The brothers have just finished a hunt and Dean’s in full relax mode, but Sam always manages to throw a new problem into his lap!
Many thanks to crowroad for her interesting prompts.
I (very, very) loosely united the first three: - Sam has opened so many doors--but not this one. A positive (but non-comedic & non-fluffy) take on the Winchesters and animals--non-supernatural non-human animals. What kind of conversation the Winchesters might have now about faith (if they have it at all) compared to early seasons?
Naked except for a pair of grey boxers, his shower-damp body draped over the new couch they’d recently invested in, Dean flipped half-heartedly through the channels, interested only in some mind-numbing tv. Whatever he picked would merely serve as background noise anyway.
After the exhausting hunt he and Sam had just completed, all he wanted to do was relax, forget the rest of the world outside the bunker and enjoy some down-time before the next ‘earthshattering calamity’ reversed itself on them.
The aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafted through the air as Sam approached with two steaming cups.
‘Dude, You’re the best brother a guy could wish for,’ Dean avowed, his hand curling eagerly around the one Sam held out to him.
Sam huffed, but the affection in his eyes was evident. ‘Who else would put up with you, Dean? You’re irascible, untidy, impulsive, headstrong…. and you steal my boxers on a regular basis.’
Glancing down at the pair of above-mentioned boxers, Dean played the innocent card. ‘What? No, Sammy! I swear these were in my drawer. I wouldn’t steal your stuff, bro.’
Sam didn’t bother contradicting him, merely settling himself down on the sofa next to his brother.
They both knew the boxers were Sam’s.
Once, Sam would’ve bitched at him for days, but now it was more of a token rebuke. They’d been through too much together for such a small detail to be a problem. On the contrary, sometimes it was these little moments which kept them sane in a world of insanity.
Nonetheless to say, though, Sam couldn’t resist one last jibe at his brother. ’Besides Dean, they’re way too big on you. You need a smaller size, dude.’
Though the glare Dean focused on his sibling was glacial, his lips trembled in amusement. He missed the days when their baiting and banter was a daily routine.
The tv screen, meanwhile, filled with a scene of huskies pulling a sled through the glistening white of some polar landscape.
‘We used to have one, you know,’ Dean muttered into his cup.
‘What? A sled?’
‘A dog, Sam! We used to have one.’
Sam studied Dean’s profile, a surprised expression on his face. ‘You never told me that.’
‘Never came up in the conversation,’ Dean shrugged, sipping at the hot black liquid with a slurp of satisfaction. ‘Sammy, you’re a terrible cook, but you sure know how to brew an awesome cup of coffee.’
‘Don’t change the subject, Dean! Tell me about the dog.’
A faraway glaze covered Dean’s eyes. ‘He was a bastard pup. Followed mom home one day, adopted one of the flower-pots outside our front door and never left. Anytime anyone exited the house, the moth-eaten, skinny little dude would get up on shaky legs and whine. In the end dad couldn’t take it anymore, so he dragged the dog off to the vet, got all his shots and a clean bill of health. Became a member of the family. You were too little to ever remember him, Sammy.’
‘What was his name? What happened to him…after...?’
‘Dad called him Imp because his favourite place for talking a piss was on the Impala’s tires. It used to drive dad ballistic.’
Dean’s lips curve in a smile as he remembered his father’s annoyed grunts at the sight of the wet trickles on his car’s wheels.
‘The night Azazel came was the last we saw of him. Maybe dogs have some built-in demon radar. Know when it’s time to get the fuck away.’
Sam gave a quiet sigh but didn’t elaborate. He knew their lives could have been different, but there was no point in recriminating that which was too late to change.
‘We could get one, you know. If you want,’ Dean mumbled, causing Sam to stare at him in surprise. ‘We didn’t have the space before, but there’s plenty of room in the bunker for a kennel of dogs.’
‘Yeah, I’m serious. You’ve always hankered after a four-legged mutt, Sam.’
‘Maybe once, but now I’ve got my hands full dealing with you.’
‘Ha, ha!’ Dean huffed. ‘You comparing me to a dog!’
‘If I remember rightly, you’ve shown various canine traits in the past,’ Sam replied, holding back a chuckle.
‘Being whammied by a spell doesn’t count, Sam!’
‘Mm. Maybe not, but you having the hots for that cute little poodle was educational to watch.’
Dean stood up. ‘My dignity has been shattered, and by my only brother too! I’m gonna need another cup of coffee just to get over it.’
He marched out the room, leaving Sam to look on with a mirthful grin.
Thirty minutes later, the younger Winchester was strolling up the incline towards the Impala. The hunt had kept them away from the bunker for almost a week and apart from a copious hoard of coffee, the pantry was despondently empty.
Unfortunately, it was his turn to go grocery shopping.
Sam had drawn up a weekly graph to keep Dean with the program, memory of the multiple times his brother had tried to squirm out of the chore with every sort of cockeyed excuse.
But having it down in writing meant Sam couldn’t puppy-eye his way out of shopping either!
Before entering the car, he looked back at the redbrick building looming over him. To be honest Sam had often thought it a strange place to hide a ‘secret’ bunker. The edifice stood out like an eyesore in the flatness of the countryside around it.
‘Whatever,’ Sam shrugged, folding his lanky body into the driving seat of the Impala. Yet as he drove, he couldn’t oust the feeling that there was something about the bunker he was missing.
It still niggled him as he returned home, the back seat of the Impala jam-packed with bags of groceries, and as the car approached, he slowed to better study the structure, a series of questions filling his mind.
Why build it so high? Was it just for show? Had that been the idea? That once the local people had assimilated the eye-sore they’d ignore it as part of the landscape, never guessing what it concealed?
On the other hand, Sam mused with a tremor of excitement, maybe there was more to the Bunker than what they’d realised. What if the upper levels held their secrets too?
So far, nothing had pointed to there being any other areas within the structure, except for those they’d discovered, and Sam, being a giant nerd at heart, had explored pretty much every room, paying scrupulous attention to detail.
He’d never come across any hidden doors or staircases which would indicate access to an upper level. But then, he’d never really given it much thought, the wealth of objects in the storeroom to sift through, and the well-stocked library, had focused all his attention.
There was only one place he and Dean had paid little interest in and that was the garage.
Sure, Dean had positively freaked out with glee at the sight of the classic cars it contained, while contemporaneously swearing eternal love to the Impala, but their exploration had stopped there. Sam was going to correct that oversight!
He swept into the bunker and deposited all the bags on the kitchen table.
Dean eyed him with curiosity. He knew his brother well enough to understand when Sam was excited about something.
‘You found some new nerdy software for your laptop,’ he asked.
‘Come on, Dean! We’re going on a hunt,’ Sam replied, grabbing Dean’s arm and pushing him towards the door.
‘Hey. What the fuck, Sammy!’ his sibling growled, digging in his heels. ‘We’re just back from one.’
‘It’s not that kind of hunt, dude. It’s more of a …treasure hunt.’
‘A treasure hunt?’ Dean repeated. ‘Just calm down there, Sparky, and start from the beginning, otherwise I’m not going anywhere.’
‘I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, Dean. What if there are other floors above us? We’ve always assumed the rest of the bunker was just for show, but it might have other stuff hidden away.’
‘Sam, we’ve explored the place with a fine-tooth comb and this is all there is. If there was a staircase or a lift going up we’d have found it.’
‘Not if it’s hidden away in the garage. That’s the only place we’ve never really explored. Let’s go look. Who knows what we could find.’
Dean gave a profound sigh, before shaking his head. ‘No, Sam. Don’t do this. There‘s probably nothing, but even if there IS a door, I say we let things be. Just forget you ever had the urge to seek one out.’
A frown furrowed Sam’s brow. ‘What are you saying, Dean? That we shouldn’t be curious to know if there’s something up there, something useful?’
‘That’s exactly what I’m saying! Think about it. When have things ever gone well for us, Sammy? The Winchester luck has always been bad. It’s never been a good idea for us to go poking about in things we don’t know. We’ve enough on out plate without opening up another can of potential worms.’
Sam’s shoulders slumped. His enthusiasm drained away like water from a plughole.
Dean clapped him on the shoulder. ‘Hey man, I know your geek soul is always on the lookout for knowledge, but sometimes it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie. Even if there is something up there, above our heads, it could be stuff the Men of Letters didn’t want anyone to meddle with. Something too dangerous to be found.’
Backing into the kitchen, Sam collapsed onto a chair. At times Dean was the one who demonstrated foresight.
Sam’s gut told him his brother’s caution was reasonable. There could be zilch up there, but why go looking for trouble?
‘You could be right about this, Dean,’ Sam acknowledged, gazing up at his brother with understanding eyes.
He paused. ‘Do you remember way back before we knew angels existed, before we’d ever imagined having a conversation with God, or that he had a sister, I was terrified of being evil? Terrified there would be no-one to save me. Do you remember what you told me, Dean? - That I wasn’t to worry. That you’d look out for me.’
Dean thought he did a pretty good job of hiding the swell of emotion he felt at his brother’s words by keeping it to a nostalgic nod. ‘I remember, Sammy. You told me I was only one person, that you hoped there would be some higher power, a greater good, to look out for you.’
‘Well,’ Sam added. ‘I take those words back. There’s no higher power than you Dean, not for me. There never has, nor will there ever be. You’ve looked out for me my entire life. There’s nobody I trust more than you. And so, if you say we should let things be and not go looking for trouble, then that’s what we’ll do. If there’s anything upstairs, we’ll leave it to the next generation.’
‘That’s my boy!‘ Dean quipped to cover the emotion his brother’s words had aroused in his heart.
That Sam trusted and regarded him so highly was balm to Dean’s ingrained feelings of worthlessness, a sentiment which had hounded him since he was a kid, his cocky exterior an armour to shield those very feelings.
Stretching out a hand, he ruffled Sam’s hair, receiving a bitch-face for his trouble. ‘So, how about I whip up one of my burger specials for my baby brother? I hope you picked up all the ingredients, rabbit food included.’
Rummaging through the bags on the table, Dean pulled out a six-pack of flamenco-pink boxers.
‘Dude. What the hell! I wouldn’t be seen dead in these!’
‘That’s the idea Dean. Maybe now you won’t nick mine anymore!’ Sam declared prissily, though he reckoned when Dean was short of pants, not even the colour pink would stop him!