"Would ya stop feeding the birds!"

A mischievous grin found its way across Sam's face as his eyes shot up to look across the black mesh table at his older brother. Sometimes I live just to see that look on his face… The look that spoke volumes of annoyance, mouth set in a thin line and green eyes staring unappreciatively.

Dean had been particularly squeamish the past few days, mostly because Sam had been pushing and pushing himself and, according to his sibling 'trying to give him a fucking heart attack!' The older man had been treading lightly, choosing words carefully and dancing around subjects which remained raw, sensitive.

But Sam didn't mind…he was too busy attempting to elude the hawk eyes forever glued to him, you'd think they'd abandon the whole mother hen act after the first ten times one of them was fed up with it. But Dean was set and determined, Sam was lucky he even got to tie his own stupid shoe laces.

He'd admit…it had been close. Way to close…even for them. And Sam saw it in Dean's eyes; he saw the fear, how much the events had shaken him. Not much could do that to the Winchesters, which made it easy to tell when Sam should accept help or fight for independence. And right now he knew he had a few more open opportunities before Dean reached his boiling point.

Sticky crumbs rolled between his fingers, sprinkling lightly down onto the cracked pavement where pigeons, always with their wide eyed anxiety, pecked and squabbled over them. "Lighten up, dude…birds gotta eat too."

Dean's narrowed eyes flickered across the newspaper laid out on the table, silver ring squeaking across his styrofoam coffee cup, "Well you're attracting a freaking flock! Wouldn't have bought the damn muffin if I knew you weren't even gonna eat it…"

Only half way listening, Sam continued tearing off pieces of his breakfast and tossing it to the ground, fascinated as the birds ventured closer and closer. He may have mumbled something about not being hungry…but his eating habits had been sketchy at best for awhile now, Dean having to virtually stuff things down his throat.

The abrupt slam of Dean's hand on the table diverted his attention immediately from the pigeons, the vibration scaring them off in a frantic flutter of wings. Guess I misjudged. His older brother's eyes flared for a moment and Sam feared what he would say next. But instead, Dean smiled, surely a mirror image of the one he himself had worn mere minutes before. "Oops, guess I scared them off…my bad."

Sam glared half heartedly, glad at least things were relatively back to normal, as normal as they could be in any case. Dean leaned forward a bit, still refusing to acknowledge the article Sam had promptly planted in front of him, even with the side of wide, pleading puppy dog eyes. Which usually worked…but this time his older brother could not be deterred. "Sam…" that tone again, the one that commanded attention, and when hazel met green, it continued, "eat."

A nod to the sad looking blue berry muffin, picked to pieces by his own fingertips, should have fed the stupid birds faster… Sam's stomach tightened, a brief flash of pain stretching through his abdomen when he moved in his seat, unable to hide the small wince which snuck across his features.

Dean had been staring at him closely the entire time, concern mixed with a good deal of frustration as his brow line furrowed, "See! And that is exactly why we're not doing this hunt!"

Muffin completely forgotten, thankfully, Sam tensed, ready for another go around of the same argument. "Oh come on, Dean! I'm perfectly fine! I can handle this, I swear, it's just a salt and burn!" When the stone facial expression did not change, only a small twitch of the nose as he spoke, Sam continued, "I'm losing my mind here! We're just sitting ducks, watching on the side line, and I'm ready for this!" There was some intense staring, both brothers much too stubborn to look away first.

At last his elder sibling leaned back in his chair, hand rubbing at his face as he released a deep breath through his nostrils. A small spark of hope flared in Sam's chest, heart beat fluttering as he waited for the response. Dean sighed again, fingers tugging at his blond cropped hair, which carried a blue hue due to the sun shining through the table's umbrella and pouring against their skin. "I don't know, Sammy…maybe we-maybe we just left Bobby's too early. I mean…are you sure? Because I don't want to be dragged into something unless you're absolutely positive you can handle it."

And that's when Sam really knew he had the look down, because Dean was caving…after all, he always did eventually. He grinned, straightening slightly, "I can handle it, I promise," as he spoke he pushed the article closer, "please, Dean?"

Dean's gaze studied him for several moments, eyes calculating. And finally, he smiled faintly back, Sam's over all eagerness appealing to the side of his older brother writhing in the throngs of cabin fever. He knew Dean well, which is why he knew that though he was concerned, way too concerned in fact, for Sam's welfare, he was also itching for a hunt probably more than Sam was. Nobody likes to feel useless…but the Winchesters hated it because they knew just how useful one could be.

"Okay…how about I say I'll look into it if you finish the rest of that muffin." The smile widened as Sam's face obviously fell. "Unless, of course, you don't wanna do it anymore…"

"No! I'll eat it…" As if to prove his point, he took a tentative bite, trying desperately to disregard the way his stomach flipped in protest. I'll get rid of it when Dean's not looking. Too bad the green orbs rotated between the article and Sam's face, making sure he kept his end of the bargain. But if puking a half hour later was what it took to convince his brother to hunt again, then Sam would do it…

Unfortunately, it wasn't a half hour later and instead it was three miniscule bites later. Sam was in such a hurry pushing up from the table, the flash of Dean's surprised, worried gaze, that he didn't see the giant man shuffling in a hurry behind him, balancing two cups of coffee in just as giant, meaty hands.

Sam slammed into him, hot brown liquid splashing everywhere, drenching down over their clothes and splattering onto the concrete. Pain ripped itself way through him, a deep tear seeming to reverberate inside as a surprised cry ripped from his lips. The huge man's face faltered a moment, furious anger turning his cheeks red.

But Sam's surroundings still blurred in and out and he was too busy fumbling some half ass apology to read the aggressive signs or make any move to protect himself. The next thing he knew he was being slammed against the same table Dean was desperately trying to disentangle himself from, the man's fisted hands gripping his jacket and shirt. His head bounced against something hard, ringing echoing in his ears as he scrambled to free himself, vaguely aware of sticky wet warmth spreading across his middle.

Then the huge hands were gone, the sound of Dean's enraged yelling and the distinct pound of flesh against flesh. A pained grunt, and the crash of a body falling without restraint. The black dots drifting across his vision cleared just in time to see his older brother turn from the fallen body of the attacker, knuckles still white in a fist.

"Sam? Sammy? Hey, you okay?" It was like Sam blinked and then Dean was there, in his face. Why is everything spinning? "…awake!" Fingers snapping, popping sounds delayed and warped inside his mind.

Sam blinked again…harshly, "Wha-? I'm…awake, m'fine."

"Yeah…I think that's exactly the same thing you were telling me ten minutes ago, right before he stood and bolted right into Mr. Sunshine over there." A jerk of the head over his shoulder, quote 'Mr. Sunshine' still unconscious. Poor guy…probably was having a bad enough day as it was, Sam most likely just put him way behind in his anger management classes.

Only then did he become aware of the hesitant crowd the commotion had drawn the attention of. They weren't exactly in the middle of nowhere, the town Dean had insisted they stop for a few weeks in more upscale than usual. But of course, trouble found them.

"Shut up…jerk." But when Sam made a move to try and sit up, shoulders digging into the overturned metal table, the numb pain burned again, a shocked gasp escaping his lips as his hand moved to his abdomen.

Dean immediately frowned, his movements frenzied as he tugged Sam's hands away along with his bloodied shirt. Sam didn't look down at himself though…he didn't have to. He saw what little color remained in his older brother's face drain away, features crumbling and adams apple bobbing, "Shit, Sammy, you busted your stitches!"