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Yes, Sir, That's My Baby

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"That was so freakin' cool! I mean, you totally had a flamethrower! How do you make one of those?"

"You don't," Sam admonishes as he looks in the rear view mirror, looks at the kid that is thankfully just a kid, not a freaky changeling with a mouth out of a Munch painting. Dean's sneaking the last of the real kids back into their bedrooms, their parents none the wiser (except for the one lady Dean had seemed to know, and she'd just looked like they'd handed her the keys to the Kingdom) and he's babysitting the kid. This kid, Ben, he's practically bouncing on the backseat of the Impala. Sam knows that feeling, where the adrenaline's still flowing, but the fear is gone and it's just. Success. The thrill of the hunt. And he wonders for a second if he was like that when he was Ben's age, if that's what he looked like after his first time. If that's why there's a sense of deja-vu watching the sheer glee in this kid's face.

"I mean, that changel-changly-changer bitch-"

"Hey!" Sam throws a frown over his shoulder. "Language."

"Sorry." Ben shrugs, but Sam doesn't think he looks very sorry at all. "She was strong and Dean wasn't afraid at all and he saved us and you lit her on fire and it was SO COOL!" He bounces again, all devilish grin and arched eyebrows. "The guys at school are never gonna believe this!"

And it hits Sam, as his brother creaks the passenger door to the Impala open. Dean.

This kid.

And Dean.

"Yeah, about that, buddy," Dean drawls, pulling the door shut behind him. "Might not want to go telling this one around the playground. That path leads to a lot of extra-special quality time spent with your school's guidance counselor, trust me."

Ben scales the backseat, muddy sneakers rubbing red dirt on the interior and Dean just laughs, looks amused as the kid tucks himself down next to Dean, chattering on about how cool it all was all over again.

Sam stretches his fingers around the steering wheel, focusing his attention on the car as he backs out of the drive, on the road as he heads carefully toward Lisa's house, trying not to think what he's thinking. And trying not to think about why Dean hasn't even mentioned it. They've been going their own ways this week: he could say it's because he wants to let Dean have his fun, but if he's honest with himself, it's just been easier to hide his own work with Dean occupied elsewhere. But dammit, they're brothers, they're supposed talk about this stuff.

He flicks a glance at the kid, who's been rummaging through the glove compartment. Even Dean knows enough not to let him play with the gun in there, so now he's slipping the headphones of Dean's WalkMan and trying to figure out how cassettes work. The frown of concentration is a tiny mirror of his brother's face, and the conversation he'd meant to save for later just slips out. "Dude, is he-"

Dean's eyes snap up to meet his, a rare vulnerability there that shocks Sam for a second. "I dunno." He rubs his face, fatigue from a night spent trying to save six kids and a realtor from their worst nightmare. "Dude. Maybe."

And he looks away, looks out the side window for a second, and Sam doesn't push it for once. He just pulls into Lisa's drive, watching as his brother ruffles Ben's hair. "Let's go talk to your mom, kiddo."

~*~

Sam's staring at a point on the wall, tracing the same pattern of hideous blood red wallpaper with his eyes, as he tries to figure out what to do about Ruby. He's been doing this since she left twenty minutes ago, and he's no closer to figuring out what the hell - pardon the pun - he's gonna do, when Dean walks through the door.

"So really, Reno - or Vegas! Gotta be some f'd up shit going down in Vegas, and we can play Roulette. It'll be totally Bond," Dean enthuses, and he's stuffing clothes back into his duffel as he talks, and the look on his face, it's just. Closed off. Pinched.

Sam gets to his feet, trying to figure out how to tread through the previously uncharted territory of Brother, Illegitimate Children Thereof. "Look, man. You were up all night, we can take some time. Stay here for a while." He watches as Dean tosses his shaving kit into the bag, zipping it up and heading for the door. "We can do research, figure out what our next-"

"Look, Sam. It's just. Leave it." Dean slumps against the open doorway for a second, not looking back at his brother. "She said... he's not mine."

And there's a pause, a coda of silence, before Dean slings the duffel over his shoulder. "Asses in seats in five minutes, or I'm going to Sin City without you, little brother."