Disclaimer: Not mine. If they were, I'd fix them :(

A/N: Missing scene from "Family Matters". This popped into my head and just begged to be written.I'm not exactly a John Winchester fan, but his character can be taken two different ways, depending on if you ask Sam or Dean...

There was something different in his eyes. Dean wasn't sure he could completely describe what it was, but it was there. Not the blankness from the past two months, that was still firmly in place, but there was something else there too. Some slight twitch, some little thing, minute as a muscle spasm viewed from the outside, but Dean recognized it. And for a moment, it was so plainly familiar that it didn't even seem strange. There was something on Sam's mind, something he wanted to say but wasn't sure how it would play out if he did. So he went with his standard response. "Spill it Sam."

Staring out the windows of the Impala, neither of them commented on the fact that Dean hadn't said "Sammy" in a very long time. This wasn't "Sammy", not his Sammy, who he had played Go Fish with countless hours in anonymous motel rooms waiting for Dad to come home, who he had held the night they had to leave the town where he got his first girlfriend, the man who had sobbed on his shoulder the night they left Palo Alta forever, his dreams in ashes. This cold, ruthless man beside him was Sam, and it was funny that he had always corrected Dean when he said "Sammy", and now it wasn't a problem anymore. Because Dean would never confuse this person beside him with Sammy.

Sam (not-Sammy) didn't reply, and Dean tried to hide the current mess of their lives by retreating back into the peaceful memories of the past. So he cranked up AC/DC to a near-unbearable level. Except somehow, "Highway to Hell" just didn't sound the same. Felling a hundred years old, Dean turned the radio off, the peace evaporating around him and leaving him even more drained for it's temporary respite. "Come on, Sam. I know something's on your mind, and I'm too damn old to pry it out of you like I used to do."

Sam's voice was still flat, expressionless, like the voice of someone under hypnosis. "You're thirty-one, Dean. Hardly ancient…" Dean didn't respond. "What do you want from me, Dean?"

Dean slammed the car to the side of the road, rougher than he meant to. "What do I want from you? I want you to tell me what's on your heart. I want to see you cry over Jess. Or Jo. Or Ellen or Adam. I want to know how you felt when I was suffering through the vampire cure. When I was in pain, it used to be worse on you than it was on me, do you even remember that? When Dad would punish me, you were the one who cried. I would hold it together, no matter how much it hurt because I had to be strong for you! I want that again!" He took a deep, shaky breath. "But since I know I can't get that from you, I'd settle for knowing what was on your mind a few minutes ago, when I saw the first glimpse of my brother in over a year."

Sam's eyes were again as expressionless as his voice. "You're not going to like it, Dean. In fact, I'm fairly sure it might hurt you, but I'm not sure because I'm not so good with things like that anymore."

"I'm not going to like it?" Dean demanded. "I haven't liked much of anything for several years, why should this be any different?"

Sam sighed, more with frustration than anything else. "Okay, you want it, you got it. Why the hell aren't you happy, Dean? This is what you wanted, what you and Dad always wanted. In fact, this is the first time in my life I think he would be proud of me."

Dean's stomach turned alarmingly and his hand flew to the door handle. He was going to puke. Fighting down the bile, he turned to face Sam again. "Say what?"

Sam dropped his head, knowing he had upset Dean again. "This is what Dad wanted. I'm the ultimate hunter, the perfect warrior. I do what needs to be done to get the bad guy, no matter what. I don't get all hung up on the ethics of what is going on."

"Sam…" Dean began, but he didn't know what to say. He knew his little brother had never felt like he lived up to John Winchester's standards, but he couldn't really believe this was what his dad had wanted, could he?

"No, Dean, listen! If I could go back a few years, like I am now, I could fix things. If I could be all logic and no heart, none of this would have happened!"

Dean was lost, and simply stared at Sam, which he took as encouragement to continue. "Don't you remember, Dean? I had the colt, I had the shot. The only thing that stopped me was that Azazel was wearing Dad. I couldn't kill him. And Dad wound up dead right after that anyway! So if I had just been able to take the shot, the yellow-eyed freak would have been dead, he would never have taken his "special children" for our little showdown, I would never have died, you would never have made the deal or went to Hell, no broken seals, no Lucifer, no end of the world and stuff. If I had been like this all along, like Dad wanted, everything would be okay now! So why can't you just be happy with it? I'm finally making Dad proud!"

The motion was so unexpected that until his hand connected with Sam's face, he didn't even know he hit him. Actually slapped him like a chick who's date got a little too forward. Sam's mouth opened in shock. "Dean?"

"Don't you ever," he said, gravelly voice dropping a full octave, "suggest that John Winchester would have turned his son into an empty shell like this for the mission. He needed you human, Sam, and even if he didn't, he loved you way too much to ever want this for you. So do I, and piss on you if you don't know that!" Even low, it was hard to miss the tears thickening his voice as he tried to fight them back. "He needed you, I needed you to be human, and he tried with everything in him to protect that in you. Even when I was old enough to be a good hunter, when I was arguably a better shot than he was, you know what my first job was? Before watching his back or taking down the monster?"

"Looking out for me," Sam replied, voice soft.

"Exactly! You were more important than the mission, more important than keeping him alive, more important than anything. Now, if Dad is looking down -or up, or sideways or whatever- at us, at you… he's not proud! He's bawling his friggin' eyes out at what I let happen to his baby boy. And if I can't fix this… Then I hope I go straight back to Hell, because even that would have to be better than facing him now."

Dean dropped his face to his hands, trying to pull himself together. And to think Sam used to be the emotional one… He snorted at that thought, and looked up as a hand fell gently on his wrist. He looked up into Sam's eyes, and his own tears must have been clouding his vision, because he was sure he saw a flash of concern there. Concern and pain. But he couldn't keep what he knew was a cold gaze. "Dean," Sam began hesitatingly. "I- You- This isn't your fault. I thought I told you pretty clearly that it was mine. And when you meet Dad again, you stand proud, look him in the eye, and know you fought the best that you could."

The first tear finally fought its way free into Deans hands as they covered his face. God, that was all he wanted! To one day walk up to his dad again and have him say "You did good, son."

"And please don't cry. I don't want- don't like- Dean, it still kinda hurts me when you hurt."

Dean actually looked up at that, wiping the tears away, and was disappointed but not surprised to see a badly faked expression of sympathy. But why shouldn't it be bad? Sam had never been allowed to show such an expression before, how was he supposed to know how to do it? A side of Dean's mouth twitched into a weak, wry smile. "You're lying, Sam. But it's okay. If it's the last thing I do, you're gonna say that to me again someday and mean it. You're still my brother, Sammy. And I'm gonna fix you."

"You always do, Dean," Sam said flatly.

"Damn straight!" Dean switched the tape to Metallica and pulled back onto the road. They had a lot of miles to go.