Love and War
So here you have it, all finished up. Many thanks for the lovely reviews. And for the not-so-lovely one, leave me an address and I'll happily respond.
Dean heard the door shut behind Mabel, and he closed his eyes. "Well, that was awkward," he grumbled. "Woman cried so much, I could enter a wet t-shirt contest."
"Sure." His muscles still felt funny, like they weren't quite attached, but it would pass. Dean flexed and rolled his shoulders, then took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Sam was watching him nervously, and Dean frowned in confusion. "You?"
Sam nodded, but didn't say anything. Dean bent over and picked up Marigold from the floor where Mabel had set her. When he came back up, he was lightheaded and his knees felt like they might give, so he stood very still until the moment passed. Sam seemed to understand what was happening and gave him time to reaccustom himself to non-possessed mode.
"You know, if my mailman hadn't delivered my letters, I might have killed him, too," Dean said.
"Dean, I'm sorry," Sam said suddenly.
Dean raised an eyebrow, puzzled. Sam still had an odd expression on his face and was watching him too closely. "Huh?"
"I'm sorry I quit talking to you while I was at Stanford."
Dean rolled his eyes. Now he recognized that expression Sam was wearing. Guilt. It was time for Sam's Guilt-Trip-du-Jour.
"And I see we're going for the world record for awkward tonight. First I've got old ladies crying on me, and now you… okay, so I've got two old ladies crying on me."
"Dean, I'm serious," Sam said, a bit of heat in his tone.
Dean snorted. "I don't think you know how to be anything else. I should have bought you more Happy Meals when you were a kid."
"Dean," Sam said, clearly frustrated.
"What, Sam?" Dean sighed. "Do I wish it had gone down differently after you left? Do I wish I'd had someone to talk to when Dad was making me crazy… or when the job got too hard? Do I wish I'd had someone to laugh at my lame jokes… or at least acknowledge that I'd made one? Yeah, I do. But hey," he shrugged, "water under the bridge."
"No," Sam said. "Don't just brush it off like it's nothing."
"Oh, it wasn't nothing," Dean said, and whatever Sam saw in his face startled him into taking a step back. Dean quickly tried to pack the hurt and anger away and force a smile. "But it's over now. The Wonder Twins are back together fighting evil." He grinned. "Although you're still the chick twin."
Sam sighed and then shrugged. "She had better superpowers, anyway."
"That's why I've got my trusty sidekick." Dean patted Marigold. "Who needs superpowers when you can blow 'em to kingdom come. Now, you?" He rubbed a hand over his chin thoughtfully. "You might need the superpowers."
"You sure about the Wonder Twins?" Sam asked, a sudden gleam in his eye.
"I know how you feel about monkeys," he said, his brow creased in mock worry.
Dean blinked in surprise and then laughed, a full, cleansing laugh. Sam just shook his head and began to turn away. Dean never thought he'd be grateful for Gleek or Gleep or whatever that supermonkey's name was. But Sam wasn't looking guilt-ridden anymore, and that was all that mattered.
Yeah, he'd been lonely without Sam. Their dad never had been a barrel of laughs, but at the time, Sam hadn't been either. He'd been angry, bitter, resentful, an all-around pain in the ass. So Dean had let him go. If he was going to be alone, he'd just as soon be by himself.
That wasn't to say a phone call would've killed the kid. Considering their job, an occasional "hey, glad you're not dead," or a "hey, kill anything interesting lately?" would've been nice. The complete cold shoulder was kinda rough on a person. Dean mentally shrugged. Bygones.
Sam stopped, already halfway to the door, and turned.
"You, uhh… you think they'd mind if I finished taking the tour in here?"
Sam gave a short laugh. "We already broke in. I don't think we can break in more."
"Awesome." Dean could feel a grin building as he looked around. It was the cars. He couldn't help it. Even in the dim security lighting, they were magnificent. "Where were we?"
Sam pointed back several cars. "Last I remember, you were looking at the ugly one there like it was made of gold."
Dean's mouth dropped open. "Ugly?"
"Yeah." Sam shrugged.
"Dude, this is an Owen Magnetic." He waited for some sort of response, but Sam just stared at him blankly. "It's the equivalent of a hybrid car built in the teens. Gas-powered generator, feeds to an electric motor in the back." He pointed. "They work together so that there's no crank start and it's automatic. No shifting. In the teens. This car cost more then than some cars do now," Dean added, looking at him expectantly.
"I think that's the same look Michael gave me right before he shot me," Sam said, backing away.
"I'm not going to shoot you. I'm trying to educate you," Dean said. "All those years at school and you still wouldn't know a distributor cap from a hubcap."
Sam's expression flickered briefly at the mention of his time away, but he nodded pensively. "I'm almost certain one of those goes on a car. Just give me a hint."
Dean shook his head. "I'd send you to mechanic's school, but I'm afraid you'd quit talking to me."
Sam froze. "Dean, I…"
Dean tapped him on the forehead where the powder burns had been. "Dude, enough with the frowning. You're starting to get divots." He moved past him and began walking toward the door they'd used to break in. "Come on. Let's get out of here before we get arrested."
"You don't want to look at the cars?" Sam asked uncertainly, and Dean turned to look back at him.
"Nah. This car crap is just gonna bore you to death," he answered. Sam had apologized for ignoring him while he went off to school. Now that Dean thought of it, returning the favor and ignoring Sam while he wandered around the museum probably wasn't a good reward. Dr. Spock was all for positive reinforcement for the kiddies.
In truth, seeing the cars in the warehouse was almost sad in a way. They were locked up, sitting behind ropes. No one could drive them or touch them. They were stunning machines, meant for the open road. They were meant to run. They were meant to fly. It was like seeing wild animals living in captivity. They were magnificent, but somehow bereft of life because they weren't where they were meant to be. Everything had its place and purpose. He and Sam knew that better than most.
Besides, Dean silently added, he had one of the best cars ever made waiting for him out in the parking lot. He didn't have much. But he had Sam. He had his car. It was enough. And looking at the caged beauties around him, Dean suddenly had the urge to drive.
"Dean, I don't mind," Sam insisted. "I know how much you—"
"Can't see much with the lights off anyway." Dean shrugged. "Maybe we'll come back later." He nodded toward the door. Sam hesitated for another second, then with a perplexed shake of his head, moved to join him. Dean waited for Sam to catch up, and they fell into step, walking side-by-side. "So, no auto mechanic classes," Dean said thoughtfully. "Maybe a flower-arranging class?"
Sam frowned again, halfway between annoyed and troubled.
"I've got it!" Dean crowed. "The perfect combination! I'll let you get the car serviced on Ladies' Day. They give out flowers."
"You're hilarious," Sam muttered as they left the showroom and walked back into the storage room.
"Come on." Dean smiled. "I'll buy you a Happy Meal."
Been a pleasure… Thanks for reading!