Round Here

Author's Note: I wrote this after 'My Blood Valentine' aired. I had a few health issues and had actually forgotten that I had written it until today when I was cleaning up a different story I'm working on and came across it. I reread it and thought I'd post it, being just a little under 48 hours until the boys are back in town. Maybe somebody would get something out of it.

BETA: This one is unbeta'd. I'm sending it without the eyes from MAZ101 to guide me. So, MAZ, when you return from France and see this, know I was thinking of you. I stuck in a 'hey' in here from you to me. And don't think I don't remember that your birthday is on my calendar next week. So, in a way, this is a bit of an early gift to you. Happy Birthday, my friend.

Round Here

"Here's the box of lemon bar mix you wanted."

Bobby had been a big help these past few days. Dean lost count on how many they had actually been there now. Past a week, maybe nine. Pretty sure he could count them all on his fingers. Maybe not. Didn't matter. What mattered was that two days ago (he remembered that day well), he opened up the door to the panic room. Cleared his throat loud and rough, made his presence known. Told his brother it was time.

Sam had yet to come out.

"What the hell's it for?"

Dean was reading the back of the box. Mix with 1/3-cup water and three eggs. "You got eggs?"

Bobby's eyebrows raised. "What do I look like? A chicken?" Then softened a bit and growled, "Yeah, kid, I got eggs, but –"

"Sometimes – not often – but sometimes when we'd stop in a café," Dean moved to the refrigerator, took out a carton of eggs. "Sometimes they'd have a lemon bar on the menu. If they did, Sam would get one every time."

Bobby blinked, watching him spin around, grabbing a mixing bowl from the cupboard, opening up the box, cracking an egg. "Jesus, I coulda just bought you a lemon square."

Dean didn't bother turning around. "No. If I make it from scratch, maybe he'll smell it, come up to –"

"Scratch?"

Dean shrugged, chanced a look behind his shoulder. "Yeah. Scratch."

To his credit, Bobby only nodded. Wheeled himself into the other room, hollering out a, "I'll let you get back to your baking, Julia Childs."

Dean ignored him, went back to his mixing and stirring and baking at 350° until the center was firm. He grabbed a dishcloth, when he couldn't find a potholder, and pulled out the creamy pastry. Topped it off with powdered sugar.

Then he pulled up a chair and sat down in front of the stairway and waited.

"Staring at my steps ain't gonna make him appear any faster."

Sometimes Bobby wasn't that big of a help.

"He'll come up when he's good and ready."

Dean cast a look over at his friend, tried not to make it look like he was needy or longing or, hell, even suffering, when really he just wanted to get this over with. "We need to be moving on."

"Yeah? And?" Dipped his chin down like he knew the punch line to some lame joke that wasn't even funny.

"And? And the world is coming to an end. We need to try and do something about it." Drummed his fingers on his knee, saw Bobby's eyes catch the motion and abruptly stopped.

Bobby seemed to be weighing him. Pulling Dean forward without even a touch. "And?" The question quiet like a baby's breath.

Dean swallowed, judged the simplicity of the word. Felt small. He dulled his eyes in an effort to protect himself and knew this was Bobby and there was no hiding from him. Not like with Dad or Sam. Bobby just always saw things differently with Dean. Still, he fastened his gaze and tried not to sound so pathetic when he answered, "And I'm tired."

He gave Dean a few seconds of silence and then raised a hand, palm up. "And?"

"Jesus, Bobby!" Dean spat out, ass off the chair, legs pouncing like a prizefighter. "What the hell do you want me to say?"

His right hand gripped one of his wheels as Bobby easily maneuvered his chair in the opposite direction. "He's not ready yet, Dean. You just sit your ass back down."

And sometimes Bobby just fucked everything up.

He heard the rush of his boots slapping against the stairs before he really let it register with him that he had gone down to the basement. He had promised himself two days ago when he told Sam it was time – and Sam didn't even roll over, didn't even look at him, just mumbled an "Okay" into the air – that he would not go down those steps to get him.

Sam was suppose to figure this out himself. He was suppose to be able to push his body off the goddamn cot and drag his own butt up the stairs without Dean having to come down and kick him off it.

He paused at the door.

And? And what? And... and he remembered a few months ago, Bobby on the phone with him telling him – no, begging him – to be gentle with Sam, that they needed to get him home, not drive him away. And Dean hanging up the phone.

He clutched the frame of the doorway, let his eyes settle on the inside of the panic room.

And? And he tried. He really did try to get through to Sam that night. But it was impossible without bringing that bitch… Dean breathed. Reminded himself that that was then. This was now. And this Sam wasn't that Sam.

He blinked slow and dry. Or was he? Who was playing who?

And? And he didn't want to think about it like that. He wanted to trust Sam. He wanted to be able to erase the stain from his brother's blood. He wanted to be able to make it okay for both of them. Not just say it, but make it true. But regardless of his bloodline, he wasn't that talented.

Sam was laying on the cot, pretty much the same way Dean had left him, back facing him, motionless, quiet. Dean shuffled in, seeing his brother's body flinch at the sound. And, it's not his fault. "Sam?" He asked, rounding the cot. "You doin' okay?" Which was a stupid question, but it really was what he wanted to know.

Sam stared ahead, eyes dark. Almost… almost soulless.

Dean felt his knee buckle, ignored it, backed up against the wall for a second, extra support, and then somehow walked over to Sam. "What's uh…" had to swallow again, pace himself. Bring him back, don't push him away. And? And, it's not his fault. "What's the plan?"

But Sam still wasn't responding. Wasn't hearing or seeing or talking.

A step forward and Dean stopped. First time in a long time he really would rather have Sam do something – spring back at him like a trigger – Dean could be the target, Sam could be the bullet. Just wanted some kind of human reaction.

He smirked, cocked his head, forced himself to look into his brother's eyes. And? And, I want to trust him. Blinked back something that seemed to disappear down his throat. Looked hard at Sam. I trust him. Didn't know if he really believed that, but still repeated it to himself. I trust him. "This is enough, Sam. Let's get out of here. We need to get upstairs." Used we, watched for a sign that Sam noticed.

Sam let out a sigh, like he was going to say something, and then nothing more came.

Dean stood still for a moment, just looking. He thought maybe he should have listened to Bobby; that Sam would come up when he was ready and that he should just turn away, go back up the stairs. Was thinking about doing just that when he thought, And? Kind of bit his lip when he said it because it sounded so wrong, "I made lemon bars."

Sam looked at him.

"I mean, it's from a box. I didn't… I added some eggs." Watched Sam watching him. "And some water."

Sam was thrashed. Bangs, once sweat-slicked, now dried to his forehead, eyes haunted, cheekbones hollow, body like a corpse just lying there staring at him. Everything felt sharp, rough around the edges.

Dean didn't know if he could take much more of the stare. He lowered his eyes, but kept them fixed on his brother, refusing to be the first to break away. "You know, this whole thing," Dean waved his hands like he was a magician, "none of this is your fault. You… you know that, right?"

It was painful to hear when Sam spoke, his voice gutted like Dean's insides, dead and unfeeling. "Not yours, either."

Dean felt his lip twinge. It was a tough position knowing that the heavens had planned for your parents to meet, fall in love, just so you could be born to either save or destroy the world. But, still…"No." Then said it like he meant it, "No, it's not." Blinked. Technically.

Sam pushed his torso off the cot, spaghetti arms somehow keeping his weight from crumbling back down, until he was sitting, arms folded across his middle, looking very fragile. He smiled. Shaky but defiant, dimple as deep as the Grand Canyon and Dean sucked in a breath.

"You know what I regret?" Sam asked, eyes glaring, yet distant and Dean found that he couldn't find his voice this time. So he shook his head, waited. "I never asked her," licked his lips, still dry, "I never asked Mom not to have me. To just have you."

"Sam –"

"I mean, think about it, if they only had you – "

"You're an idiot. It wouldn't have worked," Dean spoke up too fast, too sure of himself. "It was their destiny – or whatever – to have both of us, man. Besides, Michael scrubbed their heads clean anyways. She wouldn't have remembered it."

Sam nodded. "But before we knew all that, I could've asked her to do it."

"What's wrong with you? Why would you think that and–" And? And, Dean stopped. He wouldn't say it. Couldn't say it but he got it then. Because no matter what Sam had done to get to the place he was now, no matter if it was his fault or not, no matter what the future held for him, he was Dean's brother. No one compared to that. The thought of a life without Sam… "No, Sam, we're a package deal." Toggled a finger back and forth to accent the fact. "You go, I go."

Sam looked away. Dean was grateful, actually. Needed the break to fucking breathe. He placed a hand on his hip, looked round here at the easy living in Bobby's basement, eyes skimming back to his brother. But Sam wasn't saying anything else and after a few minutes, the panic room actually did start to make you panic a little. Dean was ready to grab Sammy and haul ass. He kicked at Sam's foot gently with his own, nudged his head toward the door. "Come on, let's get outta here."

There were plenty of other moments in their lives where this would have been the point where Dean just walked away, huffed back up the stairs and waited for Mopsy to follow him up. But Sam's eyes swung back around and everything kind of flashed for a moment across his face, decorated with hazel hues – anger, fury, hate, need, abandonment, fear, love. It made Dean count his blessings. Never made it past the five fingers on his right hand.

"I don't know where my limit is anymore," Sam admitted quietly. "I don't know when to push, when to hang back." Waited a few heartbeats and then, "I don't know what's on the other side."

Dean felt his mouth bend a little, a sad smile. Never one to deny Sam, always willing to give his brother a little of himself, chip by chip. So he nodded. "That's why we got to get out of here. I don't know, either, you know? And…" hesitated on the word… "and I got to know, Sam. I got to know how the story ends."

They locked eyes, a long moment held. Sam shifted, his hands grasped the rails of the cot. "Okay."

Dean let out a long breath, hadn't realized it had been choking him. "Okay?" he asked, not sure he was following. "Okay, like okey-dokey?"

Sam shrugged, chanced a glance at the door, then back to Dean. Eyes on him, red, but dry. Exhausted beyond words. "Okey-dokey."

He let another few unsteady seconds tick by before he made the first step. The distance was short, walking in space where only the moon could look down on them, angels getting a better view. He sidled knee to knee with his brother and Dean reached over, cupped his hand under Sam's armpit. "You think maybe we could update Bobby's poster collection?" Dean joked as he hoisted Sam up, letting his brother use him for support and balance. He felt Sam's fingers entwine in his shirt. "Megan Fox or Jessica Alba –"

He heard a wheezy gasp and stilled, looked down at the brown hair, pulled into stiff tufts from Sam's own shaky fingers. He could feel the pull from Sam's hold tighten, yanking his t-shirt down with his brother's weight. The room, when quiet, was absorbed in silence and when Sam released the gasp, the pain echoed off the iron walls.

Dean felt his vision swim. Sam and his fucking waterworks. His brother had somehow wrapped himself midway up Dean's body, arms knotted around his back, and just stopped, not able to go any further. Sam's head was buried in Dean's abdomen and the sounds that were coming from him was somewhere between breakdown and reconciliation. Dean's hand hovered over the back of him, not knowing what to touch, if he should touch.

Either way, Sam's body was too heavy to hold and Dean eased him back onto the cot. Sam broke away, head in his hands, consoling himself, trying to gain some control.

Dean sat down next to him. He blinked heavily.. not gonna cry… felt a bit like a little kid sitting next to his little brother and then… "Sammy?" His arm slung across Sam's shoulders, brought him in closer. Because he'd take Sam as-is. There was no changing who he was or who he'd become. All they could do was fight what plans were in store. And the best way to win that fight was together. In reality, he just wanted his brother. This brother.

Sam fell against him, his head tucking under Dean's chin. And Dean took his weight. Accepted it. He looked at the iron walls ahead of him, wished suddenly they could carve their names into it. But then it all blurred dangerously. "You know what?" He asked, his voice clogged, probably the dust in the air. "I think maybe I'll just stay a while."

Thought maybe Sam answered him when he felt him sigh.

A/N: Thanks for reading! I guess I'm out of my dark phase and into an angsty phase! Hope you enjoyed - Party like it's Thursday!