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.

Warnings: Bobby makes an appearance, so expect cussing from here on in...

Well it started happy-ish, but it's going to get a lot worse (seriously) before it gets what you might laughingly describe as "better" so some of you may want to go off and read The Littlest Elf instead.

Happy Birthday Chapter Five

It had been a fraught week for Bobby; first Dean had suffered a severe reaction to his silver poisoning, shortly followed by Sam collapsing from a fever brought on by his claw mark injuries becoming infected. Bobby had ended up playing nursemaid to both of them, never letting on to Sam how precarious his brother's survival had been.

Although Dean hid it well, it was obvious that the black-stained lesions from the shot gun pellets still caused him pain, but at last he now seemed to be making a good, if slow, recovery. Bobby had even teased Dean a couple of times about being hosed down in the backyard to get the silver off, like he did to Rumsfeld whenever the dog rolled in something unsavory.

But those Winchester boys now seemed to be on a mission to eat him out of house and home, use all the hot water, and leave cup rings on every available surface. Is it so damn hard to use a freakin' coaster, for heaven's sake?

Said brothers were now fast asleep and taking up all the space on the sofa, oblivious to John McClane kicking South African terrorist butt on the TV, as Sam lay slumped and drooling under his brother's good arm, while Dean's head lolled back and the windows vibrated to the sound of his snoring.

Bobby had decided at that point that he needed to get some fresh air, not to mention it would be "feeding time at the zoo" soon, so had set off to get some supplies when he realized that he'd left his wallet behind, Jeez, I'm gettin' old and losin' my mind, but at least I noticed before I got all the way to the damn store, he thought as he swung the truck round.

Bobby was in the business of automobile salvage, or rather that was the theory as far as the IRS was concerned. In practice the location was too remote to be accessible and combined with his unfortunate telephone manner meant that customers were a scarcity - and that was just the way he liked it.

So it was with some suspicion that Bobby noticed the blonde woman driving back past the scrapyard. She was a pretty young thing, and in an expensive foreign car too, so memorable, and he thought he might have passed her on his way out. He saw that she struggling with what looked like a map, but otherwise seemed okay, so he decided she must have just been a little lost, and put her out of his mind.

He had just got back into the house when the phone rang.

"Bobby? It's Dean," said the tired and desperate sounding voice from the other end of the crackling phone line.

"Humph," grumbled the old hunter who, though he agreed with Sam that Dean was indistinguishable from the original, still had moments where he questioned the sanity of his recent actions and so wasn't entirely comfortable with having invited a goddamn shifter into his home. "Where are you, I thought you were resting?"

"What? I'm in hospital, Bobby, it's a long story. Listen, I phoned to see if you could help me track down Sammy. No one's seen him for months," explained the weak sounding voice at the other end of the line.

"Oh hell, you better get your ass here pretty damn quick, boy," said Bobby over the sound of Dean's snoring coming from the other room.

~#~

Bobby arrived at the hospital and found a pale and bruised Dean waiting for him.

"Man, are you a sight for sore eyes," said Dean, grateful to at last see a familiar face.

"Well, you just look sore," joked Bobby taking in the young man's appearance with concern, "It looks like you've had seven shades of shit kicked out of you. What happened?"

"Shifter got the jump on me, I tell you Bobby they are strong. It kept me locked up for a while then suddenly went all mad on my ass and beat me to a pulp. Y'know, for a minute there I really thought my number was up,

"Police found me in the sewers apparently, my face was so badly beaten that luckily they didn't recognize me from the APB and all the news reports - now that's a silver lining,"

At Bobby's odd look Dean laughed and added, "Oh yeah, while I was unconscious I seem to have had my fifteen minutes of fame - I'm a dead serial killer now, would you believe."

Bobby did believe, when he'd identified himself as Dean's father the medical staff had soon filled him in details of the young man's six week-long coma, and how impressed they'd been at his determination with the physiotherapy to try to get him to walk again. Ironically, they'd also revealed that the police had him listed as a John Doe, victim of one Dean Winchester, deceased.

"When I saw the news reports I knew Sam must've been okay if he'd ganked the shifter, but he must've made off in the Impala and I can't get hold of him. I lost my phone and none of the old numbers seem to work anymore."

"Sam's safe son - and so's your car," he laughed at the way the man brightened almost as much again at the news of the Impala as he did for his brother.

"Then why isn't he here, Bobby? Why'd he leave me?" Dean asked in a distraught whisper, the sunny disposition gone in an instant.

Bobby gulped, This is not going to be an easy conversation.

~#~

As Bobby pulled up in his truck outside his house he wondered if, with three young hotheads, he was going about this the right way. He'd already conducted his own tests on Dean while still in the hospital, but he still hung back and surreptitiously prepared a couple of silver nitrate rounds in his shotgun, Just in case.

At Rumsfeld's excited barking to see his master, the door to the house swung open and Sam emerged still bleary eyed and stretching from sleep, his older brother trailing after him yawning.

Dean exploded from the truck, gun in hand, panic seemingly able to achieve what physiotherapy couldn't, "Sammy! Get away from him," he ordered.

Ever the hunter, Sam covered him with his own gun, "No, you stay where you are."

The shapeshifter at his side squinted at the new arrival, "Sam, no. I...I don't know how, but it's him... it's really him," he said the shock clear in his voice.

"Oh great, Sammy. You leave me for dead; I spend days searching for you while I'm worried sick about you, and all this time you've been playing Happy Families with Face/Off here," Dean, the real Dean, bitched as Bobby passed him his crutches and helped him regain his balance.

Sam just shrugged, his face burning, after all what on earth could he possibly say? What words existed that could take the sting out of the facts - that he felt closer to his brother's duplicate than the real thing? Was he even capable of articulating the level of self-loathing he'd felt when he'd discovered the truth, and then decided to do nothing about it?

"Please don't blame Sam, it was my fault - I really did think you were dead," pleaded the double.

Dean did a passing fair impression of Sam's bitch face at which the other Dean blushed as he realized how it sounded, "I mean, I thought my brother had killed you," he stammered in explanation.

"Well, it wasn't through lack of trying," Dean grouched as he looked at his double in curiosity, it was somehow more than seeing a reflection. Despite all the jokes and the false-confidence front he put on, it was strange to realize that he really was quite a good looking guy and he was surprised at how deep his voice was - he'd always thought he sounded a little shrill.

His double handed him his amulet necklace with a wry grin, "Here, I know how much this means to me... us, sorry, I mean you."

"Thank you," Dean said, wondering if this was all a surreal dream, leaning on Bobby for support while tying the necklace around his neck, "Although I've lost track of how often the damn thing's nearly cracked my teeth."

"Tell me about it," his double laughed.

Relieved, Sam joined in, overjoyed they seemed to be bonding in that weird hot/cold manner his brother brothers? had, "Yeah, we were chasing after this scarecrow god thing and it flew out - nearly took my eye out."

It was then it really struck Dean this really was him, and it... he... had been hunting and living with Sam this whole time. The shock of this revelation and the effect of the pain meds suddenly went to his head making him dizzy and he swayed for a moment almost losing his balance.

Sam grabbed him under one arm and stopped him from falling in a heap on the floor and Dean put his other arm around him to help get his balance. It was then he realized it wasn't Sam, it was him he was clinging onto.

If it wasn't for the black dots swirling in front of his eyes he might have pushed him away, as it was he let himself be led and half-carried into the house.

~#~

Dean stepped out into the cool, early evening air, needing some space from all the stress of the new addition to the Winchester family.

"Excuse me," called a female voice.

Dean looked over, his natural instinct making him straighten, suck in his gut and puff out his chest at the sight of the attractive blonde in a red leather jacket over a black and white dress. He made a show of admiring her moves as she walked over to him, and was pleased with the knowing smile she gave him in response.

"Can you help me?" she asked.

"Well, I'd sure like to try," he drawled with a lazy smile.

"I'm looking for Sam Winchester, we were at Stanford together," she said, her voice sultry and a little breathless.

"I'm his older brother, Dean," he said with a superior smirk.

She looked at him with an intent gaze, as if staring right down into his very soul, then with a slight frown, "No, you're not," she snarled.

His blood ran cold as he watched her eyes change to become pure black, "You're getting in the middle of something that you don't understand," screeched the blonde woman, wielding a large silver knife she had pulled from her jacket.

Dean jumped back, but not before receiving a light cut down one arm, the silver reacting with his skin, hissing, and giving off a smell like roasting pork.

Rumsfeld started to bark at the woman, she kicked out with one leg and the dog yelped and ran for cover under the nearest truck.

The woman fought like the possessed thing she was, My God she's fast, it was all Dean could do to just about keep out of her way.

She drove him back under the ferocity of her attack and he tripped over the porch step and went sprawling, the tread smashing into the small of his back. The blast of pain made him lose sight for a moment.

Having come out to investigate the disturbance, Sam threw himself at the woman with a deafening roar of fury, sending both of them tumbling across the ground.

Dean pulled himself to his feet, groaning with the agony that spasmed down his back. Gritting his teeth against the pain, he ran across to where Sam and the demon were struggling on the ground as, with a sudden motion, she flipped Sam over onto his back.

Dean looked at her in horror, her earlier beautiful visage transformed, as she threw her head back while screeching in triumph, her eyes pitch black, blood pouring from her mouth from where she had torn at Sam's neck with her teeth.

Dean grabbed her head in both hands and, with a single, violent twist using his inhuman strength, broke her neck with a stomach churning, cracking noise. As she slumped forward, lifeless, thick black smoke poured from her mouth and fled up into the night sky.

Dean pulled the woman's body to one side to free his brother.

"No, no, no," he cried, when he saw the blade embedded deep into Sam's side.

In his panic he almost forgot the most basic lessons of both his shifter and hunter heritage - gripping the silver blade as if to pull it from his brother's body he realized his mistake just in time to avoid doing his brother any further damage, but not before his hands were burned red-raw from the metal.

He screamed for Bobby to come help. He took a single, shuddering breath and called for Dean too.

"Just lie still Sammy, I'm getting' you help, you'll be okay, just hang in there," he crooned in a series of calming, meaningless platitudes. He had enough experience of inflicting these sorts of injuries on others that he knew this wasn't something that Sam was going to just walk away from.

He turned back to the house and shouted for Bobby and Dean again, his voice hoarse with stress and fear.

"No Dean, it's too late..." Sam rasped, his voice weak.

"Don't say that," he ordered, "You're the younger brother, you don't get to tell me what to do."

A strange look came over Sam's face and he focused intently on Dean, making sure to hold eye contact.

"Yes, and so were you. And you could be again," he urged.

Dean froze as he realized what Sam was saying, "No, don't ask that of me, Sammy," he begged.

"Please, if you love me... like the brother you say you are... then you'll do as I say," Sam hissed in pain, growing weaker by the minute.

"God dammit, I love you, Sammy. You're everything I could have asked for in brother," he sobbed, stroking Sam's hair, "I... I promise that I will look after Dean, I'll keep him safe. Don't worry, you just... rest," Dean promised with all his heart, as tears poured down his face.

~#~

Bobby rushed outside, shotgun and torch at the ready. Behind him he could hear the heavy thumping of Dean struggling with the combination of stairs and crutches.

He shone the torch into the dark to reveal Sam slumped and sobbing over the prone body of a man. A heartbeat later he realized it was Sam.

~#~

Sam looked up and around him in awe, his surroundings were astounding, everything so beautiful it almost made him want to weep.

His attention came back to ground and at the crowds of people around him. He realized with trepidation that most of them were looking at him frozen in open-mouthed shock, while others seemed to be discussing him in hysterical tones.

A man pushed through the crowds and approached; he was dressed in a long, tan trench coat and had a mop of unruly black hair and piercing eyes of the brightest blue that Sam had ever seen.

The man tilted his head to one side in a bird-like and strangely-alien gesture as he stared at Sam, before a trace of a smile appeared on his lips.

He took Sam by the shoulder and led him away from the crowds as he spoke in low gravel-like tones of all the terrible, painful things that had been meant to happen.

"None of this will now come to pass," the man intoned in words that were near-deafening and that seemed to resonate in the air.

The moment passed and the man's eyes widened and he seemed shocked, but elated.

Something just spoke through him, thought Sam.

The man shook himself and for just a brief moment Sam saw wings sprouting from the man's back.

There was a sudden commotion in the crowd and Sam watched as a couple of men were dragged away all the while ranting and raving, he overhead murmurs of "Zachariah", "Raphael" and "reconditioning".

The man smiled at him again, "It would appear that it will take some time for some of us to adjust to this."

As he thought about all the good things that had happened that he had been told shouldn't have, and all the bad things that were going to happen that now wouldn't, it all became too much and Sam laughed long and loud, unable to stop until there were tears running down his face and he struggled to get his breath back.

"He was definitely. The Best. Birthday. Present. Ever," he explained to the somewhat puzzled angel standing in front of him, before making his way over to embrace the two blonde women, one younger, one older, who were stood waiting hand-in-hand for him.

THE END

~#~

Author Notes:

Hopefully, when you think about it, it won't seem like such a sad ending.

I love the idea of Bobby as a house-proud neat freak.