Evil is inherently stupid. It's so stupid in fact, it doesn't know how stupid it is.

Case in point – Sam goes missing from a motel in Texas. Dean is on the phone to me probably seventeen seconds after he decides something is wrong. And every half hour after that. Every half hour for a week he was calling me and Ellen and Sam's phone. I'd hate to see his phone bill.

Finally I got the call,

"Bobby, he just called me. I'm on my way there now. I'll let you know."

And then later,

"I got him, he's alive. Something's going on though – he's covered in blood but it's not his, and he says he can't remember this whole past week. He's in taking a shower now and I'm getting us something to eat. After that I'm gonna drag him around and see if anything rings his bell. I'll let you know."

Two days after that, Sam shows up on my porch like all is well and nothing has happened. The demon inside of him was too stupid to realize I'd be Dean's first and last phone call when there's trouble, and especially when there's trouble with Sam. And even if I hadn't known already that there was trouble, Sam wouldn't just up and visit me for no reason, and especially with no Dean. I knew as soon as he was on my door step that something was up and it wasn't that demon's IQ.

So I slipped some holy water into some beer and game over. Dean arrived not long after that and we got Sam back with us, safe and pretty much sound, except for those burns on his arm and the right hook Dean blessed him with, 'just because'.

Dean had gotten the worst of it in the couple of days he'd been with not-Sam; getting shot and nearly drowned, bar-side surgery to get the bullet out, having Sam's hand crushing into that wound, and pummeling his face. And the very worst of course – seeing his baby brother trapped, and knowing he was in there calling out for help that we were having a hard time giving. So when things were back to normal, Winchester normal, Sam helped Dean to my couch and rustled up my first aid kit and painkillers.

Instead of getting to work on Dean though, he handed the kit to me and muttered something about getting ice and walked out again. Dean gave me a look and huffed a breath and started to stand up.

"Sit. Before I staple you to the cushions. That shoulder needs looking at."

"Sam needs -."

"Sam needs to get ice for your face and his arm. Sit."

He sat.

I cleaned out the wound for him and stitched it up and wrapped it around with gauze instead of just tape, and for as long as I took, Sam still hadn't come back into the room. Dean was ready to jump up as soon as I was done, but I told him,

"Sam just had to watch himself shoot you and beat you and torture you, and God knows what else. Let me."

He nodded, though he was still coiled like a clock spring ready to strike the hour, and I went out to the kitchen. Sam was at the sink, filling my ice pack one slow ice cube at a time.

"Let me see that arm." I said.

"It's OK."

"Don't make me make you."

It wasn't as hollow a threat as it might've been another time. Sam didn't get shot maybe, but having a demon pulled out of you isn't a cake walk by any stretch, and one good push would land him back on his ass.

So he turned and held his arm out toward me and I gave him the look I'd given Dean not twenty minutes before.


He sat.

He rested his arm on the table top while I eased a good dollop of antibiotic cream into the burns and the fingers of his other hand tapped some erratic jazz rhythm on my table. He wouldn't look at me.

"How're you doing?" I asked him. For one thing, I knew Dean was listening and wanted to know that answer to that question. For another thing – I wanted to know the answer to that question. Dean wasn't the only one who'd been calling me. I knew a hunter not far from me had been found butchered. I knew Dean had found Sam covered in somebody else's blood. I knew Sam was gonna bite down on that and not let go for as long as he lived.

"I'm fine."

"You're not."

He wasn't gonna argue me, but he wasn't gonna answer me either.

"I need to bring Dean the ice."

He pulled his arm away and stood up and I let him. If he was going to Dean willingly, that was a good sign. He filled up the ice pack and carried it to his brother. I notice he hadn't gotten any ice for himself so I pulled a cold pack out of my freezer and followed him in. I would've held back if I thought they'd be talking even part of this whole thing out but I knew, from knowing them, that they wouldn't get to the guts of it until later, after they'd each had their time to sort out what had happened, what they remembered happening, and how they figured the other one was reacting to it. That took a lot longer than a few minutes.

Sam walked up to Dean, still waiting on my couch. He handed over the icepack then stood there, waiting. I knew the ice was a way of apologizing and I knew that he needed to know Dean was accepting both from him.

"Thanks, Sammy." Dean said, and it was enough. Sam dropped himself into a chair at my desk and rested his head in his hands.

"Here, you need this." I set the cold pack on the desk next to him, and the tube of antibiotic cream next to that. "In case you don't have enough in your med kit."

"Thanks." He slid the medicine into his pocket and pressed the cold pack to his burns. I looked to Dean for some idea where things should be going now, but he was looking at Sam and nowhere else. Maybe I was wrong; maybe there was something that needed saying between them right now.

"I'll be right back." I said, leaving to get them some anti-possession charms, and to figure out how I was gonna ask them about that other hunter.

I wasn't even out of the library, they weren't even out of my eyeshot, when Dean stood and walked over to Sam and put an arm around his shoulders that pulled him into a good, hard hug against his side, and Sam leaned into the hug.

"Okay?" Dean asked.

"Yeah." Sam answered him.

That stupid demon never stood a chance.

The End