Rating: PG-13 (language)
Word count: 1,183
Summary: Missing scene from 6.12. It's their first chance to have a real conversation since Sam said yes almost two years ago…
A/N: You have no idea how excited I am to be motivated enough to write SPN again. Whatever the flaws of this ep, at least it gave me that.
"Can we go back to Bobby's through Yellowstone?"
Dean looked up from his packing and cocked an eyebrow. "That's not exactly on the way."
"You can take 12 over the Rockies and then 90 down to Bozeman," Sam shrugged. "Then over on 14 to Rapid City. 'S more of a straight line than the interstate."
Dean wanted to know if there was a reason for the request, if there was something Sam remembered that he shouldn't. But he didn't seem upset, didn't seem like anything but Sam, alive and whole and haphazardly folding up his shirts and stuffing them in his duffel rather than the unnaturally neat packing style of RoboSam, and Dean couldn't refuse him anything right now.
"Yeah, sure," he said. "You wanna get some mouse ears while we're there?"
The pinched mouth and "It's Yellowstone, not Disneyland," he got in response sent his heart soaring at the same time they put a lump in his throat.
They stopped for a break in Anaconda, Montana, because hey, cool name. Dean pulled onto a narrow road winding up the mountainside until he found a wide pullover with a kickass view of the valley below. The afternoon sun was warm, the softening piles of snow suggesting the temperature was well above freezing. Even if they didn't stay outside in the winter air for long, it felt like this was something that had to be done, one more layer of rightness settling into his chest.
Sam shot him a bemused look but only pulled on an extra hoodie before accepting the bottle Dean offered him. "Cheers," he said, clinking it against Dean's.
The beer was cold but good, and Dean swallowed down half of it in short order. "Man, that's good," he said, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
"So what's the occasion?" Sam asked, taking more cautious sips of his beer.
"We, uh, never got to celebrate." When Sam cocked his head to the side, Dean gestured with the bottle. "You know. Saving the world. Stopping the Apocalypse and all that shit."
"Oh. Right." Sam held out his bottle for another toast. He took a sip and asked, deceptively quietly, "You never raised a glass for me while I was gone?"
"Hell, I raised a lot of glasses for you," Dean replied, bringing the bottle close to his lips. "They sure weren't in celebration." He took a quick swig, the bitter taste of the hops washing down the memories of too many bottles and too many drinks, too much time knowing he could never forget but trying his damndest to anyway.
There was a quick squeeze of his shoulder from one of Sam's gigantic paws. "So, yay us?"
"That's right." Dean exchanged a quick glance with his brother, and the next sip wasn't quite as bitter.
He looked out over the valley. The mountains were breathtaking, snow-capped rocky peaks clothed in dark green, shading down to rolling hills that would be golden in the summer. There were the ugly scars of copper mining visible all over the valley, but Dean knew enough about scars to appreciate them for the signs of life and struggle that they represented.
They were leaning against the front of the hood, and Sam lifted one foot to rest it against the bumper. Dean automatically smacked down his foot and then had to hide his grin at the apologetic look on Sam's face.
Then all desire to grin died when Sam spoke. "She saved me, you know?" Sam said, caressing the hood. "When I—Cas was gone, and Bobby was dead, and he was using my hands to…" He trailed off and shook his head. "It was like my life flashing before my eyes, except it was all to do with the car. And me and you." He took a long swig of his beer. "I think it confused him or something. Like he couldn't understand how I could care so much about a material object. And that gave me the opening I needed."
"I always knew that deep down, you really cared about my girl," Dean said, patting the Impala's hood.
The corner of Sam's mouth quirked up, rueful and bashful and a hundred other things his soulless self hadn't been able to fake. "She's always been there. As long as I can remember." He shot Dean a quick sideways glance. "Just like you."
Dean swallowed hard, thinking of the year he hadn't been there for Sam while the half of him that was topside did God-knew-what with their screwed-up kin. "I'm proud of you," he blurted.
Sam's brow furrowed, the confusion so genuine that part of Dean wanted to hug him again. "For what?"
"You fought him off, Sam." Dean's gaze fixed on the town below them, people going about their daily lives as if nothing had ever almost happened. "You saved the world." He cleared his throat. "Guess years of being blindingly stubborn paid off."
Sam's shoulder knocked against his. "Couldn't have done it without you." When Dean lifted a hand to wave him off, he went on, "No, I mean it. I could—it was like the world was flickering on and off, like he couldn't keep the TV tuned to the channel he wanted." Sam tapped his temple and went on, "And every time I could see out, you were there, and then you said you weren't going anywhere, even when he was about to kill you, and I…" His voice trailed off. "I couldn't let him do that."
Dean wanted to say something, to tease Sam that he couldn't get it up to save the world but he could for his awesome big brother, but he was already getting that twitchy feeling between his shoulder blades that indicated they'd shared enough emotions for one afternoon. So instead he asked, "Yellowstone, huh?"
Sam shrugged. "There was that water sprite in the geysers when I was like twelve, but we didn't get to hang around for long." He drained the last of his beer and added, a trace of defiance in his voice, "Bobby said he needed a few more days to go through the lore anyway."
"Well, as long as we're here," Dean said agreeably. "I think I've got a real copper penny we could throw into the mineral pools and see if it changes color."
"Dean, that messes up the chemistry of the pool," Sam protested, turning towards him. "And it could plug up the springs and…" He trailed off, apparently seeing the fond look Dean couldn't help, letting out a huff of breath as he realized his leg was being pulled. "You're such a jerk."
"Takes one to know one," Dean retorted with the sing-song wisdom of the ages.
Sam rolled his eyes, but a smile tugged at the corners of his lips. "It's good to be back," he said quietly, his fingers working at the edge of the bottle's label.
"Yeah," Dean returned, his throat suddenly trying to close up on him. He gulped down the rest of his beer to clear it out. "It sure is."