"Aw Sam. You're not really gonna leave me here all day on my own to twiddle my thumbs, are you? Come on man! And you're gonna take my Baby too."
Sam tilted his head in that bird-like way he sometimes had and huffed. "Dean, I doubt that you have ever twiddled your thumbs in your entire life, and anyway I've been telling you for days that I was going to the special one-day opening of Boswell's private library. It has some very rare occult manuscripts. The guy's a recluse and never lets anyone near his books, so this is a once in a
lifetime opportunity, and I'm going. There's nothing stopping you from coming along too, if you want," he added.
Dean sighed in surrender.
When Sam got that stubborn expression on his face there was nothing that would make him change his mind, but there was no way that he was going to pass a perfectly good day in some musty old library. There could be nothing more boring than that!
"Okay," he tried one last time, plastering a wounded expression on his face. "But you know you're condemning me to a day of absolute boredom. Do you really want to have that on your conscience, Sammy?"
Sam wasn't in the least bit moved by Dean's hang-dog expression, he'd seen it too many times before.
"You know what, Dean! Instead of bitching, why don't you take all our stuff down to the Laundromat 'cause there is only one pair of clean socks left and I'm taking them with me, so either you go, or tomorrow you get to wear last week's smelly ones.
The choice is yours, dude."
So saying, Sam made his way to the door, waving the contended pair of clean socks in his hand as if they were a wad of dollars he had just won hustling pool; stuffing them into his duffle as he hastily exited the room.
Dean's moans of Sam being the one who did the washing, floated down after him as he ran down the stairs of the cheap hotel, his mind already occupied with the anticipated pleasures of his day in the library.
If Dean wanted clean stuff to wear, he could take his ass to the Laundromat!
Two hours later, Dean had had enough.
Even going to the Laundromat was beginning to seem interesting as the only other entertainment in the room was an antediluvian black and white tiny TV set with matching antediluvian programmes.
Spewing out a series of curses that would have made the toughest biker blush, he stuffed the pile of dirty clothes into his duffle, and with his face set in a scowl he made his way to the nearest Laundromat.
That Boswell and his friggin' library had a lot to answer for!
He strode irritable down the busy street, the other pedestrians instinctively getting out of his way.
The Laundromat was a few blocks down.
It was deserted and Dean pushed the whole heap of clothes into two machines, not bothering to separate everything out into neat same-coloured piles as Sam usually did.
"Serves him right," he thought ungraciously. "If his favourite shirts come out as psychedelic nightmares!"
He looked around.
What was it with the boredom today? Usually the was something going on in these places; family squabbles, clients lamenting that their stuff had shrunk, or that the machine had ripped their favourite jeans apart, but he was the only one here.
He cursed again, just for the Hell of it.
Dean Winchester had never gone window-shopping in his life, but it had been bad enough watching the TV in the hotel room, contemplating a swirling mass of clothes was even worse!
He had over an hour to go before the wash was finished, so he took to the streets.
Strangely enough he found browsing the merchandise in the various store windows rather compelling.
There were a lot of unusual little places on the street, not like the chain stores that repeated the same wares to infinity, but quirky little second-hand shops with the most curious range of items.
He looked at three or four windows before coming to one which had an assortment of bric-a-brac, from old jewellery to the weirdest table ornaments one could ever hope to see. His gaze came to rest on a black leather bracelet, very similar to one that he had once worn himself; that was before it had been ripped off his wrist on a hunt, and he'd never gotten round to replacing it.
There were a pair on offer and he was tempted.
Well, yeah, what the heck; he might as well get one for Sammy too, the big Geek.
He hadn't really been angry at Sam; God the kid deserved to get to do something he liked now and then.
It was just a pity that their ideas of what made up a good time were as far apart as the North and South Poles.
He was about to push open the door when his heart missed a beat, for there, in a dark corner of the display lay a piece of jewellery that he was very familiar with. He had worn it round his neck since he was twelve years old; a gift from little Sammy; a gift which he had callously thrown in a trash-can, angry with his little brother for not having the same desires as he had had in Zachariah's heaven.
He had always felt shame and regret for what he had done, but in true Dean Winchester style he had never brought the subject up with Sam, too proud to admit that he had made a terrible mistake throwing their pledge of brotherhood away.
Sam had never said anything to him, but he knew that his action had deeply hurt his little brother.
He sighed to think that he had thrown it away for that very reason. To hurt his brother!
He was the worst big brother in the world.
He had always wondered what had happened to it; but how had it ended up here?
Had some one picked it out of the trash can while cleaning the room and sold it off to some second-hand dealer, eventually finishing up here?
Dean was a gambling man, for that's how he earned his livelihood, but the odds of him passing this particular shop in this particular city, and finding that which he had disposed of in another part of the country, were overwhelming.
He pushed open the door. He HAD to have it.
Finally he and Sam would be able to stop ignoring the issue, and he would put the amulet back round his neck where it belonged and from where he should never ever have taken it off.
Somehow the day was no longer boring, but had turned into one of the best in his life.
He entered the shop with a light heart, the bad mood of earlier completely forgotten.
He expected to see a dusty old guy behind the counter but he was greeted by a perky young teen.
"Hi there, can I help you?"
"Yeah, I'm interested in the weird little necklace you have there," and he pointed to the amulet." My girlfriend collects odd little things like that." He smiled engagingly at the girl.
"Oh, right, "she answered, "We've got a good price on that. It's not exactly what you would call an attractive piece, although it's definitely pretty old," she finished up hesitantly, realising that perhaps what she had said might not have been the best way to encourage a sale.
"Oh, she'll love it," Dean smiled mischievously, anticipating the look on Sam's face when he came back and saw it hanging round his neck again.
He got it for next to nothing and so he bought the two leather bracelets as well.
"Do you want them wrapped?" she asked in her best wannabe expert salesgirl imitation, but Dean was already placing the amulet round his neck and he just stuffed the bracelets in his pocket.
He made his way out the door, oblivious to all else other than the familiar light pressure of the charm on his chest.
He collected the clean clothes from the Laundromat; at least Sam couldn't bitch about that! He was due back around nine as the "Library Day" closed at eight.
Sure enough the door opened right on time as an enthusiastic Sam entered, beaming from ear to ear.
"Dean," he started off. "You should have come with me. You don't know what you missed; the books were in great condition and the old guy even let us see them up close and take notes to….!
He stopped suddenly as Dean turned, and his eyes fell to the amulet around his neck.
Dean just watched silently as he saw the blood leaving his brother's face.
"Where did you get that, Dean? Sam asked in a tired voice, all enthusiasm drained away.
"Does it matter, Sammy?" Dean replied softy." It's back in its rightful place from where it should never have been removed".
Sam turned his face to the side, his eyes moistening but he said nothing.
If Dean wanted to talk about it, Sam wasn't giving him any help. The memory still hurt too much. He could still see the scene as Dean dropped it into the bin.
Dean knew that he had to make things right, make Sam understand that five seconds after he had thrown the damn amulet away he had already regretted it, but his stubborn pride had stopped him from going back in and fishing it out.
He would just have to chick-flick his way through this.
"What can I say Sammy. I was a fool. I was too proud to go back in and fish it out; but God I missed it every single moment after that."
Sam turned his teary eyes towards him."Why didn't you tell me sooner?" he asked.
"I just didn't know how to bring it up, Sam. My stupid pride again probably; and I was afraid to bring up the subject in case you wouldn't believe me when I said how much I was sorry. I had no excuse at all for throwing it away. None at all! "he emphasised gazing into Sam's eyes.
Sam just nodded.
"Where did you find it Dean?"
"You'll never believe it Sammy. I saw it in a shop window, by pure chance. It was as if it was waiting for me to come past and discover it. I don't know how it got there but I was never so happy to see anything in my life."
Sam saw the truth in his brother's eyes, as Dean reverently fingered the amulet round his neck.
He turned away and fumbled in his duffle pulling out a familiar object, a twin to the one Dean was sporting round his neck.
"I don't know where that came from, but the one I gave you didn't lie in that trash can for more than two seconds," smiled Sam as he held up the charm.
Dean couldn't have been more shocked that if he had been hit by a tazer, and he took the amulet from Sam's outstretched hand.
They were identical.
The one Sam had given him was slightly smoother and paler due to the years that Dean had worn it.
He looked up at Sam in confusion.
The amulet from the shop wasn't a fake. It had felt right when he had put it on.
He quickly pulled off the one he had round his neck and compared them.
"Is it possible that there are two of them, both authentic?" Dean asked his brother.
"Maybe, but Bobby had told me at the time that it was very special, so I don't know what to say"
Dean ran practised fingers over them. There had always been an indentation on the back of his own that he had put down to wear and tear, but as his fingers moved over the new one he felt a similar imperfection there.
He put the two amulets back to back and they fitted together perfectly with a little click, forming a small two sided Janus.
Two faces each looking in different directions but forming one whole. The eyes in both amulets flashed electric blue for a second before they coloured back to normal. What the Hell!
"Dean," Sam said softly. " Your amulet was part of a pair."
Dean looked Sam right in the eyes. "Just like us, eh Sam?" Dean answered, his eyes moistening along with his brother's.
Sam nodded. not trusting himself to speak.
He separated the amulets, put the one that Sam had given him all those years ago back in its place around his own neck, and with the other in his hand he stepped up to his brother, slipping it over his shaggy head, his hands lingering on Sam's wide shoulders.
The moment was heavy with meaning.
Now the two amulets had been put on together; one for each brother.
And just as the two amulets were made to fit onto one another, so the Winchester brothers were made to stand side by side, one separate from the other but forever together.
XXXX The enD XXXX