Hopefully, I will be able to play catch-up over the weekend, since my only plans are to write, read, beta, and attend a Halloween party.
And I very much appreciate hearing from people about these snippets. Thanks!
They're moving more swiftly and surely than ever, the two of them a lean hunting machine, getting rid of demons before other hunters are even aware of the problem. Everything moves like clockwork, like they're not just interdependent but perfectly synchronized. Sam wonders if unity like this could only come from a lifetime together, if he and Jess would have achieved something like it after years of sharing space and dreams, or if they never would have matched up because he'd accepted her as the baseline of normal and shaped himself to fit that.
Dean still doesn't talk too much about his own feelings without provocation, but he seems to get that Sam's wired differently, and so he listens now, doesn't shy away or try to joke his way out of hearing Sam's confessions. Sam wakes up in the cold brightness of a January morning to find Dean dressed and sitting at the foot of his bed, flipping through channels with a lazy amusement, skipping financial news and talk shows for old sitcom reruns, just waiting for his brother to wake up to start the day off right. Sam rubs the water out of his eyes. This is the birthday Dean didn't think he'd get to see, the one Sam had prayed for, begged and pleaded and screamed for, before realizing that the only way to save Dean was to do it himself.
Dean turns, attention apparently caught by the movement of Sam's fists. "Morning," Dean smiles.
Sam sits up, trying not to kick Dean, but there's only so much space to work with. "Happy birthday, Dean," Sam says, sitting obediently still as Dean leans over to thumb the tears away from his skin.
"C'mon, I'll let you buy me breakfast if you get your ass up and in the shower in the next five minutes," Dean wheedles, and Sam refrains from pointing out that that sounds like a pretty damn good deal to him, just rolls his eyes and climbs out of bed, making a crack about Dean's metabolism backfiring disastrously on him one of these days.
Watching Dean sit in the square of sunlight while he mixes pepper into the ketchup slathered on top of his hash browns, licks the knife clean, and then spreads caramel sauce over his banana pancakes, Sam gets a flash of Jessica, sitting at their kitchen table, hair falling out of its clasp, chattering animatedly as she smeared the fresh whipped cream from her hot chocolate over her waffles. "Dean," he says, putting down his oversized coffee cup, "did I ever tell you what Jess used to do that drove me absolutely crazy?"
Dean takes a big bite of his hash browns and shakes his head, beckoning the waitress over for more coffee. "I'm all ears, Sammy," he says, mouth full, swallowing in time to give the waitress a smile.
"No, no, stop," Sam pleads, still giggling and clutching his belly, aching from cotton candy and chili dogs, from stolen bites of Dean's funnel cake. "You cannot be serious. No way."
The tips of Dean's ears have gone a little pink, but he meets Sam's incredulous gaze staunchly, even sports a bashful grin. "Why would I make this kind of shit up? I swear, Mom used to keep a tupperware under the front seat for me."
Sam finds a bench and throws himself down, letting Dean rearrange his legs to give himself room to sit too. "Yeah, but you drive everywhere. You don't fly, and you're in the car all the damn time!"
"It doesn't hit me when I'm the one driving, Sam," Dean explains patiently, tilting his face up to the bright May sunshine, obviously blissfully unaware that the sun is picking out silver rather than gold in his hair. "And it's better in the front seat than in the back."
"Seriously. You - Dean Winchester, defender to the death of the classic American car, prophet of the open road - are prone to motion sickness. And because of that, you're refusing to ride this roller-coaster with me."
"You got a tupperware handy?" Dean asks. Sam shakes his head, groaning at how full he feels, sprawled out like an emperor. "It was a rhetorical question, dumbass. I'll buy you one for your next birthday."
"Hey! What about your car? How come you don't -"
"You leave her out of this, Sam. None of this is her fault."
Sam sits up, then eyes his brother and tries to calculate the odds of his making a clean escape. "You know you're crazy, right?"
Dean chases after him and can't quite close his hand around Sam; when Sam pauses to let him catch up, he sees the lines of strain and pain around Dean's eyes, hidden by Dean's easy smile.
Sam takes the small roads, not only because he knows Dean likes them, likes the things that die out more slowly in small towns, like the helping-hand signs you still see propped up in the front windows of houses that look like they've stayed in a family for generations, but because he wants to see the Christmas lights, the flights of fancy that people can reach, finding wonderlands in their own front yards.
Dean's face reflects the lights, green and red and white glowing against his skin, his closed eyelids, and Sam turns the volume down and eases his foot off the gas. They're not in any rush, not really, and the diner at the end of the block has, he remembers, coffee cake that melts in the mouth.
2236 / 50,000