Creatures of Habit
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural. Shocker, I know, but if I did, Sam and Dean would be shirtless a helluva lot more often. But I do own Erica. Yay me!
A/N: Just so you know, I have changed the summary of this story yet again. Because? Well, let's just say that I suck balls at writing them, and I wasn't happy with the last one. Let's hope that this one will be more enticing won't we?
Oh, and I apologise in advance if the writing style has seemed to changed... I haven't written anything in a while, and over the lat two days I have devoted myself to this story more. :D It will take maybe a couple more chapters for things to get rolling. hopefully, maybe in the next one, yes?
Reviews are always welcome... I haven't been this unpopular for a while.
Chapter 2 - Small Reunion
It's instinctual that whenever something seems… off, Dean automatically jumps into action. Reaching underneath his pillow for the gun he normally had stashed there, he met a groggy Sam at the door that led to the bathroom. Why he had heard a scream from the bathroom when he was almost certain that no one else was staying in their room? He had no idea, but when the opportunity for a potential hunt presented itself, Dean was always welcome for it. Kicking in the door, a petite figure spun and raised their hands in an apologetic gesture and smiled a small grin.
"Easy, Dean! Jesus," came from the figure.
"Erica? What the hell are you doing here?" He demanded, lowering his gun. Sam relaxed his position and Erica dropped her arms. "Why are you screaming up a storm?"
She laughed shakily, and moved passed her brothers, pausing for a second by Sam and just looked up. "Damn, kid, you got tall!" Dodging Dean's questioning gaze, she giggled. Her laugh was firmer now. "Come here!"
"Hey, Eri," Sam hugged her. "How you been?" He asked, completely ignoring his own problems for the moment.
"I'm good. I ran about nineteen miles after more than likely suffering smoke inhalation. Other than that, I'm fine."
Her brothers narrowed their eyes simultaneously. "Why didn't you call us?" they asked and shared a look.
Erica rolled her eyes. "Don't forget where you both picked that up, you two." She reached into the pocket of her burnt jeans and pulled out a mangled black thing. "My phone melted. 'Sides, I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."
Dean raised a brow and flopped ungracefully back onto his bed. "Where were you that was hot enough to melt a phone?"
"House fire," she said, like it were small talk.
"We can tell," Sam said, taking in her appearance. She looked like crap. Plain and simple. Scraps of barely recognisable black fabric clung desperately at her shoulders and bust. Her jeans had become torn and rag-like jean shorts, exposing her—surprisingly—unburnt legs. Leather boots seemingly untarnished by the 'house fire'. There was some pretty extensive burns across her arms and back, and seemed to have licked at her abdomen. Lucky for her, Sam thought, she can still be vain about her facial appearance.
Then the youngest of the Winchesters pointed to her head. "I'm guessing that's why you screamed?"
Dean perked up at this, seeing where Sam was pointing. "Ah, come on. You're not serious, are you?" Erica glared at him. "The one thing that you're a girl about, and it has to be your hair."
Erica folded her arms roughly and ignored the wince when she rubbed her raw and bloody skin together. "It beats oh, my god, I broke a nail, doesn't it? I'd say it does."
"Yeah, well, whatever. If you're not gonna gimme the time of day, I'm going back to sleep. 'Night, bitch, Erica."
"Jackass," she muttered.
Sam sighed. "Whatever, jerk." He turned towards his sister. "So, you gonna stand there bleeding all night? Or do you wanna get cleaned up?"
"Honestly, I was hoping to crash, man." She slumped on the couch and had to hold her lunch down from the downright horrible stench it emanated. "On second thought, you still got that first aid kit? The one that could to have enough supplies in there to be able to run a hospital in a small country?"
Sam laughed. God, he missed her so much. Her ability to incorporate silly things into a horrible situation was outstandingly better than Dean's, and that was something hard to accomplish. He could feel the smile slowly growing further across his face. She made him feel that much happier, and he needed it, too. Everything that happened during the last few hours and with Jess…
"Yeah, it's in the Impala. I'll go get it," He said, shaking himself and the thoughts that added unnecessary years to his face.
Some creative cussing, several rolls of bandages and almost a whole bottle of ointment later, Erica leaned back against the headboard of Sam's bed and laughed. "Your medical skills haven't improved much, Nurse Ratched. But hey, they're still a helluva lot better than Dean's, lemme tell you."
Packing away the few meagre supplies they had left, Sam nodded. "Yep." He didn't laugh, not even a smirk.
What is he thinking about?
"Uh, Sam? Are you okay, man?"
Greens eyes met aqua—due to Erica's forever-switching eye colour, from blue to green to in between, they could never stay the same colour for longer than a day—and Sam almost had to look away from the intensity of her mother-like stare. "Yeah, yeah. I'm fine, all in one piece."
The older Winchester's brow furrowed. "You know that's not what I meant." Erica stared at him hard. If she looked at him hard enough for long enough she's be able to force the answer out of him, like she and Dean used to be able to do when they were kids. It was the natural order of things: older siblings 'bully' younger siblings, but as soon as someone else bullied Sam, Erica and Dean homed in on 'em like a pack of dogs.
"Look, I get that you're worried, really, I do, but I'm fine. So it's unnecessary."
"Don't feed me that bullshit. It's my job to worry about you… and Dean."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Of course. It's always rolls back to Dean doesn't it?" He stood.
Erica's eyebrows were risking making her blind. "What the Hell is that supposed to mean?" She shot out of her seat on the bed. "Are you jealous of Dean? Dude, that is so beneath you."
"I'm not jealous of Dean, Ric! I'm just saying that you care about him more than you do about m—"
"Shut up, Sam. You're talking out of your ass," Erica snapped and shot upright. "Oh, and by the way, you're the reason I'm here right now. Not Dean! Okay? You're the reason why I needed you to bandage me up just now. Hell! You're the reason why I was even at your apartment in the first place!"
The younger of the two was taken aback. "You were at my apartment?"
"Duh," she replied flopping back on the bed and wincing when it rubbed against her burns. She sighed. "I was just coming to meet up with Dean when he told me that Dad was missing, said he was gonna try to rope you in to try and find him. Bobby called and said he found a poltergeist in my area, so I detoured, told our dear brother to go on without me."
"Yeah, 'cause that turned out so well," Sam muttered, sitting next to her.
"Never mind… Uh, Dean going on without you…"
Shaking her head, she continued, "Right, anyway. Routine salt'n'burn, baby stuff. Then I got that feeling…"
"Yeah, that feeling. It hit me like a tonne of bricks this time, and I just drove."
"'Drove'?" Sam was confused.
"Yes, drove. I drove to you. I got here about six hours before you showed up," Erica said, bashful and then smiled. "Probably broke like six different state's traffic laws, too."
"And then what happened?" He asked. "After you got here?"
Erica met his eyes and looked away. "Not the time, Sammy. You won't wanna know." She looked as if she were going to cry. "It'd only disappoint you further."
Sam opened his mouth to say something and shut it again. Lightly resting a hand on his sister's un-bandaged shoulder and squeezed gently. She leaned into his touch and wiped her nose on 'her' sleeve. Really, it was Dean's. She'd stolen one of his shirts to sleep in. Her excuse when Sam offered her one of his: "I like room to move when I sleep, Sam. But that doesn't mean that I want to sleep in a sheet."
"Uh, thanks, man. I guess it's been a bit of an emotional day…" Lying down, she mumbled almost incoherently, "I think I'm just gonna crash."
"Yeah, I guess it has."
Morning rolled around, and, surprisingly, Dean woke up first. He rolled over and checked on the time, it was early for him, his eyes drifted over to his youngest sibling's sleeping, mountain-sized form on the couch and then his sister's on the single bed beside him. Now that it wasn't as dark as last night, he really took in her appearance. Burnt skin claimed her arms, where the bandages had either fallen off or were never there in the first place, and most likely a lot of her legs as well. Her face was unscarred, which is a surprise, considering the amount of her hair that burned so badly, it was like little straws of charcoal. If Dean looked hard enough, he would probably be able to see it making stains of the pillowcase. But her hair—the parts that weren't burnt—was still the very same haunting shade of blonde that she inherited from their mother.
Overall, though, she hadn't changed much in the few months that they haven't seen each other. Their father occasionally joining Dean on his own individual hunts hadn't really called for family time either, considering the non-relationship Erica had with him.
Running a hand through his hair, he stumbled his way to the bathroom to shower, deciding that it was probably best if he left his younger siblings to sleep. Erica, well, Erica looked like crap, and Sam probably felt like crap, too. Dean can't say that he's ever felt the way his brother was probably feeling right now because he's never allowed himself to get that close with someone, but he's pretty sure that Sam would want two things: Jess back, or to be left alone. Both were practically impossible.
As Dean pondered things in the shower, Erica had woken, saw her reflection in a window, and trudged out of bed. Scrambling through a duffle, she pulled out adequately sized clothes (meaning a pair of decent sweatpants and a machine shrunken t-shirt), took the keys to the Impala and put a piece of paper on Sam's forehead.
"I brought breakfast!" Erica called when she walked into their room at the In'n'Out Motel.
Dean appeared from around the corner. "Dude the next time you wanna borrow clothes, warn me? 'Cause now I have lumps on the front of my favourite ACDC shirt—and what did you do to your hair?" He started laughing. "You got a Sam haircut, man! Oh god, that's gold. Hang, let me get a camera…"
Erica frowned. She was self conscious as it was. Her hair's always been long, and now… now it was barely brushing her shoulders. Flicking her fringe out of her eyes, she walked and practically threw Dean's burger at his head before taking a seat on his bed and attempting to tie it up off of her face. Sam came out of the bathroom—his eyes red-rimmed and looked suspiciously like he'd been crying, she didn't say anything—and smiled at her.
"It's bad enough it got burned to a crisp, but taking a pair of scissors to it? Oh, my God, I've never felt so pained…" Her frown deepened as Dean snapped a photo and laughed again. "This is so not funny, bro. Do you even know how long it took to grow my hair that long? Years, Dean, years."
He smirked. "Ah, c'mon. Lighten up. It'll grow back—"
"—Not overnight!" Erica growled in frustration when her hair wouldn't obey and flopped back, moaning when her shoulder hit the bedhead.
Sam piped up, preventing the superficial argument that was surely going to follow. "Hey, I like it. If anything, it frames your eyes more than before." He smiled.
Erica peeked out from under her lashes. "Really, Sammy? You think so?"
"I know so," he replied, ignoring his brother's: "Since when did you grow ovaries, Samantha?"
Dean laughed again, looking at the picture. "Definitely gotta start keeping an album of you two's lame hair. You look like a chick version of Sam, Eri…"
She groaned again, muttering something along the lines of, "Shut up, asshole."
"No. You know she looks like a chick version of you, Dean, only with my hair," Sam corrected.
"You can both shut up now."
"Bite me, Sam."
"Knock it off!" Erica all but yelled. "I'm serious. I've been awake with you two all of ten minutes and you're already arguing." She glared at the boys: they looked away. Shaking her head, she started again, "So, anyway, I was wondering what we're gonna do today. I assume that you both don't wanna stay here for much longer. I mean I know that I must've looked pretty suspicious when I bolted from the apartment last night… So, are we taking off soon?"
Erica and Dean raised their eyebrows, looking every bit as stereotypical as twins as they could. "Sam?" They chorused.
He glanced up and then away. "I… I don't want to leave unless at least try to look for the thing that killed her. I mean… she died on the ceiling… like mum. There has to be a connection here, right?"
Erica moved to sit next to him, and wrapped her arms around her mammoth-sized brother. "Oh, Sammy…" she whispered something in his ear, something Dean couldn't hear, and continued louder, "We don't have to go just yet. Do we, Dean?"
The eldest Winchester raised a brow while chomping on his bacon cheeseburger. "Eri, I don't know…"
"Dean," she repeated firmer.
Rolling his eyes, he reluctantly agreed. "Ugh, fine. Whatever, we can stay a few extra days. Oh, and while we're at it, we're buying you clothes, sister. I don't want any more boob-shaped lumps in my shirts…"
She ignored him again. "With that being said, where are we gonna start?"
Sam looked up at her, two sets of green eyes meeting; one set with sadness, one set with deep understanding.
"We start like we always do: Where it happened." Sam looked at his brother and Dean nodded. He might not like the idea of bringing Sam any more unnecessary pain, but it's something he wanted to do—something Sam needed to do—and he couldn't deny him that.
"We start at my apartment."