Dean eventually emerged from the bathroom in a cloud of scented steam, damp towel hung round his neck as he stood in the doorway, T shirt hoisted halfway up his chest, fiddling irritably with the stiff elastic around the waist of his new sweatpants.
As the pine scented miasma gradually cleared, he noticed with some dismay the lifeless TV set together with the kettle which showed absolutely no signs of having boiled anytime recently. His eyes narrowed as he rearranged himself; "hey Sasquatch, what the hell ya been doin' out here, tell me you at least managed to order the piz…"
His voice tailed off when he noticed Sam sitting on the end of his bed, clutching his phone in a white-knuckled grip and staring at the wall in what could only be described as a state of shock.
Breath hitching in concern, he nervously rubbed the back of his neck; "dude; everything okay?" His voice softened as he spoke.
Sam looked up as if he hadn't noticed anyone was there, the expression on his face unreadable. "Uh, yeah," he muttered vacantly; face breaking into a shaky smile; "yeah, I'm good."
Dean cocked his head, and moved tentatively toward his brother; "yeah, 'cos you totally look it. You're shakin' like a friggin' leaf!"
Sam looked up as Dean approached him and smiled; "honestly dude, I'm fine; jus' a bit – um …" he let out a long slow breath as if he was trying to calm himself; "… shocked!"
Dean sat down on the end of the bed next to Sam at a distance expertly calculated to be close enough to offer brotherly moral support but far enough not to be in any way pervy.
He swallowed harshly; "what is it?"
Sam shook his head with a wry smile; "It's Bobby;" he began. Dean immediately bristled; "Bobby? He okay?"
Placing a comforting hand on Dean's forearm, Sam reassured his brother; "yeah, chill man, he's fine. Better'n fine in fact!"
Dean pinched the bridge of his nose, scrunching his eyes closed in exasperation: "Sam," he sighed; "what the hell's going on?"
Sam shook his head as if he was emerging from a trance; "sorry dude; uh … you know Bobby's been a bit under the weather recently?"
Dean stared back at his brother from under a single ironically raised eyebrow; "under the weather? Mr Happy? Nah, I'd never have noticed."
Sam sniggered; "well, apparently, when he was in hospital in the first couple of days after he stuffed his back, he was bored an' filled in a word-search puzzle in one of his car scrap dealer's magazines."
"Woah," Dean replied dryly; "he sure knows how to live life on the edge!"
Sam smiled; "well, apparently he does, because he noticed the puzzle was for some big competition that the magazine was running, so he mailed it back to the magazine and then forgot all about it."
Sam noticed that he suddenly had Dean's undivided attention.
"Then yesterday, he got a phone call; he's won the competition. Bobby's won a two-week all-expenses family vacation to Hawaii, five star resort - the works!"
Dean's eyes widened, and he let out a whistle of appreciation.
"That's some freakin' awesome prize," Dean shook his head appreciatively; "Shame Bobby ain't got a family to take!"
A short silence fell between the brothers, as Sam stared at his brother.
"Bobby would dispute that point with you," Sam finally replied, quietly.
Dean stared back at Sam, green eyes unblinking. The penny didn't so much drop as work it's way down slowly; as it did, his mouth moved faintly, the power of speech momentarily leaving him.
"Y-you mean …?" he stuttered breathlessly.
Dean pointed mutely to himself, then to Sam; "y'mean you an' me…?"
Sam nodded; his grin stretching wider; "two weeks … Hawaii … five star … all p-paid for …"
"Hawaii. As in the fiftieth state?" Dean still couldn't quite rationalise what he was hearing.
"Unless you know of another one, dude."
Now it was Dean's turn to look shell-shocked.
Sam took a deep breath; "any time in the next two months," he continued; "Bobby wants to leave it as late as possible within that time to get his back fixed up as good as he can."
Dean hyperventilated briefly, and nodded in understanding.
"What did you tell him?" he croaked.
Sam hesitated, taking a deep breath; "I said I would get back to him, I wasn't gonna make any decisions without talkin' to you first."
Dean's increasingly wide eyes asked the question; "why? What decision is there to make? Two weeks in paradise, free, gratis and for nothing!"
Sam sighed; "Dean, how do you think we'd have to get to Hawaii?"
Dean's mind processed the question briefly then his shoulders slumped in despair.
Sam looked at his brother sadly; "that's why I wasn't gonna make a decision without talking to you first."
Dean looked utterly crushed; "Ah – well, um … why don' you go with Bo…"
"Forget it;" Sam cut him off immediately; "we go together or not at all."
Dean's head dropped limply onto his chest before he got up and wandered across the room; stopping and leaning heavily against the bathroom doorframe. Sam could see his arm trembling as he leaned against the flaking wood.
"A vacation?" Dean murmured; "a real, honest-to-goodness 'catchin' the rays, swimmin' in the sea, hot chicks in bikinis, sipping weird cocktails with paper umbrellas in them, sand in your shorts' vacation?"
He turned to Sam, as if for confirmation; the look of wide-eyed earnestness taking ten years off his face.
"Yeah dude, a real vacation with all that stuff;" Sam reassured gently.
Dean turned, and leaned back against the wall. His next words tore Sam's heart clean out of his chest.
"I never had a vacation."
Sam thought back to the many times he and Jess had been able to head off to the California coast for long relaxing weekends on the beach when their school schedules allowed it, and found himself torn up with regret.
He got up and walked across the room to stand next to Dean. He shrugged, feeling utterly helpless, knowing that Dean had to make this decision for himself.
"I wish you would go Sammy, go with Bobby, you'd have a ball."
"No I wouldn't, not without you;" Sam stated bluntly; "I wouldn't have a ball, and it wouldn't matter because I'm not going if you're not."
He didn't have the heart to tell Dean that Bobby had already decided he wasn't going without Dean; the poor guy was under too much pressure already.
"Hey Dean," Sam coaxed gently, "look, no pressure," he lied; "why don't you sleep on it."
Dean looked at the floor for what seemed like forever then shook his head, scraping a hand over his face.
"No need," he replied, standing up straight off the wall and squaring his shoulders; "made my mind up." He turned to look at Sam; "I'm going."
The words and the set of the shoulders were brave and defiant; the face and quiver in the voice told a very different story.
Sam's eyes narrowed; "are you sure dude? you're not just doing this for me? I don't want you to put yourself through a ten hour flight just for my sake."
Dean visibly flinched at the words, 'ten hour flight'.
"No … well, yeah .. no, um, not entirely;" he eventually answered, wilting with every syllable.
Sam stood, not taking his eyes from the squirming man in front of him. A soft blush was beginning to colour Dean's face.
"Sam, I'm thirty years old, an' I've never walked along a beach in swimming shorts;" he sighed and looked deep into Sam's sympathetic eyes, "I've never stood on a balcony on a warm night and watched the sun set over the ocean."
Sam felt himself blinking back tears and wanted nothing more than to reach out and pull his brother towards him but held back, knowing Dean wanted understanding, not pity.
"And besides," Dean added; "that cranky ol' sonofabitch said he wasn't gonna go either if I didn't agree, didn't he?"
Sam, briefly stuttered, trying to shake his head; "Huh … well, kinda, no … well, he … um …"
It was no good, he never could lie to Dean.
"Thought so," Dean smirked; "you ring him back right now Sammy an' you tell him we're goin' to Hawaii with him. Tell him now before my freakin' balls shrivel up an' I change my mind."
Sam hesitated briefly; "sure?" he asked.
"Get your ass on that friggin' phone;" Dean snapped irritably.
Sam nodded, patting Dean on the shoulder and walked back to the bed reaching for his phone, and dialling a familiar number.
"Hey Bobby; book it, we're going."