Title: Holding Pattern (1/1)
Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters do not belong to me.
Summary: Dean and Sam wait for John to come back from a hunt while Sammy is sick.
The socks were gray from age and too many washes. Some of them had dark patches on their heels, and others carried a thin line that ran the circumference of their ribbed edges. John's were as long as baby elephant trunks and easy to spot. Sam's were small enough to give a mouse claustrophobia, and Dean's socks were the laundry's comfortable middle ground. There were boxer shorts in the mix; a navy blue pair with thread barren cuffs, plaid ones that were now more pink than red, even a pair covered in laughing bronze trout. The rest of the underwear were as gray as the socks and came in the same variety of sizes. Dean had dumped the mismatched socks and pairs of clean underwear onto his lap as soon as the drier had buzzed, packing the warm fresh smelling laundry around his legs, his waist and his brother, careful not to break the line of salt that Sam's sneakered toes were only inches from.
It was from this pile that he let Sam make his selection. Dean waived away the younger boy's first two choices before finally agreeing on a left sock that sported a hole in the toe, and a right sock with a heel so thin that Dean could make out every stretched and tired looking stitch. The sorry things were obviously their father's, and Dean was sure that John wouldn't miss them or ask for them back after he saw what his nine year old had done to them. Or at least Dean didn't think he would. Expiration dates on Winchester clothing, especially clothing that was kept more or less out of sight, were sometimes difficult to gage. A shirt that had been peppered with holes was still a keeper if the addition of a jacket or an extra layer could cover most of the damage. Duck tape had kept the soles of any number of gym shoes from trailing across the floor like a dog's wet tongue, jacket elbows could be patched, and ripped jeans were worn as long as the rip in question showed no signs of expanding its territory and taking over the crotch area.
A low rumble washed through the ground and the building trembled. The rows of washing machines and dryers rattled and clanked against one another. Dean, his teeth chattering, laid his free hand against the cement wall as if trying to keep the laundromat from collapsing. Sam pressed into Dean's chest and whimpered.
"It's ok, Sammy," Dean said. Trusting the wall to stay up on its own, he wrapped his arms around his brother's waist, and leaning into the heat that rippled around the smaller body. "It's fine."
The wall to Dean's back felt like a sheet of ice, and the washing machine to his left had cooled hours ago after the power had gone out mid-spin cycle. Piles of wet jeans, sweats and t-shirts hung off the side of the olive green colored machine, patiently waiting for their turn in the dryer. Not for the first time, Dean felt a wave of sorrow rush through him for the load of wet flannel shirts, hoodies and sweatshirts that were trapped in a cold circle of ice in the belly of the washing machine. He wished he'd done that load of laundry first. Flannel shirts would have kept them much warmer than his sock and underwear pile.
"Put your hands up, Sammy," Dean said, small clouds of cold breath racing over the top of Sam's head. "Reach for the sky."
Sam obeyed, and Dean pulled the socks over his brother's hands, first the left and then the right, unrolling them until they covered his brother from fingertip to elbow. Cradling Sam's hand in his own, Dean pressed the marker's fat red tip against the woven threads. His nose began to run as he drew a series of wobbly ovals and circles.
"When you color them in stay in the lines," Sam begged, tipping his head back. "They'll look cooler if you stay in the lines."
Dean rolled his eyes, but when he started filling the small patches of white in with red ink he was careful to keep the color from crashing over the edges.
"It tickles," Sam giggled.
Sam responded with a sneeze that speckled the socks, marker and Dean's hand with globs of spit.
"Snot face," Dean grumbled.
Outside the wind screamed and beat against the walls. It jumped over and scrambled under the long series of two by fours their dad had nailed over the front picture window hours before. A line of salt ran just underneath it like a white powdery moat. The window had gone right after the power, and pieces of it were scattered across the floor, though some of the glass had been Dean's fault. A half filled vending machine blocked the door, and Dean had broken its glass covering hours ago to salvage a dinner composed of Milky Way bars and barbequed potatoes chips for them both.
Gun fire sounded from outside the building, and Sam stiffened. The five year old craned his neck, trying to see the door from their spot cradled between washer and wall.
"Hey Sammy." Dean laid a hand on Sam's fevered forehead, and gently turned his attention back to his sock covered hands. "I'm all done. Check it out."
Sam stretched his hands out in front of him, and carefully inspected the make-shift gloves. Satisfied with the stretch of knitted threads that covered the back of his hands, the small boy flicked his wrists sharply to study the palm side.
"I'm a leopard." Sam grinned. "Do these spots match my other ones?"
Something hard crashed against the two by fours and the wood buckled and groaned. Dean held his breath, and unhooked his arm from around Sam's waist. The boards held, but he thought that the wind or the tremors might have broken the salt line. Dean felt better with one hand wrapped around his shot gun.
"Yeah, Sammy," Dean said, distracted. "These spots match your other ones."
Sam wiggled and twisted until he had enough room to pull the edge of his t-shirt up. Placing his sock covered hand next to his small belly, Sam's eyes narrowed as he stared at the smattering of angry red pox marks that covered his flesh.
"They match," Sam reported happily. "They match, just like a real leopard. Do I get claws too? Real leopards have claws."
Dean blinked. He'd clipped and filed Sam's fingernails into nonexistence days ago after he'd learned that no amount of pleading or patient explanations could get his brother to stop scratching.
"It takes a few weeks to get claws." A shiver ran through Sam's body and Dean tried to pull him closer. "You've got to grow them, but if you scratch anything they'll take twice as long to show up."
"But I itch," Sam protested.
"That's because you've got fleas," Dean retorted quickly.
"Really?" Sam asked, delighted by the idea.
Dean nodded seriously, "Later you even get to take a flea bath. So we can kill the fleas and make the itching go away."
Sam had taken a firm stance against all nightly water rituals from teeth brushing to face washing so Dean was surprised when Sam's face lit up.
"When do we get to do that?"
"Tonight, as soon as dad is finished and we get a room."
The harsh sound of a shot followed by a scream erupted from the other side of their flimsy wooden barrier. Sam buried his face into his brother's chest. Dean cocked the shot gun, and held his breath. The wind blew strong and fierce, and the cold still gnawed at the eldest Winchester, but when nothing came crashing through the door he relaxed.
"Dean," Sam began, his voice muffled. "When he's done, can we show daddy my spots?"
"Yeah Sammy. When he's done."
Sam sighed, and burrowed closer to Dean. "My belly hurts, and I'm cold. Is he going to be done soon?"
"I'm sure he's almost finished."