AN: Okay, just so you know, the name of the band Dean's trying to remember is Safetysuit. I made Dean mess it up because my hubby - who is also a classic rock/Johnny Cash freak and acts a lot like Dean sometimes- messes it up on purpose because he doesn't like them, and he knows I love them. He's not really doing it to be mean. He thinks it's cute when I get all "It's SafetySUIT, babe!"

Brother's Keeper

by scarlet79

"Letting It Out"

Sam's music was driving Dean crazy.

All that happy, sappy forever-love type crap – it was so overused. Trite, Sam would say, just before turning up his stupid Lifevest or Safetyshirt or whatever the hell this band was called. Metallica, Black Sabbath, heck even – occasionally – Bon Jovi; all those were bands Dean could listen to for hours on end. They had good road-trip songs, music that got your feet tappin', your head bangin'.

Not this pop music. It made him want to grab the plastic spoon in the ashtray and dig his eyes out with it.

And yet, here he was, driving down the longest godforsaken road in Pennsylvania, or maybe Virginia by now, with some song about "letting go" blaring from the speakers. Dean wanted to ignore it, but the chorus was literally making his teeth clench so hard his jaw hurt. He moved his hand to turn the radio down, but then glanced at Sam and changed his mind.

The look on his brother's face – the one he'd been wearing since they left New York – was the very reason he was allowing this "music" in his car in the first place. Sam's eyes held a sort of shocked sadness, his lower lip trembled with the effort of trying to hold his emotions in check. His long fingers doodled aimlessly on the foggy window, and Dean grimaced as he silently sighed that those would be there all winter, and endless reminder of this very day.

Finally, the song ended, and Dean pushed the power button on the stereo. Sam turned to look at him, and he shrugged apologetically, unable to stand any more, at least for now. Sam looked back out the window.

"Listen, Sam," Dean sighed. "What happened back wasn't your fault."

Sam huffed, and his breath fogged the window again, creating a blank slate for more doodles.

"If I'd figured out my vision sooner, we could've saved 'em," he muttered.

"Okay," Dean reluctantly agreed. "But it was different in your vision than in reality. We thought it was the dad's ghost, not the sister's."

Sam shrugged. "So? It obviously doesn't matter now, does it? Three people are still dead, Dean. Doesn't that bother you?"

"'Course it does." Sam muttered something then, and Dean said, "What was that?"

"I said, 'doesn't seem like it'."

The Impala slammed to a stop so quickly that Sam had to brace his hands against the dashboard to keep from being tossed against the windshield. Dean threw the shifter in park, then turned to glare at his brother.

"What do you want me to do, Sam? The parents are dead. The teenaged brother is dead. The girl's grandma – who's the only sane person in that family, I might add – has agreed to raise her. Yes, I'm pissed we couldn't save them all. But we did rescue the girl, and if all we save is one person, well then, we've done our job."

Sam rested his head against the window frame. "You really don't get it."

"Get what, Sam?"

Angry now, the younger Winchester turned his eyes to the elder and shouted, "That girl is another orphan! Like us! Like a dozen other kids we've tried to help. She's gonna grow up without a mom and dad, unable to remember them any other way besides in pictures. Can you remember how that feels, Dean? Because I do, and sometimes it hurts so bad, I just wanna scream and never stop."

He turned away again, staring blankly through the mist-coated glass of his window. His voice sad, he said, "I never want another kid to feel like I do. Ever."

Dean sat there for a moment, mulling over Sam's words. Yes, he did remember what if felt like growing up without Mom. He walked around every day with what felt like a gaping hole in his chest. And with Dad always gone on hunts, it sometimes felt like he was dead, too. Of course, now he really was dead, and so Dean and Sam really were orphans – grown-up orphans, but still. But as he'd just told Sam, they had tried their best. Call it fate, coincidence, luck – whatever – but they'd come up short. They had managed to pull Johanna, the little girl, out of harm's way, though, and in Dean's book that counted for something.

It had to, or else everything they were doing was meaningless.

Dean didn't think he could handle it if that was the case.

"Okay," Dean whispered. Then, clearing his throat, he started again. "Okay. I get it."

"You do." It wasn't a question.

"Yeah. But now you gotta get what I'm sayin'."

Sam nodded.

"We can't save 'em all. We can try, and we tried damn hard tonight, but sometimes we just gotta let 'em go."

He watched Sam's eyes, letting that sink in, and then put the Impala back in drive and pulled out onto the road.

They drove in silence for a few miles, lost in their own thoughts. Soon, the quiet started to get to Dean, and he flipped the radio on. Turning the dial, all he found was static, and with a loud huff he turned it off again.

Sam made a noise and held up his iPod, a hopeful look on his face.

Dean groaned and said, "No way. If I hear one more song about unrequited love I'm gonna beat you to a bloody pulp."

Sam turned up the puppy-dog eyes all the way. "Please? I'll try and find something even you can live with."

"Ugh, fine!" Dean cried, throwing his hands up in surrender. Sam grinned happily and plugged in the iPod, shuffling through the song menu.

"Aha!" He said a few moments later. "This one's good."

His finger clicked "play", and drums immediately started beating out a rapid tempo. Sam leaned back and nodded his head to the beat, and Dean gave his non-committal half-shrug.

"What's this called?" he asked Sam, whose grin widened until all his teeth showed.


Dean's eyes popped out of his head. "What're you tryin' to do, jinx us? If anything happens to my Baby, I'll..."

"Calm down, Dean!" Sam shouted over the music, which, Dean had to admit, wasn't all that bad. As his little brother drummed on his knees and then switched to air guitar, grinning like an idiot the whole time, Dean sat back and listened to the chorus of the song.

Don't stop, don't stop, you can get outta this

Don't be afraid, no no

Don't stop, don't stop, you can get over this

I'll be your friend, yeah yeah.

Smiling, Dean let his foot press down on the gas pedal a little more, and the Impala leaped forward, purring along the empty road like a prowling tiger. That last line defined his and Sam's relationship fairly well. As long as they had each other, everything would be okay, and no matter what, he'd be Sam's brother – and best friend – forever.

Maybe, he thought as he reached over and ruffled his brother's long shaggy hair, Sam's music wasn't all that bad after all.

Next chapter to follow...(as soon as I write it! LOL)