A/N: One shot set in Season 7. Takes place a couple of days after Lucifer has been "transferred" to Cas. Sam and Dean are getting use to Sam having his head screwed back again. Maybe a little too tight.

I have been taking a break from SPN writing, concentrating on some original work. This little ditty is for my beta, MAZ101. Sorry I missed your birthday, Love. I didn't forget. So, this is unbeta'd. All mistakes are mine. For any Hawaii 5-0 fans, MAZ has a couple of great stories on her profile!

Stunning

Maybe it was a mistake to hit Porky's Pub at a quarter to midnight but closing the bar down with the help of a couple of busty blondes felt too good to be wrong. Sam had ducked out around 2:30, Carrie or Carly snuggled up under his extra long arm. She had taken him to her car parked out front. The backseat wasn't long enough or comfortable enough to have sex on but Carly was already on top of him, unbuttoning his jeans, her warm hands shifting gears.

Sam forgot about the fact that he was crammed into a hatchback. Blanked his mind – because he could – and enjoyed the ride. Lucifer Free. Demon Free. He hoped he'd be able to hang on to his own will power – which was his again. But her mouth explored areas that hadn't been touched in such a long time. Sam closed his eyes, felt his breath go sideways and shallow as she pressed against him. On top, on bottom, hands here, lips there, fingers in things, legs wrapped around things, and again and again and again.

She stopped, falling on Sam's chest, laughter filling the car's interior. "Jesus," she said, breath hot against his cheek. "You are one stunning man."

Sam blinked, felt the sweat drip from his bangs down his face and he smiled back. Stunning, huh? And after all this time… maybe he really was rid of all the evil inside.

www

Waking up in the hotel room, the first thing Sam understands is his head hurt. Bad. It had been a while since he'd been there, but he had all the signs and symptoms of one major hangover. He sits up, which he regrets at first. The room spins, his mouth tastes like acid, his teeth are all fuzzy against his numb tongue. He vaguely remembers leaving the bar, girl under his arm, Dean heading out the opposite way, a blonde tucked under his coat.

Then he remembers the sex.

Sam rubs his forehead. Sex in the backseat of an old Ford, like he was seventeen again. Wishes now that he could bounce back like a teenager. He glances to his left at the empty, untouched bed.

"Dean?" he calls out, voice rough, from hours of not being used. He clears his throat and tries again, this time putting some power behind his breath. "Dean?"

No answer. Of course.

Sam sighs, figures Dean is holed up somewhere on the other side of town, enjoying a bagel with his bedfellow until Sam catches the time: 3:03. He grabs the clock. P.M. "Shit," Sam exhales and this time, he sounds alert.

It takes a little more time than he'd like to admit to clean up and get dressed. He phones Dean a couple of times, his attempts going right to voicemail, and he starts to recount the events of the night before. Alcohol, lots of it. Beer. Whiskey. Shots. Check. Check. Check. The two blondes Carly and Christy or Carrie and Jenny. Check and Check. He remembers Dean choosing songs off an old school jukebox – Johnny Cash and the Doors – and a couple of bigger guys watching him. Sam frowns. Crap. That's right, the dudes had given Dean and his girl a hard time for a few minutes. Dean had gotten mouthy, said a few things to them and they left him alone after a while, but…

Sam closes his eyes, thinks real hard. The guys were still there when they closed the bar down. They didn't follow Sam out the door so…

"Shit!" Sam fumbles with his cell again. Voicemail. Scolds himself. Stupid, Stupid. Putting one and one together with a mega hangover can take a lot of energy. Beating himself up about it now isn't going to get Dean home any faster so he grabs his jacket and heads out the door.

There isn't any car there. Dean had the fucking car. Carrie had brought him home. "You are one stunning man." He feels off-centered and wobbly as he starts down the sidewalk. It's cold outside and he feels cold inside. Zipping up his jacket doesn't seem to help and when he buries his nose into the collar, he can smell it: whiskey, sweat, and sex.

It's then that he realizes what's off. There is no Lucifer walking beside him, talking his head off, bouncing ideas in his mind, driving him crazy. And there is no Dean on the other side of him to keep him grounded. Christ, for the first time in months, he's alone.

So, Sam calls a taxicab at the next gas station. It smells worse than he does which he figures is a good thing – he'll blend in well. Gives the driver the address of Porky's and asks him to wait outside while he runs in for a minute.

Jogging into the bar, Sam does a quick once over of the clientele and his eyes land on a big guy, throwing darts by himself. He narrows his eyes and is sure he knows this guy. It was one of the dudes from last night. Abandoning the waiting bartender, Sam walks over to the dart room and pushes the guys shoulder. "Hey," Sam says, lips thinning, "remember me?"

The guy, all 250 pounds of him turns to have him a look. His face breaks into a semi-toothless grin and he gives Sam a cockeyed nod. "Yeah." Laughs from the belly. "You're the friend."

Sam feels his eyes narrow and his right hand clench. "Where is he?"

The guy just spreads his hands away from his body, though, gives an exaggerated shrug. "I dunno."

Sam feels his spine straighten, standing taller now, to his full height. He's got to be towering at least six inches over the guy now. "Where did you leave him?" The words are short, choppy and grit out from behind his teeth.

The guy stares him down, thinking, Sam can tell. Trying to size up the situation. Sam doesn't wait. Hand flexed and fixed again, he pulls back and plows the first punch into the guy's cheek. His fist sinks in the flesh, knuckles slamming into cheekbone. The guy tumbles back, his hands coming up in self defense.

Sam feels his chest heave. His breath is all wonky and irregular again and for a split second, he can feel the warmth of a naked body. The guy spits out a tooth, though, and it brings Sam's concentration back.

"Motherfucker." The guy blinks, looks at Sam, staring down at him. "What the hell?"

"Where did you leave him?" Sam asks again, reaches for the guys shirt and pulls his fist back again.

The big guy has it figured out pretty quick this time – he's not going to win this fight and shouts out, "Palmer and Forest!" before Sam can throw the next one.

www

This time Sam doesn't ask the taxi driver to wait. He pays the guys off and sends him on his way. Palmer and Forest ends at a wooded area. Sam starts down a small hill, calls his brother's name out a few times, with no answer.

The woods are thick with trees and fallen trunks. No one has taken care of this place for a long time, if ever. He comes across a decent sized river and follows it down for a while, thinking maybe Dean made it to a source of water. Doesn't find him, though. The sun is starting to go down and the cold is sneaking up Sam's back. He turns on his heels, spins around in a circle a couple of times. Wishes silently that he had someone there to put him on the right path. Someone to talk this through – and then he sees it. Through the darkness and the leaves, he catches a glimmer of light.

Sam moves. His legs push forward, kicking rocks and snapping sticks. He almost has to crawl up a small embankment to get to the source of the light and when he does, he breaks out into a grin. There's Dean, on the embankment, shoved up against a tree, taking a swig from his flask, the metal just catching the sun as it falls behind the scenery.

Sam stops then and watches his brother. Dean is fixated on the twinkling water, the rays glimpsing the green crystals in Dean's eyes that he usually hides from onlookers. Sam swallows, follows his brother's gaze to see what he sees. Only the rolling water against a rock are in his line of sight, though, and Sam feels oddly left out.

As the light shifts and changes, it's then that he notices the bruises on Dean's face. The swollen eyes, the cut above his brow, the dried blood stuck to the side of his temple. His shirt has been torn to shreds, what's left seems to be soaked in blood and sweat and there are dark marks and cuts visible on his chest.

Sam looks away briefly, not wanting to see Dean like…this. There's something about finding his sibling banged up and beat up that makes Sam feel guilty. Then Dean makes some kind of sound – chokes back a whimper – and Sam has to look back. Only to see that Dean is on the move, pushing himself back along the sticks and brush, one leg remaining straight as a board, the other bending to push himself back.

"Dean!" Sam comes out of his daze and crawls hand over foot up the grassy mound.

Dean, God love him, stops forcing himself further into the timbers and looks over, startled. "Sam?"

"Jesus, Dean." Sam stammers and falls to his knees next to his brother. His hand hovers over Dean's leg, over his chest and Sam sinks back on his ass, looks at his brother. Has no words to explain or to ask.

There is no smile in return to make him feel better. Instead, Dean's eyes are set on him, almost in disgust, and before Sam knows what's happening, Dean shoves Sam hard.

"What the –" Sam begins as he clamors back to his feet just in time to see claws reaching out from the small river and grabbing hold of Dean's calf. It gives him a good yank and Dean is being dragged back through the mud and leaves and in the water before Sam can compute what has just happened.

Just then a figure explodes from the river's crest, a woman, naked and beautiful, supermodel tall with fingers gnarled and razor sharp. She opens her mouth and Sam wonders how she can keep her long fangs covered. "There is only the love of the past for you," the figure speaks. "There is no love of the future." Dean thrashes once and the creature presses him down in the shallow water until his body is submerged.

Sam can't run fast enough. It takes only a flick of his wrist to pull out the knife on his belt loop. He holds it at a sideways angle and as he skids into the water, the creature looks up just in time to yelp as Sam slices through her neck, blonde locks flip flopping off slender shoulders along with her head, falling into the dark streams below.

The water is freezing as Sam reaches in and grabs his brother, pulls him out of what could have been a shallow grave and lugs him back up the edge of the riverbed.

Dean coughs violently and Sam turns him to his side, lets him get all the water out and catch his breath again. When he's done, Dean removes his coat and pushes his body up, sits next to Sam for a few long heartbeats. They watch the watery sun disappear under the leaves and it's colder now. Sam sees Dean's head turn toward him a few times, trying to catch his eye, probably. Say "I'm sorry" without actually having to say it but Sam can't look at him because he knows Dean isn't the one that has anything to be sorry about.

A couple more minutes pass before Dean starts talking. "Dickheads at the bar messed me up." Sam nods, yeah, he pretty much got that part. "Then they dropped me off here, crushed my phone… fucked up my leg. Then that thing woke up." Dean reaches down and grips the area above his knee.

Sam follows the motion and swallows. "Is it broken?"

But Dean is shaking his head and he gives Sam a defiant grin. "You kidding me?" He squeezes it. "It's pretty banged up, though. I tried walking on it and it just…" Lets the words die in his throat.

Sam gets it.

"You're gonna have to help me up… back to the road." Dean shivers. The sun is pretty much gone, the cold laying like a blanket against their skin. Sam doesn't waste anytime. He hoists Dean's arm over his shoulder and lets his brother use him as a crutch.

www

Dean stays in the shower longer than normal. Sam doesn't say anything, though. He realizes his brother is using all the hot water and Sam had yet to take a shower. He looks at his left hand. Carrie or Carly had written her number on it. He actually thinks about calling her. Having a repeat of the night before.

Stunning.

Slowly, it dawns on him that he might not want to contact her for physical reasons, though. Thinks he might actually want to call her up and have a conversation with her. And that scares him.

He rubs at his palm until the number starts to smear.

"What is it?" Dean asks from behind him. "He's here?" Dean looks around the room, like he's trying to see something that Sam can only see.

And he gets that, too. Rubbing his hand, wishing Lucifer away. Sam turns in his chair, places his palms down on his thighs. "No, it was…" shrugs… "just a number from the girl last night. Not anything unnatural."

Dean sits, hesitantly. His brother might trust Sam with his life but he still has problems believing him.

Sam's fault, that one. He'll never be sorry enough.

"Well," Dean starts and uses a voice that reminds Sam of Dad, "tomorrow we need to find some new wheels." Follows up that command with a series of deep coughs. The cold has snaked its way into Dean's chest and Sam sighs heavily.

"Don't start." Dean's voice is harsh. Sam can't tell if it's from annoyance or pneumonia settling in.

"Dean, what was that thing back at the river?"

"I dunno. Some kind of river serpent, maybe." Coughs hard again. Avoids Sam's eyes and instead reaches for his flask. Takes a long drink.

There are nights when getting drunk is exactly what Dean needs and then there are nights when all it does is light the fire. Sam hates those nights.

"What did it mean about past loves and future loves?" Sam knows he's pushing the envelope. Sees the bend in Dean's shoulders and knows that Dean would rather they just skip this, but Sam showed up out of the blue like a knight rescuing a damsel. Sam cut the head off the fucking thing. Sam dragged his brother out of the icy water. And Sam had yet to ask anything.

Problem was, Dean wasn't looking at Sam. Couldn't, maybe. But he licked his lips, shut his eyes and quietly answered, "She… sees things. Like a psychic. She decided I didn't have anything to live for because…" his voice trails off and Sam just sits there, waiting.

"Because?" Sam inquires after a few seconds. Tries hard not to sound pissy but this was so typical of Dean. Give a dog the whiff of a bone but not the actual bone.

"You have fun with that girl last night?" Dean suddenly asks, picks up the remote and switches channels.

Sam's eyes skim over to the TV. A rerun of some douche bag TV crime show. "Dean –"

"'Cause she sure seemed into you." Dean coughs again and again. Has to give it one real, hard cough hard for it to finally pass.

Sam gets up, pours some hot water into a coffee cup and tears open a hot chocolate packet. Stirs and walks over to the bed, blocks Dean's view of the TV and holds the cup until finally his brother raises his eyes. They're tired and, Sam bites his lip. Tired and sad.

"You can love again," Sam says.

That earns a half hearted huff but Dean takes the coffee mug and takes a drink. Coughs.

"You didn't really seem to be fighting that… that thing." Observation, but Sam's good at noticing things.

Dean takes a second drink, places the cup down on the side table, and looks hard at his brother. "Shut up, Sam." Says it low. A warning.

But Sam has already come so far and, really, there have been so many instances where Sam has let Dean keep his fucking secrets. This is the first time in a long time where Sam has had his head screwed on tight. Focused and fixed. "Look, man, I know things didn't go well with Lisa –"

And Dean's up. He swings at Sam faster than Sam expects and he feels the pop against his jaw and then Dean's hands are on him, pushing him, shoving him against the wall. He gives Sam a second to get his breath and then smacks him against the wall again.

Talk about stunning.

Sam tries to push back but Dean must have some heavy duty adrenaline pumping through his veins and holds his brother in place.

"I don't want to talk about it, Sam!" Dean yells and Sam winces. "Shut the fuck up!" He holds his forearm to Sam's chest, presses on it.

"Whatever," Sam breathes and the hold Dean has on him gives a little. "I'm so sick of doing the you-not-talking-thing and the me-not-talking-thing… but whatever, Dean. If it's what gets you to sleep at night."

It's hard to tell what is going on inside Dean's mind. Sam can see his face turn from angry to confused to indifferent. He lets Sam go, though, which was a plus. Then he coughs a few times, draws in a ragged breath and backs up. "I'm tired of it, too." Dean manages.

Sam frowns. Dean is tired of it but he won't do anything about it. Won't do anything because he can't. They weren't exactly taught how to cope. They were taught how to survive. Dad never… and Sam gulps.

Dad's death was hard enough on Sam. He had just started to get over Jess's death when Dad died. But Dean hadn't experienced a death like Dad's since Mom had died. And since then, they had lost… everybody. Ellen. Jo. Cas. Bobby. Dean had lost Lisa and Ben, even though they hadn't died. He had lost them. All the people, even Rufus and Frank, in their lives that they had lost – it was Dean, who always claimed they shouldn't have friends in their line of work – and yet he was the closest to them all.

Sam was the one who blocked everyone out. Kept them all at an arm's distance. The only person Sam was 100% sure of that he couldn't live without was Dean.

Dean needed people. Or, at least, the hope of future people. Not just the memories of past people. Past Loves. Future Loves.

Sam blinked, long and slow. Dean was trying to hold on to hope.

But he'd never admit that. Hell, he'd never even talk about any of this. He'd be embarrassed if he knew Sam had figured it out. Probably hit him again. Dean was still an asshole. That was something he didn't have a problem showing.

"Dean." Sam forces in air, it was hard to get the words out. Sam isn't even sure he knows what he wants to say. He feels numb on the inside, stunned to… he looks at his brother. "That girl last night…we, uh… we…"

Dean nods. "You got laid?"

Sam sighs. "Yeah."

"Good." Dean pats Sam's chest.

"She was number ten."

Dean waits him out, cocks his head and asks, "Come again?"

Sam knows he's squirming a bit. "She was the tenth girl I've ever been with."

Dean does a mixture of laughter and coughing in Sam's face. "What the hell, Sam? I've been with, like, eighty… maybe ninety girls."

Sam snorts. "Ninety?" He watches Dean's eyes for a "Gotcha" moment and when it doesn't come, he asks, confused, "What?"

"I was fifteen when I did it for the first time. I figure, six girls a year… rounds out to about eighty, ninety girls."

Sam feels his face fall. "Jesus, Dean."

They stand in front of each other for a minute. Then Dean shrugs. "Dude, I'm tired. Let's get some sleep, find some wheels tomorrow, blow this joint and I'll see if I can find number ninety-one." He turns from Sam, heads back to the bed.

"Dean –"

"What?" Dean shouts, spins around and flexes his hands again. "What the hell is it, Sam?"

A long minute passes and Sam steps away from the wall. If Dean is going to hit him, Dean is going to hit him. He smiles big and knows that he's using it as a weapon now. But sometimes when dealing with older brothers fists and words just aren't enough ammunition. "That girl last night, she called me stunning."

Dean's turn to smile now. "One time I had a girl call me Rico Suave." He nods. "And she meowed."

Sam laughs a little. "Well, no one has called me anything… beautiful in a long time, you know?" Dean doesn't move. Sam thinks maybe he knows what he's talking about. "I mean, I didn't fall in love with her but I still got something out of… last night. She was still able to make a difference to me."

A roll of the shoulders and Dean coughs. "Okay, Sam."

"I still miss Jess," Sam continues.

Dean looks away. "Okay, Sam."

"And I miss Bobby. And Dad."

"Sam –"

"I loved them all, too."

Dean whirls around, away from Sam this time. "Jesus Christ, Sam! All I wanted you to do was let me go to sleep. Go to sleep so we can get up in the morning and you can help me find a car – "

"And I'm afraid of not loving again, too. I don't know what to do, either. I need you to –"

Dean's hands shove through his hair. "God dammit, Sam." He looks up, glares long and hard at Sam, who accepts the stare. "All I wanted you to do was –"

And, simultaneously, they scream it at each other, faces red, hearts on their sleeves, both at the same time, "Help me!"

For a full minute, nothing is said.

Sam watches Dean's chest heave. His brother's mouth twitches and Sam can see it, the release in his face, this time he's not pulling something in, he's letting something go. Sam takes a cautious step. Dean stays still but there's pain. Inside. Outside.

Sam reaches the bed, at an arm's distance from his brother. "No one can predict future loves, Dean." He waits for his brother to meet his eyes. "The thing didn't say anything about the present, though… right? I mean, that's what matters the most, isn't it?"

Dean's face crumbles for a brief second but he regains composure quickly.

Sam gives in all together and sinks down on the bed, plants his ass firmly on the mattress and sighs heavily. "I should have paid better attention to those guys. I could have done something. I – I wasn't thinking with my head."

"Sure you were." Dean sits down next to him. "Just not the one that has your brain inside it."

Sam laughs. Knows Dean was counting on that.

"You know that old Toyota we have right now, it's not going to last more than another fifty miles. You gonna help me find a new one tomorrow?" He asks, won't talk about the topic at hand, bumps Sam's shoulder with his own.

Sam keeps his gaze glued straight ahead. Dean misses the Impala. Hell, Dean loves the Impala. He's never hidden that. It's funny to Sam how someone can show such admiration to an object but with his own brother. Sam smiles. Well, that's complicated. "Yeah. But first I'm going to find those dickwads who messed you up and fuck them up a little."

Dean grins and then chuckles. He looks over at Sam and this time Sam meets his eyes. There's no I'm sorry in his expression, however. No, this time there's something much, much more. "You're the best friend I ever had, Sammy."

Sam has to look away briefly. Remembers a time when he wondered how Dean could possibly understand the amount of loss he had endured. And now wonders how the tables turned in such a short amount of time. He doesn't believe his brother's modesty. He doesn't get sucked in even a little at the tough guy act. But, he is the youngest and has to rub it in, "You have no idea what I had to do to find your sorry ass."

An easy arm slings around Sam's shoulders. "And you're a great brother, too."

Sam feels his chin tremble. "If I hadn't found you when I did…"

Dean's arm stays still and firm. "You're stunning," Dean teases with a shit-eating grin. Ammunition tucked in the pocket. Works both ways.

"Shut up." But Sam's eyes fill and his throat closes.

"I miss Bobby, too. But I don't miss Lucifer. You and me and the Devil makes three... I don't miss that one little bit. Guess the year isn't a total loss." Dean pauses, lets that absorb and disappear into the air. And, maybe because saying the words didn't kill him, he adds, "You aren't a bad person, Sam. You never were." He takes a wobbly breath. "Not to me."

The carpet blurs and a tear slips by. Sam sucks in a breath and bites his lip so that he doesn't break down and bawl but Dean only tightens the hold, brings Sam a little closer to him. "Don't start with the fucking waterworks, you big baby," Dean warns but his voice is thick.

In the background, the TV crime show has a massive shootout. Sam listens to the actors shout words of hatred and blame at each other before they kill the bad guy dead. Then it all goes quiet and Sam lays a hand on Dean's good knee and says, "Dean, I…" Won't meet his eyes. God… nope, he can't do that.

Dean rubs his hand up and down on Sam's shoulder. It sure is warm. "Yeah, Sammy. Me, too."