Summary: Pre-series. A hangover and self-reflection do not mix.

A/N: Set pre-series. January of 2002, somewhere in Alabama. I guess I tried to imagine how Dean might have felt after Sam left. Harder than I thought, especially considering that this fic didn't start out being about that. I'm not sure how does word counts, 'cause it's more than what I got. The story itself has 3232.


A head turned lazily in half sleep, eyelids squeezing shut tighter against the invading light of morning. An attempt to turn over was immediately halted by the weight of another body. Eyes popped open in panic, trying to recall where the hell they were and why they weren't alone. Taking in a quick account of the surroundings, one thing was clear.

Dean Winchester really hated mornings.

The air smelt of stale beer and sweat and his mouth tasted like something horrible had died in there. His body felt overheated and he was suddenly desperate to move; to break the barrier of funk that clung to him and let new air surround his skin. He tried to shift the girl's body away from his gently, which was harder to do when lying on your stomach without plowing an elbow into them, but she only clung to him more. He huffed out a sigh and dropped his face in the pillow, muffling a growl. He then heaved himself quickly to the left and smiled triumphantly when he felt her body move off his. His triumph was short lived when he felt himself tilt back off the edge of the bed. Dean fell to the floor with a yelp and about as much grace as a horse on skates. Quickly popping his head up just above the mattress, he found that the girl had barely moved. Heavy sleeper, he thought in relief. Now if he could just find his clothes.

Snatching up his things, minus one sock, he bolted for the bathroom. He wasn't prepared for what he saw in the mirror and jumped back.

"Gah!" He brought his hand up to his neck and rubbed the numerous red marks. She sure didn't look like a biter last night - from what he could remember of last night. His eyes widened at a sudden recollection and he looked down, cringing at the bite marks on the insides of his thighs. Jesus, the girl was a man eater.

After taking a piss, he splashed some cold water on his face and rinsed out his mouth. A headache was pounding away at his temples and he pretty much felt like roadkill. Not the worst hangover he's ever experienced but one for the books.

He slowly pulled on his jeans; almost whacking his head on the sink twice in the process when he couldn't get his foot through the pant leg. Bending over gave him a head rush but when he straightened up, the nausea passed and he let out a small belch instead. Smirking to himself, he pulled his long sleeve thermal over his head.

He almost hoped the girl was still sleeping and he could duck out. He hated doing that but his memory of the night before was swiss cheese at best and retreat was the only option.

His luck didn't hold, though. When he opened the door, she was sitting up in bed with her arms across her chest, sheet pulled up. And she looked pissed.

"Uh... hey." He tried smiling but he doubted charm was going to help him out of this situation.

"Hey? You're about to sneak out and all I get is 'hey'?" Crap. Seriously? He was going to go through this spiel?

"Umm... good morning?"

"Nice try. Do you even remember last night?"

No, he really didn't and he was too hung over to come up with a believable line of bullshit.

"Listen, I was really drunk-"

"Save it." She started to get up and put her clothes on. "God, I should've known everything you said was a load of shit. Christ, you don't even remember my name do you?"

Shit. Think. Think think think. Ease the crazy biter so you can get the hell out of there! Started with an A. Alyssa? Amber? Amy!

"Of course I do. Amy." Her scowl deepened. Guess not.

"It's Emily, asshole." He knew it was a vowel. He should get points for that at least.

"I said I was drunk! What do you want from me? You're the one that took a complete stranger home!"

There were moments in Dean's life that he wished the sensor between his brain and his mouth actually worked when it counted. The moment her nostrils flared and her lips curled into a not so attractive snarl, he booked it. Scrambling to get the door open, it barely registered that he forgot his boots.

Dad will love that.

He didn't have much time to miss them when one slammed into the back of his head, causing him to stumble forward.

"What the hell?!" He turned and a flash of movement had him ducking as the second boot narrowly missed his face. Chick had good aim, he'll give her that.

She slammed the door shut, using a few colorful words to describe how much he sucked, and he turned toward the road with a scowl. Sitting on the curb, he pulled his boots on and tried to figure out where the hell he was.

Figured that he'd end up in the suburbs. Not because it made a lick of sense that a girl like that would be in a dive bar on the bad side of town but because he had the shittiest luck ever.

He asked a passerby which way town was and started walking, hoping the Impala was still where he left it.


Dean felt the pressure in his chest immediately lessen when he saw the Impala in the parking lot of the bar. It wasn't the best place to leave her and he carefully gave the exterior a once over. No scratches, no dings, no dents. He was having a bad morning but he knew the fates didn't hate him that much to mess with the car.

Dean may have been completely hammered last night, but at least he saved enough brain cells to know not to drive. Small miracles. Not that he hadn't driven in worse conditions, but those times had been necessary. He didn't need his dad kicking his ass from here to Cleveland for being so stupid and reckless, no matter what the occasion may be.

Dean sighed and opened the driver's door, dropping himself in the front seat and laying his head back on the headrest.

Last night wasn't supposed to be any different from the others. He'd go out, get a little wasted, maybe hook up and pop out a quickie in the backseat, and head back with a smile on his face.

He drank more than he should've and went home with a girl he probably knew he wouldn't remember in the morning - didn't remember - and he certainly didn't have a god damn smile on his face.

Dean sighed and rubbed a rough hand over his face, morning stubble scratching at his palm. His headache was getting worse and his stomach was cramping.

Coffee. He needed coffee.

There was a diner 3 shady establishments away. He drove; like hell he was going to walk anymore than he had to.

The waitress was in her late 20's, early 30's maybe. There was nothing extraordinary about her looks, though she wasn't ugly really; plain and simple and forgettable. For once, Dean wasn't disappointed as last night's distraction had been such a spectacular disaster. He ordered his coffee and a breakfast he wasn't sure he'd keep down but something had to push the sourness from his gut.

He was pretty sure the hangover had nothing to do with that and everything to do with the situation.

Screw it. He wasn't going to think about it.

Except that was all he could think about lately.

The waitress came back with his coffee; told him his food would be up in a minute. He mumbled a thanks, his eyes briefly flicking upward in her general direction. If he'd been looking at her, he might have seen her shoulders slump just a bit at his disregard. Instead, he sipped the hot coffee, grimacing slightly at the heat and faint burnt taste. A moment later, she brought his food without a word and left just the same.

He was sat in a booth by a window overlooking the street and, for the first time, took a better notice of his surroundings. The buildings were old and falling apart in places and there was a broken phone booth that had seen better days. There were more pick-up trucks in the parking lot of the diner than sedans. It was a hick town and he wished, just once, they'd find a job in Maui or something. Despite being in the south, it was still winter and still too cold to go around without a jacket. They were heading up to Kentucky next and Dean was already cursing the snow. Digging graves in the dead of winter sucked ass and he wasn't looking forward to it.

Dean looked beyond the counter when a glass crashed to the floor. Plain Jane disappeared from view quickly. An older guy stepped out from the kitchen and even though he couldn't hear the words, he knew a reprimand when he saw one. Another girl came out the back, younger and much prettier but the resemblance was clear. Older Guy smiled and cooed at Pretty Girl and Dean rolled his eyes.

The blaring sound of a car horn brought him back to the window. By now, his coffee had cooled down some and so had his food. Maybe if he just sat and stayed for hours, the feeling in his chest and stomach would dim enough for him to forget that he shouldn't be here right now anyway. At least not alone.

If he'd stayed in last night, dad would be sitting across from him; probably reading the paper or his journal or anything else that saved him from talking about anything that wasn't related to a hunt. That was how things went nowadays. It didn't stop Dean from talking about all the shit he usually talked about or commented on but the conversation was more or less one sided and it was getting old.

He blamed Sam. He blamed the hell out of him.

Sam left and everything changed and Dean just really fucking hated it. Maybe he even hated Sam a little bit for it. He loved his brother more than anything and, because of that, he couldn't get used to this feeling. It was eating away at him and leaving him bitter. It had only been six months. Would he feel better or worse after another six?

They barely spoke. Dean had called him a few times to make sure he hadn't gotten himself killed yet but that was about it. Sam was settling into his normal, apple pie life and Dean was stuck continuing to live nightmare after nightmare. He knew what he did was something worth being proud of but that didn't mean he didn't wish sometimes that he could walk away. Sam walked away. He couldn't. He just fucking couldn't.

Sam was a selfish little bitch sometimes.

It wasn't like Dean didn't get it, because he really did. Dean had dreams too but what they did was important. Family was important.

It was important to him.

Dean knew deep down that he was a tad jealous of his little brother. He didn't bear the same weight that Dean did. Sam could love them and understand that they were a family but he never understood how tentative a hold you could have on those you cared about, despite of and because of their line of work. He never had to experience losing anyone. Sure, Dean was grateful Sam was spared that hurt but maybe if Sam had shared that pain with him and their dad then he would get it.

Then maybe he would've stuck around.

Dean clenched his jaw, anger coming through again. He had the right idea last night, fuck all that the morning after was shit. He was tired of thinking about this. For one day, one God damn day, nothing was going to be about Sam. Today was all about Dean, even if it was only in his head.

He downed the rest of this coffee and shoveled cold bacon and eggs into his mouth. They tasted like shit but he didn't care. That was going to be his motto of the day.

The waitress from earlier approached carefully with a pot of coffee. He wasn't sure of the look on his own face but when he finally looked into hers, he tried his best to look relaxed and unclench his jaw. She stuttered out an offer to refill his cup and he figured he'd failed. He took a deep breath, uncurled his fist, and slid the cup slowly to the edge of the table. In her haste to pour, hot coffee splashed the table.

Immediately, she was stumbling over an apology. It sounded like an worn out record and, in his head, he could hear his own voice screaming what he could never say.

God dammit.

Very suddenly, Dean felt like the ugly sister in his family. Not in the traditional sense, obviously. He was definitely the handsome one. But he'd give and he'd give and he'd give and none of it ever seemed to matter. He was sick of it.

"It's all right. Look, no harm no foul."

She stopped speaking and her hand stilled. She was looking at him with curious eyes and it unnerved him when just seconds ago she was as scared as a little kitten. Maybe they were both trying to figure out which one was the crazy one. He'd bet money on himself.

"Seriously. It's okay." She nodded slowly.

"Do you still want another cup?" She said it slowly, deliberately. He decided he needed to leave.

"No. That's okay," he finally caught her name tag, "Lucy. I should be going anyway."

"I'll get your bill." She hurried off again before he could say anything else. He wondered if he had this affect on everyone and he just never noticed before because he always had his geeky looking younger brother to smile their worries away. Sam had a way of putting people at ease and it was something Dean could never master quite so gracefully. That was never his thing and he was pretty sure it never would be. Sam could take his touchy feeling Oprah crap and shove it. He would feel better if he'd gotten to say it out loud and to Sam's face.

Shit. He was doing it again. He wasn't suppose to be thinking about Sam. It was just as well that he was leaving now. He obviously didn't need any more time for self reflection. Spend too long in your own head and you'll go crazy.

Lucy placed his bill on the table and he watched her flex her hands nervously at her sides before he looked up at her. Her eyes widened, like she'd been caught stealing the last cookie, and he realized she'd been staring at him. He gave her a small, reassuring smile and she finally seemed to relax a little.

"I can take that up for you if you'd like." He shook his head.

"Yeah, sure. Keep the change." He handed her a ten for his three dollar meal and stood up.

"I-I don't-" She paused and looked back towards the kitchen, no doubt where Older Guy and Pretty Girl were. "Thanks," she finally settled on. She had a soft smile on her face and Dean decided she wasn't so plain after all.

He gave her a lopsided smile and made his way out of the diner. Turns out he can manage just fine without his little brother.


Halfway back to the motel, his insides had started to coil. He wasn't sure it if was from the bad coffee or the anticipation of seeing his dad's face after getting back so late. Either way, the sensation wasn't welcome. Dad hadn't said much the night before. No surprise there. He wasn't sure what he was expecting when he got back but he could feel something gnawing in his gut like he needed something, anything from the old man. He should let it go and stop hoping things will eventually go back to normal but a part of him couldn't help it. This was probably the new normal and he better damn well get used to it.

Once he pulled up outside their room, Dean turned off the ignition and furrowed his brow. He knew there was a lecture waiting for him once he got inside about taking off for so long with the car and not checking in. Dean knew his dad wanted to take off today and he was sure he'd set them back a few hours at least by now. Unfortunately, he couldn't sit out here forever. Eventually, dad would come out, glare at him and tell him to get his ass in and pack up his stuff.

With a heavy sigh, Dean threw the door open and pulled himself out of the car. The door to the room was locked and he didn't bother knocking. He wasn't surprised to find his dad at the tiny "kitchen" table with the newspaper open to the obits. What did surprise him was the lack of anger on his dad's face when he looked up at him. He found himself apologizing anyway.

"Sorry I'm late. Won't happen again." He didn't get a reply or even a glare, just a slight nod of his dad's head. Okay, creepy Invasion of the Body Snatchers moment. Just as he was about to comment, John spoke up.

"You forgot your phone. Rang a little bit ago." Dean immediately patted his pocket, unnecessarily, never once realizing his cell phone wasn't with him.

"Uh... okay. When we leaving?"

"'Nother hour or so. Make sure you're packed."

And that was all he got. His dad's focus was back on the newspaper. He expected more but was silently glad to skip the lecture.

Dean scratched the back of his head and snatched up his cell phone from the counter. Instead of checking the missed call, he went straight to packing. When he finished, he took his bags and loaded them in the trunk. He paused before going back in and checked who called. The name that lit up across his screen made him stop completely.

Sam had called him. Not only had he called him, but he left a message. He actually considered deleting it without even listening to it. After all, he kept promising himself that today he wasn't going to think about Sam. It was a bit of a bitch move and he knew it. I could just as easily listen to it later. Maybe when he didn't feel like punching his brother in the face. Dean snorted at that. Might be a while. He stared at the phone a bit longer before he decided he was being a stupid girl about all this and dialed his voicemail. It would drive him nuts until he did and that kind of killed the point of not thinking about his brother. Sam's voice, unsure and stuttering, starting speaking.

"Hey, Dean. Uh, I just wanted-I mean I was just calling-" A heavy sigh blew through the receiver and there was a pregnant pause. "Happy Birthday."

Well fuck.