A/N: Spoilers for Supernatural up to Season 7. Set in the episode 7x14. The characters of this fantastic series do not belong to me, but to their creators. With that, ENJOY!

Clowning Around

Being laughed at by his big brother, Dean Winchester.

Sam supposed he should've been miffed about it, put off, indignant. No matter what age he was - a child being teased and laughed at for his naive childishness or a young adult being taunted and laughed at for falling for a prank - he was never immune to his brother laughing at him.

It certainly made retaliation that much sweeter when Sam got his chance for payback; gleefully laughing up a storm in his brother's face when Sam had succeeded in one-upping Dean.

Now, he was definitely on the losing side. After being battered by clowns and covered in sparkling sprinkles from said clowns, Sam supposed he should've felt like his feathers had been ruffled, when Dean took one look at him, snickering and teasing, before bursting out into hearty guffaws at Sam's explanation.

The retort was on the tip of Sam's tongue; a quip which would usually bring on a bout of brotherly banter. But, it never left his lips, the thought flitted across his mind - a routine response to his brother's playful jabs - vanishing as swiftly as it had popped into his head.

Sam supposed he should've been miffed about it, put off, indignant.

Instead, he could feel lips being tugged into a smile, a burst of warmth bubbling up within him.

Watching Dean now, Sam couldn't find it in himself to be at all bothered, ruffled feathers and all. Hazel green eyes, crinkling in genuine, and very real, amusement, simply lit up from within, sparkling with life and laughter. It was as if a curtain had been drawn; the shadows that clung stubbornly on to the elder Winchester fleeing for a brief moment, banished by the light Sam knew his brother had always had, dimmed as it had been in recent months, smothered by the increasingly heavy bundle of unyielding responsibility and self-enforced unnatural apathy; the need that everyone had placed on him to be their pillar of support, their anchor, in the midst of a chaotic spiral of a rapidly changing world, despite his own desperation and confusion, his own fight in his downward spiral into alcoholism and depression. This, coupled with the weight of loss and loneliness no man should ever have to bear, Dean had simply soldiered on, lines of grim determination deepening on his chiseled features.

To see his brother now, lines smoothed out and looking years younger, he looked more like the Dean that Sam knew, before their separation when Sam had gone to Stanford, before their father's death, before demons and demon trades, angels and the Apocalypse, before hell and soullessness, and before Leviathans had devoured the vestiges of their lives that they had clung so desperately on to.

In that moment, Sam knew that, at his core, Dean - the brother who would taunt him and drop him off at playhouses to pick up girls, like any self-respecting older brother, yet tuck him in at night, protect him from the very real monsters that haunted the night, make sure that he had enough to eat, sacrifice everything he had for Sam's happiness, like the best and most loving parent - was still there, and beneath all the scars that life, fate, destiny had burned them with, Dean was still, well, Dean.

And, that warmed Sam up, quietening the insidious whispers in Sam's mind. Sam would never lose himself as long as Dean was there, because Dean was there. In that moment of clarity, of calm tranquility, Sam promised himself.

No matter how bad things got, no matter what happened with them, between them, just as Dean kept him from losing himself, Sam would do the same for his brother.

Just as Dean was his anchor, and everyone else's, Sam would be Dean's anchor; the rope that tethered him amidst emotional downward spirals and the end of the world.

And, if being covered in silver sprinkles and looking like he, to quote Dean, "got attacked by some PCP crazed strippers", did the trick, well, Sam could deal with that.

Being laughed at by his big brother, Sam supposed he should've been miffed about it, put off, indignant.

And, normally, he would've been, but right now...

It was the best thing in the world.