Title: Fair Enough
Pairing: Sam/Dean established
Warning: Spoilers for episode 12.06 “Tombstone”
Author’s Note: Not my characters, only my words. Written because I missed hearing this conversation between the brothers.
Summary: The lonely drive back to the Bunker from Dodge City gives Dean some time to put together what he’d been missing
Read it over on AO3 right here.
He’s been thinking about it the whole way home from the hunt, driving on his own in the stolen car (he misses his Baby). The surprising reappearance of Cas had been a big win for both of them, the one he’d been needing. But why hadn’t Sam seemed to think so too? Dean knows his brother inside and out (obviously) but Sam’s “fair enough” and little head shake seemed to negate his agreeing that it was a big win. Maybe it was just Sam’s usual caution and suspicion of good things not ever lasting, but maybe there was something else to it. There’d been something in that conversation about Sam being glad to finally see him smiling. And the way Sam had said that, he hadn’t noticed until just now, he’d actually sounded sad about it.
He called Sam from the car, then and there while he was thinking about it, before he could stop himself. Because sometimes that was the only way he could ever talk about this kind of relationship stuff. He assured himself that he was mostly just calling to check in, make sure they had made it back and Jack hadn’t killed them or worse.
“Hey, you guys make it back home okay?” Dean asked.
“Yeah, we’re all here, no problems. And before you ask, your Baby’s fine, all locked up in the garage safe and sound. Jack’s off sulking or whatever in his room.”
“What’s Cas up to?” Dean asked, wondering if Sam and Cas had been discussing his recent rash actions in that haunted house on their last case.
“Just…being Cas…I guess,” Sam said with a weird tone in his voice that told Dean he wasn’t getting the whole story.
“What is it, Sammy?” Dean asked because a real hesitance from Sam was coming through loud and clear.
“Can’t say right now,” Sam said, hedging the whole truth again.
“Is he right there in the room with you?” Dean guessed.
“Uh huh,” Sam said, and Dean would swear he could hear his brother nod with a whoosh of hair past the phone speaker.
“Hey, uh…I wanted to ask, why’d you react so weird when I was talking about it being a big win for us to have him back?” Dean asked.
Sam paused and Dean could hear him gulp loudly which meant he was nervous about saying anything to burst the happy bubble Dean knew he’d been letting himself live in. “Not sure how to explain it really."
“Or you don’t want to because he’s sitting right there listening?” Dean asked, getting a little more worried at that answer.
“Yeah, that’s probably closer to the truth,” Sam admitted.
“Do you think we should have tested him or something? Made sure he’s really Cas?” Dean asked, stomach sinking at the thought of Sam being locked in the bunker with a possible Not-Cas and the spawn of Lucifer. Come to think of it, it hadn’t been all that long ago that Lucifer had been walking around the bunker wearing Cas himself.
“Probably, looking back on it. I mean—we would have if it’d been either of us, right?” Sam said. Dean instantly remembered the borax water treatment back in the day, holy water, silver knives slicing through forearm flesh to prove it was really him back from Purgatory.
“If you were worried about it, why didn’t you say something then?”
“I—didn’t want to bring you down, I saw how much it meant to you that he was back. Like you said, it was the big win you needed,” Sam said, his voice going quieter at the end, wavering with that same emotion of the ‘fair enough’ from their earlier conversation.
“It’s not really a big win though, if it isn’t him right?” Dean asked, already knowing the obvious answer, and feeling like a complete idiot that he’d let his emotions carry him away instead of being the cautious hunter like he was supposed to be.
“Right,” Sam agreed, and Dean could hear him whistling breath through his gritted teeth. Sam had hated having to say this to him, he’d just wanted to see him be happy again.
“How do we even test an angel though? The usual things wouldn’t work, right?” Dean asked, ignoring the warm feeling in his gut at realizing how Sam had been taking care of him lately.
“Funny you mention that, that’s actually what I’m researching right now as we’re talking,” Sam said, turning pages loudly enough that Dean could hear them over the phone.
Dean pictured his brother surrounded by the usual stacks of case files and books, empty coffee cups and notepads filled with his densely scribbled notes. “You’re on the case, of course you are. Tryin’ to save me from myself before I even know I need savin’.”
“I guess, just—get back here already,” Sam said with a real need that colored his words with an urgency that made Dean’s foot press harder on the accelerator pedal.
“I am, Sammy, coming home quick as I can. Hey…what you said before, about missing seeing me smile, I’m sorry about that,” Dean said, feeling stupid for leaving the most important thing for last, as usual.
“Sorry for smiling?” Sam asked, sounding confused. Dean guessed his head was probably tilted in that perplexed puppy way that always made him smile.
“No, sorry that I didn’t smile like that on the hunt we went on before. You know, when you were trying so hard to pull me out of my steep dive, I should have—“ Dean said, relieved that Sam interrupted his blathering.
“Not a problem, I’m glad you got a chance to wear your boots and hat again. I wish I’d thought of that,” Sam said.
“I do look damn good in ‘em don’t I?” Dean teased, pulling the words out in an exaggerated drawl that was guaranteed to get Sam’s eyes rolling skywards.
“I am not answering that,” Sam said in a low whisper, no doubt after he’d stopped rolling his eyes.
Sam’s whisper did something to Dean, a near shiver going up his spine at the possibilities. “Because Cas is there listening?”
“No, because I’m worried your head won’t fit through the door if I do,” Sam said with a suppressed giggle that was the most adorable and rudest thing Dean had heard in ages.
“I’m hanging up now,” Dean said, a sudden irrational hurt flaring up at Sam’s words.
“Oh sorry, did I come too close to the truth? Shoot, cowboy, y’all gotta know I’m just kiddin’ ‘round,” Sam said with his own attempt at a drawl.
Sam calling him cowboy somehow made it all better. “Click,”Dean said loudly, grinning from ear to ear.
Sam laughed hysterically, and the sound of it made Dean feel better even if he was still an hour away from the Bunker.
“Listen, how are we going to handle this thing with Cas maybe not being him?” Dean asked, suddenly worried that his brother was there with him, and maybe somehow unsafe.
“I’ll tell you when you get here,” Sam said.
“So I’m supposed to just roll in, and act natural, huh?” Dean asked.
“That’s about the size of it, yeah,” Sam answered. “You still got your boots on?”
“Yeah I do, why do you ask?” Dean asked with a pleased purr he couldn’t and didn’t want to hide.
“Good, I was hoping you did,” Sam said, not elaborating further, no doubt because Cas was sitting there. And sure, Cas knew about them, of course he did, but they tried their best not to push it in his face all the time.
All Dean could think about was how much time Sam usually liked to take while helping him get his boots off. “I can wear the hat too if that’ll do it for you, Sammy,” Dean teased. He started humming the beginning of ‘You Can Leave Your Hat On’.
“It will, and you should, but later, okay? I’m hanging up now, before you start singing that song,” Sam said with a grin that tasted good even over the phone.
“See you in a little less than an hour,” Dean said, clicking the phone off and tossing it onto the seat. He pushed the car to its limits and made it in forty-five.