"What the hell did I do to deserve this?" Sam yelled at the top of his lungs at his fiery-eyed father.

"What did you do? How about what you didn't do, Sam? I told you to be home by 4:00 so we could start practicing on your aim. That last hunt nearly cost us your brother's ass thanks to you! But is that not important to you? You don't seem to give a damn if your brother gets killed!" John fired right back.

Sam's blood turned hot and he had the sudden urge to hit something. "Don't you ever say that! You know that's not it at all! I was working on school work. But apparently that doesn't matter to you. Maybe I'll just drop out!"

"Like book smarts mean a thing when you've got a demon breathing down your neck. Sam, that's not going to do you any good in our world. You need to focus on learning how to be a damn hunter like your brother. Dean gets it!"

"Well maybe I don't want to be a hunter like Dean! Ever think of that?"

Sam turned and stormed out of the one room motel. With one harsh tug of the rusty doorknob, he was freed from the hellhole his dad had him trapped in this time. It was always the same old stinky, cheap motels with paint falling off the walls and mattresses with springs sticking into every bone in his body. To top it off, he had to share a bed with his brother half the time, and for a 15 year old boy, that was getting really old. Those rooms were no place for a kid to grow up, yet that was the hand he'd been dealt.

The door slammed behind him with an echoing thud and he could hear his father cussing through the door. Sam didn't really know his way around this town yet, but he didn't care at the moment. All he cared about was getting away from his father. It drove him nuts when John would compare him to Dean, or even when he would belittle education. Sam hated the hunter's life. It wasn't what he wanted. He loved school. It was his only getaway from the insanity that was his life at home. Who would imagine it? Chasing after ghosts, demons, ghouls, wendigos, and whatever the hell else was out there. No one would believe it if he told them. They would lock him away in an asylum for the rest of his life. He hated the secrecy of it. He hated the obscurity of it. Sam longed for normalcy but it was becoming clearer by the day that he would never get it. Unless he got out. But how could he do that when it would mean leaving his family? It was a dilemma that plagued him, one he couldn't ever ignore.

Sam was walking with his head down, hands buried in his pockets and muttering under his breath when he ran into a wall of a chest. When hands reached out and grabbed him by the shoulders, he instantly went into hunter mode. Though he was still new at this, he knew in every fight or flight situation, a Winchester fought. There was no second option.

Fists drawn, he looked up at his assailant and found a pair of all-too familiar green eyes staring down at him.

"Easy there, Sammy. While I'm impressed with your reflexes, I don't really feel like kicking your ass today." Dean's eyes laughed at him before the smile reached his mouth. All humor left his face though when he saw the troubled look his brother wore. "Sammy? Talk to me."

"Leave me alone, Dean." Sam tried to push past his brother, but Dean quickly held out his arm like a gate. Sam shoved his arm away and walked on. Dean, ever the big brother, was not deterred.

"You think you can get rid of me that easy? Nice try. What's going on? You and Dad fighting again?"

Sam snorted like there was something funny about it. But there definitely wasn't anything funny about being bitched at by your old man.

"What was it this time? You almost shoot him now?" Dean teased, but he saw that he took it too far when Sam's anger got directed at him.

"You know I was aiming for the demon! You know that! Why would you say something like that?" Sam pushed his brother in the chest and stomped off with tears stinging his eyes out of frustration and anger.

Dean's heart went out to the kid. He knew how it was to be on John Winchester's bad side. It was never a pretty place to be. It seemed like lately Sam was more often there than anywhere else though. Dean wished he could fix that, but he knew it was more up to them than it was him.

Dean jogged to catch up with Sam, who he noted could really move when he wanted to. "Whoa, there, tiger. Talk to me. I'm on your side here."

"Sure, perfect Dean who can do no wrong. It's so easy for you. Why don't you just go home to Dad so he can tell you how wonderful you are some more? At least he loves you."

That did it in for Dean. He reached out and grabbed his brother by the arms. He held him steady while Sam tried to fight. Sam's muscles tightened and he clenched his fists as he pulled and pushed, fighting to get out of his older brother's grip. But despite his younger brother's strength, Dean knew Sam was not going anywhere. Dean could do a lot when he set his mind to it, and this was something he set his mind on. Sam was staying put.

"Lemme go, Dean," Sam muttered through gritted teeth. His long bangs covered up his eyes and Sam was grateful. Dean would make fun of him if he saw the tears pooling in his blue-green eyes.

"Stop it, Sam. You know I'm not the enemy here. So why don't you cool off a second and tell me what the hell is going on, huh?"

Sam took a shaky breath and felt his lungs fill with air. He released it in a slow exhale and tried to get a hold of his emotions. When he felt he had some control over the tears that wanted to fall, he looked up at his brother. "Dad got mad at me. Again. I came home at 4:30, instead of 4:00 when he wanted me to. All I was doing is studying! Is that so wrong? We lost track of time trying to get ready for our history exam and when I got home, Dad blew up at me. Apparently he thinks I'm going to get you killed because I have such shitty aim. I can't do anything right! Most parents would be happy I'm trying to get good grades! Not Dad. He'd be happy if I dropped out."

"And I'd kick your ass," Dean put in.

"Well that's not what matters most in life. I'm supposed to spend all my time working on becoming a hunter like the great Dean Winchester. Dad just wants another Dean; he doesn't want a Sam. He probably wishes he picked up the wrong kid at the hospital when I was born and his real son will come to him one day. He'd forget about me in a heartbeat."

Dean shook Sammy by his scrawny little shoulders. "Don't talk like that. You know Dad loves you."

"Does he? Because sometimes I really wonder. All he cares about is the hunt and finding the demon who killed Mom. Well I'm sick of it! I want a normal life. I want friends I don't have to leave after two weeks. I want a house. I want a girlfriend. And I want a dad who understands that I should be going to school, not learning how to shoot a frigging shot gun!" Sam sank to the ground with a frustrated huff.

Dean looked down at his brother sadly. John and Sam clearly didn't see eye to eye. Sam would never get the life he longed for. Dean knew that. 'Cause once you were in, you were never getting out. Hunters didn't just suddenly stop hunting. He learned that years ago, had accepted it as his life, and chose to be the best at what he did. That's why he practiced so much. That's why he learned everything he could, talked to his old man about everything. If it was going to be his life's work, he sure as hell wasn't going to do it half-assed.

"Sam, I wish you could see how proud Dad is of you. You two are just too alike sometimes. I think that's why you get so damn mad about everything. You're too similar. You don't know how to handle another you." Dean gave a short laugh.

"Yeah right. You and Dad are alike. I'm the oddball."

Dean knelt in front of Sam. "You really believe that? Trust me, kid. Dad sees too much of himself in you. You're both so passionate about what you love. When you set your mind on something, you both go for it. You're both too stubborn to admit when you're wrong. You care about your family above everything else. And when you get in a fight, you both yell louder than a banshee. But when you've cooled off, you go back to things just as they were."

Sam rolled his eyes at his brother's descriptions. "I don't get your point."

"My point is that you gotta give Dad some slack. He's still trying to figure out how to handle his 15 year old self." Dean smiled.

"Then how come everything is so easy for you? How come you're the favorite?"

Dean shook his head. "Favorite? Please. I wish Dad gave a shit about what I do. I've been gone 12 hours. You think Dad called once? He's always on your case because he wants to know you're safe. And he wants you to get to be a better hunter so you can protect yourself. Trust me, Sammy. Dad worries about your safety. Why do you think I'm always looking after you?"

Dean knew as he said the words how untrue they were. Sure, John had entrusted Dean with Sam's safety years ago, but Dean would take care of Sam if they'd been orphaned that night. Dean always knew that Sam's safety was top priority. Sam was the most precious thing in Dean's life. No way was he gonna let that get hurt. Dean would die before he let Sam get so much as a scratch. No one had to tell him. It came as natural to him as breathing. Sam was his brother. And it was his job as a big brother to protect him. No orders necessary.

Sam managed a weak smile. "I hope you're right."

"Hope? Come on, Sammy. When am I ever wrong?" Dean smiled as he nudged his brother's leg.

Sam smiled. "That one time."

"What one time? Now you're just making shit up, Sammy, and I don't appreciate it," Dean feigned anger.

Sam punched his brother's arm and got up. Dean beat him to it and quickly pulled Sam up by the arm. "You good?"

Sam nodded as he took a step back. "I'm good."

"Good. 'Cause I owe you an asswhooping for that comment about me being wrong. You know I'm never wrong! Admit it!" Dean reached for his brother again.

"Nope! You gotta catch me first if you're going to whoop my ass!" Sam took off running and Dean knew he was screwed. While Dean had Sam in strength, he was no match for Sam's speed. Still, he took off running after him, shouting threats and obscenities behind him.

When Sam reached the doorway of their motel room though, he stopped. Dean grabbed him by the neck and pulled him back. "You're mine now, bitch."

"Jerk," Sam said softly under his breath, more as a reflex than an actual response.

Dean stared at Sam's suddenly serious face. He looked from Sam to the Impala and back again.

"Hey. You wanna go get a Coke or something? Beer? I'm in the mood for a drive."

Sam looked up at Dean and blinked. "Beer? Seriously?"

"Why not? I look 21, right?"

Sam shook his head but headed to the Impala anyway. "Whatever, man."

Dean took the keys out of his pocket and walked to the door as Sam was buckling up. "Don't you dare mess with the music, Sam. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole. But for you, I'll make an exception. You can at least talk. But you so much as touch my ACDC, and you're hitting the curb. Got it?"

Sam smiled, knowing the emptiness behind that threat. "Sure. I got it."

Dean smiled too, glad to see he hadn't lost his touch with making Sammy smile. "All right. So we going to a bar? Picking up chicks? I'll say you're my son and get sympathy votes." Dean waggled his eyebrows with a goofy grin on his face.

"You're crazy, man. No way is some chick going to believe I'm your son."

"You never know, Sammy, until you try." Dean winked as he put the car in reverse and backed out of the parking space. He pulled out with squealing tires as they headed toward town.

Sam shook his head in exasperation. His attention turned to his father and his smile faded. Would his dad ever understand him? Would they ever just be normal together? Maybe Sam could never have the normal life he wanted, but at least he could have a normal relationship with his father, like John and Dean had, or even Sam and Dean had. Dean acted like it was so awful to have some freedom but Sam longed for it. Couldn't he just do what he wanted? Dean was allowed when he was 15. Why couldn't Sam?

Dean knew the look on Sam's face. He was thinking, and a thinking Sam was never good. He shoved Sam's knee to bring him back to earth. "You okay, Sammy?"

Sam gave an unsure grin. "I guess so. I just wish it didn't have to be like this, you know? I just want Dad to like me. I know he loves me, but why can't he like me?"

Dean didn't have an answer for that one. "Well, for what it's worth, I love and like you, Sammy. You're my kid brother. You're kind of important to me. You know that?"

Sam smiled sincerely this time. "I know, Dean. I kind of like you too." Sam looked away, fighting to hold back a laugh.

Dean faked hurt feelings as he slapped the back of his brother's head. "Kind of like me? What the hell is this? I thought we were having a real moment here and you can't even say you love me! I'm hurt."

Sam laughed out loud and it was one of those laughs that only Dean could bring out of him. Dean didn't care if his brother never said he loved him for as long as he lived. Hell, he didn't even care if Sam did love him (though he knew his little brother loved him without a doubt). Because that wasn't important to him. He just knew that he loved his little brother more than anything in the whole world. That was all that mattered. As long as Sam was alive and well, nothing else mattered. And Dean was determined to make sure that stayed that way.

Dean shook his head at his little brother. "Bitch."


Well what do you know? AThingForBrothers is back in the fanfic world! It's been a looooong time, but this just sort of hit me. I've been teaching and I think my mind knew summer was here. With any luck, this won't be the last of the stories from me this summer. I'll definitely keep my mind open to ideas. Let me know how it is. I may be a little rusty. It's been FOREVER. Thanks for reading and reviewing! :-D