Thanks so much for stopping by.

This mulit-chapter story is set in Season 4 – sometime after Sex and Violence, so there'll be spoilers up to that episode and maybe a little beyond.

It'll be focused on the brother's again – after writing mostly Dean and John in 'Crows', I needed to have the brothers together again, even though in season 4 they were pretty far apart – relationship-wise.

This is the first chapter of about 4.

I don't own the show or the characters – just saying!

Oh, and this story is beta-ed by a native speaker, so my usual terrible mistakes will be kept to a minimum. But I can't resist changing stuff even after I get it checked out – so all mistakes you spot still are and always will be my own. Keep in mind that I'm not a native speaker, but I do my best to keep it bearable.

So, before I talk myself in circles here –. I really hope you enjoy the first chapter and maybe like it enough to come back for more! I'll update regularly – I aim for once a week, if everything goes as planned!

Torn and Frayed

Chapter 1

„So what can I get you boys?"

The busty waitress stands very close to Sam, her hip cocked suggestively, almost brushing his shoulder. The tip of her pen is bouncing in the air as she nibbles on the already nipped off eraser on the back end with her small, white teeth.

Her whole demeanour screams 'look at me' but Sam doesn't even spare her a second glance, his gaze barely leaving the newspaper in front of him as he slides the laminated menu towards the edge of the table.

"I'll take the eggs and toast – no bacon, no sausage. And another refill, please," He adds, lifting the brightly striped ceramic cup an inch off the table before dropping it back down with a dull thump.

Sam is aware of the annoyed sound of teeth suckling on glossed lips, then an exaggerated sigh before the waitress – Lori - apparently turns away from him to address his brother. Dean's sitting opposite Sam in the narrow booth most of the diners they stop at seem to be equipped with. He's angled sideways a little so their legs don't bump into each other underneath the table, one arm slung over the backrest of his bench, body turned toward the open room of the restaurant so he has a clear view of their surroundings.

'Always with his back against a wall, facing the entrance,' Sam muses. There're some things that will never change. For once, it's a comforting thought.

"What about you, hun'? Today's special is…"

"I'll just take the eggs and toast as well. You…uhm…got anything smaller than the regular plate?" Dean interrupts her husky rambling gently but insistently.

Sam raises his eyes off his paper to give his brother a surprised once over at the question.

"Well, we have a kid's plate…" Lori offers, amusement dripping off her every word, but it seems to be lost on Dean as he simply nods with a tight smile.

"Fine. The kid's plate it is, then."

His smile shifts, manages to appear even more stiff than before as it slips deeper – away from his eyes until it only curls the corners of his mouth in what Sam recognizes as a very forced attempt at best. There's no hint of the usual flirtatious gleam brightening his face, the smile that crinkles the corners of his eyes and makes women swoon on the spot, whether they want to or not. The lack of that smile makes Sam frown, even though he, more than once in the past has been more than just a little annoyed by his brother's out of place flirtatious behaviour.

"We got real good ham – fresh from Dave Miller's farm, just on the other side of town. It's the best in the whole state." The waitress offers hopefully as she taps the tip of her pen against her notebook, cocking her head and pushing her chest out a little more.

Apparently she's intent on not giving up so easily and she shifts her weight from one leg to the other, cocking an eyebrow at Dean before raising the pen to run it over her lower lip in what probably is meant to be a seductive gesture. Now that she seems to have accepted that Sam really isn't interested she concentrates her summoned efforts on his big brother, giving it all she has – which admittedly isn't much, but one can't help but recognize the effort.

Dean looks up at her briefly, offering her that smile again – the dishonest one. But he puts more effort into this time, if only to finally get rid of her. Because one thing's for sure, Dean is definitely not interested.

Sam can't help but watch the exchange a little more closely, amused and confused by what he sees.

Dean leans back a little, pats his abs for emphasis as he widens his smile some more, flashing Lori his pearly whites.

"Nah, thanks. Gotta watch the figure…" And finally he even manages to make the skin around his eyes crinkle ever so slightly, which always, always gets them. Every. Single. Time.

Now is no exception.

"Well, I can't see anything wrong there," she coos, her eyes openly roaming now.

This time Sam does roll his eyes and he can't help the short, sarcastic snort to escape as he shakes his head.

Two pairs of eyes turn to him, the waitress's a little pissed while Dean's remain…unreadable. But before Sam can delve deeper into what he thinks he sees there, what he wants to see there, Dean averts his gaze again, concentrates on the waitress once more.

"No ham for me today, hun. But thanks,"

She zeroes back in on Dean instantly, her eyes softening along with her stance.

"Well then, you don't know what you're missing out on," She says – purrs, actually - as she grabs the menus from them and turns around on her heels to leave them be for the moment. Her hips are swaying a little excessively as she probably shows Dean exactly what he's missing out on, Sam guesses.

"Be right back with the coffee, boys," She says over her shoulder just before she disappears behind the counter. Then she's finally gone.

Sam once again snorts in exasperation, shakes his head and quirks his lips in what he assumes has to be his famous 'bitch-face', as Dean likes to call it.

"What?" Dean quips as soon as the woman is out of earshot.

The smile has vanished from his face so thoroughly, Sam wonders if it's ever even been there to begin with. His face is…blank. Empty. His usual high spirit after flirting with a woman just isn't there, his face emotionless and impassive.

But Sam knows that look. Has seen it quite a couple times lately, actually.

It's as if Dean doesn't even care anymore – about all the things he used to care about, like flirting and philandering and teasing his little brother about not doing the same. And those are just the most obvious parts of Dean missing, lately.

Sam tries for his least challenging look, his least challenging tone, but he's not quite succeeding. And, honestly, he doesn't really care to tread too lightly, or if he's hurting Dean's feelings here. Because, seriously, Sam's not the only one to blame about their…tense relationship lately.

Most definitely not.

"Nothing. Just…no bacon, no ham? What's the matter? And don't tell me you're worried about your cholesterol, because I won't buy it, Dean. And don't give me the crap about watching your figure either 'cause that never seemed to stop you before."

Dean expression stays blank, not even the tiniest flinch ruffling his stoic features.

"Well, before I didn't have to worry about lagging behind my little brother, slowing him down and forcing him to wait for me to catch up."

It's said in such a normal, such a noncommittal tone of voice, Sam almost stumbles over the comment, almost returns to reading the paper like he's had every intention of doing before. Because he really hasn't been counting on any sort of honest retort to his question.

But he catches on at the last second, feels his whole body tense up, his grip tightening and crumbling the newspaper in his fingers. This…Dean knows exactly how to get him, with this indifferent tone of voice, the vacant eyes and silent-suffering attitude. And still he manages to make it feel like he's punched Sam straight in the guts, somehow.

Sam stays right where he is but his body is sprung and ready, almost brimming with indignation.

"What the hell, Dean?"

Dean's still right where he was before, leaning back with one arm slung over the backrest of the bench, the other hand resting in a loose fist on his paper placemat. He keeps looking at Sam from underneath lowered lashes, wordlessly, his jaw set in a way that suggest he isn't going to elaborate.

"You got something to say, say it, Dean. Stop beating around the fucking bush. Because we talked about this. More than once. I thought we agreed…"

Dean holds his gaze for a moment longer, but the challenge in his eyes is somewhat missing, replaced by an emotion Sam can't quite place. Despair…or resignation? But before he can investigate further, before he can even attempt to read his brother, to decipher his expression, Dean slumps a little in his seat and turns his head to look out the window to where the Impala is parked in a spot just in front of the window.

"It was the Siren talking, Dean. And it's not like you didn't have a thing or two to say to me, either," Sam presses out, his voice quivering dangerously.

Dean's eyes flick over to Sam again, gaze almost hesitant, as if he wants to actually say something of substance. But then, just as Sam's sure his brother will spill his guts, Dean averts his eyes again, looking out the window once more.

"Yeah, I know. Sorry. Just forget I said anything."

Sam's body is thrumming, heartbeat reverberating loudly inside his chest and head and whole body, every fiber of him screaming to press Dean about this, to make him stand up to what he's just said. Too many times in the past weeks since the damn siren has turned them against each other has his brother started to say something, to throw some sharp remark at him only to back away again when being confronted about it.

It isn't Dean's usual MO, this backing down, and Dean sure as hell isn't as innocent in all this as he apparently believes he is. It's not as if he'd kept his own mouth shut and not said some things that were so totally out of line and hurt Sam to the very core.

"Do we really need to go there again? Because if you insist, I got some things to rub into your face as well, you know?" Sam presses out between clenched teeth, flinty gaze fixed on his brother's profile, since Dean keeps his eyes averted, the angle of his head and the poor light of the plastic overhead lamp keeping his eyes in shadow.

"Nah, no need. Said I'm sorry…"

The situation is so loaded, Sam is so loaded - he knows it could easily slip out of control – out of his control any moment. He's always been the more impulsive one, the one who has the hardest time holding back when feeling treated unjust. Just look at his relationship with their dad - always fighting and pretending to hate each other. It's nothing Sam is particularly proud of, but he just won't back down, time and time again when he so clearly is not the one to be put at fault.

Sam stares at his brother's profile as if he's able to will him to turn and look at him Dean's jaw jumps, that cord of muscle underneath a three-days-growth of beard ticking once, twice, his adam's apple bobbing.

Neither of them gives in for what seems like minutes.

But both of them are ripped out of their little game of wills when suddenly the waitress appears at their table again, steaming pot of coffee in her hands, noisily refilling both their cups with the tar-like, bitter smelling brew. Sam actually jumps, sees Dean flinch as they turn toward the intrusion.

Their eyes meet in passing only, but Sam swears he can see his brother's defences slip for that blink of an eye before they lose each other again to stare up at the waitress now standing at their table.

"Here ya go boys. Your eggs and toast will be up in a couple minutes," she declares a little too loudly, and Sam sees Dean wince at the sound of her voice, sees him close his eyes momentarily, brows drawing together, his hand lifting from the tabletop as if going to reach for his head.

As if in pain.

But it's gone again as fast as it appeared, and as Dean turns his head around to meet the annoying as hell woman his face is once again well schooled – wall solidly back in place. He graces Lori with one of his best patented smiles and only his hand, fingers still curled into a fist on top of the table, betrays his outwardly relaxed countenance.

"Thank you sugar," he drawls, and Sam can not repress the very serious, very frustrated shake of his head.

Lori notices, of course, throwing Sam another one of her disapproving looks before rolling her hip off their table to stroll off.

"So, you found something?" Dean asks nonchalantly, chin pointing toward the newspaper Sam only now realizes he's still holding tightly in his grasp.

Sam's still shaking his head, unable to believe how Dean can slip so easily from accusation to tension-loaded silence to acting as if nothing happened.

But alright - topic closed then. Another crisis averted for the time being. It suits Sam just fine. He's long past talking, long past discussing things over and over again. And not even Dean's silent suffering can make Sam break his new found determination on this one. There might have been times when he'd have folded, but not anymore. He's done being the little brother, the one always backing down, being patronized by his father and big brother.

Sam takes a moment to compose himself, to calm his nerves and loosen his creaking jaw so his voice sounds somewhat normal again.

They've become good at this, lately. Each of them – going from zero to a hundred and back again within the course of minutes, if not seconds. It's something new and Sam doesn't quite know how to deal with it, not sure if he wants to deal with it, really. It certainly does feel wrong, somehow.

But today is not the day to change it.

He sighs, flattens the crumbled up corners of the paper with his palms and pretends to scan the headlines again, even though he's done so about a dozen times already.

"No, there's nothing, really. Only a couple of possibly restless spirits about an hour south of here. Nothing serious, though - no casualties so far. There's a woman who claims that her dead mother appears in her old home's living room every night, watching her prepare dinner. So far she hasn't done more than watch her, though, even though the poor woman is scared half to death every time mommy appears."

Sam snorts, turns the page to the second article he's found.

"And there's a man a couple towns over who's been dead for a year but who apparently still likes to visit his favourite movie theater every Wednesday night. He has this thing for horror classics – how fitting – appears sitting in his favourite chair, eating popcorn and drinking coke every week like clockwork. Only problem is, if the seat's occupied, he kinda throws whoever sitting there a couple of seats over…"

Smirking, Sam picks up his coffee and takes a casual sip while flipping through the pages of the paper, eyes intently scanning for anything else, anything worth their effort. Scanning for signs, unusual weather patterns, broken seals, the nearing apocalypse – signs of Lucifer breaking free of his cage and walking the earth while they are eating their breakfast.

But he finds nothing.

"That paper mention the names of the spirits?" Dean asks and Sam distractedly grunts in affirmation.

"Alright, so we go there tonight, salt and burn us a couple of bones and can even keep the room in that ugly yet budgety motel we're currently staying at." Dean says, one hand wrapped loosely around his cup of coffee.

Sam shakes his head, scans the page with the obituaries again with a frustrated sigh.


He shouldn't be so unhappy about finding nothing, about hell giving them a break, so to speak. But somehow he rather wants to act – now. He wants to get all this shit over and done with once and for all. And a couple of restless spirits in some podunk town in the middle of nowhere that have nothing to do with the apocalypse don't manage to excite him very much these days.

"They are just restless, Dean, not angry spirits. Nobody got hurt so far. It hardly warrants us driving down there, wasting gas and salt and a lot of effort on bones that might never turn angry after all."

Taking a sip of his coffee Sam pushes the paper aside, starts with a local college paper he's found at the newsstand, starts reading the headlines haphazardly. There had to be something…

"Might not, might be… I say if there's nothing else we gotta do and we're in the vicinity anyhow, we might as well take the precaution. Beats coming back here a couple of months from now when the movie-theater guy decides that he's really, really done with people sitting in his seat, or mom not liking the way her daughter treats the silver platter she left her and starts throwing with those shiny kitchen knives…" Dean retorts calmly as he turns the cup of coffee between his fingers.

Sam throws his brother a quick, incredulous look, folding up the second newspaper and depositing it on the seat next of him.

"No, I'm telling you, it's not worth it. I say we stay here another night, then pack up and travel up north, see if Bobby got something new on those dead cows he caught a whiff of last week. Maybe it was a seal after all…"

"Yeah, or maybe it was just mad cows disease, or a stray cougar, just like Bobby told us it looked like when we talked about it – last week."

There definitely is an edge to Dean's voice now – an edge Sam doesn't like.

"I'm not gonna take on a hunt that isn't even there," he says, voice low, cutting the sentence off as the waitress once again approaches their table, depositing their plates in front of them.

Sam can't help but notice the kids-sized plate placed in front of his brother, untypical for Dean for sure and laughably small compared to his own huge plate laden with eggs and toast.

They both wait silently as the woman pulls away from their table again, now clearly aware of the fact that neither of them is even remotely interested – and clearly being put off because of it, if the pout on her face is anything to go by.

Dean barely waits until she is out of earshot till he leans forward, one hand balled into a fist on the tabletop.

"You're not going to take a hunt that isn't even there? We're not going to take care of the only hunt we're currently aware of?"

Dean's chin dips down in a sign of irritation as his brows bounce up, once, before they draw tight over the bridge of his nose.

"Who the hell died and made you boss?"

At that Sam finally abandons his semi-relaxed pose and leans forward as well, their faces inches away from each other across their still steaming food. His own hands are fisted in a mirror image to his brother's and he can once again feel that buzzing sound in his head that just won't go away anymore, lately but only notches up like this when he's pissed – or downright angry.

"You, Dean. You died and made me fucking boss. You left and went to Hell andlet me handle this by myself,"

He sees Dean flinch as he mentions Hell, has the decency to feel bad for a split second before his mouth just goes on moving, spitting out words he wouldn't have spoken, no matter how angry, ever before.

"And then you come back and think nothing's changed, that we can just go back to the way things have been before? Well, I got a newsflash for you, Dean. Things are not the way they were before. Not with the world falling apart all around us and we're the only one who have a shot at stopping it from happening. And I think I did earn my right to make decisions for the both of us every once in a while."

Dean's eyes never leave Sam's, but for seconds there is nothing, no words, not even one single emotion flickering across his features. And then, suddenly, there is a flicker of something. Dean's eyes squint shut momentarily, brows drawing together and he quickly leans away from Sam, retreating back into his seat, bringing some distance between them. He lets his arm slips off the table to rest seemingly casually on his lap, takes a couple of forcefully calm breaths before he opens his eyes again.

Sam can't help to feel baffled, can't help the curious frown contorting his own features, the worry minutely pushing down his anger and feelings of indignity. But before he can say anything, before he can inquire any further Dean has closed himself off again, his features schooled into that carefully crafted mask holding this quiet stoicism that almost drives Sam mad.

"Alright. So if this is too unimportant for you, if you're not wasting your precious time on something as banal as this, I guess it'll be just me all by my pretty lonesome then. You stay and…do whatever it is you're planning on doing - and I'll be back again tomorrow. That is, if you're still here then…?"

There's a challenge in his words, but not in his tone, and Sam irritably scrunches his brows, blown by Dean's apparent lack of steam, the unwillingness to rise to the bait Sam laid out for him. Sam wants his brother to fight, wants him to shout and scream even. Everything but this…this quiet acceptance. Everything but this almost dead look in his eyes.

"You're not going without me," Sam snaps, irritated.

"Well, you are welcome to join my in my unimportant little quest if you want. I'm not gonna hold you back…" Dean shrugs, fingers playing with his fork.

Sam can't believe it, can't believe his brother. Can't believe he once again got backed into a corner he can't seem to find a way out of without doing any serious damage.

It leaves him reeling, struggling for words to say that won't make him sound like a spoiled little brat, don't sound indignant and childish. Don't make him sound as if he's the one trying to pick a fight here.

He takes a deep breath, releases it slowly.

For now he will let this go. Partly because Dean is right and they should take care of this. It's rare enough they have the opportunity to stop something from happening before things turn real ugly. And another part of him doesn't want to fight. Not because he doesn't have the better arguments here, but because he's just tired of it.

It's wearing him thin – wearing them thin. Dangerously so.

Besides, there's still plenty of time to continue this later, to force Dean to admit to being wrong on so many levels he can't even begin to count them all.

"Fine, fine. I guess it can't hurt if we go and check it out," Sam concedes grudgingly, consciously smoothing his fingers out from the painful fists they've been clenched in.

"Alrighty, then,"

Sam picks up his fork, started stabbing irritably at his heap of eggs and toast.

They taste like ash, but they at least manage to wash away the bitter taste in his mouth, even though it can't satisfy that other, underlying craving that's been bubbling at the bottom of his stomach for hours already.

It's been more than three days since...

But that has to wait, he can take care of it later. Food doesn't satisfy him like it did before, but it manages to wash away that tiny, tingling sense of unease that tries to settle in his brain.

So, Dean seems a little off – something's definitely not right. But that's hardly anything new. Maybe there's some new, mind-blowing revelations he's waiting to drop on his little brother.

"Oh, by the way…I just remembered another shocking thing I did while I was in hell. Wanna hear it? But you can't do anything to make it better, just listen and then never mention it again…"

Or maybe it's simply that he isn't sleeping well again. He hasn't slept well ever since coming back. Sam's no idiot. He sees the bags under Dean's eyes, the exhaustion emanating from his big brother's very core.

He's probably dreaming about hell again – the eating less and drinking more is a sure enough giveaway. Dean has never stopped dreaming, actually - it's been going on ever since he came back and has only gotten worse instead of better.

And the dreams Sam can't help Dean with – isn't allowed to help him with. He's tried – god knows he has. But Dean, stubborn idiot that he is, doesn't think Sam's capable enough, apparently. Dean's so content in his role of the victim here; he doesn't even give Sam the chance to try.

Sam searches his brother's face – inconspicuously – trying to figure out if it's something he has to know, something that will affect Dean during hunts and possibly endanger them both.

But there's nothing to see, nothing Dean lets him see. And if that's the way he wants to play it…

Besides, Dean is probably up and running under his normal steam by tomorrow, back to his old, annoying and bossy self.

Nothing to worry about.

Sam finishes his breakfast in silence and is so content in his feelings of impending normalcy, he doesn't notice Dean's not finishing his own plate of eggs, barely touches a piece of toast, even.

When they leave the diner and get into the car to start driving down south, they once again settle into their normal routine of late - travelling in silence. Sam takes the fact that Dean's music is tuned down lower than usual as a concession from his brother. Dean doesn't usually say he's sorry – not out loud at least. He shows Sam, with little things, like giving him first dibs at the shower, or not turning his music up to ear-splitting levels when they're driving.

So, maybe the Siren shook things up a little between them, and maybe they both need to work on being brothers again with a little more effort.

There's still plenty of time, though.

Once Sam defeats Lillith and shows his brother that he's really only doing all this for him, that Dean is being the selfish one here thinking Sam has other motives…once this is all over, they can work on going back to normal.

But for now all is as alright as it is going to be these days.


"I can't believe you missed it,"

Sam hurls his duffel into the Impala's trunk, fully aware at how harsh he's sounding, how he's punishing his brother by mistreating his beloved car. And still it gives him this…weird kind of satisfaction, hearing the heavy weapons duffel give a loud thunk as it hits the false floor to the weapon's compartment.

It's strange between them, in more ways than one, and part of Sam knows it's wrong, knows he should feel wrong about enjoying to cause his brother pain, no matter how unreasonable that pain is. It's only a damn car, anyways. But, lately it almost feels to him as if his brother cares more about her than he cares about him.

A lot of things have changed between them, it seems. And Dean just can't get his head out of his own ass long enough to see that it's not Sam who has done most of the changing.

And isn't this just now the biggest, fucking proof right here?

"You had a clear shot. She was right in front of you, dude. How could you miss it?" Sam asks again when Dean doesn't answer back to him. He turns, not stepping out of the way though, refusing to let his big brother off so easily.

He's asked a justified question, deserves an open answer. Because, one of the things that has changed while Dean was in Hell is that Sam's not so easily deflected anymore. He's no longer Dean's sidekick, can hunt by himself, care for himself. He's no longer the little brother who has to be pushed or pulled out of the line of fire, who has to be protected by all means.

Dean's a couple of steps behind him.

He's standing just outside the tiny circle of moonlight filtering through the trees at the side of the road where they've parked the Impala before taking off toward the house where they just burned the bones – and the lock of hair the spirit's loving daughter had kept in a picture frame on the living room wall. Sam can't really be sure because Dean's practically hiding in darkness, but he thinks he sees his brother straightening his stance as he catches Sam looking at him – as if he's been bent over before.

But before Sam can comment on it, can ask Dean if he is alright – he has been thrown down the house's stairs, after all - Dean looks up at him. His eyes remain carefully hidden under lowered lashes though as he strides forward, two slightly swaggerish, bow-legged steps until he's next to Sam. Pushing his shoulder against Sam's he forces him to move over a little as he deposits his own duffel in the trunk next to Sam's.

"So I missed it. It happens, Sam. Still was a little dizzy from that drop down the stairs,"

His tone is so…noncommittal, Sam can't help but frown. He's expected defensiveness, snarkiness – venomous accusation fired back at him.

"You fell after missing the shot," Sam snaps back, regretting the quip as he hears it pass his lips.

God, he sounds just like Dad. Back when he used to reprimand Dean and Sam for every tiny thing that went wrong. Back then, Sam had hated it. Hearing those words come out of his own mouth now makes him squirm inside.

Dean's face tightens, his brows drawing together, his jaw locking. He's got one hand on the rim of the trunk, ready to slam it shut but he halts in mid-movement, his fingers clenching around the metal so hard Sam thinks he can hear bones popping and metal creaking.

Sam braces himself.

But what happens next is what always seems to happen lately. Dean closes himself off, lets it go. The tension slips out of his body so quickly, Sam is, for a moment, not even sure if it's ever even been there or if he is just imagining things.

"Whatever dude. You saved the day. Go you. You want me to bring out the champagne or can we just get back on the road now?"

His hand is still on the trunk lid and he's looking at Sam – squarely at him for a second or two.

Dean's always so…veiled, lately, outwardly quiet and subdued almost, but Sam can feel the accusation, the silent appraisal whenever Dean thinks Sam is unaware. Which he isn't – not anymore. He's hyper-aware of everything around him, feels and sees and knows so much more now.

They hold each other's eyes for a moment, neither of them willing to look away first, and again it comes as a surprise when Dean's the one to avert his gaze first. He uses the motion of slamming the trunk shut as a distraction, turns away as eye-contact breaks for a second only and doesn't give Sam even the remote chance of picking their silent exchange back up again.

Then Dean turns and walks toward the driver's door, leaves Sam standing there.

Sam stays where he is for a moment, staring off into space, his jaw creaking under the pressure he's putting on it. It's the telltale and way too familiar creak of the Impala's driver's door that rips him out of his thoughts and he quickly steps around the car's tail end to move toward the passenger side door, finally.

He's barely inside when Dean revs up her engine and pulls away from her hiding place, guiding her back out onto the blacktop.

The music that comes on as the motor starts is loud enough to make any conversation pretty much fruitless.

Dean has been blasting his music – especially after a hunt, for as long as Sam can remember. He's gotten used to it by now.

It doesn't strike Sam until much later, sitting in the car with Ruby while Dean is asleep back in their room, that his brother adjusted the volume on his ancient cassette deck only minutes into the drive, that he shut it off completely before they were even halfway home.

And just as he's about to wonder about his brother's behaviour, he forgets all about it again. He's got more important things to worry about now.

He's doing the right thing here. And he can't let the fact that he's doing it without his brother's knowledge bother him right now.




As usual, I'm nervous beyond belief about posting this. I he spent the past months working through some personal issues – where it simply was easier to not add the pressure of posting to the load I already was carrying around. But I discovered that writing is only half the fun if nobody gets to read it.

I find this Season hard to write – it's such an emotionally loaded Season – and I hate how the boys see to be drifting apart as the Season progressed. But this story just popped into my head and maybe I had to write this because I needed to work out what happened to the brothers. I hope it does make at least a shred of sense to y'all, too!

I appreciate every review you wanna leave me – unless it's rude and hurtful Keep in mind I have a fragile psyche.

So then – hope to hear from you and take care!