"Dude, I am so not shaving my head!"

"I didn't say you had to—"

"Oh but you implied it!"

Sam stepped back from his frustrating older brother. "I said that if the combing and shampoo doesn't work, then we might have to think about shaving your head."

The man on the chair in front of him just huffed. Sam shook his head and stepped forward to run his fingers and a fine-toothed comb back through Dean's short hair. "And we'll need to wash your clothes in—I dunno—Dawn or something."

Dean simply crossed his arms over his chest and let Sam continue his work. After a moment, he reached for the TV remote on the small table and it flicked on to some inane game show. He quickly found the animal channel—Sam at least wouldn't bitch about that—and placed the remote back on the table. He leaned on his elbow and scratched his nose with the free arm.

He heard his brother mutter something from behind him. "Hm?"

"I just don't know how you got lice." He knew Sammy was shaking his head even though he couldn't see it.

The shorter man kicked out his legs and crossed them at the ankle. "I dunno. Maybe from the last hotel. It was pretty skuzzy. We should check you after we are done with me, just to make sure."

Sam cringed at the idea. He had so much more hair than his brother; it would be a real pain. He busied himself with the methodical motion of parting and combing, parting and combing. At least along the back and sides, Dean's hair was very short, making it easier to deal with the thick hair. He was saving the crown for last.

There was a snort from the man in the chair. "It'd be pretty funny if we had to shave your head."

Sam rolled his eyes and just let the comment slide off. He hadn't had hair shorter than an inch since he was twelve, and didn't wish to repeat it. The longer but styled hair suited him better—it showed he knew how to take care of himself and had an air of sophistication. He hoped. Otherwise he just looked, well, skuzzy.

There was no more stalling. He'd cleaned the sides and back of Dean's head—luckily with only a few egg sacks found and disposed of—and now he had to move on to the dense crown of hair. He hadn't seen any live bugs, which is good. Meant the first sweep with the shampoo helped some. He moved his fingers to run through the hair just above the natural swirl at the crown.

Dean felt Sam stop mid-part.

"What is it?" No answer, just the feel of his brother's still fingers against his scalp. A flood of images of a nightmare-sized bug buried in his mane assaulted him. "Sammy, tell me what you see now."

Sam cleared his throat. "Nothing—looking pretty clear actually." His fingers continued to brush over the same spot on his scalp, folding back the hair. Dean felt himself relax a bit. "Uh, when did you get that?"

"Get what?"

"The…ward? It looks like a ward."

Dean blinked, then turned his head under his brother's hands. "Excuse me? Please repeat."

Sam dropped his hands slowly. His face changed from curious to something else. Maybe worried?

"Uh…the tattoo? The one on your scalp?"

Again, the older Winchester caught himself blinking. "A ward. Tattooed on my head. Under my hair?"

Sam nodded.

Dean quickly turned around in his chair and pushed it back as he got to his feet. "Show me." He walked heavily towards the bathroom, and flicked on the light as he entered. "Come on!"

The taller man jumped a little and hurried to the bathroom, a little shocked Dean wasn't aware of his tattoo, comb still in hand. When he entered the room, his brother had palmed a small mirror he kept in his toiletry bag—or as Dean called it, the "shitter sack." Dean was leaning back against the sink, trying to angle himself just right in the large mirror to see what Sam had mentioned.

Sam grabbed the mirror from him, which caused a huffy curse, then turned him by the shoulders so he was facing the large mirror. "Here," he said as he held up the small round mirror in one hand, and parted Dean's hair with his other. From this angle, Dean could clearly see what Sam had been talking about, though of course it was backwards.

The brand—and it was a brand he was sure now that he was looking at it—was black as if his skin were charred and did not heal beyond that into a pink scar. There was no hair missing or singed though, and it wasn't causing pain. He reached back as Sam patiently held the mirror and the hair aside, and touched the "burnt" skin. It felt just like the rest of his scalp, and the touch didn't cause a flare-up of pain or discomfort.

Dean dropped his hand and studied the actual symbol. It was very hard to make out with hair covering it in patches. Plus it was pretty small—no larger than a quarter—and backwards.

"What's the symbol, Sammy?" He knew it wasn't something he was particularly familiar with, but maybe his nerd brother would be.

He watched as Sam put aside the small mirror and grazed his fingers through the hair with a concentrating look on his face. He squinted his eyes and leaned forward. After a moment, he pulled back a bit, ran his hands over the scalp once more to part the hair, then backed off. "I dunno." He shrugged.

Dean glared at Sam in the mirror. "Whatda mean, 'dunno'?"

Sam shrugged again—it was annoying—and pursed his lips. "I mean I haven't seen it before. It looks a little like a pentagram."

He let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding. "Oh well that's not bad…"

"It also looks a little like the wards Cas does when he's protecting us from angels."

"You're saying that it looks like Enochian?" He turned away from the mirror and flicked off the light as he exited the bathroom, leaving Sam in the dark.

Sam followed him into the "bedroom." "Uh, yeah it does."

Dean eyed his brother critically. "Castiel!" He suddenly yelled. He sounded a little pissy, Sam had to admit.

Within a matter of seconds, Cas was in front of Dean. Of course. The angel always came when his human called. Sam sometimes wondered if Dean called out for Cas while he was in hell, and just didn't know it.

The angel wearing Jimmy Novak's meat suit addressed them as casually as he could. "Dean. Sam."

Dean crossed his arms over his chest, and felt his face grow a little hot in irritation as he began. "Cas, you've got something you'd like to tell me?"

Castiel blinked and cocked his head to the side. "I beg your pardon?"

"Come clean, man."

"I-I am not dirty," the raspy voice spoke slowly as he processed Dean's question.

"My head, Cas. What did you do to my head?"

"I did nothing. Is it broken?"

Sam's laughter just made Dean feel like growling.

"You can't just mess with another guy's body, Cas. You need to ask first."

The look on Castiel's face was somewhere between utter confusion and slight panic. Sam could tell than the poor guy wasn't on the same wavelength as Dean.

Opening his mouth, the angel stalled for just a moment. He took a second to close it and restart. "I assure you, I have done nothing to your body, Dean." A slight warmth was building into Cas's cheeks, and Sam wondered if Dean noticed. He doubted it because his brother's shoulders were still tense with single-mindedness.

"Furthermore," Castiel continued, taking a small step closer to Dean. "If I were to ask, what might you say?"

Dean hadn't thought of that. He shrugged and comfortably crossed his arms over his chest. He sniffed as he thought it over, then said "Yeah okay."

The large blue eyes seemed to grow slightly wider. "Yeah…okay…" It was almost a question.

The older Winchester shifted where he stood, resting one leg. "Yeah. I mean it'd be good for me in the end, right? You wouldn't do anything to hurt me." Before the angel could answer, Dean continued. "But you have to ask, Cas. You need to ask so I can say yes, got it?"

There was a long moment of nothing but that indefinite stare from the shorter man. Sam gawked awkwardly at the angel, hoping he hadn't misinterpreted what Dean was talking about, but getting a sense that he probably had. Dean simply cocked his eyebrow, waiting for a response.

Slowly, Castiel nodded his understanding. "I will make sure I ask."

Dean's face broke into the award-winning grin. "Awesome. Now what is it anywa—"

He dropped his sentence as his angel disappeared with a quick flutter of wings.

The two brothers were left standing in their hotel room without any new information. After a moment, Dean turned to Sam and pointed at the top of his head. "Clear?"

Sam took a moment to get back on track, then nodded and cleared his throat. "Yeah. Looked clear. No bugs."

His older brother nodded, then pulled off his shirt. "Okay. Gonna hit the shower then." He tossed his tee shirt at Sam as he closed the bathroom door behind him. "Dawn that shit up, Sammy."

Sam caught the shirt and just shook his head as he turned to the sink in their tiny kitchenette.