First appeared in Hunting on the Net 14 (2010), from Neon Rainbow Press, a collection of my season three fiction.

Change of Plans
K Hanna Korossy

The Impala was the first thing he saw as he stepped out of Union Station.

Dean let out a breath, a mix of relief and frustration tangled inside him. Friggin' little brothers who were too smart for their own good; not only had Sam known exactly where Dean was headed, but had even settled confidently in front of the right train station entrance. Double-parked, true, but Dean had no doubt that nothing would have budged Sam from his post until his brother arrived.

He rolled his eyes and trudged down the steps to the car. Might as well get this over with.

Dean considered briefly going around to the driver's side door and telling Sam to scoot over, but discarded it just as fast. As he approached the car, he could already see Sam's set jaw, the pinched look of his eyes, the truculent tilt of his head. Nope, he wouldn't be giving an inch. Dean knew when a battle was lost and slid into the passenger side of the car, wearily dropping the paper bag he held at his feet.

Sam didn't say a word, didn't look at him, just started the car and peeled away from the curb.

Washington traffic was just as Dean remembered: choked and sluggish. Sam maneuvered the big car through every gap and yellow light with a grace Dean would've been proud of in other circumstances. Now, he just chewed on his lip, wondering how this would go, if Sam would yell or give him the cold shoulder, punch him or just offer that kicked-puppy look that Dean couldn't bear. Sam was usually the one to leave him, not the other way around, so this was unfamiliar territory.

They continued on in thunderous silence, leaving the early-morning city commuters behind and heading against traffic out into the suburbs and beyond. Dean had no idea how far they were going, but he was pretty sure Sam wanted to put as many miles between Dean and his objective as possible.

They were well into Virginia before Dean finally cleared his throat. "Sam—"

He'd expected to get a little further than that, at least, before Sam's not unexpected growl of "Shut up, Dean" cut him off.

Dean shut up, sliding back into the seat with a scowl. Friggin' little brothers who thought they knew best and didn't get that big brothers had to take care of them. He grumbled something under his breath and tilted his head against the window. He hadn't been able to sleep on the overnight train ride, tense, dreading what he was about to do even as he was sure it was the right thing, and he was exhausted. If Sam wasn't talking or stopping anytime soon, there was no reason Dean couldn't take a nap. He let his eyes slide shut, more comforted than he would have admitted by his baby's engine and his brother's steady breathing, the sounds of home he'd never thought he'd hear again.

He woke to bright midday sun streaming through a canopy of trees, the car still and the seat beside him empty.

Dean shot upright, eyes darting around until they found Sam, pacing a tight circle behind the car while he talked on his cell. Every movement was restrained agitation, a compressed coil ready to spring.

Dean emptied his lungs and reached for the door. Well, he never had been one to play it safe.

He rounded the car to hear the tail end of Sam's conversation, a promise to keep in touch and a "Thanks, Bobby" before he snapped the phone shut and rounded on Dean.

Dean raised an eyebrow. "Reporting to Dad?"

"Get in the car, Dean," Sam said tersely, heading back to the driver's side.

"No," Dean answered just as calmly.

Sam changed course without missing a beat, swinging back to face Dean over the trunk. His face was flushed with anger, his eyes dangerous. This was Sam the hunter, and Dean couldn't help the shiver down his spine. "Get. In. The. Car."

Dean crossed his arms. "Uh-uh."

Sam's nostrils flared, then suddenly he brought his fist down on the polished black metal. "Dean—"

He quickly held up his hands, frowning now. "Hey, yell at me, take a swing, whatever, but don't beat up the car."

For a moment, he thought Sam might do it. Come around to his side and lay him out on the ground, or, crap, even lay into the Impala just to spite Dean. Then the storm passed, Sam deflating so fast, Dean thought he might actually sink to the ground. He turned and leaned against the car instead, facing away from Dean, head bowed.

Dean hesitated. He had no idea where they were, didn't really want to do this out in front of God and everybody if they had to do it at all. But he was the one who'd started this, at every level, and he had to deal with it now. Friggin' little brothers you could never deny…

Dean swallowed, shoved his hands into his pockets, and ambled around to the other side of the car. As he settled in against the sun-warmed metal, Sam's quiet, hoarse voice surprised him.

"What were you gonna take them as proof?"

Dean's eyes slid toward the paper bag he couldn't see inside the car. "Your bloody shirt with the hole in it from when that bitch Bela shot you."

Sam snorted softly and nodded, hair sliding into his face. His eyes stayed on the ground.

Dean studied his profile a second. "How'd you know?"

"Always forget your browser history, dude."

Dean's shoulders unbent a little. Sam's tone still had an edge, but the words cracked the door open. Dean cleared his throat. "So you saw…"

"…that I finally made Most Wanted? Yeah. Not too surprising, considering the mess we left behind with Gordon."

They usually covered their trail better, but Dean had been a couple quarts low and barely on his feet, Sam battered and covered in vamp blood, and it was all they'd been able to do to straggle out of there. By the time they'd been able to return to torch the evidence—and Gordon Walker's decapitated body—the place had been crawling with cops. Dean had started regularly checking Sam's record that same day.

"So, what?" Sam continued, kicking at the edge of the asphalt, "You were just going to walk in there and tell them I was dead and you were surrendering?"

Dean shrugged, slouching against the car next to Sam. "Yeah, pretty much. I think Henriksen woulda bought it—he always thought you were the innocent kid I'd brainwashed into helping me."

Sam huffed an unexpected laugh at that. "Right. 'Cause it wasn't my blood all over Gordon."

"Hey, what can I say, I taught you well."

Sam looked sideways up at him, the way he was slumped putting him below Dean's eye-level. That and the dewy hazel eyes gave Dean a sudden flashback to Sam as a kid, looking up at him in every way. "You realize this was pretty much your worst plan ever."

The fantasy bubble popped, leaving only depressing reality. "Dude, I've got two months left. If spending 'em in a jail cell gets Henriksen off your back for the rest of your life, hey, that's not a bad deal."

Sam straightened. "Enough with the deals, Dean, all right?" Anger threaded back into his voice.

Dean grimaced at his poor choice of words. "Sam, you know that's not what—"

"Just…" Sam put a hand up. "Just give me those two months, okay? I'm gonna find a way to save you, and it's not gonna be so you can rot in prison for the rest of your life."

He had a lot of arguments to that. At least you'd be clear, and I could always break out, and…and I don't think there's a way to save me, bro, not this time. But there was a raw plea now in Sam's tone that Dean couldn't deny. Not long before, Sam had asked him to be his big brother again, and maybe he needed that more than he needed a clean record right now. Dean slowly nodded.

Friggin' little brothers who never gave up on you.

Sam nodded, too, throat working a moment. There was a long pause, completely different from the strained silence of before, and when he finally repeated his earlier words, this time there was no heat in them. "Get in the car."

"I'm driving," Dean stated.

Sam tossed over the keys without protest. Within five minutes of the Impala returning to the road, he was fast asleep, tucked into the corner of the seat facing Dean.

Dean didn't turn the car back toward Washington. And that night, in an outdoor grill at some roadside picnicking spot, they burned Sam's blood-stained shirt.

The End