Deanzilla vs. Hydros: This Time It's Very, Very Personal
Disclaimer: Don't own the show or the characters—never have, never will.
Summary: Dean slays a monster, only to become pretty monstrous himself. But Dean's not about to let a little (okay, very big) size issue stop him from kicking ass and taking names.
A/N: Don't worry, I'm still working on Cast No Shadow, but I got this idea for a plotty sort of crack!fic and it won't let me sleep until I write it. Takes place in season 4, just after Wishful Thinking, and features a very, very big and hurting Dean and a very, very concerned and bewildered Sam. Humor, angst, comfort, weirdness—all will be seen before the story's end. Enjoy! And big thanks to Katiki for being kind enough to by my guest beta on this silly tale.
Geneva, IL. Just before 11 p.m.
Baxter the Malamute has a bad habit of having to pee at the worst times—at least, by human standards. That's why Greg, Baxter's human, is hardly surprised when, just seconds after he'd shut off the light to get some sleep, he hears Baxter scratching at the door. With a groan, he gets up, lets Baxter out, and hopes that when the dog howls to be let back in, most of the guests will either be out or sound asleep. A dog with bad pee timing is something he's learned to live with. A motel full of cranky people keeping Greg up with complaint calls is something he'd rather avoid.
As Baxter bounds out to his preferred tree at the side of the property, Greg steps through the door leading from his small residence behind the motel to the front office. No point in sleeping—might as well sit at the desk until the dog gets back. He slumps into the old chair and yawns.
Baxter starts barking. Greg rubs his hand over his dark mustache and mouth, just waiting for the phone to start in. Baxter keeps barking. "What the hell, Bax…" Greg shoves off the chair, unlocks the front door of the office, and steps outside. Baxter is standing by his tree, barking at the parking lot that stretches before him and along the front of the motel.
"Quiet, Bax!" Greg calls as he walks up to him, but Baxter barks on, sounding almost insistent. "What's the matter? Something got you spooked?" Greg looks around as Baxter barks and huddles close, protecting him and seeking comfort at the same time. He sees nothing—just a few cars in the lot, no lights on in the motel save for his front office.
Then he hears it. Thud. Low and loud, somewhere out in front of him. Greg narrows his eyes and looks up the street. Nothing—not even any traffic on this late Sunday night. He's about to tell Baxter to heel when he hears it again. Thud. Thud-thud. Louder this time, and heavier; he feels the ground vibrate beneath his shoes. He looks at Baxter. Baxter keeps his eyes on something up the road.
THUD thud THUD THUD-THUD.
Greg sees an enormous blur for a split second—just before it ducks behind the Jolly Green Giant billboard across the street. A huge head pops up. Green eyes illuminated by the upward lighting of the billboard look this way and that. The head ducks back down.
THUD. Something BIG steps out into view.
THUD THUD. It steps across the street and into the motel's parking lot. Baxter gives up protection duties and hides behind Greg's legs as a 30-foot man takes a final, THUD-ing step up to the parked cars.
"Thank God, you're all right," the giant breathes, sounding relieved. Greg and Baxter watch, as transfixed as they are afraid, as the giant kneels down on one, denim-clad knee, then reaches out and lightly rubs his fingers along the roof of the classic black Chevy that's been parked there for a few days. "Don't be afraid, all right?" he tells it, stroking the car again, like he's comforting it. "I'm different, I know, but I'm still me. I'm sorry I couldn't come sooner, but I'm here now, baby. I'm here."
Greg doesn't know what's weirder—that there's a giant man in his motel's parking lot, or that the giant man is acting like a car has feelings. The giant leans in for a closer look at the car. "No one's messed with ya. Good. Sammy was going to come and get you in the morning, but I couldn't stand leaving you out here one more night. Don't need anyone taking my girl away from me."
With that, he centers his hands underneath the Chevy and lifts it up, cradling it to the grey T-shirt underneath his blue button-down as he slowly stands all the way back up. The car is about the size of a large dog in his arms, and he holds it just as carefully. "I know, it's weird for me too," he chuckles, glancing around the parking lot, "but it's not like I can fit inside right now—"
The giant sees Greg and Baxter, and his huge face immediately sets into that caught-in-the-headlights look. Greg tries to look away, not wanting to anger the thing, but he can't—it's all too bizarre. The giant, the regular clothes, the babied car, all here and now and really happening. Then the giant smiles, warm and friendly. "Evening!" he says, voice booming. Baxter whimpers, and at the same time, the giant recoils, looking around to see if anyone else heard his amped-up greeting. Once he's satisfied, his big green eyes look down at Baxter. "You know, my brother used to want a dog just like that. These people we lived next door to for a few months had one. Dad wouldn't let us—wasn't much of a dog person, y'know? 'Course, he wasn't much of a people person, either, heh." Greg just stands there, petrified. The giant nods and smiles again. "Okay then! Nice talking to you." The giant shifts his weight, then shifts the weight in his arms. His eyes grow wide and he looks at Greg, then back at the car, then Greg, car, Greg, Baxter, car.
"Shit…" The giant gives a brief, guilty smirk, looking back upon Greg again. "I know what this looks like, all right? But this is my car." Greg doesn't reply, just stares on. "No really, it is! I've been driving it as long as I've been driving. It's my birthright! My Dad gave it to me—it was his car before that." His enormous boots THUD one step closer, and Greg and Baxter shrink against the tree. The giant kneels down right in front of them, still holding the car close to his chest. "I'm not stealing it," he swears, eyes wide and earnest. "I'm protecting it. Protecting HER. You have to believe me."
Greg nods vigorously, still too scared to speak. The giant smirks again, this time self-aware. "And I'm scarin' the crap outta you. Great." He sighs as he stands back up and puts some space between his boots and the terrified human and his dog. "Sorry," he says quietly. "I'll go."
Greg comes out from under the tree as the giant looks around the area. His once friendly face now looks dejected. "I could really use a drink," he confesses to Greg, sounding both amused and sad. "Don't suppose you know a place that serves up Jack in tanker trucks?" Greg shakes his head no, and the giant nods. "Yeah. Figured it wouldn't hurt to ask..." Another small sigh and his eyes go down to the car still in his arms. "Well, come on, baby. We should get back before Sam wakes up and throws a hissy."
The giant thuds back to the street, only to stop, turn, and take a deep breath through his nose. His eyes go dreamy, and he looks back at Greg. "Is there a bakery around here? I swear I smell fresh bread."
Greg's voice rasps up. "Yes!" He clears the fear and puberty redux out of his throat, then speaks up. "Er, yeah…O'Malley's up the…" he points with his arm, "up the street."
"Know what time they open?"
"Six or seven."
The giant gives a thoughtful nod as he looks that way. "Good to know. Thanks." Then he turns and thuds away, ducking every so often behind other billboards and buildings as he goes.
Greg's knees almost give out as his body finally unfreezes. He steps away from the tree, and Baxter happily goes back to pee now that the menace is gone. Greg just looks at the spot where the car had been. How's he supposed to tell the tall guy in room 106 that his car just got stolen by a giant? How's he supposed to report it to the police, to the city…to anyone? And if he does, will the giant come back and kill him? Greg's head starts to hurt.
"Maybe it was all a dream," he says to himself. Then he feels a warm wetness on his pant leg, followed by the stench of dog piss. Greg sighs and looks down at Baxter. "Maybe not."
Chapter One: Of Swords and Sewers
Geneva, IL. Two nights ago, 9ish p.m.
The Winchester brothers have seen a lot of sewers in their lives. Not exactly something to brag about (and exactly why they never have), but the fact remains that they know what to expect. The sights (disgusting water and sludge), the smells (GOD, the smells), the instant, unclean feeling that overcomes them the moment their work boots touch that bottom rung of the manhole ladder. The sewers underneath the Chicago suburb of Geneva are no different, save for one thing: the creature they are there to hunt is one they have never faced before. And Dean couldn't be more stoked about it.
"Dude, a HYDROS!" he exclaims for the third time since they left the motel, smile brighter than the beam he keeps pointed ahead. Sam nods, keeping his eyes and flashlight on the sewer map he borrowed from the city archives. "These things are badass and friggin' rare," Dean adds. "Dad never hunted one, Bobby's only seen one once—"
"And now we get to fight it," Sam mumbles, shrugging one shoulder to lift his backpack up a little higher. "Yeah, lucky us."
The tip of a bronze sword punctures cleanly through the side of the map, and Dean flicks the paper out of Sam's hands and into his own. They shine their flashlights in each other's annoyed faces. "Careful, Sammy, or you'll kill yourself with excitement," Dean deadpans. Sam doesn't even crack a smile.
"I don't like this, Dean."
"What's not to like? We get to slay a giant, mythical water snake!"
"IF that's what this is," Sam warns. "We don't know for sure. It might just be some really lost anaconda."
Dean shrugs. "So?"
"SO, maybe someone else should handle it. Animal control or biology experts…"
"Right, so more people can die trying to fight this thing." Dean glares through Sam's bitchface. "Remember what that guy from the water department told us? He said it came out the burst water main, snacked on two of his coworkers, and when he tried to bash its brains in with a wrench, it turned into water and slipped down the drain. No snake can do that." He points the sword at Sam. "Has to be a hydros."
"And what if it is?" Sam asks, sounding tired. Dean gives him a look, eyebrows crooked with confusion, and Sam waves it off. "Forget it." Taking his map back, Sam walks on ahead. He hears Dean thrashing the air with the sword as he follows behind him. "You poke me in the ass with that thing and I'll shove it down your throat."
"Kinky," Dean replies. He joins Sam at his side again, still thrashing at nothing. "Think you could call me Strider the rest of the night?"
"Yeah, not happening." Sam puts his arm out to stop Dean from his play-fencing. "Dude, the air isn't going to fight back. Stop stabbing at it before you hit the wall and break it. That sword's ancient."
"And still sharp!" Dean notes with glee, admiring the engraved, ivory handle and the gleaming blade. "It slices, it dices, it juliennes fuglies!" Sam gives him a typical grown-up look to behave, and Dean scoffs, "You're just jealous that I get to use it to end that mother."
"And you're just overcompensating," Sam cracks back with a smirk.
They freeze as they hear metal groaning from somewhere close. They shine their flashlights to the ceiling and watch as a large pipe warps and bulges, supports popping as something oversized passes through it and past them. "How big you think it is?" Dean whispers, tracking the bulges with his beam until the pipe curves around the corner.
"Big enough," Sam whispers back. Something falls and breaks up ahead. They move down the sewer tunnel and make a right turn, emerging into a circular, central room with open water flowing into numerous drainage tunnels. Both men tuck their noses into the tops of their shirts as they switch off their flashlights; this room is well-lit by old, dusty yellow lights. Hundreds of pipes clutter the ceiling above them. Sam points out their pipe, still bearing the tell-tale bulges, and their eyes follow it to the top of one of the room's high brick walls. They hear more pipes groaning from everywhere around them. Sam looks to Dean. "Think it's on to us?"
Brick and water burst forward as a huge form crashes through the wall, knocking both men over as it dives between them and into the open sewer water. Sam rolls to the side and spies a control panel in the corner. Dean jumps back to his feet just as the creature lifts out of the water. To him, it looks like the bastard child of a Chinese dragon and that feathery dinosaur from Jurassic Park that spit poison: 20 feet long, limbless, grey-blue scales, long snout with the slit nostrils of a snake, and a big accordion of white, bat-wing-like skin behind its horned head. The accordion rolls forward like a round, zigzagging collar and rattles as the hydros opens its great mouth and screeches at them, long fangs glinting in the low light. Eyes like embers watch the humans closely, daring them to make a move.
"I'll trap it," Sam mutters, keeping otherwise very still. "You bait it."
Dean nods once. "GO."
Sam runs full tilt toward the control panel. The hydros moves to strike him, only to get the tip of its snout slashed open. It screeches in pain and surprise.
"Hey, not-so-good lookin'!" Dean shouts up at it, holding the sword at the ready. It looks down at Dean and hisses, and Dean grins back. "Let's get cookin'." He flips the sword around by its hilt. In a flash and a crash, the creature's tail flips out of the water and knocks Dean's sword from his hands. It slides well out of reach. Dean's grin fades. "Hold that thought." He dives for it, but the tail comes up and grabs him by the waist.
Sam looks up from the control panel when he hears the annoyed cry of "Saaaaam!" reverberate through the room. The hydros is playing paddle ball with his brother, batting him back and forth, up and down. "Any…time…you feel like…hurryin'…UP!" Dean yells between smackings.
"None of the switches are labeled!" Sam yells back, eyes searching over the dizzying array. He doesn't want to press the wrong one and get flooded with feces.
"DOWN!" Dean orders, and Sam ducks a half second before the huge head smashes through the control panel. Warning lights flash on overhead, sirens ring out. The giant grates begin to shut. At once the snake dives back into the water, tail still holding onto Dean. Two gunshots: Sam fires at the hydros' midsection, but the bullets pass right through it, water shooting out the other side as if he's just fired into a waterfall. The head of the hydros comes back up, and it rattles its collar and hisses at Sam.
"Bullets don't work!" Dean yells down at him in reminder, still trapped by tail muscles. "Bobby said it has to be bronze—"
The hydros snaps its tail and sends Dean into the wall. Dean falls to the floor in a knocked-out heap.
"Dean!" Sam runs for him. The hydros strikes, a blur of blue and hiss. Sam flings himself back and the fangs bite into the floor mere inches in front of him. It's stuck. The thing writhes and screams, trying to free itself, and Sam jogs past it and up to Dean as his older brother stirs.
"You all right?" Sam asks, helping him up.
"…yeah. No. Working on it." Dean shakes the remaining dizziness from his head. Around them, the grates shut completely, leaving only their tunnel as an exit. The hydros seems to realize it the same time as the guys. It tries to pull free again, sending huge cracks through the stone floor as it rocks its trapped fangs back and forth. Dean's eyes go to the smashed-up panel on the other side of the creature.
"Think there's a switch to close off the tunnel?"
Sam nods. "I saw an emergency button just before we came in." He nods at the sword not far from where they stand. "Think you can stab it in five seconds?"
The massive jaws bite through the stone at last, pieces of stone floor flying everywhere. It stretches, screeches, and plunges for the tunnel. The Winchesters move.
Dean lunges for the sword. Sam runs back toward the tunnel.
Dean grabs the sword. Sam slides under the body of the diving behemoth and into the tunnel.
Dean runs at the hydros. Sam punches the button.
The heavy tunnel barrier drops. The giant snake's head slips underneath it. Dean jumps through next to it.
The barrier pins the hydros at its middle. It lifts its head and screams. Dean thrusts the sword up and through the soft spot under the jaw, pressing high and into the brain. The hydros chokes, staring at Dean with all its fury. Dean stares right back with his as he twists the sword and pulls down, slashing its throat.
All falls quiet, save for Dean's pounding heart. He trembles with adrenaline, breathes, watches the lights in the ember eyes go out. Sam crawls out from the other side of the hydros. He looks at Dean to make sure he's all right. Dean at once breaks into a big grin.
"We have GOT to kill more things with swords," Dean tells him.
Sam gives a small laugh and shakes his head, and Dean slashes a big X into the air before holding it up, triumphant and geeky. "Face it, Sammy—I make this look good."
All at once, the wound in the hydros opens up, dumping bluish, putrid ooze onto every part of Dean until he's soaked through to the skin with monster insides. It's Sam's turn to grin. Dean points the goop-covered arm and sword at him. "Shut up." The sword disintegrates into mush, leaving Dean with a useless, ivory hilt. Sam bites down on his lip, still grinning. A different kind of hiss sounds out from the monster, and the entire form deflates as sewer water rushes out between all the scales, cleaning Dean (well, if you call a barrage of sewer water 'clean') as the fleshy parts of the monster sag. Sam loses it and laughs his ass off. Dean glares at him, hair dripping wet with remaining goop and disgusting water. Sam tries to stop laughing, but he can't. He waves his hand that he's sorry, even as he giggles and wipes the tears from his eyes. Dean turns away, boots and socks squidging as he moves.
"Just burn the thing already so I can get to my shower…"
Fifteen minutes later and what's left of the hydros is finally ablaze. It took both of them five of those minutes to drag the hydros carcass all the way in to the tunnel (the barrier plunging shut behind them), then nearly ten minutes to get the fire started. All the water in the creature made the first two attempts nearly impossible, so Dean covered the thing with the salt and woodchips Sam had brought along (Dean begrudgingly admitting that Sam's "just in case" supplies were worth it this time). Sam then doused it again with what remained of their accelerant, and whoosh, gigantic snake on an open fire. They can't leave until they make sure that every last piece of it has been burned—Bobby's specific instructions. Both of them keep eyes and ears peeled for the water department personnel who, sooner or later, are going to notice the closed doors on this part of the line. So far, so good.
Dean sits close to the fire, letting the heat dry his clothes and skin. It doesn't really work, but at least it feels good. Sam pokes the front of his boot at the area of ash directly in front of him, wincing as the odor of Burned Beastie hits his nose. "Actually smells worse than you do," he comments to Dean. Dean doesn't comment back, so Sam looks at him. Dean is leaning over and resting his head between his hands. "You okay man?"
Dean rubs his forehead as he looks back up at Sam. "I'm fine. A little dizzy." His stomach rumbles. "A lot hungry. We're getting food on the way back."
"Dean, no restaurant is going to serve two people who crawled out of the sewers."
"So drive-thru then." Dean stands up, wobbles, puts his hand out to signal to Sam that he's all right, and looks at the pile of monster ash. "That thing dead enough yet?"
They hear footsteps and walkie-talkie talk from nearby. "Better be," Sam answers, already ushering Dean down the tunnel. They break into a run when they hear the tunnel barrier lifting back up. The first 'what the hell?!' exclamations echo down to them just as they reach the manhole ladder. They make their ascent as quietly as possible, and Dean starts the car as Sam replaces the manhole cover. It's raining outside, and Sam's boot sinks into muddied ground as he opens the passenger door, throws his backpack in the back, and gets in.
Dean puts the car in drive, pauses, then puts it back in park. He reaches down to the seat lever and moves the seat back. Sits. Feels. "No, that's not right…" He moves the seat again, forward and back, resting on different clicks before he settles on one again. Sits. Feels. Frowns. "What the hell, man," Dean gripes, looking at Sam. "How many times do I have to tell you—DON'T fuck with the seat."
"Oh yeah? Then why is it all wrong?"
Sam shrugs his shoulders high, pouting his lip in an 'I don't know!' expression. "Maybe you moved it."
Dean makes a face and mimics Sam's voice in a high, girlie tone. "Why the hell would I move it?" He adjusts it again, settles back…sits…and sighs. "Still isn't right."
"Dean, we have to go—those workers in the tunnel—"
"Yeah yeah yeah…" He moves it back one more time, readjusts his mirrors, and puts the car into drive. "I know you have to move the seat when you drive, okay? I get it. You need the leg room. But move it back when you're done."
"I do!" Sam swears. "Dean, after all these years, I have your seat position memorized, all right? I ALWAYS move it back there after I drive. In fact, most of the time, I don't move the seat back at all, just so I don't have to worry about putting it back again!"
Dean ignores him, too busy moving around in his damp clothes and trying to get comfortable. Sam just shuts his eyes, too weary from their latest brush with death to argue his point any more. The car turns left at the light.
Behind them, something blue and tiny wriggles in the muddy grooves of Sam's bootprint. The rain soaks into it, and the tiny thing grows into a very small worm. The rain picks up and sweeps it away, sending it down the nearest drain and into the sewers.
They drive for a few minutes before either of them talks, both of them going over the hunt in their minds, making sure they didn't forget to do anything. Then Sam slouches down in his seat and takes a deep breath to relax—only to get a full whiff of how they, especially Dean, still smell. He coughs and puts his finger under his nose.
"Come on, it's not THAT bad," Dean grumps.
"You're right. It's worse." Sam ignores the look he gets from Dean for that and rests his head on the back of the bench seat. "Showers, beer, bed, sleep, in that order," Sam says.
"FOOD, showers, beer, bed, sleep," Dean corrects. "And you're doing a load of laundry."
Dean pulls the Impala into a KFC and heads for the drive-thru as Sam asks, "Why do I have to do the laundry when you're the one that smells like a landfill?"
Dean stops in front of the order screen and throws him a look. "Because!" is all he answers. A young male voice asks Dean what he'd like, and Dean gives Sam another look before he turns to the speaker. "Give me the biggest bucket of chicken you've got. Original recipe. Throw in a big bowl of potatoes and gravy, some slaw, a few biscuits and, uh…ooh, two of those mini apple pies for dessert." He looks at Sam. "What're you having?"
Sam snorts out a laugh, but then sees the serious look on Dean's face. "Oh! Um…I'll just have a chicken sandwich."
Dean leans back toward the speaker. "And a chicken sandwich for my brother."
The teen rattles off the order and the price, and Dean pulls ahead. Dean feels Sam staring at him, so he asks, "What?" without looking over.
Sam's too tired to argue or remind Dean that even his enormous stomach has limits. "Nothing."
Dean hands the teen some money, and the kid's face scrunches up as the stench hits him. "Dude…what the hell were you guys doing?" he asks as he hands Dean their big bag of food.
"Saving your ass and everyone else in this town by fighting a very old-school monster," Dean replies matter-of-factly. "You got honey for the biscuits?"
The teen doesn't say anything, just hands him a handful of honey packets. Dean smirks in victory and takes off. He drops the packets in the bag, and then hands the bag to Sam. The Impala peels out of the eatery's lot.
"Open the bucket." Dean feels Sam staring again, and this time he looks at him. "What? I'm hungry, let's go."
"You just had supper two hours ago."
"So? I'm hungry again."
"So hungry that you're going to forget the Chicken Rule?" Sam challenges. Dean glares at Sam's satisfied smirk. "It's your rule, Dean, not mine."
Dean grumbles a "no" as he thinks over his list of things not allowed in the car. The Chicken Rule was near the top: No eating chicken in the car unless it's in sandwich form. It's to save the interior from greasy fingerprints and keep chicken bones from falling underneath the seats—a very important rule. Sam is still smirking, Dean notes, and he relents with another grumble—this one from his stomach. Dean gives the Impala a little more gas and speeds them through a yellow light.
"You just gave up your pie."
Sam says nothing, just turns his smirk to the window.
They opt for a different motel than the one they woke up in—that one had too many cockroaches, even for them. Sam spies the vacancy sign at the Nite Lite Inn and Dean pulls into a parking space. Sam opens his door, but Dean stays where he is. Sam looks back, expecting Dean to be reaching for the food. Instead, his brother has his knuckles to his forehead, eyes shut tight.
"'m fine, Sammy," Dean murmurs in reply. "Just a headache." His stomach growls again, and he opens his eyes and looks at his little brother. "Hurry up and get a room. You're starting to look like a drumstick."
Sam frowns, Dean smirks, and Sam shuts the door. Dean waits until he sees Sam inside the front office before he hangs his head and presses his knuckles to his forehead again. His head HURTS. Pain is radiating everywhere, like his brain wants out of his skull. He's had headaches before, but never one this bad. Twice he nearly pulled over to let Sam drive, but he didn't. The last thing his brother needs right now is another reason to freak.
In the two days since the crazy wish hunt and Dean's admission about remembering his time in Hell, Sam's been looking at him differently. Dean hates it. Hates the worry in those damn puppy dog eyes, hates the pity behind them. But he hates the curiosity most of all. He knows Sam still wants details. It just makes Dean that much more determined to keep his mouth shut, because if Sam ever finds out the truth—the WHOLE truth—Sam will never look at him again. Period. And Dean would rather go back to Hell than have to face that.
So when Sam comes back outside, dangling the room key and pointing up ahead, Dean clenches his teeth, sucks it up, and puts his game face on as he steps out of the car—and thwacks his head on the frame. Sam winces as Dean staggers out, hand to the top of his head, swearing up a storm.
"How's the head?" Sam asks.
Dean scowls at the stupid question. "Fantastic. Never better." Sam starts to look pissy, so Dean waves it off. "It's fine, Sam. I'll live. You get the bags, I'll get the food." He reaches back in and gets Sam's backpack out of the backseat.
Sam stops at the blue door kitty corner to where Dean has parked—room 106. Sam unlocks the door and opens it a crack before heading back to the car, watching Dean the whole time. Dean knows it—he comes back out of the car (ducking low this time) with a biscuit in his mouth, the food bag in his hand, and Sam's backpack slung over one arm. He tosses Sam the keys. "Hurry up," Dean says through clenched-on-biscuit teeth. Sam unlocks the trunk, grabs the bags, shuts the trunk, and follows his brother into the room. Dean is sitting on the bed closest to the door, already spreading out the food containers.
"Dude, get to the sink and soap up," Sam says. "I don't want your sewer hands touching my sandwich."
Dean holds up a very dirty moist toilette cloth to his fussy brother. "Would it kill you to give me a little more credit?" Sam frowns a little. Dean chucks the wrapped-up sammitch at him. "I'll eat while you shower. Then you can eat and do a load of laundry while I shower."
"Ooh, can I starch and press your shirts just the way you like it?" Sam mocks, setting his sandwich down on the nightstand.
"I don't know, can you?" Dean puts a chicken thigh in his mouth and points to the bathroom. Sam turns on a sigh.
"Fine. But I'm only washing our clothes from today. It's your turn to do laundry, jackass."
Dean tears off some chicken and replies, "Shoulda thought of that before you laughed at me back there." He puts on a sad face. "You hurt me, Sammy. Right here." He pats at his heart and whispers, "Right through here."
Sam rolls his eyes, Dean grins and bites off more chicken, and Sam goes into the bathroom and shuts the door. He pulls the water on in the shower to let it heat up. Then he strips off his grimy clothes, grabs the complimentary shampoo and soap, and climbs inside, planning on the quickest shower possible so he can get back before Dean covers his little brother's bed with the crumbs of 11 herbs and spices.
Four minutes later, Sam emerges from the bathroom, clean and fresh and towel-wrapped. "All yours—" He pauses when he sees Dean curled up on the floor in front of his bed. Sam takes in the nearly empty container of coleslaw, the bone-filled chicken bucket, the gravy-coated bowl, and the biscuit crumbs, and nods in understanding—and a little queasiness. "Your stomach, huh?"
"No," Dean groans, sounding irritated. "My head." He shuts his eyes as he sits back up and leans against the bed. "One second I'm eating, next the room goes upside down and I'm on the floor." He cringes as another pang hits his skull. "Ungh…you got anything for headaches?"
Sam is already at his backpack, rummaging through the contents until he finds a well-traveled baggie. "I have ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, migraine-strength Tylenol…" he shakes the baggie and looks at two large pills that roll out from behind the bottles, "and two Percocet. But you probably shouldn't have those after all the crap you just ate."
Dean cracks an eye open. "You're a regular Walgreens, Sammy."
"I get a lot of headaches," Sam says quietly, handing his brother the bottle of aspirin. Dean takes it and looks closely at Sam as realization dawns.
"Still?" Dean asks. Sam shrugs off the question. "Or is it new…you know, the…the, um…" Dean puts his hand out, like Sam does when he's exorcising, then waves it around to gesture a question. Sam looks down. "Every time?" Dean asks.
"Every time," Sam admits. "Not as bad as the first few times, but yeah…still."
Dean frowns. "You didn't tell me about that."
"No, I didn't." Sam looks right at him. "Don't want you looking at me like I'm gonna break."
Dean nods and swallows three aspirin. "Yeah," he mumbles. "I get that." The two brothers trade concern and frustration, and then Sam looks at the clock and Dean looks at the bathroom.
"Get in there before you stink up the place any more," Sam tells him. Dean scowls half-heartedly, apparently still in a lot of pain, and Sam helps him stand back up.
"Laundry," Dean gruffs, trudging to the bathroom. He's walking a little crooked, Sam notes, and he follows him. He stops right by the bathroom door as he hears Dean start to undress.
"You uh…" Sam clears his throat. "Need any help?"
He gets no reply. Sam takes a breath and peeks his head around the corner, scared to find his brother on the floor and in pain. Before he sees anything, he gets two disgusting socks, damp black boxer briefs, and a pair of reeking jeans thrown in his face.
"LAUNDRY," Dean barks from beyond. Two balled up shirts come at him next, and then the door slams shut.
Sam leaves the smelly pile where it lies and goes to his bag, retrieving some fresh clothes as he dreams up revenge plans.
Dean is asleep when Sam returns from laundry detail. The TV is on mute, and there are two beer bottles on the nightstand, one half-empty, one untouched. Sam creeps past his brother's bed and sets the dry clothes over the desk and chair in the corner. Then he looks back at Dean's peaceful face, willing it to stay that way.
Maybe tonight you'll actually sleep, Sam hopes. Please, God, just once, let him have a night off.
Sam picks up the foodstuffs and carries them back outside, not wanting to wake up to the stench of chicken bones in the morning. He eases the door shut when he returns, and moves past Dean's bed—only to trip on something. His arms pinwheel as he fights to regain his balance and not crash into the floor. He manages, but only barely. Sam looks back at the culprit and finds their work boots at the end of the aisle between the beds. Sam bends down and is hit with the faint scent of soap and dirt. He smiles.
Cleaned the boots while I did the laundry. Thanks, Dean.
Grabbing both pairs, he sets them near the freshly laundered clothes so he won't trip over them again. Then he does a double take. Dean's dark brown boots look the same length as Sam's tan ones. Sam reaches for them, but stops himself. No, idiot. You're just tired. It's been a long day, and you're seeing things. Go to bed.
Sam changes into his sweats and does just that.
The next morning, Sam wakes up to the smell of chicken anyway; he never ate his sandwich. His hand gropes around on the nightstand until it finds the wrapped object. "Dean," Sam murmurs, voice as tired as the rest of him. "You want this? Otherwise I'm throwing it away."
No answer. Sam opens his eyes and looks over. Dean's bed is empty. Sam sits straight up. He feels something rustle against his neck, and he looks down and sees a note pinned to his old t-shirt. Sam rips it off and has a look.
Car wash. Back soon. -D
Sam yawns and swings his long legs out of bed. He takes a look at the clock. 8:36. Dean was up before nine on a non-hunting day. Wow. Better mark this day on my calendar. Sam yawns again and stands up. He ambles toward the bathroom and grabs the clothes from yesterday off the chair—they are freshly clean, after all. He pees, he washes up, and then he picks out the longer shirts from the shorter ones and starts to change. He pulls the grey tee over his head and starts to button the blue one and—
Wait a minute.
Sam pauses mid-button and looks down. He's wearing Dean's shirts. But Dean's shirts don't fit me. He takes the shirts off and holds them up against the flannel he wore yesterday. They're the same length—in fact, Dean's blue button-down is even a little longer. "What the hell?" He goes back to the room and his hazel eyes go down to the work boots. The dark ones are half an inch longer than the lighter brown ones. Sam goes to the bathroom and splashes water on his face.
You're seeing things. You have to be.
Then he hears the front door open. "Honey, I'm home!" Dean calls. Sam walks back out just as Dean pulls his brown shirt off. Dean sees Sam staring and throws the shirt at him. "You owe me a new shirt. You must've shrunk it last time you did the laundry." Sam just keeps staring as Dean starts tugging at his jeans. "Jeans don't feel right, either," Dean mumbles. "No breathing room, y'know?" He looks up and sees pure shock on Sam's face. "Sam?"
"Your clothes are fine, Dean," Sam says, bug-eyed stare fixed on Dean's face. "It's you. You're…"
Dean waits for Sam to spit it out, and when he doesn't, he holds his hands out. "Am I missing something here?"
"You're…you…I don't know…how…" Sam gives up trying to explain and just walks toward Dean until he's directly in front of him. Then he waits for him to see it.
Dean frowns, opens his mouth to complain about the charades game, and then sees something that's off: his view. Sam is looking him straight in the eye. At eye level, no less. Dean stands up straight on instinct, and both eyes widen as Dean gains an extra inch on his brother. Dean clears his throat.
"Okay…that's not normal."