Disclaimer…All together now: The TV show Supernatural and all characters therein are owned by assorted Americans, not me (though I'd like an option on the delectable JDM). This fiction is purely for the enjoyment of readers; no money is being made. All Original Characters remain the property of Catherine D. Stewart and may not be used without the express permission of the authoress.

Summary: This is the fourth story in the Hellhound Puppy Series by graceandfire that started with Runt of the Litter.

Rating: 'T'/15. This will not make any sense unless you read the first two stories done by graceandfire, particularly Runt of the Litter and Anything But Bucky; it can be considered to be contemporaneously with story III

This story has been beta'd by graceandfire – all remaining errors are mine.

Hellhound Puppy Series: IV

THE FIRE BURNS WITHIN

Chapter 1

They are in a small motel somewhere rural. It might be Illinois or Kentucky, or neither State; other than it definitely not being Kansas, their exact geographical location has momentarily slipped Dean's mind.

The motel looks the same as a thousand others, so the faint déjà vu is to be expected. It may even be the same – the 'road trip' story is variously an excuse or a précis, but not a lie. Dean Winchester has been on this road trip for the past 23 of his 27 years of life, and has seen more of the continental United States up close and personal than any white American who ever lived and, come to that, most Native Americans of any tribe. Only an Australian Aborigine going walkabout in the bush could equal Dean Winchester's intimate acquaintance with stunning panoramas of plunging waterfalls, cool, ancient forests and delicate mountain meadows that rivalled and surpassed many other global 'beauty spots', but went unknown or unnoticed by the human occupants of the North American landmass.

The United States has a population in excess of 300 million people, yet only two percent of the nation's landmass is 'urban'. Incredibly in 21st Century America, there are vast tracts of land completely, never mind barely, explored. There are things both terrible and wonderful, if you know where to look. Dean does, and he has since he was four and a man with lion's eyes who wasn't a man caused Dean's world to blow up in his face.

The unpleasant reality of what's really out there is why Dean is in the shower at the unusual time of 4:30pm – washing monster remains off himself. He wasn't wearing his denim jacket (for which he is grateful) or his leather jacket (for which he is deeply grateful) The clothes he had been wearing had gone straight in the garbage – which immediately started to smoulder until Sammy dumped a bottle of Holy Water on the trashcan. But Dean doesn't mind, because the motel is a decent one.

The Winchester brothers have only one definition of 'decent' when it comes to motels: the room's bathroom meets the criteria of (a) being large enough to accommodate someone other than Twiggy and (b) not looking like it doubles as the lethal viruses laboratory at the Centre for Disease Control. Showers with glass partitions instead of those crappy plastic curtains that are about as much use as sun cream in a blizzard are required to move 'decent' up to 'good', and here the motel room fails, but the bathroom is at least clean enough so that Dean doesn't worry about ending up having an intelligent conversation with the tile grouting mould.

The bathroom is also a fairly solid construction in that, unlike most 'later addition' (i.e., afterthought) en-suites, it isn't possible to still hear the occupant(s) of the main bedroom breathing even over the noise of your ablutions. This is profoundly important in a psychological way. Knowing that someone is hearing every splash-splosh or plop from the other side of the wall is uncomfortable at best and embarrassing at worst. Utilising the shower for the dual purpose of achieving physical cleanliness and onanistic sexual release is inhibiting when you know you are providing what might best be described as 'audio pornography'.

For Dean and Sam, who spend roughly 23 hours of every 24 hours seven days a week in each other's company, the motel bathroom has long, long ago become a sort of combined escape valve, meditation room, No Man's Land and UN neutral zone. The one place each can go for personal space and, if the dividing wall was well built enough, to enjoy the illusion of solitude while retaining the security of proximity. Dean showers and dries and redresses with the relaxed smile of someone who can hear very little from the other room, unaware he is about to discover the downside.

Continued in Chapter 2…

© 2006, Catherine D. Stewart