This is more a snippet than a story.

This occurs immediately after Fallen Idols. I, apparently, am still having brother issues and this is my attempt to work some of them out. Many thanks to Baroqy, who read the initial draft and made some very good suggests that basically meant that less is more.

As always, Supernatural and its characters belongs to Kripke, the CW, etc. but certainly not me.

Just Another Roadside Revelation

The world might be ending but as far as Sam Winchester was concerned, things were looking up.

He was thrilled when Dean threw him the keys and asked if he wanted to drive, explaining that he wanted to take a nap. Sam took it as a gesture that Dean was really trying to treat him as an equal; treat him like an adult. Dean admitting that he hadn't thought how his behavior after his return from Hell had affected him, felt like a validation to Sam.

Yes, Sam was feeling pretty damn good. Until he realized that Dean might have his eyes closed but he wasn't napping and he hadn't said a word in over five hours.

A quiet Dean is an unhappy Dean.

Sam cleared his throat. "You hungry? It's been a while since breakfast."

Dean didn't open his eyes or shift one muscle not necessary to answer. "Not really hungry but if you are, find some place to stop. Where ever you want."

Yes, something was definitely bothering his brother.

Sam shook his head before realizing Dean couldn't see him. "Nah, I'm okay, I just thought that maybe you…Never mind."

An hour later, his anger increasing with every mile he traveled, Sam pulled into a rest area and turned off the engine. Feeling the car stop, Dean opened his eyes and sat up. He looked around questioningly but didn't comment.

"Something is obviously bothering you but are you talking to me? Of course not! You said you wanted a new beginning but this is the same old, same old." Sam stated flatly.

"You don't want to know what I'm thinking about, Sam." Dean glanced at his brother. He took in the sight of Sam's clenched jaw and knew there would be no way he could avoid this conversation. "Okay, if you really want to know, I can't stop thinking about what you said in Canton…about Ruby... and about me not treating you right."

Dean gave a small self-deprecating laugh. "It seems no matter what I do, you keep leaving or threatening to leave and I've seen what might happen if you take off…" Dean suddenly snapped his mouth closed and shook his head while opening the car door. "Since we're at a rest stop, think I'll make the best of it." He got out and walked away from the car.

Sam sat a minute stunned. He got out of the car and slammed the door. Hard. That got Dean's attention faster than Sam shouting his name. "What do you mean you've seen what might happen if I take off on my own?"

Dean stopped but didn't turn. "Sam, just leave it, okay."

Sam caught up to Dean, grabbed his shoulder and turned him around roughly. He saw fear flash quickly in Dean's eyes before it was replaced by anger. Sam quickly dropped his hand and took a step back.

"Dean?" Sam pleaded.

Dean stared at Sam, coming to the conclusion that his brother had a right to know. "Before you came back, I was given a sneak peek at a possible future courtesy of Zachariah. In that future, we never worked anything out. We didn't talk, didn't see each other. I hated what I became. I hated what you became more."

"What happened?" Sam asked with trepidation, afraid that he knew.

"You said yes." Dean took a deep breath and continued. "When he brought me back, Zach thought the lesson that I learned was that I needed to say yes before you did. What I really learned is that if we aren't together, not only do we lose, the world does. That's why I said that you could come back. So, you want me to treat you…with more respect, you got it. Whatever you want from me, you got it. I'm not damning the world because of some hurt feelings."

"I wouldn't…I would never….Dean, I swear…" Sam stuttered. It was too much to think about, too overwhelming. "You took me back to stop me?"

"Sam, I took you back to stop both of us," he said quietly. "Now if you don't mind, I need a bathroom break." Dean gestured toward the restrooms. "You gonna be here when I get back?"

Sam's felt like he'd been punched in the gut. "How can you even ask me that?" he growled.

Dean just raised an eyebrow before turning and continuing toward the lone facility.

Sam's phone vibrated in his pocket. He pulled it out and, without looking, flipped it open and snarled, "What?"

"Where are you?"

Sam recognized the voice. "About 400 miles west of Canton, Ohio, at a rest stop."

Someone was suddenly standing behind him. He turned swiftly; his hand going to the demon killing knife that now never left his side. He found intense blue eyes staring into his from less than a foot away.

"He was not answering his phone. Where is Dean?" Castiel asked.

Sam took a quick step back and gestured over his shoulder.

Castiel looked at the building with an unusual amount of concentration had he been human.

"I will wait for him here."

Sam couldn't remember a time when it was just him and Castiel, with no Dean to act as a lubricant. He shifted uncomfortably, acutely aware of the tension between them. "You don't like me very much, do you?"

Castiel's head swiveled and he regarded the youngest Winchester. "I do not like the choices that you have made."

Sam dropped his head, a lock of hair falling into his eyes. "Neither do I." He consciously straightened to his full height. "I'm doing everything I can to make up for them. I'm going to redeem myself. I'm going to find a way to stop Lucifer."

The angel regarded him skeptically. "You should not have left your brother after Colorado," he stated with conviction.

Sam fought the effort to drop his eyes. "You don't understand."

Castiel looked at Sam sternly. "I understand you broke faith with your brother by leaving him for a demon. I understand that instead of trying to gain back his trust, you went off on your own. I understand that even knowing that Zachariah was looking for him to take him for Michael and that demons were looking for him to make certain that he could never be Michael's sword, you left him alone."

Sam clenched his jaw stubbornly. "I needed to go. Dean didn't trust me and my…addiction. Hell, I didn't trust myself. I needed to get away from demons and from hunting…I didn't want to risk making any more mistakes. If Dean had wanted me with him, he would have tried to stop me, he didn't. Besides, he wasn't alone, he had you."

Castiel shook his head. "I only spent time with him when he helped me capture and question Raphael, the angel that killed me in the house of the prophet Chuck…and of course the night we spent together before that. He seemed to think it important that I not die, again, before experiencing the pleasures of the flesh."

Sam's mouth dropped open. "He…what?"

"He helped me capture Raphael in a circle of Holy Oil so that I might question the archangel as to the whereabouts of my Father."

"No, not that part- though I really want to know how to contain an angel-the part about the pleasures of the flesh."

"Raphael had killed me once and I anticipated that he might kill me again. I was content to sit and wait in silent contemplation but Dean didn't want me to die a virgin. He thought that fornication should be one of the perks of my rebellion." Castiel canted his head to one side in remembrance. "From his laughter I believe he enjoyed the experience, however, I do not think the evening ended quite as he had anticipated."

Sam blinked in astonishment.

Castiel continued, "That is immaterial. You left your brother to fight alone, when the fight belongs to both of you. You did not ask to come back until you thought you needed him again, not even considering that he might have needed you.

"And he did need you. He tried to convince me and himself that he was fine but he was not."

Sam gathered his thoughts to respond but before he could say a word, the angel was gone. He pushed his hair back off of his face and started to think about small redemptions rather than large ones.

Dean ambled slowly back to the car, his head down and his hands in his jacket pockets. He didn't look up even when he was standing within a few feet of his brother.

"Cold Oak," Dean stated definitively.

"What?"

"Remember Cold Oak, Sammy. No matter how bad things seem now, they've been worse." Dean finally looked up and met his brother's eyes. "I don't know what to do to make things better right now, but I do know this—we got the world sitting on our shoulders and if we don't hold each other up, it will crush us."

Sam realized that this was a good opportunity for a small act of contrition that might start to bridge the yawning gap between them. "Dean, I shouldn't have tried to blame you for me taking up with Ruby or throw an ultimatum at you because I don't like you being angry with me…something you totally have a right to be." He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "No matter what, I'm not leaving again and if I even hint that I might want some alone time, you have my permission to deck me.

"Some things do need to change though. In a hunt, I want to be treated as an equal, 'cause I haven't been your little brother for a long time, equal decisions and equal risks. The rest of the time….I just want to be your brother. We beat this together and if we can't beat it together….we go down together. That's the way it always should have been."

Dean's posture slowly relaxed as Sam talked and now he looked at his brother with a half-smile. "Finally you said something that I totally agree with bitch."

Sam huffed a laugh. "Well, it took you long enough to see reason, jerk. What do you say we head to the next town and get something to eat, I'm starving."

Dean nodded in happy agreement and held his hand out for the keys.

Sam tossed them to his brother and went to the passenger door. He stared over the top of the Impala, a wicked grin slowly forming. "So Dean, while we were taking our separate vacations a few weeks ago, you and Castiel do anything interesting?"

end