The woman behind the counter has short dark hair and too much black eyeliner and her little gold nametag says MIKE. She'd be kind of hot-- in a skinny, flat, pale sort of way-- if she weren't currently giving them both the stink-eye.

"Only singles left," she says, popping her gum, and since she's chewing with her mouth open Dean can see it's blue. "Got two with a king bed apiece, room five and room nine."

Beside him, Sam fidgets, and Dean knows he's thinking the same thing-- Too far away, too many people between us, dangerous. On the other hand...

"Maybe I can sleep in the car," he mutters, just under his breath.

"Dude," Sam says, "it's freezing out. You can't keep the heater running all night."

And no, he can't, but it's tempting to do it anyway. "Mike" is staring at them in that bored way that says she doesn't really care what they pick, she just wishes they'd hurry up so she can go back to her Fangoria magazine laying on the desk. Dean can't really blame her; it's almost midnight, and she's on desk duty in a shittastic motel off the highway just south of Waldo, Wisconsin. Dealing with a couple of whiny weirdo customers is probably the last thing she wants tonight.

Yeah, well, too freakin' bad. Dean scrubs an irritated hand over the back of his neck. "Whatever, fine, just give us--"

"One room," Sam cuts in quickly. "One room'll be fine." He gives Dean a sort of contrite look and then turns his face away.

The girl raises just one eyebrow, but all she says is, "Sure, fine. That'll be thirty bucks, gentlemen." She emphasizes gentlemen just slightly, as if it's a dirty word.

Dean grits his teeth and pays for the room with a Visa that has "Richard Maldonado" stamped across the front. He almost hopes it won't go through, just to spite her somehow.

"Mike" hands them a key on an oversized keyring that has "Wisconsin-Aire Motel" stamped on it, next to a little decal of a cow. She kind of smirks at them and says, "Enjoy your room, guys," in this obnoxious little singsong voice that makes Dean want to smack her.

"C'mon," Sam says, steering him away with one hand on his shoulder, "let's just get the stuff. I'm exhausted."

On the way out, Dean goes, "You think her name's really Mike?"

Sam ignores him, mostly, just snorting as they walk out into the icy Midwestern air. Dean winces at the wave of cold and complains, "Isn't it supposed to be Spring already?"

Sam rummages in the trunk for their duffels. "Welcome to Wisconsin, Dean. Heard we might get snow tomorrow."

"That is fucked up. Tell me again why anybody lives here?"

Sam snorts again and tosses him a heavy bag. "I don't know, Dean. Easy access to farm animals?"

Dean makes a face as they tromp down the little fake-sidewalk to room five. "Dude, you've been Googling the wrong kind of porn. You need me to share the good stuff, just ask."

Sam doesn't even try to punch him, which means he really must be tired. They push open the door and Dean flicks on the light.

He almost wishes he hadn't.

Dean's not exactly the type to be fussy about interior design, but he's pretty sure their room is an affront to the eyes of man and God. The carpeting is that sort of burnt-orange color everyone was wild about in the Seventies, and if the numerous stains and bald patches are any indication, this is the original stuff.

The bedspread is brown-- dog-poop brown. It matches the fake wood paneling perfectly. What it doesn't match is the framed print of dairy cows in a green field right over the bed. Even the bedside lamp has a cow on it, molded in chipped, dirty porcelain at the base. It has big cartoon eyes and one missing horn.

"Doesn't anybody get tired of the cow-theme around here?" Dean asks plaintively, letting his duffel slip from his shoulder and onto the floor. Okay, he gets it, there's a freakin' farm right across the highway. Do they really need to decorate every available surface in cud-chewing ruminant animal?

Sam throws him another one of those hangdog I'm sorry looks, as if he's taking the blame for the shitty motel room even though it's the only thing they've passed since taking the long way around Milwaukee. He looks so guilty that Dean kind of wants to hit him-- anything to get that stupid look off his brother's face.

So he says, "Go take a shower, man. You smell like ass."

That wipes the look right off Sam's face, because there's no room for it when that priceless scowl rises up from the Sammy-depths. "You're not too lemony-fresh yourself, Dean."

"That's the smell of manliness there, Sam. I don't blame you for being overcome."

"Really? Anyone ever tell you your manliness smells like cow crap?" And before Dean can think up a witty rejoinder Sam is stomping off into the bathroom.

He just stares at the door for a minute. Then he calls, "I do not smell like cow crap!"

But he gives his shirt a sniff anyway, just to be sure.


The hot water runs out on Dean about halfway through his turn, and the soap smells like lavender, reminding him of old ladies and funeral homes. He has to admit, though, that it's an improvement over cow crap.

Sam has the TV on when he gets out, and is scrunched up at the foot of the bed. He's about to ask why when Sam reaches out to press a button, flipping the channel manually because apparently a remote control is just too modern fancy high-tech for this place.

He shakes his head. "Anything good on?"

"Yeah," Sam says, "if you really want to watch a man in blaze orange shoot at turkeys." He flips the channel again-- fuzz, fuzz, Andy Griffith rerun, fuzz.

"Great," says Dean, pulling on a pair of sweats. "Wonderful. Bet they don't have Pay-Per-View."

Sam screws up his face like a dog smelling something bad. "Even if they did, Dean, I'm so not watching it with you right there on the other side of the bed."

"Right." Dean balls up his towel, throws it into a corner, and sighs. "So, guess we better lay down the ground rules right now."

Sam just raises his eyebrows at him.

"One," Dean says, ticking off the points on his fingers, "no cover-hogging. Two, no going over the line."

"What line?"

"The treaty line," Dean says, drawing an invisible line down the center of the bed, right between the pillows. "Each man stays on his own damn side. No sprawling, no kicking, no unnecessary touching of any kind. We clear?"

"Crystal," Sam says, and now he looks amused.

Dean ignores the look. "Three, no snoring."

"That's kinda hard to help, Dean. Being that you're asleep when it happens, and all."

He waves a hand. "It needs to be said. Finally, most important rule of all: No farting under the covers."

Sam throws back his head and laughs. "Dude, that is gross."

"'Course it's gross, that's why I mentioned it." Dean starts tugging back the covers on his side, weariness luring him down with its magnet-pull to the sheets. "Adherence to the rules is mandatory, and any infractions will be punished with extreme prejudice."

Sam is still kind of half-smiling as he flicks off the ancient TV. "Sure, Dean. Whatever you say."

"I mean it." Dean yawns so heavily his jaw cracks. "I don't cuddle, Sammy."

Sam slips under the covers, shaking his head. "Goodnight, Dean."

He's asleep before Sam even turns out the light.


Dean's not sure at first what wakes him up.

He waits for noises, movement, anything at all, hyper-alert, but there's nothing at all except for Sam's soft, even breathing right next to his ear. He remembers listening to that sound as a kid, straining his ears for it, because as long as he could hear Sammy breathing, he knew everything was okay.

It calms him now, drags him back down toward sleep. He lets out a deep breath and settles back into his brother's warmth.

That's when it hits him: Sammy is over the line.

Okay, so he's more than over the line. He's curled up so close he's practically draped over Dean, his limbs a loose sprawl, his chest pressed to Dean's back. He's like a warm living breathing blanket, and he's heavy. Dean would have to fight just to get out from under him.

He gives it a shot anyway, tries to squirm out from under his brother's arm, but he's at the edge of the bed already and there's nowhere to go but the floor. Sam makes a sleepy noise of protest and Dean freezes, praying he won't wake up.

There's a tense moment, but then Sam's breathing evens out again. He goes even looser, and if anything his weight seems to have doubled now. Dean feels slightly smothered.

Smothered and warm. Sam is like a furnace, giving off heat better than any electric blanket. The air in the room is cold, enough that the tip of Dean's nose feels chilled, but under the covers he's nice and toasty.

That's the only reason he doesn't shove Sam off, he tells himself, that and 'cause Sam would bitch like a little girl if Dean woke him up in the middle of the night just to say Get back on your side of the border. It's warm, and Sam'll probably sprawl in the other direction eventually if Dean just waits it out.

Reassured, Dean lets sleep pull him back down. Sam curls close and Dean lets him, listening to his breaths, counting the slow rhythmic beats of his brother's heart, and it's okay.

For now, everything is okay.

He just hopes Sam doesn't drool.