A/N: I can't help wondering, sometimes, how our boys deal with the normalcies of life…
While the location of Brookings, OR is real (and the crop information is factual), the motel and diner are fictional locations.
"Supernatural" and all things Winchester are owned and operated by the Great Kripke; a true magician.
by Fraidy Cat
Dean shoveled forkfuls of buttermilk biscuit and sausage gravy down his gullet -- his second breakfast, as far as Sam was concerned, since he had already had two farm-fresh eggs, over-easy -- while Sam nursed his second cup of coffee and studied the morning newspaper.
It was a small town, with a slightly rural feel -- but not so small that there had been difficulty finding a roadside motel with a conveniently placed Mom-and-Pop diner right next door, last night. They had rumbled into the seaside burg of Brookings, Oregon around dusk the night before. An unhappy spirit was responsible for the 'accidental' drownings of several people. Of course, tourist drownings were not unusual in a coastal location -- it was amazing how few people paid massive bodies of water the respect they deserved. What had tipped Sam off, during his internet searches of cnn dot com, fox news dot com, nsbc and all the other dot com news sources he frequented for kicks as well as for job leads, were the drownings of the locals. Folks who grew up with the sea generally took it more seriously. They saw its power on a daily basis. Yet, there had been a rash of drownings in Brookings, from fishermen to Coast Guard crewmen, to wind surfers to tourists.
It bore looking into -- and they were only a few hours away, in Portland, having just dispatched either a Wendigo...or a Sasquatch. Dean had teased Sammy about that one, asking his brother to pose next to the downed monster, so he could take a picture with his cell phone and sell it to the tabloids: Two Sasquatchi for the Price of One, the headline would read. Or was it 'Sasquatches'?
Sam had sulked a good couple of hours over that, but eventually he had powered up his laptop and continued his research during the drive, and by the time they arrived in Brookings he was pretty sure they were dealing with your basic, garden-variety ghost. The first drowning was a suicide. A lovely young thing had been left at the altar; she plunged to her death from a cliff high above the Pacific. Interestingly enough, with the exception of one woman -- all of the victims had been men. Sure enough, a few well-placed questions at the diner last evening had confirmed their suspicions. The woman was the second victim, and she was not just a woman -- she was "the other" woman, the one responsible for breaking up the marriage before the "I do"s were even uttered.
Finding the jilted bride's final resting place, salting and burning the bitch -- it was so simple it was almost routine for the Winchesters. They were back in the motel sawing logs by two in the morning, and now Sam was checking out both the local biweekly and the daily Oregonian for their next gig.
Dean reached for his glass of water and glanced at his brother, who had been studying the same page for quite some time. "Joufinesumfin?" he asked around a mouthful of sausage.
Sam grimaced and rolled his eyes. "Dude. Drink. Swallow. Speak."
Dean performed as requested, and then scowled at Sam. "I'm not a trained dog, you know. Or seal. Whatever."
Sam dimpled. "You're telling me. You are definitely not fit for human company."
Dean sneered sarcastically in his brother's direction. "Very funny," he said, then nodded at the newspaper lying on the table in front of Sam. "Whatcha got? Where we headed?"
To his surprise, Sam reddened and averted his eyes. "Do we have to leave right away?"
Dean was a little taken aback. True, they'd been moving pretty-much nonstop since his return from hell six months ago, but he'd thought they were keeping busy by unspoken agreement. Too much downtime led directly to too much time to think. His eyes narrowed and he checked Sam's face carefully for signs of illness or injury. Generally one of them had to be hurt before they took a few days off. The kid looked good, though. Maybe a little tired, but he could sleep in the car. Someone pushed into the diner then, and the fresh sea air wafted in with them. Dean finally shrugged. "You wanna have a picnic on the beach or something? I guess we could maybe take a few days."
Sam looked back at Dean with a strange mix of hope and fear. "I was thinking more like...ten," he said, gulping like a scared 9-year-old at the end.
Dean pushed away his empty plate, and frowned. "What the hell? You been hidin' something Sammy? I don't think we've ever stayed in the same place that long before -- even when one of us was hurt." His frown grew darker. "What's wrong?"
Sam rolled his eyes again and protested. "Nothing, Dean, I'm fine -- really!" He could see that Dean was not convinced, so he shoved the folded newspaper across the table and jabbed his long index finger at a small display ad in the bottom corner. "I'd like to get my teeth cleaned."
Dean's eyes widened as if Sam had said he wanted to hurtle the Impala off a cliff and let her rust in seawater. "What?" he choked, disbelieving.
Sam spoke rapidly, his voice both serious and urgent. "It's a coupon, Dean. An exam and a cleaning for 49 dollars and 99 cents. I know we'd be out the money for a week in the motel, too, and that's why I'd like to stay for ten days." He moved his finger up the page, tapping a small news article nervously. "Over 95 percent of all bulbs grown for the potted Easter lily market come from this area. The Easter lily bulbs are harvested in the fall, packed and shipped to commercial greenhouses. Farmers are hiring right now, Dean! I could work in the fields for eight or nine days..." -- he frowned himself, now, confused -- "...not sure if they work onSundays here.... Anyway, I can earn enough money to at least offset what we pay for the motel. I can make an appointment to have my teeth cleaned, say, next Tuesday morning -- and we can leave that afternoon."
Dean was glad the middle-aged waitress picked that moment to bus their table and leave the check. He really wasn't sure how to react to this latest manifestation of Sam. He leaned forward a little as the waitress left with an armload of plates. "You got a toothache?"
Sam huffed out a sigh and inched his hand back across the table, letting it fall into his lap. "No," he admitted, almost shyly. "I like my teeth. I want to take care of them. Jess always said I had a nice smile."
Dean sat back in the booth and ran a hand through his short-cropped hair. "Well, that's the dimples," he stated matter-of-factly. "I been hearing that bull about your smile for years."
To his chagrin, Sam started a whine the likes of which Dean had not heard since the kid was seven. "Dean, we never take care of ourselves, man. We don't take vitamins. We eat crap. We don't get check-ups; hell, we usually take the 'do-it-yourself' approach to home health care, even when we have good reason to see a doctor." He hit Dean with full-power wounded puppy eyes. "I haven't had my teeth cleaned since I was at Stanford, and covered under student insurance!"
"Aw, geez..." Dean started.
Sam could feel his brother weakening, and he followed up the eyes with the dimples. "We could buy another paper, D, get a second coupon -- you should have your teeth done too." His tone of voice turned to all-out wheedling. "You have a nice smile of your own. Charming, even."
This time it was Dean who rolled his eyes. "I can't believe this is what makes you ask for some time off," he complained. He reached into his pocket and threw a 20-dollar-bill on the table. "I'm not harvesting lillies, dude. Not even for your teeth."
He crawled out of the booth and headed for the door, Sam following obediently behind like the wounded and somewhat gangly puppy that he was. "No, no, Dean, I'm not saying you should. I just thought, you're always the one who brings in the money, and this is something I can do. Something legit." They were crossing the parking lot now, and headed for the small motel next to the diner. "You should take it easy this week," Sam encouraged. "Lie on the beach. Learn to surf. Recuperate..."
Dean looked at him and lifted an eyebrow. "From hell?" he asked. "You think a week of sand in my shorts will get me over hell?"
Sam had the good grace to blush. "I just thought it couldn't hurt," he mumbled. "Never mind. Go on to the office and check us out; I'll get the bags."
Dean stood silently in the parking lot for a full minute staring at Sam, waiting to see his eyes turn black or something. Finally he sighed. "Take the Impala and find your farm," he muttered. "I'm going back to bed."
So on Day One, Sam signed on as day labor at the first lily farm that offered to pay cash every Sunday, and Dean spent the day with Oprah. While he would never admit it to his brother, the time was more of a relief than he expected it to be. Once Sam called and said he would be working in the field until dusk, asking Dean to call the dentist and make the appointments, the rest of the day became stress-free. He could take a nap without a nosy little brother fretting that he was coming down with something. He could watch Dr. Phil without that same little brother asking him seriously if he "would like to talk". He could walk around the motel room completely naked and air-dry after a long and relaxing shower.
Yeah, Dean actually kind-of enjoyed Day One.
When Sam came in, he was sweaty, and dirty. He talked about working in the field all day, finding three-year-old bulbs that were the largest and most promising to survive as successful "commercials". He wondered if he would get to spend any time in the packing plant, carefully layering the softball-sized bulbs in peat moss.
Dean listened for a while, wondering if Sam would try to hand in a term paper at the end of this week, and then nodded at his little brother's grimy paws. "You know better than that," he said sternly. "Only lily-white hands touch the Impala."
Sam groaned and retreated to the shower. When he came out in a cloud of steam twenty minutes later, Dean was ready to hit the diner for dinner, but Sam said he just needed to sit down for a few minutes first. Five minutes later he was dead to the world, and when Dean couldn't easily wake him, he went to dinner by himself.
On the morning of Day Two, Dean dropped Sam off at his lily field and continued down the road to the Indian casino they had seen on their way into town. Three hours later, he was stunned to win almost three hundred dollars – on a nickel machine, for shit's sake. At first he thought that he would try to get earlier appointments, and let Sam stop working in the harvest; but then he remembered the threadbare clothes they were both wearing, and contemplated the upcoming winter. In the end, he drove into town, found a Fred Meyer®, and blew a couple of hundred on jeans, t-shirts, button-downs for Sam…even some warm socks and new underwear. The last purchase made Dean the happiest. He honestly couldn't remember the last time he'd had new boxers. Post-hell boxers.
In the afternoon he drove to the harbor and pretended he was a tourist. He ate in one of the small restaurants that looked out onto the ocean, where he counted 27 fishing boats. He roamed through the attached gift shop, where he found surprisingly inexpensive fleece jackets for both himself and Sam. While he was waiting in line to pay for them, his mouth watered at the sight of the homemade fudge lined up behind a glass partition on the counter. He bought half-a-pound of Rocky Road and took it back to the hotel.
Sam didn't seem upset by Dean's shopping spree when he limped into the room that evening, having caught a ride back with one of the other fieldhands. On the contrary, he was almost embarrassingly touched. His eyes grew moist as he fingered his new clothes – and lingered the longest on the boxers, his mouth twitching. Dean thought it had probably been a while since Sam had new underwear himself; the occasion was so rare, Sam would not dare throw the smiley-face boxers away. He would have to wear them until they wore out, like all of their clothes.
Dean really enjoyed Day Two.
Ditto Day Three, even though, after he dropped Sam off, he lost most of the rest of his money at the casino. Then he took their new clothes and their crusty old ones to the laundromat – where he met a sweet young redhead who was hitching her way up the coast highway, a throwback to the 70s. She loved his music, and made adorable, breathy, high grunts in the back of her throat when he drove her almost through the mattress back at the motel. After, they got some fried chicken and potato salad at a deli in town, and drove down to Harris Beach State Park for a picnic. When they were done eating, they walked for hours down the sandy beach, soon leaving the other tourists behind, and held hands. It was almost…normal. Pre-hell normal, and when Dean dropped her and her backpack on the highway, he filed Day Three in his memory as a Really Good Day.
By Day Four, Dean was about as relaxed as he ever got – and Sam's hands were covered with blisters. The kid didn't complain, though. Dean made sure the diner packed him a good lunch every day, because he had yet to stay awake long enough for dinner. The honest work agreed with him, though. He seemed tired, but happy…and Dean found that the same thing was happening to him.
Over the remaining days, he sharpened the knives and packed some more salt rounds – while he was watching Days of Our Lives. He would drive to remote stretches of beach and walk for hours, or sit alone, his back leaning against a driftwood log, lulled by the sound of the relentless and endless waves into a sense of….
On Day Seven, Dean realized that with all his daytime naps and long sleep-filled nights, he had yet to have a nightmare that week. Of course, that knowledge more or less guaranteed that he would, and he was glad when he woke screaming that it had happened in the daytime, when Sam wasn't there to worry. The nightmare seemed less powerful, though. Maybe because it was still light outside when he woke up; maybe because of his week of R probably a combination of both. For the first time, Dean understood that he was waking up from a nightmare – he wasn't in hell, anymore. He began to let himself believe that he had done the best he could, for as long as he could. He thought about Castiel, and Uriel…and God, and he wondered.
He thought about Sam, his baby brother. He of the dimpled smile who wanted so badly to have his teeth cleaned. This was the same man who could stretch out his hand and bring a demon to its knees. It was an awesome and fearful power to behold, but Dean understood fully now that Sam was still his little brother. Sam's heart was still as big as it ever was, as much in the right place as it always had been. Between them, they would find a way to make this work. They had to. They had to.
On Day Nine, the brothers proudly presented their coupons to the small-town dentist and had their teeth cleaned in back-to-back appointments. Dean had gone first, and was outside leaning against the hood of the Impala when Sam came out of the office, smiled, and loped across the parking lot to join him. "Admit it," Sam gushed, his dimples nearly jumping off his face, "it feels great."
Dean ran his tongue over his teeth, feeling the fine sandy grit and still tasting the bubble-gum flavored fluoride treatment. "Yeah," he grinned back. He waggled an eyebrow. "No cavities. I'm awesome."
Sam threw his head back and laughed. "Me neither," he reported, looking at Dean with eyes that said so much more than either of them possessed the words to express, "and yeah. Yeah, you are." He dropped his eyes then and creaked open the passenger door of the Impala. He lowered himself to the seat as Dean did the same thing on the driver's side. Sam cleared his throat. "Thanks, Dean. Thanks for letting me do this."
"No problem," Dean answered, leaning forward to crank up the Zepplin – Music to Leave Town By. He slipped the car into reverse and backed out of the lot, and he wished he could thank Sammy as easily as Sammy thanked him. He wished he could make his brother understand what this week of post-hell recuperation had meant to him – but words were inadequate.
Instead he slapped Sam once on his jean-clad leg and glanced at him, grinning and raising an eyebrow. "Whaddya say?" he asked. "Indian casino? I think it's Pie Day in the restaurant."
Sam raised his voice slightly in protest. "Dean! You just had your teeth cleaned!"
Dean smacked his lips. "I know. It'll taste incredible, won't it?"
Sam dimpled, trying unsuccessfully to suppress a smile. "Do you think they have apple?"