Characters:- Dean Winchester, mentions of Sam.
Words:- 650 circa.
Dean finished tidying up the kitchen, still a little surprised by this domestic streak he hadn't known he possessed until he'd inherited a kitchen to call his own.
Cooking soothed him, not to mention how much he enjoyed surprising his awed little brother with his recipies.
He dimmed the lights and padded down the corridor towards his bedroom, stockinged feet noiseless even in the oppressive silence of the bunker.
A light was still on in Sam's room, the yellow glow pooling into the corridor.
They always left their doors open, memory of the nights passed in motel rooms, their bodies inches apart, each reassured by the physical presence of the other.
Here they were safe enough, the bunker was warded against everything, yet the need to know their brother was only an open door away was as instinctual as breathing.
Dean threw in a quick glance, hesitating when he saw Sam dangling the amulet between his fingers.
He swallowed down the lump that came to his throat.
It wasn't the first time he'd seen his little brother handling it, though he'd never let on, never said he'd discovered Sam's secret.
He didn't blame Sam for fishing it out of the trash can. Hell, if the situation had been reversed, he'd probably have done exactly the same.
But in a way Dean was happy Sam hadn't offered it to him, for he wasn't sure what to say.
He'd been angry back then, desirous to pay Sam back for the memories he'd witnessed, none of which had included Dean.
He wasn't going to deny the hurt, but that was then. Now he understood exactly how they'd both been played, Dean given over as a toy-boy for the douche-bag angels and Sam manoeuvered by the demons, Ruby and Lilith.
Dean knew Sammy still felt guilty for letting Ruby into his head, listening to her lies, falling for the assurances that drinking her blood would be the answer the grieving little brother needed to take out Lilith and get revenge for his sibling.
Dean had forgiven Sam long ago, putting it into words over Rufus' grave. He'd meant every word back then and he still did.
After all, who was he to judge?
The angels had used him too, callously leaving him to rot in hell until he could no longer stand the torture and had begun inflicting pain himself, in so doing breaking the first and most important seal, just as Sam had been tricked into breaking the last.
They'd calmly bided their time, waiting for Dean to fall before sending in a rescue team.
He hovered in the darkness outside the door, watching as Sam stored the necklace away. He was tempted to go in, to reassure his baby brother that he loved him, amulet or not, but Dean had never been good with broadcasting his emotions, though with Sam he usually didn't have to.
Their eyes were the medium they preferred to express their feelings, interpreting correctly each blink, eye-roll, stare or glance as if it were an entire speech.
Neither needed words to confirm that there was no being living or dead they loved more than their brother.
Sam picked up a book and began reading, giving Dean the opportunity to shuffle noisily and stroll into the room.
Sam smiled up at him. “Night, Dean.”
Dean nodded and began to turn away.
“Dude, you remember that time at Rufus' grave?”
Sam shrugged, averting his eyes. “Yeah, I suppose. What brought that on?”
“Remember what I said back then?”
“Come on, Sam. Do you remember or not?”
“Yeah,” Sam finally admitted, his cheeks taking on a faint flush.
“Then tell me.”
“You gave a blanket apology for all that had gone down before.”
Dean tilted his head, his eyes reinforcing his words.
“Well, you just hold that thought, bro 'cos even if at times you might have cause to believe the opposite, for me those words hold as true now as they did back then.”
He exited the room, leaving Sam to stare at the empty doorway, his heart lighter. And when sleep came it was deep and dreamless.