Characters: Sam, Dean (Gen)
Spoilers: Tiny “Asylum” spoiler
Summary: Sam and Dean versus an unknown grave-robber. (Includes bickering, bad food, and the obligatory Latin).
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x-x-x-x-x Chapter 1: Settling In x-x-x-x-x
The door to Room 7 is chipped and scarred, and it creaks impressively as Dean pushes it open. Sam takes in the dark walls and hideous curtains, both par for the course. The room’s carpet looks as if it might be moving up the evolutionary ladder right in front of their eyes.
“Only one bed,” Sam says.
“It was the last room.” Dean dumps his bag against the wall. “So, do we remember the rules when there’s only one bed?” he asks.
Sam ticks them off. “No kicking, no humping, and watches stay on the nightstand. Dean, I’m the one that got the watch stuck in my hair.”
“And that’s why we have the rule.”
“What about snuggling?” teases Sam.
Dean gives a joking thumbs up. “But if you clock me during one of your nightmares, I might have to reconsider.”
“Dean! It’s not like I have them on purpose!” Sam protests.
“I know, but still—I get beaten up enough at work.”
Sam’s lips quirk at a bizarre mental image of Dean in a suit with a briefcase full of holy water and weapons. What would the business cards look like? “Dean Winchester, serving all your exorcism needs.” Or maybe, “Dean Winchester, Purveyor of Permanent Supernatural Solutions.”
“You hungry?” Dean asks.
“Yeah.” Sam puts his bag on the chair, the toiletries on the dresser. Nothing is going to touch that floor if he can help it.
“Diner next door?” Dean stuffs the 38 down the back of his pants, and checks his wallet.
“Whatever,” Sam says. His hunger isn’t very specific anymore, and nothing tastes particularly good. Cheap and filling is all he needs right now.
The diner has chicken-fried steak and a waitress named Holly, but both appear lumpy and a little dry. Dean orders a hamburger and a beer, and Sam picks Salisbury steak, which he remembers as being one of the less awful choices from endlessly repeated school-lunch menus in dozens of towns. Sam has had a lot of experience with Salisbury steak. It almost makes him nostalgic.
“So, who’re we talking to first?” he asks. His iced tea is weak, but the mashed potatoes aren’t bad.
“Ed Stanton,” Dean replies. “He’s the caretaker at the cemetery, claims he got a look at something running away from one of the open graves.” Dean’s finished off one ketchup bottle already, and is stealing one from the next table over.
“Was this during daylight, or at night?” Sam asks.
“Night. Says he only saw it just the one time.”
“Full moon?” asks Sam.
Dean shakes his head. “Fog.”
Sam groans. “Did he, in fact, actually see something? Like, outside of his own head? Was it shadows? A dog?”
Dean holds his hands up. “Dude, don’t stroke out on me. We’ll find out tomorrow.” Sam goes back to staring at his dinner. This Salisbury steak needs a sharp knife, which is just wrong for a hamburger-based meal. He wonders if sawing or stabbing would get the best results.
Neither says anything for awhile, their fatigue beginning to draw a blanket around the table.
Once Dean has finished eating most of what he wants, the usual restless boredom sets in. He drags his fork over his plate in little circles, patterns that only he sees, making them wider and wider and scraping progressively harder until-- screeeee!
“Dean!” Sam says.
Dean’s stomach does a little flip. When did Sammy’s voice get so deep? It has that same tone Dad’s voice always did when somebody was about to be in trouble.
Dean puts the fork down.
“Are we done here?” Sam asks pointedly.
“Yeah, sure. I’ll get the check.” Dean is all nonchalance now, ambling over to the cash register while Sam just shakes his head.
They return to the motel, both ready for an early night. They brush their teeth, and then Sam folds their clothes, lays them on the chair, and sits down on the bed. His shoes come off last, stored right where he can get them if he needs to get up during the night. Dean just shakes his head, but then does the same after taking a closer look at the carpet. He puts his watch on the nightstand, and nudges Sam to do the same. Then the lights are off, and the settling in begins.
They usually start off on separate sides of the bed, but find themselves intertwined by morning. Tonight will likely be no different. Dean rolls onto his stomach, knife under the pillow, and Sam can feel the slow relaxation progressing next to him. It is so complete that it’s as if Dean has let his bones sink into sand like water. Sam can almost count the minutes, generally no longer than five, until Dean’s breathing is slow and shallow and even.
Sam scowls in the dark, because it is never that simple for him. He concentrates instead on thinking of a forest where he is sitting under a tree, smelling the dusty and sun-baked pines that surround him. The wind rushes through the tops of the trees, the pine needles raining down around him, and he listens to the soft, random sounds as they gently strike the ground.
After awhile, other sounds join in. Sam hears birdcalls, the trickling of water, and he gets to his feet, following the sounds to their source. The forest is thicker now, changed, the plants lush and damp with small movements rustling in the bushes. Sam glances around for a minute, and suddenly something is around his neck. He looks down and sees the shiny flattened scales of a large snake, pulling tighter and tighter. “Aaah!” he yells out. He comes up out of the dream, struggling against what turns out to be Dean’s upper arm lying right across his throat. Sam pushes it down and takes deep breaths while he rubs the front of his neck. Dean’s arm must weigh twenty pounds from the muscles alone. It felt at least that heavy.
Dean snores a little, softly, and Sam tries to calm down again.
Take two. This time, he will start out in a cabin. There is a fire going, and he sits in front of the window with a cup of hot cocoa, watching the snow falling outside. The moonlight illuminates the fields and trees, and the flakes tumble silently, steadily down in hypnotic beauty.