The following morning

Admittedly, Dean was grumpy like hell when he woke up. And there were, in his humble opinion, a couple of very good reasons for that. First and foremost, his chest hurt like a bitch until the attending nurse gave him a shot for it. Secondly, he was annoyed that they had put him under the day before and that he hadn't woken up for the better part of twenty-four hours. And he let the attending nurse know just how annoyed he was.

"Doesn't it tell you something that you've been out for the better part of twenty-four hours?" she asked and smiled, obviously used to 'impossible' patients. "I mean, the shot we gave you should have kept you sedated for two to three hours. The rest is just your body telling you it's time to relax a little."

"Bullshit," he snarled. "Are you about done with this?" he snapped and nodded toward her fiddling around with the IV in his left arm. He knew it wasn't fair to take his anger out on her, but she was present and she was sticking a needle into his arm. He'd hurt others for less.

"Well, aren't you in a fine mood this morning."

Dean glanced toward the open door and grimaced when Bobby stepped in. "Yeah, well, I'm in pain. And they had no frigging right to knock me out for this long."

"You're not in pain any more," the nurse, Diana, disagreed. "And we didn't, as I just explained."

"Yeah, right. It's still bullshit," Dean huffed.

"Simmer down, boy," Bobby warned. "Don't get your shorts in a twist because you needed a time-out."

"I didn't need a damned time-out. Where's Sam? Is he okay?" Dean had never had any particular problems admitting that his brother's well-being was first and foremost on his mind at all times. Some might view that as odd or even possessive, but Dean didn't give a damn.

"He's a couple of rooms over," Bobby said, "and he's sleeping from what I could tell."

"I need to see him," Dean insisted and started pushing the covers away.

"You're not going anywhere," Diana argued. "You're in no condition to go gallivanting around this hospital. You've ripped some stitches yesterday, you're running a temperature and ..."

"I don't damned well look like I give a crap, now do I?" Dean interrupted her sharply.

"I said simmer down, boy," Bobby repeated sternly and gave Dean a look that made him stop fighting Diana. "You're not doing yourself or Sam any favors here. You need to be up to speed first and from what I can tell, you're not. So stop making such a damned fuss and listen to nurse Hancock. She knows what she's doing and she has your best interest at heart."

Dean squared his jaw. "I know my brother, Bobby. He's tearing himself up over what happened," he growled.

"Yeah, he is," Bobby agreed, "but you're not helping him by getting sicker."

"I'm not gonna get sicker," Dean muttered.

The look that followed that was well-known territory and it made Dean shut up about this for now. If there was one thing he had learned a long time ago, then it was that Bobby had a limit and if you crossed that limit, that dreaded shotgun wasn't far away. Although Dean had never actually seen the man use it against his father, he knew that the threat Bobby had issued the last time he and John had occupied the same space had been very serious. And John had known it too. And Dean knew better than to tempt fate where Bobby was concerned. "I hate this," he muttered.

Bobby nodded. "I get that. That doesn't mean you get to ignore your own healing," he said, then turned his attention to nurse Hancock. "Is there any chance that we can put these two in the same room?"

She pursed her lips. "Are you foreseeing trouble if we don't?" she asked.

Bobby arched an eyebrow and gave Dean a look. "Trouble is the understatement of the year where this one's concerned," he agreed. "If you want to keep the peace, you put them in the same room. As soon as possible."

Dean could tell that she wasn't happy about it, but then she shrugged. "Alright," she agreed. "We'll have to move Sam. He's not hooked up to anything," she added and left the room.

"Thanks," Dean said, directing this to Bobby.

"Don't thank me. I generally think this is a bad idea, kid," Bobby countered. "But I also know you'll be out of that bed the second I turn my back on you and after what you two have just gone through ..." He shook his head and pushed his cap back a little. "I wish you would stop being so damned stubborn, Dean. I know you take after your dad on this, but this is not a good thing."

"I just don't want Sam to be alone right now," Dean tried to defend himself.

"I get that, Dean. I really do. But you gotta give yourself time to heal too and having to deal with your brother's guilt-issues right now is not helping," Bobby said. "Anyway." He sighed and shook his head. "You'll get what you want. So stop making a fuss." There was a slight note of sarcasm in his voice at this point and it made Dean smirk.

"Yes sir," he agreed.

"How many times do I have to tell you not to call me sir?" Bobby gave him a good-natured glare. "I'm not your commanding officer."

"Yeah, yeah, I know that," Dean said with a grimace, shifted a little and sighed. "Man, I wish we could avoid running into hell spawns like this one. She's really done a number on Sammy."

Bobby trailed over to the window and looked down at the street below. "On both of you," he said. "And yeah, that's putting it mildly. Makes you wonder why she was so attracted to him."

Dean stared ahead of himself for a moment, then glanced at Bobby, who had his back turned. "I don't know," he admitted. "But she sure didn't hold back, did she?"

"Nope, that's for sure." Bobby turned back to face him. "Considering that Sam's been possessed twice now, I think it's about time that we take a closer look at what we can do to stop that from happening again. From what I hear, it's not something that generally makes your day."

"That has to be the understatement of the year," Dean agreed and thoughtfully wiped a hand over his lips. "But what can we do? I mean, we've got those charms, but ... they don't really seem to cut it where hell gods are concerned."

Bobby pulled something out of one pocket, a piece of paper, and handed it to Dean. "This is an anti-possession charm. It works," he said. "I got one myself and I have never been possessed."

Dean eyed the drawing for a second. "So, we carry this around with us?" he asked and glanced up at Bobby.

"No, you idjit. You have it tattooed on your body somewhere," Bobby said. "Any tattoo parlor will do this design, whether they know what it's for or not."

A tattoo? Dean frowned a little, then sighed. "Well, I had sworn I would never get a tattoo," he said, then shrugged lightly and hissed when the shrug pulled at his chest. "Then again, it beats matching earrings."

Bobby arched a questioning eyebrow, but didn't ask what Dean meant by that.


Sam didn't ask when they moved him and nobody offered an explanation. In general, he assumed he shouldn't have been surprised that he was being moved to the same room that Dean was in, but since he had more or less decided that his brother probably never wanted to talk to him again, it did surprise him. He didn't acknowledge how he felt, merely settled for sending Dean a furtive glance when the orderlies push the bed into place next to the window. Of course Dean would insist on being closest to the door. He always was.

Dean eyed him for a second, his expression unreadable. "Hey," he said. "How're you feeling?"

Sam considered that question for a moment, then snorted lightly. "How do you think I'm feeling?" he muttered. The chocking feeling of tears rising in his eyes made him look away to hide how he felt. Dean would know, of course. He always knew.

"Beating yourself up about this isn't going to help, Sam," Dean tried. "You didn't kill anyone."

"Oh really?" Sam pushed up on his elbows, but still didn't look at Dean. Instead he stared ahead of himself, not wanting to acknowledge what he had done to Dean by taking in the physical signs of it. Despite feeling drained, he was far better off physically, but mentally he was a mess where Dean seemed to have skipped rather lightly over the previous night's events. "Tell that to Bill. He was right in being afraid of me."

With a sigh, Dean closed his eyes and squared his jaw, obviously fighting to keep calm. "That wasn't you. That was Morax," he finally said and gave Sam a dark look that Sam only caught because he glanced at Dean from the corners of his eyes. "Like everything else was Morax's doing as well."

That was Dean at what he did best; justifying so Sam didn't feel like shit about what he had done. With an effort, Sam sat up, shifted a little and finally looked at his brother. The signs of last night's torture session were very evident. The bandage that covered Dean's chest from his collarbone to the waistline of the hospital pyjama pants he was wearing, the paleness of his skin, the dark smudges under his eyes. Sam stared at him for a second, then turned his gaze toward the window. His chest felt heavy. He knew the signs of depression and he knew he was suffering from it right now, but he figured he had a right to be depressed. "I'm not safe to be around," he muttered.

"Shut up, Sam," Dean warned, the annoyance heavy in his tone. "This wasn't your fault. Any of it."

"Right. Like it wasn't my fault that Meg possessed me and made me shoot you either," Sam growled. He was angry at himself for not being able to withstand the possession and he was pissed at Dean for being so damned forgiving.

"How many frigging times do I have to tell you that it wasn't your fault?" Dean demanded. "Look, I know this must sting like a bitch, Sam, but you're not doing yourself or me any favors by beating yourself up over this. How many people out there have been possessed in later years, huh? How much crap do you think they have to go through every day because nobody believes them? I know you were possessed, Sam. Bobby drove the demons out of you both times. And now he's come up with a way to make sure it never happens again."

Sam blinked almost sluggishly, then turned back to face his brother. "What do you mean?" It caught his attention, made him temporarily forget about his concerns.

"It's a bit extreme, but if it works, I'm all for it," Dean said and shifted himself into a more comfortable position. "Tattoos," he added. "We both get a tattoo and crap like this will never happen again. Bobby has one too and he's never been possessed."

"Tattoos?" Sam frowned at the idea. It made sense. Gingerly, he reached up and rubbed his sore jaw. "Yeah, that might work," he agreed. "Doesn't undo what I did, though," he added and turned away again.

"Oh, for crap's sake, Sam," Dean groaned. "Am I gonna have to listen to this for the next ten months without end?"

Sam sighed and shrugged lightly. What could he say? He couldn't shed the feelings rippling through him, the anger and the disgust at what he had seen himself do, the pain in Dean's eyes, the sense of overwhelming sexual excitement it had caused; not in him but in Morax. She had translated it into him, had made him feel every ounce of it, and it made his stomach roil with nauseating revulsion.

For a long moment, Dean remained silent. Then he shifted and groaned under his breath. "Sammy, come on," he finally begged. "You have got to stop blaming yourself for this. It wasn't your fault."

"What about Michelle?" Sam asked and turned back to face Dean. "She's dead, man. And Bill. And Pete."

Dean held his gaze for a moment, then grimaced and looked away. "If that's anybodies fault, Sam, then it's mine," he said quietly. "You didn't want to go on this hunt. If you wanna blame anyone, blame me. I started this crap."

"Then again, maybe not." They both turned their attention toward the doorway and Bobby standing there. "Would you two cut it out?" He stepped inside and closed the door behind him. "The blame lies with those ignorant morons who called her into existence in the first place. And you two have done nothing since than try to put her back where she belongs. Neither of you is at fault here. You went after a hunt that went sideways. It's not the first time. It probably won't be the last. What you two need to focus on right now is that you succeeded in the end." Dean opened his mouth to argue, but Bobby glared at him and shut him up at once. "Don't even start, Dean. I am not in the mood."

Sam stared ahead of himself for a moment, then glanced up at Bobby. "What about Larry?" he asked.

"He's dealing," Bobby countered. "He knew this could happen, Sam. He's not blaming anyone other than the parties that need to be blamed. He said he'd drop by before we leave."

Dean frowned lightly. "We're leaving?" he asked.

"Yeah, I've always been in favor of healing within my own four walls and I think you boys need to kick back and relax for a bit before you take on another hunt. So you're coming home with me. My car's in the garage right now. It'll be ready by morning. So we're leaving then." Bobby focused on Dean. "If you feel up to it."

"Hell yeah," Dean agreed, then glanced at Sam. "If you can drive. I don't really think I'm up to that just yet," he added.

Sam nodded once. "Sure," he muttered. No matter what they said, he still felt like crap and most likely would feel like crap for a bit longer.


The following morning

Dean had felt crappy before after a hunt, but this one had really taken a toll on him. He felt like he'd taken a few rounds with a block of cement and lost badly. But his own aches and pains meant fairly little to him right now. Sam had said next to nothing after Bobby had left the day before and Dean could easily admit that it bothered him how deeply this had affected Sam.

They were both up and moving after breakfast. Getting dressed wasn't a big issue for Sam, but Dean took his time since every move he made, made him feel every cut and bruise. It took a hell of a lot longer for him to pull his t-shirt over his head than it should have because he was trying hard not to tear any of the sutures that criss-crossed his chest and an almost random fashion.

He smoothed a hand down over his chest after pulling the t-shirt into place and gave Sam a somewhat pained smile. "Good thing we heal up so nicely, huh?"

Sam, who was sitting on the edge of his bed, stared ahead of himself and didn't seem to hear Dean.

Dean frowned, then snapped his fingers. "Hey, Earth to Sam. Are you with me?"

Sam blinked, then looked up to meet his eyes. "What?" he asked.

"Snap out of it, geekboy," Dean suggested. "We're home free. Despite all the crap, we did good. You heard Bobby."

Sam's gaze shifted to the door and he flinched and dropped his eyes. Surprised at this reaction, Dean turned and realized why Sam responded that way. Larry was standing just outside the doorway. "Boys," he said. To say that Larry looked worse than Dean felt was the understatement of the year. The man looked horrible, pale, drawn, devastated in every sense but the physical.

"Larry," Dean countered. "Listen, man, we're really sorry for your loss."

Larry nodded and stepped inside. "I know," he said. "Just wanted to see you two off before I go ... home." He managed a shadow of a smile. "It's been one hell of a ... ride."

"That's one way of putting it," Dean agreed. "Thanks for your help, for getting us off that island and all. I don't think we would have survived this one without your help."

Larry focused on Sam. "Had a chat with Bobby last night," he said, ignoring Dean's words for now. "Just thought I'd come by and ... this wasn't your fault, okay? Either of you. Being a hunter, that's the kind of shit you have to expect." He snorted a little helplessly. "That's why I never really involved Michelle in what I did. But ... I guess I was fooling myself."

"She was a hell of a girl," Dean said and sent a brief glance back at his brother, who looked about ready to sink into the floor.

"Yeah, that she was," Larry agreed and grimaced. "Gives me one more reason to keep fighting, you know. To avenge her death. I just wish we could have killed that bitch rather than just send her back home." He sighed heavily. "Anyway, I won't keep you. Got some stuff I need to take care of," he added and focused on Dean. "And you're welcome."

Dean nodded, acknowledging his words.

Larry glanced at Sam again. "You take care of each other, boys. It's a dangerous place out there," he said, nodded once and left the room again.

Dean waited for a moment, giving Larry a chance to get out of hearing range, then he turned back to eye his brother. "See? Not even Larry blames us for this," he said.

Sam sighed lightly and made a face, but had nothing to say.

Dean sighed in response and decided to let him stew in it for awhile. Maybe he would snap out of it when they reached Bobby's place.


Bobby's place
Fort Pierre, SD
One week later

Nightmares had plagued him for a big part of his life, but never anything like what he was experiencing now, so Sam didn't sleep until he nearly passed out from fatigue.

All he had sense for at this point was the overwhelming guilt and the rising depression and nothing Dean and Bobby said made a difference. He felt awful most of the time and when he slept, he relived the whole thing in a twisted way that made it ten times worse.

He couldn't shed the guilt and he couldn't find any peace from the memories. Most of the day he spent on the porch or wandering around the junkyard and most of the nights he spent just sitting around somewhere, staring into space.

Dean was recovering like he always did, but he seemed almost as tired as Sam felt. Sam leaned back on the chair he was sitting on on the porch and closed his eyes. The sunlight was uncomfortably bright and his head ached.

"Get some sleep, man." It seemed to be Dean's remedy for everything. When in doubt, sleep.

He opened his lids and squinted up at him. "Can't," he muttered and dropped his head to stare at the floorboards under his feet.

"You're coming apart at the seams, dude." Dean dragged a chair over and sat down next to him. "What's it gonna take before you get over this?"

Sam smirked painfully. "A memory wipe," he said and sighed. "I can't ... bury it. I can't let it go."

"Well, you're gonna have to, dude. Because ... this," Dean said and made a wavy motion with one hand, "it's not working, man."

"I hurt you." It seemed to come back to that every time they spoke about it and Sam just couldn't let it go.

Dean sat still for a moment, then he glanced at Sam with a dark look in his eyes. "I'm gonna hurt you soon if you don't cut this out," he warned. "Would it make you feel better if I decked you?"

Sam shifted. "No," he muttered.

"Then stop this frigging self-reproach, man. It's getting old. It wasn't your fault, wasn't my fault. And, to be honest Sam, Bobby's pretty fed up with you lumbering around the area and doing nothing other than wallow in self-pity." Dean sounded annoyed, but he also sounded tired.

"How are you sleeping?" Sam suddenly asked and focused on him.

Dean glared ahead of himself. "I'm not, Sam. And you know why? Because I worry about you. I can't frigging sleep when you're not sleeping. You're making life miserable for everybody around you right now." He closed his eyes and let his head drop, sat like that for a moment before he raised his head and opened his eyes again. "Tell me what I can do to make this better."

Sam slumped back on his chair and scrubbed both palms over his face. "I don't know, Dean. Lately, I just feel like I can't save anyone. And ..."

"And what?" Dean asked. "You think we should save everyone? I would love that. But that's just not how things work and you know that too. So what the hell is this about? Apart from the fact that this bitched raped you body and soul?" He rose, stepped up to the railing and stared out over the junkyard for a moment. Then he turned back to face Sam. "Should we summon her so we can kick her skanky ass back to Hell again just for fun?" He spread out his arms. "What do I have to do to make this go away? Should I find some hoodoo priest to lay some mojo on you so you'll forget about this? You wanna risk the side-effects of that?"

Sam stared at him for a moment. "I don't know," he muttered and dropped his gaze to his hands now folded in his lap. "I honestly don't know, Dean."

Dean considered it for a moment, his expression tense. Then he nodded to himself. "Okay, here's the plan. We're gonna find a tattoo-place that'll slap those sigils on us. And then we're gonna hit the town tonight, have some beers, shoot some pool, hang out with the normal people who have no frigging clue what's out there. And you're gonna get so drunk you won't be able to walk home," he said.

"What is that gonna help?" Sam asked, a little confused by this odd solution.

"It's normal, dude. It's on-the-road-between-gigs normal," Dean said, exasperation thick in his voice. "And I won't hear any argument against it either. We're doing this and you're shutting up about it. I don't wanna hear another word about how this is all your fault and how you can't save anybody. If you wanna get into a barroom brawl, fine with me. I'm right there with you. If it takes a beating to get you back on track, so be it. But this ends. Right now."

Sam blinked heavily. Going out to get drunk was the last thing he wanted to do, but he knew that tone. Dean would not be denied when he used that tone and it made Sam give up on arguing up front. Nothing he said would change Dean's mind. "Fine," he muttered.


That evening

Dragging Sam out for a night on the town was the only solution Dean could think of. Cuddling his brother was not on the agenda because it would only increase his self-loathing and that really wasn't in the books right now. The fact remained that Dean understood Sam's reaction all too well, but he didn't condone it and he would do anything to change Sam's mind about who was to blame for all the crap they had just been through.

They found the guy Bobby had recommended on Sioux Avenue in Pierre, who had promised to slap those tattoos on them and Dean was in part anxious, in part excited about the idea. The protection would be invaluable, of course, and he hoped too that it would do something about Sam's mood.

As it turned out, his brother wasn't keen on the idea and looked as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but Dean was not about to back down on the plan. It had to be done and that was as far as it went.

"Cheer up, man. Chicks dig tattoos," he said and nudged Sam in the side.

"You sure you want this done with all them stitches you still have in your chest?" Hank asked. He was a grungy-looking guy with an unruly beared and the general look of an aging hippy.

"Yeah, sure," Dean said and smirked at the guy. "Just slap it on my shoulder or something."

"Right, dude," Hank agreed and squinted at one spot on Dean's shoulder that wasn't marred by sutures.

Dean grinned at Sam, who pursed his lips and kept glancing around the tattoo parlor, the uncertainty radiating off him. "If you walk out of here without this tattoo, man, I'm so gonna pound your ass," he warned.

Sam grimaced, but said nothing in return, which proved to Dean more than anything could how nervous the kid was about this.

"That's not a very elaborate tattoo, man," Hank commented as he started tracing the sigil into Dean's skin.

Dean shrugged his right shoulder. "We're simple guys," he said and sneered a little at the sting from the needle.

"Simple's good," Hank muttered while concentrating on what he did. "You two together?"

That question was actually beginning to bother Dean. "We're brothers," he said and glanced at Sam, who was staring intently at the collection of tattoos on the far wall. "Why the hell does everybody think we're gay?"

Sam's attention shifted to them, but he said nothing and his expression was impossible to read.

"You're overcompensating, man," Hank said and shook his head as if Dean was being stupid for not seeing that. "You try too hard to be butch, dude."

Dean glared at the guy, but at least this stupid conversation was good for something, because Sam smirked and looked away.


Three hours later

Sam cupped a hand against his sore shoulder while they walked away from Hank's toward the nearest bar in town. He abstained from complaining about the sting or the fact that he had little faith in that this would do them any good in the long run though.

Dean seemed totally unfazed about what they had just been through or the fact that his chest was criss-crossed by the healing cuts Morax had given him and he couldn't stop wondering if Dean's ability to push things away and just move on was truly that or if he just swept it all under the rug and it would come back to haunt him some day.

"Do you ever have nightmares?" He glanced at Dean, who kept walking.

"Not that I remember. Why?" Dean countered and glanced back at him.

"With all that we've been through so far, how can you not have nightmares?" Sometimes, Sam just didn't understand Dean. He had to admit that.

"I don't know, Sam. I just don't. I don't worry too much about what I can't change. It doesn't help to wallow. It makes things worse," he said. "Would you stop focusing on what happened? It won't change, no matter how much you turn it over in your head. Why can't you just look forward for a change, huh? Why do you always have to cling to the past like it's the only thing that matters?"

Sam frowned. Was that what he was doing? Clinging to the past? It made sense, actually. "I don't know," he admitted a little reluctantly. "I just ... I just wish I could change things, you know? I wish I'd been more attentive ... that I'd ... done more ..."

Dean stopped dead and Sam stopped a few steps ahead of him and turned back to face him. The expression on his brother's face wasn't exactly comforting. "How many times do I have to tell you that you can't go back and change things, Sam? What happens happens. There's not a damned thing you can do about it."

"So ... you're saying there's nothing you would want to change because this is just the way it is?" Sam asked, feeling the need to poke the sleeping bear with a stick right now.

Dean eyed him darkly for a moment. "Sure there are. There are tons of things I'd like to change, Sam. But I know I can't. As far as I know, nobody's invented a time machine. If they had, I'd be the first one on it. But since that's not the case, there's not a hell of a lot I can do about the way things have turned out other than make the best of what I've got. And that's what I'm trying to do."

Sam had felt shitty before about the whole thing and he felt twice as bad now because Dean's words hit him where he lived. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans and dropped his gaze to the sidewalk.

"I'm a glass-half-full kinda guy and you know that. Whining about what's happened won't help me, so I don't. Aiming at doing it better next time will, so I do. And I relax and have fun in-between. It's allowed, Sam. We do a lot of good. We save a lot of people. Sure, they're not always grateful and half of them don't know we did anything in the first place, but that's just the way it is. We know what we do and that should be enough." Dean fell silent for a second, then sighed audibly. "Okay, I give up. You wanna go back to Bobby's?"

Sam considered it for a moment, then glanced up at Dean. "No, let's go to that bar," he said and tried a smile. "I'll try not to bring the room down."

Dean rolled his eyes. "Look, if you're going in with that attitude, you might as well just stay gone, Sam. What would you like to do? What would make you feel better?" he asked. "And don't say 'undoing things', because you can't do that. Live in the moment, man. Cease the day and all that crap. Just ... let loose and have some fun for once. It doesn't hurt. I promise."

Sam nodded. "Okay. I'll try. Just ... don't expect any miracles."

Dean snorted. "With you, a frigging smile would be a miracle, man," he said and punched Sam playfully on the shoulder. "Let's go, Sasquatch."

The bar was Dean's kind of scene, no doubt about it, and under normal circumstances, Sam would have withdrawn to the bar, had a beer or two and taken off to leave his brother to his own devices. But tonight he made an effort and after a while, things started to loosen up a little.

They played a friendly game of pool and after losing count of how many beers they'd had, Sam's view on things started to brighten a little. When they ended up in a 'duel to the death' with two other guys at the pool table, Sam managed to completely forget about the last few weeks while he was trying to stop Dean from antagonizing these guys beyond the breaking point.

It didn't end in a brawl, but that was mainly because Dean was still healing and obviously wasn't keen on ripping any of the sutures still adorning his chest and by the time Dean called it a night, Sam was good and drunk and so tired, he could barely keep his eyes open.

"Okay, my jolly green giant, time to head home," Dean decided.

Sam blinked, emptied his beer bottle and set it down on the table next to the pool table. "What time is it?" he asked, pretty sure right now that he was slurring his words. It felt that way.

"It's tomorrow, dude, and you look like you're asleep on your feet," Dean said with a grin and slipped an arm around Sam's back when Sam felt his balance begin to teeter to the left. "Come on, little brother."

The obvious fact that Dean was taking care of his brother earned him many yearning glances from quite a few girls and Sam couldn't help a smirk at that. "You sure you don't wanna stay?" he asked and arched an eyebrow.

"I'm not letting you stumble around Fort Pierre at this hour on your own, dude," Dean declared and guided Sam toward the door.

"We're in Pierre, not Fort Pierre," Sam corrected him.

"Does it matter?" Dean asked.

The night air hit them when they stepped outside and drove back Sam's drunkenness a few steps. "Wow," he muttered and reached out for the wall of the bar. "Man, I'm dizzy," he muttered.

"You don't say?" Dean chuckled. "Man, you really can't hold your liquor, can you, dude? Stay here. I'll get the car."

Sam leaned back against the wall and frowned lightly while his thoughts ran away from him in every direction. He couldn't keep a single one straight in his mind. "Okay," he agreed.

Dean took off and Sam just stood there and stared ahead of himself. Then he glanced up at the sky, which swam out of focus for a moment before the stars became clearly visible. He stared at the constellations and realized that his mind had gone quiet. He wasn't thinking, over-thinking or considering stuff. He was just standing there, watching the sky, while waiting for his brother to come back with the car. And he knew that no matter how lousy he would feel in the morning, at least it would be a physical thing that would pass in a few hours. He would never forget, but at least he could make a stab at taking a page out of Dean's book and live in the now. To hell with yesterday. There was always tomorrow and as long as they were together, Sam knew there always would be.

The End