Author's Note: This is just a really fluffy one-shot, specially for JJaneru as most of the ones I've written lately have made her cry! Hope this one makes you laugh for a change! ;)
"This is totally your fault Sam!" said Dean, deliberately walking faster so he was ahead of his brother.
"It is NOT my fault Dean! It's your car!" said Sam, easily increasing his stride so he was alongside Dean again.
"Yeah, and you were driving!"
"Well, you were driving before that! And we didn't pass any towns while I was driving, which means we passed the last one when you were driving. Which makes this totally your fault" said Sam smugly.
"Is.. For crying out loud Dean! What are you, eight?" said Sam throwing his hands up in frustration.
Dean just smirked at him, clearly believing he'd won this particular argument. Sam decided to leave him his delusions and concentrate on walking fast enough that they wouldn't be stuck out here all night.
They should have been heading towards some nice, warm, reasonably clean motel room right now. Ready to grab something to eat and settle down for night. But instead here they were, in the ass end of nowhere, walking in what they hoped was the direction of the nearest town.
It had indeed been Sam who was driving when tonight's mishap occurred, but that did not make it his fault. How was he to know Dean hadn't been keeping an eye on the gas gauge? When the Impala's engine had first spluttered to a halt, they'd been afraid it was something serious. Dean's exclamation of "what the hell have you done to my car?" did not get things off to a good start, and they'd degenerated even further when Sam had finally noticed after thirty minutes of Dean cursing under the hood that the gas gauge was firmly on empty.
That was about an hour ago according to Sam's watch. And here they were, walking along the frustratingly deserted road, arguing about who's fault it was. Sam once again wondered just what he'd done in a previous life to annoy the Gods.
Dean was as frustrated as Sam, probably more so since they'd had to leave his baby abandoned by the side of the road. If anyone so much as breathed on her as they drove past he was so kicking ass. The relief he'd initially felt at realising there was nothing seriously wrong with the car had quickly been replaced by annoyance that Sam hadn't noticed they were running out of gas. Although he did feel a slight twinge of guilt that he hadn't noticed it either. But he was not admitting that to Sam, not in this lifetime.
"How far do you reckon it is?" said Sam and Dean rolled his eyes.
"You know what I forgot to do this morning? I forgot to memorise every town on our route and exactly how far apart they were. Damn remiss of me I know, can you ever forgive me?"
Sam glared at him. "You done? Cos you know maybe you could take that act on stage, we'd never need to use a fake credit card ever again" he said dryly.
Dean gave him a hand gesture that was definitely not in the sign language dictionary, and they walked on in silence again.
A few minutes later Sam shivered, pulling his jacket closer to him he shoved his hands in his pockets to try and get some feeling back in them. Dean glanced at his brother when he shivered, a look of concern flashing across his face.
"You cold Sammy?" he asked.
A thousand sarcastic answers ran through Sam's mind, but the enquiry had been genuine and not wanting to start another round of arguing he settled for the truth.
"Yeah a bit. Could be worse though" he said and Dean gave him a look of disbelief. Sam shrugged.
"It could be raining"
"Great, now it's gonna start with the hailstones and lightning, you know that right?" said Dean with mock frustration. Sam just grinned and carried on walking.
Another twenty minutes later, Sam jumped as Dean grabbed his shoulder.
"Hey look – over there. That look like lights to you?" said Dean.
Looking in the direction his brother was pointing, Sam squinted.
"Yeah, I think so. Kinda hard to tell through the trees" he said.
"Come on, let's check it out" said Dean, starting to head off the road and into the woods. He stopped when Sam grabbed his arm.
"Hang on a second Dean – we don't know for sure that's a house and besides, it doesn't exactly look like there's a path through there. Maybe we'd be better sticking to the road"
Dean rolled his eyes "Come on, Sam – it's the first sign of civilisation we've seen and you and I both know the last town we passed is gonna take all night to get to on foot. These people might at least be able to give us a lift there or maybe even lend us enough gas to get the car back there"
Sam looked at the dark wood uneasily and Dean suddenly grinned.
"Oh come on – you're not afraid of a few trees are you Sammy?" he said and Sam glared at him.
"It's Sam, and no I'm not afraid, dumb-ass. I just don't much feel like having an Indiana Jones moment right now, especially when we can't see were we're going"
Dean looked triumphant. "Then it's a good job I grabbed the flashlight isn't it, if that's all that's bothering you" he said pulling it out of his pocket.
Sam sighed. "Fine. But when you trip over a log and break your ankle I am NOT carrying you" he grumbled, noting with annoyance that his words just made Dean grin even more.
Dean had to admit, if only to himself, it was a little creepy once they got far enough into the woods not to be able to see the road they'd left behind. Apart from the thin beam of light in front of them, it was pitch black. He could feel Sam sticking close beside him and he was pretty glad he wasn't on his own. Not that he was scared of course, just.. creeped out.
Sam readily admitted to himself that he was more than creeped out. The woods were downright scary, especially with only the small flashlight they had with them. The darkness made the trees feel like they were closing in on them and he willed the lights they were aiming for not to be too far away. Dean stopped suddenly and Sam walked into him, he was sticking so close.
Dean turned and shone the flashlight in Sam's face.
"Dude - personal space!" he said and Sam glared at him, pushing Dean's arm down so the light wasn't in his eyes.
"Don't be such a jerk Dean! I got enough trouble seeing where we're going without you blinding me with the damn flashlight!"
"Well then stop walking in my pocket Sam! Anyone would think you're scared of the dark" said Dean and Sam swore he could hear him smirking.
"Jerk" he repeated.
"Bitch" said Dean, sounding like he was grinning.
They carried on walking, Sam doing his best to not stand too close to Dean while still being near enough to see the light from the torch. Suddenly he stubbed his toe on something hard. Cursing he stopped, bending down to rub his foot ineffectually through his shoe. Dean heard him curse and turned round.
Whatever else he'd been going to say was cut off with a muted cry as suddenly both Dean and the flashlight disappeared into the darkness.
Sam was on his feet, the throbbing in his foot forgotten as he stepped forward to where he'd last seen his brother. Part of his brain cautioned him to take it easy and he was glad he listened as suddenly he put his foot out only to find thin air underneath it. Stumbling backwards from the edge, he dropped to his knees and felt with his hands until he found the edge of what appeared to be a steep bank. Leaning forward he strained his eyes as he tried to see something.
"Dean!" he called, fear creeping into his voice. There was no reply. Getting to his feet again, he crouched down and tentatively reached out with his foot until it connected with the sharply angled side of the bank. Easing himself forward he part slid and part scrambled down, dirt and leaves flying in all directions. Having made it to the bottom in one piece he stood there getting his breath back. It was still too dark to see anything but he was hoping Dean couldn't have fallen too far from where he'd ended up.
"Dean!" he called and was rewarded with the sound of a groan to his right.
"Jesus Sam, I'm not deaf" said Dean, sounding disgruntled.
Grinning with relief at hearing his brother's voice, Sam headed in the direction it had come from. A few seconds later his foot hit something solid, which proceeded to curse at him.
"Ow! Dammit Sam, watch where the hell you're going would you?"
"I would if I could see anything" said Sam dryly as he crouched down. Now he was next to him he could just make out Dean sitting on the ground, holding one hand against his head. He reached out and found Dean's shoulder.
"Are you hurt?" he said and saw Dean shake his head.
"Not really. Apart from my pride. I think I twisted my ankle though" he said, wincing.
Sam sighed. "Remember me saying I was NOT carrying you, since this whole thing was your idea?" he said.
"Hey, the only reason I fell is because I turned round to see what the hell you were doing!" said Dean indignantly. "By the way, what were you doing?"
Sam winced, suddenly glad it was dark. "I, ah, stubbed my toe" he said quietly.
He could feel Dean staring at him. "You stubbed. Your. Toe" he said, emphasising each word.
"Hey, it really hurt" said Sam defensively.
"Really? Cos rolling all the way down that hill on my face didn't hurt a bit" said Dean.
"Ok, fine – you win. I'm sorry" said Sam and he really did mean it. He'd been pretty scared when Dean had disappeared and he was just glad it hadn't been more serious.
Dean could hear the genuine regret in Sam's voice and relented, knowing he'd probably had his brother pretty worried for a minute.
"Forget about it. Give me a hand up would you? My ass is going numb sat here"
Pleased to have been forgiven, Sam stood up and reached down a hand to help Dean. Once on his feet Dean tried putting weight on his ankle and hissed as a stabbing pain shot up through his leg.
"How bad is it?" said Sam with concern and Dean winced.
"I think I can walk on it. You might need to help me though" he said grudgingly. It was galling having to ask for help, especially from his little brother.
"I don't suppose you know where the flashlight went?" said Sam hopefully, as he put his arm round Dean's waist and Dean's arm over his shoulder so that he could take some of his weight.
"Course I know where it went. It's right here" said Dean triumphantly producing it in his right hand and switching it on. Remarkably given their usual luck, it was still working.
"Smart ass" said Sam and Dean just grinned at him in the glow from the flashlight.
They began walking, or hobbling in Dean's case, towards the lights which thankfully seemed a lot nearer now they'd come down off the hill. Dean didn't complain once, although Sam knew that didn't mean his ankle wasn't hurting it just meant he was being, well, Dean. He also knew it was a waste of breath to ask his brother if he was alright, so he settled for the more practical route of making sure that he was taking as much of Dean's weight as possible.
After another half hour or so of moving along like this, they suddenly came into a clearing. And a few hundred feet in front of them was a house.
"Thank God" said Sam fervently.
Dean just sighed with relief. Much as he wasn't gonna admit it to Sam, his ankle was throbbing mercilessly.
As they got nearer Dean suddenly stopped and took his arm away from Sam's shoulder, nudging his brother to let go of him.
"What are you doing?" said Sam frowning and Dean looked at him.
"I'm not introducing myself to whoever lives here arm in arm with you like some couple at a prom" said Dean firmly.
Sam rolled his eyes "Don't be so ridiculous! You can't walk on that ankle properly" he said.
"I can walk just fine. Now come on, unless you want to stand out here all night?" said Dean, hobbling towards the porch.
Sam looked up at the sky and shook his head in frustration. "You are so stubborn sometimes" he said, but Dean wasn't listening. Sighing Sam jogged to catch up with him, telling himself that if Dean fell flat on his face he was so not helping him.
Glancing at Sam as he made it onto the porch next to him, Dean cleared his throat a little nervously and knocked on the door. They heard movement inside and then a light came on behind the door and they saw someone walking towards it through the glass. It opened to reveal an older looking woman, in her early sixties roughly, with grey hair pulled back in a bun and wearing an apron. She looked like the archetypal Grandmother.
"Er, hi" said Dean flashing his most charming smile. "We're sorry to bother you at this hour but our car ran out of gas a few miles up the road and we were wondering if you could tell us where the nearest gas station is?"
"Oh, you poor dears! Look at the state of you! Come on in now, don't be standing out here in the cold" she said, ushering them both inside before they had a chance to reply.
Dean shot Sam an almost panicked look and Sam struggled to hide a grin. Give Dean a demon or spirit to face and he was in his element but among people he was out of his depth.
"Now come on through to the kitchen and lets get you boys warmed up. I have some coffee brewing that I just made ten minutes ago. Sit down here and I'll get you some" she said, pushing them both towards a scrubbed wooden table that had six chairs placed round it.
Sam pulled one out for Dean and pushed him down into it, ignoring the glare he got for his trouble, and sat down himself opposite him.
"We really don't want to be any bother ma'am, we just need to know where we can get some gas" said Sam politely.
"It's no bother at all, don't be silly" she said, coming over with two mugs off fresh steaming coffee. Both took them gratefully, Dean cradling his to absorb the warmth.
"Now what on earth happened to the pair of you? You look like you crawled here" she said with a chuckle.
Dean flushed a little as he realised in the light what they both looked like. He was covered in mud and leaves from his header down the bank and Sam was little better.
"We, uh, hit a spot of bother in the woods on the way here. We didn't see the edge of a bank until it was too late and kinda feel down it" admitted Dean sheepishly.
"Oh, I hope you didn't hurt yourselves? I saw you were limping before, why don't you let me take a look?" she said starting to reach for Dean's boots.
Dean literally jumped backwards, looking for all the world like it was a demon coming at him rather than a sweet old lady. Sam was literally biting his lip to keep from laughing out loud.
"No! I mean, no really it's fine. I don't want you to go to all that trouble" stuttered Dean, shooting Sam a look that clearly said 'help me out here'. Sam just grinned and ignored the look.
"Nonsense, it's no bother. Which ankle did you hurt?" she said firmly, not put off by Dean's obvious reluctance.
"Really, it's fine" said Dean but she was having none of it.
"Come on Dean, why don't you let the nice lady take a quick look at your ankle?"
If looks could kill Sam would definitely have been dead on the spot. The glare however just made Sam want to laugh even harder, and he was pretty sure he was gonna hurt himself soon if he didn't let it out.
"Well, if you insist" said Dean with supreme reluctance.
"Oh, I do. My name is Jean by the way" said the woman conversationally as Dean reached down and undid the laces on his left boot.
"I'm Sam and this is my brother, Dean" said Sam politely and she smiled at both of them.
"It's a pleasure to meet you boys, although I'm sure you'd rather be safe in your car still! Now lets see what you've done"
Reaching out she pulled Dean's sock off without any hesitation and took his foot firmly in her hands. Gently she manipulated the ankle, feeling it with her fingers as she did so.
"Does that hurt?" she said and Dean winced.
"Yeah, a little. It's not too bad though" he said and Sam wondered if that was true or just for Jean's benefit.
"Well it definitely doesn't feel broken. Most likely you've just sprained it is all. I have some Arnica cream that'll take care of most of the bruising for you and then we can strap it up nicely so you can walk on it. You'll feel good as new in no time" she said cheerfully, getting up and disappearing out of the room for a moment.
Sam jumped as Dean's good foot reached out and kicked him.
"Thanks for the help there Sam" whispered Dean glaring at him.
Sam rubbed his shin and glared back "What, you want me to save you from the scary old lady?" he whispered back with a smirk.
Before they could get into it properly Jean returned with a tub of cream and a bandage. A few minutes later Dean's ankle and foot had been smeared with Arnica cream and expertly wrapped. As he slid his sock and boot back on he had to admit it felt a hundred times better.
"Thanks" he said giving Jean a genuine smile and she shook her head.
"Oh it was no trouble dear. Now why don't you boys finish your coffee and I'll go find Toby – that's my husband. He'll be able to help you out with that gas you need" she said.
Left alone in the kitchen again both of them followed Jean's advice and drank the coffee, feeling the warmth flooding through them. Sam looked around as he drank. The kitchen was decorated in warm shades of yellow, with a couch against one wall and a rug in front of an old-style aga stove. There were photographs of Jean, and an older man Sam assumed was her husband, with various younger people. Most likely children and grandchildren he guessed. The whole place had a homely lived in feel to it and he felt a slight pang as part of him wished they had somewhere like this to call home.
Dean watched Sam as he looked round the place and could see from the sudden wistfulness on his brother's face that he was thinking about how nice it would be to have a home like this. Dean had to admit he was thinking that too, but it was no point wishing for what you couldn't have. Trying to think of what to say to bring Sam out of his melancholy mood, Dean was saved the bother by the back door opening and Jean coming in with a tall, grey haired man dressed in jeans and a checked shirt.
"I hear you boys have had yourselves an interesting night" he said cheerfully, holding out his hand to first Dean then Sam.
"I'm Toby, and you've already met my wife of course. She tells me you ran out of gas up on the road, that right?" he said.
Dean nodded "Yeah, that's right. We were hoping you could tell us if we were heading in the right direction for the nearest gas station?" he said.
Toby shook his head. "No need for that. I got plenty of spare gas here – you never know when you might get cut off with the snow. I'll drive you boys back to your car and we can fill her up and have you on your way in no time" he said.
"We couldn't possibly put you to all that trouble" began Sam but Toby cut him off.
"Nonsense, it's no trouble at all. It's a poor world if you can't help folks out a little when they have a spot of bother. Now you Jean here is gonna get you some food, cos I'm sure you need it after trekking through them woods on a night like tonight, and I'll go put the gas in the truck. Then we'll get you on your way.
Dean exchanged a look with Sam and Sam just shrugged. Clearly the couple wanted to help them and it would be rude to refuse, so within minutes they were tucking into home-made stew and crusty bread while Jean refilled their coffee mugs.
Neither of them had realised how hungry they were until they started eating. The food was gone in minutes and was surprisingly filling. Even Dean had to reluctantly refuse Jean's offer of seconds.
Toby came back in just as they were finishing their second cups of coffee.
"You all set?" he said and they nodded.
Sam reached out and gave Dean a hand standing up, and Dean was pleasantly surprised to find he could put his weight on the ankle again with only the mildest of pain. Flashing a grin at Sam to show he was ok, Dean turned to Jean.
"That feels much better – thanks a lot" he said with a smile and Jean patted him affectionately on the arm.
"My pleasure dear. Now take some of this cream with you and be sure to keep it strapped up for the next few days and you should be fine. And here's some cake for you, for the road" she said handing him a small jar and a neatly wrapped package.
"That's very kind of you" said Sam. "Thank you"
They followed Toby out to his truck and Jean hugged both of them before they got in. Sam had to grin as Dean turned the colour of a tomato when it was his turn.
"Now you boys take care you hear? And don't hesitate to drop by, if you're ever passing again" said Jean warmly.
"Thanks very much – we will" said Dean, surprised to realise he meant it. There was something about the old lady that had made them feel more at home than they had in a long time.
It didn't take them long to get back to the Impala in the truck and Dean was relieved to see her still in one piece.
"That your car?" said Toby and Dean nodded proudly
"Yeah, that's her" he said and Toby whistled appreciatively.
"She's a beauty" he said and Dean grinned like a Cheshire cat, liking the old man even more.
Sam just rolled his eyes. Dean really didn't need the encouragement where that car was concerned. He couldn't help smiling just a little though. Much as he complained about how Dean treated the Impala with such reverence, it was a beautiful car and it represented a lot of things to Sam. Not that he was admitting that to his brother though. No need to fuel the flames.
Getting out of the truck they watched as Toby expertly transferred the gas.
"Here, let us at least pay you for the gas" said Dean reaching for his wallet, but the old man held up his hand.
"I wouldn't dream of it. Now you boys just remember to keep an eye on that gauge you hear? There's not many gas stations around these parts as you found out. You keep going in this direction you'll hit the next town in about 50 miles or so. You can fill her up properly there" he said.
Reaching out he shook both their hands. "You take care now, and like Jean said – you drop by next time you're in the area"
"We will – thanks a lot for all your help" said Dean.
"Yeah, thanks – you've been very kind" said Sam earnestly.
With a final wave, Toby got back in his truck and drove off down the road. Dean closed the cap on the tank and was about to walk round to the passenger side when Sam chuckled.
"What?" he said looking at him quizzically.
"Nothing, just.. The look on your face when Jean was reaching for your foot!" said Sam, giggling in earnest now.
Dean glared at him "Hey, I'd only just met the woman Sam! She could have.." he tailed off, and Sam started laughing harder.
"She could have what Dean? Tickled you to death?" said Sam, practically wheezing now he was laughing so hard.
"Oh shut up Sammy" said Dean, but he was starting to grin and soon he was laughing too. It was sort of infectious and every time one of them stopped, the other would start them off again.
After a good ten minutes they were both leaning against the Impala, clutching their stomachs.
"Oh man – I haven't laughed like that in ages" said Sam
"Yeah, me neither" said Dean with a grin.
Sam was looking at him affectionately and Dean could see he was about to say something else.
"Alright Francis, let's not turn this into a Hallmark moment" he said and Sam rolled his eyes but dutifully didn't say what he'd been thinking. That even including his time at Stanford, the only person he'd ever been able to laugh that hard with was his brother.
Getting into the driver's seat he gunned the engine and Dean let out a contented sigh as he heard it start. Leaning his head back against the seat he closed his eyes.
"Wake me up when we get to a motel" he said "I so need to wash all this forest crap off me"
Sam rolled his eyes and pulled back out onto the road. The evening may have started badly but it had actually turned out ok in the end. It had been heart-warming how kind Jean and Toby had been to them and it almost restored a person's faith in human nature. And it had been nice, being taken care of like that for a moment. Not to mention how their little laughter session a minute ago had eased virtually all of the tension they'd been feeling.
Driving along Sam thought about that lovely, homely kitchen and how it had felt sitting there. And then he glanced at Dean asleep beside him and smiled. Maybe he'd been wrong. It wasn't places that made something a home, it was people. And if that was the case, then he had his home right here. And Sam reckoned that made him pretty lucky after all.