Sam could be damn sneaky when he wanted to. Dean alternately made it very difficult and very easy- he'd watch Sam like a hawk most of the day, most days, but if Sam very earnestly started talking about research and studying and something academic, Dean would quickly cut him loose and head out to a bar. Not that he was doing so well lately, dressed in Sam's rolled-up jeans and relatively colorful shirts.
Anyway. Dean would go drinking. Then, Sam would sneak out hunting.
Not hunting hunting- Dean would kill him if he tried that, even if he wanted to, and he definitely didn't- but searching out and gathering a secret stash of things he hid away carefully in his duffle bag. And he was pretty sure that Dean, for all his psychic big brother abilities to sniff out any injuries Sam tried to blow off or embarrassing secrets he wanted to hide, didn't have the faintest clue what Sam was doing right under his nose.
"Hey. Sammy. You…got anything you wanna tell me?"
Or, maybe not.
Sam tried to play innocent even though that had never worked when it was about Dean's missing army men or conning Bobby into feeding him Lucky Charms instead of real food, and twisted to face Dean with a surprised expression.
"Huh? What d'you mean?"
Dean drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, eyes on the road and a little crease on his forehead. "Don't even try it, Sam. You've been sitting on something for a while now and I figured I'd give you a chance to clear it up on your own, but you're obviously still at it. So spill."
Sam curled his toes. "Seriously, Dean, there's nothing," he insisted. He couldn't let him find out yet- there was one piece left, just one!
Dean sighed and rubbed a hand roughly over his face. "Awesome," he muttered. "Sorry, Sam, I didn't wanna do this to you, but there's too much shit already going on right now and I don't have time for you to crap out on me with a little emo moment." He flicked on the turn signal and pulled them off the freeway at the sign for a gas station. They drove in silence for the few minutes it took to get there, then sat quietly in the parking lot for a few minutes more, Sam twitching nervously and Dean rolling the hem of his (Sam's) turquoise plaid shirt between his fingers. Finally, his brother picked up his cell phone and pushed a speed dial number. "Hey, Cas, we're at the Roll-In Full Service off exit 203…."
Sam started. "What? Dean, we don't need-"
Sam and Dean both swore loudly as they jumped and hit the roof, then spun round in their seats in unison.
Cas looked back at them plaintively. "You called me," he said accusingly. You told me where you are, I didn't just…pop up this time."
Dean blew out a loud sigh and scrubbed his fingers through his hair. "I know, man, but- I hadn't even finished giving you the freakin' address. We weren't expecting you just yet."
Castiel shrugged. "I've been keeping an eye on your whereabouts."
"Right. Well, thanks. Anyway. Sam, go inside."
"Huh?" That was not what Sam had expected Dean to say. He'd been waiting for something about Cas using his angel mojo to see whether or not Sam was lying, or possessed, or something.
Dean waggled his fingers in the direction of the convenience store attached to the gas station. "Go on," he said. "The grown-ups gotta have an adult conversation. You go buy some candy and play with the coin-op horse for ten minutes, okay?"
Sam gaped at him, but Dean seemed resolute, so he threw open the car door and stomped away, muttering irritably under his breath the whole way to the doors of the store. Glancing back, he saw that Cas and Dead already had their heads together, talking seriously.
But then he opened the door, and gasped.
The last piece.
SPN SPN SPN
Sam walked back to the car feeling rather smug. Not only did he find exactly what he'd been trying to get for the last two weeks, the store had had a decent stock of granola bars! He'd felt so satisfied he even bought Dean a sack of peanut m&m's and Castiel a bag of Swedish Fish as a present. He couldn't wait to see the angel's face as he tried to figure them out….
His brother and his angel were waiting in tense silence when he swung into the front seat. "Hola, mis amigos," Sam said cheerfully. "I come with gifts." He handed a surprised Dean and impassive Castiel their candy. Sure enough, Cas looked perplexed.
"I don't- why are these fish multi-colored?" the angel asked helplessly, turning the bag back and forth in his hands.
Dean rolled his eyes. "They're candy, Cas. Fruit flavored."
Cas' eyes widened. "Fish come in fruit flavors?"
"What? No!" Dean groaned. "Never mind. Just eat them. What are you all smiley about, Sammy? Did somebody give you a funny-looking brownie while you were in there? Cuz you know I've warned you about those."
Sam chuckled and shook his head. "Hang on a sec, I've got a present for you." He climbed back out of the car and jogged around to the back with the last bag from the convenience store, dumped the contents along with the secret stash from his duffle into Dean's near-empty duffle, and hustled back. He offered the bag to Dean with a big grin. "Here you go!"
Dean eyed it warily. Justifiable wariness, really. Sam shook the bag.
"It's not bad, I promise," he encouraged.
Dean glanced back at Cas, who didn't say anything, then sighed, and took the bag. "My own duffle bag. Thanks, Sammy. That's really nice of you."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Just stop being a dickhead and open it, okay? You'll like it. I promise."
Dean cautiously slid the zipper back a few inches, just enough to get a glimpse of what was inside. Then his eyes widened and his mouth opened a little in surprise and he yanked the zipper back the rest of the way, flopping the sides open. "You fixed it!"
A pile of Dean-sized clothes tumbled out onto the front seat, near-perfect replicas of what had been shrunk in the wash. Sam grinned happily. "They're all new ones. I've been hunting around the last couple weeks to find the same brands and stuff, but it's all there." He waved a hand over the bag, indicating the package of black briefs and the black v-neck t-shirt. "And I talked to a girl who works at a dry cleaners and she told me all about how to use the new laundromat machines, so it won't happen again." Sam said a hand over his heart and adopted his most dramatically serious expression. "Promise. So, we good?"
A tiny, genuine smile flickered over Dean's lips for a moment before it was replaced with the trademark smirk. "You're such a chick," he muttered, but his warm tone took out any sting and he ruffled Sam's hair fondly. Then he stuffed everything back into the bag and hauled it over his shoulder. "Alright, you two good for a few minutes? I wanna go change out of this shit I got on, it smells like flowery shampoo." Dean jogged off to the convenience store bathroom with a random rude gesture over his shoulder.
"Sam," Cas piped up from the back.
"What do Norwegian fish taste like?"
Sam opened his mouth, then hesitated. Then grinned. "You know what? Ask Dean when he gets back. He knows about all the fish- he likes studying about them. But, you know, he's kinda embarrassed about it so he won't talk about it unless you ask him straight. You know, country by country."
He could see Cas frowning slightly in the rearview mirror. "I only know the names of a hundred and eighty-six modern countries. Do countries that no longer exist count?"
Sam stifled his chuckle and nodded gravely. "Oh, absolutely. Dean studies these things allll the time. So just ask him country by country, right?"
Sam settled back into his seat to wait for Dean and bask into the smugness.