That night, Dean lay awake for a long time, just staring up at the ceiling of his room. The room was a tad impersonal and he figured he probably couldn't count on staying in this house forever, but while he was here, he would try to put his mark on this room.

The reason for his inability to sleep wasn't concern. There was a tad of melancholy in this, of course, because he couldn't stop thinking about Bobby and what a rotten deal he'd been stuck with. But mostly he couldn't stop that tingly feeling that made him want to grin all the time.

A sudden tap on the door made him push up on his elbows. The door opened and Sam slipped inside. "You awake?" he asked quietly and shut the door behind him.

"Dude, I'm practically sitting up in bed. Of course I'm awake," Dean countered and flicked the lamp beside the bed on. "It's two a.m. Why are you still up?"

"Why are you?" Sam shot back and smirked. "I don't like sleeping alone," he added and grinned sheepishly.

"You're such a baby sometimes," Dean said, pulled his knees up and patted the bed. Sam dropped down on the footend and pulled his feet up. "This bed is too narrow for two people and besides, you're my brother, not some hot chick."

"First off, gross, man," Sam countered and made a face. "I just couldn't sleep, okay?"

"Yeah, right, dude," Dean said with a smirk. "So, mom and dad were pretty psyched at the idea that we get along, huh?" he asked and glanced toward the door. "I kinda get the feeling the old man would have a cow if he saw this."

"Why would he? He's just a little surprised by how quickly I took to you. I haven't really ... embraced anyone with open arms since arriving in this wack-job of a reality," Sam said, wrapped his arms around his knees and made a face.

"And I always thought you were the touchy-feely type," Dean said. "Look, Sam, I get you haven't had it easy, but having to go on without knowing what the hell happened to you hasn't exactly been a walk in the park either." He sighed, propped the pillows up behind him and leaned back against the wall.

"I know," Sam agreed. "I just don't get why the demon would do this. I mean ... why drop us in a reality that gives us everything we've ever wanted? Not exactly what demons are known for, rewarding people."

"Well ... maybe it wasn't a demon then?" Dean suggested even though he couldn't come up with any other scenario himself.

"Then what was it? Are you suggesting that we're getting time off for good behavior?" Sam countered and eyed him darkly. "I mean ... this is as close to Heaven as you can get without actually dying, I guess, but ..."

"But what?" Dean made a sweeping gesture to encompass not only the house and their parents, but this world they had ended up in. "Look around you, Sam. All the crap that's poisoned our lives in our reality is gone here. No religion, hence no good vs. evil. No demons, hence no dead parents. We can get everything we've ever wanted here, man." He sighed and leaned forward a little. "I agree that this is super weird, considering that it was a demon that sent us here. But ... maybe it didn't know where it was sending us. Maybe ..."

"You're grasping, man," Sam tried and smiled vaguely.

"I'm grasping?" Dean smirked. "Yeah, like I would ever do that."

"You do that all the time," Sam claimed.

Dean chuckled. "Yeah, I guess I do," he agreed. "Look, man, I'm tired and I really don't think we should run around looking like hanged cats around mom and dad for a bit. They'll think we went on a binge or something."

Sam nodded. "Yeah, they probably would," he said and got up again. "It's good to have you back, man."

Dean didn't answer, only grimaced to let Sam know he was getting too close to the dreaded chick-flick moment. But underneath he agreed wholeheartedly. "Go to bed, bitch," he said.

"Jerk," Sam countered with a grin and left again.

Dean just sat there for a moment longer and stared at the door. "I'm in violent agreement with you there, little bro," he muttered, switched off the light and went to sleep.


The next morning

"We need a plan."

Dean looked up from the newspaper he was leafing through while trying to digest some of the things Sam had told him the night before. "A plan?" he asked and eyed his little brother with slight concern. "For what?"

Sam sighed and dropped down on the chair across from him, sent a brief glance toward the doorway, then focused on Dean. "For how we're going to handle this. It'll be easier now that I know I haven't lost it."

"You thought you'd lost it?" Dean asked and eyed him closely.

"Trust me. You would too after a while if I hadn't been here. This place ... nobody here knows what I'm talking about if I mention the supernatural. I guess that's how Trekkies must feel when they talk to people who have no idea what Star Trek is," he said and shook his head. "Incidentally, Star Trek ... doesn't exist here. I have no idea why."

Dean made a face. "Well, no great loss there. It's not like it's the best show ever made anyway."

Sam arched an eyebrow. "I would say a lot of people in our reality would disagree with you there, but hey. They've probably found something else to be fanatic about in this reality," he said.

"Speaking of which," Dean said, closed the newspaper and leaned back on the chair. "Wouldn't fanatism be out the window without religion?"

Sam chuckled. "Fanaticism isn't something religion brought up in people. Boredom did and from what I can tell boredom is alive and well in this reality," he said. "Besides, religion has existed up until one hundred years ago. It was just abolished because nobody believed in God any more and those that did were nutcases with an agenda." He eyed Dean for a moment. "And there's no such word as fanatism. It's fanaticism," he added.

"Whatever," Dean countered. "Jeez, you're so hung up about words, dude."

"It's kinda important if I want to be a lawyer," Sam said and got up again. "Have you eaten?"

"Nope, not yet," Dean said.

"Are you incapable of preparing breakfast for yourself?" Sam asked and eyed him a little critically.

"No, I'm not. I'm just ..." Dean stopped. "What the hell is this? We've been apart for a year and the second we're back together, we're fighting?"

Sam shook his head with a smile. "We're not fighting, Dean. We've always been like this."

"That's just the thing, man. We can't be like this now. In this reality we don't know each other," Dean said.

The expression on Sam's face told Dean clearly that Sam hadn't considered that part. "Oh, yeah, you're right," he agreed a little hesitantly. "That's why we need a plan. On how to handle mom and dad and everybody else."

Dean nodded. "Yeah, might be an idea," he agreed. "You know ... there's one thing I'd really like to know."

"Like what?" Sam asked and put the coffee on.

"Since Bobby exists in this reality, I'm just wondering if he's aware of the supernatural or not. Besides, Singer Salvage may exist, but it may not be his," Dean said.

"Well, that's easy to check up on," Sam said. "I have his number on speed dial. As I said yesterday, I found him. I just never called."

"Then call him, you bonehead. I wanna know that he's at least happy here," Dean shot back.

Sam smirked, dug his phone out and dialed the number. Then he leaned back against the kitchen counter and waited for the other end to pick up. "Oh, hi. Uh ... my name's Sam Winchester ... is Bobby there?" Sam asked and grimaced.

"Is he?" Dean asked.

Sam held up a hand, warding off any further questions. Something said at the other end made him frown. "Really?" he asked, then glanced down at the floor in front of his feet.

"What?" Dean pushed.

Sam gave him an annoyed look and shook his head. "Uh ... no, that's okay. I'll ... call back later," he said. "Thanks ... uh ... right. Thanks again," he added and hung up. He blinked a few times, then focused on Dean. "He's working. Couldn't come to the phone right now," he said.

"The guy's got a secretary?" Dean asked, a little impressed.

"Nope," Sam countered and couldn't help a smirk. "That was his wife. Clara Singer."

Dean stared at him. "His wife's alive?"

"Yup. Makes sense too. Since the supernatural doesn't exist here, she was never possessed by a demon and Bobby never had to kill her," Sam said. "Which means he's definitely not into the supernatural. And how could he be? It doesn't exist here."

"Which is something you take great pleasure in pointing out, Sammy," Dean said with a smirk. "Is that coffee gonna be done sometime today or do I have to do everything around here?"

Sam snorted. "You don't do anything unless someone kicks you to do it," he claimed and glanced at the coffee machine, shrugged and sat back down across from Dean. "Where's mom?" he asked. His attention instantly drifted away and he smirked lightly.

"Out shopping," Dean said and arched an eyebrow at Sam's odd behavior. "What are you grinning at?"

To his immediate surprise, Sam blushed a little and picked at the edge of the table. "It's just weird, you know? Saying that? 'Where's mom'."

Dean smirked. "You should have gotten used to that by now, man. You've had them for a year."

"Yeah, I know, but still ... I kinda get this rush every time I say that," Sam said and looked up to meet his gaze, his expression one of delight.

Dean shook his head. "You're taking way too much pleasure in this, Sam," he said. "But ... for what it's worth ... I totally get you. I feel the same way. Having her back ... man ... I don't ever wanna lose this again."

For some reason, that sobered Sam up a little. He dropped the smile and pressed his lips together into a thin line. "What if this isn't real?" he asked after a moment of silence had passed between them.

"Dude, it's real," Dean insisted. He didn't even want to touch on the possibility that this might not be what it seemed to be.

"You don't think this whole thing's too perfect?" Sam asked.

"No, I don't. This is what we should have had and we deserve it after all the crap we've been through. It's not our damned job to save the world. We didn't volunteer for this job after all." Dean rose to get the coffee. "Mom and dad are happy, we're both alive and in one piece, you've got Jess. What more could you want? Besides, if this was make-believe, dude, I wouldn't be in a detox-program to get me off the booze. And neither of us would have had to take the place of a dead guy."

Sam watched him until he set the coffee mugs down on the table. He grabbed one and wrapped his hands around it. "I guess," he muttered.

"Why the sudden concern, man? Is there something you're not telling me?" Dean asked and sat down again too.

In Dean's opinion, Sam took too long to answer that. Eventually, he looked up and met Dean's eyes though. "No, I just can't help worrying. I mean ... everything I've ever heard and read about messing up realities ..."

"We're not messing anything up, dude," Dean insisted. "We would if either of our counterparts in this reality were alive, but they're not. Our ... transition into this world has been nearly seamless, man. I'm not worried."

"So, to hell with our reality then?" Sam asked, his tone a little tight.

"No, dude. That's not what I'm saying. We've done our bit, man. We've lost enough. I honestly believe this ..." he made a sweeping gesture at the kitchen, at this world in general, "... it's a reward of sorts. Which again is why I don't think what did this was a demon."

"Then what was it, Dean? An angel? Because, as far as I remember, you don't believe in angels," Sam shot back, a little agitated.

Dean didn't reply, just sat there and stared past him and it took Sam a second to realize that Dean wasn't staring into space. He turned a little and glanced over one shoulder to find Mary standing there, a grocery bag cradled in one arm, while she stared at them with obvious surprise. "You know each other," she finally said and glanced from one to the other and back again. "Don't you?"

Dean glanced at Sam, but his brother seemed to be frozen in time. "Uh ... well ..." he tried, but was completely out of believable stories.

"We've met," Sam agreed, his tone even and calm. "Which is why I responded the way I did to him at first," he added. "I thought it was a joke or something."

Mary blinked. "Where did you meet?" she asked, stepped into the kitchen and dropped the bag of groceries on the tabletop.

"In California. We kinda clicked right away, had a few beers, hung out. Stuff like that," Dean said. Sam had set the ball rolling and they would have to back each other up. "Little did I know that he was my brother," he added with a vague smile.

Mary eyed him for a second, then shifted her attention to Sam. "Was that before or after the accident?" she asked.

"After," Sam was quick to say. "If it had been before, I wouldn't have remembered him, would I?"

Mary's expression tightened a little, her attention locked on Sam. "You told me you haven't touched a drop of alcohol since ..."

"I had beers. He only had water," Dean cut in. "It wasn't a big deal, either. We've met, we hung out. I always wanted to go to college. I don't know why I ended up close to Stanford, but ..." He shrugged. "I hung around there for a month or two, then took off again."

Mary shifted her gaze to him, her expression hard to read. "I see," she said. Obviously, she believed them, which was a relief. But there was something bothering her if her expression was anything to go by. "By the way, Dean, what were you doing in that warehouse in Kansas City?" she asked.

Dean struggled for an explanation, realizing that it didn't exactly look good, and he couldn't count on Sam to come up with a believable story to cover that one. "I ..." He hesitated while not meeting Mary's eyes. He would have to come up with something fast, something that wouldn't make her think less of him, and then it suddenly hit him. "I was looking for a place to sleep," he said and almost cringed at how pathetic that sounded.

But it did the trick. Mary's expression softened. "Oh," she muttered, stepped up to him and cupped a hand against his cheek. "Well, you'll never have to do that again," she said, leaned down and pecked him on the brow.

Sam watched this with an expression Dean couldn't really decipher, then rose, grabbed the grocery bag and started putting the items away.

"Could you pour me a cup of coffee?" Mary asked, shrugged out of her coat and returned to the hall to put it away.

Dean grabbed her a mug and glanced at Sam, who mimicked a relieved sigh. Dean nodded once and held the mug out to Mary when she came back into the kitchen. What he didn't much like was the guilt in her eyes. What he had just said had made her feel guilty and he really didn't want that. "It's not like I did that a lot, you know," he said with a sheepish smile. "Sometimes ... it was just easier than running around, trying to find a motel room I could afford."

She squeezed his shoulder in passing and settled down at the table. "As I said, Dean, you will never have to do that again. No matter what, this will always be your home," she said.

They both sat down again and Dean found it incredibly difficult to not just sit there and stare at her. Every time she was in the room, he just wanted to sit there and look at her and he figured it would get creepy at some point if he didn't stop it, so he dropped his gaze to his coffee and just stared at that instead.

Silence stretched long and thin between the three of them. Sam fidgeted a little while Dean tried to come up with something to say. This could get really soppy if he said the wrong thing and it could get really ugly too and he wanted neither, so he opted for keeping his mouth shut. Mary obviously had nothing further to say on the subject and finally focused on Sam."So, how long are you going to stay, Sam? Until the weekend?" she asked.

"Yeah. I gotta head back Sunday. Dad promised to take me to the airport. He nearly slapped me upside the head when I said I was leaving at eight," he said and chuckled.

"You meant p.m., right?" Mary asked to which Sam nodded. "I bet he thought you meant a.m."

"I did tell him I wasn't leaving until the evening," Sam said. "He must have heard something different. The scowl he gave me until I corrected him was almost lethal."

"Well, you know what he's like. He jumps to conclusions," Mary said with a smile. "Dean, by the way, I took the liberty of getting you some more clothes. You can't just wear the same things all the time," she added.

He looked up at her, glanced at Sam, then smiled. "Thanks. You shouldn't have," he said.

"Oh yes, I should," she disagreed. "No son of mine is going to lack clothes. And from what I understand, you don't have any actual money, do you?"

Dean sighed and shook his head lightly. "No, not really. Give me a wad of cash, though, and I can turn it into more in one evening," he added, then grimaced when Sam gave him a warning look.

"And how would you do that?" Mary asked, sounding more curious than concerned right now.

"I'm good at pool," Dean said. "I beat him out of a few bucks in California."

"Yeah, he's a regular shark, that one," Sam agreed, now that Dean had given him an in on this part of their tale.

Mary eyed him for a long moment, her expression one of slight concern. "I'd rather you didn't," she finally said. "At least for now. I realize that I have no right to tell you want to do, Dean, but ... at least go work for your father for a while and see if you like that. It's a good way to save up some money."

Dean glanced at Sam, who arched an eyebrow, making his opinion of that very clear, then he nodded. "Sure, I wasn't planning on doing that anyway. It's just ... I've made a living of that for so long, it's kinda second nature."

And again the guilt surfaced in her expression and he swore he would do anything to wipe that look permanently from her face. "I supposed it will take some getting used to for you. It's a different life, living in one place, having a steady income. But I have the feeling you'll like it," she said, reached out and took his hand.

"I'm sure I will," he agreed with a smile and closed his fingers over hers. Sam rolled his eyes at him, which turned his smile into a grin.

Mary glanced at her watch. "Have you two eaten yet?" she asked and looked from one to the other and back again. They both shook their heads. "Alright, let's make it brunch then. I'm starving," she added, rose and turned to the kitchen counter.

"Can I help?" Sam asked.

"Sure," Mary said, then turned back to eye Dean. "Do you cook?" she asked.

He smirked. "Only pancakes and that's ages ago," he countered.

"Help out," she suggested. "You might learn something."

"Heaven forbid," he said with a smirk. "Lead the way, mom."

That he called her mom made her smile and he vowed to do that as often as he could. A little uncertain of what exactly she expected him to do, he stayed back until she started delegating tasks and before long all three of them were engaged in something that was so normal and yet so uncommon for him that it made his head spin. He remembered this, the feeling of togetherness, the laughter from mom, the sense of belonging, and it was both the best and the most heartbreaking feeling he'd ever experienced.