Don't Call Me "Sam"
K Hanna Korossy
"You screwed up the devil's trap," Dean declared.
There were four other hunters in the barn with them, none of them the quiet type, but you could've heard a shell casing drop in the sudden silence.
Sam's throat bobbed, a tell of his uncertainty. "What? No, I—"
"Yeah, you did, Sam." Dean's anger gained momentum as he jabbed a finger at the photo on the laptop screen. "You drew two of those little worm things with the wings instead of the periscope-head guy for the one on the right."
"You're freakin' kiddin' me," someone grumbled from behind them. Troy, Dean thought absently, but he didn't turn to look, focused on Sam.
Who was also staring at the picture, his face pale. He breathed a curse under his breath.
"You think? Dude, you've only drawn like, what, a hundred of these?" Dean shook his head. "'Least we know how those two sons of bitches got away," he said flatly. It was why he'd taken a picture of the entrance Sam had covered before they'd headed back to home base; he'd just known his brother was the one who'd messed up.
Sam seemed to shrink. "They've, uh, probably gone to join up with the others. I'll figure out where they're—"
"Yeah, you do that." Dean spun on his heel and headed out of the barn before he lost his cool completely.
Crickets were chirping under the night sky as he stalked across the grass from the dilapidated barn where they were squatting, to the Impala. She stood apart from the two pickups and the rusty Pinto the others had come in, shining in the moonlight. The one thing he could depend on now.
Dean twisted his key in the lock of the trunk and shoved the lid up. After a moment of standing there staring blindly at the false bottom, he realized he had no idea why he'd come out there. He shook his head once, swearing quietly, then gripped the edge of the trunk with both hands and let his head drop. Dean pulled in a deep breath.
He shouldn't have unloaded like that on Sam, especially not with an audience. Okay, so the guy had screwed up. It wasn't exactly a first for either of them. But, crap, this was exactly why Dean had brought in backup when Bobby had called about the demon-infested town. Not so much because they were outnumbered because, well, so what else was new, but because they were up against demons. And after Ruby, and Sam's new taste for blood and, oh yeah, the small fact his brother had started the freaking Apocalypse, Dean was having a little difficulty trusting him again, especially around black eyes.
But God knows, Sam had been trying. He'd apologized more times than Dean could count, gone off to clear his head and come back with new resolve to back his brother up, and worked hard to show that he was both staying on the wagon and making good choices. A FUBAR devil's trap was just human error, not a lapse in judgment. The other hunters had probably even contributed to it, Sam visibly tense and unhappy with their presence.
Sighing, Dean straightened, slamming the trunk shut. He wasn't about to apologize, not when technically he'd been right. But he could at least let Sam know he wasn't mad, or worse. Even though they'd cleared up that whole voice-mail disaster, Dean still saw the uncertainty in his brother's eyes sometimes, the fear that Dean really would turn on him, and that… He shook his head. No matter how bad things got between them, that wasn't acceptable.
He crunched back through the grass that was starting to stiffen with frost, and reached for the barn door.
"—they're saying about you, Sammy?" an older voice filtered through the old wood, maybe Ryan's.
Dean froze, muscles tightening.
"Don't call me that. Only…"
Sam didn't seem inclined to finish, but Dean's stubborn brain did: only Dean got to call him that…or at least had, once. He swallowed. He was pretty sure he hadn't used the nickname—hadn't looked at Sam like that—since that honeymoon suite in Minnesota.
"Big brother? Yeah, he doesn't seem that crazy about you these days, either. Why is that?"
Dean cringed. His giving Sam grief was one thing, but he hadn't realized the others had picked up on it and were doing the same. Then again, Sam had had a bad run-in with some hunters when he'd been on his own…
It was stupid, the shot of pride Dean felt at the fight still left in his little brother.
"That what you did to Reggie?" The hostility in Mulligan's voice was clear.
Dean's jaw set, and he flung the barn door open.
He could have predicted the scene: Sam standing balanced on the balls of his feet, fists loosely clenched, facing the four hunters who stood in a loose half-ring in front of him. The shadowy barn hummed with tension and aggression straining to be let loose.
Five faces swiveled toward him. None of them seemed relieved at his entrance.
Dean grinned. "Hey. Bobby called, said he's got something else big up north. You wanna go…Sammy?"
It shouldn't have made his heart clench when he saw the shock in Sam's eyes. The kid's shoulders rolled back as he turned again to the other hunters but answered Dean. "Yeah."
"Okay, let's hit the road." Dean nodded apologetically. "You guys got this, right?"
Troy and Ryan opened their mouths.
"Awesome." Dean swung the door open wider to let out Sam, who hadn't even taken the time to pack, carrying his open laptop and notes in a pile in his arms. "Good luck on the clean-up." Dean quickly shut the door in the four stunned faces.
Sam was at the Impala's door, shoving his stuff into his satchel. "What did Bobby call about?" he asked, distracted.
"He didn't." Dean opened his door. "Got tired of the company."
Sam stopped, staring at him, expression hidden by the dim light.
Dean slid into the driver's seat, leaned over to look out and up at Sam through the other door. "You comin'?"
Sam unfroze, clearing his throat as he swung his bags into the back seat. "Yeah." He climbed in, long limbs folding familiarly to fit, even longer looks cast Dean's way as they rolled out of town. But the silence between them was easy now, comfortable.
Why hadn't he done this before, Dean wondered? He'd always had preferred Sammy to Sam.
He was pretty sure that grown-up, equal-partner, older and wiser Sammy did, too.