Sam stared stupidly at the case of food before him. There was a sad selection of pre-made sandwiches wilting in their shiny, plastic cases [GREAT FOR WATCHING THE GAME! - the sign proclaimed complete with a hand-drawn football where the "o" should be], but all that was left was some chicken salad on a whole grain bun and some sad looking roast beef on mystery bread. The handful of frozen burritos that were still in the display case showed some serious signs of freezer burn and Sam wasn't sure how trustworthy the ancient microwave was for cooking them although the sign announced it was [HOT! HOT! HOT!].
Sam knew the decision of sandwich versus burrito should not be so difficult, particularly since Dean was not a picky eater and in no condition to argue, but somehow the weight of it had frozen Sam in his tracks. Both choices seemed so wrong, especially on Thanksgiving. Sam heaved a heavy sigh and nearly jumped out of his skin when a familiar, I-know-more-than-you-do voice by his elbow asked, "Didn't I tell you boys not to be strangers?"
Somewhat distressed that his guard was so low and that anyone had managed to get that close without him noticing, Sam whirled to face the tiny, African-American psychic at his elbow. "Missouri?"
"Close your mouth, Sam," she directed, "you'll catch flies that way." Though her words were somewhat harsh, her eyes were kind and filled with welcome.
"Missouri," Sam repeated less as a question and more as a confirmation. "What are you doing here?"
"Even a psychic can forget the cranberries on Thanksgiving, Sam." She gave a small, self-depreciating shrug. Then her expression changed to one of sorrow and empathy. After an almost unnoticeable hesitation she reached out to take Sam's hand in her own. "I'm so sorry about your daddy."
Sam had no time to register Missouri's sincere sympathy or his reaction to it. Even as she was speaking and Sam tried to pull his hand away, her expression changed once again. "Where's your brother?" Although Sam was certain Missouri knew the shape that Dean was in through the brief moment of contact she'd just initiated, he still didn't want her to see him and made a futile attempt to block her exit. Instead of being diverted, Missouri linked her arm through Sam's and steered the both of them toward the door. Too late Sam realized that he had no food in hand.
"Don't you worry about that, honey." Missouri reassured him as she patted his arm, "You boys will have Thanksgiving with me."
Walking out to the parking lot, Missouri paused by the Impala's passenger side door. Sam tried to look at Dean objectively, the way anyone walking by the car might if they just shifted their gaze to see who was sitting there. Where Sam could look at Dean and see the catalogue of his injuries equating to "he's a mess but I don't need to take him to the hospital", suddenly imagining Dean through Missouri's eyes made him look a hell of a lot worse.
The fact that they could get so close to the car without Dean noticing was an indication that he, like Sam, was worn out and probably due for a rest. The right side of Dean's face leaning against the Impala's passenger side window wasn't so bad, just a split lip, but he was sporting an impressive set of bruises around his throat from being choked; and the worst of the beating he took couldn't even be seen underneath all of his clothes.
Sam found it difficult to read Missouri's face; she seemed angry, but he couldn't be sure if it was directed at him. Sam was grateful Missouri moved along before Dean roused enough from his doze to realize he was being watched and get ornery about the situation.
"You remember how to get to my house, Sam?" Missouri called over her shoulder. "You just stay right behind me, y'hear?" Sam was surprised at the realization much later that it never occurred to him not to obey the orders Missouri was throwing around.
The drive back to Missouri's house was quick, but there was enough time for Sam to tense up in anticipation of Dean's reaction to being at the tiny psychic's home instead of a motel and the lack of something immediate to eat. Though Dean had dozed in the parking lot and on the drive to the house, he instinctively understood that a second stop meant it was time to get out of the car.
Dean had rolled himself stiffly out of the car into as much of an upright position as his abused ribcage could handle before he got a good look around and realized he was not where he expected to be. "What the hell, Sammy?"
"You watch your mouth, boy!" Missouri called as she closed her car door definitively. "Y'all come on in the house now!"
Dean blinked, unsure of what to make of the apparition. But the glare he leveled at Sam wasn't unsure at all. "Seriously, Sam?"
Sam was torn between keeping the Impala between them as a buffer and walking around to help steady Dean for the short trip into the house. He figured even in the shape Dean was in he'd be better off with a physical barrier between them. "It seemed sort of fortuitous when I bumped into her and she invited us for dinner…"
"Freaking fortuitous…right." Dean grumbled irritably, but he did head up the driveway toward the house so Sam counted that as a win.
Sam tried to keep his distance while being close enough to assist Dean if he needed it. He didn't need it, but it was a close thing; just the short walk from the car to the door winded Dean, it made Sam have second thoughts about going to the hospital. The Winchesters followed Missouri to the door she let herself in; not the front door to the parlor for customers, this was the "living" part of the house.
Missouri was there opening the door in welcome before Sam could dart ahead and hold the door for Dean. "Come on in now, be welcome!"
Dean managed to dig deep and mumble a "Thank you."
Missouri smiled widely at Sam as he followed Dean through the door. "It's so nice to have unexpected company on Thanksgiving."
"You sure you didn't see us coming?" Dean inquired archly.
"If I had I probably would've made an apple pie instead of that pumpkin," Missouri pointed toward the oven with her spoon then promptly rapped Dean's knuckled with it as he tried to pick at the crust of another pie sitting so tantalizingly on the counter. Sam let out a guffaw that he couldn't hold back as Missouri threatened, "Boy…don't you even think about it."
Dean held up his hands in mock surrender, certainly not up to challenging Missouri in her own kitchen, but Sam could see that whatever reserves Dean had used to get from the car to the house were just about gone. Dean's ability to 'play nice' and put on a happy face on the situation was tapped out; particularly since the original plan involved collapsing in some no-name motel with some pain killers and a burrito. Missouri seemed to sense that too. She imperiously handed her spoon to Sam with a "Stir that!" directive before she turned her attention to Dean to steer him out of the kitchen.
Sam laughed quietly as he followed the progress of the pair into the living room. It was just funny to watch Dean try to shrug off the attentions of the bossy psychic…and lose.
Sam shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the back of the ladder-backed chair. He breathed in deeply, enjoying the homey scents of the warm and busy kitchen. Missouri came back and forth, gathering up ice from the freezer and herbs from the cabinet to make a poultice for Dean's bruises. Every time she returned she had another job for Sam which he happily undertook.
While Sam was setting the table he realized that Missouri hadn't been back to the kitchen for a while. He was certain that he shouldn't be left in charge of such an important meal, but when he peeked around the corner to see if he could get her attention, he could see that she was completely focused on Dean.
Dean was seated at one end of the couch with his legs stretched out on the worn, flower patterned cushions. Sam was not surprised to note that his boots were off and neatly placed next to the couch; Missouri surely enforced the no-boots-on-my-furniture rule even without her spoon. It did surprise Sam to realize that Dean was soundly asleep. Even from his poor vantage place, it looked to Sam like Dean was sleeping more peacefully than he had since Dad died; like he'd put down a burden and was finally able to rest.
Missouri, on the other hand, looked troubled. Her brow was creased with concern as she sat holding the poultice on Dean's neck. Although he didn't move, Sam's presence seemed to get Missouri's attention. When her eyes met Sam's he didn't understand the knowing sadness in her gaze. She shook it off quickly and he chalked it up to her worry over Dean's injuries. With a final pat to make sure the medicines would stay in place, Missouri rose from her place next to Dean.
"Do you need another job, honey?" Missouri inquired.
"Sure." Sam responded with a gesture to the room behind him. "The table's all set."
Missouri laid a hand softly on Dean's head, but she was looking at Sam as she said, "You're a good boy, Sam. You are."
Sam just nodded and smiled, not sure how to respond. Missouri seemed to truly shake off her melancholy mood and smiled genuinely back at Sam. "We'll just let your brother rest a while." She walked over to join Sam in the doorway, and then she took his arm to lead him back into the kitchen. "While he's sleeping, I think we have plenty of time to make an apple pie."
That sounded better than burritos to Sam.