Puppy Dog Tails

Post Bad Day at Black Rock

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Standing by the trunk, Sam handed Dean the shovel and turned away, rolling his shoulder carefully as he walked toward the passenger door. Tugging it open awkwardly, Sam eased into the seat and leaned his head against the back of the seat as he settled. Thank God that was over. He counted it a good sign that he'd neither tripped nor slammed his hand in the door on his way to the safety of the car.

The slamming of Dean's door made Sam roll his head to the left. His brother's jaw was tightly clenched.

"God dammit," Dean gritted as he started the car. It was going to take his brother awhile to get over the loss of the scratch tickets.

Sam had expected Dean to head back to the motel, but remembered belatedly the crazy friends of Gordon that they'd left unconscious on the floor of their room. Maybe not.

In the silence and the dark, Sam actually fell asleep, only startling to wakefulness when Dean opened the door to his right and taking his arm.

"Come on, Sam."

Blearily, Sam blinked up at his brother. "Where are we?" He swung his legs out of the car.

"Home for the night," Dean answered. "How's the arm?"

Sam grunted. "Smarts."

"Yeah, I bet. Come on. Get out."

Obediently, Sam stood and shuffled forward while Dean swung the door shut behind him.

In the room, Dean tossed their duffels onto their respective beds and pointed Sam to the bathroom.

"Get cleaned up and then let me look at that shoulder."

Nodding, Sam headed for the shower.

Dean was stretched out on the bed nearest the door, hands behind his head, legs crossed at the ankles as Sam came out of the bathroom.

"You want the shower?" Sam headed to his bag, rifling through it for underwear and a t-shirt.

"In a minute." Dean was sitting up now, eyes going to his brother's wound as Sam struggled into his clean clothes.

"'s just a graze," Sam said.

"You think it needs stitches?"

Sam squinted down at the deep furrow through the meat of his shoulder, moving toward Dean. He sat down next to his brother on the bed, looked over at him.

"Maybe a couple," he sighed.

Dean had shifted forward, folding up his legs to sit cross-legged facing Sam. His knee dug into Sam's thigh, but Sam didn't move, let Dean finger the jagged cut clinically.

"Yeah," Dean said, patting Sam on the knee consolingly, grinning slyly when Sam hissed "ass" at the pain from the blossoming bruise there. "One or two ought to do it." Dean got off the bed and pulled out the first aid kit. When Dean finished, he handed Sam a couple of Tylenol that he swallowed without thought.

"How are your knees?" Dean's attention had shifted from Sam's shoulder to his legs.

Sam looked down and grimaced when he realized that the right scrape had reopened and bled down his shin. He'd hit that knee when he'd fallen after Bela had shot him. He guessed that maybe the plus side of being shot was that it had taken his mind off how bad his knees ached – Dean's smack aside.

"Crap," Sam said, making to get up for a cloth.

"Stay there, I got it."

As Dean cleaned up his knees, Sam lay back on the bed, crossing one arm over his face. Suddenly he laughed.

"Hey, Dean, 'member that time at Pastor Jim's when I banged up both my knees?"

"Which time?" Dean's voice was dry, but Sam could hear the smile in it.

"Jerk," Sam said without rancor. "That time when you were chasing me around the car?"

There was the sound of Dean's quiet huff of breath when he realized what time Sam was talking about.

It had been the first truly cool day of the fall, Minnesota suffering through an unexpected Indian summer into the middle of October. Sam had been eight and wired by the cold weather and the anticipation of hot chocolate that evening. They'd been off to look at pumpkins, Dad agreeing good naturedly to Sam's enthusiastic demands for the round, orange gourds.

The break in the heat had had the same effect on Dad that it had had on Sam, easing the tightness and irritability that had been growing steadily over the last few weeks. At twelve, Dean had been entirely too cool to express his excitement the same way his little brother had, opting instead for an air of annoyed boredom as Sam had bounced around him toward the car.

"Can we get hot cider at the pumpkin patch, Dad? Can we?" The Methodist church that raised money by selling pumpkins each year usually had a big cauldron of the brew and John had indulged both boys the year before.

"We'll see, Sammy," Dad had said. "But we're having hot chocolate tonight, and both would be…"

"Both!" Sam had yelled delightedly.

"Sammy, I said…" John had started again, but Sam had shouted over him, "Both!"

It hadn't been a temper tantrum, just energy and excitement and being eight-years-old. Sam's eyes had been bright with mischief, seeing if his Dad would play along. And John had, smiling in spite of himself at Sam's unspoken demand for attention.

"I…"

"Both both both both!" Sam had caroled, and John had laughed. Which had only encouraged the boy further. Sam had flung himself at his dad, then darted out of reach, dashing away.

"Come on, kiddo, get in the car, we'll…"

But by then Sam had been running in circles around the car, singing a nonsense song as he went. Something about hot chocolate and cider and pumpkins and BOTH!

Dean had slouched to the car, scowling at Sam. This was so stupid.

"Sammy, get in the car," he'd ground out. But Sam had ignored him, breezing by his brother on his pass around the Impala.

"Sammy!" Dean had shouted as Sam had raced by again, making a grab, but only managing to brush the denim of Sam's jacket with his fingertips.

"Dean," Dad had sighed, "just let him run, he'll wear himself…"

"Both!" Sam had screamed in Dean's face as he'd whipped past. And that had been too much.

On a growl, Dean had launched himself after his brother. Sam's shriek of pleasure at having finally gotten his big brother's attention, too, had only fueled Dean's rage and he'd pelted after Sam, feet slipping as he'd rounded the corner of the Impala, intent on his prey.

After about three circuits with Sam giggling, Dean yelling, and Dad leaning against the side of the car, arms crossed over his chest, Sam had gone down. Hard. Knees and hands slamming into the gravel of the driveway.

Dean hadn't been able to stop his full-out run, and had tripped over his brother, flying over Sam's huddled body as he went, tucking and rolling like he'd been taught, scrambling awkwardly to his feet, shoulder stinging, to the sound of Sam's howl of pain and surprise.

Dad had gotten there first, picking Sam up easily and setting him on his feet. His voice had been calm as he spoke, indulgence gone, eyes assessing. "Sammy, calm down and let me look."

Sam had taken a whooping sob of a breath, and Dad's hand had come up to rest gently, but firmly on his son's cheek.

"Sam. Settle down. You just skinned your knees."

Eyes caught by his father's, Sam had nodded, eyes still swimming, but swallowing back the tears on a shuddering sigh.

"Good boy," Dad had said. "Come over here to the porch." One hand on Sam's shoulder he'd walked Sam carefully to the steps and sat him down.

"Dean, you OK?" He'd asked it casually, turning briefly to give his older son the once over.

"Yes, sir," Dean had answered, rubbing at his shoulder.

"Good. Go get the first-aid kit."

And that had been that.

Dad had gotten them cleaned up, bundled them into the car, and taken them to get the pumpkins. They'd had cider and hot chocolate that night. Both.

"You were such a brat," Dean said, and Sam snorted under his arm before he sat up, looking down at the clean squares of gauze taped over his knees.

"Thanks."

Dean shrugged, putting the kit to the side. "I'm taking a shower."

As Dean went into the bathroom, Sam maneuvered himself under the covers, turning onto his stomach, then with a groan, flipping to his back. Stupid knees. Why did they bug him more than the bullet wound to his shoulder?

Sam sighed, reaching down to rub gingerly at his knee around the bandage. Dean had always been good with skinned knees – Lord knew Sam had had enough of them in his life. He listened drowsily to the sound of the shower in the other room, mind wandering, not noticing when the water switched off, drifting back to awareness when Dean turned off the light on the table between their beds.

"Hey, Dean?"

His brother's response was a muffled, "Yeah?"

"When do you figure Dad squirreled our stuff away?" That had been bugging him. They'd lived in such tight quarters, how had Sam not noticed when that trophy had gone missing?

Dean was quiet for a second, but Sam wasn't in a hurry.

"He told me a couple of years ago he'd had a see-if-the-boys-notice-its-gone box every time we moved," Dean said finally.

"What?"

"Whenever we moved he had this box where he put stuff he thought we were done with. Then, if we didn't notice after awhile, he said he tossed it or gave it away or sold it or whatever. That's probably how."

It made sense, he guessed. Sam thought for a minute. "You think maybe that G.I. Joe?" he ventured.

Dean snorted, then laughed. "Yeah. I bet."

Sam had "lost" his GI Joe after one move and been almost inconsolable, there being no money for a new one, until John had "found" it under his bed one night.

"Daddy, I looked there, like, a hundred times!" Sam had said, amazed at his father's ability to do anything.

Sam laughed quietly to himself.

"How'd you miss that sawed-off disappearing?" Sam wondered.

"Remember I got that brand new shotgun for my birthday in ninth grade?"

Sam remembered. It had been all Dean had talked about for months. Sam bet he'd never noticed the old one was gone.

"Huh," Sam said.

"Yeah," his brother answered.

"You think there's anything else?" Sam had turned his head toward his brother, and in the dim light he could see Dean shrug.

"Who knows?" Dean said, tone telling Sam he wasn't in the mood to speculate.

"Yeah," whispered Sam, rolling away from his brother. "Who knows?"

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