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Dean caught up with them in the corridor, a few steps away from the garage. Sam had expected as much, but he didn’t release Dad from where he was shoved up against the wall, Sam’s arm across his chest and all Sam’s greater strength and leverage keeping him there. Sam had years more fighting experience than Dad, he realized with a distant kind of shock.

“Let him go, Sam,” Dean said, voice standard Dean-annoyed-at-Sam, as if Dad hadn’t been picking at him nonstop for the past hour.

“No,” Sam snapped. “He doesn’t get to talk to you like that.”

Dad opened his mouth to say something undoubtedly even more cutting and peremptory, but Dean beat him to it.

“So, what, you’re gonna beat his ass for mouthing off? You’re better than that, Sammy.”

This time Dad’s noise of protest made it out, and Sam’s wasn’t far behind. “And he’s not?”

Dean tilted his head, just a fraction. “No, he’s not.”

Dean took advantage of the fact that they were both stunned by that to push them apart, not gently.

“Look, maybe in some other life, if he grew up here—but that ain’t what happened, and you can’t fix it with a beatdown.”

Sam let the reproach sink in. He knew he was going to feel sick with guilt, soon enough, for employing the same kind of violence on Dad that he’d so feared as a child, if not for himself then for Dean. The righteous anger with which he’d dragged Dad out of the war room had felt good in the moment, but there’d been rot inside it, like so much of his vengeance.

Dad, recovered as fast from this shock as from the shock of finding himself resurrected over a dozen years into the future, growled. “Everything I did, I did to protect you!”

Dean dropped his hand from Dad’s shoulder, but kept the other on Sam’s, gripping firmly enough that Sam could feel Dean’s own desire to lash out, barely contained.

"No, you didn’t,” he said, still with a veneer of steadiness. “Hiding the truth, tellin’ me I might have to kill Sam—that wasn’t protecting. That was you being scared. I get it, I do—I did worse to him ‘cause I was scared, too.”

“Dean,” Sam said, almost inaudible, wanting to grab his brother up in a hug that wouldn’t end until they were both ok. He settled for turning so that he was almost ignoring his father, oriented totally towards Dean.

“Listen,” Dean said, his glistening eyes on the wall between the two of them. “Cas says you got maybe ten hours left before this curse un-resurrects you. Mom should be here in three, and I know you’re gonna have things to say to her. Right now, I just wanna have a beer with my dad and my brother. D’you think we can do that?”

Sam was certain that he got out his “Yeah, Dean,” before his father did.