Sam pursed his lips as he watched his brother inch his body ever closer to his latest lover. Although the morals of the town were anything but strict and the brothels abounded, it irked him that Dean didn't have a minimum of self-restraint, at least while they were working.
The taverna was full of clients demanding food before retuning to their work in the cooler late afternoon of the scorching August day.
The stone counter-top was surrounded by hungry, impatient and sweaty customers, all jostling to be served first.
Sam's face curled into what Dean had likened to a bitch in pain.
Once again he shouted over to his brother, who whether on purpose or because he was totally caught up in the ample charms of Lisa, continued to studiously ignore him. Pissed, Sam decided he'd have to resort to other methods.
He held up his hands to calm the impatience of the clients and sent the young boy who worked for them to get Dean's attention.
The youth pulled on Dean's tunic and pointed towards the swarm of people around the serving counter. Sam saw his brother exchange one last caress with Lisa and make his way over.
"Sam, you just can't live without me at your side," he joked. "I was in the middle of a very important discussion with Lisa; you know how the political problems of our city are so important to her." Dean grinned unfazed.
"Yes, I noticed; " Sam answered sarcastically, rolling his eyes at his brother while he deftly dealt out portions of cooked food and mulled wine over the counter.
"You," he reminded his brother pointedly, "assured our parents that you'd give me a hand with the serving while they went on a visit to their relatives.That's the only reason Father was persuaded to leave."
"Okay, Sam, I get it. The quicker we get rid of this lot, the less you'll lecture me, and the quicker Lisa and I can get back to talking politics."
True to his word, Dean put his mind to the job, and between them they satisfied the crowd of noisy clients in more than record time.
Theirs was a family business. Their parents John and Maria had inherited the small establishment from her own mother and father, and as the two brothers grew up, they too became part of it.
Sam enjoyed cooking and serving in the small taverna but Dean had always hated it.
He much preferred his daily chores of keeping the kitchen supplied with fresh boar and rabbit meat, which he hunted with unerring accuracy.
However his easy charm and engaging smile brought in plenty of customers and he wasn't averse to a brawl when some patrons overdid it with the wine, but whenever necessary he helped out over the counter. He just liked to bitch about it!
When the last of the midday customers had disappeared through the doorway, the brothers leaned back in exhaustion.
Even inside the shadowy shelter of the stone walls, the heat was oppressive and the fires under the bulky cooking pots upped the temperature to impossible levels.
"Sammy," Dean huffed bumping shoulders with his brother, "Why don't we take a break for an hour or two? We won't get many more people in until tonight anyway and Claudius can handle the odd client."
He nodded towards their young helper.
"If you lose any more sweat, you'll become a wizened prune and Jessica will ditch you for me," he teased, knowing how his younger brother mooned over his yellow-haired girl-friend.
Sam didn't need to be told twice.
He was prone to sweating heavily, but he could have filled ten amphorae with the amount of water he had produced during the last couple of hours.
"You know Dean, that's the best idea you've had all week," his brother bumped back. "I think a visit to the Baths might just be what we need."
"Great minds think alike Sammy."
Dean smiled affectionately at his little brother. "Let's go!"
The deserted streets were blisteringly hot as the boys made their way to the bath-house.
Dean was lazily anticipating his evening meeting with the black-haired Lisa when his brother unexpectedly fell to his knees, head between his hands, a low moan escaping his lips.
Panicking at the sight; Dean threw himself down beside his sibling, his strong hands clasping the broad shoulders.
"Sam, Sammy!... What's wrong?"
One of Sam's hands reached out and grasped the home-spun cloth of Dean's tunic, the other pressed against his eyes.
He held on tight, grateful for the supporting presence of his elder brother.
"Dean," Sam whispered painfully." The city will be destroyed; everyone must leave or they will all be killed."
"What in the name of the gods are you saying?" Dean murmured in the same whispered tones, though there was no-one in the empty street to hear his words.
"The mountain will erupt; flames and red-hot rivers of molten rock and ash will cover the city, and it'll disappear from the face of the earth as if it had never existed. We must all leave Dean."
Sam's voice rose in pitch, as his hold on his brother's tunic became more forceful.
"We have to warn everyone to flee the city!"
Dean pulled his oversized little brother up and soothed him as he always did when Sam had one of his nightmares.
"It's only a dream, brother," Dean consoled his shocked sibling.
"Look, the mountain is as quiet as a sleeping dog." But as his eyes turned towards the flat-topped peak, he saw a thin wisp of smoke rise into the still air, and a thread of doubt began to infiltrate his mind.
Needless to say, true to the old Latin proverb, "Nemo propheta in patria," not a soul would believe Sam's warnings and Dean had to caution him to keep quiet or people would begin deserting the taverna, bored with Sam's continual advice to abandon the city.
Dean had already gotten into fights defending his brother from those who'd accused him of trying to bring misfortune down on them all.
He watched helplessly as Sam became more and more distraught because no-one would believe him.
No-one but his brother, for now Dean did, all too aware of the increasing activity on the mountain-top.
Sam had warned him that in two weeks' time, what he'd seen would come to pass, and Dean feared that his brother's vision was indeed prophetic.
He'd tried to convince Lisa to leave the city, but she just brushed aside his warnings.
"Nothing is going to happen to the city, Dean," she'd laughed as she pressed her eager mouth to his, wondering why his reaction was less than attentive.
"Sam's right," he insisted as he held her at arm's length, hoping to convince her with his wide-eyed gaze. "Please leave, Lisa and take your family with you."
"You're joking, Dean! The political elections are coming up soon. How would it seem if my father left the city?" she answered, annoyed at his insistence.
Sam had received the same reaction from Jessica and from the town elders. Despite his warnings, no-one contemplated leaving the city.
As the days passed, and the mountain became more threatening, Sam begged his brother to do something, anything to avert what both brothers were now sure would be an immense disaster.
"Sam, what do you want me to do? I'm only one man," Dean said, turning angrily on him.
"We've warned everyone and still they'll do nothing, not even now that the sky is turning red with the reflection of the mountain's fire. We must save ourselves, Sammy. We have to go."
"But Dean," his brother replied. "How can we leave everyone to their fate?"
Dean shook him roughly. "We've warned them hundreds of times. Let us at least save ourselves."
"But what of Jessica and Lisa?" Sam murmured tiredly.
"We can't kidnap them brother. If they don't want to leave, we can't force them," Dean finished sadly.
"Come we must make haste to leave, or it will be too late for us too. Are you sure tomorrow will be the day?"
Sam nodded glumly.
They gathered the few possessions they could carry, plus any coins they'd earned in the last weeks, and left the doomed city.
They had abandoned her just in time. The blast and heat from the terrible eruption was felt by them too, even though they'd journeyed far from the city.
The terrible tragedy played out before their shocked eyes, the view from the hill-top all too clear.
Dean clapped a hand on his brother's shoulder, "You saved us both Sam. I don't pretend to understand why destiny has allowed us to live while hundreds have died, but know this brother," he said as he turned his sibling towards him." If you had refused to leave then I'd have stayed and died beside you."
Their eyes met in understanding; their love and bond of brotherhood firm and strong.