Take My Breathe Away by Impaladreams
"Come on Sleeping Beauty, time to wake up, we're home…Shake a leg, Sammy."
He grimaced as his gaze slid over the until recently gleaming windscreen, and across the hood of his newly restored, now dust covered, bug splattered, black '67 Impala. They cruised slowly past the 'Business as Usual' sign into the parking lot of the Far Horizons Motel, throaty engine rumbling low and the gravel crunching in the crisp dawn air.
He crooned to his most prized possession. "I'm sorry baby, I promise I'll make it up to you. Couple more days, we'll be back at the Roadhouse and I swear I'll give you the works, wash, wax 'n' polish, black up those tires, polish up your chrome, I know it's not been easy on you. Hell, I'll even try to get Sammy's spit stains off the window." He cast a glance over the scaffolding and boards, running the length of the single-storey building.
"You know I didn't mean to give you away to that sneaky, car-jacking, mind-bending, psychic freak." He shuddered at the memory. "Though he definitely had the right idea, maybe there's a future for Boy Wonder here if he can get a grip on this freaky, psychic, mind control gig, eh, Sam?" He glanced across the wide bench seat at the semi-prone body, sprawled awkwardly, head propped up against the window. "Chicks, cars, money, the abuse of power – it's a wonderful thing. What do you say, Sammy?" He glanced over at the tangle of arms and legs sprawled seemingly everywhere.
Sam groaned, stirring from his slumber as the change in engine sound and the rising volume of his brothers' voice penetrated the fog surrounding his consciousness. He lurched awake as Black Sabbaths' Paranoid suddenly filled the car, Dean smacking out beats on the wheel, delighted at his brothers' startled reaction.
"Gimme a break, dude." He mumbled, rearranging his limbs as he straightened in the seat, wiping the trickle of saliva from the corner of his mouth. He flinched as the forgotten cast on his right forearm clipped his lip.
"Freakin' arm, freakin' cast…itches to hell and back." He groaned, reaching out to snap off the radio, letting his head roll backwards in a vain attempt to relieve the cramps gained during five hours of uninterrupted sleep in a car too small to cater for his overly long body. He stretched, silently wondering why the only place he ever got a good sleep was whilst slouched in the front bench seat of the classic black beauty, with his big brother at the wheel.
Dean cut the engine, still smirking, as he coasted silently into an empty bay in the rear of the motels reception. Rolling his shoulders and letting his head hang low for a moment before, he reached back to rub stiff neck muscles. Eyes scrunched tight as he attempted to stifle a yawn.
"Dude, I'm beat. Two days on the road, I need more than a quick coffee stop. I'll go get us a room and we'll stay here today. It's bang smack in the middle of Nowheresville, so it might give the cops a chance to find something a little less 'Winchester' to look for. We can make tracks tonight or in the morning."
"Well, if you'd manage to keep your pants on a little more often and use your upstairs brain just once in a while, maybe we wouldn't have half the state cops on our tail."
Hurt filtered briefly across the heavily stubbled face. "Man, how was I to know she was the Sheriffs' god-daughter, it's not like she came with a warning label. She wanted me, she was looking for comfort, who am I to deny a fair maiden in distress."
A flash of a grin joined the now raised eyebrow and sparkling green eyes.
"Her only distress came from the bottom of six beers with tequila chasers. I'm surprised she stayed conscious when you left the bar. Oh god, she did stay conscious didn't she?" Sam laughed, easily ducking the open palm aimed at the back of his head.
"She was most definitely, very conscious… conscious and extremely acrobatic, not to mention flexible. In fact she…"
"Enough dude!" Sam interrupted, "Way too much information, way too early." Shaking his head in mock disbelief, hiding the relief he'd felt seeing his brothers' return to form. The recent loss of their father had weighed heavily on both of them but Dean had been filled with more than just the pain of loss, Sam knew he blamed himself completely for their fathers' death.
The comforting screech of the car door opening was matched by leather creaking against leather as Dean stepped from the car, chuckling to himself and pulling his worn wallet from the back pocket of his mud-splattered jeans.
"It'll give you a chance to do the laundry this afternoon," he shot over his shoulder, "while I go earn us some money. We passed a Pool Hall a couple of blocks back on the way in."
Sam huffed as he pulled at his jacket. Then raked his fingers wearily through his long, dark bangs, pushing them back from his eyes and massaging his head slowly.
'That first shower is so mine.' He thought, smiling to himself as he watched his big brother stumble and miss his footing on the low step up to the office, betraying his tiredness.
Dean shot a quick look back over his shoulder, trying to determine whether his younger brother had caught the trip. Sam smirked and waved, "Smooth, dude." he mouthed to his retreating back, laughing softly as he received the expected one fingered salute.
He groped clumsily into the doors' side pocket, fumbling for the single chopstick he had grown so attached to over the last few weeks, inserting it into the top end of his plaster cast and squirming as he tried to reach the elusive spot he could never quite scratch to his entire satisfaction.
He was still engrossed in ministering to his arm as the car door creaked open.
"We're down the end at the back, number 29. Leave your arm alone, Sammy, you'll scratch it and it'll get infected." He grinned, "The lovely Muriel has given us an upgrade, due to the work going on up front. Something about the 'Hunters' Lodge'"
Sam rolled his eyes, placing the wooden comforter into his inside pocket, the big engine sparking to life as the low roar split the early morning silence. Dean manoeuvred the big car out into the back lot, pulling up outside their room.
"Home, sweet home" he muttered, rolling wearily from the car. "Come on, Sam, I call first shower." He staked his claim as he made his way to the rear of the car, opening the trunk and hauling two bulging grips out onto the dusty gravel, reaching further in for the smaller holdall containing their small arsenal, complete with enormous salt canister and several flasks of Holy Water.
"I got the bags, open the door." He flipped the keys through the air and Sam's long fingers flashed, plucking the carved wooden fob from the air mid-flight. He fumbled, left-handed with the door lock, clutching his battered laptop under his broken right arm.
The familiar creak and thud of the trunk lid closing, followed by the steady crunch of gravel under heavy footsteps, told him his brother was not far behind. The lock reluctantly turned and the door swung inwards to reveal a large, dimly lit room, little of the bright daylight filtered through the thick curtains hanging limply across the large windows and Sam groped for the switch.
Sudden light flooded the room revealing the two queen-size beds, separated by a low-level cupboard; two wicker chairs sitting either side of a round glass topped table, and a long, low drawer unit topped by a small television and coffee machine. Sam blinked as he took in the scene before him, glancing back over his shoulder, trying to catch his brothers' reaction to the reams of ruched lace and ribbon that awaited them.
"Did you say 'Hunter's Lodge'? This looks more like the 'Barbie Suite' to me, dude! Did you pay extra for this upgrade? Cause it's not really working for me!" Sam failed to hide his grin.
He entered, turning slowly, eyebrows arching in the middle as his face registered amazement and wrinkling his nose as he entered the cloud of lavender scented air that failed to entirely mask the strong smell of fresh paint that lay in ambush just beyond the doorway.
Dean shouldered the bags through the door, blinking his eyes against the pastel pink and white vista that lay before him, gagging as the heavily scented air engulfed him.
"Jeez Sammy, open the windows, this place reeks." He hauled his holdall wearily onto the bed nearest the door and threw his brothers' grip, which landed atop the matching bed.
His eyes tracked around the room, surveying with horror the pink walls sporting delicate cross-stitches nestled into white lace frames, setting the scheme for the entire room. White lace, overlaying pink nylon flowed over the wide beds, with matching headboards, alternately topped by pink then white ribbons. The newly painted white ceiling hosted the large, fish bowl shaped lace and tasselled centre light. Lace doilies and runners covered the tabletops, looking down he observed his dusty black Cat boots submerged in the deep pink shag pile.
"They must'a hired the set designer from 'Sweet Valley High' then whacked 'em out on hallucinogens to come up with this." He shook his head. "Man this sucks, big time."
The closing of the bathroom door brought him back to his senses and he heard the low ring of his brothers' laughter as the bolt slid into place. "Dude, I called first shower." He huffed indignantly, recognising defeat even as the words left his mouth.
"Yeah, but you should know by now that possession is nine tenths of the law… and I so possess this bathroom. You shouldn't be such a drama queen over such a pretty, color scheme… Maybe Barbie's' big in these parts!" Sams' laughter was drowned out as the sound of water running, and the hum of the extractor fan whirred its way to life.
"Barbie's big in all the Right Parts." Dean called back, a lewd grin creeping over his face as he was momentarily distracted.
"Don't use all the hot water," He hollered, snapping back, glowering menacingly at the impassive white door blocking him from his long awaited shower.
"Don't go getting your cast wet again. In fact, come out and I'll cover it up with a plastic bag for you." He tried one final time to extricate his brother from the alpha shower position.
His brother's muffled laughter rose above the running water. "Nah. Thanks but I got it covered. Nice try though."
"Yeah, bite me!" Dean mumbled as he shrugged off his jacket and shirt and rolled his neck, wincing at the cracks that followed his movements. The smell of lavender and paint was overpowering. He moved to the window and propped it open, again pulling the curtains to and noting with renewed horror the heavy, dusky pink cotton with lacy overlay. He stepped back wiping his hands on his worn jeans to remove the rough feel of the nylon lace.
Moving back to the bed he opened the shoulder grip, pulling out the huge, razor sharp Bowie knife, testing the blade almost unconsciously with his thumb, and lovingly placed it under his pillow. The salt canister followed as he automatically ran lines along the windows and door, a ritual drilled into him by his dad for as long as he could remember.
That simple act opened up the floodgates as thoughts of his father rushed in, a jumble of memories, jostling for position. A wave of weariness passed over him and he sat heavily on the bed, dropping his head into his hands as he slumped, resting his elbows on his knees, fingers knotted in his short, spiky, light brown hair. A shudder ran through him as he sucked in deep breaths, trying to stem the tide of emotion that threatened to engulf him.
"Not now, please, not now" he silently begged, as hot tears sprang unbidden to his eyes. "I gotta keep my game face on, I can't do this now." The lump in his throat made it difficult to breathe, harder to swallow.
"Suck it up, soldier." The familiar words echoed through the memories, and they instantly grounded him. He almost jumped to attention, feeling the bands of panic recede, losing their hold on him, and his crumbling walls strengthened as he falteringly regained control. His fathers' words were still able to pull him back from the edge.
He sat shaking, no longer fighting so hard for breath as his heartbeat gradually slowed, willing Sam to stay longer, to use all the hot water, needing the time to pull it all back together and to cover his tracks. He felt so tired. Once he'd slept like the dead, Sam the one having nightmares, tossing and turning all night long, but not now. Nighttime and sleep had become his personal enemy.
"Jeez, I must be watching too much friggin' Oprah." He threw the salt canister back into the bag and settled down to clean the weapons resting inside. Grabbing a T-shirt from his grip, he scrubbed it roughly across his eyes. Then he looked up and was vaguely shocked by the image reflected back at him from the full-length, lace-trimmed mirror set on the wall beside the bathroom door. Red-rimmed eyes, stared back at him from sunken sockets and dark smudges betrayed his need for sleep. He watched as his hand reached up to scratch at the two-day stubble darkening his lower face, then the hand coursed up to his forehead, gingerly prodding the tender bruise that stood out against his too pale skin.
His mouth opened as he ran his tongue lightly over the split upper lip, another parting gift from his most recent bar fight. A small smile flickered across his worn face, "Just for a while it'd be nice to live a life that wasn't totally buckets of crazy."
He tracked the hand as it moved to massage the back of his neck, "Then again, what'd be the fun in that." His eyebrow raised in salute. He was back, the walls firmly in position, ready to face Sam again; ready to fulfil his role of 'awesome big brother' who could right all wrongs and keep the bad things at bay. 'Yeah, like who am I trying to kid, I did a real bang up job looking after dad.' He snarled, angrily pushing the thoughts away, unwilling to return to the forbidden planet of his emotions.
The low rush of running water stopped and the sound of Sam towelling himself off brought Dean to his feet. Cleaning the weapons could wait, maybe he wasn't quite ready to face Sam yet.
"Dude, I got no clean clothes, Muriel, up in reception said there's a laundry room two doors along. I'm gonna throw in a load now, s'take your time."
He reached into his front pocket, pulling out a handful of change and calling loudly. "Sammy, you hear me? I'm gonna put some laundry on, I got no clean clothes."
The swish of the shower curtain pulling back was interrupted by a thud, a crash, a yelp and then a string of curses. "Goddamn it all to hell 'n back, son-of-a-bitchin'-freakin' arm."
"Sammy, you okay? Answer me Sam, what happened?" Deans' voice rose a level. "You don't answer I'll have to knock this friggin' door down and there goes another damage deposit. Sammy?"
The voice sounded grumpily through the door. "I'm okay, Dean, I just tripped getting outta the shower and knocked my arm is all, just gimme a minute, I'm okay."
"Lemme take a look at your arm, Sam, how hard did you fall?"
"Dude I'm okay, just gimme a minute here okay. A little personal space wouldn't go amiss!" A soft groan accompanied the shuffle as Sam hauled himself up from the floor; the rustle of the shower curtain moving did nothing to conceal the gasp of pain from behind the door.
Dean waited, poised like a guard dog, and determined to see proof that his brother was unharmed. Another muffled curse was followed by the scrape of the bolt pulling back and the door swung open to reveal a very wet Sam, with a blood stained towel wrapped around his waist and holding his injured, still plastic-bag-wrapped right arm across his stomach. His left hand clutched a smaller blood stained hand towel to his forehead.
"It's nothing," he glared, "There's lots of blood cause I cut my head and was soaking wet so it spread, but I'm okay." He tried to pull out of his brothers' reach. Dean had other ideas, having slipped into full-on big brother mode.
"Sit on the bed, Sam, I'm going nowhere till I get a look at your head. How hard did you hit your arm?"
"I told you I'm alright. I just jarred my arm against the bath and caught my head on the sink. I slipped, grabbed the curtain and fell out the bath, that's it, that's all." He huffed angrily.
"Don't go getting' all prissy with me princess, I didn't push you. Here let me take a look." He reached in and gently prised the towel away from his brothers shaking hand. "Sit still, Sam," he used a corner of the towel to carefully wipe the still dripping hair away from the head wound. "Sorry man," he muttered quietly, catching the wince of pain his brother tried to conceal.
"Well," he ground out after several long moments. "I think you'll get away without stitches, keep that towel pressed up there while I get the first aid kit." He turned towards the shoulder bag, rummaging amongst the weapons for the large first aid pack. "Then I'll take a look at your arm. I guess I can add the blood stained towels to the laundry pile."
Dean plucked the sterile dressing from the kit and unwrapped it, placing it gently over the small but deep cut, taping it securely into place. "Where'd ya hit it?" he asked as he held out his hands to inspect the plastic wrapped limb.
"I just bent it back a little when I landed, is all." Sam said in a small voice, "It just aches, look I can still move my fingers." His face crumpled in pain as he tried to prove his point. A trail of water dripped from the wet plastic to further dilute the bloodstains on the once white towel that wrapped his lower body as he presented his arm for inspection. "Okay so I can't move them too much, but then I couldn't before either."
Dean sighed as he gently peeled the dripping plastic bag back from the grimy cast, from beneath his long lashes he silently observed his brother for signs of pain. He carefully examined the protruding fingers for any fresh swelling.
"There's not much I can do with it, Sam…I could gettcha some ice but I don't think it'd work with the cast, dude. I guess, keep it still and up high and we'll check it for swelling later." He paused. "Look, just get changed outta those wet towels and stay in bed, I'm gonna throw the washing on and then I'll swing by the 7/11, 'n pick us up some coffee and breakfast. Then, I'm having the worlds longest shower but unlike you, I won't be practising my High School Musical dance moves when I get out." He moved away from Sams' long reach, grinning.
"Quit being a mother hen, dude, I'm okay, I'm getting up." Sam reached out to his holdall, struggling one-handed with the zip. Silently, Dean pulled the zip tight.
"Sure you're fine, Sam." He stated with eyebrow arched. "Look, why don't you just take it easy this morning and feed your inner geek. Check out the net. See if you can find out what's got Ellen all fired up, why she wants to see us? Free airtime's part of the upgrade." He laughed, as Sam reached for the laptop. "Maybe I could give you my login for 'Red Hot Mexican Mamas.' Mind you, that definitely won't help the swelling go down!" His eyebrows danced suggestively as Sam shot him daggers.
He lowered his head in resignation, "There's just no hope for you, Dean. Gutter level the whole time, Jerk!"
Dean moved the laptop out of his brothers' reach, smirking. "Bitch! Get out of those wet towels first okay. Man, you are such a geek." He shook his head as Sam resumed his search through the bag, eventually coming up with clean white T-shirt and boxers.
"That's the last of my clean clothes, I gotta get some washing done too." Sam drawled.
It was Deans' turn to roll his eyes, "Nah, give it here, I'll throw a couple of loads on, you can do it for the next month…You don't think it a little extreme, throwing yourself outta the bath, just to avoid your turn doing the laundry?" He laughed, dodging the balled socks that flew toward his head.
He caught another glimpse of himself in the mirror, rubbing at tired eyes, 'Oh, that shower's so calling my name.' He paused to pull the sawn off shotgun from the weapons cache, automatically breaking it and feeding two salt-filled rounds down the barrels. He stuffed another couple into his grubby jeans pocket and slipped the shotgun into the grip alongside his dirty clothes, hoisting it over one shoulder and reaching for Sams' bag with his free hand.
"Better safe than sorry, Sammy." He smiled at Sam's questioning brow. "Man, everything I own needs washing, I'm thinking of re-enacting that old Levis' advert in the laundry room. I'll just strip me down to my boxers and throw everything else in the tubs!" He flashed a grin at Sam's look of abject horror.
"Dude, that image is so not working for me! You don't think you might stand out from the crowd just a little when you go for the coffee and donuts?" Sam queried.
"I always stand out from the crowd, Sammy, I thought you would have noticed that by now." He preened, "If you hear the shotgun, come running…I'll be back later." He called over his shoulder, eyeing the room with extreme distaste before glancing down carefully stepping over the salt line.
He pulled the door to behind him and sucked in a deep lungful of the crisp, early morning air, glad to be free of the cloying lavender and paint cocktail, and glanced lovingly at his weathered beauty as she sat, patiently, waiting to be called upon.
He gently patted the streamlined hood, pausing as he felt the last of the heat dissipate from the engine and shivered as the chilled air penetrated his creased T-shirt sending gooseflesh rising along his arms.
As recent memories replayed in his head his eyes grew distant; the warm sun beating down on his sweat-soaked neck, the weight of the iron pry bar heavy against his work gloves, the rising feelings of anguish and loss. The real physical pain as he felt his heart crushed, again and again as Sams words shattered his walls, needlessly telling him he was not okay. He knew he was not okay; he was so far from okay that nothing would ever be okay again!
Dad was gone and he wasn't coming back; his rock, his anchor, his protector. Sacrificed to bring him back from a place he should never have come back from.
He screwed his eyes shut, trying desperately to stop the memories, his face turned up as his breath became hitching gasps. He recognised again the moment the pain had become unbearable, like a release valve finally blowing, the pry bar crashed down onto the trunk of his beloved Impala, again and again the blows rained down, smashing, scarring, denting, tearing. Through it all she sat patiently, waiting, soaking up his pain until he crumpled exhausted to his knees, silent sobs wracking his weary frame.
"God, I miss you so bad, Dad." The words slipped quietly from between his lips as he came back to the present, lowering his head and wiping away the tears that tracked silently down his face. He felt the deep empty ache where his heart had once belonged, his misery palpable as he again clawed himself back from the abyss.
He winced, terrified at his lack of control, at his inability to suppress the emotions that continually lurked beneath the surface, waiting to be triggered at a moments notice, that left him trembling and exhausted.
'Jeez, Sammy s'posed to be the overly-sensitive, in-touch-with-his-feminine-side one, not me… I gotta get a grip, I gotta get me some sleep, that's all it is, I'm just tired.' He reasoned with himself as he re-shouldered the bags heading for the laundry room. 'Maybe I'll pick up a bottle of Jack when I get the coffee. That should get the job done!'
As the door swung shut behind him, he noted with relief the plain, white plaster walls and rust colored tile floor that betrayed no hint of either pink or lace. The room was small, cosy and warm. Three top-loaders rested against the far wall complete with plastic baskets, two huge tumble dryers, one atop the other sat imposing in the far corner. Three cream, wicker chairs were placed haphazardly in the middle of the room, loosely grouped around a low coffee table. The click and rush of the water heater flashing to life startled him, he located the source as coming from behind the white plank door in the back wall. That explained the pleasant warmth that filled the room.
He upended both grips, carefully stowing the shotgun out of sight. Sighing he dropped into the middle chair and began sorting through the two piles of dirty clothing. Whites to the right, darks to the left, he was tempted to peel off his filthy T-shirt and muddy jeans and add them to the piles but Sam was right, he might look a little conspicuous jogging through town in his boxers. He smiled at the thought, yawning wearily in the comforting warmth.
With two machines loaded he reached for the handful of change in his pocket. Carefully picking out coins for the washing powder dispenser, that sorted, he set about placing coins into the slots on the big industrial washers, pressing buttons to select the wash and start the programmes. He blinked owlishly, eyes sore, lids heavy, he yawned again and stretched, his back and neck cracking as the tense muscles slowly relaxed. Dean settled back into the chair, letting the familiar sounds of the machines working their way through their cycle flow over him, mesmerizing him with the monotonous rhythms.
He leant into the chair, sliding further down, letting his neck rest on the curved back, stretching out his long legs and crossing his booted feet at the ankles. He squirmed, finding the most comfortable position, snuggling down as tiredness got the better of him. 'Maybe I'll just rest my eyes for two minutes.' He thought to himself as he slowly lost the battle to keep his lids open. A small part of him was mildly alarmed at just how comfortable and relaxed he felt in this small room with no windows, as all his usual defences disappeared in the realms of exhaustion.