Sam raised his head, empty blood-shot eyes gazed at him as if he was more important than the air he breathed. The younger winchester's nostrils flared slightly, the lines suddenly leaving his forehead. But those agonizingly lifeless eyes stayed fixed on his salvation, his brother.

Something had been lost when Dean had gone to Hell, something innocent had been sucked out of that face, those once puppy-dog eyes. Sam had tried so hard to distance himself when he had lost Dean. He couldn't deal with being alone. A desperate child-like need that had been lost for a long time. That Dean had missed because the loss of it pulled him further away from his brother and he no longer knew where he stood with the stranger who handled shotguns in the bed next to his, whose life was in his hands daily and nightly.

Sammy would do anything to keep him brother with him, Even if it meant leaving first. And Dean who had forgotten this, and whose life needed a turn around and a reconsideration. He had almost thought that perhaps he and Sam had grown up and apart, had left their little Peter Pan world of young dependence. There had never been so many variables in their lives, just ghosts and humans and each other.

Nobody had counted on the demons and angels.

Maybe it was that Dean had been feeling the break that had been growing with Sam's newfound independence. Maybe it was the looks that Sam had been giving him, the looks of near contempt that was all John and the little glimpse of Mary that Dean had seen in something of a dream. Maybe it was because it was Sam who could deal with the supernatural and it was Dean that craved the normalcy of everyday life with a family, with a love that was not born of desperation or loneliness.

You needed people in this 'business'. There was no time for the people who they saved, the oblivious, coddled people whose lives only meant something if they were being saved. Dean couldn't do that. He wanted to save in order to create, maybe it was about the yellow-eyes in the beginning. At some point he had hunted with such rage and vengeance that he had felt what he had thought to be happiness.

But he had found that all that he had picked up in his last twenty years was obsession and the adrenaline rush of fear.

He had never been happy, not until those moments when Sam had joined him in the car and they ate bad cheeseburgers that at the time seemed like a good idea, until they had both talked about music and women and what could have been.

And than he had met her, the woman of his dreams, and she had made the first move. He had found love and happiness in her arms. And he had moved on because leaving had become an ingrained reflex by now.

He felt dirty, and cheap, and broken. This was not what life was supposed to be like.

What if he had just grown up where grades instead of guns had been fore-front. Where, Mary was alive enough to scold him for not being home in four days. For leaving Sam to hunt for his own bowl of lucky charms (those damn lucky charms). Where he and Sam would never had formed this kind of relationship, the cycle of sacrifice and angst.

Dean was just tired,, tired of everything. Of the monsters. Of the grateful, slightly wondering gazes of the people that thanked them for their 'services'. Of Sam, of worrying every single damn moment of the day that he would come home to find his brother's brains splattered all over the endless hotel walls.

Of finding the blood and razors in the bathtub.

Of seeing his brother's swollen, finally still face hanging from the flickering badly-maintained light fixtures.

Of sitting in the Impala like he had today.

Of driving like a maniac past billboards of smiling, happy normal people, sure that his brother was dead, like he had today.

Of crashing through hospital doors with his brother's limp body in his arms. (His arms shook even now from the remembrance of his terror).

And even now, his brother stared at him as if he were afraid dean was going to shout when the eldest Winchester wanted to curl up on the floor and cry. Cry like he hadn't cried in a long time.

Because Dean Winchester didn't cry. Love 'em and Leave 'em Winchester who had left what he was sure was the love of his short, too full life, in a warm bed. The sheets, rumpled from their lovemaking, would have been soft on his scars and he would have had a kid. A kid who like all the normal kid stuff, little plastic toys that changed into exactly the same plastic toy if twisted in a certain direction. A kid who didn't writhe on the bathroom floor with a blood drained demon next to him.

Who didn't need to take a whole bottle of sleeping pills to escape from his nightmares.

Oh god, he was so tired, the darkness seemed to be creeping up on him. His eyes burned with tears that had been held in check for too long.

No, the son that his father raised, he didn't cry, he took every blow that life threw at him with a cocky smile on his face and a raised finger. To prove that he wasn't afraid of the dark.

Dean gripped the cold silver bar on the side of Sammy's cot and dropped his head to try and hide the non-existent tears as he tried so hard, so damn hard to be a Winchester.

"Why'd you do it Sammy?" He whispered.

Sam stared up at him, those eyes already regaining their usual mask of responsibility, guilt and sadness and answered in exactly the way that Dean knew he would.