Title: Just For a Little While
Rating: PG-13
Dean, Sam - gen
Genre: Drama/Angst
Sometimes it's nice to define their lives by things other than demons.
Author's Note: Set some nebulous time in the future, with Dean and Sam back together again.

Dean Winchester has always been an eater. Some people – after banishing a ghost, or ganking a demon, or killing a wendigo – some people will avoid food altogether, their stomachs turning at the thought of what human flesh looks like after it's been digested, or why blood pumps more freely from some wounds compared to others.

Today it's Arizona; a small town that Dean can barely remember the name of. It's got a diner, though. Every small town has a diner like this one. Plastic tablecloths, and vinyl booths, and a dozen regulars that are there for the breakfast special every day that Dean and Sam are in town. There's a werewolf tearing up locals, and on the third night they kill it, a single silver bullet to the heart.

Dean doesn't know exactly how aware the townspeople are about what's going on, but the next morning, the waitress gives him a smile as she passes him his breakfast, and there are double the pancakes there had been yesterday, as well as an extra side of bacon.

'Maybe she just likes you,' Sam says, but then his plate arrives, and it's the same there, too.

He squirts ketchup onto his plate, the red liquid blossoming like blood on fabric. Blood is a bitch to get out, which is why they spend so much time in laundromats. The best laundromat, of course, is in a small town about a hundred miles north of Memphis, where they'd somehow managed to get almost an entire wardrobe covered in blood and guts, thanks to a series of exploding corpses.

The best pie comes from a small bakery in The Middle of Nowhere, Kansas, and Dean's pretty sure that by now, he can roughly determine where he is geographically by just how his burger is made.

'What next?' he asks Sam, as he cuts into his sausage, dipping it in the pool of ketchup.

'There are some strange deaths in Chicago – locked room, no broken windows.'

'There's a cliché I haven't heard in a while. So what do you think? Ghost? Demon? Dude that can turn himself into liquid?'

There's not much they can really figure out, without actually being in Chicago, so they pack up their gear, and check out of the motel. It's a little over a day's drive, from Arizona to Chicago, but if there's one thing that Dean and Sam are good at, aside from demon hunting, it's driving.

They never get paid for their work, but sometimes – just sometimes – it would be nice if someone would reimburse the gas.

They stop for lunch in Santa Fe (Burt's Burger Bowl has the green chile cheeseburger, which is definitely in the top ten), and keep on driving after that. Sam sleeps for a while, because they'd been up most of the night staking out their werewolf, and Dean's a little tired, but he doesn't stop driving.

Not until they reach another anonymous small town, with another diner with plastic tablecloths and vinyl booths. Variety is the spice of life, so this time around he orders pizza, with a slice of cherry pie for afterwards. It's nothing compared to the deep-dish pizza they'll get in Chicago though, the kind that's more casserole than anything, the kind you have to eat with a knife and fork. The last time he'd eaten Chicago pizza, he'd been sitting across from freaking Death, trying like hell not to crap his pants.

Dean had been four years old when his mother died, and (aside from a period of four months that he'd been living with Lisa Braeden) that's the last time he can remember having home-cooked meals on a regular basis; pot roasts, and spaghetti bolognaise and meatloaf. Back then, he'd wanted takeout for dinner every night, but that was a luxury reserved for once in a blue moon.

The motel beds aren't exactly comfortable, but that's something they're used to, along with the shower the size of a coffin, and the single ply toilet paper. Sam has his laptop open, and he's looking over the reports from Chicago.

Dean's weighing his gun in his hand, and his finger curls, as though about to squeeze the trigger. Muscle memory's a bitch. He sets the gun on the nightstand, and makes for the bathroom. After a second thought, he reconsiders, and sets it on the counter while he turns on the shower. Some people might call him paranoid, but that word is almost meaningless when applied to a hunter.

Paranoia is a lifestyle.

The next morning, it's waffles and a waitress that isn't nearly as nice as the last one. There's no ketchup this time, just maple syrup, which doesn't really look that much like blood.

It's well into the evening when they finally make it to Chicago, and because the deaths are mostly inner-city, they can't exactly stay on the outskirts of town. The room and the food are a little more expensive, but they're a little nicer, too. While Dean much prefers small towns, sometimes it's nice to slip on the complimentary bathrobe and slippers, and order from the exorbitant room service menu and pretend like they aren't here to hunt.

Just for a little while.