This is just a really short two-shot that I found deep in the darkness of our hard-drive, and seeing as it's only seen the light of day for two hours I thought why not let it try out the internet?

Bear in mind it's a bit crap, but I always love a bit of protective Dean; I hope I'm portraying him well enough for you.

I'll try and update tomorrow if you're interested; let me know, :)

No melodrama, no drama, just mush and protective Dean.

Dean 19, Sam 14 going on 15.

Disclaimer: Own nothing,


Dean clapped his hands together as he threw his cards down, all smiles as he slid each one into its awaiting slot on "the River" layout of cards in front of him, revealing his second royal flush in the three hours he'd been playing. He'd been trapped in the same bar, a low layer of smoke shading the occupants, his table tucked into a secret corner, the lights dramatically dimmed, the low beat of rap music rumbling the floor, the customers talking in suspiciously low voices, firearms on tables and baggies on chairs all night, playing with a bunch of tough, streetwise and really quite scary men. Sure, two royal flushes in one game was probably pretty suspicious, and he could only hope these guys were drunk enough not to notice Dean's not o discreet moves, but he had no choice; Sam was still pretty sick, they'd officially run out of Tylenol and were low on just about everything else, including tissue paper needed for Sam's spontaneous nosebleeds, but more worryingly, money.

"And that, my wonderful new friends," he said, feigning a slur, staggering to a standing position as he collected his cash from the rickety bar table, "is how you cane a good game of poker."

The four other men gaped in shock, a swirl of rage mixed in as they numbly followed his movements as he collected healthy wads of their money. Dean couldn't resist but wink at the dealer, who gazed in horror as he watched the few hundred dollars he'd bet with the Winchester that he couldn't beat the so called "King of Poker" in a match, disappear from beneath his nose. "Well, I hope you all have a lovely evening; I gotta be on my way. Duty calls," he winked, silently congratulating himself as he pocketed the cash and made his way to the door. "Keep the deck, boys. For luck."

"Wait," argued the man opposite Dean, the oldest at the table but still no older than twenty – two, rested his hands on the wood as he ran through the game from his memory, eyes flickering across Dean's face-up cards on the table. Dean froze in his steps, grimacing as he turned. "Didn't Terry have the Queen of Hearts? Before he folded?" Shit. Apparently, this guy wasn't quite drunk enough for the eldest Winchester to work his magic.

The boy to his right shrugged, wincing slightly under the older man's gaze. He wasn't much older than Dean, and ten times smaller; but he sure could pack a good punch with a good doobie hanging from his lips.

"No, no you're right," said the dealer, more muscle than brain, watching Dean through narrowed eyes, "he did; and the eight of diamonds."

"Well, you're both clearly mistaken," settled Dean, taking a step closer to the door, to his freedom.

The fourth man, who was horrifically, hysterically drunk, cocked his head as he stared at Dean, washing up every detail. He turned to his friends, having clearly come to some sort of conclusion in his alcohol clouded head as he announced; "I think, Joey, we've been officially hustled." He raised his glass to his lips, cackling loudly as he enveloped the amber liquid with his scarred mouth.

"Boys, I am many, many things," said Dean quickly, desperate to contain composure as they all turned to glare at him – except for the drunk guy, who was still snorting into the tumbler, "but I'm cheat. I may be dirty to the law, but I'm an honest man."

The guy who'd sat opposite Dean, Joey apparently, shook his head, laughing coldly as he listened, lips still pursed as he stared at the cards. Those damn, telltale cards.

"So, Dean, if that's even your name, if I asked our trusty dealer here to search your pockets, he wouldn't find a deck just like this-" he gestured to the scattered cards in front of him "in one of 'em? Or if I was stupid enough go through the cards, just to make sure there was one of each, would I find two Queens of Hearts, and one card missing?"

Shit. They figured it out. Dean fought to keep his game face on, adding a raised eyebrow and a slacker stance as he tried to stay calm under Joey's scrutiny. Because the guy had nailed it right on the head; there was, in fact, a deck sitting snugly in his pocket, twinned to the one now spread wide across the table, missing the Queen of Hearts.

"Wait," said Terry, suddenly alert as the information seeped into his Grass-stained ears, "he's been swapping cards?"

"You're all drunk," reasoned Dean, suddenly sober him as the senses of danger soaked through his skin. The tension in the room suddenly strained, the few occupants of the bar turning to look.

"And you're a dirty cheat," hissed Joey, the chair scraping across the floorboards as he got up to his feet.

Dean shook his head, body tensing as he considered the impending danger. "I don't have time for this bullshit," he swaggered to the door, inwardly terrified he'd been caught, especially by guys like these, by guys from this area; the kind that would be as lethal and ceaseless as a shtriga when it came to it. He subconsciously shuddered as he remembered that night, guilt washing over him as he thought of his sick brother back in the motel. As a consequence to that… that nightmare, Sam had been prone to illness like it was addicted to him, and even though he hid it as much as he could to spare Dean the guilt Sam couldn't understand the reason he felt, Dean knew every time that it was all because of him.

He'd barely made it halfway across the almost deserted parking lot when the bar door swung shut behind him, quenching all the hope of a quick escape as he heard the damning voices behind him.

"Hey, dipshit!" yelled Joey, footsteps advancing menacingly towards him, "why you runnin' if you ain't got nothin' to hide, huh?"

Dean spun on his heel, eyes widening slightly as he stared up at the looming face above him, smelling the alcohol, the smoke.

"I ain't got nothin' to hide," said Dean carefully, gently patting the waistband of his jeans, sighing at the security of the cool metal pressing against his back.

"Give us our money back, jackass," warned the dealer, flanking Joey, with determined eyes to match his master's.

"You're all sore losers!" yelled Dean, taking a step back from Joey, preferring to show weakness take one more inhalation of the guy's rank breath.

"Damn it, Dean!" he yelled, frothing at the mouth as the humiliation of being cheated seethed out as anger, "don't make me do something I'll regret; you ain't such a bad kid. Just give it back."

Dean shook his head, watching the drunken guy and Stoner-Boy from the corner of his eye, both struggling to stay interested. "I have better things to do than waste my time with people who can't even lose a fucking poker game without having some tantrum that could beat a damn three year old. Now go inside your fucking bar and stop being such freakin' pussies!" he roared, relishing the stunned faces of his opponents before pacing to the sidewalk, keeping his ears pricked for any of them that decided to follow him.

Then those few words that changed the slightly elated feeling that kept a spring in Dean's step and a smile on his face into one of set anger, of undiluted hatred, and worst of all, fear.

"I wonder what little Sammy would say about that," snarled Joey, eyes lighting as he watched Dean tense, fists clenched as he turned to face him, "oh Dean, you didn't think you were the only one who watches their poker opponents, did you? We've seen the pair of you, sitting in that Chevy across the road, watching when we're here, who's with us… in there as well, in the bar. Last time we saw Sammy in there he wasn't looking so good, huh? Little warm wasn't he? Makes sense really; it was pretty obvious it was flu when he walked home from school the other day."

Dean almost choked on his own breath. Deep down he knew they were empty words, threats well practiced on other outsiders these types of people came across. He'd expected them to threaten him. But his brother? Surely this guy wasn't serious… that was low. Yeah, he was right; he had been watching them for a couple of days, making sure he knew what time they'd be drunk enough so he could join them to play a few rounds and rake in the cash he so desperately needed. He felt it a necessity to know his opponents; poker wasn't his usually gig, and besides, pool was getting much harder to hustle now he'd been hustled a couple of times himself. But he should have known something as basic as swapping cards wouldn't have worked with guys like these, but he needed the money.

He could have done without it if it meant these guys wouldn't bring Sam into it.

He slurred over words, more from the fear for his brother than the alcohol in his blood. "Don't you talk about him," he said weakly, flinching at Joey's wry smile.

"You better watch his back, Dean. 'Cos we will be. We'll be watching every one God damn move he makes."

"I said, shut up," said Dean, voice raised as his expression became animalistic, feral almost, a wildcat protecting his cub.

Joey couldn't resist pecking at the kid; sure, he'd seen them around, but he'd never seen him outside the bar. It had been pure luck that led to him even knowing Dean's kid brother's name. But he'd been well and truly hustled, and wasn't taking it lightly. The amount he'd lost didn't make a dent in the amount he'd win on a nightly basis, but hell; he'd missed freaking card swapping, for Christ's sake!

"You'll have to explain to mommy and daddy why little Sam came home with a broken arm, or a bloody face. Or why he got knocked over by a car or why he didn't come home at all…"

Dean let out what could only be described as a growl, pouncing at Joey with a rabid look in his eye, only the dealer there to stop him from launching a right hook across the bastard's jaw.

"I swear to God, if you go near him… If you even look at him, I'll make you wish you were dead," he spat, hands curling into claws as he longed for the chance to rip out the eyes of the smarmy jackass in front of him.

"It would take nothing for me to call someone, have them sent over to where you're staying… You'd have a bit of a mess to clean up when you get back, or, y'know the fifty dollar charge for damage costs," he smiled dryly, eyes searching for the fear in Dean's face. So, I've really hit a nerve here.

Dean took a step back, sight now bathed in a pool of blood-red as he glared at the guy in front of him, separated by only the dealer who right now looked about as threatening as a housecat, as the words he'd spoken were burned into his memory.

He'd watched them… he'd seen Sam. He'd watched Sam. He was a threat to his brother.

Lost for words, and suddenly yearning for revenge, for the promise this guy wouldn't come looking for them, for Sam, he pulled the gun from his waistband, and in seconds had the safety off and the barrel firmly pointed at Joey's forehead.

The guy's expression one went from one of triumphant cockiness to pure, unedited fear. "Easy, easy," he coaxed, raising his hands in surrender as he watched the boy in front of him.

Dean spoke through tears of rage, aware of the monster he'd become to protect his brother, and not regretting one part of it. "You stay away from my brother, y'hear me?"

"Dude, calm down," said the dealer, backing off to hide behind Joey.

"If you got a problem, you face me. Don't you dare turn any of this on Sam," he whispered, all common sense and reason having been tossed from the window of his mind as instinct took over; these guys could be dangerous, and needed to be put into place. Anger fuelled his thinking, bubbling over any practical action he may have planned on taking, the mantra of Look out for Sammy controlling him.

"Alright, ok, I'm sorry," mumbled Joey, crouching slightly as he tried to seem as unthreatening as possible. Sure, it had been fun teasing this guy, but from the wild look in his venomous, green eyes he knew he'd picked the wrong subject to pick on.

Dean lowered the gun, giving one last warning, daunting glare to each man before shoving the pistol back into his waistband, eyes flickering over the area for witnesses before heading into the shadows of Detroit's buildings.

He shuddered as the adrenaline seeped back out of his system, suddenly exhausted. He paused as he heard Joey's final words echo across the vicinity, another daring, risky warning.

"Hey Dean, remember you ain't the only ass in Detroit that's got a gun; you and Sammy better watch out." Of course he was lying. He would forget this in the morning; he'd go back to the shitty bar and drink the night away, the need for soberness now vanished along with the poker match.

Dean could take any threat thrown at him. He'd heard all sorts in the past when he'd been accused of hustling, from being murdered in his bed, to the breaks in his car being torn out, to being torn limb from limb in some dirty, rat-infested alleyway as he walked home.

But never, never had any drunken gang member, or intoxicated, angry O.A.P threatened his brother outright. And it spooked the hell out of him.

As he sunk to his knees in the lifeless alley, the echoes of Joey's words ringing in his head, each one pinning his brain as if it was a pincushion, he pulled out his cell, dialing the familiar motel number as he sought reassurance that his brother was okay, was safe from these crazy sons of bitches.

Seven rings later, and no answer.

It would take nothing for me to call someone, have them sent over to where you're staying.

Heart in his throat, he glanced around before jumping to his feet, eyes searching the eerie shadows cast by the jumbles of buildings packed tightly together, before setting off through Detroit's backstreet jungle, with only one thought in his head.

Sam. Sam. Sam.


Hoping that wasn't too painful to read; I finished this off at about 2am after a really horrible shift, so the ending is probably a bit awful. If it's too confusing, let me know and I'll edit it . Remember I've promised no melodrama, and I think the most dramatic moment that's going to be in this was his little show with the gun; I know it's unlikely he would have pulled a pistol out in public, but for Sam? I think he'd do anything, :') muchos love.