Author's Note: This story is a missing scene from the episode 'Metamorphosis' in season 4.

Job 5:4 – His children are far from safety, and they are
crushed in the gate, neither is there any to deliver them.


All Dean can think of is grabbing his shit and getting out of here, somewhere he can breathe. Somewhere he can think of something other than what Sam has done. And if Sam has any sense at all left in him, he'll let Dean go.

Sam approaches warily, the sense of unease growing as Dean tosses his duffel up onto the bed and gathers his shirts from the closet, shoving the clothes roughly into the bag. "Dean, what are you doing?" But Sam's afraid he already knows. Especially when Dean only continues to pack. "What? Are you - are you leaving?"

"You don't need me. You and Ruby go fight demons." He can't look at Sam right now, can't think of what might happen, what Dean might still have to do, even after going to hell and back. Dean grabs the duffel and makes for the door.

"Hold on. Dean, come on, man," Sam tries to cajole, reaching for his brother's arm. He's rewarded with a swift punch to the mouth. It hurts, no doubt about it, but Sam guesses he has it coming. At least his brother's talking; sort of. "You satisfied?" he asks, trying to be reasonable about this.

Dean's fist flies on its own accord, connecting solidly with Sam's jaw again. He's so fucking furious he doesn't know what to do with himself, and the twinge of guilt he feels at the blood welling from Sam's lip only makes him angrier. At Sam, and himself.

Sam ducks his head, lifting his hand to wipe carefully at his bleeding mouth. "I guess not," he observes wryly.

"Do you even know how far off the reservation you've gone?" Dean wants to know. "How far from normal? From human?"

"I'm just exorcising demons," Sam maintains.

"With your mind!" How can Sam not see what's wrong with this? Dean blinks, a disturbing thought surfacing. "What else can you do?"

"I can send them back to hell," Sam tells him, tries to explain when Dean's eyes narrow. "It only works with demons, and that's it."

Right. Dean's mouth tightens as he grabs a handful of Sam's shirt, forcing the kid backward, because he'll be damned – they'll be damned – if they go down this road again. "What else can you do?!"

"I told you!" Sam jerks away from Dean's grip, tries to keep his own pulse from racing in response.

Dean registers the genuine apprehension on the kid's face and backs off, gives Sam a little space; even if his brother doesn't deserve it. "And I have every reason in the world to believe that," he drawls sarcastically, turning his back on Sam's wide-eyed look.

"Look, I should have said something," Sam admits, full of regret. "I'm sorry, Dean. I am. But try to see the other side here."

Dean spins back around. "The other side?" he demands, incredulous.

"I'm pulling demons out of innocent people."

"Use the knife!" Dean fires back.

"The knife kills the victim! What I do, most of them survive!" Dean doesn't seem to have a response for that, and Sam continues. "Look, I've saved more people in the last five months than we save in a year."

Dean gazes at Sam in disbelief, because damn it, how can the kid still be so naïve? "That what Ruby wants you to think? Huh? Kind of like the way she tricked you into using your powers?" He shakes his head, his voice raw with frustration. "Slippery slope, brother; just wait and see. Because it's gonna get darker and darker, and God knows where it ends."

"I'm not gonna let it go too far," Sam insists.

Dean's lips twist into a grimace, and he turns away, lets his arm clear the ugly-ass lamp from the side table in a vicious sweep. Glass shatters against the wall, into tiny fragments impossible to glue back together. "It's already gone too far, Sam," he snaps, wondering what it's going to take for Sam to get this. "If I didn't know you," he grinds out, watching Sam try not to flinch under his hard stare, "I would wanna hunt you."

The words hit Sam like a physical blow, and tears blur his eyes. He looks away, stomach churning, because Dean's never going to be okay with what Sam is.

Dean sees the kid pale and feels a grim sense of satisfaction. "And so would other hunters."

Sam glances up at his brother, the hazel gaze imploring. "You were gone; I was here. I had to keep on fighting without you." Even when I didn't want to. "And what I'm doing... It works."

"Well, tell me," Dean says, taking a step backward and raising his arms in invitation. "If it's so terrific... then why'd you lie about it to me?" Sam's eyes drop again, and Dean knows he's caught the kid red-handed. "Why did an angel tell me to stop you?"

Sam's startled eyes flick to Dean's. "What?"

"Cas said that if I don't stop you, he will. See what that means, Sam?" Dean asks, more grieved than angry now. "That means that God -" he points a finger upward, " - doesn't want you doing this. So, are you just gonna stand there and tell me everything is all good?"

And what can Sam say to that? He pinches the bridge of his nose, feeling like he might burst into tears at any moment and launch himself at his brother like he did when they were kids. Because, yeah, he's really screwed this one up. "I'm sorry. I should have told you the truth - "

"Yeah, you should have," Dean retorts. He wipes a hand over his face. "I'm trying here, Sam, really trying, but you're gonna have to give me something, because right about now your apologies don't count for crap. How am I supposed to trust you?"

"You can. Dean, I swear," Sam vows earnestly, with the same pleading look that's gotten the kid just about anything he's ever wanted from Dean. "I won't lie anymore. Just – don't leave, okay? I'll do anything, man."

"Anything," Dean repeats, holding his stern look. Because this time the kid's not getting off with a sharp glance and a warning.

Sam's brow furrows, his small smile hesitant. "Sure."

Dean considers. He already regrets punching Sam. Sure, it blew off some steam, but trading punches is something they're both pretty comfortable with, a physical exchange between equals, with all debts settled. But right about now Dean doesn't give a rat's ass about Sam's equality; what he needs is to make an impression. He thinks of the last time Sam was caught in a serious lie, when his little brother claimed he hadn't touched some cursed artifact Dad recovered. The deception had almost cost Sam his life, and it most definitely had cost him his ass. But that particular punishment from their father had worked on Sam like truth serum; the kid hadn't wanted to lie for months.

"Wait here," Dean tells his brother, and heads out to the Impala. Dean finds what he wants buried deep in the trunk, where it's been waiting just in case Dean ever gets to fulfill that Catholic schoolgirl fantasy. Somehow he doesn't think its present purpose is going to be nearly as much fun. He returns to the room a few minutes later, slapping the small wooden paddle down on the room's formica table with grim enthusiasm.

Sam blinks, frowns. "What's that?" he asks, trying to hide his surprise at seeing the despised implement. He can't imagine why Dean would have kept the damn thing. Or maybe he just doesn't want to.

Dean's lips draw back in a tight smile as he pulls out one of the vinyl-covered chairs. "Oh, I think you remember."

Sam flushes, even as he gives Dean a doubtful look. "You want to spank me. Really." This is supposed to be what Dean meant by anything?

"See? And you didn't even need your psychic powers," Dean replies caustically.

Aw, fuck. "Come on, Dean – can't we just talk this – okay!" Sam concedes quickly, as Dean starts toward his bag again. "Okay. I'll do it."

"You sure?" Dean pauses, brows drawn together. "Because I'm not kidding about this, Sam."

Sam gulps. "I'm sure." Dean might be pissed, but Sam's never actually been afraid of him. And if this is what it takes to convince Dean he's sincere, then Sam figures he can suffer the humiliation. After all, how can some kid's punishment begin to compare to losing his brother yet again?

"Glad to hear it," Dean replies, shrugging off his jacket and rolling up the sleeves of his overshirt. He pushes the makeshift cuffs up his arms, then takes a seat on the dinette chair, glances up at Sam. The kid is shifting self-consciously, his face pulled into a worried frown. Dean lifts a brow. "You got a problem?"

Sam's staring at his brother's lap. "It's just – I'm not sure how - "

"Just get over here; I'll worry about the logistics."

"Thanks," Sam mutters, shuffling closer and sliding his palms nervously against his denimed thighs. He stops when he bumps against Dean's knee, not quite able to meet his brother's eyes. Dean's disappointment in him is a near-tangible thing, and Sam's already ashamed of himself.

Dean's fingers reach to curl firmly around Sam's left wrist, tugging his brother downward and over his spread legs. Sam's right; the fit is damn awkward – mostly because Sam's a freakin' giant – but he manages to settle the kid into place, Sam quickly burying his head into his folded arms upon the floor. The quiet compliance would usually have Dean softening, but he's in no mood to be pacified just yet.

Sam's already braced himself for what he thinks is the worst when he feels Dean reach around him and under, fingers working at the button of Sam's jeans. His head jerks up fleetingly. "Dean! What the hell?!"

"How'd you think this was gonna happen, Sam?" Dean asks unsympathetically, unfastening the sturdy denim and yanking it down to Sam's knees. He pauses at the briefs, but ends up shucking them down, too, intent on reminding Sam exactly how seriously he takes his responsibilities here.

Sam bites his lip against further protests, feels heat flood his face and singe the tips of his ears as the stale motel room air greets his bared skin. He knew, knew he shouldn't have lied to Dean about his developing powers, knew it would piss his brother off even that much more, but he just hadn't been able to make himself do it, couldn't bear to see the condemnation in Dean's eyes when he discovered how close Sam had come to falling apart entirely.

Realizing Sam's not going to argue the matter further, Dean reaches over for the paddle, taps it lightly against Sam's ass, testing its weight. Sam tenses and squirms under the varnished wood as Dean susses out the best way to make his point. This is all kinds of fucked up, and he wonders if Sam gets how fucking desperate he is. Whatever. If he doesn't now; he will soon. Raising the paddle a little higher, Dean uses his wrist to snap it smartly against the right side of Sam's ass.

The kid jumps a little, but Dean ignores it in favor of landing a brisk series of swats on that same side, each one overlapping the other in vivid shades of pink. A minute later his wrist tires of the rapid pace, and Sam draws in a ragged breath as Dean moves the paddle to the untouched skin on the left, patting experimentally before letting another volley of smacks heat up Sam's backside. He sets up a steady rhythm, alternating sides with deliberate intensity, and determined not to stop until the glow from the kid's ass can be seen from space.

The crying starts a few minutes in, the heartbroken gasps and sniffles Dean remembers from Sam's younger days, and Dean has to remind himself that his brother's good intentions are paving the road to hell. "Anything else you've lied to me about, Sam?" Dean asks, feeling compelled to at least move some swats to the back of Sam's thighs, even though the kid hardly seems to appreciate it.

"No!" Sam promises, his fingers digging into his forearms to keep his hands from reaching behind him, from doing anything to stop the paddle from smacking his burning ass. His legs are beginning to jerk in response to the wretched sting, and he's choking on his own misery. Dean must really hate him after all this, and Sam will never be able to make him understand. Just the thought brings on a torrent of fresh tears.

"Good," Dean replies. Sam's ass is sunset brilliant and radiating heat, but Dean doubts the paddling will bruise – just sting like a bitch. He finishes up with a flurry of sharp swats to the roundest part of the kid's ass, unsurprised when Sam bucks and collapses, his shoulders shuddering with quiet sobs. Suddenly feeling tired, Dean sets the paddle back down on the table and shakes out his wrist. This sucks.

After a moment, Dean draws up the kid's briefs, and then the jeans, causing Sam to hiss and sob again. He slips a hand beneath Sam's stomach and lifts, planning on helping his brother to his feet, but instead the kid ends up sliding down to his knees, his forehead coming to rest against Dean's thigh.

"M'sorry," Sam gasps. He's sorry and exhausted and his ass is in flames, and really, right now all he wants is his brother to say that everything's going to be okay. Even if it's not.

Dean's hand hovers over the kid's head, wanting to provide absolution. But Dean's not sure it's his to give anymore. "Know why I did that?" he asks gruffly, slowly dropping his hand to cup Sam's neck, his thumb stroking over the hammering pulse.

"'Cause you're a jerk," Sam mumbles against his leg, sounding so much like his twelve year-old self that Dean feels his throat tighten.

"Yeah, there's that," he has to agree. "But, Sam, you gotta know how far I'm willing to go here…" To keep you safe, even from yourself. He wants to say more, is struggling for the words when Sam's phone suddenly rings.

Dean lets his hand fall away as Sam pulls the phone from his belt and lifts his head, using his forearm to scrub at bleary eyes. "Hello." He's pinching the bridge of his nose again, tries to pull himself together when he hears the man on the other end of the line. "Hey, Travis. Yeah, hey… It's good to hear your voice, too, yeah. Um, look, it's not a really good time right now…"

So it's a job, then. Always is. Dean listens to Sam's end of the conversation, watches as Sam climbs stiffly to his feet, walks over to the bedside table to jot down location and suspect. Another day, another hunt. On the surface, just business as usual. Sam will be subdued and apologetic, Dean will be an asshole, but at some point his big-brotherness will kick in, and Dean will relent, revert back to his wisecracking self without Sam ever knowing what thoughts keep him up at night.

Because the phone will keep ringing. And it's only a matter of time before they'll be looking for Sam.

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