Pink Boxers, Missing Socks and Siblings
Authors note: This started out as a crackfic, but along the way it took on a life of it's own and became something else. It takes place sometime after the pilot, before Provenance. This is my first fic. After some prompting by some friends, I decided to post it. Thanks to GG101, who was my awesome beta.
Disclaimer : I don't own SN, only the very awesome Mr. Kripke and the CW have that honor.
The past three weeks had been busy and to say the hunts didn't go according to plan was putting it lightly. There was the Elemental in Boise that had nearly brought the warehouse they'd tracked it to down on their heads. Barely managing to finish it off and crawl out unharmed, they were smeared with ash and smelled of smoke. It made Sam think of Jess. The clothes were quickly stuffed in the laundry duffel and forgotten.
Next there was the Bog Beast in Florida. The damn thing had pulled him into the swamp water trying to drown him. Dean had come to the rescue and with teamwork, Sam distracting while Dean got behind it, they finished it off. The dying beast exploded in a torrent of muck and foul water. Both emerged coughing up the nasty liquid. Dripping, it was a miserable, soggy walk back to the car. Stripping off and changing into fresh clothes (Dean forbid him from waiting till they returned to the motel, saying there was no way he was getting muck and swamp water on his baby's seats), they joined the other clothes in the duffel. And so it continued until Arkansas. Drenched in blood in Little Rock when they ran out of ammo and Dean decided to use a less standard approach. Dean could say anything he wanted, but Sam knew his brother was a bit of a pyro. He proved it beyond a doubt when he pulled out the C4 as a 'last resort'. So here they were, changing outside the car yet again. They'd taken to carrying an extra change of clothes in the car just in case a long time ago.
Their father had taught them to dress in layers not only for extra protection, (you never knew when you might be trapped in the elements, or if you would need to cover up some blood with that over shirt. Can't go walking around looking like a serial killer) but as a precaution for when clothes couldn't be saved. Like now. No way they could return to the room looking like this. As Sam peeled off his sticky shirt, Dean looked in the back seat and frowned.
"What's wrong?" Sam asked.
Dean held up the laundry bag, it was full to bursting.
"I think we need to do some laundry Sammy." He sniffed the bag and reeled back as the odor offended his nose. "Whew! How long has it been since we hit a laundromat anyway?"
Sam frowned as he thought back. Over the past weeks they had been pretty busy. A lot of their clothes had been relegated to that bag. In fact, at this point more stuff was dirty than clean. Dean was right, if they didn't do it soon they'd have nothing to wear.
"I think I saw an old Wash n'Dry on our way to the motel. We can go back to town and shower, then walk over and do the wash."
Dean nodded. "The sooner the better. Man, smells like something died in here." Getting that evil big brother grin, Dean once again unzipped the duffel. Sneaking up behind Sam who was distractedly looking for his clean T-shirt, he quickly drove the open bag under Sam's face.
"Ugh!" Sam gagged as the stench hit him. "Dean!"
Dean's chuckles continued as the Impala purred to life. Sam scowling at him from the passenger seat.
After a shower and a quick bite at the diner, they made their way to the laundry mat. Sam began sorting their things by how much extra attention they'd need, they would be lucky if some of those stains came out, while Dean made conversation with the two attractive young women next to them. He rolled his eyes and gave a small smile in spite of himself. Only his bother could come to do laundry and get phone numbers on the side. Dean bid them goodbye as they left. Turning to Sam with a smile, he held up a slip of paper.
Sam shook his head. "I just can't take you anywhere can I?"
Dean smirked "Hey, I can't help it if they know looks when they see 'em. It was nice not to have someone ask if I was here with my boyfriend for a change." he added the last part in an annoyed tone.
He had to agree with Dean, it was annoying to get 'those' looks whenever they needed to do the wash. Seeing two men doing their laundry together, a lot of people assumed they were a couple. The phrase 'We're just brothers' was like a mantra now. His thoughts were interrupted as Dean continued.
"Besides, did you see those black panties in their basket? Girls who wear black underwear have class."
Sam froze, mouth agape and staring at his brother. Dean's brows drew together. "What?"
"Dude, you were checking out their laundry?" Sam said in a disapproving tone.
Dean frowned. "What? No, of course not! I'm not some perve with an underwear fetish. I just noticed because they were on the top of the basket." he shook his head. "Geeze, what kind of guy do you think I am?" he asked, a little hurt that his brother would think that of him.
Sam snorted. "Well Dean, you were just telling me how black panties mean class. What am I supposed to think?"
Sam felt a pang of guilt as soon as he said it. He knew his brother could be a horndog sometimes, but he was a good guy. Some people would call him a womanizer, but nothing could be further from the truth. His brother may have a lot of relationships, but he respected women. He never used or mislead any woman he was with. He made it clear up-front there he wouldn't be around for a follow up date and they were okay with that. If the woman wasn't interested in those terms, Dean backed off with a smile and no hard feelings. Sam knew sometimes Dean did make up stories about what they did and yeah, okay that was a little less savory, but the women were looking to get something out of the deal as well. So that didn't really count. Besides, it's not like they could tell the truth. After Cassie broke his heart, he knew Dean didn't trust easily. One night stands had become the norm and with their lifestyle... No, there wasn't time for anything else.
Sam was about to apologize when Dean said, "So what are you saying Sammy? Because I don't live like a monk most of the time I'm a bad guy? Not all of us can wallow in self-pity."
Ouch. As soon as he said it, Dean wished he could take it back. That was way out of line, but he was hurt and angry, not realizing what he was saying till it was too late. He knew Sam was still trying to deal with the bad hand fate dealt him. Losing Jess the way he had, how could the kid not have reservations about relationships? Hell, if that had happened to him he'd be afraid to get close too.
"Sam..." Dean began in that soft voice. He needed to make this right.
With his lips set in a firm line, Sam shut him down. "You know what, we have a lot to do, let's just get it done. Okay?"
Dean's mouth snapped shut. And there it was, talking over. He wanted to talk and Sam didn't. He didn't fail to notice the irony. He sighed. Great. He hated it when Sam was mad at him.
Sam slammed the lid shut and made his way to the next washer, refusing to look at his brother. He was seething, how dare he? How could he say something like that to him? You mean like how you called him a sicko? Sam shook himself. Okay, so he started it, but Dean went too far. If he thinks I'm going to apologize now...
He glared at Dean from the corner of his eye. He was meekly looking down at the clothing, making a half hearted attempt at getting the last load together. Sam shut the other lid and started the machine up. Leaning against it he closed his eyes. He tried to ignore the guilt battling his anger for control. He shouldn't feel guilty damnit! He had the right to be angry, Dean had... He took a deep breath and let it out softly. Dean had tried to apologize. He'd seen his brother's expression change from anger to regret as soon as he'd said the words. Heard that soft pleading "Sam." Sam I'm sorry. I didn't mean it.
Rubbing the back of his neck, he walked off and sat in the little waiting area, still avoiding eye contact with Dean. He picked up a magazine he pretended to read while he thought. What was wrong with them? Close quarters for too long, that's what. They'd been hunting without much time for breaks, exhausted and only each other for company. Plus everything with Dad... They were taking their frustrations out on each other.
He sensed Dean's presence and knew he'd joined him in the waiting area. There was a rustle in the magazine stack and a soft scree-thump as a chair was pulled over and sat in. Peeking over the top of his issue of Home and Garden - Home and Garden? He picked up Home and Garden? Good thing he and Dean weren't speaking, he was sure his brother would have teased him mercilessly over that - and saw Dean had a Cars magazine, leafing through it slowly.
Not able to see his brother's face, he lowered his eyes again. What now? He couldn't gage his brother's mood, but this tense silence they were in was driving Sam crazy. Say something! Anything! He was so used to Dean's chatter and off color jokes, it didn't feel right not to have him talking next to him. So you say something then. Just start talking. Fix this. He gripped the pages he was holding tighter. He didn't know what to say. As badly as he wanted to fix this, he didn't know where to start. Staring blankly at the article in front of him, he continued to be lost in thought.
Dean peeked over his issue of Cars and looked at Sam. His knuckles were almost white where he held his magazine. Home and Garden? If things had been normal between them he would have teased him mercilessly over that. But things weren't normal and by the way Sam had a death grip on it, it looked like he was still mad. Dean sighed to himself and dropped his eyes back down. It didn't feel right when Sam wasn't talking to him. Usually he'd be talking to him, cracking jokes while Sam rolled his eyes, or gave dead pan replies. Just snarking at each other and communicating as only siblings could. The relationship they'd built back up after Sam had come back, becoming brothers again, meant more to Dean than Sam could ever understand. He didn't like this distance, this silence between them. So say something! Apologize! Anything, just fix this! He stared ahead at the page in front of him until the Dodge became fuzzy. He didn't know how to fix this.
What could he say to Sam that would make it right? He didn't even understand why he'd said it in the first place. They were both so tired and edgy lately. A break was long overdue. They'd started sniping at each other here and there, but this. This felt so wrong. What was happening to them? As much as he wanted to say he was sorry, the words wouldn't come. Struggling for what to say, he became lost in thought.
They continued like this until the first buzzer sounded, making them both jump as it broke the eerie quiet. They had been there for over half an hour and no one else came in. Having the place to themselves ordinarily would have felt nice and comfortable. Giving both men a chance to relax and talk as they did the chore. But now it brought only unwelcome stillness and added to the tension between them, making them uneasy.
Sam shuffled over and put the clothes into a nearby dryer before reclaiming his seat- making sure to trade his Home and Garden with a Men's Health on his way past the stack of magazines. He could feel Dean's eyes on him, but didn't acknowledge it. He was still at a loss for what to say.
Dean saw Sam get up and start the dryer, noticing he exchanged his Home and Garden for a Men's Health. He snorted. Better but not by much. Looking at Sam he waited for him to glance his way. Nothing. Sam didn't even acknowledge him. This is nuts. I have to put a stop to this. Opening his mouth to speak, the buzzer on the other load cut him off. Giving his brother a look, it was clear Sam was going to continue ignoring him. Guess I'm responsible for my own laundry.
With a huff he pushed out of his chair and went to take his things to a dryer. Starting it up, he returned to his seat. When the third buzzer sounded, Sam rose to take care of it. The first dryer sounded while he was up, so he took his things to a table to begin folding. A few moments later, Dean got up to take his load out and set up at a table close to Sam.
He closed his eyes after a quick glance next to him. It was now or never. Opening his mouth once more to address his brother, Dean's eye caught something under his hand. What the hell? Lifting it for inspection, he found one of his favorite pair of boxers was now pink. "Son of a..." As he looked closer, he discovered to his horror that it wasn't just that pair of boxers. There were two more pairs, now stained a disgusting shade of Barbie pink and all his socks to match. How the hell had that happened? He'd sorted all his things carefully before he started the wash. He knew he didn't miss... wait. What was that? Shoving his ruined clothing aside he saw a piece of red fabric. Picking it up he felt himself becoming angry again. Sam. This was Sam's red shirt. It wasn't there before, he'd made sure to sort Sam's things from his pile. That meant... ooh that little bitch.
Sam had just finished folding all his shirts and jeans and was now working on his boxers and socks. As he began to pick up his socks to mate them, his brow wrinkled in confusion. Digging through his things a frown joined it. Half of his socks were missing. What the..? He went through all his pile again to be sure. Yep, they were gone. What the hell was going on? They'd all been there when he'd started sorting the last pile. He was sure of it. He had left them right there in front of Dean when he'd gone to start the second load... Dean. Sam's frown became an angry scowl. That jerk...
Both turned angrily to each other at that same time.
"What the hell, Sam?"
"What's the deal Dean?"
Both of them stood stiff and angry, Sam a mateless sock in one hand, in Dean's a pair of pink boxers.
"What do you mean?" they said again in unison.
Dean's eyes narrowed dangerously. Holding up the offending item he said "What I mean Sam is what. the. hell? What did you think you were doing putting your red shirt in with my stuff?" He held Sam's shirt in his other hand and shook it accusingly at his brother.
Sam's eyes widened as he saw the shirt. Checking his pile he realized it was missing.
"Hey!" he said snatching it back and holding it protectively against his side. "What are you doing with my stuff?" he snapped. "It wasn't enough for you to steal my socks, you gotta take my shirt too? What's with you Dean?"
Dean's eyes widened in annoyed shock. "What's with me? I could ask you the same thing little brother. I didn't take your stupid shirt or your socks. The better question is why you put that shirt in with my whites!"
Sam glared. "Oh, that's low Dean. Blaming me for your mistake."
"You checked your own stuff, you mixed my shirt in with your things. Now you're trying to blame me because you're mad at me. Is that why you took my socks? To get back at me?"
Dean threw the boxers on the table in disgust. "Sam so help me if you don't knock it off.."
"Give 'em back man!"
"I don't have them!"
"You do -"
"We both know what this is Sammy." Dean interrupted, "You're pissed at me for what I said. I get it. But ruining my stuff, that's not cool man. And I didn't take your socks."
Sam growled in the back of his throat. "Well if you didn't do it who did?!"
"I don't know!"
Both of them stared the other down as they shouted, "I can't believe I ever wanted to apologize to you."
They froze, breathing heavy. Twin looks of cautious curiosity met. Sam broke the silence first.
"You wanted to apologize to me?"
Dean dropped his gaze to the floor, scuffing a shoe on the marred linoleum. "Yeah." he said softly. "I uh... I was way out of line." Raising guilty eyes to meet Sam's he continued. "I'm sorry Sammy. I don't know what got into me." Hesitating, he cocked his head. "You wanted to say sorry to me? Because after what I said..."
Sam was shaking his head. "No Dean, I'm sorry too. I was just as wrong as you were." He gave a lopsided smile. "And for what it's worth, I don't think that."
Dean smiled. "Yeah?"
He nodded. "Yeah."
Suddenly uncomfortable, Dean cleared his throat. "So we okay now?"
Sam nodded again. "Yeah, we're good." He gave a rye smile. "As soon as I get my socks back."
Dean's face fell and clouded over with confusion. "Sam, man I don't have your socks."
Sam's face took on an annoyed look. "Dean- "
Dean stood straight and motioned to his pile of clothes. "No, really man, I didn't take them. Just search my stuff if you don't believe me."
Annoyance changed to doubt as he made his way over to the table. Dean sounded so sincere, but... Sure enough Sam's investigation of the clothes turned up no socks other than his brothers now pink ones. If he hadn't been so distracted, he would have laughed about that. Stepping back confused, he looked at Dean. "But... If you didn't take them, where are they?"
Dean looked searchingly at his brother. "You really didn't toss your shirt in with my stuff, did you?" A head shake to the negative had Dean frowning and his hunter senses tingling. Something was going on here. He was just about to suggest it to Sam when the lights flickered a few times followed by a laugh.
They looked at each other and got ready to expect trouble. What they didn't expect was to turn and find a young woman sitting atop one of the washing machines, legs swinging to and fro. She wore a bright smile as she looked at them. "Took you long enough."
They shared another look and then "What do you mean?"
The girl, who appeared to be about 16 or 17, rolled her eyes in an exasperated manner as her jean clad legs stopped swinging. "You two sure are slow on the uptake aren't you?" Both boys eyebrows rose and she sighed the sigh of an adult trying to explain something to small children. "Your underwear, his socks." She smiled as she saw recognition dawning on their faces.
"That was you?" Dean asked.
She smirked. "You guys were driving me nuts. It was clear both of you wanted to say sorry, but neither of you were willing to take the first step. Someone had to move it along."
"So you figured out a way to get us talking." Sam finished.
The girl shrugged in a no big deal sort of way. Dean found himself a little annoyed. He had after all ended up with pink boxers. "You know we would have gotten around to it."
She smiled sweetly at his sulky tone. "My way was faster. Besides pretty boy," she said hopping down, "I think you could stand to get in touch with your feminine side."
Sam quickly hid a smile and choked down a laugh at Dean's incredulous expression. She winked at him and her smile softened. "It was a small price to pay to get you and your brother back on track, wasn't it?"
Dean looked at Sam and gave the girl a slow smile. "Yeah, it was." That brow rose again. "So who are you anyway? Caspers' answer to Dr. Phil?"
Sam groaned. Leave it to Dean to couple a thank you with an insult.
She laughed and the bright smile returned. "Name's Kira. Nice to meet ya."
Sam stood next to Dean as he introduced them properly. After all it was only polite. Even if she was a ghost. Man, this day is weird. "I'm Sam, this is Dean."
"I know." she said with a patient smile.
"So why are you here?"
The girl hopped back onto the washer and tilted her head. "I don't know. I guess I've always liked this place."
"A laundromat?" Dean found it hard to believe. He'd hunted a lot of ghosts in his time. Cemeteries, hospitals, creepy old houses, abandoned buildings sure. But a laundromat?
She gave a one shoulder shrug. "I spent a lot of my time here growing up. I used to live in an apartment upstairs with my mom and sister." A sad smile formed on her young face. "We used to come down here all the time to do the laundry and help mom out. Dad left us when I was 4; mom worked two jobs to make ends meet. She did her best, but she wasn't around much. Karen and I, we only had each other." The sad smile shifted to a fond one that both brothers were familiar with. It's the same one they would both get when talking to someone about their sibling. "We'd goof off and fight all the time. Just like you two. I guess that's why I wanted to help." The smile was gone. "I really miss her."
"So where is your sister now?" Sam asked.
The girl pointed above her. "She still lives here. Mom's been gone a long time, but she has her own family now. The kids come and visit her once a week, check on her. They think she's too old to live by herself, want her to move in with them. She won't hear of it. Very independent my baby sister, always was. She doesn't let her age slow her down."
"Why are you still here then? I mean, if she's okay, shouldn't you move on or whatever it is ghosts do?" Dean couldn't believe they were having a talk with a ghost. He hunted them; he did not have heart to hearts. Still, she did help them and she didn't feel dangerous. Instead for some reason, Dean felt an odd sort of kinship with her.
She shook her head. "I can't go yet, I made a promise." At the brothers' looks she continued, "I loved my little sister more than anyone. I would have done anything for her, we were never apart." Sam and Dean both shifted as they listened. This all sounded pretty familiar. "I died here. One day I was down with Kar doing the wash when I slipped in some water and fell. Busted my head open." A look of distaste crossed her face. "Such a stupid way to die. As I lay there bleeding, she kneeled next to me crying her eyes out. She begged me not to leave her. She said she didn't want to be alone."
She looked at Dean with a rueful smile. "You're the oldest. You ever been able to refuse a request from your brother when he looks at you with that look? You know the one, all younger brothers and sisters use it. Big sad eyes- desperate." Dean nodded. He did know. "So, I promised her I'd never leave her, that I would wait for her. And here I am."
Sam's brow wrinkled. "You've been here alone all this time?"
"Not alone, not really. She knows I'm here. She can feel me sometimes. I like letting her know I'm still keeping my promise. And this way I haven't missed out. I've been able to watch my niece and nephews grow, even have a few great-nephews now. I still have my family, it's just different."
"But don't you get lonely? I mean, it's not the same right?"
She nodded thoughtfully. "Sometimes. It's been over 40 years since I've been able to hug my sister, but I won't have to wait much longer."
"Why not?" Dean asked, though he had an idea. "You don't mean..."
She grinned. "Yep. Today is the day."
Looking off up the stairs to the boys left, the grin grew impossibly wider. Jumping swiftly off the washer again, she walked quickly over to the bottom. The sound of footsteps running toward them and then a young girl bounded down in front of Kira with a matching grin. The boys had been expecting an old woman, but here was a 14 year old throwing her arms around the other girl and hugging for all she was worth. Kira returned the hug with just as much force, and then pulled back looking her sister up and down.
"You look good for an old biddy Kar." The girl looked just as she did the day they last saw one another.
The girl rolled her eyes. "40 years and you're still calling me by that nickname? I've told you a hundred times, it's Karen."
Kira smirked. "You'll always be Kar to me baby sister."
Karen smiled fondly. "I'm glad."
"Okay kiddo, let's go. Mom's waiting." Kira took her hand and the two began to walk toward the front door. "Oh! Almost forgot." She said, turning and snapping her fingers. Socks began to rain down on the table next to Sam as they watched. The brothers turned back around as the sisters waved goodbye. Walking out the door together, they vanished.
Sam and Dean looked at the door for a moment, quietly reflecting.
He turned to his brother. "Yeah?"
"Today has been weird."
They both turned and began to gather their things. "I'm glad they're together again." Dean said softly and Sam knew he wasn't just thinking of the sisters.
"Yeah," he said in an equally soft voice, "me too."
They finished in a now companionable silence. "Ready to go?" Dean asked.
They walked out the door together.