WARNING: Major Character Death
Should Have Known Better
The soapy dishes skid against Bobby's worn, wrinkled fingers as he immerses himself in the simple chore. Glasses, plates, mugs, pots, pans. He goes through them one by one and piles them up in the dish rack. He could have used the dishwasher, but with one person in the house, there is seldom reason to bother. Besides, he enjoys the simple process. It helps focus his mind and keeps his fingers busy, even if the arthritis in the joints did tend to slow him down these days.
Looking up, he glances through the wooden blinds and the foggy glass into the salvage yard. Old abandoned cars, rusted, broken and in pieces, continue to sit in rows across the grounds. Nearest to him is the black impala sitting almost right beneath the window. Unlike the others, it remains in one piece.
A cool draft passes through the old house and Bobby shivers.
There's a noise behind him, the sound of two sets of heavy feet crashing carelessly down the stairs. He doesn't bother turning around.
"Hey, Bobby." It's Dean's voice. It's followed by the sound of a chair scrapping along the linoleum floor and the thud of a body landing in it.
"Hey, Bobby," Sam's voice echoes. Bobby can hear him sit down too, but it's done a lot more sedately than his brother.
"Hey, boys," Bobby says quietly, still focusing on the dishes. They're his wife's dishes really. She's the one who picked them out all those years ago just after they'd married. These days even when they're clean, they never have the same shine they had when they were new. He wonders what she'd think if she saw him now, his fingers so wrinkled, his beard almost pure white.
"Do you need any help?" Sam asks.
Bobby snorts as he puts another mug in the dish rack. "I'm not an invalid, you idjit," he replies automatically.
"Honestly, Sammy. You should really know better by now," Dean says and Bobby can hear the smirk in his voice.
Bobby looks out the window again. The day's cloudy but dry. The trees are half bare and drifts of brown and red leaves have piled up between the cars. Even the impala has quite a scattering of leaves covering it. Dean will be pissed.
"I think I found us a hunt," says Dean and there's the noise of newspaper pages turning. "A couple of odd deaths in Oklahoma. It says the police are baffled."
"The police are always baffled," Sam says. More newsprint crinkles, the paper passing from one to the other. "We need to do some research first."
Bobby's mind is more focused on whether he should replace the dirty water with clean before he does the rest of the dishes. After decades as a hunter, he knows there will always be another hunt. They keep going even when you don't. Everyday, the Winchesters come down the stairs and find another hunt, another mysterious death, another omen of the supernatural.
"Then why don't you get right on that, Research Boy?" Dean says to his brother.
"Only because you won't get off your lazy ass," says Sam.
There's a minor scuffle and then the sound of footsteps leaving the room. Another set of footsteps approach Bobby and he feels a presence at his shoulder. He thinks of the leaf litter on the impala. He really should put a tarp on it, but he likes the sight of it beneath the window. Maybe tomorrow he'll give it a clean and a wax.
"You alright?" Dean asks. "You seem a bit quiet today. Not your usual crotchety self."
Finally turning around, Bobby gazes at Dean. His face looks the same as it has for the past ten years: the same spiky, blond streaked hair, the same pale face and freckles, the same green eyes. He's wearing one of his disarming smirks, but his eyes shine with concern.
"I fine," Bobby insists dismissively. "Go help your idjit brother. I'll join you when I'm done."
The smile grows, but the concern remains. Giving Bobby a light pat on the shoulder, Dean leaves without another word, his steps vanishing in the direction of the library.
Bobby shakes off a chill.
He looks back at the dishes and realizes he finished them without even noticing. He takes out the plug and lets the brown, soapy water drain. Gazing out the window again, his eyes automatically fall on the impala where it sits waiting, its wheels sinking in the dirt from where it hasn't moved in the past ten years.
He really should have known better.
Any hunter worth his shit will tell you sometimes it isn't enough to just salt and burn the bones.