Disclaimer: Supernatural belongs to Eric Kripke and a whole bushel of Americans who are not me. No money being made, etc.

Summary:This is a short one-shot, triggered by the scene in Season 6, Episode 8, All Dogs Go To Heaven, where Dean wakes up and Sam is bright and chirpy – it was a nice subtle emphasis on the depth of the brothers' bond, in its recognition that true intimacy has nothing to do with sex, but is actually sleep - See Author's Note 1 at end. It takes place three days after the end of Season 6, Episode 9, Clap Your Hands If You Believe, and before Episode 10, Caged Heat.

CONTEMPLATIONS

He was doing it again. The third night in a row, the third night since they'd kicked the fairies – the evil other dimensional species of beings, not the friends of Dorothy ones – back into their own air space.

Completely oblivious – like I'm not even here; look at him…Just like how those high school chemistry teachers used to describe non-reactive gases – inert.

He knows what I am now…no, he knows what I'm not and still there he is…

Sleeping like that.

For God's sake – well, no actually, because the being always referred to with the capital H - He had apparently gone on permanent vacation and had made it clear there was no forwarding address – but…hang-on…was there even cutesy snuffling? Oh please…

Had the leprechaun realised its mistake, as it was sucked back into its own dimension like a marble up a vacuum cleaner pipe? There'd even been a viscerally satisfying schoooom sound, heh-heh…But, he seriously doubted it; the creature had been too arrogant to realise its stupidity, or the irony of how it had snatched defeat from victory.

But – that was definitely a snuffle. Oh for…celestial and human deadbeat dads sakes everywhere…

How about…get up, move closer to the bed…stand right by the bed, stand right over him and do a bit of ominous looming

And nothing.

This was just so…apart from those four halcyon years at Stanford he'd spent ninety-five percent of his life within six feet of this guy whether eating, sleeping, shitting or jerking off…and my brother hasn't had a proper night's sleep since October 1st 1983, when he was four and a half and it was the night before Azazel murdered our mother.

It was funny, in a way, but Crowley's 'good as new except for one small part but its only the soul' really boosted the efficacy and clarity of memory recall. Maybe it was because the memories weren't being suffocated under a deluge of pathetic emotions; after all, pre-soulectomy he'd splurged emo and angst like he was a burst sewer main over everything and everyone…more Twilight than Twilight. He'd been thoroughly sickening, surely in a literally vomit-inducing way? You'd think Bobby and Dean would be delighted at a respite from being swamped by the emotional effluent day in and day out.

But, no, he just lay there, sleeping, like he hadn't a care in the world…Like he was safe.

But he's got to know, surely that now I'm…

But not for one single night had Dean ever truly been able to rest. The earliest memories came easily now, even back so far that his baby eyes only saw big blurry and his ears only picked up rumbling not words. Even back then, it had always been a big face with light sad eyes and a whisper who had held and soothed him – the other big face with the dark sad eyes had been stubbly and raspy and rumbling and had smelled, really, really bad

Although of course, credit due, after those first couple of years Dad had somehow brought it back from the brink, unlike Max Miller's father who had stayed at the bottom of the bottle he'd crawled into and simply driven the bus straight over the edge of the cliff.

Maybe it was because like Dean had once said – you have something they don't have, you have me. Perhaps if Marcus Miller had had a Dean, or Ava had…poor, treacherous, dead Ava. Still if he'd been in his current state of de-soulination back then instead of the world's biggest self-pitying neurotic, he would have done exactly the same as her and even poor dumb Jake Talley. You couldn't blame the 'star kids' for doing whatever it took to survive.

And of course not even Ash had picked up on their mistake in only searching for mothers killed in mysterious fires on the child's six-month birthday. He hadn't given it a thought himself until Dean had talked about when Cas sent him back to '73, and Azazel had claimed, "as long as I'm not disturbed, no harm will come to you."

That had clicked into place immediately – logically, it never made sense that Azazel would announce his presence to those in the know – like hunters, other demons, angels and so forth – or betray the position of the star kids to those same vested interests by pulling such a grandiose asinine stunt like killing the babies' mothers in an obviously supernatural manner and then leaving their traumatised husband alive to blab about it to all and sundry.

Of course, they'd lost Ash by then, but he'd made sure his tech had lived on to serve the hunters, and amending the search parameters to include any violent deaths on the night of a baby's six-month birthday had yielded far more interesting results. Like the fact that although Jake Talley's mother was one of the eighty percent of black American women who were single mothers, she had been genuinely left alone, not a single mother by choice or by abandonment. Jake Talley's father had been the one burned to death in his son's nursery; but the distraught Mrs T. had admitted that Jake Senior had been trying to kick a cigarette habit – he'd also been a gas station owner and the fire investigators concluded that he'd been unable to resist a crafty smoke as he checked on his baby son and had inadvertently gotten oil on his clothes earlier in the day, which turned him into a giant candle wick waiting to be lit.

And also like the fact that on her six-monthly birthday, Ava was being babysat by her grandparents. Her folks had returned to see fire trucks and police cordons and found Ava 'miraculously unharmed' though a giant gas explosion had flattened the house, killing her grandparents.

When her father explained that his mother had recently had a new stove fitted, it had simply been assumed some problem had caused a gas build up in the kitchen. The contractors had certainly accepted that – they'd settled out of court to the tune of $50,000 which had paid Ava's college tuition and a goodly chunk of that rather nice apartment. He'd have bet his…well, a fair amount of change, that Ava's parents had never ever told her any of that tale.

Poor old Grampies, a pleasant evening dandling adorable Ava on their knees, only to suddenly look up to face quite literally the home invader from hell. Although, given what a mega-freak creep 'good ole grandpa' Sam-u-hell Campbell had turned out to be, maybe Azazel had done Ava a favour. And quite a few of the 'star kids' like Lesbo Annie, had never had any such tragedy because her folks had slept obliviously through Azazel's visit…

Just like Dad used to.

No matter whether it was still the early years when they'd camped out in the woods huddled together in one cramped tent or gate-crashed some vacation cabin, or around second grade time when dad had risked CPS alerts by booking them into skanky motel rooms that charged by the hour – or on one legendary occasion, in 15-minute increments – or even later than that, when Dad got exasperated by the louche habits Dean had picked and so left them with Pastor Jim or Bobby or Caleb for days on end. And Dad had never seemed to realise just how Dean got his womanising mojo – he'd learned at the feet of the mistresses…and strippers, lap-dancers, escorts, hookers and good-time-had-by-all-girls...

But even then, if he had ever woken in the night, anxious and disturbed, Dean would already be awake, would already be within his arm's length reach, even if his reassurance had just been a grumpy 'go back to sleep, Sammy'. Sometimes he had laid there in the dark, knowing that Dean's still, silent nearby form was nevertheless wide awake. Sometimes he'd heard his brother's breathing hitch, or seen him go stiff and known it was the after effect of a nightmare, but Dean had never made any noise – he was possibly the only person in the world who routinely had horrific nightmares in silent stillness. Dad was a light sleeper, once he'd knocked off the booze, but he had never awoken before Dean, and sometimes never at all.

And yet now, just like last night, and the night before that, Dean went to sleep, apparently uncaring of the fact that there was a soulless psychopath with a serious case of 'but I'm boooored!' twiddling his thumbs four feet away from him at all times. After all it was Dean who had quoted that doctor in that TV show…not Dr Sexy for crying out loud, the other one, who made Bobby seem like an inveterate optimist…whatever…Dangerous people don't break in to your home, they already live there. Right now that was probably a frontrunner for 'understatement of this or any other century'.

Experiment…reach out a hand, spread the fingers, and ghost them nearly but not touching, over Dean's hair – his brother twitched and…

Relaxed.

Dean Winchester – who'd been a tension convention since the age of four-point-five years of age, a guy whose reflexive response was so honed that you had to peel him off the ceiling if someone sneezed unexpectedly – remained asleep.

For the sole reason that the other in the room with him was his younger brother – Psychic, psychotic, satanic suit, soulless demonic patch-up job…to Dean it was all blahbluhblah, overridden by three little words: he is Sam.

But I don't give a damn…he knows that…when he caught me out about the whole vampire thing...when Cas stuck his fist in my sternum and rummaged around like my innards were a yard sale…he's all worrying about Castiel and Crowley and the Mother of All Monsters but he has to know the greatest danger to him is in the room with him.

Was Dean just being generous – i.e., stupid – or hoping that Sam had some 'better nature' nugget clinging on inside him – i.e., stupid. That if it came down to it he would take one look at that big brotherly face and start emoting, 'No, alas, I cannot do it, forsooth he is my brother and I cannot harm him?' In which case, big brother was so far beyond stupid there wasn't a word for it. It wasn't even as if that face was anything great.

I mean, look at that hair…we should by shares in gel products the amount he uses every morning; his head is an inferno waiting to happen. All Lucifer ever had to do was flick a cigarette at Dean's fringe and watch it go whoosh.

Then there was the nose – it was a nose, and too sharp for his face, and he had freckles all across his face every which way. Then there was the mouth, alias the Pie Hole Extraordinaire. It was just unfathomable why women seemed to go all gooey about his mouth – those lips looked like a collagen treatment gone wrong and if they had any idea of the processed pap and chemical-choked crap he shoved into it every day none of those silly, simpering idiots would want to put their lips anywhere near his. Even his eyelashes were wimpy. Men weren't supposed to have lashes you could ski down they were supposed to be short and stubby and manly. And his eyes – dude, pick a colour and stick with it. Hazel, then brown, then green, then all shades of pond algae to mud pool in between – yeeesh talking about showing off. If you were of the oestrogen half of humanity then okay…Ian Somerhalder he could just about get the point of…but Dean? Seriously?

I mean look at how he's laying…it was almost as if Dean was testing him, provoking him to attack. Oh no, Dean wasn't just asleep, he was asleep lying on his left side, partly on his stomach – his knife arm trapped underneath him should he be pounced upon, his sharpest 'ear' buried in the pillow and the right hand tucked under his head on the pillow, also losing vital microseconds for him to grab a weapon or defend himself.

Okay, so Dean always expected to get dealt the suicide king or the dead man's hand – because, well, every hunter knew – that was the life. Your endgame options were bloody, or sad. This ain't no chick-flick and there is a Santa Claus, Virginia – a man eating monster who'll devour your daddy and the cookies and milk.

But it was almost insulting, now Dean knew his brother didn't care, and didn't care that he didn't care.

Or…was it?

Turn around go and sit back down instead of standing there like some crusty old butler ready to serve the young master. The laptop hummed almost soothingly as it ran one of Dad's-stroke his-stroke-Ash's improved search programs. One of the advantages of no soul was no need to sleep and therefore the ability to shift a workload that would have made Gordon Gecko green with envy. It was astonishing really that Crowley, who seemed a bit more innovative than your usual hellspawn – Lillith and Alistair and Azazel for all their massive power, had been severely limited in the imagination and innovation department - had never tried it – forget loitering at Crossroads trying to entice the mad, bad and sad into decade and a day deals, just go straight to the boardrooms of Corporate America and offer to de-soul your wretched slave-employees for a cut of the profits. Although, given Enron, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Wall Street bankers earning bonuses the size of some nations' annual GDP and the current levels of national debt, maybe Crowley already had.

Maybe Dean went to sleep with him in the room not fearing whether he should, because he knew in some way his soul allowed him to access that he could. After all, props to the evil Faerie, the leprechaun had been far more powerful, far smarter and much more cunning than even him – clarity-through-soullessness not withstanding – and certainly Dean, whose IQ half the time seemed to fluctuate like it was the time of the month for PMS and the other half of the time never kicked in at all while he expected . And yet the leprechaun had stuffed it up royally.

It was funny, how sometimes the blind chance of the words used or the order in which things were said, sent the world careening away from one path down another evolving reality.

All it had had to do was make the same offer, metaphorically speaking as the fairies had to Brennan the idiot – I will restore your soul, just let us carry on as we are.

Would he have said yes? Of course – he didn't care about Brennan, or this town, or anyone or anything. They could do what they liked. Sure, he would have taken the deal without hesitation – he still would, had it been available.

But the leprechaun hadn't - dumb, arrogant creature, so aware of its greater power and intelligence that it had spoken, rash and stupid…your brother, he's marked…he's ours now. Foolish, foolish leprechaun – those had been the words – that contempt, that hubris, that arrogance, to state claim over the one thing, the only thing, he would never willingly give up, had sealed its fate the moment those words left its unwitting, supercilious mouth. He had fought Heaven and Hell for trying to take this one away from him, and never would he do otherwise.

He is mine because he has always been mine and I will never allow that to change.

Maybe that was the point, and maybe that was why Dean trusted him enough to go to sleep with him barely six feet away with weaponry to hand. Because while Dean knew that soulless Sam might decide to kill him, he also knew that soulless Sam would never let anything else do so.

He doesn't trust me not to kill him, but he doesn't fear to go to sleep in the same room with me because he does trust me to stop anything else that might try to. And for Dean Winchester, that's good enough.

And incredibly, way, way down, there was a tiny, tiny part of him that thought it was almost worth getting his soul back, to be able once more to understand, and feel and above all reciprocate that absolute acceptance.

Almost…

© 2011 The Cat's Whiskers

Author's Note 1:

The scene were Dean wakes up and soulless Sam is sat across the room chirpy and alert because he doesn't sleep struck a chord with me, and was the genesis of this story. When we sleep, we are by that very fact trusting the person(s) next to us or nearby us a) to keep us safe and b) not to harm us him/her/themselves. A sleeping person is completely vulnerable; it is why, even in our numbed, disengaged modern world of emotional distance and hiding behind technology, there remains is a special, instinctive revulsion for X, who brutally murdered their poor _ in his/her/their sleep – it is the one crime that strikes at the very heart of what makes humans most vulnerable, because the person I trusted to protect me whilst I was at my most vulnerable – when I slept – has harmed/killed me. During sex (usually), you are awake enough to have some chance of fighting off any unexpected attack!

Note – 'Suicide King' in a deck of cards is the King of Hearts. All the four Kings hold a weapon of some sort, however the other three suite kings all hold the weapon diagonally across their torsos, as in heraldic crests and coats-of-arms, whereas the King of Hearts holds the sword vertically with the point uppermost as if he is about to shove the sword up into his own mouth and head, hence, 'the suicide king'.

Note – 'dead man's hand' is a two-pair poker hand, also known as 'aces and eights' but only when these four of the five cards are black suite (Clubs and Spades) not red suite (Hearts and Diamonds). It comprises of the Ace of Clubs and the Ace of Spades, the Eight of Clubs and the Eight of Spades plus any fifth card of any suite. The name derives from the legend that these black suite 'aces and eights' were the hand being held by James Butler 'Wild Bill' Hickok (1837-1876) whilst he was playing five-card-draw poker in the No.10 Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota, on 2nd August 1876 at the point that Jack McCall entered the saloon and murdered him.

Hickok always used to sit with his back against a wall, but on that day the only chair available had an open door behind it – twice during the game Hickok asked/offered to change places with a fellow player surnamed Rich, who refused both times. McCall entered the saloon quietly and headed towards the bar, before suddenly pulling out a gun and shooting Hickok in the back of the head at near point blank range, killing him instantly – the bullet exited just below his cheekbone and had sufficient force to strike another player, Captain Massie, in the wrist, breaking it.

Hickok's primary biographer, Joseph Rosa, noted that no contemporary account of the exact hand seems to have survived; the earliest he could locate being from 1886 and describing a full house of three jacks and a pair of tens (suites unknown), however, the 'aces and eights' black suites combination has always been accepted from the earliest mention. The identity of the fifth card is not known – because he was playing five-card-draw, it is possible he had discarded the fifth card, or because of McCall's shot, was waiting to receive a fifth card and so was only holding the four 'aces and eights' at that point. In the historic display at No.10 Saloon Deadwood itself and on the HBO TV show of the same name, the fifth card is held to be a five of diamonds. The Las Vegas PD Homicide Division and the US Armed Forces Medical Examiner Corps both have the 'dead man's hand' as part of their insignia.

Hickok is buried in Mount Moriah Cemetery, South Dakota, near Deadwood, nearby to his old friend/lover Martha 'Calamity' Jane Cannary (1852-1903). She took ill in Terry, South Dakota whilst staying at the Calloway Hotel and died there. A group of men formed a self-appointed 'funeral committee' and had her buried next to Hickok in Deadwood. Four of these later claimed that since Hickok had 'no use for Jane when he was alive' they had played a posthumous practical joke upon him by ensuring the two spent eternity side by side.

This rather cruel and callous claim was in all likelihood entirely spurious and intended to exculpate their own actions – of dubious legality – in hijacking Martha Cannary's death and burial. By the time Cannary died in 1903, Hickok had been dead nearly thirty years, and his tourism 'pulling power' had been on the wane as the West civilised; Jane's death in nearby Terry presented a fortuitous opportunity boost the local profile and ensure lucrative 'footfall' by giving people the opportunity to 'see' two legends of the Old West at the same time. Interestingly in 1941, the US Government granted old age social security to a Jean McCormick née Hickok who produced marriage lines of her 'parents' James Butler Hickok and Martha Jane Cannary at Benson's Landing, Montana, on 25th September 1873, three years before his death (in 1876 he also married/remarried one Agnes Thatcher, who was also a friend of Jane Cannary's). This marriage was recorded in a Bible and signed by two verifiable ministers of religion plus several witnesses and was obviously plausible enough for the United States Welfare Dept – not known for its largesse and generosity of spirit – to accept as authentic. However, there is no way to ever really know.

Author's Note 2:

Unfortunately due to illness and heavy work commitments my writing schedule has been severely slowed down, and this snippet has been hanging around for a while, so I hope it is okay. I am aware that Season 7 of SN has restarted and has now reached the mid-season finale with Bobby in Dire Peril.

I do, do hope that SN isn't going to continue to follow it's previous rash and unwise tendency of killing off characters it could have used and clearly needed in later episodes/seasons – Ash, Ellen, Rufus, Gabriel, Bela, Baltazar, etc. Although since Death Himself is clearly 'training' Dean for something death may not be a problem, but especially since Season 7 has already put Misha Collins out of commission, at least for now, although I'm not quite clear how permanent that is.

People seem to forget that you are dealing with two sapient entities – James Novak, who is human, and Castiel who is not. We see Novak's body – the vessel - explode as the Leviathan force their way to freedom, but surely that just means that all those souls are zipping around free and clear now Cas sucked them out of Purgatory, and since Jimmy had a soul, is he actually dead, or just discombobulated and disembodied by the destruction of his physical form and since Cas was an angel, is he actually dead or also disembodied? Remember, Raphael previously exploded Castiel, but God (wherever He might be at this point) didn't even break a sweat reconstituting Jimmy's body for him and Cas, so maybe at a later point they could find themselves back together again, literally.

Maybe that's also why God didn't give Cas a sign, causing him to persist with his deal with Crowley, because He wanted the Leviathan to get out of Purgatory. Although I have no idea why – Why did He create the Leviathan in the first place, and why with so much oomph? If God created the Leviathan before humans and angels existed, they obviously don't have any connection to Michael and Lucifer's sibling spat. So what was the point of creating them in the first place and then storing them in Purgatory immediately afterwards? Why are the Leviathan so upset with humans who didn't even exist when their problems started?

Oh well, I suppose these questions will be answered soon enough.