The Walking Wounded

The time had come to put an end at long last to the madness. Sam walked into the seedy bar in search of his prey. Although he might not know it that was exactly what he on this night and to Sam had become. And of course he didn't have to look long or hard to find him. There in a darkened corner of this hell hole he sat with a lapful of sleazy and willing female. She might have been pretty if you had scraped the make up off her face and actually put some clothes on her. And she wasn't his type at all but Sam didn't think he was being too choosy as of late. Walking to where the couple sat Sam fought the urge to yank her off of his lap and smack him one.

Dean looked up from both his shot of tequila and his woman of the moment and smiled. "Look iss my brosher."

Sam looked at Dean knowing how much pain he was in and still felt like he wanted to kick his ass. "Let's go Dean. Party's over."

Dean shook his head and started kissing the blonde who was on his lap ignoring both Sam and his request. Sam reached down and took the shot glass of tequila and downed it himself fortifying his courage cause right about now the shit was about to hit the proverbial fan. "Hey that wass my shot Samansha."

He took a hold of the arm of Dean's little friend and pulled her to her feet. "Here whatever your name is take this and get lost."

He handed her a fifty dollar bill and she took it and got into his face. "I'm not a hooker and you're just rude."

But having said that she stuck the money into her bra and turned towards Dean. "Sorry sweetie but I gotta go cause bad big brother is here now."

Dean gave her the drunken version of his usual killer smile. "C'mon baby don't worry he's my lill brosher and he's a girl."

She walked by Sam and ran her finger across his chest and licked her lips as she went. "Whatever."

Now Dean was drunk and pissed. "Hey firss you drink my tequila and now you are trying to steal my chick. What the fuck iss your deal?"

Sammy looked at the back of the female that was walking away and shook his head. "Not enough alcohol in the world Dean."

Knowing that he had just been insulted Dean leapt to his feet. "And my deal is that you are coming home now and this shit is about to end."

Always cocky and even more so when drunk Dean was spoiling for a fight. "Think your big enough Sammy?"

Sam moved with the reflexes of a cat and before Dean knew what had hit him Sam had grabbed the front of his shirt and planted a fist in his face. As Dean was headed for the floor in a big way Sam stepped in and grabbed him and threw him face first over his shoulder. "I think I might be big enough Dean."

He said it to Dean's unconscious form just for the satisfaction of saying it and reaching into his jean pocket threw a twenty down on the table and carried Dean out the door.

The cold air revived Dean somewhat and he began to stir. "Stay still you weigh a ton."

Sammy reached up and took the car keys out of Dean's pocket he opened the car door and threw his brother into the back seat none too gently. Unable to stop the smile that came onto his face when Dean's head hit the door on the other side of the car Sam climbed behind the wheel. He knew that Dean was all right because every once in a while he would swear or moan. But Sam had no illusions about how bad things had gotten and what he would likely have to do to get things back to normal. And it didn't escape his notice that anything in their life could be called normal.

They were almost back to the hotel and Sam was glad cause just the smell of alcohol was almost enough to get him drunk as well. It was another five minutes at most when he saw Dean sit up in the back seat. "Sammy I don't feel so…."

And then to Sam's surprise he leaned forward and threw up in the floor on the passenger side of the back seat. "Ahhh God Dean."

Now he saw his brother lift his head up and he looked awful. "I'm sorry Dude."

And then he leaned forward and repeated the action.

Shortly after that they arrived at the hotel and Sam helped Dean out of the car and into the room and laid him down on his bed putting the waste basket by his bed. Walking back out to the car he stuck his head in the back seat and gagged himself. Standing back up he made an executive decision and just locked the doors and walked away. Let Dean worry about it tomorrow. He was going to have to face some really difficult things and that mess in the car was definitely gonna be one of them.

Sam stood outside the room for a few minutes and feeling desperate he reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone and tried to place the call he didn't want to have to make. He knew that the hand which held the cell phone was trembling but he couldn't seem to make it stop. He dialed the now familiar number one more time fully expecting a cryptic message and instead he his father's voice and he couldn't fight the tears that rolled down his face. "Sammy I heard how is he."

Again Sam struggled to speak his throat thick with emotion. "Not good, not good at all."

He could almost see the pain on his fathers face. "How not good?"

"Well he is spending the days sleeping and the nights in seedy bars knocking back tequila like it was water."

Now he heard his father swear. "And that's not all Dad there are women too."

Impatient with his son's seeming inability to get to the point he snapped. "Aren't there usually girls involved where you brother is concerned?"

Now Sam shook his head as if his father could see the action through the phone. "Dad these girls are not like anything he would ever have given a second thought. They are sleazy, drunk and well kind of non attractive."

Now Sam waited a moment while dad grasped what he was saying. "It's that bad Sammy?"

"Yeah dad that's what I'm trying to say."

There was a long pause during which Sam knew that his father was considering all the options. "I'm so sorry son I can't come now I'm too close, you will have to take care of this for me."

Now Sam closed his eyes and felt the tears behind his lids. "But dad how am I supposed to do that?"

"I wish I could be there but I'm just a day behind this thing. You'll figure it out; just do what I would do in this case son. I love you and Dean but I have to go now." Sam felt the tears spill down his face as he heard a dial tone again and he stared at the phone in dismay.

He stood in the cool night air for a long time trying to figure out exactly how to best help his brother find his way out of this. Finally knowing the answer wasn't out there he went back into the motel room glad the see that Dean hadn't been sick again. He stripped off his clothes and crawled into his own bed feeling like he used to when he was little and would get bronchitis, chilled to the bone. But this time there was no Dean to put extra blankets on him or get the heating pad so that he could put it under the covers. There was no big brother to chase away his fears or crawl into bed with him and tell him funny stories until he howled with laughter or dad came up and made Dean stop. He felt his brother's absence as much as if someone had removed an actual piece of him. As hard as he tried the tears came until finally he was too tired to do anything but sleep.

The sunlight was streaming through the cheap draperies and Sam rolled over and heard Dean groan. With as drunk as he had been last night he was sure that he would have a giant hang over this morning. He sat up and climbed out of bed pulling on his jeans and walking to the window pulled open the draperies. He was happy to hear Dean moan loudly and swear. "Dude close those drapes I'm dying here."

And unlike the night before when he had been overcome with sadness suddenly Sam was mad, damn mad. "Get up Dean I don't think you're gonna sleep the whole freakin day away again today. You are getting your ass out of bed before four o'clock."

Now Dean sat up with his head in his hands. "Get bent."

Now that he had started Sam didn't think he would be able to stop any time soon. "You disgust me Dean with your pathetic inability to deal."

Now he was surprised to see no reaction from his brother. "Shut up Sam your yapping is making my head hurt worse."

Now Sam looked him over and wasn't happy with what he saw. "Man where did the warrior go? What about all those sit –ups and leg lifts that you are always doing? Or better yet a five mile run with a sixty pound pack on your back when's the last time you did one of those. Or ever carb loading or protein loading. Man the only thing that you have been loading lately is tequila and pity and some pretty fugly women."

Now Dean looked up and glared at Sam "I don't go in for fugly women and I am so gonna kick your ass."

Before Dean knew it Sam had closed the gap between them and pushed him back onto his stomach on the bed and easily held in place. Sam was horrified when Dean barely put up a fight and Sam immediately let him go amazed at his lack of response and anger. "Yeah you think so big brother cause I don't. I don't think you can anymore."

He let go of the hold on Dean's arm and walked away fully expecting Dean to jump out of bed and onto his back and at least then the two of them could work through some off the pink elephants in the living room that no one ever mentions feelings. But he got across the room before Dean stood up. "I mean it Sam I am gonna kick your ass."

Even the threat didn't sound earnest and if anyone should know it would be Sam who had been threatened by Dean his whole life. "Like last night when I popped you in the jaw and carried you out of that dive you were in big brother? You're gonna kick my ass like you did last night?"

He saw Dean take a step towards him and he was ready for the physical altercation knowing that if he got Dean mad enough that maybe, just maybe he would let go of some of it. And the anger on his part was honest and running through his veins like a raging river. But then Dean got a funny look on his face and ran for the bathroom. Sam stood there with tears in his eyes as Dean threw up in the bathroom.

And then still pulsing with fury he went to Dean's duffle and ransacked until he found clean jeans and boxers and a shirt and took them to the bathroom opened the door and threw them into the room. "When you're finished heaving up all that cheap tequila take a shower you still reek of cheap perfume from your easy blonde conquest last night."

He was further dismayed when the clothes didn't come flying back out the door at his head. *Shit Dean what am I going to do about you?* He didn't know he just knew that he needed to answer that question and answer it quickly for both of their sakes.
***************************

Dean came out of the bathroom and almost tripped over a bucket with rags in it that Sam had placed on the floor. Looking towards his younger brother who was sitting on his bed with his laptop he scowled. "What is that for?"

Now Sam gave him a harsh look in return. "That Dean is for cleaning out the back seat of the car where you yacked repeatedly last night."

Suddenly Dean looked kind of green again and Sam thought that there might have been just a touch of anger in that look too. "You let me hurl in the CAR Sam? What's up with that bro?"

Sam just shook his head unwilling to accept any responsibility for his brother's behavior last night. "Let's see you got drunk, you threw up in the car and how did I have anything to do with that?"

Now Dean looked uncharacteristically repentant. "Come on Sam how about you clean it up just this once?"

He attached a wan smile to the request. Sam stood up and picking up the bucket threw it none to gently at Dean. "Not damn likely Dean."

He ignored the pleading look his brother sent his way and went back to his laptop feeling a huge wave of guilt.

H
e had given what his father had said a great deal of thought and realized that if he were going to stop this downward spiral that Dean was in he would have to get tough. He knew that the good son, brother and soldier still existed in Dean behind the wall of pain. Sam just had to force his way in and drag him out. No different really than if he were on a hunt and he were forced to drag him away from the monster. The only difference really was that this time the monster slept within. He was not willing to sacrifice his brother to this or any other thing. He would do whatever it took and try to ignore just how much the action went against who he was. If you had told Sam that he would punch Dean in the
mouth and carry him out of a bar he wouldn't have believed you and yet he had. Long story short he would do what ever it took to save him, period.


   Dean came back in an hour later looking as bad as he smelled from the mess left overnight in the car. Sam expected him to tear into him about that but he didn't. "It's clean now and what a mess."

He headed back into the shower and Sam was glad to see it. To Sam at least that represented some progress. While he was in the shower again Sam went out and bought some lunch and brought it back for the two of them. And when he saw the food Dean didn't look too pleased but he ate and Sam was glad for that.

   After lunch Sam looked over at Dean and suggested that he take another rest and was happy when Dean snorted. "What am I now freakin Grandma?"

Now Sam sent his older brother a nasty look. "Hey shut up I love Grandma."

Dean snorted again but he lay down on the bed and was instantly asleep which suited Sam just fine. He wanted him rested for tonight. And Sam himself closed his eyes for a few minutes wanting to be rested enough to handle what tonight would bring.

   Sam opened his eyes and was dismayed to see that it was dark already and looking at the alarm clock he saw that it was after six o'clock. He rubbed his eyes and stood up and stretched looking to where Dean slept on his back with an arm thrown across his eyes and forehead as if to keep out the world which Sam thought he probably was wishing for.

   For the entirety of his life Dean had been the strong one. His mentor, protector, friend, co-conspirator, sometimes father and occasional hard ass. But tonight the tables briefly were gonna turn. In order to get over the pain Dean was going to have to face it and deal with it and accept any and all blame. And then Sam was going to have to be dad for a little while. Having dad help you to accept consequences was never pleasant but no matter how difficult it was at the end of the day you felt like the piper had been paid and you felt forgiven. And Sam knew that right now his brother was wallowing in guilt and needed to both be forgiven and to forgive himself more than anything else. And Sam was gonna lead him to it if only please God he had the strength.

Sam quietly went into the bathroom and made the necessary call and found the information that he sought with relative ease. He gave his reflection a passing glance in the mirror and saw someone who was committed to the task at hand. "Hey Dean wake up we need to go out."

Dean grumbled but he sat up and ran a hand over his face. "Where?"

Now Sam all but broke a sweat preparing to lie to his brother as apparently old habits die hard. "Dad called while you were asleep with a tip that we need to follow up on."

He saw Dean's face go dark for a moment. "Well then let's roll cause we wouldn't want to disappoint dear old Dad now would we?"

He said it ever so snidely but Sam was grateful that he got moving. Walking to the table Sam grabbed the car keys as it was necessary for him to drive otherwise this would never happen. Dean didn't even attempt to argue with him and that fact worried Sam a great deal but he said nothing. When they were almost there Sam noticed Dean looking around suspicion evident on all his features. "Where did you say we were going?"

"Didn't say."

Now Dean swung an angry gaze his way and about that time recognition kicked in. "Turn this car around now Sam."

Sam swallowed hard and tried to ignore every impulse that told him to obey Dean just like he had been doing for all of his life. "No."

Now he saw his brother turn and look at him as if he hadn't heard correctly. "No, did you just tell me no? Since when do you tell me no?"

Now Sam felt sick but knew that he had to push ahead. "Since you crawled into your shell of pain and pity and refused to let anyone help you."

He saw Dean actually flinch at the words and he shook his head. "I am so out of here little brother."

Now Sam felt rage hot and fast sing through his veins. "No you are not, you are going back in there with me to face what happened and you can either go on your own two feet or I can drag your ass in the choice is up to you, but make no mistake one way or another you are going in there."

He knew that the next few minutes would tell him which direction this was likely to head in. If he and Dean had to get involved in an out and out brawl then he was ready. Because he had made his mind up that the old Dean was coming back and he knew deep in his heart that if the reverse had happened Dean would fight tooth and nail to help him. He stopped the car in front of the old abandoned farm house and took a deep breath preparing himself for whatever was coming.

Looking to Dean he saw the last thing that he expected which was fear on his face and Sam's surprise and disbelief about that actually brought tears to his eyes. But the thing was that it made him realize just how much he needed to do this and it spurred him on. Getting out of the car and being careful to take the keys with him he walked around to his brother's side of the car and opened the door. "Get out Dean."

Now he saw Dean look at him with tears shining in his eyes. "I can't dude."

Sam gave it a ten count and then reaching in grabbed the back of Dean's jacket and yanked him out of the car. Dean came out and for a moment Sam saw a flicker of the old Dean. "Keep your grubby mitts off of the threads man."

And it felt so good that Sam actually smiled. "So you wanna stand here grinning like a moron or do you wanna go in Francis?"

Sam just nodded and together they walked towards the house and climbed the rickety stairs. Opening the door and going inside Sam was pleased to see that Dean didn't hesitate. They walked slowly through the old house where they had fought their last battle and Sam knew they were just about to the really tough part.

Walking into the kitchen they both continued knowing just where they needed to go. Standing at the top of what used to be the stairs to the basement Dean looked down and a single tear rolled down his face. "I can still see her lying down there Sam all broken."

Now Sam pulled him into a hug and felt him fighting the sobs with all that he had and even that was pure Dean. And Sam didn't fight him on it as the actual sobbing would come later he was sure of it. He felt Dean pull away. "Christ I hate this girly shit and I hate feeling this way."

Sam sighed for that was as close to Dean saying that he wasn't happy with the way things were either as they had gotten in since that night. "You didn't mean for it to happen Bro."

Now he was on the receiving on a furious Dean glance. "But it did."

Sam just nodded knowing that there was no way to change that either. "I talked to her Mom tonight Dean and the paralysis is improving, they are pretty sure she is going to be able to walk and do everything that she could before."

Now Dean just shook his head despondent again. "Doesn't matter it shouldn't have happened I should have known."

Now Sam again felt the stirrings of rage. "Oh bullshit Dean her parents are ready to give you a damn medal, you saved her life."

"I am the reason she spent these weeks not being able to walk."

Now Sam was getting even angrier. "Yeah well you are also the reason that she was breathing these last weeks too. It would have killed her and you damn well know that."

Now Dean pulled out an old chair from what was once a farm kitchen and sat down and put his head into his hands. "Why did I tell her to go to the basement Sam? Why not outside or the attic or anywhere but the fucking basement?"

"Maybe because none of us knew those stairs were rotted through and that she would fall? Or maybe because you were trying to protect her and you needed her out of the way so that you could slay the big bad demon? And trust me big brother that one was both big and bad."

Dean looked up at Sam and on his face was something that Sam hoped and prayed was hope. "They really think she's gonna walk again?"

And Sam just nodded. "Welcome back Dean."

But to Sam's dismay his stubborn brother just shook his head. "Still my fault."

And Sam fought the urge to shake him with all that he had. "No Dean her getting hurt while you were fighting hard as hell with your own life on the line is not you fault. But hey there are plenty of things that were."

He saw Dean's head snap up to look him in the eyes. "Like what?"

Sam took a deep breath knowing that it was time to step up to the plate. "How about the nose dive you took into self pity since this happened? Or the fact that you completely shut me out every time I tried to help you. Or the drinking yourself sick every night and driving home in that condition. Or not eating or taking care of yourself and the sleazy women. Or how about all the nights that we didn't work cause you were hiding out in some rat hole bar with a fugly chick plastered to you?"

Now he saw Dean's own temper start to go. "What's the problem Junior jealous?"

Sam just shook his head. "No thanks I go for girls whose IQ is larger than her shoe size. But hey then this isn't about me it's about how royally you fucked up big brother and about how you are gonna pay for that."

Now Dean looked at him as if he had lost his mind. "And who exactly do you think is gonna make me pay for anything Sammy?"

Now Sam could feel his own heart pounding but he knew that there was no other way out of this than straight through the middle. "I am Dean, I am gonna punish you."

Any other time he might have laughed at the expression on his brother's face but not this time. "Even with the fact that I haven't been training or eating and alcohol has been my new best bud you still couldn't take me."

Now Sam thought about that as he had every moment since this whole thing started. "Maybe I could or maybe not but we are gonna bypass that whole thing."

Now Dean snorted sounding much more like his usual self. "Oh really Frances are ya gonna drug me?"

Sammy shook his head. "No Dean you are going to submit to it because you know that you deserve it. That's why we're here."

"No."

Dean said the word, but as he said it Sam saw the uncertainty behind his eyes, and he knew that whatever else had occurred Dean knew that he deserved to be punished. Maybe the good soldier who had lately been stifled with alcohol and pain even wanted to be punished and held accountable. It was in that split second that Sam knew his plan was going to work.

Not wanting to risk that he would change his mind Sam knew that he needed to just do it. He reached down and unbuckled his belt and pulled it off and momentarily felt sick to his stomach. He had been on the receiving end of this situation many times and knew exactly how that felt. But this was something totally new to him and he wondered if he would be strong enough to do what needed to be done. He had in anger before punched and hit his older brother but those were knee jerk reactions to certain situations while this, this was calculated and harsh and unfortunately just what was needed to get Dean both to forgive and move on.

"When this is over Dean and we walk out that door we leave it all behind here in this room. You will be forgiven and you will forgive yourself and stop the daily torture that you have been doing since she fell."

Again Dean shook his head and said, "No."

But this one was even weaker than the last and Sam knew it was more of a perfunctory remark than anything else. "Stand up and take off your coat and bend across the kitchen counter."

Sam used his most forceful voice but it still sounded weak even to his own ears. Dean did stand up and he looked at this brother. "What if I say no Sam? What if I refuse?"

There wasn't even a pause before the younger brother answered the question as he had thought about that a great deal. "Then we are gonna roll around probably on the floor together until I get the upper hand and then I am really gonna whale on you."

Again Dean looked disgusted. "Not likely little brother."

Sam pulled the ace out of his sleeve, the virtual dad card and hated himself that it was necessary. "Just look me in the face and tell me that you don't deserve this Dean and if you can do that we will walk out that door right now."

He saw his brother actually flinch. "I can't Sammy you know that I can't"

Trying not to be distracted by the tears in his voice Sam continued. "Then even you know it needs to happen and it's gonna happen."

Dean looked so pained but to Sammy's great relief he nodded. "After it's done then things go back to the way it always was Sammy, I'm the boss and the older brother and if anyone is getting their ass beat it'll be you, just like always."

Sam fought a huge smile as nothing in this world or the next would make him happier than for things to go back to the way they were before. "Yeah Dean I know."

He watched his older brother take off his jacket and put himself into the position Sam had instructed him to be in and couldn't help but feel some pride. He should have known that Dean would face this head on just like he had faced everything else in his life. Sammy walked to where he stood realizing that his palms were slick with sweat knowing that he had to do this the right way in order for it to be effective. He grabbed Dean's right arm and twisted it behind his back.

"Hey, I did what you said what the hell are you doing that for?"

"Insurance Dean, it's real easy to be brave when I haven't even started yet. This is just in case you decide in a few minutes that you don't want to be brave anymore."

Now Dean struggled briefly against being held in place. "Get bent Sam."

Sam just ignored the insult and the struggle and folding the belt in half brought it down across the seat of Dean's jeans. He just kept repeating the motion making the swats hard and consistent. He knew that he must be doing it correctly because after just a few minutes his brother was actually trying to dodge the belt. He brought it down with a little more force across his legs and admonished him. "Stay still Dean."

Within a few swats after that he could hear Dean taking ragged breaths and he knew that he was close to tears. Instead of easing the swats he started making them even harder. He had no desire to injure Dean but he knew that in order for him to deal with all the emotional crap he needed him to completely let go. And for someone who held their emotions as tightly as his brother did he knew that wouldn't be an easy task. Knowing how much he himself hated it when dad or Dean swatted his legs he laid four more hard swats onto the back of his brothers thighs and felt like he wanted to cry himself. But it seemed to work as he could actually hear Dean crying now.

And as much as he didn't want to and as much as it broke his heart he just kept going. To his credit Dean didn't beg him to stop or plead in any way as he knew that he couldn't have handled that and it would have been at an end at that moment. Finally after what seemed like an eternity he set the belt down and letting go of Deans arm placed five hard swats on his behind with his hand and was surprised to feel the heat through his jeans. He rubbed his back and felt tears roll down his own face. "Okay Dean we're done. Now it's over and you're forgiven."

Before he had a chance to resist Sam pulled Dean into a hard hug and just held on tightly. And he sent a prayer of thanks heavenward when he felt Dean just give in and sob. They stayed in that position for some time and Sam didn't want to move for fear Dean would stop the emotional catharsis.

Finally after a good amount of time Dean pulled out of his embrace and looked at him wiping his sleeve across his eyes to dry his face. "The next time I tell you that you hit like a girl Francis tell me to shut the hell up."

Now Sam actually laughed out loud and was surprised to find that he was both laughing and crying at the same time. "Okay then we go back to normal now right?"

Sam did smile at that again. "Yep."

Now Dean held out his hand "Then give me the car keys Samantha. And in about two hours when I can sit down again I plan on driving us back to the motel."

Sam laughed again so happy that it had all worked out and he gently slugged Dean on the shoulder. "Hey what is it with you and wanting to do bodily harm to me today?"

Sam looked down at the ground. "Sorry."

Dean squeezed his shoulder. "Hey I'm sorry that I have been such a giant jerk about all of this and forced you to go all dad on my sorry ass. And believe me right about now it is sorry."

Sam just nodded overcome with unspoken emotion and not trusting himself to speak. "I promise it'll be me looking out for you the next time Sam."

Dean shrugged into his jacket and put out his hand for the keys again which Sam gladly gave him. They walked out of the kitchen with Dean stopping briefly to glance at the open hole where the stairs had once been. Sam noted with satisfaction that there was but a brief flicker of emotion that crossed his features. They walked out of the house and to the car and Sam climbed in the passenger seat happy to be on this side of the car again. After looking at the house for a few minutes more Dean climbed into the vehicle as well and swore.

"It isn't like you weren't asking for it Dean."

Now Dean looked at him as if he were crazy. "Not that man this car still reeks. How am I ever gonna make it up to her?"

Sam just rolled his eyes and smiled happy to have his brother back. They had driven about two miles and Dean was squirming clearly uncomfortable in the drivers sear. "Hey suddenly I'm hungry how bout we stop somewhere and eat?"

"Not too comfortable big brother?" Sam asked in a very lighthearted way.

"Get bent little brother." Before too much longer they pulled up to a diner with a packed parking lot and were told there would be a little wait. They walked back outside and Dean leaned his shoulders against the building and again Sam smiled.

"Glad to not be seated immediately are we?"

Now Dean smiled a smile that Sam hadn't seen in a very long time. "You have no idea."

Finally they were called in and seated and Dean found himself to be ravenously hungry which further delighted Sam. They were almost finished with their dinners when Sam looked up to see the girl from last night coming towards them. "Oh shit Dean."

Dean looked up from his dinner and frowned at the pair coming towards them. "Do I know that trashy blonde from somewhere?"

Before Sam had a chance to answer she and her friend strolled up to the table. "Oh Dean baby I am so glad to see you."

She turned to her friend and gestured towards Sam. "This is the creep who gave me fifty bucks last night."

Now Dean looked to Sam with wide eyes and was even more surprised when the chick bent down and kissed him on the mouth. "Whoa hold the phone, do I know you?"

Now she stamped her considerably sized foot and called Dean an ugly name, gave them both an unpleasant gesture and she and her friend sailed back to their table.

Sam was sitting there trying his best to not grin and Dean stared at him until reality set in. "Oh no man please…please tell me that wasn't last nights blonde?"

Sam just nodded. "Shit Sammy you should have like used the rock salt on me man."

Dean put his head in his hands for a moment longer and then looked up to Sam. "What did she do for you that you paid her fifty dollars for?"

Now Sam laughed out loud. "She went away."

"Dude I would say that was money well spent for damn sure."

The two finished their dinners and walked back out to the car. Dean's discomfort seemed to be easing a little and Sam was glad for that. And while he seemed tired the relationship between the two of them felt the same way it had always felt and even the silence was comfortable. They got back to the motel and parked the car and got out and Sam noted with amusement that Dean reached around behind him and rubbed. Unlocking the door they both walked into the room and were startled when the light came on.

"Hello boys." They both exchanged a look of disbelief that their father was sitting in the ratty overstuffed arm chair.

"Dad" Sam went to him first and was on the receiving end of a warm and loving hug. And then Dean stepped to where he stood and also was wrapped in a loving hug and despite his aversion to all things emotional clung to his father like a drowning man on a life raft. John pulled back and looked at Dean and saw the circles and how thin he was and all of it.

He threw Sam his car keys. "Sammy take my car and get lost for about an hour. I need to have a talk with your brother about the last two weeks."

Now Dean got a panicked look on his face. "Really Dad no talking needed I'm good. Sam and I just talked."

John looked towards his younger son who nodded in agreement at what Dean had just said. "Yeah well maybe I want to talk about different things than your brother did. Sammy go."

Sam threw an apologetic look in Dean's direction and walked out the door. "But Dad I…"

He was stopped cold by the look on his father's face. "Sit down now."

Not wanting to sit down and liking the look on his father's face even less Dean did as he was told and thought about how this was shaping up to be a really rotten day.

Dean knew that now was not the time to space out but he couldn't seem to help it. There had been so many times in the recent past when he had wanted or needed dad to be here and the mission had prevented that from being possible and here he was the one time in his whole life he hadn't wanted to see his dad he shows up. The irony of that didn't escape him. The last few weeks had been such a blur of pain and confusion for him. He couldn't believe that Sam had stepped in like he had tonight and even though Junior had laid into his butt pretty good he was in an odd way still proud of him. Both that he had the courage to stand up to him and to follow through neither of which would have been easy for Sammy.

"Are you even listening to me Dean?"

He looked up from his thoughts and was unhappy to see his dad frowning at him. "Yes sir of course I am."

His dad thought for a minute. "Okay then tell me what I just said."

Now Dean knew his ship was sunk. "That you are so glad that Sam and I are okay and you just love every choice I have made in the last two weeks and you came all this way to tell me that and maybe take me out for a drink to celebrate?"

Looking at his father's face he actually flinched and thought for sure he was gonna give him a swat for that remark. "That is so not funny Dean and it is by the thinnest of threads that I am holding on to my own temper. Now tell me what happened and tell me all of it."

Dean took a deep breath and thought about how to answer the question. "And tell me without the usual smart ass please."

Now Dean raised his eyebrows unsure if he even could do that. "How about with just alittle of the smart ass?"

Now he saw his father take a step towards him and he held up his hands. "Okay, okay no smart ass. Yes sir, I got it."

Suddenly he wondered how he was going to be able to tell dad about all of this. "Dean I know what happened in the farmhouse. The word was out on the street and someone who was a contact called me and told me. And you have to know that wasn't your fault."

Now Dean felt a twist in the gut. "Well you tell me that and Sam tells me that but it still feels like it is. But Sam's right the demon would have killed her if I hadn't killed it first."

Now he saw his dad nod his head. "You know that you aren't going to be able to save everyone son and this was just an unfortunate accident."

Dean felt the tears well in his eyes again and sighed relieved to realize that Dad wasn't here to come down on him. After his recent bizarre experience with Sammy he didn't think he wanted to experience any more "talking" tonight or anytime soon. "Now tell me about all the stupid choices that you made since that happened. And why in the world would you think any of that was all right?"

Dad pulled a kitchen chair out from the small kitchen table set and sat down. Dean's stomach just took a dive at both the words and the action. "Do we have to talk about this crap I hate all this feelings shit. You apparently know exactly what I did just like you always do and frankly Dad I'm thinking you should add psychic to your resume cause that's a neat trick."

Dean could tell that dad was counting in his head again the way that he always did and he wasn't sure whether to be proud of himself that he could always make dad that mad or fearing for his safety. "Okay then Dean if you don't want to discuss it then I'll tell you what I know and you can fill in the blanks."

Dean just nodded his head. "First of all you didn't handle the emotional aspects of this and completely shut your brother out of all the pain and suffering that you were enforcing upon yourself. He could have maybe helped you if you had let him get close enough to try."

Dean concentrated on taking deep breaths and not getting upset because it was simmering there just under the surface and he refused to give in to it. "And then you stopped training and eating and started spending your nights in seedy bars with questionable women."

Now Dean couldn't resist the grin on his face. "Can I help it if the chicks think I'm handsome?"

He saw his father sigh. "None of that do I plan on taking you to task about. Training and eating and who you spend your time with are totally up to you."

Dean jumped to his feet. "Great then I guess we are all done then and it has been really fun Dad let's do this again sometime."

John walked to where Dean stood and with a hand on his shoulder pushed him back to a sitting position on the bed and fixed him with a harsh look. "Did you think that I was done here son? Not by a long shot."

Before he could help it, a swear word slipped out and Dean hung his head. "Now let's talk about what you were doing in those seedy bars with the questionable women."

Now Dean looked surprised. "Gee Dad I never figured you for an exhibitionist but hey if you want to know I could draw you a…"

Dean never even saw him move and grabbing a hold of his arm he pulled him off of the bed and landed a hard swat to the exact same area Sam had concentrated on earlier in the evening. "Oww."

"The drinking Dean, I want to talk about the alcohol."

"Shit." Dean knew that now this wasn't going to have a pleasant ending as his dad had a real thing about drinking and driving.

"Just how did you get home from these bars at the end of your evenings?"

Now Dean's usual defense of sarcasm kicked in. "The bus?"

He saw his father advance on his again and he held up his hands "Okay so I drove the car all right?"

Now the look on his father's face became even grimmer. "How many times Dean, once or twice or exactly how many times?"

Now Dean was uncharacteristically quiet. "Was it every night son? Was it every night for two weeks?"

Now Dean shook his head knowing there was no way out. "You already know that it was except the last night when Junior popped me in the jaw and drug me out and drove me home."

And for some unknown reason his father smiled broadly at that. "Now see Dean that is something that I didn't know. Did you throw any punches back?"

Dean just shrugged his humiliation complete. "No I was too busy puking my guts up."

And as an after thought his face red with embarrassment he added. "And I guess Rambo threw me over his shoulder to take me out of there."

Now he saw his father smile again. "Well surprises all around then I guess."

Dean saw his father struggle to become serious again. "Well you know how I feel about getting behind the wheel of a car drunk. And you also know that I can't and won't just let that go."

Now Dean was starting to panic, as he wasn't anxious to repeat what had just happened with Sammy any time soon. "Look Dad Sam already did the thing that you are thinking about doing back at the farmhouse."

Now Dean could see his father fighting the urge to grin again and what was with that? "You mean spanking Dean it does have an actual name. And besides you always say that Sammy hits like a girl don't you? How bad could it have been?"

He looked to his father as if he had lost his mind. "Yeah well who knew that he would be a whiz kid when it came to corporal punishment? Just my freakin luck."

"Did he make you understand just what you were being punished for?"

A look of pain briefly crossed Dean's handsome features. "Yeah and one of the things was drinking and driving so no need to cover that one again I'm good."

He watched as his dad stood up and went to sit on Sam's bed. "Well unfortunately son I want to make sure you got the message so come on over here."

Now Dean thought that maybe a two year old temper tantrum was in order, including whining. "But Dad come on that is not fair."

But unfortunately his father held strong. "Never said it was."

Dean hesitated thinking that his ass had barely recovered from Sam and now this? "Now or it will be worse."

Dean let go with several swear words one of which he knew that his father detested but he allowed himself the privilege and walked to where his father sat. "This is beyond question the suckiest day of my life."

Grabbing his upper arm his father pulled him across his lap and he leaned into it and thought that maybe he was wrong and it wouldn't hurt as badly as he thought. "I will take into account that your brother has already done this once today, otherwise I would really make this one something that you wouldn't easily forget."

Now Dean had a thought that he didn't think that he was gonna forget this anyway being as his baby brother had used a belt on him and dear old dad was now gonna take his turn. But even with all of his attitude he didn't have a death wish and so he just kept quiet. The illusions about this not being so bad were shattered as soon as his father brought his hand down for the first time. Within a very few swats Dean was actually squirming trying to avoid the stinging blows. It didn't seem to take much to have re-ignited the fire and he was struggling to even breathe it stung so fiercely and already felt tears roll down his face.

Within a few more minutes Dean was convinced that Dad wasn't going to go easy or even ever stop but he refused to beg and he bit down on his lower lip until he tasted blood. Finally just when he had started thinking maybe begging wouldn't be such a bad thing after all he felt his dad land five more hard swats and then stop. He was sobbing and dad pulled him to his feet and stood up himself looking into his tear stained face.
"I love you Dean but I will never tolerate you putting your very life on the line by drinking and driving. Understand?"

Dean tried to get the tears and sniffles under control enough to say something smart ass but he just couldn't so he nodded and leaned into the hug that was waiting for him. Finally after a few more minutes he pulled his head off of the broad shoulder. "Sure am glad that was you going easy otherwise that woulda hurt like a bitch."

Now he saw dad raise an eyebrow in warning. "Dean…."

"Okay, okay I got it. Actually after seeing what I ended up with last night I have given up tequila all together."

He felt his father place a kiss on his forehead and turn him towards the bathroom. "Go and clean up a little bit Sammy should be back soon and we wouldn't want him to see you so upset."

Now Dean looked at him as if he had lost his mind. "Yeah cause when he beat my ass earlier I never shed a tear or anything."

John just shook his head at his son and was delighted to see the complete return of the tough and wise guy that was his eldest son.

Dean had just gone into the bathroom when John heard a knock on the door and opened it to find Sam standing there. "Is everything okay now?"

John just nodded and hugged his younger boy. "Thanks Sam for taking such good care of him for me. And by the way you never did tell me just how you got him out of that bar he was in last night?"

He saw a blush steal across Sam's lean face. "Well I ah… I sorta…I kinda.."

"You smacked him in the jaw and threw him over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes?"

He saw Sam's eyes widen. "Yeah am I in trouble now too?"

Suddenly John smiled at Sam being so timid which apparently hadn't been the case in the last few days. "Are you planning on doing that again anytime soon?"

He saw Sam look surprised. "No sir."

"Okay then I'd say we're good Sammy."

Just then the door to the bathroom opened and Dean walked to where his father and brother stood. "Hey Dean you okay?"

Now Dean grimaced. "Why yes Francis I'm just freakin wonderful thanks for asking."

Sam looked hurt and Dean rolled his eyes. "Sensitive much there Samantha?"

Sam narrowed his eyes and looked at his brother with an unhappy look on his face. "Don't call me that Dean."

"Okay I promise I won't ever call you sensitive again. And this whole thing today with you having the upper hand isn't ever gonna happen again either."

John was surprised to see Sam nod his head. "I know."

John Winchester stood watching his two sons communicate in the same manner that they always had. But he knew without any doubt that each one would give his own life for the other. He also knew that under Dean's tough exterior was a sensitive and emotional person who just never let his emotions have free reign. And Sam while appearing to be sensitive and emotional hid a core of steel and could bring it to the table when necessary. So many things in his life had been wrong and yet nothing could have ever been more right than his two sons and he all but beamed at them both now. "Okay then let's go over to the diner and see what kind of pie they have?"

He saw two heads turn to him in amazement and Dean asked in a cynical voice "Cause after one of us gets it we always have pie?"

Now both he and Sam started to laugh and were laughing so hard that Dean began to get angry. "Hey dudes it wasn't that funny!"

John put a hand on each of their backs and guided them to the door.Bottom of Form

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