge, Sam could do whatever he wanted, as long as Dean could just rest and not have to think about saving the world.

Life had certainly taken a turn for the sucky recently. The first seal broke open when a righteous man shed blood in hell and Dean couldn't believe he was that man. Oh, he could believe he'd have the kind of luck that would cause the first drop in the apocalyptic dominoes. He just never - ever - saw himself as a righteous man.

"Dean - you want to stop for lunch somewhere?"

"I don't care. Whatever. You decide."

There, that was easy. Easier than it maybe should've been. Sam could be Mr. Big, Mr. Strong, Mr. In Charge. Let him find out it wasn't as easy as Dean ever made it seem. Sam didn't want to be the little brother anymore? Fine, Dean didn't need him to be the little brother anymore. Being the big brother was overrated. Let Sam find out what a boring, thankless job it was.

"We're kind of on a backwater road. We should probably stop at the next likely place." Sam said after awhile. "I don't know that we might hit another one anytime soon."

"Okay. Whatever."

Another few miles down the road, a little diner appeared in a bend in the road. Sam pulled into the parking lot and parked near the back of the squat building.

"Place is pretty busy." He said, indicating the nearly full parking lot. "Hope that means the food is good."

"Hope they got pie." Dean said. He got out of the car and thought about asking for the keys to get into the trunk. His wallet was in his jacket and his jacket was in the trunk. Or maybe he'd just let Sam pick up the tab. Rank has its responsibilities after all.

But - just in case rank didn't have any money on him, Dean decided to get his wallet before they went in. He walked toward the back of the car.

"Sam - toss me the keys will you? Sam?"

Dean looked over when Sam didn't answer. He was plastered back against the driver's side door, staring past the diner like the apocalypse had finally come.


"What? What's going on?"


Okay, that was Sam's 'I'm about to be eaten alive and not in a good way' voice. Dean hurried to him.


When Sam still didn't answer, Dean followed where he was looking. It had to be Sam's spidey sense tingling because Dean didn't see anything but - what was that? Balloons? Yeah, those were balloons, appearing over a rise in the road around the far side of the diner.

"What the - ?"

"Dean?" Sam's extra three inches must be giving him a better look at what else was coming. And apparently it wasn't good. He was breathing hard, almost hyperventilating.

Finally, Dean saw why. As the balloons came closer, it became gradually apparent that they were attached to a very tiny, very colorful, very creepy - clown. And that clown was heading right for them.

Dean would've laughed if the look on Sam's face wasn't pure terror.


Sam looked at him like he could make the clown go away. What was he supposed to do - shoot it? What in the world was a clown doing here?

"All right Sam, it's all right. Just get in the car."


"Get in the car, roll up the windows. It'll be okay."

"Okay. Okay." Sam nodded like it was the best idea he ever heard and hurried to get in. Dean leaned back against the door, crossing his arms like he didn't have a care in the world, but blocking the broad view into the car and Sam. He kept an eye on the clown and shook his head - Sam was scared. After everything they'd been through, everything that Sam alone had been through, he was still scared of clowns. And a tiny clown who couldn't be even half as tall as Sam at that.

Dean took a quick look back at Sam. He'd pulled out a map of an entirely different state and had it pulled open in front of and practically around himself. Dean thought he noticed a slight tremor in his hands.

Sam was scared.

Okay, so seeing a clown out in the middle of nowhere, where no clown had any business being, even creeped out Dean a little. But Mr. 'Bigger, Better, Stronger'? How could the strength that took on Samhain and Alistair, that was spoiling for a showdown with Lilith, be afraid of a clown? A teeny, tiny clown?

The fearsome spectre in question smiled at Dean as she gained the diner and went inside. Dean saw through the open door a sea of pointy-hatted kids' heads, dozens of balloons and some harried looking adults. Must be some kid's birthday party. That explained the clown.

It didn't explain where he and Sam were going to eat lunch, because for sure it wasn't going to be here.

"We're okay." Dean said. He knocked on the window which made Sam jump. "We're okay." He repeated when Sam rolled the window down a crack. "Kid's party. Must be why the parking lot is full. C'mon, open up."

"We're not gonna - we're not gonna - eat here. Are we?" Sam asked after he unlocked the door and pushed it open for Dean. He sounded like he was trying to sound casual. It wasn't working.

"No, I think we can find somewhere else. Slide over."

Sam slid over. He folded up the map and put it in the glove compartment and handed the keys to Dean.

"Um - thanks." He gestured to the window where Dean had been his human shield. His expression was a mix of embarrassment, guilt, and relief.

Dean smiled. What saphead ever said being a big brother was a thankless job? It was the best job in the whole world.

The End.