The light from the street lamp shown down over Sam as he looked in on his brother. The night was chilly, but he welcomed the fresh air after his most recent…environment. Dean was sitting at a wooden, glossed dining table, surrounded by a china closet and various paintings. Lisa set a plate down in front of Dean and moved to her own seat, next to her son.

Dean nodded his thanks and picked up his silverware. Sam almost laughed at the absurdity of his brother, his take-out ingesting, finger licking, wiping-hands-on-pants brother, using silverware. Of course, Sam realized, Dean would have had to pick up some family-man traits. He was a survivor, an adaptor. If the situation called for it, Dean could be wearing a tux with a pocket watch on a chain and monocle and be natural to the untrained eye. Sam, however, knew better. He knew his brother would rather face ten Wendigos than try to differentiate a salad fork from a desert fork.

The light overhead flickered. Sam wasn't sure how long he had been in Hell. It seemed as though it had only been a few months here, as Dean hadn't aged noticeably. In fact, he almost, he looked just as Sam had last seen him, except for the smile.

Lisa's boy was telling some sort of story, most likely about his day at school or time at baseball practice Sam imagined. Dean was smiling, nodding encouragingly as the boy proceeded with his tale. All of the sudden Dean started laughing profusely and Lisa, at first surprised, began scolding her son. So Dean had rubbed off on the kid. Good.

Sam sighed. He knew if Dean knew he was out, his older brother would want to be immediately reunited. What that would mean for the family he had created, Sam did not know. What he did know was that without Sam being around Dean was able to finally live the "apple pie" life. No life threatening dangers at every turn, no arch nemeses, no supernatural creatures. Sam knew how Dean felt about him. He knew Dean loved him as any brother should, but brotherly love can only suffice for so long. Sam's brother needed a family, not a degenerate, ex-demon-blood-junkie, Hell escapee younger brother. It was better that Dean didn't find out that Sam was out, that way Sam wouldn't have another chance to ruin his life.\

Tucking his hands in his pockets Sam hunched and began to walk away. He stole one last glance at the happy scene in the window. Green eyes met blue. Sam cursed, moved out of range of the lamp post, and took refuge in the darkness the night offered. Looking back he saw Dean was no longer in the window. There's no way that Dean could have realized the tall dark stranger standing outside his house was his brother. At least, Sam tried to convince himself that. Just in case, he thought, as he began to run away from the suburban house and down the dark street. Following an unpredictable course through the neighborhood, the run turned into a trot and the trot a jog until Sam felt he was far enough away to escape his brother's apparently unavoidable gaze.

The younger Winchester looked around; realizing that while he had appeased his paranoid tendencies, he had totally and completely lost himself in the sinews of the neighborhood. All of the sudden the roar of an antique engine sounded from streets away.

Sam felt trapped. He whipped his head from side to side, trying to figure out the most tactically advantageous place to hide when the headlights became visible from around the corner.

Sam knew what he did next was stupid. He should have stopped and confronted his brother or even have found a well hidden alcove where he could fit his sasquatchian limbs. But, no. The roar of the engine and the threat of once again, a plan gone wrong, brought forth five year old Sam. He began to run. Down the street. The straight, uncurved, treeless, emptiest and most clear street in the whole neighborhood. His only thought was to get away from his brother before it was too late.

The Impala rounded the corner. Sam willed his legs to move even faster. He heard the horn honk and Dean yell something, but he refused to stop. The Impala was gaining and Sam was so frustrated he was almost in tears. How could he have outrun the goddamned Devil for months and not even outrun his brother for the all of thirty minutes he'd been topside.

"Sam! Stop!" Dean had unrolled his window and was leaning out the side. Sam didn't even turn around. He would not let Dean catch him. He would not stop. The Impala was directly behind him now. Sam wheezed and his side ached. Those years/months in Hell had done nothing for his endurance.

Pushing his legs past the possible limit, Sam made his way at an angle across the street. That's when the Impala hit him. Not run over, mind you, just a love tap. Sam flew to the ground, sliding a few feet before finally coming to a stop on the black asphalt. He heard the car swerve and the engine cut off. The door slammed and his brother's angry footsteps approached him.

Sam gripped his arm, which had sustained the most damage as far as he could tell. He slowly rolled off it and onto his back, breathing heavily. Sam looked up at his brother, the headlights of the car illuminating his expression on Dean's face was a strange mix between rage, relief, and incredulity. Sam laughed. At least, he tried.

"You, ah...hit me." Sam attempted a smile, but he was pretty sure it came out as just a grimace. "With your she alright?"

"Damnit Sam!" Dean kneeled down next to his brother. He gripped Sam by the shoulders and pulled him up ignoring the pain-filled gasp and protests. "What were you thinking!" Dean pulled away. "How long have you been out? Why didn't you come and say something to me? Why did you run?"

Looking down at Sam and realizing that his brother was struggling with which question to answer first, Dean pulled him into another awkward hug. "You're an idiot, you know that?" Dean held onto Sam longer this time. While Sam struggled at first, hating that he was completely incapable of getting away from his brother- ever, and pained by his new-found injury, he gradually collapsed into the hug, then returned it full force. emotional

Dean pulled back after a while. "Come on, come back to the house. We can talk there." He began to pull Sam to his feet. Sam made a noise of protest.

"No, Dean." Sam pulled back. "I'm not going there with you." He pulled at Dean's grip and stared hard into Dean's eyes. "You have a life now. It wouldn't be fair for me to pull you back."

Dean studied his younger brother's face. " when I pulled you out of Stanford? Or like when I sold my soul for you to come back to life? Or like when I came back from Hell?"

"Dean, you know that's not the same. You have Lisa now, and her have a chance at normal life now. That's something you could never have as a hunter."

"Dude, you just came back from Hell. I'm not letting you out of my goddamned sight." Dean pulled Sam all the way up and manhandled him to the car and into the passenger seat. Sam pulled away the whole time.

"Dean, no." It was as though Dean couldn't even hear him. The door was locked then slammed shut. Sam made a move as though to get out and Dean turned abruptly and shot a look that said "don't even think about it." Sam fastened his seatbelt and got as comfortable as he could with his possibly fractured shoulder.

Dean got in on the other side and started the engine. Neither spoke on the short drive back to the house, and when Dean pulled into the driveway and pulled the key of the ignition they sat in silence still. Finally Dean turned and looked at Sam.

"Listen, I know you think that since you're back I'm going to ditch the whole white picket fence and go back to hunting-"

"Really, Dean? You expect me to believe that you'd stay with Lisa and Ben? Sorry. Not buying it." Sam wished he could cross his arms but the seatbelt, along with his injury prevented him from doing so without looking like an idiot. He settled for shifting his weight to one side so he could directly face Dean.

"Alright. So yeah, you being back definitely changes things, but you know what? It's my decision. Don't take me out of this, Sam. I deserve to know if you're back."

Sam looked down. He knew that Dean had the right to make the decision. He also knew what that decision would be. If he'd allowed Dean to know exactly when he'd gotten out, they'd go back to hunting and Dean would resent him tearing him away from the life he'd created with Lisa and Ben. If he'd been able to escape Dean and not let him know that he'd been popped out of the box, Dean would resent him for taking him out of the equation. No matter what Sam was in the wrong, but what else was new.

Sam sighed and looked away. The older Winchester stared hard at his brother. "I know what you were trying to do, but we're family. I would have found out eventually, and then you would have really only postponed the ass kicking that i would have dealt after finding out. We've tried to live separately and it's never worked. We'll figure it out and make it work, but know that you're not leaving." Dean let out something between a sob and a laugh. "You're not leaving."

Even though Sam had opened his mouth as though to protest, he was secretly extremely relieved at Dean's position. Yes, he'd been planning on leaving, but there was no way that he would have been happy. He loved his brother. He knew that there was no way they could "make it work." That was the way hunting worked. You were all the way in or you were all the way out. There's no part time or summer employees.

Sam decided to let his brother think there was another option. It was too easy to just let him take the reins and sit back and listen to the promises of normality and retirement. Dean would figure it out eventually. Sam leaned back in his seat and Dean took it for what is was, an acceptance of the fact that big brother wasn't letting him get away. He smiled and laughed.

"There you go Sammy!" He patted Sam on his uninjured shoulder and unbuckled his seatbelt. "Come on, Lisa made apple pie for dessert." Dean got out of the car and began to make his way over to Sam's side of the car.

Sam understood that it would only end in pain and suffering, but as Dean helped him into the house, he couldn't let go of the idea that maybe it could work. Maybe they could finally retire.

He told himself that it wouldn't last, but as he was warmly welcomed into Lisa's house and offered as much apple pie as he could manage into his stomach and then some, and as he and Dean opened a few beers and watched something on TV, and as he watched Dean lovingly wish Lisa and Ben a good night, and as his brother eventually turned in for the night and did the closest thing to tucking Sam in that a man his age could get away with and maintain his dignity, and as he lay in the dark nestled in the comfortable couch and was embraced by the creeping feeling of home, Sam seemed to forget.

He closed his eyes and told himself it wouldn't last. He told himself that it would only end in pain and suffering. In the end they were only words to the Winchester, and this once, it was fine.