The Book Of Wincest

"Ugh! Gross! You kissed me! Pft! Pft! Pft! Pft! Gah! You don't go kissing your brother on the lips, stupid!"

"Bah?" six-year-old Sammy Winchester asks, with a tilt of his head, as his older brother furiously scrubs at his mouth with the back of a hand. "S'ok, Dean," the boy says, before trying to tackle-hug his brother against the side of the dark blue, pink flowered couch, like some kind of kissy-faced monster. "Kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss-kiss!"

"Dude, stop!" a ten-year-old Dean shouts, immediately pushing his clingy brother away from his beet-red features with both hands to the little guy's scrawny chest. The kid falls back, on his butt — back to the armrest — with a hurt expression on his tiny, round face.

"But…" Sammy says with a pink, pouty lip under his shaggy hair. "Why not? Imma' gonna be your wife when we grow up and get marri—"

"Oh my god!" Dean exclaims, behind a sudden hand slapped over his heated face. Shaking his head, he wonders just where the heck he went wrong in helping to raise the pint-sized fool. Trying to pull himself together, Dean says with his cheeks still slightly inflamed, "Sammy, look, seriously, don't ever say crap like that again."

"Huh? But whyyyyyy?" Sammy whines, his face a veritable picture of annoyed innocence.

"Because!" Dean yells in frustration, like his stupid brother should already know this. (Why doesn't he already know this?) Calming down a little at Sam's sudden flinch, he further explains in a quieter tone, "Sammy, guys don't say stuff like that and they definitely don't kiss. Besides, you're supposed to want to marry a girl, stupid. Not your brother."

Little Sammy wrinkles his nose at the suggestion. It's one that he's never even thought of. After all, being cooped up with his older brother all the time and always having to pack up and leave and change schools, he doesn't know many kids his own age, much less icky girls, but little Sammy's ok with that because all he needs is Dean — his Dean. "Girls are weird. Love you. Wanna marry you!"

Dean sighs. He figures its best to nip this in the bud, now, before their dad ends up hearing the kid spouting such nonsense. After all, Dean's pretty sure he'd get his ass beat for being guilty by association. (He can just hear it now. What'd you do to your brother?) Dean takes a deep breath, trying to scrape up some much needed patience. After putting a hand on Sam's shoulder, he looks him right in the eye and speaks very, very slowly. "I'm. Your. Brother. Idiot." Dropping his hand, he then runs it back through his hair, because, by the look on Sam's face, the kid still doesn't seem to be getting with the program.

"Look, it's alright if you love me," Dean wearily sighs. "I mean, we're family. You're supposed to, but not the way your retarded pea-brain's been thinking. Like I said, we're brothers and you can't go marrying your brother. It's illegal and gross and, dude, all kinds of gay. Besides, dad would totally tan your hide if he heard you talking this way."

"But you're Dean. My Dean." Looking confused, Sammy cautiously asks, "…Why would I get a spanking?"

Dean's a hairsbreadth away from pulling out his hair; it completely shows in his face and voice. "You just will, alright? Geez! Stop asking so many questions!"

"But s'not faiiiiiiiir," Sammy whines, latching onto Dean's side. "Don't wanna like girls. Wanna like you."

"Yeah, well, life's not fair. Was it fair when you stole my half of the cookie the front desk lady gave us yesterday?" Dean asks, trying to pry Sam away with a glare. Yeah, he totally checked the cupboard before they started watching cartoons this morning.

Under the weight of his guilt — oatmeal raisin cookies are his favorite — Sammy lets himself be pushed back. Sitting a respectable distance away, he sulkily stares at his idly kicking feet.

Looking at his pitiful brother that surprisingly ended up having a huge, girly crush on him, Dean decides to take pity on the poor soul. After all, what's not to like about himself, right? Sometimes Dean even thinks he's just too awesome for words. It's a curse really. "Look, Sammy," he cajoles, giving a playful yet awkward push to the kid's shoulder. "I don't mind if you love me, but only—Yeah. Only if you love me like you love Dad. Ok?"

"But I love you more," Sammy pouts, still staring at his feet. "Dad's a big meanie."

"Don't say that!" Sammy flinches and Dean wants to kick his own ass. He hadn't meant for his words to come out so harsh. In the end, he ends up soothing the blow by patting the kid's head, not unlike one would do to a sad, little puppy. "Geez, look, if you love me like you say you do, then you'd want to do something to make me happy right?"

Sammy ducks his head. "Yeaaaaaah," he shyly replies, before scooting over and nuzzling into his brother's side not unlike … a happy, little puppy.

Hook, line, and sinker, Dean thinks. "Good, from now on, love me like you do Dad or I won't be happy."

"But Deaaaaan," Sammy whines, flopping into his brother's lap like a baby seal, making Dean wince from the boy's sharp elbows and hips jamming him in places that pretty much hurt.

"Do it or I'm gonna be sad," Dean sternly instructs.

Sammy rolls fitfully around on his brother's jeans-clad thighs for a while, before he finally stills. Face like a spoiled Puffer Fish, he glares at Dean who rolls his eyes. "Fine," Sammy says, before petulantly rolling off his brother. Scooting back to sit in the corner of the couch — furthest away from Dean — he mumbles with crossed arms, "Stupid Dean. Fine. Won't love you anymore at all, stupid. Not even like Dad. You'll just be jerk-face Dean. See how you like that."

Grabbing the remote from the wooden coffee table, in front of them, Dean kicks his feet up on the piece of scratched furniture and sits back to change the channel from G.I Joe to Thundercats. "Yeah, yeah," he says, pointedly not looking at his sulking brother. "Whatever."

Five minutes later, Sammy's back to sitting next to him like a conjoined twin. Dean just shakes his head and slides over. Sammy follows. Dean slides over again. Sammy follows. Dean slides up against his own armrest. Sammy slides into the curve of his hip and hugs his side, like a baby koala bear clinging to so many stalks of bamboo. Knowing the battle has been lost, Dean's head falls back against the cushion with his arms pinned at his sides by his little brother's stupid death grip. When he speaks, it's with a sigh of defeat. "Seriously, just … don't say that crap in front of Dad."

"Okaaay," Sammy replies, already preoccupied with watching cartoons from his place wrapped around his brother.

Awkwardly patting Sammy's head even with the bend of a held down arm, Dean isn't entirely bitter. Stupid kid, he thinks with a lopsided grin.


Three years later, John Winchester's standing in the middle of their motel, in Madison, Wisconsin. Amongst the sea of light blue, turquoise, and white aquatic colors wallpapering the room, (there's even an underwater mural, on the wall, behind his seated children) he turns stern eyes on his youngest. "Son, I think you need to come with me. Think it's about time we had a little talk."

Sitting at his brother's side with a hand to Dean's uninjured arm, nine-year-old Sam angrily looks up with a glare. "But, Dad, Dean's—!"

As the white ceiling fan swirls above his head, John's face resembles cold stone. After all, he's not the kind of man that deals with sass. "He'll be fine," he gruffly says, before giving his oldest son a pointed look. "Won't you, Dean?"

Laid up on the light blue couch with a broken arm slung up in a cast, thirteen-year-old Dean looks away. "Yeah. I'm good."

He'd fallen out of a tree in the back yard of Pastor Jim's house four days ago. Pastor Jim had rushed him to the hospital with a teary-eyed Sam, who hadn't wanted to leave his brother's side. Their dad, on the other hand, had been furious. Not only had he been forced to put up with one Bobby Singer's constant nagging to ditch the case - leave it to him - and take care of his kid, after looking over his shoulder and reading Jim's text (they'd been partnered together for a vamp-nest hunt), but his oldest son had gotten hurt doing something stupid. Dean had fallen out of a tree trying to get Sam's paper kite he'd made for him.

As their dad ushers his little brother outside their motel room, now, probably across the street to the little park's playground — Sam loves that place — Dean thinks back to his own conversation he'd had with their father. It hadn't been one he'd enjoyed as he'd laid there, in that hospital bed, with Sam crying with guilt outside in the hall. He can still hear his father's words.

"You're too soft on him, Son. Look at you. Got hurt because of a kite. You're supposed to watch over your brother. Not give in to his every whim. I'm sorry, I know I'm asking something that a father should never have to ask his sons, but I need you two to grow up fast. And Sam can't do that if you're coddling him. Dean, you let him cry. You let him get hurt, but not too hurt. You gotta learn to know when to step back and when to step in. Think you can do that? Think you can let Sam learn to be his own man?"

Yes, sir, he'd said … even if it oddly kind of hurt in a way to promise such a thing.


Three more years have come and gone. Once again, the Winchester brothers find themselves in a motel, this time in Mobile, Alabama. Twelve-year-old Sam pauses in his work because of his sixteen-year-old brother. Looking up to the one casting a shadow from the edge of the ivory green bedspread he's sitting on, Sam states plainly, "I'm not a kid anymore, you know. I can do this on my own."

Dean defensively puts his hands up in the air and backs away from the bed filled with their share of the arsenal their dad hadn't taken with him on his hunt. Of course, Sam can break down and clean a few guns on his own; much like Dean, their father had started the kid at a young age. (Not too long after Dean had fallen out of that tree.) Hell, Sam's even shot a few of the weapons he's oil-shined and even helped to take down a few monsters with them to boot. So, of course, Dean knows his help isn't exactly required. He just wanted to make sure the kid didn't forget to grease any trigger pins or realign any sights. …Yeah.

It totally doesn't hurt to actually hear his brother say that he doesn't need him. Nope. It doesn't hurt at all. Sam's growing up. Dean should be proud. He is proud. He just… No. He's just being stupid.

"Alright, well," Dean says, trying to brush off the awkward air and his own weird feelings on the subject. "Just rip off another piece of that old t-shirt I gave you. Telling ya', man. Not a clean spot on that one. And try not to bend the wires on the barrel brush too much. You know how Dad gets when shit breaks."

"Yeah, yeah. Thought you were going out?" Sam replies without looking up. His tone isn't belligerent or even angry. It's just plain weary, like the kid's just waiting for him to leave and, yeah, that totally doesn't hurt either. Dean did have plans, but… After looking around the chipped, stucco, ivory walled room, he finds words.

"Thought I'd stay in tonight. Give the ol' liver a night off, you know?" Dean says, patting his side. (He may be sixteen, but his many fake say he's at least twenty-one.)

"Your liver's on the other side, Dean. That's your kidney," Sam rolls off with an equal roll of his eyes.

"I knew that. I was just testing ya. You passed," Dean replies with his best smug grin and a brief lift of his chin.

"Whatever." Sam sets down the polished weapon in his hands and picks up the sheathed, camouflage hunting knife by his knee to sharpen. With the slow, smooth sound of the shiiiiiick, shiiiiiick, shiiiiiick of the blade against the grey block of stone in his other hand, the boy, with his eyes on his work, lazily urges, "You should just go. You told that girl from the movie place that you'd meet up with her later, right? Besides, I'm just gonna head to bed, after I finish this and the rest of my homework, anyway. No reason for you to stick around. Not like I need a babysitter or nothing."

"You trying to get rid of me? Got a hot date you're planning on smuggling in here after I'm gone?" Dean's joke falls flat, especially since Sam just told him what his plans are.

Sam just shakes his head. "Stupid." He might even have rolled his eyes, but the kid's hair's too long to see. "Just go," Sam says, as he continues his work.

As Dean picks up his keys from the bedside table, he suddenly doesn't really feel like meeting Emma-what's-her-face for a date down at the Cineplex anymore. Instead, he has a sudden urge to wet his whistle, down at the corner bar — alone — because there's this odd twinge in his chest that really needs to be numbed. After one last look at a surrounded Sam sitting there working cross-legged on the bed, Dean closes the door behind him. Walking across the lot to the parked Impala, it doesn't bother him at all that Sam hadn't thought to tell him goodbye. How could he? After all, the kid hadn't even looked up.

Sam finally casts his eyes to the closed door as he hears the Impala tear ass out of the parking lot; his Dad's voice echoes once again in his ears as his heart squeezes in his chest.

You need to stop relying on your brother so much, Sam. You need to learn some self-discipline. You're not doing anything but suffocating Dean by being this way. It's time to grow up and be your own man. You can do that for me, can't you? I need your help here, Son. Dean does too.


In Carver, Idaho, fifteen-year-old Sam is sitting in the motel's kitchenette. At the little round table, he's occupying one of three metal folding chairs as he finishes up his American History homework. It's when he turns the page, looking for the answer to number fifteen's question, on his worksheet, and tapping a foot to the tiled floor — to the beat of the music from one of the small earphones attached to an ear — that an nineteen-year-old Dean comes in from his evening run.

While Dean bends over and pants up a storm, Sam juts his chin in a quick greeting and then watches his sweaty brother muster enough energy to straighten-out and then go straight for the fridge. The cool air feels good on Dean's heated, sweat-soaked skin as he opens the door and reaches for a bottle of water. (His drink is sitting beside a mangled, plastic container of bologna that's next to a half-eaten loaf of bread; they're the only items sitting in the otherwise empty fridge.)

Turning away from the image of his brother in a drenched wife-beater and an elastic-waist pair of shorts, the scritch-scritch of Sam's pencil continues across paper. He doesn't look up as he says, "You know, I don't get it."

"What's that?" Dean offhandedly asks, completely preoccupied as he opens the freezer door as well and starts fanning himself with it. (There's only a frostbitten bag of peas someone probably left in there ages ago.)

Finally laying down his writing utensil, Sam sarcastically starts, "I mean, Dad's not even here, but, besides waking me up and forcing me to do my own early morning routine, here you are busting your ass. Why?" Sam doesn't mean to be belligerent, but it's just been pissing him the hell off that Dean never takes his side when it comes to their father. Before the man had left them to their own devices yesterday, Sam had told him that he wanted to join their new school's soccer team. His dad had shut him down completely while Dean just looked away. ...And he knew! Dean knew he'd been looking forward to maybe trying out for some sports this year! Excited about the prospect, he'd chosen to confide in him after all.

"First off, girls shouldn't use that kind of language, Samantha, and second, hello, it's called being a good hunter," Dean drawls as he takes another long pull of his drink. Pointedly, he adds, after an appreciative hiss, "Also a good son."

A good son? That right there really gets Sam's heart hammering in his chest. He can't stop his mouth from spewing the hate, not after everything their dad's put them through … and taken away. He's no longer too young to notice their father's shortcomings. He just wishes Dean could see it too. "Yeah? Well, what do you call what Dad does? Call that him being a good father?" Sam mumbles, as he goes back to his homework. Looking down, he winces from the sudden slam of the fridge.

"You know I hate it when you talk about Dad that way," Dean growls low, but still calm, although, admittedly barely just hanging onto the edge of it.

Oh, but Sam knows. Oh, he knows alright. The only reason why he's not constantly getting up in their father's face is because of Dean. But it's becoming harder and harder to keep his feelings over the subject of their livelihood to himself. Be it hormones or just inherited hardheadedness, talking back to their father is steadily becoming something that Sam's getting really good at.

"Sorry," Sam replies, not entirely meaning his words. "It's just… Doesn't it ever get to you? You know, being left alone all the time to,"—quotation marks—"'look after your brother' when Dad doesn't need you to go riding off with him?" That pisses Sam off too, because he's not a kid anymore. Hell, he's been trying to be his own man since the day he was told to. Even so, when his dad's not forcing him out hunting and killing things for experience, their old man still feels the need to always remind Dean to look after him. To Sam, that's a gross double-standard.

After draining his drink and tossing it in the trash, Dean snorts. "Yeah, well, let me tell ya. It can be a serious pain in the ass sometimes. Like now. But it's usually pretty easy to deal with since I can just kick your ass into gear."

"Whatever," is what Dean hears as he next heads into the bathroom for a much-needed shower. In truth, he hates when they argue like this, but it's been happening more and more these days. The kid hasn't even hit full puberty yet. Christ.

As his older brother disappears behind the closed door, Sam shakes his head. He just can't understand why Dean's so blind to their father's faults. To Sam, the man has never had the shine of a hero in his eyes. Not really. He supposes it's because there's always been this taint on their dad from forcing him and Dean to live the life they have to lead. In truth, that dirt mark on his father seems to grow even bigger every time Dean turns from Sam's own personal hero to their father's lackey, in his eyes. It's Dad's fault, Sam thinks. It's Dad's fault we're like this. It's Dad's fault I don't wanna live like this anymore.


Sitting on top of a wooden bench in Bismarck, North Dakota, twenty-two-year-old Dean Winchester shivers from the cold as he stares up at the Northern Lights: the overlaying mixture of green and purple in the night sky that can only be seen in the Midwest. It's a breathtaking sight to behold, but, for Dean, all the air has already been ripped from the world due to his eighteen-year-old brother's sudden good news.

Letting out puffs of white as he breathes through his mouth, Dean shoves his cold hands further into his leather jacket's pockets as he hears gravel being crunched underfoot, behind him. He's been waiting for this. It was inevitable after he'd stormed out of their motel room not but ten minutes ago. But it wasn't like he could help it. This isn't a conversation he wants to have. Ever.

"Dean..." The voice, behind, is low and cautious, like the soothing call of a zookeeper to a wild animal that's been recently caged. But Dean doesn't like being handled with kiddy gloves. Never has. Never will. Sam can take his precious acceptance letter and shove it straight up his…

Can't believe you'd just…

"Dean… Come on, man. Talk to me."

Dean doesn't turn. He can't. He's got a sudden wild urge to start swinging, to break every frigging bone in Sam's lanky body so the guy can't up and leave him whenever he pleases. And just underneath that violent desire is the want to hug the kid to his chest and tell him how proud he is. But instead of doing anything of the sort, Dean forces his dry, cottony mouth into movement. He says words he doesn't mean, words that cut even him to the bone.

"What's there to talk about, Sammy? Already got your ticket to freedom, right? Don't need my permission." Dean desperately wants this to be the end of their conversation, but his brain can't get his muscles to work. He's not moving; continuing to sit and stare across the stretch of wind-waving, moonlit farm field, behind the motel. Dean's also not a fool. He knows Sam's just going to do what he's recently gotten so good at doing. He's going to push and he's going to push hard. After all, it's what the kid's been doing with their father every chance he can get. Dean figures, why should his treatment be any different?

With his back still to Sam, his brother doesn't disappoint. The anger is there in the kid's voice; it's a bitterness that Dean's heard all too often these days due to what Sam refers to as Dean always taking their father's side on things.

"I can't believe you'd—" Sam bites off the rest of his words and a heavy air just hangs between them; it's choking the life out of the both of them as one sits and one stands — one itching to fight, the other itching to run.

Dean's wonders once again what happened to that cute kid that used to idolize and follow him around. What happened to that little guy that used to cling to him and tell him how much he loved him every second of every hour that he breathed. Back then, it had been annoying as hell, but right now? Right now, Dean would sell his soul if it meant Sam's world would go back to revolving around him enough to make the guy forget this wild fantasy of going off to college and just … stay. Sitting there, Dean's left wondering when things between them had gotten so far off track.

Behind him, Sam breaks through his pained-filled thoughts. "Look, Dean, if you got something to say just say it. I'm all ears."

Dean runs hands back through his hair and shakes his head. Sam doesn't understand. Dean knows whatever his mouth chooses to say won't be the right words. These past few years, finding the right things to say to make everything in Sam's world 'all better' has become an ability that he's somehow lost. So, Dean lies. It's what he's gotten so good at after all.

"Whad' ya want me to say? Huh? That I'm proud?" –I am, but it hurts too damn much— "That I can't wait for you to leave?" —I don't want you to leave, Sammy. God, please, don't go— "Well, sorry, man, might be a dick move on my part, but I don't really friggin care what you do. It's your life. You wanna leave?" —Don't go— "Fine. Go. Do what you gotta do." —Don't listen to me!— "I mean, if you don't give a rat's ass about us, then why the hell should I care about you?"

Dean's balled fists in his pockets are shaking and this time not from the cold. But neither one of them notice what with his words still ringing loud and ugly in both their ears.

"See, this is what I'm talking about!" Sam shouts, finally moving around to come face-to-face with Dean. He's pissed and his words tumble out of his mouth, hurried and acidic. "You never even try to take my side! You never even try to understand things from my point of view! I knew it! I fucking knew it! You're just as bad as Da—!" Sam's look of fury dies like a werewolf shot with a silver bullet as he fully takes in his brother's unguarded, broken expression.

Sam sees the rare slip for the briefest of seconds, before Dean feverishly schools his features and finds the will to move, to get up and get the hell away. Keys gripped so tightly in his pocket they're drawing blood, he pushes up from the bench — roughly smacking his shoulder into Sam's during his exit — and then walks away. With hurried strides and a hand rubbing over his face, he heads off in the direction of the front of the motel, to the parking lot where his only means of escape is waiting — his baby.

Sam's too stunned to do anything other than watch his big brother go. As Dean nears the corner of the building, the kid finally finds his voice. Dean can hear him calling out his name. It even sounds more than a touch sorrowful, but Dean doesn't stop. He can't. He needs space. He can't handle any more of this shit right now. He's feeling too betrayed, too hurt, too devastated, too raw and exposed. The only thing he says in parting is a few choice words said over his shoulder, because no way is he coming back that night. He'll roll back in with the dawn, but not before. He just … can't.

"Don't wait up."

Sam watches Dean go with mixed feelings. A part of him tries to tell himself that maybe this is a good thing since he's finalized his decision to go off to college. Maybe it's better to part like this since they're obviously going to have to cut ties. (If Dean's acting like this, he knows there's no way their father is going to just take the news in stride.) However, a larger part of Sam can't get that tortured look of his brother's out of his mind, especially since he's never seen Dean look that way. Not even when they hadn't been able to save those two little girls during that hunt last year that had gone as wrong as wrong can get.

M' sorry, man. It's not really your fault, but I can't stay. This life just isn't for me and I just wish … I just wish you'd want something more for yourself. You deserve it too.


Even with the windows rolled up, the smell of rain lingers wet and cool in the air from the vehicle's open vents. Droplets of water bead the hood of the parked Impala as a twenty-five-year-old Dean Winchester sits behind its wheel. He and his treasured baby are safely out of the elements and out of sight, taking refuge in Harris and Stover Law Firm's parking garage in Palo Alto, California. (It's a tall building with many floors and lots of traffic — the perfect place to use as camouflage.)

From his vantage point, he can clearly see the bookstore, across the street, with its hand-painted sign reading open hanging on its glass door. (The garage's yellow ticket booth and its matching yellow and white horizontal barricade only slightly obscure his view.) Thankfully, the entire store front is made of glass and, through it, Dean can see the familiar, too tall, shaggy-haired figure behind the counter who's busy ringing up a young, smiling redhead's purchase.

Sammy boy, how've you been?

Sam's been working at Henry's Books for the past year and a half now. Or at least this is where Dean had followed him to last year when he'd come to visit then as well. And just like every annual trip he's made to this particular town, the urge to get out of the car and do two things eats at Dean's insides like a poisonous cancer as he stares at his oblivious brother. Feeling so many emotions that make him hurt and proud at the same time, the urge to walk in there and beat Sam's ass, throw him in the car, duck tape him to the seat, and speed off grips Dean's guts like a vice. But then there is that other urge he has, the less violent one. The one that makes him want to walk in there, all smiles, and hug the stuffing out of his brother until Sam pushes him away and tells him to get lost … or asks him to stay.

Dean doesn't even waste time contemplating what he'd say if Sam did ask him to stick around. From the digital clock on the dash and the dwindling light from the sun peeking through the darkened clouds, it's getting close to closing time — Sam's — and Dean still has so many miles to go before he can pick up that hunt out in Warchett, Oregon he's supposed to be on. It's funny how Dad always finds an excuse to send him out west during this particular time of year, instead of taking the hunt himself. But Dean's not complaining. He's too busy trying to shut up the voices in his head screaming, "Don't! Stop! Don't go! Go talk to him!" as he pulls out of the garage and onto the road, after Sam walks off into the back area of the shop.

Leaving his oblivious little brother behind, Dean can't help but look in the review mirror, wondering if life will continue to be this way. The thought alone makes his heart hurt and his eyes water. As he blasts through a stop light with the roar of the engine revved loud in his ears and the splash of muddy water soaking his baby's sides, his cheeks may or may not be wet with the salty taste of regret.


The apartment a twenty-six-year-old Dean Winchester just broke into is homey. It's filled with various knickknacks, on mantels, and so many photos of a carefree Sam, on its tables and walls, that it makes that scabbed wound in Dean's heart fester and bleed. Picking up a tan, wooden picture frame engraved with the word LOVE down the left side, he can't remember his brother ever looking so relaxed and open. He's also never seen Sam with his arm hooked around a girl's shoulders before, especially not one that looks like a blonde model with enough brains to match her beauty.

You sly dog, Dean can't help but think. However, the smile reflected in the frame's glass never reaches his eyes, because all evidence points to the fact that Sam's been doing just fine without him. But, of course, this information is something that Dean already knows from his secret, annual check-ins. However, it's just more of a kick to the stomach now that he's actually seeing snippets of Sam's life other than on street corners or through glass windows and there's a lot of them scattered throughout the home.

It's painful to Dean and for so many reasons. The foremost because the only picture he has of Sam is the one of them — as kids — when they were holding up the day's catch while their dad had sat on the Impala, after having stopped to fish at that crappy lake in Delcut, Montana. It's a creased photo that still resides in the back of his wallet. (It's also a captured memory that he sometimes takes out and stares at when the drink makes him nostalgic — at least three times a week for the past few years, but nobody needs to know that.)

After passing into another darkened room filled with unfamiliar things, in the next second, amongst the shadows, Dean's fending off fists to his face and knees to his spleen. The moves are familiar, a mirror to his own brand of rugged Winchester training. When he finally puts his faceless assailant on his back, Dean can't help but smile. There he is, his Sammy, panting with a hilariously shocked expression painted all over his sweating features. (Kid's obviously out of practice.) For Dean, it feels so damn good to see his geeky brother and actually have the guy looking back at him for once.

Heya, Sammy. Goddamn. It's good to see you, man, he wants to pull Sam to his chest and say, but he doesn't. Little Sammy's grown. He's a man now. Got a job, a girlfriend and even his own place. Even if all Dean wants to do is bury his face in the guy's neck and drown himself in that familiar scent he hasn't smelled in years, he won't. …He can't. So, instead, Dean just grins his best cocky grin and throws out a taunt about Sam getting rusty. It suddenly feels like old times … even if it's not.

With the air knocked from his lungs from their roles suddenly being reversed, Dean still can't help but think…

Fuck, man, missed you so much.

As for Sam, he's grateful to see his brother too, even if a larger part of him isn't. He's got a new life now. It took a while, but the taste of normal sits well on his tongue. He doesn't want to give this up … even for his family. Not even for the guy who used to be his mom, dad, brother, best friend, worst enemy and hero all rolled into one. "What're you doing here, Dean?"