Birthday boy

Sam tries to do something nice for his brother's birthday. But, of course, it's bound to backfire on him.

Limp Sam. Angry, protective, guilty Dean. Understanding and supportive Bobby.

Set near the beginning of Season 2.

Started this a long time ago for Sendintheclown's birthday but lost the feeling for it. I'd forgotten all about it, until I found it last week and decided to finish it.

So here's a very, very, very belated happy birthday to Sendintheclowns!

Warning: Language. Plus, I messed around with a lot of things in this fic, including the weather, timeline, and season of the year. Ahh, the joys of fan fic.

Many, many thanks go out to Devon99 and Phx for the beta work. You girls are the best.

It wasn't just the Impala.

Not really.

Dean still had his father's hunting knife, wallet, several sets of fake ID, and even a family photo or two. But the silver and brown leather hunter's flask, complete with two tiny, matching silver cups, the one his father had given Dean on his twenty first birthday, engraved with

DW. Now 21. Here's your key. My son.

That... that was different.

This was the 'key' to the house. Not that they'd had a house these last twenty years or so.

But it still commemorated Dean's coming of age, and his father's proud acknowledgement. The day it was given to him, he and John had sat on the hood of his truck and raised a toast. It was Talisker Scotch whisky, Dean remembered, a fine, single malt that slipped down smooth and left a pleasant warmth in his gut.

Every year after that they got together, just for a couple of hours, to sip the same whisky from Dean's flask. Sam wasn't supposed know about it; it was a secret bond between first born and father.

It now lay in ruins, discovered in the glove compartment of the Impala after the semi hit. Dented, the leather torn, the neck crushed, and the little silver cups bent out of recognition. Dean could no longer read the engraving, and that part hurt most of all.

Picking it up like a delicate flower, he didn't cry, or shout, or even curse. Things had gone way beyond that now.

Dean took one last glance inside the trashcan at Bobby Singer's yard, replaced the lid with little ceremony, and walked away.

Yeah, he still had the car, the knife, wallet, and fake IDs.

But it wasn't the same.

It could never be the same.

Sam knew, of course, in that way smartass younger siblings everywhere always knew about these things. He didn't begrudge Dean that link with their father, and it never even occurred to him to be jealous. After all, Sam had celebrated his twenty first away at college with his new friends and the love of his life.

That was his choice back then, but the one thing we never let go of as we grow older, is regret, which Dean had in abundance. Sam made it his personal task to ensure his older brother would not regret this, so he retrieved their father's gift from the garbage bin, and wiped it carefully on his jacket, buffing up the dented silver as best he could.

Sam smiled sadly at the flask. It was quite a beautiful piece once, before the crash. Before everything crashed.

Confident that Dean wouldn't even notice he was gone, Sam slipped away before sunup. Given that the Impala was still being repaired, and Bobby had no other vehicles capable of firing up, let alone running, he had a long walk ahead of him.

A long walk that would prove fruitless.

"I'm sorry son," the aging silversmith responded after a brief examination of the ruined flask. "But it's just too far gone to repair." The guy studied the young Winchester sympathetically. "I could maybe get it cleaned up, melted down and forge another for ya. Might take a few weeks, though."

Sam shook his head. "I don't have that kind of time."

And besides, no matter how damaged it was, Sam was pretty sure Dean wouldn't want it desecrated like that, even though the poor guy had placed the flask in the trash, and hadn't looked back.

No. If Sam was going to do this for him, then nothing less than a clean, fresh slate would do, he realised.

He eyed the glass display cabinet above the silversmith's head.

"Do you have something similar?" Sam asked, softly.

Several hours later, Sam trudged back into Singer's Salvage and headed straight for the house. He could hear his brother somewhere across the yard, buried under the Impala, the clunk of metal and the occasional expletive signifying Dean's determination.

Once in the study, which now doubled as his bedroom, Sam took out the leather bound box and opened it. It was just as beautiful as its predecessor, in silver and leather, two tiny drinking cups set beside it, twinkling against black velvet in the dim light of the reading lamp. The engraving was different, of course. Sam wouldn't insult either his brother or late father like that.

It simply said

DW. On your birthday, big brother. SW.

Sam felt a tingle of excitement. Tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow morning was Dean's birthday, and Sam couldn't wait to see the look on his brother's face when he unwrapped his gift...

"Happy birthday, Dean."

Dean didn't even look at him. "What's so happy 'bout it?"

Sam bit his lip. He was beginning to have doubts about this.

If he was honest, the doubts had been in place since he woke up, in fact. He'd sat on the edge of his sofa bed, turning the box round and round in his hands, and must've changed his mind a dozen times or more.

But Sam had come this far, and he'd spent his last dime on Dean's gift.

Too late to turn back now.

And so, gently laying the box in front of Dean on the kitchen table, Sam swallowed hard and chose to ignore the little voice in his head that warned him his brother was about to kick him in the balls.

Dean stared at the box, face expressionless, and wouldn't even spare a glance at Sam.

"What the hell's this?" he growled. An eyebrow rose mockingly.

"Uh…" Sam stuttered a little. Oh yeah. Serious doubts now. "Um… well, open it and you'll see."

Dean rolled his eyes, clicked his tongue impatiently, and carelessly flipped open the box. He froze. Silence reigned in the kitchen which, as usual, Sam tried unsuccessfully to fill.

"I-I thought… ya know… with the, uh… other one… the one Dad gave you… I-I tried to get it fixed… but… uh, no go… so I… I…"

"You thought you could replace it," Dean hissed out, menacingly.

Sam resisted the urge to jiggle his leg nervously. "That wasn't quite what I meant, Dean," he murmured, quietly, more than a little offended.

"Well, you can't replace it," Dean's chair scraped over the kitchen tiles as he slowly stood and turned to face Sam at last, fists clenched by his sides. "You can't just replace a memory, or a person!"

"I…" Sam didn't get very far.

"You can't fix me; that was Dad's job, remember?" Dean didn't notice Sam's flinch and if he had he wouldn't have cared. "And didn't he sure do a great job?"

He picked up the box and hurled it across the room. "And you can't fix this! So don't even try!"

He paused for a second, breathing hard, then delivered the killing blow. "Just... stay the fuck away from me."

And with that, the older brother left the room, leaving his little brother staring forlornly after him.

"Can I get my money back for this?" Sam asked, quietly, eyes shining with regret. "It's an unwanted gift."

The silversmith glanced down at the flask and shook his head, sadly.

"Sorry kid, but it's engraved," he smiled with sympathy. "No one'll want it."

Sam didn't bother trying to argue or suggest that it could be melted down.

Walking dejectedly away from the little store, he paused briefly, took one last look at the flask, hefted it in his hand, and hurled it as far away as possible.

Hearing the clink of metal, somewhere off in the distance, Sam sighed, shoulders slumping with fatigue and sorrow, and trudged into the local bar.

His heart needed a little anaesthesia.

Sam's smile was bittersweet when he saw the pool table. Being a Winchester, he could hustle with the best of them, and he sure needed the cash.

A few games in, and more than a little drunk, Sam was loudly and foolishly goading his opponents, and didn't care in the least when one of them snapped.

It wasn't much of a fight, given how drunk they all were, and it ended brutally when Sam's opponent lashed out and ripped a broken beer bottle across his gut.

Sam welcomed the pain. It was good to feel something other than anger or self-disgust for once. And so, with that in mind, after his assailant was force fed his own nose with a powerful fist to the face, Sam followed it up with the middle finger, and stumbled out the bar.

He'd staggered along the side of the road for what felt like hours, his gut aching and bleeding, until he stumbled to his knees and vomited. Vision fading, eyes blinking heavily just as it began to rain, Sam was about to give in there and then, but a loud air horn and the blinding headlamps of a truck startled him back into the land of the living.

Land of the living... but Dad don't live here no more... he pondered with a sad chuckle, and watched, a little dazed, as the truck roared to a halt. The driver's door swung open with a teeth-grinding screech and a middle-aged guy, with an impressive beer gut, peered out at him.

The truck driver eyed Sam with concern.

"Hey! You need a ride somewhere kid?"

Wrapping his jacket round him, hiding the wound to his gut, Sam nodded gratefully and climbed awkwardly up into the cab.

"Name's Jack," the driver announced as he pulled the truck back on the road.

"Sam," Sam replied, keeping it short and to the point.

"Nice to meetcha, Sam." Jack watched the kid fumble with his seat belt for a few seconds before leaning over and helping him out. It was impossible to miss the smell of alcohol that close up. Boy could've bathed in it. But he also didn't miss the small tear tracks on the kid's face, and his heart clenched. "Where ya headed, son?" he asked, softly.

"Uh..." Sam blinked, not sure how to answer that, and stifled a groan when he pressed harder on his stomach. He was pretty sure leaving blood stains in the cab wasn't the best idea, but it hurt dammit! "Can you get me to Singer Salvage? I have something to do there... just for a minute. Then... wherever..."

Jack remained silent for a moment. Kid was obviously in trouble of some kind.

"Son, I can get ya to the city. There's a shelter there. Warm food, soft beds..."

Sam shook his head. "Nah. After the yard, just drop me off at the next stop you make."

"Sam, that's another couple hundred miles!" Jack exclaimed.

Sam's smile was grim and sad. "That'll be fine. Ain't nothin' keepin' me here anyways. Thanks Jack."

The rain was coming down hard when Sam, soaking wet, dripping pools of water from his brief journey into the yard from the truck, staggered into Dean's bedroom. Their shared bedroom once, but Dean hadn't wanted anyone near him after John's death, so his little brother had moved out into the study.

Dean was asleep, mouth open and snoring lightly, but Sam no longer cared.

When Sam dumped a roll of bills on Dean's chest, his older brother woke up, and gazed up at him in sleepy confusion.


The younger brother stared back, eyes dull and lifeless.

"It's late." Dean scrubbed a weary hand over his face, and sighed. "What ya want?"

Sam appeared to regard him with that same long stare and it was beginning to unnerve Dean, but before he could press him, Sam finally spoke up, his voice matching his face perfectly.

"I figured you could buy your own gift. Get something you actually want."

Sam turned around, and walked away.

Watching him leave, Dean stared at the money for a long while, his tired brain playing catch up.

Damn kid...

Grasping clumsily at the wad of bills, Dean's eyes widened.

What the hell?

The money was warm and faintly sticky to touch, as though whatever had been spilled on it had begun to congeal. Dean sat bolt upright and stared hard at his hand. The pads of his fingers were stained red, and he didn't need a medical degree to know what it was.

No, not congealing. Try coagulating!


He's hurt.

Dean shrugged off the blankets, raced outside and caught a glimpse of his little brother clumsily hoisting himself up into the cab of a large truck.

Sammy was leaving.

The horrifying realisation hit Dean between the eyes.

"Sammy!" he yelled out, breaking into a run. "Sam, get back here!"

Sam paused and stared sadly at Dean for a long moment, then motioned tiredly to the driver.


Dean didn't think he was going to make it in time, but a guilty little voice whispered to him, taunting and spurring him on.

Just... stay the fuck away from me.

Coupled with the memory of Sam's shocked and saddened face when he discarded Sam's gift, Dean found the extra strength he needed from somewhere. With a last ditch burst of speed, he slammed into the side of the truck and wrenched open the door. "Sammy, don't go. I'm sorry, ok? Just... please don't leave me!"

"Dean," Sam murmured shakily. He felt dizzy and sick, and honestly had no idea how much longer he could stay conscious. Blinking heavily, he struggled to understand what was happening, but drew a frustrating blank. Only the pain in his gut and his brother's uncharacteristic babbling told him something was wrong, but Sam couldn't for the life of him figure out what. Confusion morphed into fear when Dean kept on babbling in a blind panic, tears streaming down his face, grasping at Sam like he was his one and only lifeline.

Had something happened? Had demons somehow broken into the salvage yard? Was Bobby hurt?

Fear now turned to guilt, nearly crushing Sam under its weight.

Had Dean and Bobby been in danger tonight while Sam was out getting shitfaced?

Sam swayed in his seat, vision darkening, Dean's panicked voice growing faint.

"I was a jerk and a bastard, and I promise you things'll be different. Just... please..." Dean sobbed, uncaring of the rain soaking his shirt, and completely unaware that Sam was in the process of fading out. "Sam... don't go..."

"Dean, I..." Sam's world swam out of focus. Vaguely he could hear the voices of Jack and Dean shouting his name. Strong arms encircled him, trying to hold him upright, and a sharp flare of agony in his gut finally sent him under.

As soon as Sam went limp, Jack had reached out and tried to keep Sam from falling, only for his fingers to encounter a warm, sticky wetness seeping through the kid's jacket.

"Oh my God!" he yelled out, fearfully. "He's bleeding!"

Dean's attention snapped to Jack's blood stained fingers, panic doubling at the reminder that his little brother was hurt. His eyes widened when Sam tilted sideways and tumbled out of the cab, knocking Dean to the ground, Sam's long body sprawling out over his older brother's.


Sam had pretty much landed on Dean, who tightened his arms round him, sheltering the kid from the rain.

"I gotcha, kiddo. I'm here now."

Dean called out to the truck driver "S'ok. He's my little brother. You can go."

Jack eyed them both, doubtfully. "You sure, kid? He's hurt pretty bad. I can call for help..."

Dean shook his head, ignoring the sting of rain water in his eyes. "Nah. We'll take care of him. You go... and thanks for bringing him home," he added for good measure, finally remembering his manners.

Jack hesitated. The sight of his young charge cradled in the other guy's arms assured him Sam was safe, and would get the help he needed.

"If'n you're sure..."

Dean had nodded, reassuring Jack that he could manage. With a reluctant salute and a returning nod, the truck driver reached across the cab and pulled the passenger door shut. Seconds later the truck roared away into the night, leaving Dean kneeling in the muddy salvage yard, soaked to the skin and clutching Sam to his chest.

Ah shit!

Intense heat was seeping through Sam's sodden clothes, spiking Dean's anxiety levels up another notch.

"Bobby!" Dean yelled out, once the truck had disappeared. "Bobby, I need your help!"

"What in God's name is going on?" Bobby, blinking heavily, still half asleep and scratching his chest through grimy long johns, appeared on the veranda a moment later, ball cap perched on his head. Dean might have commented on that, if he wasn't too busy worrying about the state of his little brother.

"Sam's hurt," Dean answered shortly, wrapping a hand under Sam's neck when the kid's head lolled bonelessly against Dean's shoulder, mouth slack and breathing ragged. "He's bleeding. Some kind of gut wound."

Bobby, now fully awake, leapt down from the veranda. "Damn fool kid…" he muttered, worriedly.

"Yeah, and that's not all," replied Dean, and let out a loud grunt when he hoisted his brother up. "He's burnin' up, kid's runnin' a fever…"

"The hell's he gotten himself into?" Bobby wondered aloud. He gripped Sam's left arm and slung it round his shoulders, grimacing when the pungent stench of second hand Jose Gold wafted up his nostrils. "Smells like a damn distillery!" Sharp old eyes narrowed on Dean. "That ain't like Sam. Kid don't hardly drink."

Dean shook his head.

"S'not his fault Bobby." The adrenaline was the only thing keeping him going right then, but pretty soon he was going to crash, and that couldn't be allowed to happen while his brother was so sick. Sam needed him, had needed him all along, and it was only now that Dean realized it. "I did this to 'im."

Bobby glanced over Sam's bent head with a disbelieving frown.

"You force-fed him tequila, hurt him and dumped his ass in some stranger's truck?" Bobby snorted loudly. "I suppose you gave him the fever too."

"No. But it might as well have been me." Dean shifted a little, so he could grip his brother tighter round the waist before attempting the veranda steps.

"Bobby, I…" His voice broke with sadness for the poor kid.

"What, Dean?" the older hunter's voice softened in sympathy.

"Later," said Dean, pulling himself together. "After we get him settled and cleaned up."

Dean quickly moved his little brother back into their room, laying him on the furthest bed from the door. No way was Sam sleeping on the sofa again, not in his state.

Sam groaned in pain the moment Dean checked his wound, touching lightly at the hot, red, swollen jagged edges. There was some good news, however. Though Sam was bleeding pretty badly, the wound itself wasn't particularly deep. Thank God!

"Easy, Sammy. This won't take long." I hope, he added silently, and continued to wipe away the blood.

Sam shivered, small grunts and whimpers breaking Dean's heart over and over. Dean blinked back tears, determined to keep his shit together for his little brother's sake. Sam put up a fight, struggling weakly against Dean's efforts to remove his bloodstained shirts, but the young Winchester soon gave in to the pain. He let out a fierce groan, his body falling limp against the bed.

Dean took a deep breath, more a sigh of relief, shook his head, and carried on cleaning and bandaging Sam's stomach. It made the job a hell of a lot easier with Sam unconscious.

Hours later, Dean sat on the floor of Bobby's guest room, back resting against Sam's bed. Nursing a cold beer and running a hand down in his face, he reflected on his so-called birthday. A day meant to celebrate his birth. What a joke. Dad was dead, his last orders traumatizing to say the least, and Sam was running around, trying to get himself killed.

"So, you gonna tell me what's goin' on between you two knuckleheads?"

Dean started in shock, and twisted his head over his shoulder to meet the concerned gaze of Bobby Singer. The gruff hunter was leaning against the door frame, arms folded, one eyebrow raised.

"Bobby... didn't hear you, man. You creepin' around your own home for a reason?" Dean knew his stalling tactic would fail the moment it left his mouth.

Bobby didn't dignify that with an answer. Dean shrugged. He couldn't bring himself to blame the guy.

Sighing, Dean got to his feet and sat on the bed opposite Sam's.

"What's goin' on?" Dean's laugh lacked humour, but embraced sarcasm with a gusto that would've surprised Sam had he been awake. "I screwed up. Big time. That's what!"

He threw his hands up in the air and huffed. "On my birthday, my little brother goes and does something so damn wonderful, and generous, and so damned Sammy, and what did I do to thank him?" Dean turned despairing eyes full of self-loathing on Bobby, who did his best not to flinch. "I threw it in his face." Before the older guy could comment, Dean sniffed and swiped at his face miserably, got up and started pacing. "Ya shoulda seen him, Bobby," Dean's voice was low, almost a growl. "The way he just shut down, as though I'd broken his heart... like he'd lost everything that ever mattered to 'im. And it just made me so mad! I wanted to hurt him. He chose college and Jessica and a normal life over his family, over sticking by Dad and me and watching our backs, letting us keep him safe... then he has the balls to stare at me like... like that?"

Bobby wisely kept quiet, dark eyes glinting in the light from the nightstand, watching the older brother carefully. He knew Dean had to get this out before it drove him bat-shit crazy with guilt.

Dean gulped and rubbed at his eyes. "But I know, now. I get it. Sammy wanted out of hunting, but he never wanted out of us. Dad was hard to live with, sure, and I guess he and Sam were way too much alike for it to ever really work, but I know that if things had been different, had I been the one to go missing, and Dad had been the one to call Sam, asking for his help, Sammy wouldn't have let us down. I mean, don't get me wrong, he'd have questioned Dad into an embolism, sure, but he'd have dropped everything to find me. I know all that, Bobby. I've always known. But lately? Since D-dad?" He tugged a hand through his hair, sighing deeply. "I've been so damn angry, ya know? Like something's boiling away inside, and I-I've been taking it out on Sammy... when it's Dad I'm mad at! For leaving us behind, just like he's been doing these last few months, even when Sammy begged the guy to stay and hunt with us." Sniffing and wiping a weary hand over his mouth, Dean's eyes fell on Sam's unconscious form on the bed. "I told him he c-couldn't fix me, that he could never replace... Dad. God! I told him to stay the fuck away from me, Bobby! What the hell was I thinking?"

Dean fell silent after his outburst, stunned and a little mortified that he'd let it all go right in front of his little brother, never mind that Sam was still out cold.

Dad let you go hunting alone?

Dude, I'm twenty-six!

Dean remembered that conversation like it was yesterday, recalled the flash of outright worry in Sam's wide, blue-green eyes, and the look of horror on his young face. Sam had been furious with Dad for letting Dean go off alone on dangerous hunts without backup. And yeah, it was hypocritical of Dad, Dean got that. In fact, the level of hypocrisy running through the senior Winchester must have been mind blowing for someone like Sam to deal with. John Winchester had wanted to keep the family together, safety in numbers and all that jazz. So when Sam announced his full ride to Stanford it led to the mother and father of all fights, ending with Sam's exile from the family. It wasn't long after that Dean started taking on solo hunts, with their father's blessing.

Dean snorted, derisively, and glanced at Bobby. By the look on the guy's face, he'd just read Dean's mind 'cos he nodded slightly, eyes narrowed.

After a fashion, Bobby cleared his throat. "Your Daddy was a real piece 'a work, alright, kid."

But Dean heard what he didn't say. It was written all over Bobby's face.

Sam needs ya now. Don't let the past fuck you up any more than it already has.

Taking a calming breath and, feeling as though the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders, if only for a short while, Dean let it out long and slow.

The rest of the night went by in whirl of activity. Antibiotics, fresh bandages, cold wash cloths and, eventually much to Dean and Bobby's relief, Sam's gradually resolving fever. By the time his temperature came down to safe levels, all three men were exhausted.

Sam came awake slowly, head swimming, a dull, painful throbbing in his gut. His mouth felt as though something furry had curled up and died in it, and he recognized the dehydration and pounding headache of a well deserved hangover.

Jeeze. Must've drunk the entire bar, beer mats and all!

Warily peeling his eyes open, he gave a quick sweeping glance at his surroundings, noting with some surprise that he was back in Bobby's guest room, AKA 'Sam and Dean's Hunting Headquarters. This Is A Secure Area. Authorized Entry Only, No Exception.'

He smiled sadly at the childhood memory playing out in his head. Dean had come up with the name after watching War Games, one of Sam's favourite films. He'd even insisted on a password, much to Sam's delight and to John's mildly amused chagrin. Trying to tuck his boys in at night proved a difficult task when Dean, ever the mischievous kid, kept on changing the password every time, and barring the door with a solid oak desk chair.

Sam stared at said desk chair, now sitting by the window, eyes tracing the grain, scarred and scratched up from years of use. Judging from the pale light coming in through the dreary, old curtains and highlighting the old wood, Sam guessed it was early morning.

"We need to talk." Dean's low voice from the bedroom door made Sam flinch, but he turned to face his older brother, one arm wrapped round his injured stomach.

"About what?" Sam wasn't being belligerent, not in the slightest, he was just so tired of trying and hoping. Sighing, he didn't wait for Dean's answer. "I'm sorry, ok? For getting wasted and getting into a stupid bar brawl." Sam let out a humourless chuckle. "You always said I was a lightweight, huh? Guess it's a shame my bottle-wielding opponent wasn't on the ball. If he'd been less drunk and more accurate at least I'd be out of your hair permanently."

He'd wanted to help his brother, but his efforts had alienated Dean all the more. Sam couldn't do anything right, that much was clear, not now that Dean hated him. Too lost in his dark thoughts to notice the blood draining from Dean's face, Sam slowly sat up and turned away, facing the wall and wincing in pain when the movement pulled on his stitches.

"I won't fight you on this. Jus' gimme a minute to grab my stuff," he whispered, breathlessly, "and I'll be on my way."


Sam heard Dean take a step into the room, and turned his head to stare at him, wondering at the pallor and dark bruises under his big brother's eyes. Eyes that were too wide, too ... too desperate?

"Dean, what's wrong?" Sam called softly. "Are you sick? Man, you look..." he trailed off when Dean sighed.

"Oh, I'm sick alright," Dean spoke slowly, voice low and sad. "Sick of fighting... sick of losing the people I love." He shook his head. "You drinking and brawling? That's gotta be a new one. But make no mistake, it won't be happening again."

Despite the obvious warning, Dean's left hand reached out, as though to grasp Sam's shoulder, but fell back at the last second only to twine nervously around the right. Sam frowned. That just wasn't Dean. Dean didn't get nervous.

But, apparently, Sam had been wrong about a lot of things lately.

"But that's not what we need to talk about, Sammy, at least not right now," Dean cleared his throat. "That flask... what you did for me... I..." Dean's hands stopped, and one reached up to rub at his chin. "I appreciate it, dude. But ya know? It ain't about material stuff." He raised his arms and swept them around, before, to Sam's utter shock, resting his hands on Sam's arms. "They're just... things. They don't matter. I was wrong, Sammy. Those things mean nothing in the cold light of day... but you..." he shook his head, sadly. "You mean fucking everything to me!"

The brothers stared at each other for a long, long moment.

Then Dean began again.

"So, uh, I'm not asking you to forgive me... or anything... just promise that you won't do anything stupid again... I mean, no more stupid than usual..." he gazed at his little brother, expression just as hopeful, green eyes bright with tears, and slowly moved over to Sam's bed. "I almost lost you, Sammy. I... I can't, ok? I just can't!

His little speech ended in a full on yell of desperation, and broke Sam well and truly out of his shock.

"There's nothing to forgive, and you're right, I was stupid..."

"No, Sam..."

Sam wondered if Dean would turn him away, or claim 'chick flick' and laugh in his face, but maybe he didn't know his sibling as well as he thought. Because when Sam reached out and tentatively drew Dean into a hug, his brother didn't resist. Instead, Sam felt a hand gently pushing his head down, tucking it underneath Dean's chin, his big brother's solid jaw resting on his scalp. Strong arms encircled him, holding him tight and secure.

Nothing else needed to be said.

Dean still had the car, the knife, wallet, and fake IDs.

And it wasn't the same.

But he still had Sam, his little brother, who was everything that mattered to him. And later, they might even share a dram of single malt whisky, start their own tradition.

As for Sam, he hadn't felt this safe in way too long.

He had his brother back, though Dean might've argued that he hadn't left.

Just... got a little lost for a while...

The End.

Hope you all enjoyed this mere trifle.

Please ignore any medical facts should they appear inconsistent with common practice.

Kind regards,

ST xxx