Title - You can only come to the morning through the shadows
Pairing - Gen
Rating - PG
Summary - A day in the life of the Winchesters. Takes place in early season one.
Disclaimers - Supernatural is not mine. Title is a quote from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.
Author - ???
All the clichéd sayings about home basically boil down to the same thing – home is where you feel like you belong.
Home isn't necessarily where you are safe. Or where you are wanted or needed. Or even where you want to be. But it's where you can fit in without trying, where you are you and no one expects any more or less than that. You belong there.
The smell of the Impala in the morning is sort of like that. The leather upholstery, their hot coffee, the faint tang of Dean's shampoo. It's a combination of smells so deeply rooted in Sam that he found himself missing it when he was at Stanford.
"Ring-ding or Ho-ho?" says Dean. He's sitting shotgun, unwrapping the snack cakes they bought from the convenience store. He balls up the wrappers, plastic crinkling loudly.
Sam tries to answer, but he just cracks up. "You can't expect me to take that question seriously."
"Fine, mock me," says Dean, but he's holding back a laugh, too. "You get to eat this crusty granola bar."
Their day is only just beginning, and Sam rolls down his window and inhales the cool air. Breathes deep.
At midday, they're usually on the road, going from one town to another. It's the time when nothing happens, like they're floating around in this unreal negative space of open road and sunlight.
For some reason, Sam sleeps best at this time of day. He naps in the passenger seat, head rolling sometimes towards the window, sometimes towards Dean. He fades in and out of sleep, in time with the waxing and waning shadows, the slashes of sunlight glowing red behind his eyelids.
While Sam is sleeping, Dean entertains himself by talking. Dean's monologue somehow always worms its way into Sam's subconscious. And ever since Sam told him so, it's become another weapon in Dean's arsenal of Ways to Annoy Sam.
So Sam dreams of hot dogs and Led Zeppelin and Scarface and whatever else Dean feels like talking about. And when Dean's feeling particularly creative, he'll tell dirty jokes during the entire drive, until Sam wakes up with a raging hard-on, feeling vaguely violated.
"No more," groans Sam, rolling over and trying to curl into a ball in the cramped space.
Dean laughs. He reaches over and shakes Sam's shoulder gently. "Okay, wake up. You want lunch?"
"Yeah. And I want a milkshake, damn you," says Sam, and he grins when Dean busts up laughing. He can't not smile when Dean cracks up like that.
"Mmm. Thick and creamy," says Dean in between chuckles, and Sam hits him upside the head.
Afternoon usually finds them driving around town, talking to witnesses and experts, or in a library, researching.
Honestly, Sam doesn't like being in the library. At least, not with Dean, who can be either an amazing help or a complete nuisance, depending on his mood that day.
Today is one of those days.
Sam's computer bleeps, and he clicks the messenger window open warily.
[CallMeCandy]: Want to see some really sexxxy pictures?
[leumas]: … I know that's you, Dean.
[CallMeCandy]: But you clicked the link anyway, didn't you, you little perv?
[leumas]: If you're bored, just say so.
[CallMeCandy]: Don't roll your eyes at me, whippersnapper. And I'm bored.
[leumas]: Sucks for you, then.
Sam looks up when someone whaps his shoulder. He stares at Dean, who grins at him cheekily. "How'd you get over here so fast? And ow."
"Superspeed," says Dean, like that's an answer. "Come on. You're done."
"I just need to cross-check this one last thing," says Sam, turning back to the computer.
Dean grabs the back of Sam's chair and spins it around and around, until Sam stops it and kicks him. "I'll buy you ice cream," Dean promises, and he smiles in triumph when Sam sighs and switches the computer off.
Sam likes to go running in the evening, whereas Dean likes to go running in the morning, when he can manage to get up early enough.
It's not so much for the exercise – hunting is a workout and a half, in and of itself – but it's a break from thinking. All Sam has to worry about is putting one foot in front of the other.
The air is chilly, but his sweats and t-shirt are warm and damp, clinging to his skin. He takes easy, long strides, going through unfamiliar neighborhoods. Sam watches the cars driving home, the people going into their cookie-cutter houses.
Sam would be lying if he said he didn't envy them, a little.
When Sam gets back to the motel, Dean is sitting on his bed, naked. Thankfully, he's got a towel wrapped around his waist. His hair is still lathered up with shampoo, and it's dripping onto his shoulders. Dean's got their packs open on the bedspread in front of him, and he's assembling their guns, getting them ready for tonight.
Looking up and seeing Sam's stare, Dean says, "What? The shower broke." When Sam starts laughing, Dean repeats, "What? Dude, shut up."
This time of day is their time apart. It isn't like they officially declared it or something, but that's just the way it happened to work out. Dean goes off to chat up girls, and Sam finishes his dinner and two beers and goes back to the motel.
Before he even asks for the check, though, a pretty redhead plops down in Dean's vacated seat. She asks Sam out to a club, and Sam almost says yes, but abruptly feels guilty, and mumbles some excuse before tossing some money on the table and escaping the restaurant.
Sam doesn't feel any better when he gets back to the motel. He rechecks their guns for tonight, watches TV, surfs the Internet.
When Dean gets back, Sam is lying facedown on his bed, upside down, chin hanging over the end of the mattress. The TV is off, the laptop is closed, the lights are turned low.
"Don't strain yourself there, Sammy, with all that fun you're having," says Dean. He peels off his jacket and button-down and tosses them on his bed.
"I learned how to macramé," Sam deadpans. "And how to make a rotisserie chicken."
"Okay, no more home shopping network for you." Dean sits down on the corner of the bed, next to Sam's shoulder, and says, in a different tone of voice, "You okay?"
"Yeah," says Sam, and it's not true right now, but if he keeps saying it enough, maybe it will be. Someday.
The night is dark and bleak, blackness with no end. The moonlight only seems to emphasize the dark. This is the time that all the spirits come alive, the time that nightmares walk the earth.
This is the witching hour.
Sam and Dean usually don't talk. At least, not with words. They know each other, inside and out, and they can communicate without talking if they have to. On a job, in the middle of the night, talking seems unnecessary.
They lean against opposite sides of the front door frame. Sam hears the shick-click of Dean's gun clip sliding into place, sees the vague movement of Dean's hands in the dark. Dean flicks on his flashlight and swings it up to Sam's face briefly. Ready?
Sam pumps the shotgun and nods towards the closed door. Ready.
The moonlight catches the white flash of Dean's grin in the darkness. Let's hunt this son of a bitch down. Dean kicks down the door, and there's a bang of the lock breaking and a crack of splintering wood.
They go in, shoulder to shoulder, guns at the ready. Blood thumping, adrenaline humming. Sam doesn't have to see Dean's smile to know it's there, because he can feel it.
This is the hour when they feel alive.
After their job, they drive back to the motel with the windows down, letting the warm night air inside the car. Dean drives, humming along to CCR, and Sam dozes, wind whipping his hair like a friend.
Late night is always hazy to Sam. It's like he's caught in this dream world in which there are only ghosts and darkness and Dean. Sam is not quite awake, not quite asleep, working on autopilot.
Sam doesn't realize he's fallen asleep in the shower until the scrape of the curtain being drawn back wakes him up a little bit. Sam lifts his head and blinks the water out of his eyes.
"Jesus, I thought you drowned in here. C'mon," says Dean, flicking the shower off. He grabs a towel from the rack and wraps Sam in it. "You gotta move your feet, man. You're too heavy for me to carry now."
"Hmm," says Sam, shuffling along obediently with Dean's arm around his waist, and Sam feels like he's five again.
Dean is pushing Sam onto his bed, pulling his covers over him, towel and all. "You're going to sleep naked, bro. I draw the line at dressing you." Dean's voice is low and amused.
And it sounds like Dean adds, "Night, Sammy," but Sam isn't sure if he's dreaming it or not.
Sam usually wakes up before Dean does. Actually, Sam always wakes up before Dean does. Sometimes it's because of the nightmares. Sometimes it's because of this restless itchy feeling that pulls him out of his sleep. Most times, it's nothing at all.
This morning, he wakes up because he's cold. He's naked, cocooned in his blankets and his damp towel, and his skin is covered in goosebumps. He gets dressed quickly, in the dark, jumping up and down in place a little to get warm.
Dean is dead to the world, snoring a little. He lies on his side, one hand splayed over his stomach, the other curled under his pillow.
Sam tugs on a jacket and opens the front door as quietly as he can. He closes the door behind him and leans back on it, staring out at the half-filled motel parking lot, the gray morning.
When it's early like this, in the half-light of dawn and with the wet chill in the air, Sam feels like time has stopped. A peaceful sort of mindlessness comes with this pause before sunrise. It's just… quiet, safe. Like a secret.
Dean comes out of the room half an hour later, scratching his stomach, barely awake.
"You're up early," says Sam, glancing sideways at his brother.
"Ngh," Dean grunts, eyes only half open, and Sam smiles.
On mornings like these, Sam wonders why he ever wanted to leave in the first place.