Set months after Swan Song 5.22, in a hypothetical season 6. Pure fluff.
I own nothing, reviews craved. Special thanks to geminigrl11 for the beta!
Foot in Mouth Disease
"Oh, well, unfortunately, we'll be interviewing candidates all through the evening, today, but how about tomorrow night?" Dean said, throwing on his best believe-me-sweetheart-I'd-never-lie-to-you grin the girls always ate up.
"Sure," Christy smiled, shooting Dean the kind of come hither look that always worked on him. "I don't get off until seven, though."
"Well, then, how about we make it seven-thirty?"
Christy nodded and moved off, making the rounds through the other tables. She glanced up every few seconds, catching Dean's eye as he tracked her progress. A faint sigh broke their connection, though. He turned and found Sam staring at him, face outwardly neutral to anyone else, but Dean saw the definite disapproval in his eyes.
Sam shook his head slightly, a smirk forming as his eyes cut toward the roving waitress. "She's…a little young for you, isn't she?"
Dean glanced over as Christy headed for the bar with another order, then looked back at Sam with his eyebrows raised. "She's legal. I checked."
Huffing a laugh, Sam took a swig from his beer—his fifth since sitting down, Dean noted soberly, on top of the three shots of Jack—and shook his head again. "Don't y'think…don't y'think you're overcompensating a little?"
"Not following," Dean frowned.
Sam waved his hand, taking in the bar and most of its patrons. "It's just…been here three days 'n you've had dates with six diff'rent girls…"
Dean frowned. He knew the alcohol was loosening Sam's tongue. The slur was a big giveaway, there.
He knew that only a few months before, Sam had been in Hell, and the kid was still messed up from the experience. Dean had been right, Sam's time had been worse—Lucifer had made sure. And, Dean knew that their search for Adam was dragging on fruitlessly. Sam somehow, intuitively, knew that their younger brother had been freed from the Pit at the same time he was, but an exhaustive search of Cicero, Windom, and the surrounding towns had turned up nothing.
Crowley insisted Adam was out of the cage, Castiel insisted he wasn't in Heaven, but he was no where to be found, and Sam was taking that badly.
They both were.
For Dean, Lisa was another sore point. He'd tried to make it work—really—and so had she, but as much as she tried, as much as she wanted to, she hadn't been able to help with his grief after Stull. They'd just barely scratched a life together when Sam reappeared. She balked at the prospect of Dean returning to the hunting life with all its dangers, and one day—his birthday, of all days—she kicked him out.
He tried to find a compromise, some common ground—even offered to give up hunting as soon as they found Adam, but Lisa was done. He couldn't blame her, truly, but her rejection broke his heart. She'd been the one. And Ben was the best son he could ever dream of having, blood or no blood. But, it was over and Dean couldn't do anything about it.
Sam took it hard, too. He blamed himself—openly wondered if his return hadn't been the cause of the trouble. Dean had shot that down immediately. He had his problems, and maybe he hadn't handled things correctly with her, but Dean would never fault Sam for returning from Hell. So, he compensated. He and Sam fell back into their old routines quickly enough, and Dean turned chasing tail into an art form.
Which was the cause of the current tension between them. Sam was a prude—and a Boy Scout, and prone to over-thinking everything—on his best day, and his time in Hell had turned those qualities up to eleven. Everything, his OCD, his moodiness, his bouts of depression—Sam had come back wrecked. It wasn't his fault; it just happened that way. His latest obsession was Dean and his extracurricular activities.
Sam's alcohol consumption was also up since coming back, and that made him talkative. Until he inevitably passed out, anyway. Then the nightmares would start.
Dean knew all that, but his little brother's constant judgments of late were starting to get on his nerves. They'd been discussing Dean's social life all week. He forced himself to stay calm. "I don't see any harm in a little shore leave, now and then."
Or permanent shore leave. Whatever.
"Of course not," Sam agreed quietly. "And I know y'miss Lisa, but…dude. You can't fill that hole with ev'ry barmaid you r-randomly bump into—"
"I mean, r-really, Dean," Sam continued, on a roll now. Dean bit his lip to keep from snapping. "She's gone. It sucks, I know, but…come on, that girl is barely out of high school—"
"Sam, stop it —" Dean was going to bite through his tongue. His brother meant well, but he was picking at a scab that Dean would just as soon keep covered up. His brother was also drunk and not driving on all wheels, but repeating that fact in his mind wasn't calming Dean down.
"Just—just…" Sam was rambling now, ramping up into full lecture mode, probably only barely hearing himself through the alcoholic haze he was in. "Dean, I wanna help. J-just talk to me. I know Lisa hurt you, but I just wanna understand why you keep doing this to yourself—"
Dean lost it. "Well, I don't want to talk about it! Maybe you can understand that! Maybe when you lose the love of your life then you'll understand, Sam!"
Even as the angry words tumbled out of his mouth, warning bells were going off in the back of Dean's brain. Wrong thing to say. No, no, no! Stupid, stupid, stupid!
The warning came too late, and even as Dean snapped his mouth shut in horror at his own misspoken words, Sam's eyes darkened dangerously. He sat up straight, mouth hanging slightly open, then shoved himself away from the table wordlessly and started stalking toward the door. Dean cursed under his breath.
"Sam! Wait, I didn't mean—"
The slam of the heavy wooden door cut him off. Dean knew better than that. Knew what losing Jessica had done to Sam, how every revelation in the years following had just made it all worse, how finding out about that guy Brady's meddling had tormented his brother. He punched the tabletop, so angry at himself he wanted to scream. "Damn it!"
They finished the job quickly enough. What they'd thought might have been a revenant had simply been an angry spirit—a little girl, sadly enough . They'd found her remains and put her to rest in almost record time.
Finishing the job, however, left a much bigger elephant in the room. Sam hadn't said two words to Dean all day. He was hung-over, badly, and a bit sluggish, but the ghost hadn't put up much of a fight, and after returning to the motel, Sam had simply resumed his search for Adam, morbidly scanning through reports of John Does and police records from the surrounding states. Dean sat on the bed furthest away, stealing glances when he was sure Sam wasn't looking.
The silence in the room was smothering him, but Dean didn't know what to say. "I'm sorry" was right on the tip of his tongue, but every time he tried to say it, one look at Sam's stony profile and the sound of his fingers furiously nailing the keyboard made Dean's throat close up.
Apologies weren't the easiest thing for any Winchester to do. Usually, it worked better over the phone, or from another room, or anything except a face to face conversation. Sam's volatile moods over the past few months made it harder. Dean had never been afraid of Sam—even at the height of the demon blood debacle or possession by Lucifer—but looking at that furious, hurt, face made Dean want to hide under the Impala.
In his life, Dean never would have thrown Jess' death back at Sam. He remembered all too well what the aftermath had been like. Knowing that in the Pit, the demons had tortured Sam with that memory, forcing him to relive it just to make him suffer, over and over for months on end. Dean still couldn't believe he'd said it, angry or not, frustrated or not.
Dean blinked, jarred from his thoughts by Sam's sudden statement. The kid hadn't even looked at him all day, not even when Dean had placed lunch in front of him that afternoon. The abrupt declaration caught him by surprise. "What?"
"Christy, seven-thirty," Sam said quietly, curtly, not taking his eyes off the laptop. His fingers kept moving while he spoke.
"Oh." Looking at his watch, Dean nodded. He shook the surprise off, wiping the ridiculous oh look off his face.
Sensing a miniscule thinning of his brother's dark cloud, Dean turned to look at him. No change in how he was seated, eyes still on the screen. Maybe….
Sam didn't answer.
"You know, uh, I was thinking about something," Dean started slowly, hoping he wasn't in a minefield. "About a month after—well, after. You know, after I moved in with Lisa. Her car started making this noise, sputtering, all that…."
Sam still wasn't looking at him, but his fingers had stopped pounding the keys.
"She was convinced it was one of the little wire thingies that came out of the sparkplugs—those were her exact words, 'little wire thingies.' I said, no. No, no, no, it wasn't that. Trust me, Lis, I know cars, and the sparkplug wires are fine. She said, 'Dean, listen, I've had to fix this problem before.' And, I said something about her crappy taste environmentally friendly, foreign cars. Just—I was just in bad mood. Didn't like that she was challenging my—you know. Cars are my thing. Always have been. And, I guess I'd been thinking about you that day, how you didn't know an alternator from a distributor cap…."
Sam let out a soft, indignant snort at that. Progress. Dean smiled, lost in the memory.
"She didn't let up. We went around and around over it, and, finally I just…lost it. I yelled at her. It just poured out. I told her she didn't know what she was talking about. They weren't 'wire thingies,' to start with and she was just being a girl about the whole thing…I don't know why she didn't clock me right there. I deserved it. I jumped all over her because of that stupid— She was so mad…I slept on the couch for a week."
When Dean looked up, Sam still wasn't looking at him, but his eyes had moved off the screen and were focused on the carpet between them. When he spoke, it was hesitant.
"I guess—I'm sure Lisa had to handle that stuff by herself a lot. Being a single mom and all."
Dean cleared his throat. "My, uh…my point is…sometimes I stick my foot in my mouth. You already know that, I guess. And, sometimes, I get upset and I say things that I don't mean. Things that I would never…ever, mean."
Sam finally met his gaze, his features softened a bit. A frown tugged at his mouth. "Maybe…maybe you were just tired of being argued with all the time. Maybe, she should have known when to quit. Maybe…she should have stopped at the fourth beer and just kept her mouth shut."
Dean nodded slowly. "Yeah." When Sam fell silent, a small smile spread across Dean's face. "And, maybe, she's been through a lot the last few months, and I should have thought about that before flying off the handle like an idiot."
Sam smiled briefly, eyes dropping to the tabletop. Dean knew that he was getting lost in his own, much darker memories. Dean felt a new pang of regret; his own first few months out of Hell had been rocky, and he should have remembered that.
His brother had left himself open for it, though. Dean couldn't resist. "You, uh, you have any luck with that stuff, Samantha?" Dean asked, pointing to the laptop.
Sam accepted the change of subject easily.
"No. Nothing. I've checked six states already. Adam hasn't shown up on anybody's radar."
Dean nodded. "Well, that's a good thing, really. Means he's alive."
Sam shrugged, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Maybe."
"We'll find him, Sam." Dean tried to feel the confidence he spoke with.
They fell silent again; Sam fidgeting with the computer, Dean drumming his fingers on the comforter.
"Why'd you cancel?" Sam murmured, suddenly.
"Oh," Dean shrugged. "I, uh, thought maybe we could take the night off. You've been at that all day, you need to take a break. We can order a pizza or something. Hey, Casa Erotica's on Pay-Per-View tonight. Number Two. Your favorite."
That made Sam frown, again. He turned back to Dean, raising his eyebrows. "You…want us to order pizza, and then watch porn together?"
Dean opened his mouth, then snapped it shut, horrified by his gaffe. "Um— I, uh— M-maybe just the pizza?"
"Yeah," Sam agreed quickly, but a grin was forming on his face as Dean scrambled to get his phone.
He was looking for the number when Sam spoke again, serious. "You should call her."
Dean glanced over his shoulder. "Who? Christy? Nah, that'd be awkward. I just canceled two hours ago."
"I meant Lisa."
Pausing for a long moment, Dean bit his lip, then held up the phone. "Extra large, okay? All the way?"
Sam smiled sadly, but just nodded. "Sure."
The man at the pizza place put him on hold, and Dean turned to Sam again. "Oh, and, can we not tell anybody about the— You know, the porn idea?"
That garnered a laugh, the first bona fide, non-alcohol-tinged laugh he'd heard in weeks. "Just order the pizza, Dean."
Dodging a balled up sock, Dean started the order.