Sam gazed tentatively out the window of the little coffee shop on the western side of Stanford's campus. It was his favorite little place to get away, and one of the only places in the area that sold honest to god coffee. Despite the jibes his brother used to toss his way, Sam would take a cup of joe over what Dean called a "girly drink" any day. Or at least he would recently. In the past month since he had left his family to attend college, Sam found himself being drawn to what was familiar with an unbearable ache and undeniable hunger. This coffee shop in particular reminded him of many things. The cozy little ma and pop shop reminded him of the ones he and his family would visit almost every morning to get their "good morning in a cup". Sam found himself falling back into his pre-college routine and made a cup of coffee from this shop part of his morning ritual. Sam loved it here. He loved the way he could easily sink into the comfortable cushions of the three or four booths inside the diner. He loved that there was hardly ever anyone here (aside from a small collection of loyal customers) and it gave him a quiet place to study or unwind after a stressful day of classes. But most of all, he loved the smell. The smell of brewing coffee reminded him of home. And aside from the subtle wisps of old leather or aftershave he'd sometimes pass on the street, it was the one smell that would easily remind him of Dean.
Lori, daughter the coffee shop's owner, brought Sam back to reality as she approached his table.
"Can I top you off sugar?" She asked a gentle and slightly flirtatious smile on her lips. She knew Sam as one of their best customers, a kind, intelligent man who among other virtues tipped exceedingly well.
"Yes please Lori. Thank you." Sam blushed softly slightly embarrassed at being caught day dreaming. He looked up into the waitress's freckle spattered face and immediately thought of Dean. His brother would have loved the blue eyed cutie. He could just picture his brother sitting in this coffee shop with him; his rugged smirk aimed at what he would assume would be a good time, making some sharp witted comment about Sam's feminine drink. She filled up his mug and then walked away her hips giving an extra swing to her step as if she was aware that a very attractive patron was watching her. Sam knew that if Dean was here, he sure as hell would have been.
Sam sighed. Had it really been a whole three months since he had last seen his brother? He knew that time would fly by when he was at school. His studies kept him busy and his after school book keeping job truly limited his free time and the availability of a social life. But what choice did he have? After all, having a free ride didn't mean having money for leftover expenses like food and clothing and up keep on his crappy, little, used Honda Civic. It was true that he and Dean managed to talk on the phone, if only for a few moments in-between classes, every other week, but it still was a shock to Sam to suddenly have so much alone time after being cooped up with his older brother almost 24/7 when they were kids. Sam promised himself to be better about calling his brother on a more regular basis. But that didn't matter so much today. Today was going to be a great day, he already knew it. He was so excited he could hardly sleep a wink and now he found himself sitting anxiously in the little booth fighting to establish a balance between his racing heart and his wistful mind. Sam was dragged away from his head again when he heard a grumbling engine. He looked up and anxiously peeked out the window; his face fell when he realized it was nothing but a passing Harley. Sam glanced at the clock on the wall and his stomach did a flip when he realized the hour. His old hunter senses kicked into high gear and he was filled with worry that something bad could have happened to the person he was waiting for. His guest had never been late before, and if he was he'd call. Sam dug into his jacket pocket and pulled at his cell phone. Flipping it open he stared at the screen, but there were no missed calls. Sam wondered if he should call and make sure everything was alright. However, before he could flirt with the idea anymore he was startled by a fierce rumble that filled the parking lot. He knew without looking who it was. He knew that sound like the back of his hand. Sam slipped his phone back in his pocket and relaxed back into the booth. Everything was going to be fine.
The bell over the door jingled as a man wearing an old leather jacket pushed his way inside. His body was tense as he gazed around the shop taking in all his surroundings and momentarily mapping exits. Sam smiled, nothing had changed. The man's gaze rested on Sam in the back corner of the shop and his face instantly lit up.
"Sammy!" he called and took off at a more than a dignified pace toward his brother. Sam stood and coughed out a surprised laugh as Dean barreled into him. Dean gripped him tight in a hug, losing himself for a tender moment before he realized he was in public and let Sam go. They stood back and examined each other. Sam had filled out since Dean had last seen him his features chiseled to that of a man instead of a lanky teenager.
"You look great!" Dean said his voice beaming with pride and excitement of beholding his not so little brother again.
Sam took in Dean. He seemed a bit worse for ware since the last time they met. He looked skinnier and even slightly gaunt; his eyes had dark circles under them, one adorning a newly healing shiner. But through all of it, Dean still wore his smile easily and it made Sam feel lighter and more carefree than he had felt in a long time.
"You too Dean," Sam lied, he moved forward and hugged him again, "It's so good to see you."
The men sat in the booth letting an easy silence pass between them for a few moments as they basked in the joy of seeing each other again. Lori, who had seen the exchange between Sam and the newcomer, was timid to approach and burst the atmosphere that had surrounded the two. But the carefree smile from Sam and the gorgeous grin from his handsome friend encouraged her enough to go take the stranger's order and refill Sam's cup. Dean and Sam emerged from their silent conversation as she came to stand at their table. She blushed at the grins pointed her direction from the men.
"Can I get you a refill Sam?" She asked taking his cup before he could reply knowing the answer and then turning to his friend, "Would you like something?"
"Well, I don't think what I want is on the menu," Dean flirted. Lori giggled and Sam just rolled his eyes. Dean looked at Sam's cup in her hands. "What are you having Sammy?"
"Coffee, Dean," Sam replied cheekily.
"Sam the crap you drink isn't coffee. Its pansy in a cup," teased Dean.
"Not these days Dean," Quipped Sam, "It's a straight cup of joe. Black."
Dean raised his eyes in surprise before a content smile spread on his face and turned to Lori, "Darlin, I'll have what he's having. Thanks."
"Sure thing Sweetheart," Lori said to go fill the order. As soon as she was out of earshot Dean turned to Sam. "I totally see why you ditched us for Stanford! They weren't kidding. Everything is hotter in Cali."
"The saying is everything is bigger in Texas, Dean. And please don't put it that way…I didn't ditch you guys." Sam finished softly.
Dean, who was distracted by a gaggle of girl in low cut tops passing the window, turned back to Sam. "What? No of course not! I mean….Sorry that came out wrong."
Sam was about to reply when Lori returned two steaming cups of brew in her hands. She placed them down in front of the brothers.
"Here you go boys. Nice and hot," she flirted, her eyes riveted on Dean. He returned the favor with a wink. She turned and swayed her hips as she walked away. As Sam had predicted Dean eyed her ass until she was behind the counter. Some things never change.
They sipped their coffee as an uneasy silence fell between the two. They both had a lot to say but neither was sure how to say it, or where to start. They were still a finely oiled machine and knew each other well, but they had been away from each other for too long and now they needed time to retune with one another. It was Sam who broke the silence.
"What happened to your eye?"
Dean looked hesitant before replying with an answer about as informative as a grunt, "Hunting."
Sam knew that was his hint from Dean to leave it alone and so he attempted to switch the subject again.
Dean took a long contemplative pause using the cover of drinking his coffee. "Good. He's fine."
Sam knew he would get no where with these condensed answers and decided to employ a new tactic.
"So has he said anything?" When Dean gave an inquisitive look, he clarified. "You know…about me and Stanford?"
Dean sighed. "Sam. Leave it alone."
"So he hasn't?" Sam pushed.
"Sam. No. Cut it out!" Sam knew he struck a sensitive cord when Dean reacted the way he did. Listening to his better sense he let it go, realizing he didn't need Dad to ruin the makings of a perfect day.
"So…" Sam began but was cut off when Dean jumped the gun.
"How's school? You doing okay?"
"Yeah. It's great. I really love it here." Sam replied happily. A proud smile lit up his face.
"I'm glad to hear it." Dean realized he didn't have a clue what to ask next. "So uh…what are you studying?"
"You mean, what's my major?" Sam asked for clarification.
"Yeah. Sorry." Sam frowned. Dean was apologizing more than he used to. He made a mental note to ask him about it later.
"Pre-law. I want to be a lawyer."
Dean choked on a gulp of coffee. "You're kidding me. You spent your entire childhood helping your family break the law and now you want to study it?"
Sam looked embarrassed and replied sheepishly, "You're right. It's stupid."
Dean realized he must have said something wrong and corrected his teasing, "I think that's awesome Sam. I think you'll be great at it. God knows that you are stubborn enough to be a lawyer. Hell, you drove Dad and me nuts for years with all the arguing you achieved."
Sam's face brightened at his brother's approval, "Really? You think so?"
Dean couldn't help but laugh at how much Sammy sounded like a kid just then. "Yeah, I do. So what else have you been up to?"
"Well…there's this girl. Her name's Jessica. She's really-"
"Sorry to interrupt," Lori cut in placing a check on the table. "I'd just thought I'd give you this. Take your time please."
Dean snatched the bill away before Sam could reach it and laughed as he opened it to find a number scribbled in red on the receipt. "Well, I guess she is serving more than was on the menu."
Sam laughed and he pulled out a ten and walked up to the counter to pay for their drinks. Dean glared but secretly smiled at the boldness of his brother.
"Very sneaky Sammy," Dean remarked as they made their way out to the parking lot. He glanced at his watch and visibly flinched. Was it really that late all ready? Dean sighed at the realization that he had to cut their good byes short. He took the receipt out of his pocket and crumpled it up and threw it away knowing he wouldn't be back anytime soon. That is, at least not for some easy tail.
"You're throwing it away?" Sam inquired, "Dude you're seriously passing up some free nookie? You, Dean Winchester? Are you feeling alright?"
Sam turned to his brother to see that tenseness had enveloped Dean's stance again.
"It doesn't matter. Sammy…I…" Dean said quietly, it sounded almost like a plea.
"What's going on?" Sam asked concerned. "Are you ok? Dean?"
Dean swallowed and tried to get a normal timbre back in his voice, "Yeah, I just…I have to get going."
"So soon?" Sam couldn't hide the disappointment in his voice. "I thought we could hang out tonight. I still have my fake ID. I thought we could go play some pool and maybe have a few drinks."
"That sounds great Sammy. I really wish I could. But Dad…" Dean caught himself before he said too much.
"What about him Dean?"
"I…I have to be getting back." Dean said simply, shrugging.
"Dean, what about Dad?" Sam ordered, anger starting to build.
"He… doesn't know I'm here." Dean answered defeated. "I had to sneak out. We were in the area for a hunt. He thinks I'm talking to witnesses."
"I don't understand. I thought you said that everything was fine. You told me he gave you permission to come visit before you met up in Oregon."
"Sammy…"Dean said softly almost timidly as Sam started raising his voice.
"You lied to me?"
"No. I didn't. I just-"
"Just what? What's going on? What's going on between you and Dad?"
There was silence and things started to click into place.
"No. It can't…You didn't get that black eye from hunting did you?"
Dean stammered trying to find words that wouldn't come.
"He did that to you, didn't he?"
Den's whole body crumpled.
"He hit you! I…I thought you said he had stopped! This isn't stopped Dean. I thought you said he was seeking help. That he quit drinking." Anger was coursing through Sam's veins.
"He…he did. For a little while at least. Look everything was…is….fine." Dean tried to explain.
"This isn't fine Dean. He hitting you is not fine." Sam argued and then stopped, realizing what had triggered the sudden violence his father had been struggling so hard to repress. "This is my fault. I left and he fell off the band wagon...Oh my God! Why didn't you tell me Dean?"
"It doesn't matter," Dean whispered.
"What?" Asked Sam struggling to hear his brother.
"I said it doesn't matter." Dean said stronger this time. His stance changed and now he looked confrontational. "Look Sam. Yes, Dad hit me. So what? Yes. He's pissed. He is pissed off about you leaving. He feels like you abandoned the family. He's hurt and feels betrayed. So what if he hit me? I fucked up alright! I gave him a reason to hit me. I deserved this. So you shouldn't care about it. Now drop it."
Sam was shocked from Dean's outburst. He let the air clear a bit before he murmured, "But, I do care. It's not right for him to hit you. Dean, he promised he would change. He said he would try to be better…It's not fair. It's not right for him to break his promise. I grew up watching him beat the crap out of you for stupid shit! You never deserved it. It killed me every time you had to clean yourself up in our bathroom. It killed me even worse when I knew I was the reason for you getting hurt…I just…It's not fair!"
Dean said gently, "You're right Sammy. It isn't fair…Dad tried alright. He really did. But, sometimes you can't change no matter how hard you try. Frankly, I think this is a good thing."
"How the hell can you say that?" Sam asked tears starting to brim and he wiped them away stubbornly.
"Because, at least I feel better knowing you won't be caught in the cross fire." Dean simply stated.
The air was deadly thick and not a sound pierced the dark corner of the parking lot. Then just like lightning the air exploded.
"You bastard!" Sam screamed reaching forward and grabbing the front of Dean's shirt in fists. "Do you really have such a low opinion of your self worth that you are seriously trying to justify this bullshit with my safety? Are you trying to tell me its okay for Dad to hit you because it's you and not me?"
Dean didn't even fight; he just hid behind his carefully constructed walls. "Sammy…"
"No! There is something broken in you if you seriously believe that! I'm so sick of you and Dad and your "protect Sammy" bullshit! If you haven't noticed Dean I'm a big boy now! I don't need your protection. I don't need you! Sammy's dead. So don't you dare tell me that my father is not a sadistic asshole, because loving one kid over the other isn't right! I'm so sick of the nonsense, sick of this family! You know what? Fuck Dad! And fuck you too! I'm done with this family."
Sam shoved Dean away and started making his way over to his Civic, digging in his pocket for the keys. Dean reached out to stop Sam and before Sam knew what happened he sent a meaty fist into Deans already bruised face. They were both stunned for a second. Sam snapped out of his stupor first and continued his way to the car.
"Just get the fuck away from me! Maybe you aren't ready to let go of your responsibility, but I'm ready to let go of you! Just get out of here. Don't come back. Maybe this way you'll learn to stand up for yourself Dean!"
With that Sam slid into his car and bolted out of the parking lot. He drove back to his dorm room. Dean grasped his bruising cheek softly and slid into the Impala. It wasn't until they both knew they were alone in their separate parking lots before they allowed themselves to cry.
That's all for now folks! Thank you for reading. Please review. I'm planning on making this a multi-chapter fic…but only if people are interested. Let me know what you think. If I do continue I promise there will be more Hurt!Dean and Guilty! Pissed! Sam