so bid the soldiers shoot

Three rings into the call when you end it. And isn't your brain running, pinwheeling through an endless swirl of words and fears and desperation that somehow all boil down to the same thing? (I want my brother.)

Oh, but you've always run to Dean, always, since the beginning; when you skinned your knees and when you were dumped by your first girlfriend and when you got high for the first time and somehow ended up in Kentucky and when Jess died and when you first started having visions and when you thought you could kill Lucifer and -- yeah. Because that went so stunningly well.

You put the phone down. You've always gone to Dean, but it's different now. You're different now. Can't go running to big brother every time you gets scared, every time that something goes wrong.

What, says a voice that sounds achingly like Dean's, like, say, the Devil shows up and politely tells you that you're gonna end the world?

--Don't want to believe it, but, let's look at the track record.

---

Three rings into the call when you hang up. Too scared to hear the voice on the other end, the one that's not Sam's. And isn't your brain tired, lethargic, slowly turning the pages of words and fear and desperation that have been chasing you, that somehow all boil down to the same thing? (I want what's best for my brother.)

Oh, but you've always taken care of Sam, always, since the beginning; when he was a baby, and Dad couldn't care for himself, much less a child and when he was bullied at school and when he wanted to learn how to undo a bra with one hand and when he somehow found his way to fucking Kentucky without any money or a car and when he lost Jess and when he first started having visions and when he became addicted to demon blood and -- yeah. You've done a great job.

You keep the phone in your hand, because you have, actually. You've spent your whole life worrying about Sam and protecting him and sticking to him even when he pushed you away, and you can't spend your whole life following someone who wants to be alone.

He needs you, says a voice that sounds stubbornly like Dad's, you know that's your job. Take care of Sammy.

--Don't want to admit it, but, let's look at the track record.

---

Lindsey shows up at four, 911 dialed into her cell phone and looking nervously around the room. She doesn't move past the open door and you hate that someone can be so afraid of you. She says, calmly for the most part, "I got your call."

You try for a smile, but what comes out is pretty much a grimace. Used to be so good at this, didn't you? "Okay. I know what you must think of me, but-- what happened last week, that wasn't . . . I don't really know what to say."

"You didn't rehearse this?" she asks, folding her arms across her chest and shifting her weight. "When you invited me over I figured you'd have, like, a speech prepared or something."

You should be used to her by now. But you aren't. "What?"

She takes a step inside, looking more confident but keeping a thumb on send. "Yeah. You know. Like, 'Gee, Lindsey, I know it looked like my buddies had a knife to your throat and were forcing blood down my throat, but actually that was just an epic practical joke!'"

She laughs at her own joke and the sound is like Jess, but when she turns to look at you, all you can think is Dean.

---

Like usual, Cas shows up out of nowhere and he doesn't want a drink. He comes and sits next to you on the couch and you hate that you don't mind that he's where Sammy's supposed to be. He says, in his usual deadpan, "I got your call."

You try for a smile, but what comes out is your usual half-smirk. Used to try and teach Sammy how to do it, didn't you? "Yeah. I thought . . . I mean, I know you're on a quest for Daddy G or whatever, but you've gotta eat, don't you?"

Cas frowns, folding his arms over his chest. "No, actually," he says with puzzled tilt of his head. "And who is Daddy G?"

You should be used to him by now. But you aren't.

You shake your head, trying to push away the voice that whispers, Sam would have gotten it.

---

"Maybe some curtains," says the man (don't pretend you don't know his name: say it, Sam, it's Nick, say it), fingering the dirty quilt. "Some curtains would really spruce this place up."

"Go away," you mumble, pulling the pillow over you head, like it's going to change anything. "Seriously. Please."

A hand claps your shoulder, and it's a touch so familiar that you leap out of bed. Dean's lying there, stretched out with his hands ducked behind his head head, grinning. "C'mon, Sammy. Trust me."

"Stop it," you growl, because the Devil is a son-of-a-bitch and if Dean asks you to end the world then you just might.

The face transforms back into (it's Nick, Nick, SAY IT) the man's. The Devil laughs. "See you tomorrow night, Sammy."

You wake up with Dean's name on your lips.

---

"Maybe a beer," says Dad (don't pretend you don't know who it is: this may be a dream, but you recognize an archangel when you see him), plopping onto the couch. "A beer might make this less awkward."

"I didn't know angels were boozers," you say, but throw a beer at him anyway to satisfy curiosity. "But seriously. The answer's no."

The angel stands, clasping your shoulder with such easy camaraderie that it's hard to forget that it's not Dad, not Dad giving an order (and what do you do when given an order, Dean-o?) "C'mon, Dean. Stop dicking around, son."

"You son-of-a-bitch," you snap, taking your beer back because fuck Angels and you're done being Daddy's little soldier.

The grin doesn't drop and he laughs (looks like him laughs like him sounds like him. It's not your Dad. Dad's dead, Dean-o.) "See you tomorrow, son."

You wake up, and think of Sammy.

---

Boys, boys. Don't you get it by now?