Chapter One

"Separated On Borrowed Time"

One week earlier…

The rain hadn't let up and by the looks of it, didn't plan on stopping any time soon.

'Perhaps not any time during this century' Dean thought with a snort of annoyance as he turned his attention away from the condensation coated window of the tiny diner and lowered his head to bring the crumpled newspaper he clutched in both hands closer to his face.

Nothing but the same old bullshit nonsense filled each page. Front to back, side to side. At least that was the consensus of the general population. Not that they knew a damn bit of difference, Dean bitterly thought, his brows curling inward as his eyes scanned each line of text with careful scrutiny. A burglary of the local maw and paw market with no clues to a culprit, a high school sports team placing tops in regionals, predicted hellish storms to slam the town by midweek. All of it was normal daily life for the outside world, however Dean knew better.

He'd been trained to read between the lines. Look close enough and ye shall find what the normal eye is typically too blind to see. Well, the local high school sports team's stroke of good luck was about as normal as it got or perhaps it was a mere fluke in the grand scheme of the too good to be true perfect town Dean had driven into a little over an hour before. He liked looking for flukes in a design, aside from the fact that it was most often a requirement of the job. It made things exciting, kept him occupied, and actually made him think when all Dean wanted to do was not think.

Grunting, he slammed the paper closed and proceeded to hastily fold it in half as he glanced at his phone to observe the passing time. It was getting late and slowly Dean resigned to the fact that he would have to be calling it a night in yet another dingy motel room in an unfamiliar town alone because apparently his younger brother had a thick stick shoved so far up his ass he didn't find it necessary to surface within reason, despite the eldest Winchester's efforts.

To say Dean was pissed was putting it lightly. He'd passed the point of pissed three states over when Sam's phone stopped ringing each time he attempted to call and instead went directly to voicemail.

Dropping the paper to the table with a careless flick of his wrist, he reached for the cooling mug of coffee he'd long since abandoned and prepared to take a hearty gulp of the bitter caffeine filled drink. It wasn't like he could count on gaining more than a few hours of rest that night. Two to three hours at most because Dean Winchester ran on very little sleep a good majority of the time. He was used to it-

"You really shouldn't drink that on an empty stomach."

An agitated yelp escaped past his lips and in a foolish attempt to keep himself clear of an otherwise embarrassing mess, Dean promptly sent the mug back to the surface of the table with a loud clatter. He looked across the table with a piercing stare at the familiar figure, heart hammering wildly behind his ribcage which was something he would never admit to, and growled.

"Damnit, Cas!" The statement left his mouth before he could give it a second thought and immediately his attention was drawn to the few other patrons scattered sporadically throughout the establishment. It appeared the sudden disturbance had gone unnoticed; much to Dean's relief considering the short fuse his recent temper seemed to be fueled by. Nevertheless, he narrowed his eyes at the Holy Tax Accountant who was often times a thorn in his ass, especially when the other chose to randomly appear at the most unconventional of times. "You need to stop showing up out of nowhere like that. One of these days someone is going to see it happen and-"

Castiel calmly matched his gaze, his eyes unblinking and his tightly pursed lips void of even a twitch of emotion. Then, slowly he scanned the vicinity of their surroundings, shoulders flat and stiff, his movements silencing Dean.

"All is well, Dean," he answered as if the other man had reprimanded him in an unnecessary manner, as if that was even possible. He leaned slightly across the table top, his hands clasped in his lap and lowered his voice before he began to speak again. "I've been trying to contact you."

Dean simply snorted at the angel's dramatics. "Next time try using that cell phone in your pocket," he suggested, not amused that not only was Sam proving to be the jackass of the century when time was of the essence, but that Castiel had chosen that night of all nights to test his thinning patience. "And did you maybe stop to think that I wasn't in a particular mood to be found?"

Castiel's brows curled significantly towards the center of his forehead. "I don't understand. I thought Sam was the one who did not want to be found?"

Silence thickened between them momentarily and for a second Dean contemplated a quick retort of his usual sarcasm. Still, deciding against the sudden urge to smack the honest perplexed expression clear from Castiel's face, he motioned to the young female waitress across the room and waved her over.

She certainly did have an award-winning beautiful smile and with the way her naturally wavy chestnut hair bounced against her shoulders as she walked, it was enough to make any grown man fall to his knees while begging for more. Dean found himself smirking; how could he not? He was a man still full of raging hormones just like the rest of the male population and the waitress could definitely fulfill quite a few men's needs just by appearance alone.

"Hey, Sweetheart. I think I will take a slice of that pie after all," he mentioned once she had sidled up to the table side and raised her brows after glancing curiously towards his companion. "On second thought, why don't you make that slice of pie to go and maybe later you and I could-"

"She is not interested in romance, Dean," Castiel's increasingly grating tone informed.

The waitress actually blushed, a smooth crimson tint to her flawless skin that only seemed to accentuate he features even more. Dean, on the other hand, felt his cheeks ignite with a fiery heat, perhaps from embarrassment or something completely different. Rarely did he ever allow himself to exhibit frequent embarrassment, especially when someone managed to show him up or put him in his place in one way or another.

"Pie to go and the check will be fine," he finally managed to sputter through clenched teeth. When the waitress was once more out of ear shot, albeit not before releasing an airy giggle of humor, he sharply turned his attention back to Castiel who remained as blind to what had just taken place as he had when he had last uttered a string of words. "Really, Cas?"

Castiel cocked his head to the side. "Your thoughts were distracted. I assumed you needed to be placed back on track."

"I didn't ask for your opinion, did I?"


"Good, glad we got that cleared up," Dean grunted as he slid from the booth and distractedly slipped his favorite jacket over his aching shoulders. Not a moment too soon, Castiel was nipping at his heels as he took the first few steps away from the table. "Now's really not a good time, Cas," he all but snapped, and needless to say he relented to the mere possibility that he would have to put into action one of three options: turn and very calmly through pursed lips and gritted teeth plead that the Holy annoyance grant him some resemblance of a single solitary moment of peace so he could at least attempt to regain his bearings and figure out how exactly he was going to proceed with the situation and deal with his brother's stupidity, turn and initiate a threat of harm that in all actuality contained no harm whatsoever and probably wouldn't do him a bit of good in the long run, or simply distract the angel and ditch him in good faith. The latter had never proved hard to do, but all three options ended with the same result and Dean grunted in agitation at the thought.

When Castiel wanted to find him, Castiel found him, whether Dean wanted him to or not.

"Dean, I know you are angry…" Castiel began to speak once again as they moved steadily towards the only door leading in and out of the tiny diner, the same door that held the same pestering bell that chimed each time the door barely moved. "I suppose you have a right to be angry with Sam-"

Dean gripped the flimsy Styrofoam container the cashier had handed him tighter until his knuckles blanched a pale shade of white. "You wouldn't understand the whole of it," he answered before lightly kicking the glass door open with the top of his boot.

Though as he stepped under the roof overhang and felt the biting chill of the evening air, his shoulders rounded forward in slight defeat towards the angel's forward and somewhat urgent tone. "Leave it be, Cas. If Sam wants to be an idiot, let him because I passed the point of being pissed at that kid three states ago. He'll come back around eventually, just like he always does."

"You say that, but do you really believe it this time?"

Stopping from taking another step forward, Dean stared out into the bleak sheet of rain that fell steadily from above, his hazel eyes narrowing in contemplation towards the angel's question. Not that it was particularly any of Castiel's business what Dean believed towards the matter, although Castiel never had seen it that way since pulling him from the deepest pits of Hell and probably never would see it that way.

Perhaps Castiel expected the royalty of an explanation for every single one of the eldest Winchester's thoughts, as if Dean owed him that much.

This time, however, as frustrated as he was, he chose to ignore the invasion of privacy, which wasn't much to begin with, and regained the steady motion in his path back to the sleek black Chevy Impala parked clear across the street. It had seemed a decent place to park, easy access and only a short distance to the diner door.

Of course that had been before the torrential downpour that was currently soaking him clear to the core. Forget looking both ways down the fairly vacant town road way. Should a car come speeding out of nowhere and run him over, Dean was certain it would be a far more pleasant ending than what he was already facing. The Apocalypse, Lucifer, Sam turning dark side…everything destiny had chosen to give him.

Destiny…what a load of crap.

Absently digging into his pocket for the key, Dean bit back a string of foul words and calmed himself with an even steady breath that hung till in the air as a visible patch of fog for moments after. There was a point in time that his brother would need to grow up and considering the battle of Armageddon racing towards them all at an unfathomable speed, it didn't leave much room for progress on Sam's part.

Sure, Dean had also inherited the stubborn gene from both the Winchester and Campbell sides of the family, but Sam inherited the irritating habit of denial right along with it. A good ass kicking did the youngest Winchester brother good on a frequent basis and as usual, Dean would receive the unlucky position of delivering such a feat. Present times were no different and that was exactly what he planned on doing as soon as he once again caught up with his idiotic brother.

"You need to give your brother a break, Dean."

Dean nearly slammed the Impala's door at the sound of the statement, or what was typically a soft order in Castiel's case, fully prepared to whip around and tackle him. Only with the echoing flutter of wings did Dean realize he was once again alone. "Figures," he grunted with an audible growl before lowering himself into the comfort of the driver's seat of his one true sanctuary – his beloved Chevy Impala.

True to fact, Dean had never held a more materialistic object so close to his heart as he did his usual form of transportation and that's the way he liked it, the way he preferred to keep it. Call him old fashioned or out of date, and ignore the fact that it was practically a hand-me-down gift from his father when he was still a teen, but it was the only thing when all was said and done that he had the overall authority of.

"And the music stays the same," he randomly muttered into the dense interior air.

Roaring the engine to life seconds later with a simple twist of the key in the ignition, Dean waited for the sound to lull into a soft navigating hum that was unique to only the ancient engine. The downtown road remained as vacant as ever as he pulled hastily away from the cement curb, the windshield wipers creating a steady rhythm that forced his mind elsewhere into a dark heavy void.

It was then that he realized just how utterly exhausted he really was and yet, just his luck, any viable motel options had yet to come into sight. Not that Dean was especially looking forward to a night spent alone and not that he would ever admit to having grown used to and depending on his younger brother to be there when he succumbed to a restless slumber and when he awoke from such.

The creases at the corners of his eyes appeared far more noticeable had anyone else been around to witness his crumbling demeanor as he blindly reached to the empty passenger seat beside him, flipping the cheap cell phone open without giving it a second thought. That is until that second thought finally crept into the foggiest corners of his mind and deciding against his better judgment, Dean forced the phone to slap shut with a sickening crack, though he could have been any less concerned about whether he had rendered the device unusable or not.

"Sonofabitch," he growled and prepared to discard the device just as quickly as he had reclaimed it when the familiarity of his standard ring tone rose above the lightly playing classic rock music in the background. Hardly processing the sudden incoming call, Dean scrambled to snatch the phone back into the steel grip of his fingers. "Sam?"

There was a slight crackling on the other end of the line before a soft, barely audible sigh was released. "I'm going to take a shot in the dark and guess you haven't heard from your brother yet."

A slight sense of comfort, of security accompanied the familiar gruff of Bobby Singer's voice. Dean almost welcome the ache of stability and had to fight to keep himself from sighing with relief just at the sound, even if he didn't particularly know what he would have been sighing about. Maybe it was simply the fact that Bobby was one of the two people he could admit to honest trusting that made him fall weak at a shadow of a greeting from the older man.

In the wake of the absence of his father, Bobby had naturally eased in to fill the empty void for the lack of a parental figure in the Winchester Boys' lives, the only solid rock in their otherwise chaotic filled world and Dean couldn't have been more thankful. Not to forget the fact that Bobby had the uncanny ability to put him in his place when no one else could. It irritated him to no end but Dean relished in the idea that despite his often time problematic shoot-now-ask-questions-later attitude, there was always someone there that he could rely on to hold him accountable for his mistakes without prejudice and then correct him when he was honestly wrong.


He cleared his throat. One had gripped the steering wheel while the other hand kept the phone firmly planted against his ear. "No, Bobby. I haven't. I was going to ask you the same thing."

"Can't say that I have," Bobby was quick to answer and Dean could only imagine the stone-cold expressionless face the older man was giving. The same face that could say a mouthful without speaking. Bobby had a way of packing quite a punch in one look alone as a single statement that came from his mouth could tear the common person's reserve to shreds. Perhaps this moment was no exception, though Dean was in no position to be testing that possible theory.

They didn't talk for a while and Dean liked it that way. Sometimes all he really needed and what he really wanted was to taste a glimpse of that familiarity, then settle into the quiet abyss of just knowing someone was on the other line, breathing the same air he breathed and patiently waiting until he was ready to speak further. Sometimes he did choose to say something. Other times…well, other times he simply waited until his attention span fizzled out and he snapped the phone shut without so much as a simple goodbye.

That night, however, Dean was more than prepared to stay on the line as long as he could possibly manage, perhaps long enough for Bobby to get annoyed with the silence and hang up on him for a change. It seemed nowadays it hardly took much at all to annoy Bobby, not that Dean could blame him.

Bobby did eventually speak and when he did, his words were a combination of emotions, from exhaustion to irritation to concern and finally ending on a shrill not of outright confusion. "What the Hell happened between the two of you, Dean?" the older man interrogated quietly, in that same way he was infamous for. That tone meant business and was nothing to be reckoned with. Dean had learned that much personally on more occasions than he cared to account for. "Last I heard, you boys were working that demon case out in Nebraska-"

"We were, Bobby," Dean interrupted him with a tight sigh and characteristically he brought his free hand away from the cold leather of the steering wheel to run it down his face. It did nothing to ease the tension in his jaw that had come as a result of grinding his teeth together for far too long that day. Hell, his entire body could have done without a lot of the tension aches and fading bruises, but that had been and still was the least of his worries.

Dean pursed his lips into a thin line before continuing. "And the honest to God truth? I don't know what the Hell happened. Lord knows I've thought about it enough. But I still don't know. I mean, Sam and I…we got the area pretty damn cleaned up, all things considered. Was even contemplating heading back your way. Figured we could enlist your assistance on another case, some omens in the mid-south. Then the next thing I know, we're back at the motel, one wrong thing said gets twisted, and fists are flying. Sam got in a few good shots too, then he just…he turned around and walked out the door, didn't say another word and didn't look back. I haven't heard from him since."

"Damnit, boy," Bobby hissed and there was a slight shuffling on his end, a tall tale sign that he'd risen abruptly to pace back and forth, a personal nervous habit.

Dean glared out at the road ahead of him, mistaking Bobby's curse as a mirror of his own frustrations. "I swear I'm going to strangle that kid when I get my hands on him again," he gruffed.

"What the Hell were you fighting about this time?" Bobby demanded sharply. "Both of you! Could you be anymore stupid?"

"I know, I know-" Dean started to retract.

"There's no time for you idjits to be wasting fighting like an old married couple. What, with the Apocalypse biting at your ass, not to mention a whole crap load of other things I don't think is even necessary to drill further into that thick skull of yours."

Dean haphazardly balanced the phone between his ear and his shoulder, and keeping one hand tightly glued to the steering while, he massaged tenderly at the nagging kink located just at the base of his neck. "Bobby…" he muttered and his voice came out hoarser than he originally intended for it to project. So what if Bobby had a point? Dean had never denied as much, nor had he even forgotten the weight looming over them, the weight of their "responsibilities"... It had just never been in his character to outright admit when he was wrong. This incident was certainly no exception to the rule.

"I'm just saying, Dean," the older man spoke further amidst the thickening silence, his tone considerably softer and more subdued than before. Dean didn't doubt it was Bobby's way of apologizing, for that was where they were one in the same. "You boys better get your acts together."

"You don't think I already know that?"

"No offense, but you could have fooled me."

It took all Dean had in him at that moment not to speak of a few of the things Bobby could have fooled him about a time or two in the past. Swallowing his pride though, and the small burst of his ego, he eased back into the driver's seat. "Listen, Bobby. Just…have Sam call me if you hear from him ok? Do me that much of a favor, because I figure if anyone else besides me can get through to him, it's you. As for me…I'll uh, I'll start heading your way in the morning."

He didn't wait for a response and simply snapped the phone shut.

A short distance up ahead, beneath the faint glow of a dimming street lamp, a motel sign with a shorting light bulb faded ominously into view. It appeared hardly welcoming, but it was the vibrant red 'Vacancy' beneath the name of the motel that caught Dean's attention and was all he really cared about right then. A hot shower beckoned him with the promise of steam-filled soothing relief for his aching muscles and the generic mattress of the bed offered at least a few hours of decent rest. So, significantly reducing the speed of the Impala, Dean directed it into narrow parking lot and decided he would make do with the place for one night. After all, he and Sam had made temporary residence in far worse dives and that was saying a lot.

Settling into the cramped motel room a good thirty minutes later, Dean emerged from the even smaller bathroom amidst a thin billowing cloud of steam, feeling slightly more refreshed than he had been when entering his sleeping quarters beforehand. He didn't bother himself with the tiny droplets of water that rolled precariously down his temples as he shrugged a simple clean t-shirt over his head and ambled lazily towards the miniature fridge on the opposite side of the room.

The place was shabby, even for him, and the air reeked of old carpeting and stale furniture, not to remark on the fact that there wasn't the suitable kitchenette Dean had grown accustomed to. But regardless, the miniature fridge sufficed just fine to house the six pack he fancied and he wasted no time in retrieving one of the cool beverages.

Allowing himself a moment to savor the bitter flavor of barley and hops, Dean stepped a few feet to his right and brushed the tattered drape slightly away from the window, his gaze trained solely on the dismal late evening. The rain still hadn't eased up and if anything seemed to only fall harder, which wasn't promising in the least, because to put it bluntly, shitty weather was never easy on traveling. He could only hope the storm would pass through pre-dawn or ease up enough so that he made it out of the area without trouble. Bobby's place was a good half day's drive with the way Dean navigated the back roads, but that certainly wasn't taking into account any setbacks along the way, weather induced or not.


The thought of his brother was like an annoying maggot eating away at the inside of his skull as Dean lifted the beer bottle to his lips and allowed the amber liquid to coat the inside of his mouth before he swallowed.

A jagged streak of lightning illuminated his tired features for a split second and he retreated quickly from the dusty interior side of the window before the thunder could hit. His attention was shot and that was an understatement in itself, which could only mean an early retirement for the night; highly unusual and contradictory to the normal patterns of Dean's habits and personality. It was just pushing half past midnight. Normally at that hour he and Sam would be executing a typical salt and burn case or find themselves buried in every other type of unusual trouble that typically followed their every step.

Ah, the glorious life (or lack there) of a hunter.

That thought actually put a vague crooked smile just at the corners of Dean's mouth.

Somewhere beside him, his phone chirped noisily to signal a draining battery and it drew him back to reality. Dean looked at it with contempt, not that it did much good and not that it thinned the irritation coursing through his system. He cursed silently, fingers hovering over the tiny device.

Did his younger brother deserve his concern at that moment? No, because Sam Winchester was a jackass, but Sammy would always be the lingering shadow Dean had to watch out for, the one thorn in his ass that he would forever put his life on the line for. And so, he found himself snatching the phone from the surface of the bed without another thought, flipping it open and blindly pressing the memorized speed dial.

The moment Sam let the motel room door shut with a furious slam, Dean should have known something was off center between the two of them. But the day had been long and rough and he wasn't willing to feed too much energy into worrying about the tension that was apparently brewing within the confines of their tiny quarters.

Sure, it had started forming long before they arrived back at the motel, though Dean had been more than ready to write it off simply as a result of the events taken place barely an hour before. It had been a close call, the dangers of the job particularly elevated, and Dean wanted nothing more than to finish what he and Sam had set out to do…wipe out the demonic bastards that were wreaking havoc on a once peaceful quaint town tucked away in a quiet corner of Nebraska.

Now the only matters that hooked his interest were a few cold brews after a well- deserved shower topped off nicely with several hours of shut eye because he wanted to simply just forget.

Temporarily bypassing a direct path to the bathroom, Dean zoned in on the cooler across the room with his eyes narrowed in quite the comedic fashion similar to a predator stalking a weaker prey. The icy bath housing the beer of choice felt soothing against his sore hands when he popped the lid open effortlessly and he felt no shame in sighing at the reprieve it brought, taking a few moments to dunk his hands beneath the surface.

It wasn't until Dean heard his younger brother stomping around the room that he retrieved two crisp bottles and backed away from the cooler with an expression that he hoped read as an offering of peace, something that would at least quell whatever the Hell it was that was making Sam brood like a premenstrual woman.

"Beer, Sam?"

At first Sam didn't answer him. In fact, his brother didn't even try to hide the fact that he was blatantly ignoring him as he attempted to brush past the eldest Winchester and move towards the bathroom to claim it as his own. But Dean took the opportunity to reach out and clasp his hand upon Sam's shoulder, halting him before an escape could be made. Temporarily their eyes locked, contempt exchanged within a few silent moments until Sam yanked away from his grasp.

Dean's eyes softened as he held the bottle of beer up. "Dude, did you hear me?"

Sam pushed the bottle of beer back at his brother, muttering something about not being interested in taking part in Dean's addiction to numbing his senses by artificial means, before pushing past the frame much smaller than his own.

Dean wouldn't have given the statement much thought for the reason that his brother did have a point, but normally Sam would indulge in a few right along with him. Still, there was a frosty bitter undertone in his brother's voice that caught his attention and quietly watched as Sam steadily walked into the bathroom before he followed and perched himself against the door frame.

"What is wrong with you?" he questioned casually.

Sam's eyes met his again within the reflection of the mirror before his brother leaned down to splash several cupped handfuls of water onto his face. Nothing is wrong with me, Dean," he answered, his voice muffled behind a cheap terry cloth hand towel. Drying the excess moisture from his face, Sam tossed the damp towel off to the side of the bathroom and turned to face his brother.

"Yeah, well…from my point of view, it looks like it would be mighty uncomfortable with that stick shoved so far up your ass," Dean snorted, pulling himself away from the door frame and twisted on his heels to bait Sam into following him. It took but a second for Sam to trail close behind.

"You want to tell me just what the Hell that is supposed to mean?" Sam actually demanded, his tone sharp and snapping.

Dean froze in mid step, his brows curling towards the center of his forehead as he carefully turned back around to face Sam, contemplating the taller man's stature briefly. "For starters?"

"Humor me," Sam huffed.

"Fine. You whining like a little bitch is starting to annoy me. The job sucked, Sam. I'm not going to deny that, but neither of us can afford to waste energy on the fact that maybe it didn't pan out exactly how we planned. How often does any job we do ever play out like we want it to? Never, that's how often. And so what that it set us back a stage or two. Tough. Just means we have to revise our game plan from this point on and kill some more evil sonsofbitches."

It wasn't until he stopped his short monologue that Dean realized Sam was no longer listening and was instead sitting on the edge of one of the beds and preparing to untie the laces of his boots. "Seriously, Sammy…pop a Midol or two and get over it."

Sam paused, his fingers twitching against the surface of the laces as he pursed his lips tightly together. Abruptly he rose to his feet, almost seething in Dean's direction. "Get over it?" he clarified with an awkward shake of his head. "Aren't you the one who always tells me there is no getting over any of this, Dean? That's not a luxury in our line of work. There is a purpose, a standard, and a goal-"

"Exactly, Sam. That goal is to assure we don't leave any of the filth of this Earth and else wise left standing, no matter what the cost," Dean interrupted him stridently before Sam took a threatening step towards him.

Sam chuckled sarcastically. "Oh, I'm sorry. For a second there, I mistook you for someone who actually gives a damn."

Dean wasn't sure how to respond at first because his brother's verbal attack wasn't within the normal limits of Sam's easily docile character. "Huh…" he finally muttered, clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth while twisting slightly to place his bottle of beer on the television stand. Deliberately moving slowly, he brought a hand up to run it through his short tussled hair, hesitating at the back of his head to lazily scratch away a nagging itch on his scalp. "You're talking through your ass right now, Sammy. I think maybe that possessed mechanic hit you over the head a little harder than we originally assumed. So how about you go march your happy little bottom into the shower and tuck yourself into bed afterward. And while you're at it, make sure you wake up on the right side of the bed, m'kay Pumpkin?"

And that's when it happened.

The shove of his brother's hands against his chest came at him so fast, Dean didn't see it coming and he had to blindly scramble to grab onto whatever ledge he could just to keep himself upright. The clink of the glass bottle toppling onto its side echoed oddly in the room as the television stand shook and groaned under Dean's full weight as he forced himself to stand straight again, smoothing out his shirt in a pathetic attempt to ward any attention away from the fact that he was clearly shocked and taken off guard by Sam's sudden aggressive nature.

"Who the Hell pissed in your Cheerios?" Dean growled, his green eyes darkening several shades when Sam reared towards him again.

"Don't! Don't give me that bullshit, Dean!" Sam's voice cracked, his fingers curling into his hands to form firsts. His broad shoulders trembled through the second wave of his visible fury and he pointed an accusing finger in his brother's direction. "If you didn't have that overgrown ego-filled head of yours shoved so far up your ass right now, maybe you would be capable of empathy towards the fact that there is a whole world full of people on the line and it isn't that hard to take into account that there are more innocent lives at stake than you realize! We're running out of time and there's no room for sloppy mistakes that could have been prevented when we should be spending all of our time and energy on figuring out how to take care of the whole Luc-"

"I know you didn't just take a weak hit at my hunting skills," Dean muttered. "Because you know if you did, I'm going to have to-"

"You're going to have to what, Dean?" Sam interrupted him, his stone-cold facial features challenging him to release the threat that was bubbling inside. "You going to turn your reckless behavior on your own brother?"

Dean opened his mouth to respond, but he paused and the only thing that came out was a quick shallow breath of disbelief. Then before he could even work through the thoughts of his next actions, he found his fist sailing through the air and the surge of pain spreading rapidly across his knuckles where his hand had come in contact with the side of Sam's jaw line. The hiss flew past Dean's lips as he withdrew his hand turned offensive weapon and shook it rapidly in midair. "Sonofabitch!"

The next few seconds moved by in a slow motion blur of events that had Dean immobilized against the rough carpeting of the motel room floor, a fiery sting radiating along the length of his spine as he struggled to catch the breath that had been forced from his lungs.

Oddly enough, Sam straddling him from above would have appeared rather humorous had it not been for the fact that his freakishly tall younger brother was preparing to drive his fist downward with a force of sheer velocity that any fighter could have admired had they not been on the receiving end of the blow.

Gaining an inkling of his senses about him, Dean moved quickly to draw his knees between them, propelling Sam off of him backwards and gaining him just enough time to stumble back to his feet before his brother regained his composure. Dean lurched and nearly buckled forward, catching himself with his hands on his knees before he could hit the ground. "Damnit, Sam, stop-"

The force from the impact of Sam's fist knocked him back into the wall, an explosion of colors fading in and out in front of Dean's eyes as the back of his head hit the wall once and bounced forward, directly into the grasp of his brother's trembling hands. A second fist didn't deliver nearly the same extent of pain as the first, but in a now slightly delirious state, Dean supposed that had something to do with the fact that he sent his body into an automatic shut down as a defense mechanism, numbing any logical sense of feeling until he could figure out what the Hell had just happened.

Still he rolled protectively onto his side, tucking his heated face against the floor and cradling his abdomen with both arms before Sam could deliver a swift kick to further disarm him. But the seconds passed and the longer he continued to lay there, the only sounds he could hear were the harsh panting of his breath and his heart hammering on overdrive in his ears.

Dean carefully eased himself onto his front side and rose to his hands and knees, blinking to clear the mixture of sweat and blood from his eyes, considering the left side of his vision now held a faint red hue. It made sense that Sam would be able to leave a laceration or two with just a few simple hits because after all, Dean had taught his younger brother well in the art of fist fighting and the older he got, the more damage the youngest Winchester seemed to be able to do.

Though Dean had never expected it to be turned so abruptly upon him in that short moment in time. "Sam…" he mumbled, his voice faintly slurred from the disorientation of the room spinning around him. Fumbling, he reached up to grasp the edge of the television stand to pull himself up completely, fingers slipping in the spilled beer, and managed to turn just in time to watch his brother barely waste a glance back over his shoulder in his direction before stomping over to the furthest bed and retrieving his jacket. "Sam!"

Sam didn't answer him as he gripped his jacket in a white-knuckled fist, slamming out the door of the motel room and leaving Dean nothing to do but to sink dejectedly back to the floor as the pounding in his head over took him.

"This is Sam. Leave a message…"

A sharp sting in his left temple tore Dean back to reality once more at the sound of his brother's monotone voice during the recorded voicemail greeting and he nursed the aching reminder in his temple with the gentle massaging of his fingers after sending the phone carelessly back to the bed.

Staring blankly at the opposite bland motel room wall, his jade eyes stormed with regret, just like the weather on the outside.

As if life couldn't get any more complicated…