Trims and Tofu
By Deanie McQueen
Dean notices as they're leaving Maryland.
It's fucking freezing in the way only the Northeast seems to manage in wintertime. The sky is nothing more than a never-ending mass of dirty white, spitting out snow or freezing rain when it pleases with absolutely no concern for vehicles of any sort. The Impala's been a bitch to drive – fishtailing and sliding all over the place – but Dean refuses to admit it. He prefers to focus on other things, instead. Like the curls escaping the edges of Sam's hat.
"You're looking kind of mangy, dude."
Sam just glares.
Dean feels a bit concerned about Sam's silence until he remembers. Oh, right. The fight.
It was stupid. Even Dean can admit that, now. But they'd had green things for dinner three days straight and it was high time meat made an appearance on the menu. Dean Winchester could not exist on salads and spinach wraps alone. It hadn't mattered, though: as soon as they'd pulled into the motel the night before, Sam bitched and whined about turning around and finding a vegan restaurant he'd seen on a map. Tired from driving, Dean wanted pizza. Meaty pizza with grease and cheese that some pimply teenager could deliver right to their door.
Words were said.
The night ended with Sam heading out to the restaurant alone, coming back with leftovers that Dean may or may not have tossed out the door when Sam said something snarky about Dean's pizza.
Sam's been quiet ever since, brooding like it will somehow magically bring back his rice-crust pizza with soy cheese and pine nuts. Privately, Dean thinks his brother is a few shades of insane. He wonders if that time he dropped Sam as a baby has anything to do with how his brother chooses food; perhaps Dean killed off the brain skills needed for good decision-making in regards to taste.
Now, Dean evaluates Sam's face in the car, attempting to judge how much longer the silent streak will last. But he gets distracted. "Seriously," he says. "When's the last time you've had a haircut?"
"Keep your eyes on the road."
Dean's shocked enough that Sam replied to swallow a retort, but he does purposefully keep his eyes on Sam's hair longer just because.
They drive like this for another hour (Dean occasionally asking questions and Sam shooting them down), until they arrive at their next hotel. There's a simple salt and burn they'll take care of tomorrow, just as soon as Bobby confirms that he's melted the ghost's ring.
Until then, Dean's left sharing a room with a huge and sulking brother. They bypass the dinner problem by going their separate ways again: Dean to the hotel's attached restaurant, Sam to grocery store down the road.
There are no leftovers.
It isn't until Sam's powered his way through his third National Geographic documentary without speaking that Dean starts to feel a bit bad. Okay, so too much salad is disgusting, but maybe Sam had a point about the dangers of constant pizza eating. The occasional Heart Health pamphlet left on Dean's pillow was overkill, but his intentions were good. Besides, Dean was capable of eating what he pleased, no matter how much Sam sang the praises of tofu.
The truth was, it kind of hurt to see Sam so miserable. Even broody miserable.
He clears his throat.
Perhaps sensing what's on the tip of Dean's tongue, Sam mutes the television, looking over with his eyebrows raised expectantly.
Damn. It's harder to say what he needs to say with such a look on Sam's face, but as a big brother, Dean must persevere. "I…with the," he starts, but he feels more and more uncomfortable as the seconds pass. "About the…I'm…" He coughs, feeling awkward, but Sam already looks a few shades happier.
"You trying to tell me something, Dean?" Sam asks, lips quirking.
"Could I give you a haircut?" Dean blurts, before he can stop himself. He knows he's supposed to be apologizing, but Sam's sitting there with his enormous sideburns and hair that's curling up at the ends and it's the only thing on Dean's mind. "Take like a minute, dude."
Dean wasn't quite aware how much Sam's hair bothers him until he's waiting for Sam to reply.
Sam eyes him with something like understanding, before sighing. He rolls his shoulders back and runs a hand through his hair a little self-consciously, studying it. "I guess it has gotten kind of long."
Thank you, Dean wants to say, but he doesn't. He tries not to sound too excited when he says, "Go take a shower."
Sam stops looking at his bangs (and his split ends, Dean would guess) to quirk an eyebrow at Dean. "Now?"
Dean gives this question an honest appraisal in his mind before coming to the conclusion that caters to his wants and needs. "Now," he confirms, and tries not to act too giddy when Sam rolls his eyes and drags his feet to his duffel, plucking out his pajama bottoms.
Before he disappears into the bathroom, Sam turns around to say, "You are way too excited for this, dude," to which Dean can only agree. He likely shouldn't be, but the thought of making Sam look less like a deranged lumberjack and more like a person is enough to make him nearly sprint to the car for a pair of scissors that will do the job.
He sets everything up while Sam's in the shower: the scissors, the razor, the towel on the floor underneath the chair. Even though he'd like to, Dean tells himself it's too creepy to wait standing with the scissors in his hand, so he makes himself sit on the bed and watch a documentary on jellyfish.
Sam surprises him, but Dean nods too quickly and points to the appropriate chair.
It's a little scary how satisfying it is to chop off the nonsense on Sam's head. Sam looks unnatural and strange with cropped hair, so Dean keeps it long, but not long enough for curls. Sam sits still and patient as Dean combs and cuts Sam's bangs into something more resembling actual bangs. Sam's hair's already starting to dry, and Dean's more than a little proud of the job he's done: transforming and taming all that unruly Sam hair into something more appropriate. The razor comes next: trimming up what Dean has always considered a blasphemous length of sideburns.
"All finished," he finally says, and Sam's fingers immediately fly up from his lap to run through his hair, running through and ruffling it.
"What's the damage?" Sam asks, and gets up to look at himself in the bathroom mirror. "You were cutting for forever."
"Not forever," Dean says, following Sam. He can't keep the pleased smile off his face when he finds Sam looking at himself, evaluating. He turns his head this way and that, fingers always tugging and messing with Dean's masterpiece. "So? Final opinion?"
Sam purses his lips like he's thinking, but Dean already knows he's won him over. There's no spitting or snarling."It's different," Sam finally says, and Dean agrees. "Haven't had this haircut in years, man. I feel younger."
"As you should."
Sam does bitch about his sideburns, but Dean's no longer listening. He's congratulating himself on a job well done.
Tomorrow, he tells himself, they'll get tofu to celebrate.