A huge thanks to my awesome beta. For the prompt: “Pie and TLC”Summary:
Dean’s a little worse for wear, they’re staying in a crap motel room, and Dad’s still MIA. But all in all, it’s not a bad birthday.
“Home sweet home,” Dean mutters, thumping his duffel down onto their motel room’s wobbly table. A bed covered in little quilted cacti has never looked so inviting. But as much as he would like to pass out for the next ten hours, a ghost threw him arm-first onto the shards of a broken lamp and he should really stitch that up first.
The door snicks shut and Sam’s bag drops onto the table next to his. “Dude, go sit down.”
Sam reaches into Dean’s open duffel, pulling the first aid kit out from under a pile of t-shirts. “I got this.”
Oh. Right. They’ve been on the road together for a couple months now, but Dean’s still getting used to not having to take care of hunting aftermath on his own. He collapses back onto the bed, keeping his bad arm tucked against his chest and closing his eyes against the yellowing ceiling. The movement doesn’t do his arm or aching head any favors, but it feels good to no longer be vertical.
“I just want to hit a bar,” Dean mumbles. “A couple beers, a shot or two, a game of pool, some hot chicks…”
“One, you’re currently collapsed on a bed. Two, you’re on concussion watch.”
“Sammy, you’re too damn responsible. I’m supposed to be young and stupid today,” Dean says, with maybe a little more conviction than he feels.
“That’s when you turn 21, not 27.” He’s using his my-brother-is-a-moron voice. “And it’s Sam.”
Dean’s feeling beat enough a night in actually sounds pretty awesome, but he wouldn’t mind spending some time hustling to pad out their wallet. He’s pretty sure they’re staying in the cheapest motel for 200 miles and it acts the part. He can deal with mattresses so thin he can feel the springs against his back, but Sam’s been citing crappy beds as the culprit for his sleeplessness, and even if that’s just a cover for his nightmares, it sure can’t be helping anything.
He must be quiet for too long cause Sam’s hand claps his boot. “No checking out on me, man.”
“I’m fine.” Dean pushes himself up in time to see Sam finish laying out medical supplies.
“Pupil check,” Sam announces, grabbing the flashlight and squatting so he’s eye level with Dean.
Warnings are never enough to prepare him to be blinded by the flashlight clicking on right in his eyes, so he grumbles like Sam could’ve done something about it. “Dude, not cool.”
Sam takes it in stride. “Don’t be a girl, you know the drill. And I think you’re fine, by the way.” He probes at the lump on Dean’s forehead.
“Yeah, I feel fine,” Dean grumbles, swatting his hand away through all the light spots in his vision. “I could’ve told you that.”
“Here.” Sam hands him a bottle and waits until Dean’s taking his first swig to announce that’s all he’s getting tonight.
Dean flips him off, cause he doesn’t need his little brother telling him his limits, and after a quick estimate of how many stitches his arm’s gonna take, he takes another swig, then hands the bottle back over to Sam. The burn of the whisky going down isn’t quite enough to balance out the burning in his arm when Sam helps him peel off his jacket and then cleans out the cuts, and Dean curses under his breath.
Sam makes apologetic faces, then readies the needle and thread. It’s the first time Sam’s had to stitch him up since Stanford, and while it doesn’t seem to come as easy as breathing, Sam’s not hesitating either. Some things just stick, Dean guesses. Or maybe Sam had to put his skills to work at Stanford. It’s kinda hard to imagine college life handing out the kinda crap that requires stitches, but he can remember Sam cutting his hand open on a can of green beans when he was eight, and the thought of that happening at school, of his brother attempting one handed stitches, doesn’t sit quite right.
When his eyes drift toward Sam’s hands, trying to get a good look at his palms, it feels kinda stupid. It’s just weird to think about all the years in between them, that Sam might have scars Dean doesn’t know about.
“Ready?” Sam asks, his hands hovering over Dean’s arm. Dean nods, then steels himself as the first stitch pinches through skin. He’s prepared to ride this out in silence, but then Sam pipes up. “Pretty crappy birthday, huh?”
Dean’s pretty sure distracting topics are generally supposed to revolve around light and happy subjects or whatever when you get stitches, but he can roll with it. It beats the silence. “Nah. It’s not so bad. Ganked a ghost, spent some quality time with my baby, had tacos for lunch.” He pauses to suck in a breath. “Though you know. One thing would’ve made it better.”
“Yeah?” Sam sounds casual, but Dean hasn’t missed the tension that’s been hunching his shoulders. He can’t seem to get it through Sam’s thick skull that the ghost tossing him around was not Sam’s fault.
“My brother used up all the hot water washing his girly hair this morning.”
Sam splutters a little at that. “Dude, I take fast showers. It wouldn’t have run out if you didn’t take so long.”
“It was not that long. And if a guy can’t enjoy a hot shower on his birthday, when can he?”
Sam’s reply is delayed a few seconds by his concentration. “That how you celebrate all your birthdays?”
“Not last year,” Dean answers offhand, then immediately regrets it.
Sure enough, Sam’s trying to steal a glance, probably trying to read way too much into that, but his focus gets pulled back when the stitch catches and Dean’s breath hitches.
“Sorry—sorry,” Sam says quickly, then he’s silent just long enough Dean thinks he’s gonna let it go. “How’d you, uh, celebrate last year?” His tone’s light, but he’s clearly digging.
“I wouldn’t really remember,” Dean says, and throws a grin because he really doesn’t want to fess that what he can remember involved getting wasted at a bar as a pathetic party of one.
He’s saved from the conversation by Sam tying off the last stitch. “Okay. The rest should be fine on their own.” He starts winding a bandage around Dean’s arm. “I think you’ll live. As long as you manage to stay out of that pool.”
“You know, in January, that is so tempting. But lake water’s more your thing.”
“Dude, that color green isn’t lake water. And I’m pretty sure there’s dead stuff in there.”
“Oh, definitely,” Dean agrees as Sam finishes with the bandage, shakes out pain pills, then gets up to pack away all the first aid stuff. After dry swallowing the pills, Dean pulls out his phone for a quick check (nada), then scoots back against his body’s protests until he’s leaning back against the headboard. He grabs the remote off the nightstand and starts flipping through the channels. He’s just settled on an action movie when Sam speaks up.
“You hungry?” He holds up a take-out bag.
“Uh, yeah, I’m gonna take a pass on your rabbit food,” Dean starts, but gapes when Sam pulls out a pie, triumphant smile stretched across his face.
“Dude! You told me that was salad.”
“Yeah, Dean, I did. Would you have listened if I said ‘Keep out, this is a surprise for you’?”
“You wound me.”
Sam grins. “Happy birthday, man. You want me to nuke it? There’s a microwave in the lobby.”
Dean pulls a face. “Dude, no way. I’m not ruining a perfectly good pie in that thing.”
Shrugging, Sam deposits the pie and packet of take-out plasticware in Dean’s lap before settling on the other bed. The pie looks like something Sam picked up from a mini-mart, or maybe one of the diners in town, but the crust is that pale golden brown, and the cherry filling is making his mouth water.
“This looks awesome. Thanks, Sam.” Dean grins as he saws a generous slice, sliding it into the plastic cover and handing it over.
“Dean, it’s your pie. I don’t—“
“Sam, shut up and eat your pie. Here, you get the spoon,” he adds, tossing the utensil over, and taking the fork for himself. His aim’s a little off, but sue him. He’s throwing with his left and he has bigger priorities. Like getting his first mouthful of this slice of heaven.
Sam huffs a laugh, but he digs in, holding up his spoonful as if for Dean’s inspection before eating it.
Dean’s busy shoveling in a second bite, but he manages a distracted thumbs up. “I could eat this every day, Sammy,” he declares around a mouthful of pie. “Breakfast, lunch, dinner.” He takes another bite, closing his eyes, then leans over to the nightstand to check his phone again, revealing no new messages.
“We’re gonna find him,” Sam says.
Dean didn’t realize he was being that transparent. He’d just hoped, Dad would… maybe for his birthday… “Yeah. Yeah, I know.” He takes a moment to pull his focus back to the pie in front of him, and raises it in a toast to the TV. “In the meantime…”
Sam turns his attention to the action unfolding onscreen. “Is this Back to the Future
? Which one?”
“The best one, obviously. And it just started.”
“Not the western,” Sam groans. “The original is way
“C’mon, who doesn’t love the old west? Gunslingers, boots, the open trail…”
Sam huffs, but he’s grinning, and Dean stuffs another bite of pie down. Not a bad birthday, at all.