A Birthday Surprise

Summary: Part of my Not My Sammy Series. Looking to surprise Sam on his birthday, Dean takes advantage of a prior incident to give his brother a long over due rest after recent events. Too bad that Sam isn't willing to buy the sudden change in plans, especially with his own nightmares resurfacing.

Warnings: Nothing serious. I'd say for some minor language.

Characters: Worried/protective!Dean/ Slightly suspicious/edgy!Sam

Disclaimer: I do not own the boys or anything to do with the show. Just writing for the fun of it.


Hotel California by the Eagles…not exactly my style of music but then it's coming from that I-Pod thing that's jacked to my car and since I've been trying to be more lenient and mellow when it comes to sharing the Impala and the music played inside her I let it go.

Normally when I take over driving from Sam the first thing that goes is the I-Pod but last night I left it alone and just switched playlists since I didn't mind the other list of songs my brother kept on it and I knew it would help Sammy sleep.

Laying back on the hood of the Impala, I let my guard down for a brief moment to take in the sight that I'd driven all night and kept the destination a secret from my brother to see. It really didn't matter since the view would be spectacular at any time of the day but I wanted him to see it at this time.

Glancing into the Impala to make sure Sam was still sleeping easily, I take this time of silence to try to relax, to forget the past couple weeks and to forget night before last when I made the final choice to head West…to put some distance between us and this latest hassle. Though I also had a more personal reason to head to California. Sam's birthday.

My little brother, who is still taller than I am, turned twenty-eight a few days ago and all I could give him then were lies that everything was fine. I had sworn to myself that I wouldn't keep things from him anymore but on top of everything else he's been through since coming back, I wasn't dropping this on him.

We've been on the road for nearly five months since leaving Bobby's place after New Years and I have to admit that Sammy's taking the strain better than I thought he would. A first I coddled him. I didn't plan on pushing him to get back into the game. I mean, between going into the Cage with two raging Archangels, getting yanked out to being kidnapped, tortured and abused not only by a goddamn shapeshifter (yes, that still pisses me off) but by people he thought he could trust in our Mom's so-called family, I didn't plan on pushing him.

By my birthday he was getting stronger but he still couldn't do any serious training so I gave him the researching and weapon cleaning role…until the kid picked up on what I was doing and sorta got in my face over it.

Gotta admit that it felt both weird and thrilling to have Sammy actually in my face shouting at me that I couldn't keep him locked in a glass bubble while I took on all the risks. It was our first real fight since of course I had to get in my two cents that oh, hell yes I could but in the end I let him think he won. I eased up some to the point that he doesn't feel confined but I don't let him outta my sight too long either.

I cranked up the training too. Pushing him until I see he's had enough because Sam won't openly admit when he's wiped out. Damn kid fell back into the habit he had with Dad. He'd let the old man push him past his endurance point until he either passed out or I physically stopped Dad's exercise.

Sam surprised me though. Despite being put through Hell literally and still having scars from wounds that he avoids thinking about much less talking about, he can keep up with me like he could back in the beginning…right after I got him from Stanford. Only once did I have to ease back and I knew he'd be tired that day because when Sammy has nightmares, he's off his game the next day…especially when he's trying to act like he's not having them.

I hear the song switch from the Eagles to some other song that Sam liked but I also see him curl tighter in the front seat so that his shoulder is right up against the door and I know it'll be time to wake him up soon.

Bobby wanted us to come back for Easter but I knew if we had he'd have taken that shotgun to my ass. We'd accidentally run across a goddamn Rugaru in eastern Michigan and since I hadn't been expecting anything but a simple spirit had taken Sam with me. He'd only been training steady and hard for a couple weeks and something about seeing that thing froze him. Damn critter nearly ate my little brother before I torched its ass so to say that neither of us were in any shape to have Bobby see us was a huge understatement.

That wasn't the first time Sam's froze but he's not talking about why. That's when the nightmares started coming back hard. I try to overlook them, to give him space but on nights when I wake up to see him sitting in a corner just rocking like he would as a kid, it's hard not to want to push but I honestly don't think he knows why they're happening. He says all he sees are flashes and that he's fine…but this is my brother and there ain't a damn thing I don't know about him so I know when he latches onto to my arm to keep me by him despite saying that he's fine…that he's so far from fine.

So I just watch him more. I give him the space he thinks he needs but Sammy…he's fallen back into so many damn habits that he had when we were kids that he doesn't realize it. I'd been thinking about his birthday for months since he hasn't had what you could call a good one in…hell, even I don't know. I know he doesn't like to think about or do much for them since he was sixteen and well, I can't say I blame him for that one now that I know.

Sammy's sixteenth birthday was a nightmare. A nightmare that I wasn't there to protect him from and ever since then he'd never really wanted to do much for them. I knew that I couldn't make up for what Dad's so-called pal did to my brother but considering the last few years I wanted to try to give him something.

We'd been in Louisiana tracking a Civil War spirit when it rolled around. I still have the actual present in my duffel bag since my plan for the night took several wrong turns. The first was when a simple salt and burn landed me with a near split skull when the ghost in question took offense to us digging up his grave, pouring lighter fluid and salt on the damn bones and setting the son of a bitch on fire.

I so hate when people keep pieces of clothes or hair from a corpse because that makes to real hard on me and Sammy to do our jobs. I don't recall much of the next few hours except Sam, on his own, had to break and enter in a museum to find the damn piece of uniform with the dead guy's blood on it and torch it. Then I pass out and come to just in time to stop my freaked out little brother from putting an ER doctor out a damn window.

Sam's great with wounds and God knows we've stitched each other up from some real winners but blood and head wounds had always freaked him out from the time I was seventeen and got tossed by something. It's by silent agreement that if either of us have a head wound that's bleeding a lot we at least let the local ER have a look. Of course, I hadn't counted on all the machines, Ivs and tubes in the hospital bringing back Sam's memories of being held for over a year by the 'shifter or his more recent time at the hands of our so-called distant family.

I didn't plan on spending my brother's brother in a hospital nor did I want him arrested for assault so I discharged myself AMA and took him back to the motel. I'd planned on letting him pick the restaurant for dinner but I could tell just by the way he was still pacing that he was too wired for that so we called out for pizza and I let him choose the movie.

He'd fallen asleep halfway the action flick that I knew he'd chosen only because he was worried about me making snide comments about the comedy he'd been considering. I'd been confident he'd sleep through the night so I'd stepped out to get some ice for my head. I was gone for barely ten minutes when I got the hard reminder of why I was never letting him out of my sight again.

Bobby and I knew after what happened with Samuel that we hadn't heard the last from what remained of his group. Hell, Gwen was pissed that I'd killed Christian so I knew if word got back that Samuel was dead too that we'd have problems. I knew that and I thought I was ready for it…I just wasn't ready for it that night when I saw the group of three hunters preparing to break into our room.

Head wound or not, near concussion or not, I'd grown up with an ex-Marine for a Father and while my Dad wouldn't win Father of the Year for how he raised us, I couldn't fault Dad for one thing. He taught me how to fight dirty when I had to and to protect Sam, hell yeah. I'd fight dirty.

They weren't the best hunters in the world so dealing with 'em wasn't an issue but it was what the one guy said that made up my mind to keep moving. Threatening me is one thing but there was no way that I'd let either hunters, demons or even Angels touch my little brother again. He barely survived the last time and I'm still not sure he'll ever fully be over the memories that haven't resurfaced and those are what worry me now…that and the way he tenses at certain things.

Getting rid of the bodies was easy, making sure Sam never found out about the near attack was a little harder since if my brother could tell one thing it was when I was lying to him but the nightmares of the night before and his worry over me being hurt made it easier to smooth it over. Though I could tell something was bugging him by how tense he was and how easy he gave up the wheel when I offered to drive.

Sammy's nightmares are scaring him again, Bobby's picking up rumors, and Cas is steering clear of me. Yeah, I shouldn't be worried or anything. So I drove through the night to get us here to California while I let Sam sleep. Only once did I have to reach over to touch him to reassure him that he wasn't alone. That is still one of his biggest fears: that I'll walk out on him because that's what he was made to see and believe. I know it'll be awhile before I can convince him otherwise and until then I give him the support he needs without being too smothering, yeah like I can ever stop hovering over him after all this happened, and I make damn certain anyone who comes too close to him dies.

Now though I slid off the hood to go over to his side of the car and I notice he's holding onto my jacket again. I can't get him to take it yet but he will hold it when he'd sleeping. It's on nights when he clutches it like he is now that I know he's uneasy and I still want to burn the sons of bitches who hurt my brother.

Reaching into the car, I jack up the volume on the I-pod after finding the song I want and make certain I have a firm grip on the arm that I know will swing in instant self-defense. "Morning, sunshine!" the familiar greeting settles Sammy down only a second before he recognizes that it's my hand on his arm.

"Huh?" sitting up fully, he's blinking up at me and trying to rub both eyes at the same time and I remember when he was a baby and would do the same thing every morning before he'd look for me. He does the same thing now after he's more awake, his eyes automatically shift to find me before he even bothers to see where we are. "Dean?"

"Remind me to tell you that your taste in music sucks, Sammy," I have to get the jab in about the music every chance I get but when he glances at the I-Pod with a frown I see that whatever the hell he's dreaming about or seeing has him scared enough to mistake my teasing as something else. "Hey, Sam, I'm kidding. C'mon, we're here."

Sam's watching me with eyes that reminded me so much of when I first got him back from the damn 'shifter and I only hope this wasn't a mistake. "Where we at?" he asked tiredly, giving me that pure Sammy eye roll after I toss my jacket at him and then he sees what I wanted him to and he goes quiet.

Years ago I learned that my little brother had been accepted at several colleges and I think he'd chosen Stanford because it was in California and close to the beach because Sam had always loved to near the water.

When I'd made the choice to move on after the attack in Louisiana, I chose California and I chose Monterey because it was on a beach with a view to die for…well, bad pun but it was still a sight to see because I'd remembered seeing it one time that I'd been in the area checking up on him.

Sunrise on this overlook was the best and I watched his tired and tense face ease into a slow smile before he glanced at me with a caution that nearly broke my heart. "We…have a job in California?"

"Oh, I'm sure we can find one but no," I tell him, sitting back on the hood and hide my smile when he mirrors me almost exactly. "Figured we'd check out the beaches of Monterey for a couple days. Maybe check out that so-called mystery house that we share a name with to see what our EMFs say about it and then…if you want…head down to Palo Alto."

The last thing on the list is what I worried about the most since I know he hasn't been back there since we left the day after Jessica's funeral. I feel Sam tense beside me as it registers with him what I said but I don't let on that I feel his eyes staring at me for a long while before I hear him finally speak again.


"Yeah, little brother, we can go see Jessica's grave if you want to," I tell him, hearing his breath catch before I look over to see that he's staring at the water as it reflects the newly raised sun. "Sammy?"

"You'll…come with me?" he asks quietly, almost hesitantly as if he's afraid I'll say no or tease him but neither cross my mind as I take time to give him the silence he's probably expecting before nudging his shoulder.

"That was the idea," I tell him easily, still feeling his eyes on me and wishing I knew the magic words to take away the caution and fear he still had sometimes. "You okay, Sam? I mean, with being here? Going back to Palo Alto?"

Sam's fingers are playing with the black rubber bracelet I'd given him back before he lifts his eyes back up to mine and despite the unshed wetness I see in them, I know he's alright even before he nods. "Yeah but why?" he asks, motioning around us. "I know you'd planned for other jobs so why the sudden change, Dean? What happened the other night to make you decide to not only change plans but also entire sides of the country?"

College boy is still too smart for my own good at times and while raising him has given me the ability to know everything about Sam, the downside to that is it also lets him see through me at times too. I know he should know about the attack, how close they'd been but I also want one damn week that maybe he can relax, that he can be in a place that once made him happy without worrying about us being nailed so I offer a silent apology and lie through my teeth.

"It's your birthday, Sammy. I blew that actual night by getting my head caved in so I figured I'd give us some time off to watch the surf, play tourist in a so-called haunted house and…" I shrug since there wasn't an easy way for him to go back to the grave of the girl he'd once loved and lost because I'd taken him away that weekend. "Besides, Bobby was hinting about us dropping by and I really am tired of him having to exorcise whatever meal he tries to cook."

Sam's laugh makes me relax since when he laughs I know he's safe and happy…pity he can be both of those things and still be a pain in my ass because with as withdrawn, quiet, and clingy as he can be at times these days I'd also forgotten how stubborn he was too.

"You just want to watch girls in bikinis, Dean," he shoots back easily at me. I'm a heartbeat from pointing out that I'd booked us a room on a clothing optional beach (I hadn't but I wanted to see his face if he thought I had) when his hand gripped my wrist in a way that made me look up to see him watching me seriously. "Eventually you're gonna have to tell me how many jumped you that night…Dean, there was blood on your shirt and your knife still had spots on blood by the hilt. You promised me that you were done trying to coddle me…"

"No, I promised that I wouldn't lock you in a bubble but I never promised to stop protectin' you, Sammy," I reply, turning my hand over to grip his wrist in a way like I had when we'd been kids. "Give me this week. Just promise me that you'll relax and forget the life we lead for this one week and then I'll tell you…if you tell me about the nightmares you think I don't know you're still having."

I can give as good as I get and he's not getting anything from me until I know what he's seeing. The normal bitch face lets me know we're good before he nods and I push his actual gift into his hands. "Fine, now quit giving me grief and open this thing."

He's more at ease now that he's awake so he takes the gruff tone as it's meant and I watch as he opens the thin box to see his eyes narrow in surprise before lighting up in pure joy.

As a kid it never took a lot for me to make my brother happy. Hell, he was cool with me just spending time with him. The closest to this look I'd gotten in awhile was when I got him a new laptop to replace the one broken in that whole Trickster mess…which reminds me that I seriously need to make that damn Archangel pay for some of the crap he's put us through.

"We can't carry all the crap you like to read in the car these days so…I'm told this would work though I have no idea how you'd cram 5000 books in that little screen," I shrug uneasily while watching him.

He's just running his fingers over the device before Sam proves to me that he's still quicker than I give him credit for and he grabs me around the neck like he has only a few times before. I consider bitching about chick flick moments before I hear the catch in his breath and return the hug.

"Thanks, Dean," he tells me quietly, easing back to give me the way out when I grip the back of his neck carefully in my own way of acknowledging the moment before coughing.

"Besides, it'll give you something else to read while I'm out admiring bikini clad babes, little brother," I give him a smirk that gets me a pure laugh even though we both know that even while I may admire the local…scenery I'll always be keeping an eye on him. "So, you want breakfast now or get checked in?"

I give him the option to choose which allows Sam to know that we're past all of the mistrust that we had been suffering through when he surprises me with his answer. "Can we just sit here awhile and watch the water?"

Knowing Sam the way that I do, I know it won't be long before he goes closer to the beach but hey, I brought him out here to relax so whatever little brother wants…he gets…well, to a point. Nodding, I lean back on the hood again and pretend to listen as he starts to babble about how his new e-reader thing works and makes the occasional comment on a couple of my book choices.

Sam's totally engrossed in the e-reader and the waves when I smile to myself. I know I can't keep him safe from everything all the time and I know there's something big coming that I won't like. Until then I can give him the security I always promised because as I hear him laugh at the sudden appearance of a dolphin I swear to myself that I will burn the first bastard that comes near Sam and I don't care who it is, friend or foe…Sammy will never go through what he has again.

Happy birthday, little brother.

The End

A/N: Thanks for reading the next little installment in my 'Not My Sammy' series. I may do one for the events Dean mentions here that happened before this one, not sure yet.