A/N - As I mentioned in my summary, this may contain spoilers for episode 6x12, "Like A Virgin". Just letting ya know!

Dean stares at Sam and he can't help the smile that pulls on the corners of his lips. Sam glances up over the lid of his computer and he gives Dean a puzzled look; half smile, half bewildered. He leans back slightly and pushes his hand through his brown hair while he arches a brow.

"What?" he asks as he leans back in the chair, stretching his long legs out.

Dean gives himself a little shake and he widens his eyes. "Nothin', Sammy. I, uh, was just thinking about how we were gonna go after this dragon."

But that's not the truth. The truth is that Dean was spending those idle moments greedily looking over Sam as if he hadn't seen him in a long time, and really, he hadn't. He'd seen some cheap facsimile of Sam that was just walking around wearing his brother's skin but his actual little brother? No – it's been over a year since he's seen that Sam Winchester.

Sam accepts that explanation well enough and his brown eyes flick back down to his computer screen. "Do you have any gold?" he asks. Dean scowls slightly and stands up, stretching. Of all the things that they've hunted, he never thought that they'd be going after Smaug.

"No – I know exactly what we need," the elder Winchester walks into the small kitchenette and yanks the fridge door open. The blast of cold air feels good on his face and he digs around for a few moments until he straightens up with a couple of beers in his hands. He plunks one down beside Sam and returns to the uncomfortable, straight-backed chair he'd been sitting in.

Sam picks up the can and pops the top, listening to the hiss of carbonation escaping. He didn't realize how much he missed this kind of thing; sitting around, talking shop with Dean. A warm, contented feeling settles in his chest and his eyes make a cursory glance at the computer screen before giving his older brother his full attention. "What do we need, Dean?" he says as he takes a long pull on the beer. It's some cheap, local brew but it tastes like familiarity. It tastes like the life that he and Dean shared before the mess with the apocalypse and Ruby and Lucifer.

"I would think it'd be obvious, Sammy," Dean grins in that easy way of his and he tips his head back as he drains his can. "We need a virgin we can tie to a wooden pole – you know, lure that dragon right down."

A look of scepticism crosses Sam's face and something akin to disappointment. He was hoping for something a little more earth-shattering. Of course they needed a virgin; that seemed to be the dragon's modus operandi, after all. The girl they'd interviewed in the hospital had simply confirmed that. Of course, she hadn't been an actual member of the 'wait till marriage' club and it had almost got her killed.

Dean recognizes the expression on Sam's face right away and his own expression sours momentarily. He takes a moment to throw this beer can into the garbage, narrowing his eyes as it bounces against the rim before falling in with the other refuse. A pleased smile blossoms and he turns his attention back to Sam. "Well?" he says.

"Well, what?" Sam blinks a few times and keeps sipping his beer.

"Where d' ya think the best place to find a willing virgin would be?"

Sam laughs; he can't help it. It's not exactly a normal question – but then, when has anything about their life ever been normal? "I dunno, Dean. That seems like something you'd have the answer to."

"Nah!" Dean waves the idea away with a lazy gesture. "I told ya – I prefer my girls with a little more experience."

"Like Starla?" Sam can't help the snort of laughter and he shakes his head. His fingers dance across the touchpad and he checks out a few more sites before looking up at Dean. Sam's surprised that he remembers the bleached blonde that Dean had met when they were first tracking the Trickster. She had been, according to Dean 'a feisty little wildcat'.

Dean pretends not to know what Sam is talking about. He coughs, rubs his hand against the back of his neck and then angles his body slightly so that he's facing the TV instead of looking at his brother. Sam laughs a little harder; he folds his arms on the table and lets his head drop forward.

As annoyed as Dean pretends to be, the sound of Sam laughing makes him smile to himself. "Yeah, yeah," he finally rolls his eyes and looks back over his shoulder. "Keep laughin', Sammy, but at least I don't cry my way through sex."

Sam immediately sobers up at the casual words and for a minute, all he can think about was that horrible Tuesday when Dean died over and over again. The only sound for a few moments is the soft tap of Sam's fingers on the keyboard of his laptop. Dean gives Sam a puzzled look; he has no idea why Sam is so serious all of a sudden and he pulls his chair to the table where Sam is working. He tries to catch Sam's eye and then falls to wiggling the laptop screen back and forth to pull his brother's attention to him. Sam glances up, trying his best to look irritated but it's not very convincing. He just closes up his laptop and decides to give Dean his full concentration.

"Alright, man, what's your plan. You said you had one." Sam picks up his beer can, gives it a shake and then puts it back down when he realizes it's empty.

Dean taps his fingers against the Formica table then switches to slapping his palms against it in a drum beat. "I told ya, Sam, we gotta find a virgin. You know – to use as bait." He gives his brother a weirdly significant look and his eyebrows quirk up just slightly.

"We're not tying some innocent girl up to a pole for dragon bait," Sam says immediately and he leans back in his chair, pushing his hands through his unruly locks again; a gesture of uncertainty, perhaps? "It just won't happen."

Hearing that condemnation of his plan from Sam settles any lingering doubt that Dean has about the state of his brothers' soul. To be fair, he is pretty convinced that it is the Sam he knows and loves sitting at the table with him, but Bobby's weirdness about the whole thing has set Dean on edge a little bit. Bobby tends to be more insightful than Dean (when it comes to Sam, anyway) and can pick out little changes easily. After all, Dean thinks, he knew that Sam was possessed when Meg was wearing him like a prom dress…

"Well, yeah, I figured you'd say something like that, Sammy," Dean scratches his nose, stares at the horrible damask pattern on the walls and then lets his green eyes flick quickly over his brother, "which is why I'm thinking we have to go at this creatively."

"Creatively?" Sam sounds suspicious and he tips his head up slightly. What is Dean cooking up?

Dean nods. "Remember when I came back from Hell? I didn't have a mark on me, right?"

Sam doesn't say anything but he puts his hands behind his head as he listens to Dean ramble on. His brother is obviously going somewhere with this, but he's not sure he's going to like where it ends up.

"I even figured out I was a virgin again, remember? I was re-hymenated?" Dean grins at the memory and the events that followed it. It had been a great pick-up line.

The expression on Sam's face indicates that he's wondering where, exactly, Dean is leading to and the elder Winchester straightens up in his chair and stares seriously at Sam. "I was thinking, Sammy, we use you as bait."

A beat of silence passes between the brothers. Sam blinks rapidly; his mouth open in a confused grin and his eyebrows shoot up under the line of his bangs. "You're – kidding, right?"

Normally Dean wouldn't even consider using his little brother as bait; it's too dangerous, but he's resolved to treat Sam like a grown-up and Grown-Up Sam can take care of himself incredibly well. "Do I look like I'm kidding?"

"In case you didn't notice, Dean, the dragon seems to be going after girls – and I'm a long way from a girl." Sam's pretty sure that Dean's just teasing him, but the set of his older brother's face is hard to read. He certainly doesn't look like he's joking. He's wearing an earnest expression and is searching Sam's face to read his reaction to the plan.

"I got that part all figured out, Sammy."

"Yeah? What am I gonna do? Dress in drag?"

"Yahtzee!"

Sam lets out a bark of laughter before he can help it then composes his face into an expression that Dean knows well. His mouth puckers slightly and his eyes narrow just a little bit. He waits before he says anything because he wants to see if Dean's suddenly going to smile or show he's joking, but Dean's face remains serious.

Sam shakes his head and he folds his long arms across his chest. He stares over Dean's head and then slowly brings his gaze down. "Nuh-uh," he says. "There's no way I'm dressing up like a girl, Dean. Have you lost your mind?"

Dean, most assuredly, has not lost his mind. "I just thought that it be easy to lure this thing out if it thought it was getting its claws on a supple young virgin." He wiggles his eyebrows lasciviously at Sam and his demeanour is broken by the twitching of his lips and the way his eyes crinkle up at the edges.

Sam exhales a breath he didn't realise he was holding and suddenly he's smiling, too. More than that, he's laughing; his expressive mouth open wide. Dean can't keep silent anymore and his laughter joins in chorus with Sam's.

The two brothers sitting at the run down table in the crappy motel finally catch their breath and they look at each other. Brown eyes meet green ones and two smiles grace the two faces.

"I missed ya, Sammy," Dean says simply. His voice is a bit thick. Of course, his words are a vast understatement, but he's not going in for the chick flick moment. That's Samantha's territory.

"Yeah," Sam responds quietly and he looks down at his hands splayed on the table. Even though he has questions about what happened, he can't deny the simple pleasure of being back with his brother. Everything just seems right when it's like this. "I missed you, too."

There's a pause and then Sam coughs. "So, uh, you were just kidding about the dressing in drag thing, right…"

Dean just grins.