Chapter One

Author's Note: I got the inspiration to write this while working on a scene for chapter twelve of Torn. The two fanfics are unrelated.

Dean couldn't help but chuckle just a little bit as he reached across the table and wiped crumbs off his brother's hands with a napkin.

"You almost ready to head out?" Dean asked Sam, not expecting an answer and not receiving one. Sam continued to chew the last mouthful of food slowly and methodically, apparently oblivious to his brother's question.

Dean leaned back in the booth and caught the eye of their waitress. The roadside diner was quiet. Besides Dean and his brother the only other patrons were a couple of long-haul truckers who were sitting at the bar- not paying the Winchester brothers the least bit attention- which Dean counted as a blessing. He still bristled at the memory of the last restaurant he had taken his brother to.

Dean smiled charmingly when the waitress reached their table. Her nametag read 'Peggy'.

"All done here?" Peggy asked after quickly glancing at Sam's empty plate.

"Yes ma'am," Dean answered, "Everything was delicious."

The middle-aged waitress smiled, "Why thank you. I'll pass your compliment onto the cook."

Dean nodded and fished his wallet from the pocket of his jeans.

"Oh no," Peggy held out her hand, "It's on the house."

Dean, who normally would jump at the chance for free food, narrowed his eyes slightly.

"I insist," Dean opened his wallet; almost certain he was being offered their meals free of charge out of sympathy.

"I wouldn't feel right," Peggy pressed and her gaze traveled to Sam, sitting patiently and quietly, and back to Dean, "My sister's got a kid who's special and I know how hard it can be…"

Dean's hackles raised immediately, his expression telling Peggy she should stop talking while she was ahead.

The waitress was quite literally saved by the bell when a famished-looking family of four entered the diner, the bell above the door tinkling merrily as it opened. Peggy turned quickly away from the Winchesters and made a bee-line for the newest patrons, a smile plastered on her face to cover her embarrassment.

Dean sighed and stuffed his wallet back into his pocket without leaving any cash.

"C'mon Sammy," Dean said and his brother stood obediently. Dean gave Sam an once-over, brushed some crumbs from his brother's shirt and took hold of his wrist, leading him toward the door. Sam reached out a free hand and trailed his fingers along the backs of the booths as his brother tugged him gently along.

Dean smiled when he saw his baby waiting in the parking lot exactly as he had left her. Her black exterior shone in the pale October sunlight, inviting. Sam even seemed to walk a little faster when he realized where Dean was taking him. Dean imagined that his younger brother did remember the classic Chevy- the car that had held the key to Sam being able to get control over Lucifer and stop the Apocalypse- and smiled even wider at the thought.

Dean made sure his brother was seated comfortably before crossing around the front of the Impala and settling himself into the driver's seat.

"Okay, Sammy," Dean mumbled as started the car's engine, "Ready to hit the road?"

Sam nodded his head but didn't otherwise acknowledge his brother had spoken.

"Can't forget to do up your seatbelt," Dean reached across and pulled Sam's belt over and locked it into place.

Sam peered at his brother for a moment, expression unsure and his fingers pulled a little at the nylon strap across his chest.

"It's okay, Sammy," Dean reassured his brother, "It's not gonna hurt you. It's to keep you safe, see?"

Dean demonstrated the benevolence of seatbelts by doing his own up. Sam still looked unconvinced until Dean reached into the backseat and grabbed his leather jacket, spreading it out on his brother's lap as though it were a blanket and Sam seemed to forget all about the seatbelt. Dean smiled sadly as he watched Sam slowly stroke the smooth, sun-warmed leather, a serene expression on his face.

Meat Loaf's 'Rock And Roll Dreams Come Through' blasted from the speakers as Dean pulled out of the parking lot, unabashedly singing along to the music and tapping his hands on the steering wheel in time with the beat.


Dean had tried to keep his promise. He really had. But all he could think about was Sam. Lisa was great, she really was and her son was a good kid but Dean's grief prevented him from moving forward. For Dean, it was always that day, the day he had been forced to watch his baby brother take a nosedive into Hell to save a shitty world that didn't know any better.

Dean didn't know how many times he'd called Castiel's cell phone or even prayed to the angel before he finally appeared.

Dean begged the angel to help him, to help Sam. Cas had listened in his intense manner before telling Dean that what he was asking was impossible. Dean had threatened to sell his soul if it would mean resurrecting his brother. Castiel's expression turned sympathetic and he promised Dean he would try to do as he asked.

The months following Dean's request were the most agonizing of his life. He was constantly on edge, waiting for Castiel to call his phone or simply pop into existence with news. Dean drove down to Bobby's place and although the old hunter thought he was crazy for trying to get his brother back, Dean was sure his friend would have done the exact same thing.

Eighteen months passed with no word from Castiel and Dean had begun to think it was a lost cause before the angel called him.

"Dean, I have Sam," Castiel's gravelly tone sounded absolutely wonderful to the eldest Winchester, "We are in Stull Cemetery."

After asking a barrage of questions about his brother- which the angel refused to answer until they met in person- Dean finally asked the most important one: "Why don't you just zap him over here? Why do I have to drive all the way to Kansas?"

There was a pause, "I exerted a great amount of energy to rescue Sam from the Cage. I do not have the strength to transport your brother or myself to Sioux Falls."

Dean was instantly up and moving, already fishing his keys from his jeans pocket, ignoring Bobby's queries and running to where he had parked the Impala in the salvage yard as though that would help him reach his brother sooner.

"Cas, can you-" Dean asked as he slammed the driver's side door shut and turned the key so fast that the engine stalled for a moment.

"I will watch over Sam until you arrive," Castiel finished Dean's question and the Winchester thanked his friend.

The seven hours it took to drive to Lawrence seemed to be the longest of Dean's life. As he pulled through the open gates of the old cemetery, Dean had a horrible feeling of déjà vu and swallowed back the lump that had formed in his throat.

It was late afternoon and Dean easily picked out the trench-coat clad figure among the old, crumbling headstones.

Dean didn't even bother turning off the engine or closing his door as he darted past the graves, heart pounding and mouth dry in anticipation of seeing his brother again.

He stopped dead when he saw Sam lying at the angel's feet, curled in on his side.

"No," Dean breathed, fearing the worst and startled when Castiel's voice drifted toward him.

"He is only asleep, Dean."

The angel beckoned Dean forward and the young man practically ran to his brother.

"Sammy!" Dean reached forward to shake his brother's shoulder when Castiel grabbed his wrist.

"We need to talk, Dean," Castiel intoned, his blue eyes grave.

The lump climbed back up Dean's throat and stuck there.

"What's wrong? Is Sam gonna be okay?"

Cas cocked his head as though confused, "He was in Hell for eighteen months, Dean. Do you expect him to be okay?"

Dean sighed and wiped a hand over his face. Eighteen months. Calculating quickly, Dean realized that in Hell-time Sam had been in the Cage for one hundred and eighty years.

"Why did it take you so long to get him?" Dean ignored the angel's question and instead asked one of his own.

"The Cage is designed to keep angels from getting out; do you not think it would also prevent angels from getting in?"

Dean guessed it was a stupid question anyway. Sam was free and that was all that mattered.

"Why don't you just give me the bad news first?" Dean asked.

"I have never understood why humans want bad news and good news in a particular order. You will receive both eventually, so why does it matter?" the angel asked.

"Cas!" Dean snapped, "Just tell me what's wrong with Sam!"

The angel nodded, "Very well. Sam appears to be in decent physical condition, aside from being hungry, which can be easily remedied. It is his mental health, however, that has deteriorated somewhat."

Dean sucked in a deep breath, "Okay, can you be more specific?"

Before Cas could reply though, Sam stirred from his place between them and opened his eyes, blinking blearily.

Dean crouched down in front of his brother and smiled. He wasn't sure what he expected but when his brother wrapped his arms around him, barreling them both over onto the grass, Dean couldn't help but let out a surprised bark of laughter.

Sitting up, Dean held his brother's face in his hands, "I'm missed you so damn much, Sammy."

Sam tightened his hold on Dean, burying his face in his older brother's leather jacket.

Dean blinked back tears as he ran a hand through Sam's long, dark hair.

Dean looked up at Cas and saw the angel watching them. It wasn't creepy though. Castiel was Sam's friend as much as he was Dean's and the eldest Winchester was sure the angel was happy too.

Dean helped pull Sam into a standing position and out of habit began checking his brother for injuries, despite what Castiel had told him.

"Dean," Castiel spoke but the hunter ignored him.

Sam allowed his brother to poke and prod, lift his shirt to inspect his chest and back without his usual complaints.

"Dean," the angel tried again and the eldest Winchester almost glared at him for interrupting.


"All is not well with your brother; do you not wish to know this?" The angel asked and Dean shook his head, chagrinned.

"Sam appears to have… digressed somewhat," Cas began and Dean quickly looked to his sibling.

"What's that mean?" Dean's mouth became dry with fear.

"Your brother is no longer the person you knew," Cas continued, "I am not sure if it is a survival mechanism or a result from the torture but Sam's mental faculties have deteriorated."

Dean's mouth dropped open so fast his jaw cracked. Sam was staring intently at him, a smile on his face.

"Sammy," Dean breathed than turned to the angel, "Cas, what does that mean for him?"

Castiel peered at the younger Winchester for a moment as if organizing his thoughts, "He is very vulnerable, Dean. It is unlikely Sam will be able to take care of himself."

Dean nodded, trying to let this all sink in.

"Can't you fix him?" Dean asked the angel tentatively; scared of the answer he would receive.

Castiel shook his head, "I cannot undo Michael and Lucifer's torture… I am not strong enough."

Dean looked pleadingly at the angel for a long moment before a tug at his sleeve caught his attention. Sam was holding onto the cuff of Dean's leather jacket with one hand and softly stroking it with the other.

"You remember this, don't you?" Dean asked and shrugged the coat off, wrapping it around his brother's shoulders.

"I'm sorry I could not be of more help," Cas apologized, tears making his blue eyes even brighter.

Dean shook his head, "You got Sammy out of the Cage and that was an amazing feat in itself. You did exactly what I asked."

Castiel nodded. He wished he could do more though. For Sam, reverse the months of torment he must have suffered at the hands of the archangels. For Dean, give him back the brother he remembered. But such miracles were beyond his skill.

The angel was surprised when Dean grabbed him in a bear-hug. Castiel didn't know how to respond so he just left his arms down by his sides. Dean didn't seem to be offended though, even if Cas did feel slightly awkward.

Dean released the angel and took his brother's hand as though Sam was a child.

"Take care of yourself, Cas," Dean said with a smile.

The angel's brow furrowed. He guessed he should have known the time had come for their final farewells- the world had been saved and it was unlikely Dean would hunt again with his brother in his current condition- but Cas felt the tug of sadness in his heart as he watched his friends.

"Take care of Sam," Cas replied and vanished before his vessel's human emotions could get the better of him.

Dean shook his head good-naturedly and patted his brother's hand.

"C'mon Sammy," Dean said, "I know someone who'd really like to see you again."


Bobby Singer paced around his kitchen, beer bottle untouched in one hand, cell phone in the other.

He had left several voice messages for Dean since the younger man had run out but the he had neglected to answer them. Bobby reckoned it likely that the eldest Winchester hadn't noticed his phone vibrating- had put it on silent or something- but he still worried about the boy when he didn't call back.

"Where the hell are you?" Bobby rumbled and stomped into his living room, peering out through the gauzy curtains covering the front window. Evening was fast approaching, the sky turning crimson and gold on the horizon and shadows growing long.

The familiar rumble of the Impala's engine caused Bobby to sag with relief. Gathering himself together though, the veteran hunter arranged his face into a disapproving frown and opened the screen door, peering out into the darkening yard.

Bobby was glad his boys were back- both of them- but he was ready to chew Dean out for leaving him without so much as a 'see ya later'. He knew he shouldn't be too hard on the younger man though. Yes, he was pissed at Dean but he wasn't sure about Sam. Something in Bobby's gut told him that he had to tread carefully with this one.

Bobby watched as Dean stepped out of the car, closed the door and moved around the front of the Impala to the passenger side. Bobby's brow furrowed, the old hunter trying to figure out if Dean's actions were positive or not. For all Bobby knew, Dean could just be in his usual overprotective mode and Sam was complaining right now about being babied.

Bobby sucked in a deep breath when he saw Dean take his brother's hand and lead Sam toward the house.

"Hey, Bobby," Dean greeted in a weary voice once he and Sam had stepped up onto the porch.

Bobby couldn't help but smile. He opened the screen door and leaned against it to keep it from slamming back against the jamb.

"How was the drive to Lawrence?"

Dean's expression turned embarrassed but he shrugged, "Didn't get pulled over for speeding so I'd say it went well."

Bobby shook his head- he couldn't stay angry at Dean, especially when he just wanted to get to his brother- and turned his attention to Sam.

The boy looked fine, but Bobby knew that didn't matter. It had taken Dean a long time to move forward after he'd returned from Hell, plagued with nightmares and the occasional flashback that took months to dissipate.

"Sammy," Bobby smiled, using Sam's nickname- something he hadn't done in since the youngest Winchester had been a boy- and spread his arms for a hug.

Sam remained where he was, half behind Dean, fingers still laced with his brother's.

"It's okay," Dean shifted slightly so that he was standing right beside his taller sibling, "You remember Bobby, yeah?"

Sam, apparently reluctant to break contact with Dean, continued to grip his hand but inched forward until he was close enough for Bobby to touch. The veteran hunter wrapped both arms- gently- around the younger man's frame. Sam put his free hand on Bobby's back but didn't move again until the older man pulled away.

Something's not a hundred percent, Bobby thought but smiled and pumped Dean's hand when the older brother offered it to him.

"Any chance we could get some dinner?" Dean asked and Bobby nodded, turning toward the kitchen. Both Winchesters followed him inside. Dean leaned against the counter while Sam stood silently beside his brother, watching Bobby intently.

"What're you in the mood for?" the older hunter asked as he opened the refrigerator door.

"You got pizza?" Dean asked, still holding his brother's hand; Bobby noticed.

"Make yourselves at home," Bobby grumbled and rolled his eyes, "You're not strangers here."

Dean pulled two chairs out from the kitchen table, placed them beside one another and he and Sam sat down. Dean released his brother's hand and patted Sam's knee.

"You hungry, Sammy?" Dean asked and Sam looked at him unblinkingly for a moment before nodding.

Bobby pulled a pizza out of the freezer and turned on the oven to preheat. He cracked open a couple of beers and handed one to Dean, holding the second one hesitantly.

"Oh, uh, do you have soda or juice?" The eldest Winchester asked.

Bobby bit his lip and peered into the fridge, his gaze settling on a bottle of Dr. Pepper.

"It's kind of old," Bobby squinted at the expiration date on the cap, "Might have lost its fizz."

"It'll be fine," Dean said in a soft voice, the tone giving the older hunter pause.

Bobby peered at the younger man shrewdly, "You and I are having a long talk later."

Dean nodded, "Yes sir."

Bobby grabbed a glass from the cupboard and poured the soda into it before handing it to Dean- the younger man reaching for it- before turning to the oven with it beeped to signal it was warm enough for pizza.


Dean was conscious of the older hunter watching him as he looked after his brother and even though Bobby was one of their closest friends it was annoying.

"What?" Dean asked his friend as he poured more soda into Sam's glass.

Bobby shrugged, "You want s'more pizza?"

"Sammy, use both hands! Don't want to drop the cup," Dean used his own hand to prop the bottom of the glass Sam was drinking from until his brother lifted his other hand to grip the cup.

Bobby plopped another slice of pizza onto Dean's plate and raised his eyebrows, indicating Sam.

"You want more?" Dean asked and Sam shook his head, still drinking the soda so that the liquid sloshed around inside the glass for a moment.

Dean polished off his pizza quickly, eager to get his brother some rest- and less eager to have a much needed talk with Bobby.

"C'mon Sammy," Dean reached out a hand and pulled Sam into a standing position, "Let's see about getting you set up in the guest bedroom."

Dean paused for a moment, grabbing his own napkin from the table to wipe tomato sauce off his brother's chin.

"There ya go, bro," Dean smiled at his brother, "All the chicks will want your number now."

Dean took hold of his brother's hand once again- because it seemed to comfort Sam- and led him toward the stairs. Sam put his free hand on the banister and trailed his palm over its wooden surface as Dean climbed the steps with him.

Dean heard the front door open and close as Bobby went outside to grab the duffle bags from the Impala- and couldn't help but feel an immense gratitude toward the older hunter- as he stepped up onto the landing with his brother.

"You ready for bed, Sammy?" Dean asked even though it was only seven-thirty in the evening. Sam hadn't gone to bed that early since he was twelve, but Dean needed to talk to Bobby alone and he was sure his brother needed some rest.

Sam looked at his brother from underneath half-lidded eyes and yawned loudly.

"Bobby will be back in a minute with the duffels, kiddo," Dean assured his younger sibling.

Sam peered up at his brother from underneath his long bangs and unlocked his hand from Dean's.

Dean watched as his brother reached out and laid a hand on the wall and stared at the textured wallpaper.

"You okay, Sammy?" Dean placed a hand on his brother's shoulder and tried to peer into his eyes. Sam didn't seem distressed or anything but Dean couldn't be too sure. He was making sure to be hyper-aware of Sam's expressions and posture because his younger brother had not spoken at all since Dean had first seen him with Cas in Stull Cemetery.

"Karen picked that out," Bobby's voice startled Dean, "She thought the lilies were pretty. They were her favourite flower."

Sam turned around and gave the grizzled hunter a docile smile.

Dean took his brother's wrist and led him in the direction of the guest bedroom, leaving Bobby with the duffle bags.

"What am I? The butler?" Bobby grumbled but set the luggage down lightly on the bed closest to the door.

"Thanks Bobby," Dean said gratefully and watched as the older hunter retreated, giving the Winchesters some privacy.

Dean grabbed his brother's duffel- he hadn't had the heart to remove it from the Impala's trunk after Sam had died- and pulled out a black t-shirt and a pair of grey sweatpants.

"Alright Sammy," Dean said and paused, unsure of what his next move should be, "How're we gonna do this?"


Twenty minutes later, Bobby looked up from the Farmers' Almanac he was flipping through to see Dean stomping down the stairs.

"'Bout time," Bobby muttered but he couldn't have cared less how long Dean had taken to get his brother ready for bed.

The grizzled hunter watched as the young man tiptoed into the den to join him. Dean sat down on the couch heavily, breathing a sigh and ran a hand over his chin tiredly.

"Feel like talkin'?" Bobby asked and moved around his desk to lean against it instead, arms crossed over his chest.

Dean slouched forward, arms on his legs and nodded slowly.

Bobby waited patiently, even went into the kitchen and grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge, while Dean organized his thoughts.


Dean couldn't believe that Cas had managed to rescue his brother! Despite himself Dean had started thinking that maybe the angel was right and Sam would forever be lost.

He couldn't stop smiling at his brother, glancing at Sam every so often as he drove out of the cemetery and down the road.

Even though Dean was elated to have Sam back with him, Castiel's words niggled in the back of his head. Dean knew that his brother wouldn't be the same but that hardly seemed to matter.

We'll get through this, Dean thought; we always managed to come out on top before so why should this time be any different?

Dean's stomach growled hungrily, reminding the hunter that he hadn't eaten anything since before running out of Bobby's house hours earlier.

"I don't know about you, Sammy," Dean crowed, "But I am starving!"

Sam smiled at his brother and Dean's heart swelled with happiness.


Dean waited until Lawrence was well in the rearview mirror before looking out for a diner. Dean hadn't wanted to stay in the town for too long if he could help it… all it did was bring up sad memories and besides, he needed to get back to Bobby's with his brother. Dean knew the old salvage yard would be the safest place for Sam.

The first restaurant Dean spied was a few miles outside of Topeka, in the middle of a small village named Morris. The diner itself, called Morris Eats, didn't appear too busy and besides that, Dean's stomach was growing more and more impatient.

Dean parked the Impala and got out, stretching and went around to the passenger side to help his brother.

Sam immediately took Dean's offered hand and refused to let go, even when they stepped inside the diner.

Dean's hunter training took effect and he did a quick sweep of the restaurant- taking note of where the other patrons were sitting and where the exits were- before leading his brother to a booth at the back.

The brothers sat across from one another; Dean peered once again at the other people who were sharing the diner with them and Sam staring at the tabletop.

"You feeling okay, Sammy?" Dean asked his brother, concerned at Sam's silence.

Sam didn't look up but bobbed his head once. He reached a hand out and laid it on the table, lightly patting the surface.

Dean watched his brother for a moment before taking his brother's hand in his. Eyebrows knitting together, Dean tried to get a look at his brother's face.

"Good afternoon," a female voice caused the eldest Winchester to jump in his seat and he let go of his sibling's hand.

"Hi," Dean peered at the waitress.

"My name is Lora," she smiled at Dean and handed him a menu and sat the other one on the table for Sam, "Is there anything I can get you to drink, for starters?"

"Coca-Cola for me," Dean leaned back, feeling more comfortable now the he saw how pretty their waitress was, "And water."

Lora nodded, glancing at Sam quickly, before turning toward the kitchen.

Dean opened his menu and pursued the meal choices. He could really go for a big, juicy burger and was pleased to see that the diner had five different kinds.

He peered over his menu and saw that Sam wasn't looking at his.

"Sam," Dean lowered his menu and put his hand on his brother's, "What's up?"

Castiel's words crept into Dean's mind: Sam's mental faculties have deteriorated. He is very vulnerable... It is unlikely Sam will be able to take care of himself.

Dean took a deep breath and switched seats so that he was right beside his brother.

Sam looked up at him questioningly but Dean smiled, reassuring him.

"What're you hungry for, Sammy?" Dean opened his brother's menu and looked down at the choices.

"Salad?" Dean asked. Sam blinked at him.

"Hmmm, no salad then," Dean tapped a finger on the laminated page, "That's a first."

The eldest Winchester looked up when a loud group of teenage boys entered the diner and took a seat at a table not far from Dean and his brother.

Dean narrowed his eyes at the teens, almost smelling trouble, before turning back to the menu.

Lora returned with their drinks, "Are you ready to order?"

"Can you give us a few more minutes?" Dean asked and gave her a charming smile.

"Sure thing," she returned his smile and tucked a strand of her blonde hair behind her ear.

"Hey baby! Why don't you come on over here and take our orders!" One of the teenage boys called while the others catcalled.

Lora frowned and Dean peered at the unruly bunch for a moment, "They're regulars?"

The waitress nodded, "The one swimming in his red t-shirt is the owner's son."

Dean cringed in sympathy, "Damn, that's rough."

Lora tapped her pen against her notepad for a moment, "Let me know if they start giving you grief."

Dean nodded and watched carefully as the waitress approached the boys.

A tug on Dean's sleeve returned his attention to his brother.

"Okay Sammy," Dean said, "What'll it be?"

The older brother eyed the menu again, trying to figure out what his brother would eat.

Dean saw that the diner featured a list of a dozen different sandwiches and smiled.

"You feel like a tuna sandwich, Sammy?" Dean asked his brother and Sam blinked at him.

"I'll take that as a yes," Dean muttered and returned to his seat across from his brother.

Lora walked back over to the Winchesters and smiled, "Ready to order?"

"Can I get a bacon double cheeseburger and my brother would like a tuna fish sandwich," Dean said and smiled at the waitress.

"Coming right up," Lora smiled at the Winchesters and headed toward the kitchen.

Dean noticed that the teenage boys at the table beside them were staring at his brother.

Sam seemed lost in his own world, staring out the window, one hand on the tabletop.

"See something green?" Dean snapped at the teens and they pointedly looked away, sniggering.

C'mon Sammy, Dean thought; prove Cas wrong, please. For me. I know you're stronger than this.

As if he could hear his brother's thoughts, Sam looked up and smiled at Dean.

"Reeeeee-tard," Dean's eyes flicked immediately to the teens and saw that they all had their noses buried in their menus.

Dean looked quickly at his brother but Sam apparently hadn't noticed the taunting. The older Winchester decided that if it didn't bother Sam than it wouldn't bother him either.

Sam returned his gaze to the table, one hand moving to crumple up his paper napkin while the other slipped down onto his lap.

"Here are your drinks," Lora's voice startled Dean and he thanked the waitress.

Dean sipped at his Coke and watched his brother.

"Sam, drink some water," Dean told his sibling quietly.


The meals didn't take long to arrive. Dean's mouth was watering as he breathed in the scent of ground, seasoned beef, toasted bun and melty, gooey cheese. Normally he'd sink his teeth right in but Dean found himself turning his attention from his burger to his brother.

Even Dean had to admit the tuna sandwich looked delicious- then again, it could have just been his hungry stomach talking and that made anything look good- and moved once again to sit right beside his brother instead of across from him.

"C'mon Sammy, you gotta eat something," Dean coaxed, "You've got to be starving."

Dean clearly recalled how hungry he'd been when Castiel had resurrected him and wondered why Sam wasn't eating as fast as he could.

Maybe Sam doesn't like tuna; Dean thought and tried to remember if Sam had any aversion to that particular fish.

Sam looked at Dean, seemingly fascinated by his brother's face, and Dean frowned.

"Sam. Eat." Dean ordered his brother but the younger man didn't react.


Dean turned to glare murderously at the boys, all of whom were preoccupied with their sodas and pointedly not looking at the Winchesters. Dean clenched his hands into fists.

Although Dean knew that he should just ignore the little pricks, he was not going to sit there and let them harass his little brother. Whether Sam realized what they were doing was not the point, Dean knew what the teens were thinking and it pissed him off to no end. Standing up suddenly- startling Sam in the process- Dean took the five or so steps across to the kids' table and casually took his gun from the pocket of his jacket. Making sure that every boy was looking, Dean tapped the barrel on the Formica table.

"I'd really like it if you gentlemen would stop bothering my brother and me," Dean said in a quiet voice.

"Jesus! Is that… that ain't real? Is it?" One of the boys stared bug-eyed at the gun.

Dean just smiled, "Call my brother a retard again and you'll find out."

"Yeah, yeah," the boss's son- shaking in his oversized red shirt- stammered, "Whatever you say, man."

Dean slipped the weapon back into his pocket and turned to Sam. No one else had been interested in a bunch of pesky local kids so no one asked Dean what he was doing with a concealed weapon.

"Guy's crazy!" Dean heard one of the teens hiss as he sat back down in his own seat.

Dean smiled at Sam before peering at his hamburger- so tempting before- and suddenly had no appetite.

Dean looked up and across the diner, searching for the waitress. When he caught sight of Lora he motioned to her and she immediately made a bee-line to the Winchesters' table.

"Is everything okay here?" she asked, a concerned look on her face.

"Can we get the bill, please?" Dean asked even though their meals sat uneaten.

"Okay," Lora answered uncertainly, "Listen, if this is about those kids, I can get the owner-"

Dean shook his head, "Just the bill would be great."

The waitress nodded and walked away. Dean's stomach grumbled a complaint but he ignored it. He gulped down the rest of his soda as he waited impatiently for Lora to return.

Sam smiled blandly at his brother and Dean couldn't help but return the gesture even if he could have felt less like it.

When Lora handed Dean the bill the young man paid for their uneaten food and left the waitress a generous tip.

Standing up, Dean held a hand out to his brother who eagerly accepted. The eldest Winchester heard barely concealed sniggering coming from the group of teenage boys but he decided to ignore it; the little shitheads weren't worth his time anyway.

Dean wrapped a comforting; supportive hand around his brother's and began leading him toward the exit.

"That's right, no retards allowed!" a young, peevish voice called out just as Dean reached the door of the diner and it took all the young hunter's willpower not to turn back and beat the fucking punk to death with his bare hands.

"Don't listen to them, Sammy," Dean muttered to his brother, not even sure if Sam was paying attention or even understood what the teen had said.

Once Sam was comfortably seated in the passenger side of the Impala, Dean rushed to put Morris, Kansas in his rearview mirror and return to the familiarity of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


Once Dean had finished telling the old hunter everything that had happened since he had picked his brother up from Lawrence, Bobby sat back in his chair and rubbed a hand over his face.

"And Sam? Did Cas say anything else?" the older hunter wanted to know. It was obvious that the youngest Winchester was damaged but to what extent?

Dean shook his head, "No, he just said that Sammy was gonna need a lot of taking care of. I guess I should have asked him for the specifics, huh?"

Bobby was surprised that Dean hadn't grilled the angel for more information on Sam's condition but couldn't blame the boy; just having his brother back was enough.

Heaving a tired sigh, Bobby swiped his baseball cap off his head and scratched at his hair before replacing the hat, "I guess we'll have to learn on the fly then."

Dean began to nod before he realized what the older man was suggesting, "Oh no, Bobby, no. I can't do that to you. Once I get things sorted out with Sam I'll find us an apartment or something…"

Bobby glowered at the younger man, "You idjit! You and Sam are staying here for as long as you need to."

Dean's shoulders sagged, "It wouldn't be right."

Bobby looked at the hunter as if he really was slow, "And why not? You boys are family, after all."

Dean hesitated a moment before nodding in agreement.

"It's settled then," Bobby added with finality, "You'll live here as long as you need to and, if you really feel so guilty about it, I could always use an extra set of hands when it comes to fixing up the cars."

Dean gulped visibly, "Thanks Bobby… just… thanks."

"Now don't get all mushy with me, Dean Winchester," Bobby said gruffly but smiled from beneath his ruddy beard, "You're not getting free room and board after all."

Dean smiled. Bobby knew the younger hunter enjoyed tinkering with cars and having the brothers close by would give the older man some peace of mind.

Author's Note:

1. Thanks to BerserkerHellHound for editing this!

2. Please leave a review and I'll write the next chapter… fair trade?