AN: Wow! LJ is letting my post today...happy day! Here's the latest installment of my de-aged Dean verse. I feel as though there's a lot of dialogue, which I hope works out all right. I'm still working on this writing thing O_o. Also, I'm still in present tense…sorry. Someday I'm really going to try to write…well, not in present tense. Just to see how it looks/feels. But until then, this is just the way it comes out when I write *shrugs*. The Brotherhood is the brilliant creation by Ridley C. James and I'm having a fabulous time playing in her sandbox. Just ask my neglected husband =). This story was beta'd by the wonderful lovinjackson. Without her, you'd have the displeasure of reading quite a few typos. I did add some lines in here and there and tweaked some other stuff so of course all resulting mistakes are my own. Catch you on the flipside. Enjoy!

Official Disclaimer: I don't own anything in this story. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Sad, huh?


Sam Winchester hates Halloween and he wholeheartedly wishes that when he cut his family and hunting from his life that he could have also expelled all the years of hunting and monster knowledge he'd accumulated out of his brain. Especially this week, when most of his friends were getting dressed and going out to Halloween parties, he gets to think about ghouls, skin walkers, and anything else out there waiting to tear apart his unsuspecting friends.

And he hates it, hates that that little slice of normalcy was taken away from him before he'd ever even known the difference. But what he hates even more is that even though he's worked tirelessly and tediously on making his life normal in every other area, today, he can hear his dad's voice, clear as a freaking bell, drilling into his eight year old self the dangers of trick or treating. His father, thousands of miles away has still found a way to sully all of his best efforts at 'normal'.

Sam does his best and shoves his father out of his thoughts and back down far away in some dark corner of his brain where he belongs. In the dark, alone, and not screwing up Sam's night. Because tonight isn't about childhood wants and desires. It's about celebrating his adulthood and his accomplishments, so he pushes aside those old angers and resentments and puts them to rest for another time. He's about to grab a pre-dinner beer out of his refrigerator when he hears a knock on the front door. He's not expecting anyone. They all agreed to meet up at the restaurant, although it could be Brady, who likes to show up unannounced and uninvited. It's annoying as hell, but Sam lets it go because Jess likes the guy.

Sam opens the door and comes face to face with Caleb.

"Wow, I'll give you points for knocking this time around." He says as he opens the door further to allow Caleb inside. There's no use sending the older man away, Caleb can be just as stubborn as he can. They move into the living room as he spares a look at the clock. "Not to be rude, Caleb, but I have plans tonight and I need to leave soon."

"You're a bit old for trick or treating Sam," Caleb says lightly.

"Halloween isn't until tomorrow and that's not what my plans are."

"Oh, so what's the special occasion, Runt?"

He refuses to be pulled into small talk and banter so he ignores the question and the childhood nickname and cuts straight to the only reason why Caleb would be standing in his living room. "Is Dean alright?"

"I suppose that depends on your definition of alright."

"Well, I suppose in the John Winchester sense of the word."

"In the John Winchester sense of the word he's fanfuckingtastic."

"Then I guess I'm a bit perplexed as to why you're here."

"Because John Winchester's sense of alright has never sat well with either one of us. You and I need to have a conversation about your brother."

"But he's okay, right? You said he was okay."

"In the John Winchester sense of the word."

"Caleb."

"He's fine, a little freaked out, but fine." Dean's not the only one who's a little freaked out at the moment. The last time Caleb showed up, it was to tell him that Dean had gone missing.

"Caleb, what's going on? Is it dad?"

"Listen Sam, your dad's missing. He disappeared from Jericho, he's not answering his phone and your brother is worried." Dad taking off wasn't unusual. He'd experienced his dad's abandonment for years and so had Dean, but it wasn't like his dad to abandon a hunt. Just his kids.

"Alright, so dad pulled a Houdini on Dean in the middle of a hunt, weird but hardly the kind of information that you needed to deliver in person."

"Your dad leaving is more complicated than you think. I don't think that he's planning on coming back. He left his journal, Sam."

This is not the conversation he wanted to have tonight. He does not want to think about his dad or his brother. He wants to go out and celebrate.

"Well, this is the conversation you're having right now. I'm not asking you to pack up and leave tonight. Have your little get together, but I'd like for you to come with me to Jericho with me in the morning."

"Stop that Caleb." It's been a while since he's had to deal with anyone snooping around in his head. "I still don't get why this is such a big deal. You can go and finish the hunt with Dean and I'm sure dad will show up when he's ready. It is that time of the year for him, so I'm sure eventually he'll crawl out of whatever bottle he's holed up in at the moment. Dean doesn't need me to come and hold his hand and I'm not interested in joining in on the hunt."

Caleb's silent for a long moment and he thinks that maybe he's pissed the older hunter off. He takes satisfaction in the thought. Then Caleb blows out one long breath and starts speaking again. "Dean's lost you and now John's up and left him too. He does need you…more than you know Sam. I'm not asking you to hunt but I think that it's time you see Dean."

He's dumbfounded. Didn't he make himself clear? Years ago he'd told Caleb that he'd needed to make a clean break. And he had. He's done his part of the clean break. "We've had this conversation before Caleb. I need a clean break. I can't, no I refuse, to be sucked back into that world. I'm sorry that Dean's hurting, I hate seeing that, but this is the life he chose for himself."

"Sam, your brother, he's different than the last time you saw him in New Mexico. It's complicated, but he's younger now. Really young."

Regression. Absurd, he thinks, why not just tell him his brother's expecting while he's at it. Or that he's been abducted by aliens. Or any of the other hundreds of hunter's tales he's heard over the years. He starts to feel that old familiar anger coiling around him.

"So, you've resorted to lying now to get me to come and see Dean. Is that it? That's pretty low, Caleb. Not to mention pretty pathetic. Did dad even leave? Is there even a hunt?"

"I'm not lying to you, Sam. Call Jim or Mac. Call Bobby. They'll all tell you the same thing."

"I don't fucking believe you. And no, I'm not calling anyone, Caleb." It's hard enough hearing and seeing Caleb, he doesn't need the pain of hearing Jim and Mac added to it. He gets up and walks back towards the door. He can hear Caleb talking to him but he's no longer absorbing any of the information. He flings the door open and looks back towards Caleb, who hasn't moved from his spot in the living room. "Get out, Caleb."

"Sam…"

"No." he cut him off. "Just no."

"Just, come see him tomorrow Sam. One night. It would mean the world to him." He could see the pleading in Caleb's eyes, but he isn't going to get sucked back into that life, especially not over a lie as ridiculous as this. It was hard enough leaving Dean in New Mexico three years ago, he's not going to do it again, not tonight when he's got all of his friends and the love of his life waiting to celebrate his accomplishments. Real, normal accomplishments.

"Your dad's missing, Sam. There could be clues…"

"Clues that you and Dean can figure out on your own."

"Dean's a thirteen year old kid…"

"Bullshit, Caleb. Then where is he?" He sticks his head out into the hallway, arms and hands spread wide. "You come here with this completely outrageous story and expect me to believe you without bringing me any proof."

"Since when did family need proof?"

"Since I've become a big brother and nobody saw fit to tell me, apparently. Take your lies and get out, Caleb." Caleb walks out the door but then stops and turns back.

"I thought my word would have been enough for you Sam. It was last time. It's sad… this distrustful person you've molded yourself into, but I'll bring you your proof and then I'll be accepting your apology." Caleb turns and continues walking down the hallway. He shuts the door and walks back into the living room, running a hand through his hair. He's not getting sucked back in, he tells himself again, no matter how much he misses his brother. This is his life now. This is his future, regardless of whatever "proof" Caleb shows up with.

Two days later Caleb shows up with his proof and it turns out to be pretty convincing.

Convincing enough that Sam has already began to accept that there's no real reason to go through all the trouble to set up a charade like this. Convincing him to go see Dean was one thing, but parading a carbon copy of his brother at thirteen would gain Caleb nothing. He hasn't said a word to the kid…his brother, since they arrived at his apartment five minutes ago. Dean sits there, not even looking at him, picking at a hole in his jeans.

It's unnerving.

"So, do you believe me now?" Caleb asks and he wants to punch the older man in the face more than just a little.

Belief. He believes that his world has just changed. He believes that the identity that he struggled with for so long, little brother, is now gone because he doesn't have a big brother any longer. There's no older Dean full of swagger and charm, ready to come help him whenever he may need it. He's got no one to call, if he were still calling his family, for reassurance or direction. Just this kid.

"Sam?" He's vaguely aware that he's staring at Dean, but he can't help it.

"Sorry, I don't mean to stare, but…"

"It's okay. The first day I was like this they all sat and stared at me too. I mean, what can I say, when you're this good looking you come to understand these things." The kid says.

Laughter erupts from deep within him and he can't stop. The comment is so…Dean. His cheeks feel wet and he's pretty sure that he's crying. Laughing and crying at the same time, great, his brother is going to think that he's a lunatic. But he can't make himself stop. The laughter slowly morphs into sobs and he covers his face with his hands. A hand tightens on his shoulder as the couch beside him dips down under added weight. He wipes at his eyes and looks over. Dean's gone and Caleb is sitting beside him. He has the irrational hope that this was all just a really bad daydream. Like grown up Dean will pop through the door and say 'gotcha' at any moment. Can't believe you actually fell for that one Sammy, now are you happy to see me?

"Where…"

"I sent him into the next room. You were freaking him out a bit dude, with all the staring, and then the laughing and then the crying. Not one of your better moments."

"I was freaking him out? I'm freaked out too, Caleb. I mean what the fuck?"

"I know. If it makes you feel any better we didn't handle it any better. Worse in fact."

It doesn't make him feel any better at all actually. He rubs some more at his eyes, leans in closer to Caleb and lowers his voice. "This is temporary right? That's why dad took off, he's looking for a cure or a way to fix this."

Caleb leans back into couch and lets out a long sigh. A minute ticks by before Caleb meets his eyes again.

"We've already been through all that Sam and we haven't found anything. Just a little piece of advice though, don't talk about fixing or changing him back in front of him."

Caleb's words rattle around in his head for a moment. They'd already been through that. They'd already tried to find a cure. "How?"

"Well Runt, I know it'll take a little self-restraint, but just don't say the words fixing or curing with the words you or Dean and you should be fine."

"What? No, that's not what I meant. I'm meant how do you know that there's not a cure. You couldn't have had nearly enough time to look at all the possibilities."

Caleb looks away quickly but Sam catches the guilt that crosses his face. "I wanted to tell you man, but I got overruled by your old man and the kid."

He ignores Caleb and goes on. "Because, if you have had enough time to explore all the options, then that would mean that this didn't just happen and that my brother has been like this for a while and that I was intentionally kept in the dark about this."

"Hey I said I wanted to tell you, but really, you're the one who wanted the clean break."

"Yet here you are!"

"Because your dad is missing you ass!"

"So, if dad never went missing, I would have never known! That's great Caleb. Something like this happens to my brother you pick up the phone and you call me!"

"Right Sam, because you seemed so receptive to the idea when I came in person last night, I'm so sure you would have listened to me over the phone!"

"Well, you could have brought him here!"

"I came here." Dean voice is calm and even, like it always was while trying to diffuse the tension between Caleb and himself. It pisses him off because he doesn't want to calm down. He wants them to know how completely pisses off he is. He wants the whole world to know how he just got screwed over once again. He's entitled to his rage. "I was pissed off at dad and I wanted to see you so I came here. We actually talked for a split second, but then your girlfriend came along and I saw how happy you were and I didn't want to mess that up for you."

"I don't remember." He feels his eyebrows come together. "When?"

"Almost five months ago. You were at the library, big shock, and I had started to talk to you when you and some blonde started tongue wrestling."

"Jess, that's Jess, my girlfriend. And you were the kid at the fountain. The one who said that I reminded you of your brother. God, how did you even find me? " Stupid, god he's so stupid. His brother had been right there in front of him and he hadn't even known. He hadn't even suspected and that eats at him, because this kid is clearly his brother. Looking back at that day, he wishes that he'd been able to see what is so obvious to him now.

"Yeah. I saw you and I left. And then I told Caleb, dad and everyone else that I didn't want you to know. Not right then anyway." Dean's not looking at him anymore. He's looking at Caleb. A shared glance between the two of them and Sam's starting to think that maybe he's being left out in the dark again. And isn't that an old familiar feeling too, feeling shut out of whatever was going on between them.

"You didn't want to see me then, but you want to now, because dad's missing."

The mention of dad gets his brother's attention, like always, and it's as annoying and as infuriating now as it was then, maybe even more so now because it's so completely clear that Dean is not a normal teenage boy. He never was. "I would have come to see you eventually, I just had some things that I needed to work out. But yeah, dad's disappearance is why I wanted to see you now. We need to find him Sammy. Something bad could have happened to him."

Sammy. For a moment he feels nine years old again, looking over at his big brother, but the illusion is quickly swept away.

"I'm not hunting anymore Dean. I gave that up years ago."

"It's not a hunt Sammy, its dad."

"I'm sure he's fine. Dad, well, he disappeared a lot when we were growing up. It happened even more as we got older and could take care of ourselves."

"He wouldn't have just left the hunt unfinished Sam. That's not like him at all." The look on Dean's face says that Sam is clearly an idiot for even considering it.

"Well, he may have just needed to get past the next couple of days alone. You know how he gets around…"

"I know what day it is Sam, and I'm telling you that he's not off on some bender."

"Why don't you just come out to Jericho with us for the night and we'll go over what he left behind and what we've found. Maybe you'll see something that we didn't. You don't have to deal with the Woman in White at all if you don't want to." Caleb says and it sounds so reasonable. Just come on out for the night. Get to know your brother a little better and put him at ease about the whole dad situation. No actual hunting required. And the very least he could do is look over what they have. And he's got a growing list of questions for Dean and Caleb himself.

"I have an important meeting on Monday that I can't miss, but I'll come and stay over in Jericho with you until then." He sees Caleb relax a fraction and Dean is beaming at him. "But I'm still not happy about the way this went down. You should have called me. Someone should have called me."

Caleb rolls his eyes at him and turns to Dean. "Deuce, why don't you go out to the Jeep and make room for all of your brother's stuff."

"The hair products alone may take up the entire back seat." Dean catches the keys from Caleb and moves to the front door. "You don't even have salt down Sammy!"

"It's Sam…" He starts but the door shuts before he finishes. He's glad that Caleb sent Dean out, they need to have a private conversation.

"I'm not going to have a lot of time during law school, but I'll research what I can until we find out how to reverse the spell." He says.

"Sam…"

"Caleb, you've had five months to process this. I've had twenty minutes. I can't accept that this curse or spell can't be broken." He can't accept that older Dean is gone for good. Not yet.

"Look all you want man, but you aren't going to find anything that your dad, Jim, Bobby and I couldn't dig up. And if he finds out that you're looking I'm going to kick your ass. Seriously, I'm not going through all that drama again. And I'm not helping you."

"You guys have given up haven't you? You're going to let this go and raise him all over again."

"I'm not going to lie to you Sam, it was hard to accept at first for all of us. But he is your brother and in the end, this was the best decision for him. We all agreed to stop looking. Even your dad."

"See, that doesn't sound like my dad at all. He hardly wanted to raise us the first time around. Wait…is that what happened? Dad got tired of being tied down to a kid again so he just up and ditched him and now you need someone to take over?"

"Cut it out Sam, no one needs for you to take over. We already have paperwork in place in case something happened to John." And apparently he didn't make the list otherwise he would have had to sign something. It stings that if something were to happen to his dad that he wouldn't even be considered to help raise Dean.

"Like I said before, yet here you are."

"Because he wanted to see you and he wanted to know that you would be there for him and John if they needed you. And he needs you now."

"I'll be there for him as much as I can Caleb, but I'm still looking." This isn't over, not if he's got anything to say about it.

Caleb smiles and shakes his head. "And I'm still going to kick your ass if he finds out about it. Agreed?"

"Agreed."

"On what?" Dean asks as he comes back through the door.

"Lunch. Sammy's treat."

"Great, I'm starving." Dean pats his stomach.

"It's not my treat! Hi, starving college student here, it's Caleb's treat."

"Hi, minor here, I don't care who's buying but it needs to be soon."

"Waiting on you, Runt. We'll be out in the car." Caleb and Dean walk out to the door. From the back, he can almost pretend that this is normal. The height difference is nearly the same as it would have been all those years ago. But this isn't normal.

Normal. The thing that he's been chasing after and pining over for most of his life. The thing that he's one interview and a ring away from getting.

The very thing that's getting blown away by his thirteen year old brother.

"How's your burger?" Sam asks from across the table.

"It's good." The burger is awesome, probably one of the best he's ever had. Caleb had insisted that they try this restaurant but had been called outside on a phone call, leaving the two of them alone for the first time. There's been more eating than talking but it's hard to focus on his food when he feels like such a total failure. He knows that Sammy had always been a strange kid growing up, but he must have done something wrong raising the kid if they're sitting in one of the best burger places around his brother is eating a chicken salad. He shakes his head.

"Something else wrong?" Sam asks.

"No, just wondering where I went wrong." The look of confusion that crosses his brother's face borders on comical. "A chicken salad, Sam? Where did I go wrong?"

"Oh, yeah well some of us actually care about our arteries and cholesterol and overall health."

"Wow, you're so old."

"I am not old. You were older than me so…"

"So old. Practically geriatric." Dean says smiling as his brother huffs. Sammy is still so easy to frustrate. "Tell me you at least drink beer and go to parties."

"Yeah, I mean when I don't have to get up early for a class or have too much homework. I was on my way out to a party the other night when Caleb stopped by and I went out last night."

"You went out on Halloween?"

"I'm a grownup Dean. I can go out on Halloween if I want to."

"Dad would be so pissed."

"Then nothing would be different." It's still hard for him to imagine. His Sammy was only nine and even though his younger brother had always been strong willed, Sammy had loved their dad fiercely. It's hard to picture the two of them fighting to the point that Sam decided that leaving would be better than staying. But Caleb had told him about those missing years and he trusts Caleb.

"Yeah, I guess. Do you think that he's okay? Maybe it you tried to call him, he'd answer."

"Doubtful Dean. If I thought that it would make a difference, for you, I'd consider it, but he's not going to answer for me."

"You could at least try." Dean misses his family. He knows that Sam and his dad had their problems…have their problems… but he can't believe that there's no chance at reconciliation. That would be unbearable.

Sam sighs again. Sam sighs even more as a grownup then he did as a kid, contrary to Dean's secret wishing that his little brother would grow out of that habit. "I'll think about it, Dean."

"Okay." Sam won't call. This is just his way of appeasing Dean but he decides to let it drop. He doesn't want to let anything ruin tonight.

"Jess sounds nice." Sam's face lights up at the mention of his girlfriend and Dean's happy that he decided to switch subjects.

"She's great. You actually helped me get up the nerve to ask her out."

"That's because I'm the best big brother ever. Or was."

"How about you can be the best brother period." He'd always thought of Sam as the best brother ever. Sammy was the reason for…well, everything and nothing is ever going to change that.

"Maybe. Are you going to marry her?" Sam chokes a little on his drink.

"What?"

"Jess. Are you going to marry her?"

"Yeah, I think I am. I haven't told anyone though."

"Are we invited? All of us?" Sam's family doesn't end with dad and Dean. Mac, Jim, Bobby, and Caleb would all be crushed if they weren't included.

"You don't have any easy questions for me tonight do you?"

"I guess that depends on your answer."

"My answer…is going to have to wait until I get her answer."

"Sure, put it all on her. Way to man up, Sammy."

"Someday, you'll understand that happy wife means happy life, Dean."

"That only applies if she says yes."

"She'll say yes."

"How do you know?"

"Because I'm the best little brother in the world raised by the best big brother in the world."

Sam's right, Jess is going to say yes because Sam is a great guy and any girl would be lucky to marry his brother. He'd tell his brother so but he's not going to encourage this into becoming a full-blown chick flick moment.

"You're such a girl, Samantha."

"Takes one to know one, jerk."

"Bitch." Dean's glad that Sam decided to come with them. Things were going great.

Sam's pretty sure that he's permanently placed himself on his brother's shit list, which is a real shame since lunch and dinner the day before had gone so well. But yeah, he's totally on Dean's shit list. His brother had practically told him so after he drove the Impala into Constance's house. He hadn't gone to Jericho with the intention of hunting but he'd gotten sucked in. It was impossible not to be sucked into the case after seeing all the facts in front of him. He always did love researching and putting puzzles together.

The walls of his dad and Dean's room is covered with research and his dad left behind his hunting journal. As much as Dean didn't want to, he finally had to admit that his dad's disappearance was looking less suspicious and more like their old man had ditched him. The hurt is obvious in his brother's eyes and a part of him, a really big part of him, wants to find his dad so he can beat the crap out of him for putting his brother through this.

His little brother.

As much as he doesn't want to admit it, Caleb is sounding more and more right about the regression. He hadn't had the time to do what he'd consider proper research, but he's had taken some time to call Bobby, Jim and Mac. They all confirm what Caleb told him. That his dad looked tirelessly up until Dean had taken off to see him. And then they all stopped looking. Exhausted all acceptable resources, Jim assured him. Sam's not sure what to think.

As the youngest member of their non-nuclear family, he's never had to deal with kids younger than himself for any extended period of time. He'd had the occasional friend with younger siblings, but that had been different since he'd been just a kid himself.

But being around Dean in this regressed state gives him a whole new perspective on his brother. Dean looked out for him while they were growing up, trying to make the best of whatever shithole their dad had transplanted them in at the time. He'd been shielded by Dean, not noticing many of the adult responsibilities that his older brother had taken on. And been secure with knowledge that Dean would take care of him, he'd sometimes put himself in situations that forced his brother to go head to head with older kids and adults.

That image from his memories, from a little brother's perspective, differs vastly from what he sees as an adult. His brother had seemed larger than life. His hero and protector. As an adult he sees his brother as an unruly, quick tempered, sarcastic, loud mouthed kid. Around him, Dean is a pretty normal, albeit hormonal teenager, but his brother's attitude becomes more problematic around others. Caleb isn't fazed at all by Dean's antics and takes all of the mocking and cynical comments in stride. He, on the other hand, is continually shocked by his brother's foul mouth and lack of respect for other adults.

"He's not that bad, Sam. You're just not used to seeing him like this. I, on the other hand, have had the opportunity to do and see all this before. Coffee?"

"Out of thatcoffee pot? No thanks." His dad's room came equipped with its own kitchenette and coffee maker but it was anyone's guess as to when it had last seen a sponge.

"You always were kind of prissy. Anyway, your brother, he's really not all that bad."

"Maybe. I don't remember him like this at all. He was normal at lunch yesterday, but with other people he just…he's very…jaded."

"Is there anything in your upbringing that would encourage him to act differently?"

"No, I suppose not, but I don't remember him doing demon checks as often. I mean, he christo'd the guy at the front desk at least three times." Not to mention the holy water that keeps finding its way into everyone's drinks. Including his drink. He wonders if he should be insulted.

"He's just being cautious." Caleb responds.

"He's being strange."

"Cut him a break Sam. He's just frustrated and he doesn't' trust easily. And he's worried about John."

"He's acting like a…"

"A teenager. Teenagers are inherently selfish, Sam. You were. And even though your brother may have always been a little less so than others, he still wants what he wants."

"And he wants to find dad and for the three of us to be one big happy hunting family."

"I think he'd settle for happy family."

"I'm not going to hunt for my dad in Colorado, Caleb. Dean's welcome to come visit, but this isn't my life." It shouldn't be Dean's either, but he can't do much about that yet. Maybe in a year or two he can get Dean to stay with him. He'll make a point of looking into that legal paperwork when he starts school.

"I understand that. Just, call him every once in a while alright? Come out to the farm or New York to visit. These last five months without you have been hard on him."

"After what I did to the Impala, I'll be lucky if he picks the phone up."

"You're his brother, he'll always forgive you. You should know that by now."

The door creaks open and Dean comes shuffling in.

"I guess we'll find out if that still holds true." Sam says.

"Well, there are four spots where only the clearcoat got scratched, but two others that are all the way down to the primer." Dean crosses his arms and looks at him.

"So, scratching the down to the primer is bad right?" The look Dean gives him makes him feel like the biggest ass around. He's pretty good at that actually. Dean rolls his eyes and walks to one of the beds.

"I'm going to call Bobby and yes Sam, scratching down to the primer is bad. Seriously, did dad ever have you at Uncle Bobby's?" Dean shakes his head once more before he flops down on his bed and flips open his cell phone.

Caleb smiles and shakes his head. "I think you're alright Runt. If he was really that mad at you he would either be much worse to you or wouldn't talk to you at all. Think Josh."

Dean's on the phone with Bobby for a couple of minutes. He hears his name dropped a few times, usually in a disgusted manner but he thinks that Caleb is right. If he hadn't been forgiven, then Dean would be much worse. And really, when had Dean ever not forgiven him. After he's off the phone, Dean moves back over to where he and Caleb are sitting. "Bobby says that he'll come out and drive the Impala back to his place and fix the scratches. And he says that you owe him, Sam. And that he's disappointed that you would scratch the car. And you suck."

"Really, Uncle Bobby says that I suck."

"And that you're an idjit."

"Really."

"Okay, I may have added that part."

"Which part, the 'I suck' part or the idjit part?"

"The 'I suck' part. He thinks we're all idjits."

"I did say that I'm sorry, Dean." Dean's still doing his best at looking pissed off but Sam knows that it's just an act.

"I know, Sammy. Are you really sure you can't go to Colorado with us? Damien could fly you out and back after your interview." His brother offers.

"Hey! I swear you're like a leach kid." Caleb says, but it doesn't carry any heat. The older hunter gets up and starts packing up what's left of his belongings.

"I can't, Dean. I'm sorry, but I'm sure dad's alright. I'll call you guys in a couple of days and see how things are going in Colorado though. And you can come here anytime you want…and I can come out to the farm and see you. Or…"

"Sam, you're babbling." Caleb calls from the other side of the room.

"Sorry. I'll keep in touch Dean. I promise."

"Yeah, I heard about how good you are at staying in touch."

"That was different, Dean."

"I'm just saying, don't say it if you don't mean it."

"I mean it, Dean." And he does.

In his mind, the night breaks down into comparisons and contrasts. The smell of freshly baked cookies contrasts sharply with the smell of freshly burned girlfriend. The look of compassion in the eyes of his friends contrasts with the sheer terror held in Jess'. The comforting hugs and gentle touches contrast with Caleb's rough hands dragging him away from the inferno that was his life.

His mother burned on the ceiling of his nursery exactly twenty two years to the day that Jess burns on the ceiling of their room. They had both loved Sam. Sam had loved them both.

He watches as the fire department battles the fire, trying to keep it from spreading to neighboring units. His friends have left for the night. There's nothing more they can do.

"Sammy." Caleb's arm is outstretched towards him.

"Sam. Drink this." He takes the bottled water from Caleb and sips it slowly. He hadn't even realized how dry his throat is and once he starts drinking he doesn't stop until the bottle is empty.

Caleb sits next to him on the Impala while a young sympathetic looking member of the Palo Alto Police Department questions him about his whereabouts. Caleb does most of the talking for him, much to the officer's frustration, while he sits and fingers one of the deeper scratches from Jericho and thinks about the precious time he wasted.

He doesn't notice the officer's absence until Caleb's face is hovering inches from his and he lets himself be led into the Impala. He takes one last look at the smoldering building before he turns his head and leans it against the window. The cool glass is a welcome change from the inferno raging under his skin.

"Where are we going?" He doesn't want to go back to Jericho. "I can't leave. I need to call Jess' parents."

"The cops have got that covered, Sammy."

"I should be there when they come. I owe them that much."

"We're not going far. I got us a room down the road."

"I should still be there."

"I'll take you to see them in the morning, Sam. Tonight, you need to sleep."

Caleb pulls the Impala up to the hotel and then runs in to get the key. He doesn't know when Caleb made the arrangements for the room, but he's grateful because he's not sure where he would have gone tonight.

"Sammy."

"Yeah."

"I need you to open up the door and hold it open for me alright?" It's a strange request. He only just watched the love of his life burn up in front of him, it's not like he can't help carry the bags. Of course, he doesn't have any bags of his own because they burned with Jess too. His whole life burned. He wonders if every turning point in his life will be marked by someone he loves burning. He hopes not.

"I can help carry in some of your stuff." He offers.

"Sammy, just hold the door open alright?"

Caleb folds the key card into his hand and gets out of the Impala. Sam slowly gets out. He feels sluggish and his head is hazy but he makes it to the door without incident and holds it open. He expects to see Caleb's arms full of bags but instead the older man's arms are full of thirteen year old boy.

Dean.

"Shit." He remembers his brother being in the apartment with Caleb. Dean had been terrified. He'd yelled for Sam, but then had called out for their mom too and Caleb had been forced to drag the both of them out.

Caleb moves passed him and sets Dean down onto the furthest of the beds. His brother doesn't look hurt, but fire can kill without leaving a mark. His heart starts racing a little as he makes his way over to the bed.

"He's not hurt. I told him to stay in the fucking car."

"He came in."

"Kid never could follow my orders. He saw Jess and freaked. I couldn't get him to calm down so I crushed up a Xanax or two and put it in his water."

"You put Xanax in his water?" He thinks back to the water handed to him.

"Yours too." Caleb smiles coolly.

"Fucker." That explains the sluggishness.

"Dean wasn't the only one freaking out. I needed to get you calmed down before the police came and heard you saying that this was all your fault."

Oh, he doesn't remember that. But then again he didn't remember his own brother being in the room either. He sits on the edge of his brother's bed while Caleb goes and gets the rest of their belongings out of the car. Dean's clothes and body are dirty with ash and soot, but his breathing is unlabored and there doesn't appear to be any burns. He looks down at his own hands and finds them just as dirty as his brother's.

He must look a mess. No wonder Caleb thought it was better for him not to see Jess' parents tonight. His appearance would have probably caused them even more heartache.

"Get into bed, Sammy." Caleb says as he walks through the door. He looks around the room. There are only two beds in the room.

"Well, you're not sharing with me kiddo. Share with your brother."

He's too tired to protest about the sleeping arrangements for the night or to yell at Caleb for eavesdropping so instead he toes off his shoes and lays down opposite of his brother. Caleb throws an extra blanket over him and Dean before lying down on the open bed.

He wills himself not to see Jessica, but she's there all the same. Her fearful eyes look into his accusingly and he now knows that he should have done something about his dreams. The ones that were supposed to be innocent and the result of midterms and law school interviews. They weren't supposed to turn real. Leaving his dad and Dean was supposed safeguard his life from events like this. Instead, he managed to bring the horror of his old life crashing in on his new life.

Minutes pass before he turns over onto his stomach, giving up on sleeping on his back. The pillow that he buries his head under is scratchy but cool and he lays there listening to the soft breathes coming from beside him.

"I'm sorry, Sam." Caleb says softly from the other bed.

"Thanks." He's never envied Caleb's abilities, especially when their help has come too late. He's even less envious now. "Caleb?"

"Yeah?"

"I need to find my dad."

"Sam, you need to sleep and then you need to take a couple of days to think about this and then you can decide if leaving is what you really want to do."

"I think that what I want is pretty irrelevant at this point. This afternoon I wanted a lot of things…but now I need to find my dad and I need to find whatever it was that killed Jessica. She died the same way my mom did and that can't be coincidence. Dad knows something. I know he does."

"Your dad left for a reason Sam. Maybe to protect the two of you. You need to think about that and consider what you're getting yourself into."

"It's a little late for protection Caleb. Once the funeral is over, we're heading out to Colorado and I'm not stopping until we find dad and this thing is dead. I'm back in."

The drugs are coming into full affect and he can feel himself grow even heavier as they pull and tug at him until finally, he gives in and sleeps.


End Notes: All right, we've got the boys back together now. Finally, right? All I have nearly finished is some Season 2 stuff, so I've got to take a look and see what episodes I want to play with for Season 1, although I suppose I don't have to go in order =)

Thank you so much for reading! I always appreciate feedback. Until next time!