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The wake up call to a rented room sounded like an alarm of impending doom

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"Hey, so I got myself a job at that bar we saw on the main street with all the restaurants." Sam said as they walked out of the take out down the road from where they're staying.

Dean stopped walking to look at him, coffee in one hand, takeout bag in the other. One eyebrow rose. "You got a job?" he asked.

"Yeah. There was an ad in their window, saying they needed staff, so I walked in and applied."

The eyebrow was still up. "Why?"

The response worried Sam, but he made an effort not to show it. "Didn't you say we were gonna stay here a while? I mean we already rented out the apartment and everything, which kind of shows some level of commitment. I just figured, having a job would make us fit in more. People see me everyday, they'll get to know me, they'll trust me more. Plus, we could always use the extra money."

He said all this calmly, rationally, like it wasn't a big deal. He felt tense after the words were out, though he made an effort not to show it. He knew this could go one of two ways. He relaxed when Dean snorted and started walking again. "That's good thinking Sammy."

Sam grinned and fell into step beside him, the tension leaving his body as suddenly as it had come. "Shut up."

Dean shoved him playfully and and chuckled. "My little brother, a working class man."

Sam shoved him back, "oh shut up, it's not that much of a big deal."

"I donno Sam. Next thing we're gonna be good and honest law-abiding citizens."
Sam accidentally snorted coffee up his nose, which Dean thought was hilarious.

"It starts tonight," Sam told him, wiping coffee from his face.

Dean made a face, "I suppose that means I'm going to have to entertain myself for the night then."

Sam hesitated, then licked his lips and said, "are you going to be ok?"

"Yes Sam. I can be good for one night. I'm just gonna go to the bar on the other side of town, have a few beers, talk to some of our new neighbours." He smirked and Sam couldn't keep the worry off his face, "Dean-"

"Just talking Sam I swear. Scouts honour."

Sam grinned at him. "You were never a scout."

"Don't mean I don't have honour."

Sam raised an eyebrow at him and then laughed at Dean's affronted "hey!" He ignored the rapid tattoo of his heart, because despite everything else, he knew he could still trust Dean to keep his promises.

###

Sam focused on chopping the potatoes, trying to keep them all roughly the same size. Friday nights had more people coming into the little pub-cum-family restaurant, and baked wedges were popular.

He's been working here a little over a week and the boss was pleased with how quickly he picked everything up.

They'd been here a little over a week and Dean was getting restless. He couldn't sit still for any period of time. He jostled his legs, tapped his fingers. Incessant tapping that had no rhythm and had Sam snapping at him in frustration and Dean snapping back, stupid little arguments that derailed before they got started, which had Dean pacing silently, aggressively. Every time he touched Sam it was just a little bit firmer then it needed to be.

Sam would know what he was out doing tonight even if Dean hadn't given him the heads up before he left for his shift. He knew that Dean would be careful; that he'd do it as far away from their apartment and Sam's work as possible, that he'd clean up after himself. He didn't want to get caught anymore then Sam wanted him to. But knowing that he wouldn't get caught didn't stop Sam from knowing what was happening.

He had thought that after a while it'd get easier. But every time still makes him sick to the stomach. He wished he could stop caring like their dad had. But he supposes the difference there is that his dad stopped caring about everything. Dean's extracurricular activities were just another thing their father couldn't pull himself far enough out of his head to worry about.

He finished the potatoes and looked at the tray of raw mince that needed to rolled into meatballs. A large part of Sam looked at all that red meat and bulked at the idea of touching it, but he was used to ignoring that feeling so he grabbed a handful of meat, let the excess blood drip through his fingers, and started rolling.

###

Sam could hear the music before he got to their apartment, could feel it thumping through their door as he opened it. He found Dean in the kitchen. The kitchen was a mess. Flour and batter and pastry and sugar covered every surface. The oven was on, as were all the stove tops, and every one of them was covered in pots. It took three times of Sam calling Dean's name for Dean to hear him. When he did he turned towards Sam and threw he hands up, his lips forming the lyrics to the song at he beamed at Sam, his voice barely audible over the music. "Can you turn it down?" Sam yelled to him. Dean grabbed a remote from a ledge above the countertop, pointed it towards to living room and the music lowered to an acceptable level. "Sammy, my man!" Dean pulled him into a sudden hug and Sam laughed at the small powder explosion it caused. "Dude. You are covered in flour."

Dean laughed, loud and boisterous as he pulled back and looked down at himself. "Dude, EVERYTHING is covered in flour."

"I can see that man. What are you making?"

"Here," Dean said, pulling the lid off one of the pots and dipping in a spoon, "Taste this." Inside the pot pieces of apple were boiling away in a thick sauce. Dean scooped out a piece of apple and blew on it before holding the spoon out for Sam to take. "Careful it's pretty hot."

Sam blew on it a few more times before scraping it into his mouth with his teeth. It was hot, but he could still taste the sweetness and the hint of cinnamon mixed with the texture of the apple.

"Good?" Dean asked when he didn't say anything. Sam nodded empathetically and Dean grinned. "Awesome. That's the filling for the apple pie. The base has already been cooked," he said pointing towards where it was standing on the corner of a bench top, "and the brownies are in the oven-"

"You made brownies?" Sam asked excitedly.

Dean's grin spread. "Damn right I made brownies. Dinner's on the stove, and look, look!," He opened a pot lid, releasing a burst of steam, "I made lots and lots of vegetables, just for you," Sam laughed, Dean's mood infectious the way it always was after a hunt.

"Baked potatoes are in the oven. Chops are too, but you don't have to eat them if ya don't want to; there's plenty more in the fridge for another day."

Sam always felt squeamish about eating meat after Dean had gone hunting for reason's he couldn't really describe. Dean didn't get it, but he accommodated to it without complaining.

"Wow," Sam said, looking at everything, "you sure have been busy."

"Mmhmm," Dean replied distractedly, opening the oven. "and it's going to be ready in about fifteen minutes so go wash and change or whatever."

Sam left the kitchen feeling light and happy. It was always like this. The sick feeling would always fade away in the face of Dean's childlike happiness and enthusiasm, such a stark contrast to the mood he was in before he went hunting. Like in taking someone else's like, he'd absorbed it into his own.

###

It was 11:45. Dean had left for a beer run at ten. He still wasn't back. Sam was getting worried. He was pacing the apartment, from his bedroom through the living room to the kitchen and back. After a while he got sick of pacing and sat at the dining table, his knee jiggling up and down while his eyes darted from the door to his phone and back.

At 12:20 the door nob jigged and turned and Dean let himself into the apartment. Sam leapt to his feet, "Where have you been?!" and then he saw Dean's hands. They were covered in blood. "Oh." he said quietly.

"It's not- I didn't-" Dean said, holding his hands in front of him like a cruel mockery of a child found playing in the mud. "There was a man."

And now Sam was confused, because it was never a man, it was always a girl. They were always girls. "What?"

"I was walking down the street towards my baby and this man came up to me. He kept demanding to know what I'd done with his daughter. I told him, fuck, I don't have no idea who your daughter is. An' he said that Tom Murphy saw me leaving the bar with her two weeks ago and that if I didn't tell him where she was, he was gonna talk to the police. So I punched him. And then I punched him again. I just kinda... kept punching him."

Sam breathed in through his nose and out through his mouth, centring himself. "Ok." he said calmly, "where is he now?"

Dean took the cue from Sam and straightened up, rubbing his palms against his legs. "In the boot of the car."

"Is he-?" Sam asked.

"Yeah," Dean said nodding, "yeah he is."

"Good," Sam said, "good." That made things easier.

"We can't stay here." He said, looking around the apartment they'd been living in for almost a month. "We need to pack up, everything, and be gone before sunrise. I'm going to start now. You go put those clothes in a bag and shower thoroughly. Leave the shower running after you're finished and don't forget to pour bleach down the drain," Sam told him as he walked away. Dean already knew to do all this and Sam knew he knew, but he was on hyper-alert now and needed to say it, so Dean simply nodded and made his way to the bathroom.

The highway sped away beneath them as the sun rose. Dean was driving and both of them were covered in dirt from the fresh grave they'd dug back up to dump the body in, and stunk of the gasoline they'd used to burn him. It was almost four by the time they'd covered the grave back up and left.

"Sammy. Sam" he corrected himself, "I'm really sorry we had to leave that town."

Sam forced a smile onto his face when he looked over at his brother. "It's alright Dean." He went back to looking out the window. "Thanks anyway though. For saying so."

Almost a month they'd lived in that town. Almost a whole month before the consequences of Dean's activities caught up with them. He told himself to be happy with that. It was longer then they usually got before they had to run. But not as long as he'd had before.

Sam knew, realistically that he would never have the stability he was aiming for while he stayed with Dean. But he couldn't bring himself to leave, not again. Especially not now their dad was gone. He was terrified that if he left Dean alone with no one to worry about and nothing to hold him back then he would do something stupid. Sam couldn't stand the thought of that happening, because despite everything, Dean was still his brother. So they'd stay together and travel around for a while from town to town until they were certain there was no one after them. Then Sam would find a town he liked enough to convince Dean to stay a while. Dean would go out by himself, some nights coming home stinking of booze, and Sam would put his drunk arse to bed and demand to know why he hadn't been invited out with him. Other nights he would come back covered in blood and Sam would help him clean up the mess. Then they'd leave to start the whole thing all over again. Rinse and repeat.