Author's Note: When I was in grade school, I had a teacher who hailed from London and she called herself Mrs. Weatherby. Now I'm not sure if Mrs. Weatherby was her actual name (as a young McQueen I was rather suspicious of everyone around me, a Nancy Drew sort, if you will, always solving mysteries) but she always scared me so much with her self-proclaimed British charm and love of threatening young children with birthday spankings. Now, of course, most British people are perfectly lovely (except for those ones who eat the intestines of those poor sheep. They're wrong, wrong, wrong), but sometimes I just had to wonder if Mrs. Weatherby was, in fact, a demon. Or quail, if you will. I hope you enjoy this story.
The Importance of Clean Denim
by Deanie McQueen
Sam sighed heavily and resumed his attempts to rub the grass stains out of the knees of his jeans. He dunked them in the soapy water he'd filled the sink with, rubbed them together and hoped beyond hope that this time - this time - it would work.
"Dean!" he hollered.
Intellectually, he knew it was ridiculous to yell for his brother from the motel bathroom when Dean was about ten feet away at most, lounging on the closest bed and watching Franklin.
"What?" Dean asked. Sam peeked out the door. Dean's eyes were still on the screen, his finger lazily popping in and out of bottle of whiskey in his hand.
"I can't get my jeans clean."
"I don't care."
"But I can't-"
"Whining doesn't make me start caring, either."
"They were my only decent pair and now they have grass stains-"
"Still don't care."
Sam huffed. Sometimes he really wished Dean were more like him. He wished he just had a brother who would say, "God. I hate grass stains, you're right, Sam, they're the absolute worst." Dean's not that brother, though. And he'll never be that brother.
"I'm gonna go out," Sam announced, picking up Dean's razor (which was just sitting there on the bathroom counter all used and disgusting) and shoving it in his pocket. He then pulled his sopping, sudsy jeans from the sink only to hurl them at his brother's face as soon as he stepped into the main room. "Don't wait up."
"You little bitch."
Dean was up and after him in a breath, but Sam's legs were long and quick and he was out the door just as soon as he heard, "Franklin can tie his shoes and count by twos. He can zip zippers and button buttons...
Dean must be having an off night, Sam realized as he poked through the parking lot for a decent steal. Comfort TV and alcohol, that was a tried and true recipe for the temporary healing of a Dean-shaped brain. But...but. That didn't excuse the lack of compassion for the demise of Sam's one good pair of jeans - and Sam really just wanted to see what it was like, if only for a little while, to have a brother who understood the way he felt about these things.
So he called up this witch he knew.
He'd met her about a month ago, in a case that ended bad and bloody. Dean would kill him if he ever became aware of the fact that Sam kept this chick as an acquaintance, what with the merciless slaughter of bunnies and all, but Sam didn't care. Sam didn't care because Dean didn't care. Fresh, clean denim is important no matter who you are, thank you very much.
He chatted with her on the phone as he cruised the streets in his borrowed PT Cruiser. He ran his hand lovingly over her wheel, breathed in the scent of the new car smell-scented air freshener hanging from the rearview. He'd always wanted one of these babies. Sam dreamed of great things when he went off to college, you see, and these things happened to include a PT Cruiser and a really nice tie.
"So you want him to what now?" she asked for the third time and Sam slapped a hand over his face and tried not to snap out his next words.
"I want him to care about important things, Brunhilda-"
"My name is not Brunhilda."
"It's not?" Sam blinked. "Huh. Dean said it was..."
"Yeah, well your brother is a-"
"My brother is a man who needs to care about clean denim," Sam interrupted her in firm tones. "And salads. Can you do that for me?"
She said she could. Sam delivered the razor in haste, waited on shifting feet as she pried the teeny hairs from the dull blades.
"I can work with this," she said decisively.
"Good," Sam said. "Can you have it done in an hour? That's how long its going to take me to get back to the motel and I want to come home to a brother who also happens to be a somewhat respectable human being."
"Sure," she agreed. "I can have it done in an hour."
Sam thanked her and left. He took his time driving back to the motel in case she needed longer than an hour because he was really still pissed off at Dean for not caring about his grass stain crisis. He parked the car in the spot he found it in, knowing nobody had missed it while he was gone. Sam was a spectacular car thief, really. Nobody ever found him out no matter how obvious the thievery.
He stood at the motel door and took a deep breath.
"Here goes nothing," he muttered, and twisted the knob.
Dean was still sitting on the bed, just where Sam had left him. He was still staring at the TV and he was still consuming an alcoholic beverage, but instead of Nick Jr., the television was tuned into an educational program on PBS, and instead of a bottle of whiskey, Dean was downing a glass of very fine wine.
His black T-shirt, which had been sporting holes in several places, had been replaced with a nicely-pressed, crisp, white dress shirt. Coke-bottle glasses sat primly on the bridge of his straight nose.
"Dean, you look fantastic," Sam gushed.
Dean immediately pressed the power button on the remote control to switch off the television, all ears now that Sam was talking.
"Ta, Samuel," Dean said in a vaguely British accent. "I'm glad you can appreciate my manner of dress."
"I do!" Sam told him. "Dean, I really, really, do."
Dean smiled serenely and clapped his hands together. "Most excellent. Why don't you go to the bathroom?"
Now Sam was confused. He told Brunhilda to turn Dean into a gentleman, not a nanny. Sam didn't need anyone monitoring his digestive habits, you'll be pleased to know.
"Shoo," Dean said, waving a dismissive hand. "Off you go, my dear younger brother. You'll be pleasantly surprised, I promise."
Sam gulped. The last time Dean had told him there was a surprise waiting for him in the bathroom, Sam had been ten years old and annoying and Dean had been fourteen years old and very open about his grossness. Or Grossocity. Whatever you want to call the art of being gross, that's what Dean had been.
"Oh, Sam." Dean rolled his eyes and got up from the bed, gently pushed Sam into the bathroom with a hand between his shoulder blades. Sam closed his own eyes until Dean said in gentle tones, "Go on. Have a looksie."
And there, on the bathroom countertop, were Sam's jeans, neatly folded and clean as the day he bought them.
The joy was too much to handle. Sam's eyes welled with tears.
"Oh, Dean," he blubbered and turned around quick as lighting to envelope his brother in the mother of all bear hugs. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
Dean laughed a big belly laugh and patted Sam fondly on the back. "You're very welcome, Sam, anything for my adorable baby brother. And besides, clean jeans! They are a necessary and attainable standard. I wouldn't want you going without them, would I?"
"You wouldn't!" Sam sobbed into Dean's shoulder. "You wouldn't at all!"
"I wouldn't," Dean agreed. "I wouldn't at all. Now." He released Sam with a couple more pats on the back and then rubbed his hands together. "I propose we get ourselves to bed. We're going quail hunting bright and early!"
Sam blinked tears away from his lashes. "Q-quail hunting?"
Dean grinned. "Demon hunting, I meant! But I rather think I prefer to call them quails now. Sounds more pleasant, don't you think?"
"Um...sure?" Sam was so confused. What had happened to Dean? Why was he acting so, so strange?
"Sure!" Dean exclaimed, slapping Sam hard on the back.
"Now, get your nightclothes on Sam. I'll read you some Paddington Bear, if you'd like. That'll put you right out with warm thoughts in your lovely head."
Sam gaped at his brother. Dean responded by carefully laying a folded pair of pajama pants and a folded T-shirt in his arms. "Off to the bathroom with you now, Sam. Get ready, brush your teethies. Tomorrow is another big day for us in the emotionally-traumatizing world of quail-hunting."
Dean pushed him forward yet again and smacked him playfully on the ass. Sam squeaked and closed the bathroom door to the sounds of his brother humming Greensleeves out of tune.
What had he done?