Sam watched Dean sleep and knew that was creepy, but he was busy feeling so many other things that he kind of couldn't be bothered with creepy.

He'd been exposed to the Croatoan virus that day, trapped with some career options from The Game of Life: doctor, soldier, soccer mom in Oregon's take on I Am Legend, and now he couldn't sleep because, you know, busy day.

It wasn't the whole near-death thing. They were hunters. The job came with risks, and not the kind that could be fixed with worker's comp. Sam had thought he was going to die before. He'd even thought Dean was going to die before. But it had never been their choice.

Even when their dad died, and it had been his choice, it hadn't really, because he'd died to save Dean. Sam hated himself a little for being able to choose between them, but he could, and he'd choose Dean. Every time.

Sam loved his dad because he was his dad, but he loved Dean because Dean had watched his back and given him the last of the cereal and worn that stupid necklace every day of his life even though if Sam had done the same thing, Dean would have made chick jokes.

Dean was his brother, and that wasn't just a word, like it was for most families. Families who only saw each other on holidays, who didn't know each other's favorite food (pie) or second worst fear (flying) or first worst fear (losing Sam). To Sam, "brother" was loaded with meaning, none of it symbolic, all of it real and right next to him in their room at The Palms Motor Hotel, smelling faintly of leather and disco fries.

So if Sam's dad had consulted him, treated him like an adult for once and asked him, "Should I make a deal for Dean's life?" Sam might not have said it out loud, but he would have thought, "Yes. Of course. It's Dean."

He knew Dean would have said, "No," and then something a lot more colorful. At least, if their recent run in with the crossroads demon was anything to go by.

And that was the source of Sam's insomnia.

Tonight, Dean had a choice, and he'd chosen death. Staying with Sam wouldn't have saved anyone. It wasn't sacrifice. It was suicide.

Dean had tried to commit suicide.

Just because the poison he'd picked was brotherly love and not a gun or a razor or actual poison, Dean expected Sam to act like it hadn't happened. But Sam couldn't do that, so instead he sat on the edge of his bed and watched his big brother sleep.

Dean groaned and slid a hand under his pillow to clutch the handle of the knife Sam knew was hidden there. Sam wondered if he was having a nightmare, but before he could decide whether or not to wake him up, Dean's head did it for him. He squinted up at Sam, cheek still pressed against the polyester pillowcase.

"You watching me sleep?"

Sam shrugged.

"That's kinda' creepy, Sammy."

He shrugged again.

"Okay." Dean scrubbed his face with his hand and sat up. He fumbed with the lamp, blinking when he found the switch.

"What are you doing?" asked Sam.

"'There's no way I'm falling asleep again with you watching me, man. I mean, what if I drool?"


Dean sighed. He climbed out of his bed and stumbled to the table. Styrofoam squeaked softly as he dug through the empty takeout containers from Roxy's Diner until he found the remote. He shoved Sam lightly, carefully avoiding the cut Pam had given him.

"Budge up. You can watch me watch TV. That's way less creepy."

Sam sat back against the headboard as Dean settled in next to him. He turned on the TV and surfed until he found some show about a woman with bright pink hair.

"Oh, Alias," Dean said gleefully. "You can tell Jennifer Garner is a real actress, 'cause of all the snot when she cries."

He reached for the nightstand drawer without taking his eyes off the TV and pulled out a box of Fiddle Faddle that Sam hadn't even known was there. And suddenly, it was like they'd planned this, a night of popcorn and TV. Dean's shoulder was pressed up against his, and Sam knew that was no accident.

"You're gonna' be fine," Dean muttered in between mouthfuls of Fiddle Faddle. Well, mostly in between mouthfuls, but Sam didn't notice the half-chewed food that normally would have grossed him out, because he was too busy being amazed at how Dean could know exactly what he needed but have no idea why he needed it.

"You're an idiot, you know that?" he said finally.

"Hey, College Boy, I'm not an idiot just because I didn't go to Stanford. You know that whole Schoolhouse Rock thing was just a joke, right?"

Sam smiled. Dean looked like he would have rather gotten a laugh out of him, but, satisfied with a smile, he turned back to his Fiddle Faddle and Jennifer Garner.

Sam watched him watch TV, content for the moment to do what Dean wanted and pretend Rivergrove had never happened. They'd have to talk about it eventually. But later, when they had a little distance and a lot of beer. Right now it was just one more thing to put in their rearview.

At the first commercial break, Dean started singing softly.

"Conjunction junction, what's your function?"

Sam laughed.