A work of derivative fiction and no copyright infringement intended. Many thanks to Sharlot who made some excellent suggestions and who has my gratitude.

Set after Sharp Teeth, the Winchesters are driving off into the sunset….

Cheap Whiskey

The Impala claws its way down the asphalt, the engine growling like a beast as it devours the road.

Dean feels oddly introspective. Or maybe not so oddly since a highway stretching into the distance often lulls him into thinking too hard and feeling too much.

Garth is a werewolf, a domesticated, not-gonna-kill-anyone, happily married to the preacher's daughter, honest-to-god lycanthrope. Dean sighs and shakes his head. That Garth is alive at all eases a small ache in his chest.

He glances over at his brother sitting mutely in the passenger seat, right where he belongs. That eases a larger ache and lets him breathe just a little easier. At least it would have if he really believed that being together was the best thing for Sammy.

'Cause Dean knows that it isn't. He can lie to the world. He can lie to Sam. But he can't lie to himself. His acquaintance with truth is more like a one-night-stand than a serious relationship but the harsh reality is that just being with him puts Sam at risk. Everyone that mattered to him, he ended up hurting or worse.

Still, he has to weigh Sam's safety hunting alone against being with him. It's never a good idea to fly solo and Dean is weak and selfish and just wants his brother by his side and watching his back.

If he were stronger, he would have left Sam standing beside that blue dodge and taken off alone.

Alone.

Like Cain. Like Cain who offered his own soul to Lucifer and killed his brother because he thought that was the only way to save him.

Sammy, dad said that if I couldn't save you, I'd have to kill you.

Cain and Abel, he and Sam…brothers who loved…love…each other. In the end the sibling bond hadn't mattered a damn bit; the older brother betrayed the younger. At least he and Cain did it in the name of family.

Not that intent matters to the one who ends up being hurt. Pain and betrayal feels the same regardless of the reason. He should know. It's not like he's not been hurt, that he's not been betrayed…by everyone, though he tries hard not to think that thought. He always forgives.

Forgives the lying, the betrayals, the hurts both great and small, the leaving…

That was the root cause of this whole mess, Dean decides. Sam had tried to leave him again, wanted to leave and never come back.

The little bitch.

Before the first trial, Sam had promised that if Dean just came with him, he could take him to the light. By the third trial, Sam seemed determined to leave him floundering in the darkness.

Alone.

Which is what he deserves, of course, since he poisons and corrupts all that he touches. He's been toxic since taking the knife out of Alistair's malicious hand and brandishing it himself, just to save his own worthless hide.

Taking the bloody blade from Alistair, accepting the mark from Cain so he could wield the First blade…No, Dean isn't going to follow that trail of similarities down into the darkness.

He glances over at his brother who is staring resolutely out the side window. Dean can see Sam's eyes reflected in the glass, his face reveals nothing of what he might be thinking.

In that old church, performing the last trial to close the gates of Hell, Sam had told him that he'd confessed his greatest sin as being all the times he'd let Dean down. Then he turned around and accused Dean of not loving him enough, not trusting him enough and putting others before him.

How could Dean let his little brother go, believing that he didn't care?

Dean tried to set him straight because there was nothing and no one that he puts before Sam. That included Sam himself.

He'll save Sam if it kills him-and he isn't quite sure if he means kills Sam or kills himself and realizes that it doesn't matter.

All that matters…ALL that matters is that Sam is alive. If Sam is alive, he'll have time to make it right. Trust can be rebuilt.

Sam will absolve him of his sins and believe in him again. Eventually. Dean knows his brother. Sam has a great capacity for anger but it's matched by his equally generous spirit. Dean will work on getting Sam's forgiveness, even if he doesn't deserve it. Dean doesn't give up on family.

Sam saying they weren't brothers anymore didn't make it true.

Dean wants to shout at his brother that he doesn't regret anything he did because Sam is alive! He would make a dozen deals so long as it meant that Sam was still breathing. If Sam hadn't figured that out by now then he didn't know Dean and maybe he never had.

He won't though. Shout that is. Not now, not yet, not ever.

He chokes back his words and his feelings; swallows them like cheap whiskey and lets the hurt burn all the way down.