Different This Time

by DebC

Summary: "I'm a federal agent, Dean. Whatever you're here for, I don't want to know about it. In fact, it's best that I didn't."

Author's Notes: Written for comment_fic, prompt of: Supernatural/NCIS, any, Sam became a navy cop but Dean stayed a hunter.

For time line purposes, this is Season 3 of NCIS and Season 1 of Supernatural. Jess isn't dead, and Sam is probational NCIS agent, recruited by Gibbs after he didn't get into law school after all. It's highly possible that this will not be a stand alone piece.

"Different This Time"

Dean pulled the Impala into the circular driveway, going slowly through the circle as he checked the immaculate little townhouses he saw before him for address numbers. They all looked the same. They all looked... normal and boring. All the things Sammy had said he wanted when he left home all those years before. It had come after a huge fight with their father, and... Dean didn't want to think about it. He hated thinking about all things - untrue things, in his opinion - Sam had said in his anger. None of it was true. Their father was the best father in the world. He was like God. He was better than God, in Dean's eyes. He was cool and amazingly kick-ass, smart - street smart, not that candy-assed book learned smart like Sam wanted so badly - and capable of handling whatever threw itself at him.

This? Dean thought, finally locating the townhouse which was supposed to be Sammy's, was an abomination. A normal, boring, civilian abomination.

"How on earth could you live like this, Sammy?" he muttered under his breath. "I mean, really? All it needs is a white picket fence and you have Hell."

His brother wasn't here to answer him, of course, and Dean couldn't stick around anyway. At least, not during the day time. He'd passed a couple of motels on his way here, though, and that was good. He could come back later on tonight, when there was a ghost of a chance Sammy would be home. He only hoped his brother would be willing to listen to reason.


"DiNozzo!" Gibbs barked as he breezed past the desk where Tony was busy ragging on the probies. Both of them. Again. "Are you working, DiNozzo?"

"Hard as I can, Boss!" Tony shot back, while the other two agents exchanged glances.

McGee rolled his eyes skyward and muttered, "yeah, right." Gibbs heard him and whirled around, pointing at McGee first and then the other agent. "McGee, Winchester, get your asses back to the crime scene and see what else you missed."

"Missed, Boss?" Sam echoed, his brow wrinkling in confusion.

"Did I stuttered, Winchester?" Gibbs shot back with a glare that made the incredibly tall younger agent shrink noticeably.

"No, sir," Sam mumbled as he and McGee quickly escaped. As they left, they could hear Tony protest being left behind.

"But the probies..." he whined.

"Don't need you to hold their hands, DiNozzo. Now get back to those phone calls," Gibbs' voice insisted as it faded away from their ears.


"What exactly are we looking for, anyway?" Sam asked, as he looked around the densely wooded area where the dead body of a Marine had been found early yesterday morning.

McGee shrugged. "Dunno, but Abby and Ducky were both grasping at straws when Gibbs went to see them, so that means we retrace our steps."

Sam nodded his head. He hadn't been with the team long, and largely, he felt out of place most of the time. It was like being on the road with his father and brother, with them working so well together and Sam just... along for the ride. Tony was Gibbs' 'golden boy.' Tim was the computer geek. Abby was also good with computers, but in a quirky Goth way that defied convention. And Ziva was... well, God's gift to his big brother, if Dean had been around to appreciate her. Tough and gorgeous at the same time. And Sam had been thrust into the middle of it when he'd been hired on after failing to get accepted to law school. Recruited by Gibbs, he tried to remind himself. Tim had assured him that if Gibbs hadn't thought he had 'the right stuff' he wouldn't be there, but Tony had the uncanny knack of making him feel inferior. Calling him probie was one thing, but most often than not, it was "the Doublemint Dweebs" and that just served to make Sam feel very redundant at times. An outsider no matter where he went.

"Well, we'd best get started," he said to McGee, and they began the tedious task of searching the crime scene a second time. Oh well, he thought, as he stopped to examine some leaves which had been splattered with the victim's blood, it could be worse. He could be out here with Dean and it could be some kind of man-eating boogeyman they were hunting.


Sam was tired when he left work that night. He and McGee had been all over those woods for the second time in two days, but at least they'd found what Gibbs had sent them there to find - the killer's DNA amid the leaves. Still, it left him bone-weary and ready for a hot bubble bath, a warm meal, and some down time with Jess. He was, in fact, so focused on those wonderful thought that he didn't notice the car parked in front of the townhouse until he was almost half way up the steps.

No. It couldn't be.

He looked again, just to make sure, but there in his neighbor's second spot, sure enough, was the Impala. A cold feeling blossomed in the pit of Sam's stomach, and it felt too much like fear and hunger pains. The phantom remains of his life with his family.

"Maybe it's a different car," he mutted under his breath as he unlocked the front door and pushed it open. "Hey, Jess --" he called out as he stepped inside.

"Oh good! You're home!" his fiancee called from the kitchen. Sam followed the sound of her voice, just as she was saying, "You'll never guess who I found on our doorstep tonight!"

"Dean." It wasn't a guess, though, as Sam suddenly found himself staring at his older brother. Dean, ham sandwich in one hand and a bottle of water in the other, was leaning against the counter as he watched Jess put the finishing touches on their dinner. He smiled up at Sam... if you could call the cocky smirk an actual smile. Sam resisted the very strong urge he had to punch that look right off his brother's face.

"Hello, Sammy. Long time, no see."


"A cop, huh?" Dean commented as Sam walked out to the Impala with him.

"NCIS," Sam said, crossly, for the third time. "I'm a federal agent, Dean. Whatever you're here for, I don't want to know about it. In fact, it's best that I didn't."

"What do you mean by that? 'Whatever I'm here for'?" Dean tried to look hurt. "Can't a guy just want to see his little brother?"

Sam snorted. Jess may have been fooled by Dean's thousand-dollar smile and smooth as silk charm, but Sam wasn't. He knew his brother better than that. "No, Dean. You can't. And I won't even go into how you found me in the first place. Just... go on back to Dad and unfind me."

"I can't do that, Sammy."

"Like Hell you can't. Just go, Dean," Sam insisted. "Leave me and Jess alone."

Dean shook his head and stared at the Impala for a long time before looking back at his brother. "I wish I could that, Sammy, but I need you, man. Dad's... Dad's gone."

"What do you mean, gone?" Sam echoed with a sinking feeling.

"He went on a hunting trip a couple months back and I haven't seen or heard from him since."

Sam blinked, twice, trying to reign in the confusion swirling in his brain. Dad? Gone? Dean, unable to contact him? "He's been incommunicado before, Dean," he reminded, but the words sounded desperate in his own ears.

"It's different this time," Dean told him.

"Different ... how?"

Dean shook his head, looking around as if the shadows had ears. "Not here, man. I won't go into it out in the open like this." He sighed and shoved a motel matchbook into Sam's hand. "Here's where I'm staying," he said urgently. "Room 16. Come by around Noon tomorrow and I'll fill you in."

"I have to work tomorrow, Dean," Sam reminded him. He was beginning to think this was a ploy to get him back into the family business.

Dean shrugged and put his hand on the driver's side door of the Impala, clearly ready to leave. "Suit yourself, little brother. I'm checking out tomorrow afternoon. Gotta keep moving if I'm gonna find Dad. I need your help, but I'm not gonna beg anymore than I already have. If this family means anything to you at all, you'll be there come Noon."

"Dammit, Dean," Sam said to the shadows as he watched the Impala pull away. "I was out of it, damn you." He was out of it. He'd left that life behind him when he'd left his family for college. He was out... and and yet, somehow he knew come tomorrow, he'd be at the - he turned the matchbook over - Lucky Aces Motel at Noon, anyway.

Because no matter what he did, no matter how far away went, hunting wasn't a life you simply walked away from.