Hi there! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. This is my first story and so far I have received such wonderful encouragement and support. After receiving someone's very sound advice (you know who you are, and thanks!) and helpful tips I am going through the story and tweaking it and hopefully improving upon it. I hope you enjoy this. There are so many amazing authors and stories on this site, so thanks for checking this one out. I really do appreciate it and I would love it if you reviewed. Cheers!

Disclaimer: Not mine, excluding any errors you find. Those are totally mine.

It takes one week until Sam finally stops yelling. One week until all's quiet in Bobby Singer's house, in the basement.

Well, six nights and five days, anyway. Not that Dean's counting; he's not really up to doing much. Yet he manages to somehow preoccupy his vacuous time: with a case of beer and the underneath of a random hood in the salvage yard during the day and a bottle of Beam on the porch in the night. Interspersed with hours-long vigils by the demon-proofed iron door of the panic room. Just quietly sitting, listening, Sam making enough noise for the two of them.

It's Bobby who does the counting. How many times Dean's name is cried out by his younger brother, pleading, accusing, beseeching. How many times Dean rubs his forehead or swipes a hand over his mouth, agitated. How many times Dean surreptitiously scrapes his nearly full plate of food in the garbage or feeds it to an eager Rumsfeld the moment Bobby's back is turned. How many times he refuses to talk to Bobby. Not about anything that matters, anyway. Certainly not about what happened with Famine. Cas wasn't exactly generous with the details and Sam's too sick to even know where he is, let alone fill him in on the blank spots. So Bobby bites his tongue and watches Dean struggle. It's a trend that is becoming harder not to notice. With each passing day Dean seems to be more absent from himself, more withdrawn. Being in the same room as the hunter is an increasingly rare occurrence. It's no secret: Dean's a master of avoidance tactics and this week proves exactly that. When Bobby is in the salvage yard Dean is inside, researching. When Bobby's in the house Dean retreats to the basement to hunker down by the safe room door, as close to his brother as possible.

Bobby has yet to see Dean off his feet, though. And that means the elder Winchester probably hasn't been to bed this whole time, which is troubling to Bobby. One glance at the still made bed in the spare room confirms it. Dean and Sam's duffels are still sitting on top of the bed sheets, exactly where the older Winchester tossed them upon their arrival.

Castiel had left.

It's probably for the best and the angel knew it. Privacy is the best offering of comfort that can be provided Dean. Or at least, one less pair of eyes for Dean to have to avoid. The detox is just as hard on the older brother as it is on the younger. That they had dispelled Famine and freed the town from the Horseman's deadly influence can hardly be called a victory at this point. Not when it came at such a cost; not when Dean and Sam had to take two steps back. Back to this damn room. This waiting for the worst to be over, when Dean can finally unlatch the door and bring Sam upstairs to a real room and a real bed. Until then, Dean can't rest. Because Sam sure as hell isn't resting in there.

On the sixth day Bobby has decided enough is enough. The sun is beginning to go down, the day waning as fast as Dean. It's getting late, too late for this shit. With a determined set to his jaw he wheels himself out to the porch. Dean is sitting in his accustomed place: the top step, half empty bottle of booze in hand. When Bobby comes up beside the hunter there's no reaction. The elder man waits patiently for Dean to break the silence. He doesn't have to wait long.

"Something tells me that I'm not going to be crazy over what you're itching to say to me," Dean remarks dryly, squinting up to look at Bobby with whiskey-filmed eyes. The corner of his mouth tightens, into a smirk or a grimace Bobby can't be sure.

"No, I reckon not," Singer begins, "but I'm scratching, all the same."

Dean sighs, looks down, then back up at Bobby again.

"Then by all means, Bobby. Let 'er rip." A terse look, shoulders squared. On the defensive. But Bobby doesn't care how many toes he is figuratively stepping on.

"Boy, I'm sick of this. I know you're not talking about what happened, but you have to talk. It doesn't have to be with me, but it has to be with someone. Your brother –"

"My brother has enough on his plate, don't you think?" Dean cuts in, his voice little below a shout. "I mean, I don't know if you've been listening, Bobby, but this is the first time since we put him in there that he's been quiet for more than ten minutes. That son of a bitch, Famine, got to him and knocked him off the wagon. Now he's paying the price," Dean falters and takes a long pull of whiskey.

"And you seem to be paying yours," Bobby remarks. "With interest, it looks like. Dean, it's plain as day that you're exhausted. You've been running yourself into the ground since the moment you got here. You spend all day working underneath some wreck in the yard, but can you tell me which one?" He waits for Dean to rise to the challenge, exhales loudly through his nose when no response is prompted. "That's what I thought. You're just going through the motions. You're not eating, yet Rumsfeld seems to be getting fatter with each day. I know you're not sleeping. You need to take care of yourself, you idjit. You ain't helping yourself or Sam doing this."

You're just going through the motions. That's the second time Dean has heard that said to him recently.

You can't win, and you know it. But you keep fighting, just keep going through the motions. You're not hungry, Dean, because inside you're already dead.

There's a pause in Bobby's tirade. Dean licks his lips, swirls the contents of his bottle and clears his throat lamely. He knows Bobby is waiting for him to say something. "Don't blame me if your dog likes your cooking more than I do," he says half-heartedly, with a shrug. "I thought I was doing the poor mutt a favor. I've seen the slop you give him."

"Dean, I'm just saying-"

"I know what you're saying, damnit." This time, there is no attempt at deflection. Dean meets the older man's gaze squarely, his face stoney. "I really do. But the only way I can take care of myself," he jerks a thumb at himself, "is by taking care of Sam. And I'm not doing that, Bobby. Otherwise, he wouldn't be tethered up and strapped down to a freakin' cot in your panic room. If I had done my job right…Instead, I left him vulnerable." He chuckles in derision. "I handcuffed him to the friggin' bathroom sink in that motel room and left him there for easy pickings. I may as well have shot off some demonic flare gun for him to be found by Famine's cronies. Maybe if I had done my job right I wouldn't have walked into that bastard's trap and needed Sam to come save the day by using his powers. So I know what you're saying, Bobby. But maybe you need to hear what I'm saying." Another drink from the bottle and Dean is up on his feet, clearly bringing the conversation, such as it is, to an abrupt end.

"I'm going to haul Sam out of there and take him upstairs where he can get some decent sleep. We through?" Dean doesn't wait for a response from Bobby. His footsteps retreat into the house, the screen door swinging shut behind him.

"Yeah," Bobby sighs to himself, looking out into the salvage yard, looking for answers that aren't not forthcoming. "Yeah, we're through."

Thanks again!