This was the prompt over at OhSam on Live Journal. Set season 4/5-ish
Dean and Castiel have a bond, no question and they're becoming good friends and Dean is coming to depend more and more and Castiel on hunts.
Sam however, is feeling more and more isolated and lonely because all of a sudden, Dean doesn't seem to trust him or his opinion. No matter what, Dean wants to check things with Castiel and Sam's becoming more and more depressed that an angel has replaced him as Dean's hunting partner and and he begins to drink.
He tries to keep it hidden, but eventually(how it comes out is up to you), Dean figures it out.
Cue guilty!angry!Dean realizing that he's been neglecting his big!brother duties and helping Sam kick his borderline alcoholism.

When Sam entered the room, Cass and Dean stopped talking and looked up at him. For a moment, anger drove through him, but it was pointless. Whatever the Dean and Cass Club, as Sam had begun to call it, had been discussing, Sam was definitely NOT invited to hear.

"You bring food?"

"Don't I always?" Dropping the bag in front of Dean, he turned back to the door. "Isn't that all I'm good for these days?" As he shut the door behind him, he heard Dean mutter something about a cry baby.

At first he spotted a liquor store that was inviting him, but the bar next door actually looked better. Maybe someone there would at least talk to him instead of about him.

The bartender had filled his last glass of whiskey with a smile and a quiet statement that she got off in an hour. For a moment, Sam actually looked around to see if Dean had walked in behind him. Girls said that kind of shit to him. Not Sam. But no, the girl was looking at him and smiling. Stunned, Sam searched his mind desperately for something his brother would say. All he came up with was a slight shrug and a mention that he had somewhere he had to be, but if his plans changed, he'd be back.

He was kind of hazy when he opened the motel room door. It was dark and quiet. For a moment he was afraid Dean was asleep, but he noticed how quiet it was. Dean wasn't there. Turning on the light, he saw a note on the table.


"Of course you went with Cass. And since I don't qualify for the secret handshake, I don't even get to know where." He crumpled the note and threw it in the trash. "He can't heal Bobby, you stupid son of a bitch. What the fuck good is he going to be if you get hurt?" Of course, he could just be out on his mission to get Cass laid again. The way Dean laughed when he'd told that story had actually broke Sam's heart. Just because he couldn't remember the last time his brother had laughed that hard at anything to do with him.

"Fuck it." The thought of spending the night alone, missing his brother, made Sam miserable. At least there was someone who'd spend some time with him. And she was right across the street.

When Sam opened the motel room door the next morning, it was literally yanked out of his hand.

"Where the fuck have you been?"

His head was exploding behind his eyes, but Sam managed to shrug. "Out."

"Out all fucking night. I'll ask again. Where. The. Fuck. Were. You?"

"Sorry. Didn't know when you were coming back." Slowly, Sam moved towards the bathroom. "Need a shower."

"No time, asshole. We gotta book. 'bout a ten hour drive ahead of us."

"What, your angel buddy couldn't just flap his wings?" If the hangover didn't kill him, his brother just might after that one.

"Fuck you. Be in the car in ten."

The sound of the door slamming made Sam's entire body vibrate with pain. It was going to be a long-ass fucking day. As he shoved his things in his duffle, he spotted the bottle buried there. After a short internal debate, he decided that being asleep would be better than enduring the contempt that he was going to get from Dean for the next few hours. Forever, is more what it felt like. The alcohol kicked when it hit his stomach and for a moment Sam wasn't sure it was going to stay there. But it did, and a few more drinks and the throbbing in his head actually slowed to a pulse.

Cass called Dean about six hours into the drive and told him the hunt was a bust. Sam was actually waiting for Dean's usual bitch and moan session- aimed at Cass for bad intel. He would be eternally grateful that he hadn't found this supposed hunt. He'd never hear the end of it. Instead, his brother shrugged and proclaimed that 'it happens' before he turned into the next motel. There he informed Sam that he was going out.

"Need to build the funds- I've turned into a fuckin' welfare state."

He knew the dig, as all of the digs Dean threw these days, was meant for him, but he managed to stay silent until he heard the Impala pull out of the parking lot. Looking around the room, another bout of guilt and sadness passed over him. Deciding on a shower first, he dug through his bag for clean clothes. He suddenly realized that he didn't have any. Great. Of course, there was his trusty bottle. A drink or two first, just to pass the alone time. Opening the laptop, he started to search for the nearest Laundromat, hoping it was in walking distance. A subtle rustle behind him had him reaching for his Taurus and turning quickly.

"Cass! Dammit," Putting the gun down, he sat back on the chair.

"Where is Dean?"

"Hello to you, too. I don't know. He doesn't give me his itinerary anymore."

"Is he nearby?"

"Are you good at laundry?" Sam knew he was already on thin ice with the angel, but in all honesty, he didn't give a fuck.

"I don't understand that question."

"And I don't know where the fuck my brother is." Lifting the bottle, he took a long drink. "I have to go do laundry before the next fucking monster tracks us by the smell."

"Can you call him?"

"Can't you?"

"My battery seems to be dead."

"Fine." Taking the dead phone away from Cass, the hunter plugged it into his charger before dialing Dean's number from his own cell. Of course, Dean let it go to voicemail. "Cass wants you to call him back on my phone." He hung up and turned back to the angel. "I'll try to text, but odds are he won't pick up."

"I've never experienced difficulty reaching Dean."

"Only when it's you calling."

The angel's eyes tracked Sam, obviously confused by his statement and the tone of his voice, but the man didn't care. Flopping down on the bed, he reached for the bottle. He almost choked on the mouthful of whiskey when his phone actually rang. "Dea-"

"Put Cass on."

When the angel took the phone, he asked where Dean was, hung up, handed Sam back his phone and disappeared.

"Nice talking to you." He stared at the pile of dirty clothes he'd amassed. "Fuck it."

It wasn't ten minutes later he heard the Impala pulling up in front of the room. Dean entered with Cass and looked around. "Good laundry. Make yourself useful." Before Sam could even form an answer, Dean turned to the angel. "We're going to need Devil's Traps. About five of them."

"I can take care of that."

Standing, Sam turned to Dean. "There is a way to keep them-"

"We're also going to have to keep watch for any security- might be some humans running around."

This was something Sam knew about, and his brother knew it. "Dean, if you-"

"Leave it alone, Sam. Cass?"

"'cause Cass's trap was so well built before?" The fact that Dean didn't think he could put a Devil's Trap together just hurt.

Turning, Dean stared his brother down. "Least he won't drink 'em dry."

The words had the desired effect. Shifting his eyes to the ground, Sam backed up until his legs hit the bed and sat on it.

"Get the laundry done. We'll be back tomorrow if not the day after." With that the older hunter and the angel left.

Any intention of ever doing laundry went out the door with his brother. Reaching for the bottle, Sam decided he was definitely going to drink something dry tonight.

Dean returned to an empty room and a pile of dirty laundry. Two days his brother had been here, and from the looks of it, he hadn't done a damn thing. Picking up the phone, he waited for Sam's voice on the other end. When all he got was voicemail, his anger turned to rage.

He was so busy leaving the nastiest message he could he actually didn't hear the knocking on the door.

Ripping the door open, he wasn't any happier to see the motel manager.

"Dude, where you been?"

"What the fuck is it to you? We're paid through the week."

"Been waiting for you to come back since yesterday."

"What the fuck for?"

The manager stared at him. "Christ. You were my brother I'd be drunk, too. Before Dean could reply, he continued. "Mercy over on 5th Avenue. That's where he is."

"Mercy what?"

"Hospital, Asshole." The manager was done with Dean's attitude. "Your brother, he's there."

The word hospital finally broke through the anger and the hunter stared at the other man. "How did my brother end up in the hospital?"

"By getting so fucking drunk he couldn't walk. And then trying to walk to the bar across the street."

Staring at the manager, Dean tried to process what he was hearing. "Car?"

"Not even. Stupid son of a bitch fell of the fucking curb and split his head open all by himself. Not surprised. Seven fucking feet tall guess he's lucky he didn't just break his skull open when it hit the concrete."


"Yesterday. My night clerk saw it happen and since you weren't around, she rode with him to the hospital. Said they had to pump his stomach he was so drunk." He turned away. "Just thought you might want to know."

Dean was speechless. Sam, so drunk he had to have his stomach pumped? Looking around, for the first time he actually paid attention to his brother's side of the room. Lined up on the nightstand, were four bottles of Jack Daniels. A quick glance to the floor on the other side of the bed showed more empty bottles. Sam didn't even drink Jack Daniels before. He'd been so worried about Sam drinking demon blood that he hadn't noticed that Sam singlehandedly depleting the town's supply of booze.

"I have news." Cass's voice cut through the silence and Dean turned to him.

"Not now."

"But we-"

"I said not now, Cass. Sam's in the hospital."

"Was he attacked?"

"He was drunk."

Now the angel looked confused. "You brother has been drunk a lot lately. What has happened that is different?"

Even Cass had noticed when he hadn't. Grabbing his keys, Dean left the angel alone without answering.

Thirty minutes later, Dean was staring that the doctor that put twenty stitches in Sam's head.

"Your brother is very lucky."

That wasn't a word anyone would ever say about Sam. Or any Winchester for that matter. "He's unconscious in a hospital bed with his head stitched together. How do you figure he's lucky?"

"If he hadn't tried to leave his hotel room, he would have most likely died from alcohol poisoning. Dean, this question might be very painful, but how long has your brother been an alcoholic?"

"He's not addicted to alcohol." Dean knew his brother was an addict, but it wasn't to booze.

"You need to understand this. His blood alcohol level was over .4. That is lethal. The only way he was even still breathing at that level is because he has been sustaining a high level over time."

"He's a big guy, doc-"

With almost a sad sigh, the doctor shook his head. "That just means he drank a hell of a lot more. He should be waking up soon, and without insurance I can't keep him. His head is stitched up, and for the moment he's out of danger. I can ask our Social Services for a treatment center- "

"I'll take care of him."

"I just hope you understand how close we came to losing him this time." As if he knew he was going to lose this patient, the doctor simply turned and walked away.

Trying to piece together what the hell was going on, Dean made his way to Sam's room. The younger man was sitting on the side of the bed, obviously in the process of getting dressed.


"Dean? What are you doing here?" Sam's voice wasn't much more than a whisper.

"What does that mean? You're in the freakin' hospital and you're wondering why I'm here?"

"Thought you were busy."

"That why you didn't bother to call?" Dean was getting irritated, and his brother could tell.

"Not fighting with you." Standing, he reached for his things on the table. "I fucked up. Again. I know it."

Reaching for the taller man, Dean gripped his shirt. "You almost fucking killed yourself. Do you know how close you came to actually drinking yourself to death?"

"So what?" Sam's voice couldn't raise, but he tried. "He'll just send me back."

"You don't fucking know that!"

"Yeah, Dean, I fucking do!"

"What about me? Think I'll come back too after you get me killed on a hunt?"

"A hunt?" Suddenly Sam was pushing back against Dean and literally looming over him. "When's the last time I actually hunted? Unless you're counting hunting for hamburgers, since that's all I've done lately. Not much chance of even ME fucking that up enough to be lethal. Oh, and laundry. Can't die from dirty underwear, can you?" With a sad almost laugh, he moved away from Dean.

That actually stopped the older hunter for a moment. Sam was right. He hadn't actually taken his brother on a hunt in a while. He hadn't actually done much of anything with him besides drive. The bottles had been apparently collecting on the other side of the room while he'd been out….

"Sam," Turning, he realized that the taller man was actually headed out the door. He followed and kept the distance between them short. There was no response from Sam until they got to the parking lot.

"I get it. Okay? I get the why's and the how's and the million reasons you shouldn't trust me with the no reasons you should. I'm tired, my head hurts, my throat if fucking killing me, and I just want to sleep. So we can pack up and you can just take me to the next drop off point."

Unlocking the door to the Impala, Dean watched his brother get in, realizing for the first time how bad he really looked. He was thin. Thinner then he'd gotten even after Jessica had died. Dark circles under his eyes, and his skin almost looked yellow in the bright daylight. The shakes, from alcohol, malnutrition, or exhaustion, kept his entire body almost vibrating. He knew his brother wasn't sleeping, visits from his own stalking angel keeping him awake. For a moment, he almost chalked up the drinking to that, knowing full well how easy it was to drink yourself into dreamless unconsciousness. But it was more than that. This wasn't drinking until you passed out. This was drinking until you blacked out and then drinking some more.

As he turned the ignition, Sam's raspy voice carried across the car. "You mind if I wait till we get to the next stop to do laundry?"

"You really think I give THAT much of a fuck about laundry?" He pulled the car into a small chain restaurant.

Sighing, Sam sat up and reached for the door handle.

"Where are you going?"

Sad hazel eyes met his. "You don't trust me enough to even get your food order right?"

Almost desperate, Dean searched those eyes for any hint of sarcasm, or maybe even he held a small hope for some humor. There wasn't any. Sam was serious.

"You're not my maid."

"What else is there at this point?"

The sight of his brother almost in tears for being told he can't retrieve dinner like a maid or a fucking dog was too much for Dean. "You're my brother."

"Something else I can't fix for you."

Again, no humor or sarcasm. Just a flat, despondent tone. Jesus Christ. The kid actually believed somewhere in that big ass brain of his that if he wasn't playing fetch he was useless.

"Where in the hell did you get that-" Cutting himself off, Dean realized exactly where his little brother had gotten that idea. From his big brother. His great big brother who has pretty much decided lately that Sam WAS fucking useless. Like the kid didn't convince himself of that regularly with an exceptional OCD tendency.

"I'll get it, Sam. Because you feel like shit, okay?"

It took Sam a moment to realize that Dean wasn't being nasty. His face showed surprise at Dean's concern, which only added to the guilt the older man felt. Had it really been that long since he'd taken any notice of Sam's comfort? Apparently the answer to that was yes.

When they got back to the motel, Sam filled his already empty drink with water and sat on the bed. Spreading the food out on the table, Dean turned to him. "Get over here and eat."

Again, a shocked expression crossed his brother's face. Dean didn't have to search his mind long for that one, either. He forgot the last time he'd actually sat down with Sam at a table for anything. Recent memory was always one of them sitting at the table, one on the bed. By Dean's choice. And that was on the rare occasion they were both actually in the same room. Apparently that hadn't gone unnoticed by Sam, either. Now that he was thinking about it, he couldn't remember the last time he'd even seen the kid eat. Suddenly Dean wasn't hungry. For the last god only knew how long, Sam had gone, as ordered like a good whipped puppy, to fetch his brother's dinner, and probably hadn't even gotten anything to eat for himself.

As Sam sat down, Dean stared at him. "How long were you going to let things go like this?"

"What's that mean?"

"I've been a total dick. Not like you to let that go for long."

"It's okay. I understand."

"Christ, Sammy, I don't want you to understand. I want to you tell me what a fucking asshole I've been to you and get pissed about it!"

With a shake of his head, Sam was staring that floor and pinching the bridge of his nose. For a moment, Dean thought the younger man was about to have some sort of seizure. Until he realized that he was just trying to literally pinch back tears. Dropping to his knees in front of his brother, Dean reached for his hands. "What? What's wrong?"

"Nothing." Sam shook his head. "Just didn't realize how much I missed you calling me 'Sammy' until you just did."

He couldn't remember the last time he'd done that, either. He bet Sam could remember the date and time. Probably what he was wearing and what town they were in. Big girl was like that. He started to say that, but he stopped himself. Any joke at Sam's expense wouldn't be received as a joke right now in his head. It would just be more of the same. Dean berating him. It was time to stop.

"Okay, if you won't say it, I will. Enough is enough. I've been a dick."

"I told you I under-"

"I know you understand, and that just makes it worse that I didn't see it. I'm not saying I haven't had a reason, but I think the statute of limitations ran out a while ago and I didn't figure it out."

Dean's phone rang. Sighing, Sam turned from him, expecting him to answer it. He ignored it.

"Cass needs you."

"Cass needs someone to take the stick out of his ass, too, but that's not happening right now, either." He pointed at the shakes on the table. "I didn't think when I bought the salad. Probably kill your throat right now. But how about you try to get those shakes down?"

The fact that something as simple and stupid as offering his milkshake to his brother completely shocked him seem to drive it home to Dean.

Before he could say anything else, Cass appeared in the room. "I tried to call, but I got no answer. I'm glad you are still here."

"Not now, Cass."

"I'm glad you are well, Sam. Dean said you were drunk."

Any progress Dean had made with his brother was gone. The look on Sam's face made Dean want to bitch-slap the angel. But he had to admit, at least to himself, that Dean had given the angel the impression that it was okay to talk to or about Sam like that. Some fucking big brother he'd turned into.

"I'm busy, Cass. Later."

"Dean, just go. I promise I won't leave the room. I won't go anywhere, I won't call anyone, I won't cause trouble."

A memory slammed into Dean. The words and the tone were an exact replica of teenage Sam to John when he and Dean would leave him to go on a hunt. It used to aggravate Dean when he heard it directed at their father, but it really hurt to hear it directed at him. No anger, just resignation. That this was the way it was, this was how it was going to be, and nothing Sam did would make a difference.

Time to change that. "Cass, go find a cloud to play in. I'll call you when we're ready to move." Stressing the 'we', he hoped Sam understood. After Cass was gone, he sat on the end of the bed and stared at the younger man. "Here's how I'm hoping this is going to go."

"Whatever you want, Dean."

"No, that's not it. Drink the milkshakes. Then you can either get some sleep or you can go with me to do laundry, if you feel up to it?"

Sam stared at him for a long moment. The thought that Dean might actually mean he wanted Sam to go along, not to babysit, but because he might actually want the company was too much for the younger Winchester to hope for.

All Dean could see in his little brothers eyes was hope. If he said the wrong thing now, he'd crush the kid and he knew it. "Look, I'm making an effort, here, Sammy. I want to fix whatever the fuck went wrong between us." He grimaced. "And didn't that sound like we broke up."

A soft laugh followed by a sad sigh. "Didn't break up, Dean. Just broke."

"So we fix it."

Sam actually snorted, and Dean took that to be a good sign. "I didn't say it would be easy, but I'm willing if you are."

When his brother's eyes met his, Dean couldn't see anything but his little brother in them.

"I've been willing. Just waiting for you to decide to give me a chance." Standing up, Sam moved to his duffle. When he pulled out the bottle, Dean wondered if Sam was going to have to drink to deal with him. Instead he put the bottle on the nightstand and started shoving his clothes in. "Guess we need to find a laundromat first."

Just like that. With a few words from him, Sam was ready to let him back in and move on. Where had his little brother learned forgiveness like that? Sure as hell didn't learn from him. With his bag over his shoulder, Sam grabbed both milkshakes.

Smiling at Sam for the first time in way too long, Dean followed him out the door.