mizpah1931: Latin Exorcism - don't leave home without it (Default)

Title: Happy Birthday
Season: 3
Category: General, Action, Horror/Ghost
Warnings: Winchester whumpage. Set between the Season 3 episodes The Magnificent Seven and The Kids Are Alright
Tagline: Tension mounts between the brothers – is it just Dean’s deal or is something more sinister at work...
Total Word Count: 52,583
Total Chapters: 9
Chapter 1 word count: 5477
Beta:

[personal profile] ziggyuk 
Story Banner: Chasidern

 

I originally started posting this on the 27th of June, 2008. I’d actually come up with the plot bunny and jotted down a few notes and ideas for the story in February 2007. The poor thing languished in my WIP folder for over a year until the muse finally pointed at it and said, yep, that one next.

Special thanks go to a fellow fanfic author – SupernaturalGeek. During the course of writing it, I read her story What Makes You Stronger, and realised to my dismay that certain elements in the story were similar. So I hurriedly sent Michaela the rough draft and she gave her very kind permission for me to continue.

And of course, to my support team, Chasidern and Ziggy, go huge thanks for banner and beta. Oh, and I almost forgot – thanks also to a client I had at the time when I was freelance bookkeeping – a mechanic who assisted me in disabling the Impala – lol.

Disclaimer: no profit, don’t own them...frickin’ wish I did....

 

Chapter 1

Even the soothing sounds of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid couldn’t dispel the tension that had crept into the black Impala after the last hunt had ended. Dean shifted a little in the driver’s seat, casting a quick sideways glance at his brooding sibling.

Sam’s long body slumped untidily against the passenger door as though his spine lacked the necessary strength to support him. His blank gaze was turned toward the scenery blurring past the window, and he had neither moved nor spoken for the last three hours.

Dean sighed softly and turned his gaze back to the road, letting his mind wander back over the past few days. The last hunt had been murder. The brothers had investigated a series of strange incidents in a small town in Tennessee, and had discovered the culprit to be a teenaged boy dabbling in black magic. The boy had created a thought form and had sent it after people he held a grudge against, terrorising them until he’d felt they were put in their place. Unfortunately, the psychic projection had started to take on a life of its own and had turned malevolent, killing the boy’s gym teacher.

The hunters had split up – Dean tracked down the boy’s hiding place and dismantled the altar, destroying the power of the projection – while Sam raced to protect the boy’s next victim, one of the boy’s classmates. But before the thought form had dissipated it had latched onto Sam, drawn to the young hunter like iron filings to a magnet. When Dean had finally gotten to the house of the intended victim, he had discovered his brother huddled in a corner of the basement, rocking back and forth, his eyes squeezed tightly shut and his fists pressed against his temples.

Sam had eventually calmed down, but he had adamantly refused to talk about the attack. And three hours ago, he had stopped talking altogether.

Dean rubbed a hand across his bristled jaw, musing that it was high time he had a shower and a shave. His gaze flicked to his silent passenger again. “Hey – you hungry?”

The younger man didn’t respond. He just continued to stare blankly out of the window, lost in his thoughts.

“Sam?” Dean reached out and tapped his brother on the shoulder. “Sammy?”

Sam slowly turned his head to meet his brother’s gaze.

“I said, are you hungry?” Dean frowned as his sibling shook his head and turned back to the window. “You know, we’re gonna have to talk about this.”

“I’m just not hungry, that’s all. It’s no big deal.”

Dean slammed a fist against the steering wheel. “I don’t mean that, idiot! I mean what happened back in Tennessee!”

Flinching a little at his brother’s sudden flare of anger, Sam dropped his gaze to stare at the floor between his feet. He didn’t look up as the car swerved off the road and pulled up with a slight jerk. The engine was switched off, and the ensuing silence was almost deafening.

The elder hunter licked his dry lips, shooting a worried glance toward his silent companion. He’d noticed the flinch, and was determined not to move from that spot until he got to the bottom of what was happening with his brother. “Start talking.”

 “I don’t –”

“I don’t care what you want! We’re not going anywhere until you tell me what the hell that thing did to you.” Folding his arms, Dean settled back against the driver’s door and prepared to wait it out. He watched the scowl form on Sam’s expressive face before the younger man turned to face the window again, and then his gaze dropped to Sam’s hands. The slender fingers were twitching slightly, and Dean fought back a grin as the twitch gradually travelled up the long arms to the tense shoulders. Won’t be long now – kid never could sit still when something was bugging him.

After a strained and silent ten minutes Sam rolled his shoulders, sighed and risked a quick glance at his big brother. Dean cocked his head to the side, fixed his gaze on his sibling’s face and waited expectantly. Sam sighed again, bowing to the inevitable. “It just – it – got inside my head…”

Dean arched his brows. “I figured.”

The young hunter gripped his knees and hunched forward, falling silent for a few more moments. His elder brother waited patiently. “It – told me – that I was…” Sam took a deep breath, and his fingers tightened their grip. “It told me that – I – was…” A shudder ran through his frame and he chewed his lower lip, staring out at the shadows of the trees beside the road.

The rustle of clothing shattered the stillness as Dean reached into his pocket and pulled out the silver hip flask that was never far from his side these days. Unscrewing the cap, he held out the receptacle, tapping it gently against Sam’s arm. He rested his arm across the back of the seat after Sam took the flask and downed a hefty swig of the whiskey inside it.

Sam turned the small metal container idly between his hands, feeling the whiskey burn its fiery but pleasant trail down to his stomach. He closed his eyes and let his head drop back, hearing the slight squeak of skin against leather as Dean shifted his hand out of the way.

“What did it tell you, Sammy?”

“That I was gonna lose – everyone – that I cared about – that I would – that everyone around me – would burn…” Sam opened his eyes and stared at the roof of the Impala. He heard his brother’s softly muttered curse, and felt the warmth of Dean’s hand as it settled on his shoulder. “Burn – like Mom and Jess.”

“Sam…” Dean sighed softly. “You know that thing was just messing with your head. It –”

“But it wasn’t, was it?” Sam turned his head to look at his brother, anguish clouding his features. “You are gonna burn. If there’s no way out of this deal, then I am gonna lose everyone.”

Dean’s gaze fell, and his throat tightened. “Sammy, look…”

“I’m tired, Dean.” Sam closed his eyes and flung an arm over his face. His brother’s hand squeezed his shoulder. “I’m tired of running. I’m tired of being the target of every damned evil thing on the planet. I’m tired of losing – people – that I…”

“Okay, all right.” Dean pursed his lips, thinking rapidly. “We’re a little too far from Bobby’s, and I don’t know if Ellen’s set up another base of operations yet. So I guess…”

Sam raised his arm and shot his brother a curious glance. “For what?”

“Vacation. You need a break.” Giving his sibling’s shoulder a final encouraging pat, the hunter straightened in his seat and slapped his hands on his thighs. “That just leaves the as yet unexplored delights of the next town. How about we check it out, see what it has to offer and take a day or two off, huh?”

The hazel-eyed hunter ran a hand wearily through his hair, pushing the long bangs away from his forehead. “Sure we can take some time off from the friggin’ demon war?” he muttered bitterly.

“Yeah, I’m sure.”  Dean decided to ignore his brother’s biting tone, reading the underlying frustration in the words. “Anyway, we’re running a little low on some supplies. It’ll give us a chance to stock up. Maybe have a little fun – recharge the batteries, huh?” He waggled his eyebrows at his sibling, grinning as he heard the inevitable annoyed huff. “Okay – vacation time it is.”

Sam grimaced as the radio was switched on and turned up, signalling that the discussion was over. Not that he really had any say in the matter. Dean had decided that they needed a vacation, so that was what they were going to do. He turned back to the window as the Chevy pulled onto the road, staring blankly at the passing scenery. Hopefully there would be time for his brother to go off and have fun, leaving him to continue to try to find a loophole in the contract on Dean’s soul. It was all he was interested in – saving Dean and winning the war, preferably in that order.

Dean checked his watch, and blinked in surprise when he noticed the date. With all that they had been through in the past couple of weeks, he had almost forgotten. He quickly hid his grin and decided that they would just have to make it a few days off, in honour of the occasion. Hopefully, he could get his moody sibling to relax for long enough to have a little fun for a change.

The Chevy growled throatily as she tackled a long, steady incline and Dean frowned, tilting his head to listen to the engine. He reached out and snapped off the radio, dragging his sibling’s attention away from his own dark thoughts.

Sam glanced at the now silent radio, and then his gaze shifted to his brother’s concerned face. “Dean? What’s going on?”

Dean held up a hand. “Wait.” He gripped the steering wheel a little tighter, feeling that faint vibration in his bones that told him that there was something wrong with his baby. Wondering if he was imagining the slight tremor that rippled through the Chevy, he eased his foot off the gas. The growl faded, and he only detected the usual deep song of the big V8 engine. Shaking his head, he managed a weak grin as he glanced at his brother. “Nothin’. Just my imagination, I guess.”

“Huh.” Sam turned back to the window, resuming his blank-eyed stare at the outside world.

The Chevy seemed to hesitate when her master pressed his foot on the gas again. Dean’s worried frown returned and he hunched forward a little while he watched the speedometer needle climb – far too slowly for his liking. “Come on, baby, what’s the matter?” he whispered softly.

Sam heard the whispered plea and quirked an eyebrow at his sibling, keeping his comments to himself when he saw the worried frown on Dean’s face. He peered at the dashboard, and then at Dean’s foot leaning hard on the gas. “Dean? Are we losing speed?”

“I don’t know what’s wrong – I got my foot to the floor. She should be flyin’.”

With a final grumble and a tiny shudder, the Impala made it to the top of the low hill and picked up speed as she roared down the other side. Dean kept his foot on the gas. “Maybe we got a bit of dirt in the tank last time I filled up. Could be a blocked jet in the carburettor.” He relaxed against the seat, easing off the pressure on the pedal and letting the Chevy coast along for a moment.

Sam nodded, trying to look as if he knew what his mechanically minded brother was talking about. “Okay.”

“I’ll check it out when we get to the next town.” Easing his foot back onto the gas pedal as the road again began a gradual incline toward the next hill, Dean scowled when the Chevy shuddered. “What the…”

“What now?”

“We’re losing power!”

Sam glanced at the rear view mirror, blinked, and looked again. “Uh, Dean?”

“What!”

“There’s smoke comin’ out of the back…”

“Son of a bitch!” Dean stared at the growing cloud of white smoke billowing from the exhaust, and pulled over to the side of the road. “No, no, no…”

Ordering his brother out of the vehicle, Dean flung himself from the driver’s seat as soon as he switched off the engine. He backed hastily away; pulling Sam along with him until he reached what he thought was a safe distance. Dean stared at the clouds of smoke belching from under the Impala and held his breath, wondering if she was about to burst into flames. He could feel the comforting pressure of his brother’s tall frame leaning slightly against his shoulder while he watched.

Slowly, the smoke dissipated with no sign of any accompanying flames, and Dean drew in a deep, relieved breath. 

Sam blew out a sigh and glanced at his big brother. “So – what do you think happened?”

“I don’t know.” Dean rubbed a hand across the back of his neck as he strode back to the Chevy and popped the hood. A tiny belch of smoke curled up into the air and he took a hasty step back, almost bumping into his sibling. He waited for a few moments before slowly approaching the front of the car, leaning over to peer at the engine. “Maybe an oil leak?”

The younger hunter pursed his lips as his brother bent over the cooling motor.

“Sammy?”

“Yeah?”

“Get the tool kit from the back, would ya?” Dean stripped off his jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt as Sam placed the tool kit on the ground in front of the fender. “Okay, let’s see what’s wrong with you, baby.”

*     *     *     *     *

“Son of a bitch!”

The sudden curse startled Sam from his light doze. He straightened up with a groan, pushing himself away from the passenger door to glance down at his brother’s legs sticking out from under the front of the Chevy. “Found something?”

Dean’s legs jerked violently, and an oil-covered hand shot from under the car to grasp the lower edge of the black metal frame. Muttered cursing preceded the appearance of the rest of Dean’s body, and he glared up at his sibling while he wiped his hands on a rag dangling from the side of the tool kit. “Yeah, I think so. One more thing to check before I’m sure.”

Climbing to his feet and slapping at his jeans to get rid of the dust from the side of the road, Sam watched his brother slide behind the wheel and turn the key to On. Dean manipulated the gear lever and cursed again.

“Lost the gears.” The elder hunter slumped back against the seat and blew out an aggravated sigh. “Damn it!”

“What is it?”

“Torque converter bearing’s gone. There’s brake fluid all over the bell housing – that’s what caused the smoke. Losing power, then losing the gears – it’s gotta be the bearing. Must have got a bit of crap past the dust seal.” And I bet I know just where I got the crap from, Dean thought bitterly, as he remembered barrelling full speed down nameless gravel roads a couple of weeks ago, in a desperate search for a crossroads so he could bargain for his brother’s life.

Sam stared blankly at his brother. “Oh, right,” he muttered lamely. He had absolutely no idea what a torque converter bearing was, but it sounded important. “So, can you fix it?”

Dean’s grin was forced. “Yeah, sure – I’ll just get my instant workshop kit out of the trunk. Better stand back when I hit the Activate button – the thing’s freakin’ huge. Got a working hoist and everything.”

“A simple ‘no’ would have been fine, Dean.” Sam shook his head, opened the passenger door and dropped onto the seat. “So, what now?”

“Gotta try to get a tow. She’s not going anywhere under her own power.” With a weary sigh, the green-eyed hunter flipped his cell from his pocket and stared at the screen in dismay. “Oh, just freakin’ perfect – no signal.”

Sam pulled his own cell from his jeans and checked the signal. He grimaced, showing the phone to his brother. “Must be the hills interfering with the signal.” Sam reached for the set of maps in the back seat and quickly found the one he wanted, tracing his finger rapidly over the network of roads.

“Son of a bitch!” Dean raked his hands through his spiky brown hair, and glanced curiously at his sibling as Sam slid from the car. “Hey – where are you going?”

The younger hunter gestured to the road undulating away through the hills. “The next town’s only about ten miles away. I’ll walk in, find the mechanic and get a tow truck out here.”

“No way! Not a good plan.”

Sam spread his hands out from his sides and rolled his eyes. “All right – new plan. You leave me with the car, and walk into town to get the tow.” Sam narrowed his eyes, and played his hole card. “Or, we can leave the Impala out here all alone by the side of the road, and walk into town together.”

Dean swallowed nervously when he heard his brother’s last suggestion. None of the solutions appealed to him, but he had to go with one of them or he and Sam would be stuck out there all night. Tapping his fingers against the steering wheel, he reluctantly decided that Sam was the best one to go. Dean needed to be with the Impala when the tow truck driver came, so he could make sure his baby was towed properly. He glanced at the sun and then at his watch, judging that they had at least another four hours of daylight left. If the average walking speed was three miles an hour, Dean reasoned, then his brother’s freakishly long legs should be able to make almost double that. He quickly did the math in his head, estimating that it should take Sam no more than two and a half hours – three hours tops – to get into town, get a tow truck and be on his way back with help before nightfall.

“We’re burning daylight, Dean,” Sam prompted testily.

“Okay, okay. Don’t get your panties in a knot, Samantha.” Dean let out a gusty sigh, snarled silently at his useless cell phone and turned to face his sibling. “Okay, fine. You go into town.” He held up a warning hand. “But if you’re not back here in three hours, I’m gonna come hunting your ass.”

Sam snorted in exasperation. He slammed the door, earning a glare from his elder sibling, which he promptly ignored. “You’re so worried about me being on my own? Should have thought of that before you made that friggin’ deal.” He strode rapidly away before his brother could reply.

Dean’s mouth opened, and then slowly closed. He watched the ramrod straight back of his sibling as the younger man stalked up the gentle incline. “Damn it, Sammy, that was a low blow,” he muttered.

It had been a couple of weeks since the events in Cold Oak. And Sam’s reaction to Dean’s deal hadn’t improved with time. Dean slumped behind the wheel, rubbing a tired hand across his face as his sibling disappeared from view. “Why can’t you understand, little brother? I didn’t have a choice. I had to save you. Why can’t you just let it go – and let me go?”

*     *     *     *     *

Sam shoved his hands into his jacket pockets, pulling the garment tight across his broad shoulders as he strode swiftly away. He gritted his teeth in anger, his eyes burning. Screw Dean for making that deal, he thought bitterly. A lump rose in his throat and he almost choked trying to swallow it back down. The thought of what was going to happen in just under a year’s time threatened to overwhelm him. He couldn’t lose his brother – he just couldn’t. Dean was all he had left in the world. Life without his annoying big brother wouldn’t be life – it would be hell on earth.

He kicked at a stone in his path, sending it skittering away into the long grass at the side of the road. Anger grew in his gut – at himself, at his brother, but mostly at the yellow-eyed demon for bringing the devastation down on his family in the first place. Demon blood… Sam shook his head violently, trying to dispel the damning picture in his mind of the night his mother died.

“You shouldn’t have brought me back, Dean,” he snarled. “What’s dead should stay dead.” But even as he said it he felt a twisting inside his gut, knowing that Dean could never have just let him go. Sam shuddered and increased his pace. He knew deep in his heart that it wasn’t just because Dean feared being alone. All his life, Dean had one mission – to keep Sam safe. To protect him at all costs. A failure in that sacred duty was unacceptable.

A memory surfaced as he walked along – a scripture he had read in a motel bible a long time ago. John had been away on a hunt at the time, and it had been just him and Dean in another dingy motel. Dean had gone out to get dinner, leaving Sam alone in the room. He’d become bored waiting for his brother to come back, and had picked up the Gideon bible from the drawer of the nightstand between the two beds. The young teen had spent a pleasant half hour idly flicking through the New Testament before coming across a scripture in the Gospel of John, finding something in the words that had touched a chord deep within him at the time.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends,” Sam quoted softly. “Substitute ‘friend’ for ‘brother’.” Stinging tears pricked his eyes, but he held them back. He had told Dean over a year ago that he would die for Dean, but Dean had carried the sentiment one step further. If Sam couldn’t find a loophole, Dean really was going to die for his brother. That was as unacceptable to Sam as Sam’s death had been to Dean.

“I have to save you, Dean,” he whispered harshly, his throat constricting. “There’s gotta be some way.” He glanced over his shoulder, but the Impala was gone from view, hidden behind the hill he was descending. Sam thought of the bitter words he had thrown at his brother just before he walked away and he bit his lip, wishing he could go back in time and erase them. But he couldn’t take them back. All he could do was keep moving forward, and hope that he could make it up to his brother in some way.

Pulling his hands from his pockets, the young hunter drew in a deep breath and broke into a jog.

*     *     *     *     *

Dean checked his watch for what seemed the thousandth time in the last three hours. He sighed and squinted at the western sky. The sun was rapidly sinking below the hill behind him, and long shadows stretched across the ground as the light slowly faded.

A few cars had stopped, their drivers offering assistance or a lift to the nearest town, but Dean had refused them all, explaining that a tow truck was on its way already. He really hoped it wasn’t just wishful thinking on his part.

Getting out of the Impala, Dean paced up and down by the side of the road, stretching the stiffness from his legs. His gaze kept returning to the crest of the hill to the east, hoping to see the promised tow truck rumbling toward him with his sibling in the passenger seat.

Coming to a halt near the front of the broken down Chevy, he leaned against the hood and folded his arms across his chest, turning his left wrist a little so he could see his watch. “Come on, Sam – where the hell are you?”

As if in answer, a low rumble sounded on the still, early evening air, growing steadily closer. Twin headlights lanced up toward the darkening sky as a truck topped the rise, and rapidly fell, blinding Dean for a moment. He blinked to clear the spots from his vision, and dropped his hands to his sides as the truck swung off the road to pull up alongside the sleek Impala.

“You Dean?” The tow truck driver leaned across the cab and peered through the passenger window.

“Yeah.”

“Your brother sent me. Said he’d get a room at the motel and wait for you there.” Sliding from the vehicle, the young man wiped his hands on his oil-stained jeans and approached the waiting hunter. “What’s the trouble?”

“Torque converter bearing, I think. Lost power, and she started blowing smoke. There’s oil all over the bell housing, and I’ve lost the gears.”

“Huh.” The tow truck driver peered into the engine bay. “Man, it’s a real shame seeing this old gal like this. She’s a beauty.”

Dean grinned like a proud parent. “Rebuilt her myself.”

“Yeah?” The young man stuck out his hand. “I’m Dave.”

Dean shook the proffered hand.

“So – rebuilt her from scratch, huh? Rescued her from some wrecking yard?” Dave ran his calloused hands appreciatively over the Impala’s gleaming fender before gently closing the hood.

“Not exactly. She was my Dad’s car – he gave her to me a few years ago. We kinda had a run-in with a semi a few months back. She got pretty mangled.” Dean swallowed at the memory –more than just the car had been mangled in that accident. “One of – my Dad’s friends – he wanted to scrap her, but…” But my brother wouldn’t let him, he added silently to himself. My stubborn, pain-in-the-ass little brother who can’t let anything go. A lump rose in his throat and he coughed, blaming his stinging eyes on the dust kicked up by the tow truck’s wheels.

“Wow.” Shaking his head, the tow truck driver swung back into the cabin and manoeuvred it to the rear of the Chevy, reversing back until the bumpers were about three feet apart. Exiting the vehicle, he proceeded to hook up the tow chains to the undercarriage of the black classic. “Lucky you got out alive. She’s a tough old gal, that’s for sure.”

“Yeah.” Rubbing a hand across the back of his neck, Dean watched while his baby was hooked up to the truck.

Dave jumped into the drivers’ seat, checked the gears, making sure the transmission was in neutral and the handbrake off before returning to the rear of his vehicle. He worked the lever for the hoist, pulling the Chevy’s rear wheels off the ground so she could be towed without any damage to the drive train. He locked off the controls and grinned at the anxious hunter. “You ready?”

“Let’s go.” Dean patted the passenger door and walked around to climb into the truck. Settling back against the worn seat, he glanced in the rear view mirror to reassure himself that his baby was secure.

The young mechanic grinned and gunned the engine, drawing the green-eyed hunter’s gaze to him. “Dude – don’t worry. She’s safe with me. I got a sixty-five T-bird myself.”

“Yeah?” Dean’s interest was piqued. He settled into the corner of the seat, sensing a kindred spirit in the mechanic. “Not the four twenty-seven?”

“Nah – I couldn’t be that lucky. There’s only six of ‘em left, so they say. Mine’s just a standard three ninety. But she’s got front disc brakes, and a pretty mean stereo system.”

Chuckling, Dean spared another glance at his best girl before turning to face the tow truck driver. “So, did you rebuild her, or…”

*     *     *     *     *

“Thanks.” Sam waved the room key and strode from the reception desk, his polite smile fading the further he got from the chatty motel owner. “What is it with middle-aged women wanting to pat my head like I’m some kinda friggin’ puppy,” he muttered in annoyance, moving swiftly along the corridor until he found their new home – at least for the next few nights.

Turning the key in the lock, Sam pushed the door open and hit the light switch, standing on the threshold while he checked out the room.

The tall hunter saw the standard layout – twin double beds along the left hand wall, small table with four chairs to the right near a tiny kitchenette, the bathroom beyond that at the back of the room. To his immediate left was the air conditioning unit, and he decided that his first priority was to turn it on to get some warmth into the slightly chilly room. He nudged the door closed with his boot toe as he twisted around to adjust the heating controls. 

With the air conditioning set to his satisfaction, Sam strode across to the bed farthest from the door and sat on its edge, bouncing up and down a few times to check the mattress. It seemed softer than some of the places they’d stayed at, and he gave a mental shrug as he turned his gaze to the decor.

Grinning a little, Sam studied the pale shell-pink coloured wallpaper with its tiny rose motif, imagining his brother’s reaction. The bedspreads were a dusky pink, and Sam’s grin grew wider. Flopping back on the bed, he craned his neck to peer into the bathroom, noting with relief that it was decorated in subdued creams, except for the motif around the bathroom mirror, the edge of which he could just see, and the shower curtain. Both were in the same shell pink with embossed roses as the wallpaper in the main room. “Man, Dean’s gonna freak.”

Rolling onto his side, the young hunter cast his amused gaze toward the kitchenette, bypassing the rose coloured chairs flanking the small cream Formica table. He saw the standard courtesy tray, complete with coffee percolator, and checked his watch as he levered his tall frame up from the bed. The tow truck driver should have reached his brother by now, he mused, and got busy making an extra strong pot of coffee. 

He was just pouring out his first cup when his cell rang. Dragging it from his pocket, he checked the caller ID and grinned. “Hey.”

“Where are you?”

“Room sixteen – down near the end of the corridor. Where are you?”

“Just turning into Main Avenue. Get your ass out to the parking lot and help me with the bags.”

The phone went dead, and Sam frowned at the screen. “You can be such an ass, Dean,” he muttered in exasperation. Slamming the cup down on the bench, he forgot about making things right with his brother and stormed from the room, banging the door closed behind him.

*     *     *     *     *

Dean flipped the phone closed, glancing up as Dave swung the truck into the motel parking lot. He arched his brows at his companion’s wry expression. “What?”

“You always order him around like that?” Dave’s grin softened the statement.

“No, actually, I don’t.” Dean rubbed the back of his neck, searching the building for his bound to be pissed off sibling. “He got pissed at me over something when the car broke down – said some things before he walked into town. I’m just giving him a bit of his own medicine.”

“Uh-huh.” Catching sight of the tall dark-haired hunter heading toward them with rapid, angry strides, Dave shook his head. “Think you’re about to get a bit right back at ya.”

Dean studied the tightly drawn features of his brother as the younger man came to a halt alongside the Impala. Sam said nothing, merely nodding a curt greeting to the tow truck driver while he waited for Dean to open the trunk. He snatched his duffle, laptop satchel and the weapons bag still loaded from their last hunt, and headed back to the room without a word. Sighing, the elder hunter watched him go. “Great.”

“Told you.” Dave grinned, leaning toward the passenger side of the truck as Dean drew level with the window. “Hey – if you two get tired of your own company, come down to Ernie’s Bar in a half hour’s time. I’ll meet you there – we’ll have a few beers.”

“Sounds great. We’ll be there.” Raising a hand in a casual wave, Dean watched his baby being towed down the street before turning to face the motel. Squaring his shoulders, he drew in a deep breath as if to brace himself for another confrontation with his moody sibling, and headed for their room.

Sam met him at the door.

“Hey, Dave’s –”

“I’m going for a walk.” Waving a hand toward the room, the taller hunter stepped outside into the corridor, refusing to meet his brother’s puzzled gaze. “There’s fresh coffee.”

“Sam – wait.” Dean let his duffle slide to the floor and reached out a hand to restrain his sibling. Sam dodged with lithe grace and kept walking. “Sam!”

The broad back stiffened, but Sam didn’t slow his pace. He turned a corner of the corridor and was gone from sight, the sound of his boot heels rapidly fading on the quiet evening air.

Dean thumped a fist against the wall in frustration. “Just freakin’ peachy!” Picking up his duffle, he stepped inside the room, slamming the door behind him.

*     *     *     *      *



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