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The Wanting Comes In Waves

All Sam/Dean, All The Time

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Rankle & Gall - Part 2 of 7

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Dean shakes his head, hands going limp on the table. He’s hoping he can explain what he means before Sam dismisses it. “No, I should have. But damn. I don’t think I could have done anything differently, even with knowing. Maybe that makes me weak or selfish, but that’s just how I am. I’m just not cut out to do this without you.”

“I know. I’m not either. It’s just like what happened with me when you were in Purgatory. But Dean, what I really want us to get out of this whole thing is that we need to stop doing these crazy things to save each other,” Sam says, gesturing with one hand back and forth between them.

“Why? You tired of me already?” Dean asks with sarcasm, beginning to pull back into himself, self-protection instincts kicking in hearing Sam talk about changing the way they live their lives.

Sam reaches out across the table and grabs both of Dean’s wrists, preventing him from pulling back. “No. And it’s not that I don’t love you the same as you love me or anything stupid like that. It’s just, we’ve gotta grow up at some point, don’t we? Be more mature, learn how to cope, do things differently, stop all the collateral damage.”

Dean looks down at Sam’s hands on him, finally. The connection between their bodies does what it always has for him, grounds him, resets everything to where it can make sense. But Sam’s words aren’t fitting like they usually do. “Huh. I don’t know about that. If you ask me, maturity is overrated. Especially if it boils down to choosing suicide. Tell you what. Next time it’s your chance to decide whether to save me, you do whatever you want. I’m not making any promises, just no, hell no. I haven’t spent my whole life keeping you alive just to let you go when there’s a chance.”

They look at each other for a long moment, Sam squeezes Dean’s wrists gently and slowly lets them go. “It’s not up to you though.”

Missing the contact already, feeling like Sam’s pushing him away as well as letting him go, Dean pulls his hands back and puts one over his heart. “Well, maybe I think it is.”

“I don’t want you to though. It’s too much, Dean, knowing that. It’s just too much.”

Dean’s hand comes off his heart and slaps down onto the table, surprising them both with the noise in this huge, quiet room. Dean feels like his heart is shrinking, not even bothering to break anymore. “Too bad. I always thought it was a two-way street kinda thing. But just because it ain’t anymore because you’re too grown up or whatever doesn’t mean I’m changing anytime soon.”

“It is though. A two-way street thing. And I know I’m fooling myself thinking it can ever change. I mean, I can think it through, and say it like I mean it, but when it comes down to it? To you living or dying, and me having some chance to save you? Yeah, I’m the same as you. I’m the one that was gonna drink that immortality potion with you, remember?” Sam asks.

Sam’s confession has sunk in quickly, the words an instant healing balm on his sore heart. He remembers the possibility of immortality and how quick Sam was to jump in and offer to take it with him, how that had made him feel happy and guilty all at once. “Yeah, Sammy.”

“It’s Sam,” comes the all-too-familiar correction, said with the usual somewhat annoyed yet still fond near-bitchface.

“Oh, we’re back to this now? What, you wanna be a grown up so bad I can’t call you Sammy anymore?” Dean asks, holding back on smiling until he sees that Sam is kidding. He better be kidding.

Sam smiles, breathing in deeply in what looks like relief to be back on familiar ground. Then his face wrinkles up in a frown. “What’s that smell? Is something burning?”

“Oh shit! No!” Dean yelps, leaping up from the table.


Sam shakes his head, laughing at his brother running off towards the kitchen. He gets up slowly, stretching his arms up wide and yawning. That was a longer talk than they’ve had in years, but it was satisfying, getting it all out on the table. And wonder of wonders, they were actually listening to each other. They actually stayed in the conversation together, neither of them running away from it, until the burning of whatever dinner Dean was making. It feels like their foundering ship might be beginning to right itself.

What feels a little like hope starts to swell in his heart, but then Sam’s stomach growls at him, reminding him that he’d skipped lunch; he follows the sounds of Dean swearing and banging pots and pans around.

“Guess we’re going out for dinner,” Dean says, gesturing at the pan full of blackened goop still smoking in the sink.

“Aww, and it was lasagna too, wasn’t it?” Sam complains in a near whine, looking closely to see if it makes Dean laugh.

Dean laughs at the familiar whine. “Tell you what, I spotted a new Italian place over in Phillipsburg the other day, it’s not that long of a drive.  Let’s go there tonight. My treat.”

“Okay, let me go get cleaned up, I’m all gross after sitting around reading all day. Meet you back here in ten?”

“Sounds good,” Dean says, turning back to deal with the lasagna disaster in the sink.

Sam rubs at the steamed-up mirror after his quick shower and looks at his face for a while, searching for the thing that’s been missing. It’s not the absence of the angel, or the smidgen of grace left behind, it’s the certainty he’d always visibly shown. The certainty of knowing that Dean was his and he was Dean’s. The absence of it, that it ever being a question is a problem. That’s what’s missing. It isn’t quite back, not all the way, but he can see a trace of it now at the edges of his mouth. That little relaxation of the muscles behind the ones that form his dimples. He smiles at the remembrance of all the times Dean had said something about his dimples. Or kissed them for that matter. Maybe that’s a possibility again, maybe not, but at least he still has the memory of it. And that’s something to be thankful for.

“Sammy? You ready? Done getting beautiful yet?” Dean calls down the stairway.

“Almost done curling my hair!” Sam yells in reply, walking up the staircase laughing. But he stops partway up when he sees Dean. Dean is standing by the only window in the room, looking out at the last of the sunset. Sunlight has always loved his brother, but it’s been a while since Sam’s allowed himself to look. So now he does. He traces the outline of Dean’s spiky hair, the glow limning the edge of his profile, touching the nape of his neck. Sam sighs, wishing for it all to be fixed right now so he could go kiss the taste of that sunlight gilding his brother’s skin. But it’s not fixed, not yet anyways.

Their drive to the restaurant starts out pretty quiet, only some crackly rock station playing on the radio station with songs they’ve heard a million times. Dean interrupts the quiet mood after a few minutes go by. “Hey, uh, Sam. Can I ask you somethin’?”

Sam turns from looking out the passenger side window to search his brother’s face for clues as to what kind of question it’s going to be. “Sure of course.”

Dean clears his throat, Sam guesses the hesitation is because all this talking today has already been way too much for his brother. So it must be important if Dean’s still bent on talking. “So last night, when you said you wouldn’t save me, what did you mean?”

Crinkling his forehead in concentration, Sam remembers back to last night’s short and awful conversation. All his words had been calculated to cause the most damage as possible. But that’s not what I said to him, I wouldn’t have gone so far. “I did not say that I wouldn’t save you. You said you’d do it all the same all over again. I said under the same circumstances, I wouldn’t have done it. I meant that I would not have tricked you into taking an angel onboard.”

“So you did mean you’d really just choose to let me die. Awesome. Good to know,” Dean grits out through his clenched jaw. He turns his attention back to the dark road ahead.

Sam stares at his brother, shocked by this dismissal and deliberate misinterpretation of what he said. “Dean, you’ve never been possessed before. You don’t know how awful it is, whether it’s a demon or an angel. And I wouldn’t do that to anyone, especially you. No matter how much I need you here with me, I just wouldn’t be able to put you through that.”

Dean seems to chew on that for a bit. “So, it’s the possession part of the equation that’s the deal-breaker for you, not the life-saving part?”

Sam’s eyebrows go up in surprise. How does Dean possibly not know this? Is he that clueless about all that I’ve gone through being possessed all these times? Apparently he is, Sam thinks and stalls with a sigh before coming up with a way to explain. “Yeah, of course, you idiot. It’s hard to explain, but it’s been too many times now walking around in my body without being in control. And you being the control freak you are, who knows how you’d ever be able to deal. Let me put it this way: I’ve died, and I’ve been possessed, and I’d rather die again. No question. So I wouldn’t be able to do that to you.”

“I didn’t understand that,” Dean says, quickly glancing over at Sam and that back at the dark road ahead.

Sam turns in his seat, bringing his left leg bent up under him, facing Dean as much as he can in the confines of the front seat. “Really? I figured you would have known by now.”

“We just never…I guess we never talked about it much, all those times it happened to you. I mean, obviously I knew you didn’t like it or anything, but I didn’t really get it,” Dean says, and Sam can hear the honesty in his voice, that answers the question of how Dean could have done something like this to him, because he truly didn’t know how Sam felt about possession.

Dean not knowing though, doesn’t let him off the hook for his actions of course, but it helps Sam understand how his brother had been able to let that angel take him over. “Huh, now that I think about it, I guess you’re right. I didn’t think you’d wanna know how bad it was, since you couldn’t do anything about it after the fact.”

“I wish…Well, I wish I’d have asked, so I would’ve known how you felt. I might have been able to make a different choice, knowing that. At least I would have tried,” Dean says, looking over at Sam for a few seconds more than he really should, considering he's the one that’s driving.

“Really?” Sam asks in surprise. The thought of Dean actually deciding to let him go is so foreign, it is a piece of information that does not fit into the shape of his brother.

“Of course, Sammy. I mean, you’re right - a lot of what I did was for selfish reasons, I own up to that. And honestly I probably wouldn’t have just let you go. But I at least would have risked it and tried to tell you sooner.” Dean stares straight ahead, like he’s thinking about how hard that would have been to to even consider.

That makes a little more sense to Sam, but the fact that Dean is seeming to take his feelings on board about all this is helping him get over the hurt of it all. Especially about what happened to Kevin. The guilt of that will always be there, for both of them. “That might have made a difference, at least to Kevin. But I kind of doubt it. I didn’t tell you this, but it took a lot for me to throw Gadreel out. If Crowley hadn’t been there, I don’t think I could have done it.”

“I hate owing that slimy bastard for anything,” Dean says.

“Yeah, no kidding,” Sam agrees, noticing how clenched Dean’s jaw is while he’s just thinking about Crowley.

No one says anything for a while, the song on the radio going off and into a noisy commercial. Dean reaches over and turns down the volume. “So what is it like?”

“What is what like?” Sam asks, because there are a whole lot of things Dean could be asking about. Given all they’ve talked about already today, it could be anything.

Dean answers very quickly, like he’s afraid of asking the specific question. “Being possessed.”

“Which? By angel or demon?” Sam asks, in what he hopes is a matter-of-fact sort of voice, because he really doesn’t want to talk about either one if he’s honest. But Dean seems to need to know this now, and Sam needs to give it to him, to help him really understand what he’s done.

“Either, both, whatever you wanna tell me,” Dean says, clenching the steering wheel tightly for a moment, then letting his right hand fall into his lap.

Sam focuses on Dean’s hands lying against his thigh, the well-worn fingers, the spot where his silver ring used to be no longer dented in.  Being near the physicality of Dean always helps him stay focused and in the moment, no doubt out of some sort of self-protective instinct.  “Well, I’d say the demon is easier to take. They’re not as powerful, there’s not as much of them to contain, - not even Crowley, although he’s definitely a different level from Meg.”

Dean considers Sam’s answer for a while, then asks, “You mean, like it makes you feel… full?”

Sam resists at first, because answering this question means actually thinking about it, exactly how awful it is, and he’s tempted to hold back on his description, white-wash it to save Dean the extra worry and guilt. But he needs to know, since he’ll understand what he meant by ‘same circumstances I wouldn’t save you’, that seems to be the sticking point. And Sam doesn’t want to be stuck anymore. “Yeah, but not in a belly-full kind of way. More like that feeling’s in your head, and everywhere inside you all at once. It pushes you to the side so that you’re squished up in a corner not able to move. But you can still see and hear, if they let you that is. But you see everything through this kind of angel vision too, so there’s so much more information coming in, that your brain can’t handle it all.”

“Sounds awful,” Dean says, and then seems to cut himself off from adding anything else. Sam thinks, ‘Because what else could anyone say to that? I’m sorry wouldn’t really do much, but acknowledging that yes, it was indeed awful is enough for what I need now.’

“Yeah it is awful. The worst part was not being able to tell you. And that you weren’t even able to tell it’s wasn’t me. Even though I was in there screaming at you to notice,” Sam says, regretting the telling of it, because he knows how hard it will be for Dean to know this, but he has to.

Dean shakes his head and blinks his eyes rapidly, which tells Sam that he’s trying to hold back tears. “They really have access to everything then? All your memories and feelings?”

“All of it, it’s like you can feel them going through your mental filing cabinet. They see everything you’ve hidden away, even from yourself, they bring it out and wave it in your face,” Sam says, remembering how they’ve all tried to use the twisted-up relationship he has with Dean against him, as if it was some big nasty surprise. How shocked they’d been when they saw how deep his feelings for Dean went, all the way deep down to where they couldn’t budge them.

The lights of Phillipsburg finally begin to flicker into view and Dean slows down at the city limits. The cops are a little more up on things than in Lebanon, and they don’t want to get on anyone’s radar with a speeding ticket. “Was there a big difference between Gadreel and Lucifer like you said there was between Crowley and Meg?”

“Oh yeah, big time. Mainly it was the intensity of the light, Lucifer was beyond what we can see as light, and it was beautiful and terrifying all at once. Before we were in the Cage he was talking to me a lot, letting me see everything that was happening. But it was hard to grasp it all as being real, seeing it through this curtain of light. With Gadreel, he was in the background most of the time. Except for when he’d pop out and save you from demons or bring Charlie or Cas back to life.  I didn’t see that stuff happen real-time, I only got the memory of it once I kicked him out,” Sam says, turning his body away and shifting his legs so that both feet are back on the floor. Out of habit he presses on the scar on the heel of his hand, the one that always made Lucifer flicker and fade.

“Anything else?” Dean asks.

Sam sighs, because the telling of this is painful, just thinking about it is. “When he had me locked up inside though, towards the end when he was worried you’d tell me. That was super weird. I was working this whole case about cheerleaders or something. It all seemed so real. Most of the time though, I could sense something was off, not just the lost time, or the strange stuff happening, but it was like having someone just over your shoulder. But it was inside. He mostly felt comforting or helpful though.”

Dean pulls up to the restaurant parking lot and shuts off the engine. “Thanks for telling me this stuff Sam. It’s, well…it gives me a lot to think about.”

“So would you still have done it all the same?” Sam asks, even though he’s dreading the answer. If Dean can’t or won’t change his mind about this, he’s not sure what that means for them going forward.

Dean’s head bows a little down towards his chest, like the thought of what Sam’s asking is too heavy to bear. He looks up after a long pause, meeting Sam’s eyes with a slight nod. “Let me think about it for a while, I’ll get back to you, ‘kay?”

Heart sinking with Dean’s answer, Sam looks away and grimaces. “I thought it would change your mind, knowing how I felt.”

Dean’s hand lands on Sam’s shoulder for a brief glancing touch, just to get Sam’s attention, pull him back in to the conversation. “It does, - I mean, it adds to what I would have considered while I was making the decision in the moment back in your hospital room. But still, after everything we’d just gone through in that church, I guess I want to believe that you still wanted a chance to stick around.”

Sam glances down at his shoulder briefly, where Dean’s hand had just been, the brief contact enough of a reminder of what’s at stake, it’s enough to help him past the hurt and mistrust that is still achingly present. “I guess I did really want to stick around. Since I chose your plan. Even if I didn’t really know what I was choosing.”

Dean’s hand ends up back on Sam’s shoulder where it is briefly squeezed, then his hand falls back down onto what feels like the acres of car seat between them. “Yeah, I didn’t really know either. I’m really sorry, though, that it had to be possession. And I promise you I won’t ever do it again.”

“Do what?” Sam asks.

“Let anything possess you,” Dean says, looking back out the front window into the distance where there are several cars jockeying for position in the crowded parking lot.

“Even if it means I die?” Sam asks, closely watching Dean’s reaction to this question. It’s the one that this whole mess between them revolves around.

Dean flinches a bit at the word ‘die’ and then looks steadily at him for what feels like forever to Sam. There’s so much going on in Dean’s eyes, he can see the fear and the hurt and yes still the love. Dean finally answers,“Yeah, even that.”

Sam’s eyes widen in surprise, and he jerks back against the car door, needing to put more space between them because there’s so much potential for more hurt and mistrust from yet another promise made that will of course be broken.“Dean, you can’t even say it. Don’t make me promises like this.”

“I…shit.  Fine.” Dean rearranges himself so he’s facing Sam and puts up his right hand, palm out. “I, Dean Winchester, hereby promise that I will never allow anything or anyone to possess Samuel Winchester, even at the cost of his life, and I hereby promise I understand the reverse to be true. There. Happy?”

The full impact of what Dean’s just sworn to him takes a second to sink in, because this is a major change, and it could indicate that there’s a chance for them after all. Sam struggles to fight down the insane hope that wells up in his chest like a wild thing that’s been waiting to wind it’s way around deep into his heart again. “I don’t know what to…god, Dean, did you really mean that?”

Dean sits back a little and clenches both hands together, as if he’s struggling to keep them from touching Sam yet again. “Of course. I wouldn’t joke about something like this. I’m pretty sure you still know me better than that right?”

Seeing his brother’s twisting, anxious hands does something to Sam. He reaches over and places one of his on top of Dean’s, stilling the incessant motion. That brings him closer to Dean, so he can see him more clearly in the dim light of the parking lot. “I do. And I know I owe you an apology too.”

“For what?” Dean asks, his hands practically vibrating under Sam’s, like they would fly off on their own if Sam wasn’t holding them down.

“For saying that you only saved me for yourself last night. I knew it wasn’t true when I said it. I was just mad, and I was trying to hurt you the best way I knew how.”

“It sure worked,” Dean admits looking away and pulling his hands out from under Sam’s.

Sam feels the absence of Dean’s touch as more than just the physical, their connection runs so deep it affects them on all the levels there are to a person, and he needs Dean there to function. His brother has given him so much in this conversation that he knows he needs to reciprocate in a way that Dean will accept. Sam puts his right hand up, palm facing towards Dean and clears his throat.“I know, and I’m sorry. So, I want to take it back. I, Samuel Winchester, hereby acknowledge that Dean Winchester saved me just for me as well as for himself. There, that good enough for ya?”


“Yeah Sammy, ‘s good.” Dean just sits there in the seat, tracing his eyes over and over his brother’s familiar beloved face, unable to say a thing more.  He knows it’s too soon to believe that all this talking might have actually worked, that Garth might have been right. But damn, all he wants is sitting right there smiling at him and he doesn’t want to say something that might screw it all back up again.

Sam just looks back at Dean, his smile growing wider the longer the mutual staring goes on. Finally he breaks the silence with the rumbling of his stomach. “Let’s go in and see if they’ve got lasagna.”

Dean shakes his head like he’s coming out of a trance, which he sort of is, if he’s honest with himself. Lost in his brother’s beautiful face, the honest love clearly visible is so surprising to see after all this time that he couldn’t stop soaking it in. “Yeah, let’s go see if theirs is less crispy.”

He gets out of the car and takes the time to compose himself so that he can get through this dinner, - sitting across a table from Sam without making goo-goo eyes at him the whole time. Because that’s a part of the conversation he’s definitely not up for at this point in the festivities.

Sam puts his hand on Dean’s lower back to steer him in through the door, and leaves it there as they talk to the waiter about getting a table. It stays there right up until they arrive at their table. And Dean doesn’t miss the warmth or the pressure or anything. Except yeah, he really does. That spot on his skin feels like it’s glowing a little hotter than the rest of him. As if the physical connection they’d always shared in the past is reigniting just at that touch.  He rubs at the spot as he sits down.

“Hey, is your back okay, Dean?” Sam asks, sounding a little concerned.

Of course he noticed, Sam notices everything. “Yeah, just a little sore from the pishtaco experience.”

“Oh, right. I’m sore from leading that damn yoga class. I think I strained a hamstring,” Sam says, rubbing at his leg under the table.

“Really? And here you were claiming to be a yoga expert,” Dean says, a little concerned that Sam might be injured, but more interested in teasing him in the easy familiarity he’s enjoying between them.

Sam looks up at the yoga reference, his face going all apologetic and soft. “By the way, I’m sorry I said that thing, about dating someone bendy. That was uncool.”

Dean is surprised by this apology from his brother, reminded again about Lisa and their infamous ‘bendy weekend’ so long ago. “Yeah it was. Apology accepted. And, uh… you’re not really that weird around girls. I was just being a jerk.”

“Oh, I wanted to say about that case, thanks for agreeing about letting Maritza go,” Sam says.

“We’re making a habit of it, - first Garth and now her,” Dean says, thinking about how much his definition of what a monster is over the years.

“Well, there’s the whole shades of grey thing,” Sam suggests.

“Even if there are fifty shades, I’m not always interested in the whole story,” Dean says, admitting that he’s like that instead of automatically protesting to keep the conversation going instead of letting it deteriorate into the usual mess they end up in.

“When we’re judge, jury, and executioner, we have think about this kind of stuff,” Sam says.

Dean shifts the menu to one hand and points with the other at Sam. “See, that’s why I keep you around.”

“What? So you don’t have to deal with it?” Sam asks.

Dean shrugs and opens his menu, looking to see if lasagna is listed. “Yeah, it’s a lot of work having a conscience.”

“Well, I remember what it’s like not having one. And I prefer this way, thanks very much,” Sam says, as if he wants to re-hash his time being soul-less.

“Hey, …can we talk about something else?” Dean asks, suddenly uncomfortable with the direction Sam’s taking their talk. They never manage to agree on all the things Sam’s soul-less self did, Dean forgiving everything, and Sam blaming himself for everything.

Sam looks like he stops himself from winding up for a big statement and shoots Dean a concerned look across the white cloth-covered table.“Too many heavy conversations today for you, huh?”

Seeing that Sam is sensitive to what he needs, as usual at the expense of what he might want, Dean knows he needs to at least acknowledge what they’ve accomplished together today by sticking with this epic conversation. “Yeah, I guess. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we’ve, uh, cleared some stuff up. But I need a break.”

Sam breaks out in the sunniest grin Dean’s seen in ages, and he has no idea why but he doesn’t even care, because Sam’s smiling. Plus he’s also shut up.

Their waiter finally comes and they order two lasagnas and two salads, and a bottle of wine. What the hell, they’re enjoying a night off. They’re getting spoiled by living the high life in the bunker, too used to drinking the good stuff. That’s when Dean notices they’re at a pretty nice restaurant. Like white table cloths, candles, small vase of flowers on each table. It’s a restaurant where you’d take a date. And maybe, in a way, that’s exactly what this night has turned out to be.

He decides right then and there to keep talking to Sam if that’s what it takes to get another night like this. He smiles back at Sam and reaches for his hand that’s clasping and unclasping the fancy folded linen napkin in what looks like nervousness. Interlacing their fingers together, he squeezes briefly and then release his hand when the waiter arrives to pour their wine.  He lets Sam do the wine-tasting thing since he’s always cared more about wine than Dean ever has. And then they’re alone again with their full glasses. Sam raises his in a toast, and Dean’s heart kind of sinks, because he has no idea what Sam will say. Whatever it is, here it comes.

Sam meets his eyes and clinks their glasses together. “To always being brothers no matter what.”

With a grin, Dean adds, “To always being friends too.”

They’re interrupted from more potential sappiness by the arrival of their salads and the overly-involved pepper grinding ritual.

“I always just wanna grab the thing from the waiter and do it myself,” Dean whispers as the waiter leaves.

Sam chuckles and whispers back. “Thanks for restraining yourself and not embarrassing me.”

Dean finishing chewing his first big bite of salad. “You’re welcome. And thanks for making me order this salad, it’s really good. Even if it’s a little fishy.”

“Anchovies will do that,” Sam says with his sly little-brother grin.

“What? Where?” Dean asks, poking through his salad and peering at it closely.

Sam shrugs like it’s no big deal, but Dean can see the delight written all over his smiling face. “In the dressing, that’s one of the ingredients for a good Caesar salad.”

Dean takes another bite and chew thoroughly, putting the fork down and pointing first at the salad, then at Sam. “Well, I guess I like it in salad, but don’t be getting any ideas buddy, not on my pizza. No way.”

Sam nods and ducks his head to hide another smile. “Got it.”

They eat for a while in silence and both finish their salads at the same time and reach for the wineglass. Dean takes a big sip and smacks his lips a little at the intense flavor. “Geeze, didja think we’d ever be here again?”

Sam finishes sipping at his wine. “What do you mean, in this restaurant? We’ve never been here.”

Dean gestures with his hand around at the restaurant and then circling between just the two of them. “No, not here, I mean together like this.”

“Not done with the heavy conversations after all, huh?” Sam says, with half a smirk that Dean sees Sam quickly tries to hide.

“It’s not that. Screw you, man. I’m just glad we can sit down and eat together and not be icing each other out.” Dean rolls his eyes and picks up his wineglass again, focusing on the sloshing of the red wine against the side of the glass.

Sam clinks his glass to Dean’s, interrupting his grumping. “Sorry, I’m sorry. To answer your question, yes. I did think we’d always end up here eventually. I mean we always do end up back together. Sometimes it takes longer than it should, but yeah, I always hope and expect we get back here.”

“You didn’t ever give up on us, huh?” Dean asks.

“Nah, never have, not all the way. Not ever since, you know, it started,” Sam answers easily.

“Really?” Dean asks, surprised to hear this honest confession when he’d expected Sam to just scoff at the question.

“Why, did you ever give up on us? I guess so, if you’re saying that,” Sam answers his own question and then goes quiet and still. He draws in on himself with an amazing speed.

Dean reaches across the table and puts his hand under Sam’s chin as it’s sinking down towards his chest, raising it up until Sam has to meet his eyes. “Hey, cut it out, man. I get a chance to answer something like that, don’t I?”

Sam shakes off Dean’s hand, sitting back in his seat so Dean can’t reach him again. He looks closed off, even though his arms aren’t crossed over his chest. “Whatever. Go ahead.”

“Sammy, don’t give me that whatever shit. C’mon, I’ve had some dark moments, times I thought you were lost, or I was. There were times when I doubted whether there’d still be a you, much less a you and me. But you’ve always proven me wrong. Always.”

Before Sam has a chance to answer, the waiter interrupts them. “Are you gentlemen finished with your salads?”

Dean glances down at both of their empty plates. “Uh, yeah, yes we are. Thanks.”

“Your entrees will be right out.”

As soon as he leaves their table, Dean leans across and whispers, “Their lasagna better not be burned that’s all I can say.”

Onto Part 3