Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or its characters - these were created by Eric Kripke - I'm just borrowing them. I'm not making any commercial gain. No harm or infringement intended.

After some hurtful truths are exchanged while fighting the shapeshifter in 1.06 Skin, the brothers decide to take some time out to celebrate Sam's birthday. Family/fluff, but remember this is Supernatural.

A/N: Set at the end of 1.06 Skin. AU, because I've taken liberties with the date of the episode and Sam's birthday which actually occurs a couple of months afterwards. I've never seen or heard of the brothers celebrating a birthday, so I've assumed that's another sacrifice they've made. This story was actually originally inspired by too many playings of The Birthday Massacre's 'Happy Birthday' (the version from the Violet album) - a band I hadn't heard of until I read about them in someone's profile (sorry history doesn't record who, but THANK YOU!) - although the plot's now a million miles away from that original idea and happier, if still slightly psychotic. This story wrote itself mainly as procrastination stopping me from my other WIPs, which I assure you I haven't given up on. Sorry, this note's now longer than the fic itself...

Happy Birthday

The shapeshifter, in the guise of Dean, had Sam pinned to the floor and was slowly, but surely choking the life out of him. Sam struggled his hardest to escape, but this thing was strong and he could already see black dots dancing in his vision.

His sight now blank, Sam heard, rather than saw, the door crash open and his brother - his real brother - shout out. The terrible pressure on Sam's throat ceased and a second later he heard a couple of gun shots ring out. His eyes cleared just in time to see a look of absolute fury on the stolen face of the creature attacking him. The lack of oxygen must have been getting to him, because - for just a moment - he had a flashback to the same look of betrayal he'd got from his brother when he'd told him that he was giving up hunting and going to Stanford.

The shapeshifter fell dead across Sam, knocking him back down to the floor. Dean crossed the room in a flash, flipping the body over to get it off of Sam and helping his brother to his feet. Dean stood there for a long moment lost in thought as he looked down at his dead double. He leaned down and yanked the amulet from around the shapeshifter's neck before re-tying it around his own with a self-satisfied smirk at his brother.

~#~

Sam climbed into the Impala after saying his goodbyes to Becky and Zach. His brother was already behind the wheel, tapping on it in time to the music from one of his cassettes. He seemed a little distracted and jittery.

Sam recognized the look, it usually meant his 'no chick-flick moments' brother nonetheless wanted to talk about his feelings. The only way to deal with this was to wait it out and let it happen in its own good time.

Fortunately, this time he didn't have to wait too long.

"Listen, I'm sorry Sam," Dean said at last.

"Huh? About what?"

"I heard what that thing said to you. I was jealous of you, but I was really pleased for you too, y'know?" he said blushing while staring out of the windshield, studying the gray clouds on the horizon.

Dean gave a heavy sigh worthy of Sam's standards as he turned in his seat to make eye-contact with his brother.

"I'm sorry I dragged you back into this life. I wish things could've been different and you could just be... Joe College."

"No, that's okay. You know, the truth is, even at Stanford, deep down, I never really fit in," said Sam, more moved by his brother's confession than he could put into words.

"Well, that's 'cause you're a freak," said Dean with a hint of a smile.

"Yeah, thanks," Sam replied in mock-sarcasm.

"Well, I'm a freak, too," Dean grumbled, in what Sam assumed was meant to be a placating tone, as he started the engine and pulled away from the sidewalk.

"Yeah, I know you are," laughed Sam

"Y'know, I gotta say, but I'm sorry I'm gonna miss it," said Dean after a couple of minutes silence.

"Miss what?" asked Sam, perplexed.

"How many chances am I gonna have to see my own funeral?"

The brothers laughed together far longer and louder than the joke deserved, but it did the intended job of releasing the tension that had built up between them, before they settled into a relaxed and companionable silence.

"Y'know, we should totally do something," said Dean, mindful of the date.

"Really?" Sam asked, trying not to appear too pleased.

"Sure! It's been a tough time recently and we never do birthday stuff. We should."

"That would be... great."

"Y'know, I think saw a nice looking place earlier, just round here somewhere," said Dean pulling the Impala into a parking spot just outside a trattoria-style restaurant.

Dean led his bemused brother into the family run place and as the grandmother-like owner bustled over to greet them Dean turned on his usual charm offensive.

"Y'know my brother Sammy here, it's his birthday. Is there any chance you could arrange a cake and candle for him?"

The beaming gray-haired woman agreed and got them seated, all the while chattering away to them about everything and nothing. She left them with menus while bustling off again to get their drinks order, and was back in a moment with a couple of beers which they made short work of.

"Another?" asked Dean, not really expecting a no for an answer.

"Er, actually, would you mind if we had red wine?" Sam asked feeling a little shy.

Dean rolled his eyes, "It's your birthday dude, go crazy," he chuckled, 'cause seriously how blue collar is this wanna be lawyer?

At the urging of the server both brothers opted for the lasagna - Dean forgoing his usual cheese burger. It was absolutely delicious and they agreed it was the best they'd ever eaten. Sam also had a massive side salad and Dean didn't tease him about it - he even ate some himself.

As the meal came to an end the owner brought out a chocolate cake with a couple of candles and the whole restaurant sang 'Happy Birthday'.

Sam gave Dean a bright smile, ducking his head a little embarrassed to be the center of attention, but not really minding, his eyes shining with happiness. This was the best day he'd had in a very long time.

"Thank you," he said quietly.

Dean gave a small crooked smile in return. He reflected that while he would do anything for his brother, sometimes it was the little things that meant the most.

He was distracted from his chick-flick moment by the owner flourishing an old Polaroid camera at them.

"Smile," she cried, "Say cheese!"

"To remember," she said, handing him the photo. "Now for some cake, yes?"

"Now we're talking," smiled Dean as they tucked enthusiastically into the delicious chocolate fudge cake.

Sammy excused himself to go to the bathroom, stumbling just a little from the unaccustomed wine that seemed to have gone straight to his head.

Dean picked up the photo that was finally developing, waving it in the air to help it dry. He smiled with fond affection at the picture and the big dopey smile on his brother's face.

He sighed at the sight of the silver flare in his eyes that marred the image. Big give away. He discretely turned the photograph face down, as he motioned to settle the bill.

"Ready to go?" he asked, when Sam returned.

"Thanks Dean, it's been really great."

Dean stood, clapping his brother on the shoulder and pulling him into a quick half-hug, while slipping the incriminating photo into his jacket pocket.

"Happy Birthday, Sammy," he grinned.