He hadn't exactly expected a warm welcome, but the cold-shoulder act and the constant staring was starting to get on his nerves after a few hours. Whenever they were in a room together, Sam stared at him, but he never said a word. Both their parents tried to keep the tone light, but nothing either of them did could coax a word out of Sam when it came to Dean. All he did was stare at him, sometimes directly, sometimes from the corners of his eyes. Dean struggled against his rising temper and it took him a bit to realize that he was starting to feel crappy.

"Dean, are you okay?" Mary suddenly asked, obviously having noticed what the others had failed to see.

He eyed her for a moment, then raised his right hand, which was shivering lightly, before balling it into a fist. "I'm not feeling so good," he admitted reluctantly.

She did the mom-thing instantly; slipped a hand onto his brow, a worried look in her eyes. "You're clammy-cold," she said. "Did you take those pills?"

He nodded and pressed his lips together. "Yeah, this morning," he said.

Mary arched her brow and glanced at John, who grimaced. "You're supposed to take them in the evening before bedtime," he said. "They act as sleeping pills as well as ..."

Before John could finish, Dean shot out of his seat and dashed to the bathroom, barely making it before he threw up. Hunkered down in front of the toilet, he waited for the roiling nausea to pass before he slowly pushed himself to his feet again and mopped the back of one hand over his brow. "Shit," he muttered.

"You're not supposed to have these symptoms while on the detox-drug." Mary had followed him into the bathroom and eyed him with concern.

"Maybe I'm allergic to the drug," he suggested and grimaced at the sour taste in his mouth.

"Could be. We should have that checked out," she agreed. "Try taking them again before bedtime today and we'll see how you are tomorrow. If you get sick again, we'll have to head back to the hospital." She again draped her left hand over his brow and caressed his cheek with her right. "Are you okay now?" she asked.

He nodded. "Yeah, I'll live," he said, then sent a glance toward the door. "Not making such a good impression on my little brother there, am I?"

She smiled indulgently. "He'll come around. Sam's just a little ..."

"Judgmental?" Dean asked and made a face. "That's okay. I get that he needs time to get used to this."

"So do you," Mary said. "Go lie down for a bit, Dean. I'll have a talk with him. Maybe I can convince him to ... lighten up a little."

He nodded vaguely. "Sorry about this. I'm not usually this feeble," he countered.

"You're not feeble," she said and stepped aside to let him pass. "Get some rest. We'll talk more later."

He pushed past her and hurried upstairs to not have to face both his father and Sam. He wasn't entirely sure how his father would react, but Sam's almost hostile behavior since arriving made him assume that his little brother – although this wasn't 'his' Sam – was less than enthusiastic about the whole thing.

He stopped upstairs with one hand on the doorknob and just listened. Maybe he would catch whatever they said?

"What the hell was that all about?" John asked. He didn't sound angry or disappointed. He sounded concerned.

"I think he can't stomach the drugs," Mary countered.

"He's on drugs?" Sam asked, his tone tight.

"He has an alcohol problem. From what he's told us of his life so far, I don't blame him," John said.

"What'd he tell you of his life?" Sam wanted to know.

"Hasn't been a bed of roses. The guy that took him obviously didn't really want him. He dragged him around with him everywhere and left him behind in motel rooms at regular intervals. That guy can be happy that he's not alive any more," John countered, now sounding angry.

"What happened to him? I mean ... how'd he end up in the hospital? Was it booze-related?" Sam asked.

"I don't really think that you have any right to chastise him for drinking, Sam," John said, his tone suddenly stern.

"John, we've talked about that enough. We're not bringing that up again," Mary cut in.

"No, I really think this needs to be said. The fact that the cops didn't know who was driving that damned car doesn't mean we can't venture a guess," John countered angrily. "You had an alcohol problem before that accident, Sam. It's just a damned shame that five of your friends had to die before you got scared straight."

"John, dammit!" Mary sounded just as angry now. "He doesn't remember. Don't you understand that yet? He has no damned memory of what happened before the accident. Don't you dare start blaming him for something he doesn't remember."

"Mom, it's okay. He's right," Sam said, his tone docile. "I may not remember it, but that doesn't mean I didn't do it. I'm sorry, dad, okay? Whatever the hell was wrong with me before, you're right. The accident scared me straight. I haven't touched a drop of alcohol since."

This was followed by a moment of silence. "Alright. Sorry. I shouldn't have brought it up," John said. "Why the hell aren't you talking to your brother?"

"Do you know for sure he is my brother?" Sam asked, his voice heavy with suspicion.

"Yes, we're sure," Mary said. "The bloodwork from back then was on file and it's a prefect match. He's your brother. Now, would you please cut him some slack? He hasn't had an easy life, after all."

"All you have is his say-so on that, right?" Sam asked.

"Yeah, but that's good enough. It doesn't matter anyway. He's home and that's all we have to focus on. Don't you think he deserves a little less hostility? He's not exactly threatening your place in our lives, okay?" John's tone was now commanding and Dean could almost imagine Sam's expression. Well, 'his' Sam's expression, anyway.

"That's not what I'm worried about, dad," Sam said, his tone even and quiet. "What if it turns out it's not him? What then?"

"It is him. We have all the proof we need," John countered.

Dean sighed and decided to refrain from listening to the rest of this conversation. He would have to win Sam over if he was going to stick around for awhile. Or at least until Sam went back to Stanford. At least dad was standing up for him. That was always something.

***

The rest of the day didn't pass any easier after he'd slept for an hour and then rejoined his family and by the time Dean finally dropped into bed at half past twelve that night, he was spent on a whole new level. This was all so far removed from where he had been a little over a week ago that he had a hard time wrapping his mind around it. At this point in time he had managed to convince himself that this was an alternate reality in some manner or fashion. What he needed to do now was find someone like Bobby who could help him find his way back to where he had been or find a way to bring 'his' Sam to this reality. Although, having two of Sam around might be a bit much.

He smirked joylessly and burrowed his face into the pillow, which smelled of mom. He realized it was a combination of whatever detergent she used combined with the scent of her perfume, which seemed to permeate everything in the house. What he had at first dubbed as being lavender wasn't really that. It was a combination of scents that made up his memory of his mother and to find it here, so strong and so alive, made it that much harder for him to get his act together.

That he was plagued by the side-effects of his overuse of alcohol over the past year really put a cramp in his style, but strangely enough he didn't crave a drink. All he craved with the security of family and he had that in spades here. He had taken the pills, but really didn't care if they made him sick. There was someone around to take responsibility for whatever they did to him and he relinquished control without hesitation. For a while at least, he would be more than happy to let his parents make decisions for him. It felt like a damned blessing to not have to be the one who made all the decisions.

He fell asleep with one last thought sent to 'his' brother and a quiet promise that he would do all in his power to find him.

***

The next day

Once again, Dean woke up to the sound of the front door downstairs closing. He squinted at his watch and figured dad had left for work. Feeling a little spaced, he got up and went downstairs to get something to drink and settled for juice, since that was all he could find in the fridge. It made him smirk lightly that there was no sign of any alcohol anywhere. No beer in the fridge and one shelf in the glass-fronted cabinet in the livingroom had been cleared, obviously of bottles. All he could do was appreciate that his parents – even though they really weren't 'his' parents – would go to such extremes to make sure he wasn't tempted to fall back into his old habits.

He settled down on the couch and glanced around while trying to determine what he needed to do first. Establish a relationship with this Sam that he could live with while he was here or find the closest library and start researching how to get back to his reality?

It was a hard decision. Granted, the absence of 'his' brother – and this reality's geek-boy was definitely not 'his' brother – helped him decide what was more important, but there was that little part of him that would kill to be allowed to remain here. He leaned forward, propped his elbows on his knees and folded his hands while dropping his head. Why the hell were there never any easy solutions in his life? Why did things always have to be so damned hard? He wanted 'his' brother back and there was no discussing that. But he would aim his research at finding out how to bring Sam here, not how to go back, unless there was absolutely no other way.

The sound of a door closing upstairs made him raise his head and listen. It had to be Sam, he figured, judging by the sound of the footsteps.

He shifted around on the couch and watched the door opening and, true enough, a moment later Sam turned up in the doorway. He stared at Dean for a moment.

"Morning," Dean said and tried a smile.

Sam didn't respond to it, just stood there and stared at him as if he expected him to blow up or something. And then he started to turn away.

"Sam," Dean said and rose. "Look, man, I know this must suck out loud for you, but ... I wish you would at least talk to me."

Sam stopped, his right side turned to the room, and just stared ahead of himself for a second. Then he glanced at Dean. "What do you want me to say?" he asked.

Dean shrugged, unsure of how to approach this guy. "I don't know. I get that you're not happy about me being here and all, but ... the fact remains I am here and ... well, shouldn't you at least try to accept me? For mom and dad at least?"

Sam turned back to face him and eyed him. His expressions and mannerisms were achingly familiar and made it hard for Dean to keep reminding himself that this wasn't the brother he had grown up with. "For mom and dad?" he asked. "Shouldn't I be able to accept you because you're my long-dead brother instead? Wouldn't that be more important?"

"Sure. Whatever floats your boat, man, but ..." Dean tried not to loose his temper, but was hard pressed to keep from blowing up. He figured his swinging moods had a lot to do with the insanity of this situation and the fact that he was apparently a recovering alcoholic.

Sam watched him darkly for another few seconds, then turned around and disappeared into the kitchen.

Dean closed his eyes briefly and sighed, then dropped back down on the couch. Short of beating the kid into listening to him, he figured he couldn't do more than he had done so far. He wondered what mom and dad had told Sam about him. The kid knew by now that he had a problem, which was okay, but it obviously put a cramp in their already strained relationship.

Half an hour later, Mary finally turned up. "Morning," she said when he turned around to face her. "How are you feeling?" In instant mom-mode, she closed the distance to him and slipped a hand onto his brow, then shifted it down to cup his cheek for a moment.

"I'm fine. A little edgy, I guess, but I've got it under control," he said and returned her smile.

"That's good to hear," she said. "Is Sam up yet?" she asked.

"Yeah, he's in the kitchen, avoiding me," Dean countered and rose.

Mary nodded. "We're going to ... force you into talking to each other," she said with a somewhat rueful smile on her lips. "Your father and I are going out tonight. We'll be gone for a few hours and that should give you two a chance to get to know each other without us interfering."

Dean sighed. "Might be a good idea," he agreed. "Sam might not think so, though. I don't have the feeling he wants to have anything to do with me."

"He'll come around," Mary promised. "Just give him time." She sure sounded like she believed it and Dean had no real reason to disagree with her. But he really didn't feel that there was much chance of Sam accepting him any time soon. "Just promise me one thing?"

"Anything," he said.

"If you do ... disagree, don't tear up the house, okay?" She made a face as if she was uncomfortable having to ask that and it made Dean think that 'this' Sam may have done that at some point.

He frowned and glanced toward the kitchen, then nodded. "Don't worry. Nobody's going to take a swing at anyone here," he promised.

She sighed with relief. "Good. Have you had breakfast yet?" she asked.

"Nope, not yet," he said.

"Then let's get some breakfast," she said and held out a hand to him.

He took it and relished the feel of her warm hand in his. It dredged up more memories from his childhood.

***

Another day passed with tension in the air. Sam still made no effort to talk to him, but kept watching him and it creeped Dean out big time. But rather than make a scene that might evolve into something nasty, he kept his trap shut. They would have a chance to hash things out this evening and Dean intended to do it as amicable as possible. Unless Sam forced his hand, of course.

Around six p.m., John turned up. Half an hour later, he and Mary were ready to leave the house.

"One word of warning here, you two," John said. Sam was standing in the doorway to the kitchen, leaning against the frame, his gaze locked on Dean, who was standing a few feet from him, willing and ready to agree to anything his father might throw at him. "We're not total morons. We can feel the tension here. I want you two to hash this out and be on speaking terms when we get back. You got that?" John continued and looked from Sam to Dean and back again, his expression stern. "No temper tantrums, Sam. And if even one thing is broken when we get back, there'll be hell to pay."

Sam's expression tightened, but he nodded without a word.

"Don't worry. Everything will be just like it is now when you get back," Dean promised. "We're adults, after all. We can talk about things."

"And no booze. For either of you," John persisted.

"I think they get the point," Mary said and took his arm. "Let's go. We'll be late for the movie."

"Right," John grumbled, gave them both a warning look and then they left the house. A few seconds later, the car pulled away from the curb and silence settled on the neighborhood.

Dean drew in a deep breath, then turned back to face Sam. "So, let's hash this out," he suggested.

Sam eyed him, then shrugged lightly.

They relocated to the livingroom and Dean was very aware of that Sam was keeping his distance. And he kept watching him like he had ever since he had turned up. Dean dropped down on the couch and Sam trailed over to the far end of the livingroom, pulled out a chair at the dining table and sat down on that.

"So, that accident you were in. You remember nothing about that?" Dean asked.

Sam stared at him. "What have you done with your life?" he countered, totally ignoring that question.

"Not a hell of a lot, depending on who you ask," Dean said. "Let's lay down some ground rules here, okay? We each ask a question and the other has to answer it. Deal?"

Sam grimaced, considered it for a moment, then nodded once. "Fine," he said.

"Okay, I go first," Dean said and smirked joylessly at the eyeroll that earned him. "Why the hell are you watching me like you think I'm gonna blow up or something? You've done nothing else since you arrived. You got a problem with me?"

"That's two questions," Sam said sourly. "I'm trying to figure you out," he added. "And yeah, I've got a problem with you. Who was the guy that took you from the hospital?"

"Just some guy who had lost his kid and obviously thought I looked like him," Dean countered. "Where you driving the car when you had that accident?"

Sam stared at him. "Not that I remember," he countered. "What did your ... father do for a living?"

"He was a traveling salesman," Dean said. Something about the way Sam kept staring at him made him a little anxious. He grabbed a hold of the cord around his neck and pulled at it. For reasons he couldn't readily explain even to himself, he had decided to hide the pendent 'his' Sam had given him. He wasn't ready to answer the question of where he'd gotten it or what it meant. "Do you have an alcohol problem?" he asked.

Sam pursed his lips and frowned lightly. "No, do you?" he countered.

"I guess I do," Dean admitted. "I figured mom and dad removed all the booze because of me. But if they think you have a problem, they may have removed it because you were coming home. What do you think?"

"They remove all of it every time I come home. Dad thinks I was responsible for that accident," Sam confessed. "Why are you drinking?"

"I'm not any more," Dean countered. "Why were you drinking?"

"I don't remember. And that's not an answer. Why were you drinking?" Sam shot back.

Dean eyed him while trying to decide which fib to go with. "I lost who I thought was my father. It kinda pulled the carpet out from under my feet," he said. It wasn't entirely a lie, but not the entire truth either. Without thinking about it, he pulled the pendant out and fiddled with it. "How are you doing at school?" he asked.

Sam frowned and Dean figured he thought it was an odd question. But then he realized that Sam's eyes were locked on the pendent. "Fine," he said. "What's that?"

Dean glanced down at it, sighed lightly and wrapped his hand around it. "It's a necklace. What's it look like?"

"A horned head," Sam said, still with that frown furrowing his brow. "What was your father's name?"

This back and forth wasn't really telling him much. He figured he would have to structure his questions a little more. "Elroy McGillicuddy," Dean said and took a moment to think of a more constructive question.

"McGillicuddy?" Sam asked and arched an eyebrow. "Elroy ... McGillicuddy?"

Dean sighed. "Yeah. So what?" he asked.

"McGillicuddy?" Sam persisted. "And your name is Evan?"

Dean frowned. He felt like there was something Sam wanted to say without knowing how. "Actually, it is Dean, but he called me Evan. So what?" he asked again.

"What have you been doing with your life up until now?" Sam asked again and his tone had now taken on a hostile note.

Dean could understand his attitude. Up until now, he had been an only child. It had to be difficult, having to suddenly share the attention with the brother he had always known as the dead one. "As I said, not a hell of a lot," Dean said. "Look, Sam, I know you've got every reason not to like me or trust me. But ... just give me a chance, man, okay? I'm not that bad."

"You're an alcoholic," Sam shot back, his attitude as hostile as his tone.

"Yeah, well, so are you if rumors are true." He stopped himself and shook his head. He was not going to get into a shouting match with Sam.

"Why'd you start drinking?" Sam asked again and eyed him closely.

Dean felt a little annoyed by Sam's tone and the repetition of questions he had already answered. "Because I had nothing better to do," he countered.

"When did Elroy die?" Sam pushed on.

"Three years ago. Look, I get the feeling you wanna say something, so why don't you just do us both a favor and get on with it?" Dean shot back.

Sam stared at him for a moment, then put on that prim expression that obviously had to be genetic and leaned back on the chair. "McGillicuddy," he muttered.

Dean felt like slapping him upside the head for bringing that up all the time. "Again, yes, McGillicuddy. So frigging what? I know it's an uncommon name, but ..."

"Where'd you get that necklace?" Sam cut him off.

The Q&A was derailing in Sam's favor and Dean didn't really know how to stop it. "From someone who meant a lot to me," he countered a little angrily.

Sam eyed him suspiciously. "I gave you that necklace," he suddenly said, his tone suddenly quiet and even.

It took a second or two before the meaning of what Sam had just said settled in. "What?" Dean asked, stumped and unable to respond properly.

Sam's attitude was still cautious, but Dean had the feeling it was more based on careful hope than aggression. "I was supposed to give it to dad, but he didn't show up for Christmas, so I gave it to you instead."

Dean could barely breathe while he now stared at Sam like Sam had stared at him ever since he'd laid eyes on him.

"McGillicuddy was the name dad used in the hospital the day he died," Sam continued. "Do you remember that?"

They just stared at each other for a moment while Dean tried to sort through the sudden chaos in his head. "How could you remember that?" he rasped, his voice nearly failing him.

At that Sam smiled. "Because I don't belong in this reality any more than you do," he said.

"Sammy?" If ever Dean had felt close to fainting, this was it. He rose, but stopped moving again, feeling a little dizzy and out of sorts. "But ... everybody here knows you."

"Of course they do. I've been here for a year. I ended up here after the encounter with that demon in that park in California," he said and rose too.

At some point time had stopped and Dean had no idea how to kick it back into action. He couldn't move, just stood there and stared at Sam. The fact that his wildest hope had just come true coupled with the fact that his brother had been living in this reality for the past year while he himself had slowly been spiraling downward into darkness made it impossible for him to react at first.

His lack of response made Sam uncertain. "Aren't you gonna say something?" he asked and spread his arms out a little, his tone wavering with sudden insecurity.

Something about that reaction made Sam look so damned vulnerable that it pushed all else out of the way. Dean stepped around the coffee table, strode over to him and pulled him into a crushing hug. He couldn't help a grin when Sam sighed with relief, then hugged him back.

***