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Sunday, August 15th, 2010 04:51 pm
Part 3 - Hunting the Kelpie

It’s best to hunt the whatever spell that raised the kelpie by daylight anyhow, for even though neither Sam nor Dean are stupid enough to fall for the kelpie’s call, she is free and running hard as night falls, and they would be hard pressed to resist her when she came and knelt in front of them, her diamond eyes promising them fair travel into the west country, where all good souls go, where everyone you ever loved is waiting for you.

They drive along the river to Shane’s land, and trespass right past the gate, and in broad daylight too. Shane is at his shop in town, and who knows where his wife is, but there are no dogs, only alpacas starting at them from behind wooden pens.

They drive past the house, along a dusty white road that doesn’t look like it gets much use. Dean parks the car in a little open space among some trees. Their leaves are just beginning to turn, but there is no wind in the glen, so it’s almost as warm as summer. Dean shucks his coat. Sam does the same, and grabs the little brass compass from the tin box that holds odds and ends like string, a stray pen knife, a half a stick of gum. He pops it open and fiddles with it as he finds true north, then he nods at Dean.

They walk the dirt road leading from the main house to the river, and then follow the river, and take another road that crosses down. This road leads to another, and soon they find themselves at the river again. Sam lines up the compass with true north again, and walks forward when he stubs his toe. It is a cairn of stones, right where the most northeast part of Shane’s land should be, and Dean is at his side in a moment, swatting the gnats that swirl around him, and touches the top of the cairn.


(Sam's Compass)


“Just take it apart?” Dean asks.

“Evidently,” Sam says.

All the books say it. The power is in the combination of the articles inside of the cloth of pure white wool, and in the desperation of the person putting it together. Neither the cloth nor the contents have any power to stop anyone from taking it apart, hence the cairn, which, as it sits at the corner of the road and a little path that runs to the river’s edge, looks merely like a direction marker and nothing more.

Dean reaches up and begins taking the stones down, and Sam slips the compass in his pocket and helps. Their hands grow hot, the gnats rise in clouds around them, and whether this is normal in the woods in this part of the country, or part of a counter spell, Sam doesn’t know.

They are sweating by the time they get to the bottom of the cairn, to find the folded cloth and kick it open. The gnats descend, and Dean snatches up the mess of wool and feathers and moss and runs to the river with it, leaning over to cast everything into the slow-moving water. In the shade of the trees, it is dark, glassy water and the bank is slippery. Dean overbalances, and falls in with a splash loud enough to roust the birds from the trees.

Sam tries to grab him, not sure whether or not to laugh at the expression on Dean’s face. Then he follows Dean in the river, going under all at once when his sneakers slip on the stones. The icy water swallows him whole. As he tries to stand up, his hair is in his eyes, and there is water in his mouth, but his feet hit bottom, and he’s able to hold his place without getting pulled downstream. Dean is close at hand, spitting and swearing about his leather boots even before he’s managed to climb up the bank. Streaming with water, he grabs onto a tree and holds his hand out for Sam.

Now Sam can laugh. The water is clean and almost sweet and the gnats, having been denied their supper of sweat, have swarmed off. The kelpie’s spell has been broken, too, though Sam is worried that Mr. Shane will simply build another one.

“Who’s going to deal with Mr. Shane?” Sam asks as they head back to the car, chilly and dripping large black dots into the dust. They both are soaked through but the day is still warm enough, though it is cool in the shade, and no one will die while astride the kelpie. Not today. Shane hadn’t look too worried about being caught, maybe thinking no one would find out, or maybe he was going to dismantle the articles anyway. They will never know. If it comes up again, they’ll just have to come back.

Dean shrugs. “I don’t know, let the locals deal with it. They can lynch him or stone him or whatever people in Arkansas do.” He’s frowning at his boots, which squish wetly with each step. The Impala is waiting for them under the overhang of branches. 

“Should I take my boots off now and drive barefoot?” Dean asks him as he unlocks the door. “Or just suffer through it?”

Sam shrugs at him. He stands next to the car and takes off his sneakers and dumps the water out of them before he gets in.

Dean decides to keep his boots on, and drives them back up the windy, hilly road to the lodge, frowning the whole time. Sam knows Dean’s pissed about the boots simply because he’s not saying anything more about them. If he’d not cared, he’d be ranting and raving the whole way.

When they get to their room, the first thing Sam does is to pull out his compass, and attempt to swipe at it with the edges of his t-shirt. The thing’s so old, it’s probably been through a hundred dunkings, but Dad always told them to clean up after a hunt, so that’s what he does. The first thing Dean does is unlace his boots, slowly and carefully. The laces are waterlogged and so tight that Sam can hear the strain when Dean pulls on them.

He’s taking so long taking them off that Sam grabs some clean dry clothes and goes into the bathroom to strip down to his skin. There is enough hot water for an army of shower takers it seems, and he hums as he washes up and rinses the grit from the river water from his hair. Then he gets out, and dries off.

The dry clothes slip on like a blessing, and his stomach talks to him through his shirt. His hair is damp at the edges but drying, and out he goes, leaving the bathroom door open behind him.

“I’m going to take one,” said Dean, and Sam nods, thinking that Dean won’t take long and then they can head out to eat.

The sound of the shower is loud through the thin walls, and Sam can even hear Dean sigh as the hot water hits him. There are small mutterings that are indistinguishable in the low roar of the water, but the tone is even, and almost soothing. Dean is in the shower and all is right with the world.

For a second, Sam’s brain insists on thinking about Dean naked in the shower, but that’s stupid. And unproductive. And completely beside the point. What Dean had given him was a one-off gift. Nothing more.

Sam looks at Dean’s boots. Dean prefers boots of this kind, lace up, sturdy. He only wears sneakers when it’s too hot, like when they are in the desert.

The boots are soaked through, and the leather, no doubt, is ruined. Dean is probably going to have to get new ones, still, it doesn’t hurt to try. Sam takes one of the t-shirts from the laundry bag and tries to wipe the leather down. He takes the t-shirt and stuffs the toe of one boot with it. Then he takes another t-shirt and does the same with the other boot. He puts the boots by the door, near the heat vent, which is on low, so the boots will dry slowly.


(Dean's Ruined Boots)


The shower winds down and within two minutes, Dean is dressed and out, releasing a cloud of steam and striding over to where he left his boots. He sees them where Sam has put them. They are stiffening as they dry. The tongues are melted, the laces are shredded, and the toes are curling up.

Dean grabs his sneakers and puts them on. He stands up and grabs the keys, using them to point at the boots. “Sacrificed to the river gods, I guess, ‘cause I don’t think they’re going to make it.”

“I gave them mouth to mouth,” says Sam, trying to look sad. Dean had new boots coming to him anyway. He’d just been putting it off. “There was water in my compass if it makes you feel any better.”

“It’ll be okay,” says Dean. He shrugs on his leather jacket. “Let’s go.”

As the sun is setting, Dean drives the car downtown to Bethel Street and parks the Impala in a good spot, under some streetlights right next to the nicest looking bar, a place called the Bethel Street Saloon. The sign has a country/western look to it, which normally would have turned Dean off except as they walk in, all the girls that Sam can see are wearing short skirts or very tight jeans.

“See?” says Dean.

Sam decides either Dean is psychic, or like a pig rooting for truffles, because he always knows the shortest distance between his dick and a piece of ass. Then Sam does not let himself think of Dean’s dick or his ass. Any more. At all.

The bar, like a lot of bars in small towns, is a collection of décor that runs the haphazard gamut from recent updates like the rack where wine glasses hang upside-down over the bar, to the dark and very battered bar that looks like it had been put in when the bar was built. The lights give off a faded yellow glow, and Sam can swear he’s crunching down on peanut shells with every step he takes.


(At the Bar by [livejournal.com profile] radishface )


Dean leads them to a booth that’s on the edge of the dance floor, where an actual band is just setting up. He slides in to the seat that is, naturally, the side facing the door; Sam slides in the other side. Then, with a flick of his wrist like he’s dealing out the final card in a tight game of Texas Holdem, Dean flings one of the menus at Sam.

Sam opens his mouth. He thinks he wants to protest, not at the choice of food, because if there’s anything Dean knows how to find on the road besides good coffee, it is good cheeseburgers. It might be the venue, because once the band starts up, it’s going to get loud.

Frankly, it’s the feeling that he’d rather be alone to celebrate with Dean. The push-me, pull-you tug between them about what they do for fun after a gig is not new, it happens all the time. Dean usually wins because even if Sam doesn’t go with him, Dean ends up celebrating exactly how he likes, typically in a bar. Which is usually fine, except without the high danger that usually accompanies a gig, with no wounds to lick or adrenaline high to come down off of, Sam is too able to ponder his thoughts. Which are right now reminding him that his brother is right there.

“Just order something, Sam,” says Dean. His eyes track the menu in his hands, but not for one second is he not attentive to what Sam is doing. “We deserve to have some fun.”

Sam looks at the menu, and is taken with the idea of eating something crunchy and fried in fat. “How do you think the onion rings are?” he asks.

“Delicious. Can’t you smell the grease?”

Sam can, and when their waitress comes over, they’re quick to order. Sam gets chicken tenders and honey mustard to dip them in; Dean gets the cheeseburger, loaded with everything, and a double order of rings for them to share. They settle on two bottles of beer, because the food seems like it’s going to need it.

Dean reaches over to grab the catsup, to be in readiness when the onion rings come, and flicks his eyelashes at Sam. “Tomorrow we’ll eat a salad, okay? I don’t want to hear about heart attacks or anything. Got it?”

Sam won’t let himself think that Dean is flirting with him; maybe the looking-through-the-eyelashes thing is how Dean always is in bars, only Sam never realized it before.

“Did I say anything?” asks Sam in protest, making his mind go back on track.

“No, but you looked it. You had that look—” Dean pauses to point to the middle of his own forehead. “That stupid thinking look. Just knock it off, we’re here to have a good time. We did good today.”

“We didn’t really stop the kelpie, Dean,” Sam says. He keeps his voice low. “He could do it again.”

“I’ll call what’s-her-name and tell her what to look for. She’ll keep an eye on him.”

That’s probably true; Irene seemed the type who could deal with Mr. Shane, especially when her town of weavers was at risk, and they can certainly tell her what to look for. Sam lets it go, and grabs at his beer when it arrives. It’s not quite cold, as if someone had forgotten to put them in the fridge until way too late. Dean makes a face when he takes the first pull of his beer, so his is probably not much colder.

“The next one will be better,” Sam says.

Dean shrugs and takes another deep swallow of the beer, his eyes casting around the bar, checking out the band still setting up, checking out the girls in short skirts. There’s a jerky urgency to his movements, as if he can’t get laid fast enough. Sam wonders if this will be one of the nights that he spends waiting up in the Impala till Dean gives the all clear that he’s done with the motel room. Sam hopes not.

That is, he thinks he hopes not. Not that he wants a repeat of the night before, he’s not into pity fucks, let alone pity hand jobs. But it was good, it had felt good, and how can he tell his brother, more of that, please? He can’t, and he knows it. And yet. The memory is there with him, even as the waitress interrupts them by bringing their food on a plastic platter. He watches Dean take the onion rings and put them squarely between their beers. Watches his hands as he takes up his cheeseburger and bites into it, squirting mayonnaise everywhere. Watches his tongue—

“You gonna eat?” asks Dean, his eyebrows rising, his cheeks bulging as he chews. Bits of half chewed food spray from his mouth and Sam grimaces.

“Yeah,” he says, and starts in on the chicken fingers. They’re not bad, but there’s nothing special about them either. The onion rings, on the other hand, are delicious, as promised, with just the right amount of breading over the thinnest, most finely cut slices of onion.

And it’s a vegetable,” Dean points out, grabbing more rings to throw them on his plate. There’s catsup on his fingers, which he licks off before he absently wipes his hands with a paper napkin.

Sam opens his mouth to say something snotty about that, when there’s a loud twang and a clunk as the band starts up. And, yes, as they start playing a rousing rendition of “Flowers on the Wall,” they are loud. He can feel his ears start to ring.

Dean marches his way through his cheeseburger and exactly half the onion rings. He signals the waitress for two more beers, and drums his fingers on the table while he watches Sam work on his remaining chicken fingers. Thankfully, the beers are cold when they arrive, and Sam sighs with appreciation as he takes a swallow.

Dean grabs his beer and stands up. “I’m going to go—” he says, waving vaguely at the bar and the dance floor. “Hurry up and join me.”

Then he walks off, leaving Sam with a mouthful of bland, overly greasy chicken finger in his mouth. There’s a half one still left on his plate, and there’s two onion rings in the bowl just for him. He stares at the collection, and wonders why the chicken suddenly tastes like sawdust and the onion rings have lost their deep-fried allure. Of course he wants Dean to get laid, of course he does. That’s what Dean loves most in the world. Getting laid, cheeseburgers, and the Impala. Though not necessarily in that order.

That he loves Sam is a given, but on a night like tonight, Dean’s on the prowl. There’s a slouch to his leather-clad shoulders, and an insouciant cant to his hips as he strolls up to the bar. It’s no accident that any woman with eyes in her head swivels her neck in Dean’s direction. Dean knows what he’s doing, means for it to happen. And as he leans toward one sassy miss in a red shirt with pearl-snap buttons, Sam makes himself look away.

And then he makes himself gesture to the waitress and dig out a fold of bills. He doesn’t want to wait around to sign the credit card, because not only are there people waiting at the door for a place to sit down, he wants to go back to the motel. Where he can think about his life as the younger brother of a guy with simply too much testosterone in his system. But he’s used to that, surely he can deal.

When the waitress brings him the change, she’s frowning at him, maybe because no one uses cash these days, who knows. He counts the bills between his fingers and lays down a five next to the mostly empty plates. And just as he’s stuffing his wallet back in his pocket, there’s a hand on his arm.

Sam looks up. It’s Dean.

“C’mon, Sammy, I’ve got another beer for you at the bar. And maybe the next song will be something we can dance to.”

He is too late to escape. Dean has him in his sights, and Sam can see the duo of bottles of beer sweating on the bar. There will be dancing and there will be fucking and Sam rolls his eyes, shakes off Dean’s hand and follows Dean.

They get up to the bar. Sam grabs his beer just as the band breaks into a choppy version of “El Paso.” Suddenly at his elbow is a small, dark-haired girl in a straw cowboy’s hat.

“They’re murdering this song,” she tells him, her eyes sparkling.

Dean claps him on the shoulder and gestures to the girl with his thumb. “Sam, this is Alice.” His voice is loud to be heard over the cords of the electric mandolin. “Alice, this is my brother, Sam.”

Another pretty girl stands next to Dean, though she is not the one in the snap-button shirt. Sam wonders where that one went, and smiles around the mouth of his beer as he takes another swallow because it doesn’t matter. Dean can slip into it, hell, into any girl, slick as you please, loud music or soft, and the pounding of his heart is probably all that he hears. That and the song of his little brain.

Sam glowers at Dean and gets a huge, fake smile in return.

“I’m going to go bribe the band to play something else,” says Dean, shouting. His eyes are bright with the challenge. “Be right back.”

Sam is left with Alice and No Name Girl. Not that he has to know her name, as she will be sleeping with Dean and in the morning they will go on as they always do, leaving the girls behind them. The thought makes him choke on his beer. Alice pats him on the back, too lightly to be of any use.

“I’m helping,” she says, in a baby voice that is still, somehow, strong enough to make itself heard over the din.

There’s a twanging sound as “El Paso” comes to a quick and blessed end, and out of the corner of his eye, Sam can see Dean handing over a whole wad of cash to the lead guitar player. Not that it matters, it’s not their cash, it’s Daniel Rabinsky’s, and he won’t even miss it. Out of the other corner of his eye, Sam can see Alice and No Name Girl whispering to each other as they look at him and smile, flashing white teeth and perfectly applied lipstick.

Dean rushes back as the band starts up again, this time to the quick beat of “Forever and Ever Amen.” Not that Sam can admit to Dean that he knows the names of all these songs, but he does. Nor can he can figure out how Dean knew that this particular tune is one that can be danced to. Not without asking. And does Dean even know the two step? Sam puts his beer on the bar because Sam and Alice and No Name Girl are about to find out.

Dean slips off his leather jacket and puts it on a bar stool. Alice leaves her hat there for good measure, and the four of them head to the dance floor where other couples, whose faces seem grateful at the change of songs, are joining them.

Sam takes up Alice’s hand, and puts his other hand on her waist. The music starts, almost in tune this time, and Sam’s body remembers the steps, even as he gets the feeling that Alice is so tiny, he might run her over if he doesn’t pace himself. His hand feels hot and his bangs fall in his eyes. Alice is laughing up at him, so charming, so cute as she dances backwards, and all Sam can do is seek out Dean.

Dean is just over there, talking close into No Name Girl’s ear. There is a flush to his cheeks and a wide smirk on his mouth. Because of his flirting with No Name Girl, he’s screwing up the two step as he does the leaning thing, thus messing up everyone behind him. Including, now, Sam.

But No Name Girl is laughing and Alice is smiling, and a whole roomful of women look like they wish they were dancing a badly done two step, too. That is, as long as they would be dancing with the broad-shouldered man with the dashing hips and a mouth made for kissing.

Sam jerks his thoughts back, and focuses on Alice.

“They aren’t murdering this one,” he offers her.

“What?”

Sam shakes his head. It’s too loud for talking and he’s slightly out of breath and the room seems overly hot. He should have taken his jacket off.

What?” she asks again, and Sam realizes it for the ploy that it is, to get him to lean closer and brush skin to skin as he says what he needs to say in her ear.

He pretends he’s distracted by something across the room, though he’s not looking at Dean. Maybe another beer would help.

In short order, the song comes to an end, and whether it’s because the song is short, or because Dean only paid enough for a certain number of minutes, Sam doesn’t know. The band starts up with another number, one that Sam doesn’t know, whose lyrics enjoin him to take her home an’ give her a whirl, cause you know she’s daddy’s girl. He leads them both up to the bar, and signals for four beers. Halfway through his gesture at the bartender, Alice shakes her head.

“My friend doesn’t drink,” she says. “But she’ll have a coke.”

Sam leans over the bar. “Make one of those a coke, okay?” He slips the bartender a twenty and says, “Three beers and a coke for—”

He looks at Alice, his ears pounding, feeling the sweat trickling down his back.

“Milly.”

“A coke for Milly,” he says, feeling like he’s roaring.

Dean soon arrives, with Milly, formerly No Name Girl, in tow. Both of them are sweating, and Milly smiles at Sam as she takes up the coke. Sam’s not sure how lucky Dean’s going to get with a coke-drinking girl, but he seems pretty pleased with himself, smirking at Sam as he sucks back a mouthful of beer, so maybe there’s something he knows that Sam doesn’t.

Leaning his elbow on the bar, Dean tips his bottle at Sam. “I’ll give you first dibs on the motel room, little brother,” he says. “Milly and I can stay here for a while.”

This stops Sam for a second, and he pulls back from the bar, keeping an eye out for the beers, feeling the backbeat of the music thumping through the soles of his feet. Then he pulls Dean close with a tug on Dean’s t-shirt. It is one thing to allow Dean to get laid. It is another to be thrown into the pit when he simply is not ready. And Dean knows that.

“I thought you were looking to get laid,” Sam says low. “I thought that’s why we came here.”

Dean leans forward, his shoulder brushing Sam’s, and as he whispers in Sam’s ear, his breath stirs across Sam’s skin.

“You’re the one who needs to get laid,” says Dean.

“You know I’m not ready for that.” Sam tries to catch Dean’s eye, so that he can make sure Dean understands exactly how impossible it would be for Sam to go home with any girl right now.

But Dean stays close, almost pressing against Sam. His voice is low, but carries under the twang of the guitar. “You should be,” he says, “especially after I primed your pump for you.”

Sam jerks back, and there’s a little pause as the anticipation in his groin revs up to meet the shock of his brain. Dean’s got an expectant look on his face. But Sam’s body isn’t turned on by a half-shouted conversation with a petite, dark haired thing in a straw cowboy’s hat, nor does he want to give her a whirl, daddy’s girl or no. Sam’s big brain wants to go to the motel, and the only person his little brain wants to whirl is his brother.

“Dean,” he says, putting his beer down on the counter. “I’m gonna go.”

“Go?” Dean asks. Shouting. Eyebrows flying up then hovering low. Alice and Milly look shocked, but Sam doesn’t care.

“I’ll walk it,” he’d said. It saves him the tired argument of actually taking the Impala for his own, even if just to drive back to the motel.

“You should stay,” Dean had shouted. “Stay and—” His hand had waves at the crowd, at Alice, at the hustle and movement of skin and sweat and an inordinate amount of snap buttons. Stay and get laid for your own good is what he’s saying, but Sam shakes his head.

Sam walks out of the bar as fast as the crowd and the music will let him. When he steps outside the door, the air is suddenly chill. It’s full on night, and he has to orient himself as to the direction of the hotel. His jacket is too thin, and there’s a brisk wind cutting around him as he walks with his hands in his pockets. He walks down the hill and across the bridge and stays in the shadows, just in case Dean decides to jump in the Impala and chase after him.

Dean’s kindness in priming Sam’s pump, however brotherly in nature, has permanently taken Sam’s body to a place where his brain doesn’t quite know how to get him back from. To Dean it was, had been, of course, obligation and duty and taking care of Sam, which is what he did, not counting the cost, not stopping to consider it. Help Sam, get him going, make it so that everything is okay for him, that was what was on Dean’s roster. Hell, it was Dean’s roster, plain and simple. And for Sam not to have followed through after Dean’s assistance and get himself laid is tantamount to a sin. In the Winchester book, that is.

By the time he unlocks the door to the motel room, he knows he could find a nice girl with long curls and a sweet smile that made him feel good instead of bad, then he’d take her for a whirl, daddy’s girl or no.  Hell, he might even consider sharing the details with Dean, just to show him that yes, he, Sam, was fine. Everything in perfect working order.

But just because it’s working doesn’t mean you have to use it. Dean.

Not that Dean will ever understand that.

~

Part 4 - Shamrock
Master Fic Post

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