"What'd Dad say, Dean? Are you--is he going to make you leave?" The last time Sam had sounded like that, he'd been 9 and asking about the injured baby squirrel they'd found while kicking around the the brush surrounding the bunker.
"No." Dean tried to smile, but he could feel it go crooked around the edges. "No, I can stay." Sam had mostly stopped hugging a year ago, but he lunged forward on the bed now, clinging to Dean as though someone might come and steal him away. Dean laid a nearly-steady hand on the top of his head, fingers catching a little in the curling strands--time to give Sam a haircut, just had to figure out a new way to bribe him--before sliding it down to the back of Sam's neck and simply holding on. Only reason it was hard to breathe was because Sam had his face smashed against Dean's diaphragm, right? Right.
"Dad-- He was really angry," Sam eventually said, words muffled by the fabric of Dean's shirt. "I thought...."
"No," Dean said again. "Just, no more late-night excursions." The words seemed to coat the inside of his mouth like dust or ashes, but what else could he do? If the choice was between saving the lives of people he'd never met and Sammy, that was no choice.
"What'd you want to hang out with dumb girls for, anyway?" Sam peeled his face away from Dean's belly and peered up dubiously at him. "I told you it was stupid."
"Yeah, well, guess I should've listened to you, Brainiac." And now Dean's smile was almost genuine. So what if he couldn't get out and pass info to the Campbell kids anymore. He had Sam--what did any of the rest of the world matter?