Disclaimer: Writing for fun, not for money. I own no part of Supernatural.
The events in this story happen after the fic Into the Fire that I wrote. Though you don't need to have read that to understand this first chapter, reading it will make future events make more sense.
It was strange to eat an entire meal alone. Sitting in a booth alone, eating in silence – it was just weird. But Sam couldn't suppress a chuckle at the circumstances that had brought him to this place, and he knew it was a good thing he was alone, because if Dean had heard him laughing he would've decked him. It really had been an accident, but Dean just wouldn't let it go.
For the first time in what felt like close to forever, Sam had a craving for chocolate. Not just chocolate, SnoCaps. They were his most favorite candy of all time. Since he started sleeping well again, Sam's appetite had returned with a vengeance, and he really, really wanted candy. So at their last supply stop, Sam had picked up a bag of the candy. They were still about two hundred miles away from their destination and even with Dean driving that amounted to a long afternoon in the car.
Conversation had lagged, Dean put in a tape and both of them were thinking their own thoughts. Sam contentedly munched on his candy while staring out the window.
"What are you eating?"
"SnoCaps. Want some?" Sam generously offered the bag to Dean; Dean always offered to share his M&Ms. Dean looked like he'd just offered him a bag of chocolate covered roaches or something.
"You can't eat those, Sam!" Dean's voice was so concerned that for a moment it actually occurred to Sam that he had forgotten about some deadly allergy he had to the candy.
"Why not?" Sam popped another delicious morsel into his mouth.
Sam blinked. It was like Dean had suddenly started speaking Chinese or something because what was coming out of his mouth was making no sense. Sam shook his head. "What?"
"Sam! Do you know what a mess that candy can make?" Dean pointed an accusatory finger at the bag. "Those little white things…they go everywhere!"
"Are you serious?" Sam gave Dean a look, but Dean's expression indicated that he was totally serious. "Dean," Sam started exasperated, "I'll be very careful eating the candy. Will you relax?"
"Give me the bag, Sam." Dean stretched out his right hand to Sam.
This was insane. "No Dean, I'm going to eat it, not hand it over." Sam curled protectively around the candy.
"Sam, give me the bag!"
"Dean, watch the road and don't worry about my candy." It was so insanely ridiculous that it struck Sam as very funny and he started to chuckle. He knew that the longer he could keep the candy away from Dean the more irate his brother would get; and in a perverse way, Sam found that funny as well – in the way that only a younger brother can find humor in irking older brother. The sound of his own laughter was strange in his ears; probably because it had been so long since he'd had a real laugh.
Sam was feeling giddy. Maybe it was all the sleep he'd been getting finally catching up with him. He couldn't help himself. He knew he was in a good position - Dean was driving so he only had one hand free. Also, he had less of a reach than Sam, so it would be relatively easy to keep the candy away from him. A game of "Keep Away" was definitely in order.
Still chuckling, Sam curled against the passenger side door. He taunted Dean, "You can't reach the candy…" When Sam looked over his left shoulder he saw emotions warring on Dean's face – he was still angry that Sam had defied him, but he had this incredulous look on his face too; like he just couldn't believe Sam was acting so stupid and goofy. Sam watched with a careful eye to see what would win out. The smile that quirked at the corner of Dean's mouth was a good indication that he was running with stupid and goofy.
"I'll make you give it up, Sam. Don't go there…" Dean warned; but the menace had left his voice.
"You still can't reach the candy…" Sam sing-songed.
"But I can reach you." In a lightning fast strike, Dean reached over and tickled Sam. Sam twitched and twisted, but he could not get away. Soon he was convulsed with laughter. He was laughing so hard tears ran unchecked down his face. It felt so good! Dean was laughing too, but demanding "Hand it over! Hand over the bag!" Sam couldn't take the tickling any more and moved the bag from his right hand to his left. Dean was distracted by trying to get to that spot just under Sam's left arm to really send him over the edge. That was why neither of them saw the van that had cut them off in their lane until it was nearly too late.
Dean slammed on the brakes and swerved; Sam lost his grip on the bag he'd been trying to pass over. Candy flew all over the two of them. By the time Dean had gotten the car back under control the damage had been done. The silence in the car between them was deafening which only enhanced the sound of the stray candy or two that was still rolling around.
Sam couldn't help it. The look of horror on Dean's face was just too funny. It didn't bother him that they'd nearly been killed by a crazy driver; no, he was disturbed by the candy all over his car. Sam tried to spit out an apology, but he was still laughing. "Dean...I'm so sorry…I'll clean it up, I swear."
"You will not." And that was all Dean said. He pulled into the nearest truck stop and made sure they had a car wash and a vacuum. Sam was ordered into the diner and Dean tended to his baby.
So Dean was out in the parking lot vacuuming out his car. In some way Sam wasn't quite able to figure out, he was being punished while Dean was doing the cleaning. Whatever. Sam could pretty much count on the fact that when Dean finally did come into the diner, although he'd be grumbling it would pretty much be for show. Cleaning his car – really cleaning his car – was always cathartic for Dean; he was kind of like a girl in that way. He'd be much calmer when he was finished, and that was to Sam's advantage.
Sam stretched his legs out under the small table in the small booth, and took the opportunity to watch the denizens of the diner go about their business while he ate his cheeseburger. It seemed like your average truck stop; there were some families, but mostly there were lots of guys guzzling large amounts of coffee and consuming large amounts of heavily fried foods. The two waitresses were kept very busy, but didn't seem overloaded, and seemed to have a friendly word for everyone, particularly the guys who seemed to be regulars.
One of those regulars stood up from his stool at the counter while he tossed down a few bills to cover the tab and the tip. "Well Gracie, I'm on my way." he announced getting the attention of the older waitress.
She immediately put down the pot of coffee she'd started to refill and headed over to him. She grasped his outstretched hand and leaned over the counter to kiss him on his cheek. Then she leaned back, but didn't release his hand. And the trucker didn't pull away. It was like he was waiting for something. Then Grace seemed to snap out of the reverie she'd been in and gave the man a bright smile. "Have a safe trip, honey!"
The trucker smiled in return, made his farewells to those still eating and left the diner. It wouldn't have made such an impact on Sam except for the fact that it wasn't an isolated incident. The families that came in to dine didn't seem to give one waitress or the other any special consideration. But to a man, every trucker that was leaving to go back on the road made an unusual effort to say farewell to Grace, and have her bid them farewell in return. It was odd.
Sam looked at the waitress more closely. There didn't seem to be anything particularly striking about her. She was good-looking in a handsome sort of way; probably in her late thirties. She was friendly to everyone and very liberal with her use of "honey" and "sweetie" in her vocabulary. But aside from that, nothing jumped out at Sam. He cocked his head and looked at her again, maybe there was something. Grace looked up from where she was working behind the counter and caught Sam's eye. She dropped him a wink and he was stunned when a corona of power flared above her head and then vanished.
Sam was not as adept as Dean at hiding his reactions to strange things, and Grace had clearly noticed his shock. Sam tried to compose himself as Grace made her way around the counter and approached the booth were he was sitting. She gestured with the coffee pot she was carrying, "Can I freshen that up for you, honey?"
Sam felt like a dope, but the only response he could come up with was, "Yeah, okay." Sam was saved from any further attempt at conversation when a large man in a blue ball cap approached Grace. "I'm gonna hit the road, Grace." he said, oblivious to Sam's presence.
Grace gently placed the coffee pot down on Sam's table and turned to the man. Just as before she reached out to take his hand and give him a little kiss. But this time Sam was looking at her in a different light; he could clearly see the corona of power pulsing around her head as she connected with the trucker. The man shifted nervously as he waited. When Grace brought her gaze back to the present she reached up with her left hand to grasp the trucker's hand in both of hers.
"Stay off the interstate, Dom."
"Damn, Grace! I'm running late as it is." He tried to pull away from her but she would not release his hand from her grasp.
"Then why ask, Dom? I'm not just talking to myself here, am I?" She gave Dom a look, and then turned to Sam. "Did you hear what I just told this man?"
Sam responded automatically; he didn't really want to get involved, but he was fascinated by what was happening. "You said to stay off the interstate."
Grace turned back to Dom with a nod of validation. "So I'm not talking to myself. The boy heard me, and so did everyone else here, Dom." Grace declared raising her voice. All of the men at the counter turned to look at them. "The choice is yours Dom…all I can do is give you a warning."
Dom looked rebellious, and then he quickly deflated. "Any chance if I wait I can get on the interstate later? Like in an hour or something?"
"There's always a chance, Dom." Grace reassured him. "Why don't you just sit yourself back down and have another piece of pie."
Dom pulled his hand away from Grace and yanked the cap off of his head. He turned back to the counter with a frustrated "goddammit" and settled himself heavily back on his stool. Sam could hear the men around him commiserating with stories about times they'd been delayed, but over and over Sam heard the refrain, "Grace ain't never wrong."
Sam looked up at the waitress with amazement. "What was that about?"
She gave him a searching look. "You should know. You saw it. You've got it too, honey."
Sam shook his head in the negative. "Not like that." Sam looked at Grace with something close to wonder. "You can control it." Grace decided to take a seat. This conversation might take a little longer than she was anticipating.