Set in early Season 4.
When Dean and Bobby got back from the warehouse with the load of rock salt, Sam was asleep on the couch. The flash burns on the side of his face and neck looked better at least. The ice packs had slid off and Dean picked them up to refill them.
"Bobby – you seriously need to get a bigger couch."
"It don't seem to me that Sam fits very well in the front seat of your car, but I don't see you trading up."
"That's different." Dean instantly argued. "That's – ."
"You spend how many hours a day in that car? I bet that boy can't even open the glove box without having to twist up like a pretzel."
Dean thought about that as he put more ice in the ice packs and brought them back to the library. Sam was on his side, his head was on a pillow on one arm of the couch and, even with his knees bent, his stocking feet hung over the other arm.
"Poor kid." Dean thought, not for the first time in their lives. From ten years before he was born, Sam had been cheated out of the chance for normalcy. And every step since then, something always got in the way: their life, their livelihood, Sam's brains and, even now into his mid-twenties, his size. It was only a matter of a few inches between them, but it meant that for every one thing Dean found inconvenient, Sam found three more.
And sitting in the front seat of the car certainly had to be one of them.
"Hey – you're back already?" Sam asked, just waking up on the couch.
"I don't know about 'already'. We've been gone a few hours. How's the face?"
"Better. More like a bad sunburn." Sam sat up and reached for the ice packs. "We gotta find a way to check for methane pockets in graves from now on."
"As if regular evil wasn't enough to keep track of." Dean said. "We're unloading the bags of salt. When that's done, we can start packing some shotgun shells if you're up to it."
"Yeah, sure. Bring some in and I'll get started."
SPN SPN SPN
Sam had already packed a good number of shotgun shells at the kitchen table when Dean joined him. He got started at the task silently, glancing at Sam every once in a while.
"I took another painkiller, it's not bad."
Then there was silence a little while longer while Dean figured out how to say what he was going to say.
"You know, I was thinking, maybe – maybe we should think about getting a – different car." It hurt just to say it.
"Why?" Sam asked with – Dean was pleased to note – as much disapproval as surprise in his voice.
"Well – I thought – maybe – we could use something – you know – bigger."
"Bigger? I know gas prices are insanely low right now but they aren't gonna stay that way. You want to get something with worse gas mileage?"
"Well – no. No." Dean kept his eyes on his work. "I was thinking maybe we could use – a little more space." Even not looking right at Sam, he could see that Sam was looking at him with confusion and maybe a little humor.
"If you want more room for weapons, we can always pack the back seat with the stuff from the trunk that won't freak anybody out or get us arrested if they see it."
"No, that's not – no."
Dean didn't know how to explain it. He never brought Sammy's size up to him. Sam never said it bothered him, but Dean had heard his sighs and grumbles when people, complete strangers and morons, made comments either directly or indirectly to him about it, or even just stared at him as they walked by. They never discussed it and usually Dean even forgot about it, but the truth was – Sam was big.
"Dean – really. Why are you talking about getting a bigger car?"
"Because you don't fit on Bobby's couch." Dean blurted out. Sam looked at him a minute, eyebrows raised in surprise.
"Somebody lost a nickel in the logic machine."
It took Dean a second to figure that one out, but as soon as he did, he shot Sam a dirty look.
"You don't exactly have all kinds of room in the front seat of the car."
"No, but – so what? I'm not doing anything but sitting there."
"You should be comfortable."
"Who says I'm not?"
"Sometimes your back hurts."
"Yeah, and when it does we stop and walk around, or I take a turn driving so I can push the seat back farther. It's no big deal."
Dean shook his head and packed another shell.
"You should be comfortable." He said again, almost like he was saying it to himself.
"You honestly would sell that car?"
"No! No. Are you kidding? No. I'd keep it here at Bobby's. I just -." But he didn't finish the sentence.
"Dean – what?"
"You're tall Sammy. There's just no getting away from that. You sit with your knees practically against the dashboard, it's hard for you to get comfortable to get any sleep when we're driving -."
"And I can sleep in the back seat if I have to." Sam said. "Anyway, it's just a little inconvenience, it's no big deal." He went back to backing the shells.
"Sam, you know I'd get another car if you need it."
"I know you would. It's just – I don't want to. I don't want to change cars. That car is -."
This time it was Sam who didn't finish his sentence and Dean had to ask,
"We've got Dad's journal, we've got a lot of his weapons, we still have his storage room back in Buffalo. The car though – the car is the only tangible connection we've got to Mom. She rode in that car, she drove the car -."
"You think Dad let her drive the car?" Dean asked.
"You met her – do you think she'd let Dad not let her do anything she wanted to?"
"Ha – yeah. You're right. I doubt Dad ever told her 'no'."
"Or if he did, she probably didn't listen." Sam grinned, then his expression saddened. "I just – you know – that's the car Dad drove Mom to the hospital in when she was having us, and it's the car they drove us home from the hospital in. We lived in that car, we grew up in that car, most of the time we got to spend with Dad was in that car. It's home, it's us, it's you. If you got another car, I wouldn't drive in it."
He didn't look at Dean, and Dean stared at him another minute.
"Yeah, I'm sure."
"And stop yelling at Bobby about his couch. Let me sleep there if I want."
"Pam was right. You are grumpy."
"Yeah and you're bossy." Sam's voice was light and he smiled at Dean. "Guess we're stuck with each other."
"Somebody's got to save you from exploding graves." Dean agreed.
SPN SPN SPN
The sun had gone down and a cold wave was blowing through Bobby's yard when Dean decided he was tired enough to go to bed. Walking through the front room he glanced out the window and in the glow of the yard light he saw Sam standing at the front passenger door of the Impala. The door was shut and the window was up and he was just standing there, hands in the pockets of his hooded jacket.
Dean thought about going out to him, see if anything was wrong, find out what was going on. Then Sam took a hand out of his pocket and pressed it, fingers wide, against the glass.
He stood that way for a few minutes, and Dean watched him. Bobby came into the room behind him.
"What's going on?"
"Well, I don't know about your couch…" Dean said. "…but it turns out the car fits us just fine."