Rating: PG - Gen - wee!chesters - Bobby - John - Pastor Jim
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Beta: Thank you Kat!
Summary: Pastor Jim has some company over for the weekend to talk business.
“Dean, get us some more pretzels would ya?”
Rolling out from under the folding card table, Dean stretched out on the carpet and eyed his father warily. The tantalizingly unattended bag of pretzels hadn't survived long by sitting on its lonesome in the kitchen. But hey, it wasn't his fantastic idea to let Sam out of the closet and roam free--
“And some of that clam dip,” Bobby added. “I brought it in that blue bowl.”
“Clam dip?” Jim arranged his cards neatly in his hand. “Haven't had clam dip since the Women's Auxiliary Easter Luncheon last spring--”
“It ain't hard to make,” Bobby mumbled. “Ya just dump the fuckers in some mayonnaise.”
Sitting between them, Sam absorbed the information solemnly.
“Uncle Bobby says you can just dump the fuckers in some ma--”
“Yeah, I heard,” dad handed the kid a nacho overloaded with salsa to shove into his mouth. “Now hold your cards up right or everyone playin' will be able to see what you got.”
Dean watched his brother sit up straighter on his knees in the extra chair they'd pulled up for him. It was stupid to let a 5-year-old play poker. In poker, you had to pay attention all the time or you lost in one second. Sam couldn't even play a baby game like Go Fish without messing it all up.
“Oh yeah,” Bobby took one more look at his cards before folding with a groan. “You can dump the fuckers in sour cream too.”
Pastor Jim drew two more cards. “I'll be sure to tell all the ladies.”
“I bet,” Bobby muttered under his breath. “I bet you sure won't.”
The three men at the table fell strangely silent.
When they finally eased into friendly laughter Dean figured out there had somehow been a joke exchanged. His father's and Bobby's smiles were good-natured, but Pastor Jim's kept his in check with the muted disapproval of a schoolteacher. A few seconds too late, Sam let out a high-pitched snort and laughed along with them to keep up with the spirit of things. Dean rolled his eyes when his father scrubbed a hand through his brother's messy hair. He knew that Bobby had told a joke too, but at least he was smart enough to know he'd missed whatever the hell had been so funny.
“I'd sure like to have all those widows knockin' on my door,” Bobby clapped the priest on the shoulder. “All alone in the world and in need of some heavenly guidance.”
“Mrs. Harris will be here any second,” Jim assured him. “When she found out I was having some family in from out of town she insisted on bringing a pot roast and chocolate cake.”
Dean lowered his magazine a little so he could see his dad's face. He always thought it was weird when his father asked questions like that. Mostly because he knew his father never really paid attention to anyone. At least, not long enough to care what they might look like.
“She has a lovely smile,” Pastor Jim answered. “And she gives a one-thousand dollar donation every year for the Christmas Charity on behalf of her deceased cat 'Clyde'--”
“Nope,” Bobby concluded. “She ain't pretty.”
“Can we have cake first?” Sam asked. “Chocolate cake?”
Dean begrudgingly admired his brother's strategy. It was always a good idea to address a general audience of adults when it was uncertain which one was the most likely to cave.
“After supper,” dad tossed down a few cards and picked a few up. “Your turn kiddo--no, no, keep the fours, you got all of them--”
“I like the Queens!”
“But ya only got one of those--”
“But I like it!”
Dean kicked a pillow into the air over his head. He already knew that more of a little was better than a little of more. One time he'd dealt himself a Straight Flush with all the smallest numbers in the whole deck and a Straight Flush was almost the best it got. If he'd actually been playing with anyone at the time he would have won no problem. He watched Sam defiantly shove the precious Queen down the back of his pants. Dean braced himself for the waterworks when his dad got ready to take the thing back the hard way.
“Go on an' let him play his way, John,” Bobby shrugged. “If he ever stops eatin' all the candy he's bettin', he'll lose a few pots and figure it out fast enough.”
“Just don't let him toss in your keys,” Jim suggested. “Unless you'd like me to take that car off your hands.”
“Maybe that's it?” his father nodded at the white collar the Pastor never took off. “I was trying to figure out what it would take to make you really fit in around here.”
Jim glanced out the window to the Chevy and Chevelle parked out front.
“Tearing up Main Street in an old junker like yours might get me run out of town.”
“Vintage automobile,” he said in apology. “The very finest.”
Dean listened doubtfully to that one. The sedate four door sedan parked outside seemed exactly what the Pastor ought to be driving all the time. It was dark yellow that sparkled gold in the sunlight and it started every time you turned the key no matter how cold it was outside. The car with the chipped paint reminded Dean of everything the man owned. From the dried tea roses that sat in dusty wine bottles, or the dining room chairs that sat mismatched in every shape and size. All of it was comfortable and nice in an untidy kind of way.
“Why don't you watch some TV, Dean?” Pastor Jim offered. “I brought the VCR down from the attic for you last night.”
Dean flopped down onto the sagging brown sofa and dug through a box of videos sitting on the floor. There were a bunch of movies that had been collected just for him and his brother. Stuff that old Jim wouldn't watch in a million years. He searched through some stale action flicks that he'd watched so many times he could cue the explosions on demand. Giving up on John Woo director cuts, he clicked the remote on the off chance that some actual television might be on.
Sam collided into his side less than five seconds after Optimus Prime appeared on the screen.
“Turn it up,” his father told him.
He was already turning it down before he abruptly processed that he'd been asked to do the exact opposite. Dean dropped back down onto the sofa and elbowed aside his suddenly attentive brother.
“A little louder.”
Dean pressed the remote hard until the volume bar went three quarters across the monitor.
What Dean couldn't hear out right he could tell when their lips moved. Names of towns. Caliber of bullets. Entire pieces of conversation were all his while the full meaning was always kept neatly above his head like their lame jokes. Voices rising and falling. Angry to hopeful.
Pastor Jim caught him watching before he could look away.
“How about those pretzels, Dean?” The priest cracked open three more bottles of beer and passed to his left. “And that uh, dip...”
“While yer in there,” Bobby grimaced around a sip. “How 'bout fetching me a real drink.”
They all laughed again but this time Dean knew the reason why. Even he knew that the beer in the fancy green glass was the good stuff. Dad picked it up all the way in Canada sometimes. Bobby had been so happy when he'd seen the cases in the trunk that he'd given their dad a hug with both arms.
Dean sneaked a taste once but it just seemed like regular old beer to him.
Nestling into the cushions, he decided to start tossing the remote control up and down instead continuing the short channel surf. He was pretty good at flipping stuff one handed now, he could even do it with the knives sheathed and not once ever catch it by the blade--
The food arrived just as Pastor Jim said it would.
A chatty lady in a cat sweatshirt swept through the house and fussed in the kitchen for a while. Before she left she gently pinched his nose and ears in a way that made him like her before he knew he wanted to. She didn't look like the kind of girls in Uncle Bobby's calendars but Dean decided he thought the Pastor was right about her smile.
After loading up two plates, Dean was sent with Sam back to the television.
The poker game had quieted down again.
Piles of poker chips hadn't moved from their teetering stacks, and the cards dealt out over an hour ago were still on the table. After all the talk of dinner their food sat uneaten on the table and the special beer wasn't being drunk. Dean helped himself to some cake when he was all done. To his elated surprise, the middle layer of frosting was filled with fresh strawberries. Slicing an extra piece for his brother to save himself the second trip, he sat back in front of the tube and wished the cat lady had brought some ice cream to go with it.
“Nnrgh,” Sam curled into a ball next to his empty plate. “'stomach hurts.”
“Don't puke on me.”
Dean considered the sickly green cast to his brother's face. The kid was like a stupid gold fish. He'd eat until he exploded if anyone gave him the chance.
“Dad,” Dean said. “Sammy ate too much, I think he's gonna--”
“Why don't you boys go on to bed?”
Once Sam was sleeping Dean could listen to them better from the top of the stairs anyway. But before they could even get undressed Sam started a fight for the bed by the wall. It wasn't better but it was always the one Dean wanted and so it was off limits. Leaving his brother in mid-outrage, Dean shut the light off and waited for Sam to give up and find the other squeaky mattress.
Any minute now and Dean would creep back down the hall.
When a half an hour passed and Sam hadn't started puking or snoring, Dean had to start fighting his own drooping eyelids. Pinching himself on the inside of the elbow always worked in the car, but lying on top of the quilted comforter with the heat billowing gently from the radiator was making him sleepy.
“Go to bed.”
“I heard 'em talkin' about Sheol.”
Dean stared up at the shadows of the branches swaying across the ceiling. It figured that there wasn't just one eavesdropper tapping the lines around here. Sammy couldn't keep his nose out of a tree shredder if he wanted to.
“Is it bad?” Sam half whispered. “Do-do you think they're gonna go there?”
Dean slowly formed the odd word Sheol in his mouth and came up short on any meaning. But his brother had dropped the strange word as if it were a place and not a thing.
“T-They can't go there tonight,” Dean rolled into his covers and was glad it was too dark for Sam to see his face. “Tennessee is too far to go in one day.”
“But-but..” Sam flopped around in his bed. “B-but-and um, well, where's Gehenna at?”
His brother recited some more words, pausing after each one in the hopes that Dean might be able to explain. When Dean didn't, Sam burrowed back into his pillows and sighed.
“I do know one thing dad said,” Sam said hesitantly. "Just one tho."
Dean knew that one to.
“Can't go there,” Sam's voice became softer with sleep. “It's a make believe place.”
“Yeah,” he yawned. “Maybe.”
Listening to his brother's breathing become shallow and steady, he allowed sleep to lull his eyes closed. Dean wriggled deeper into the pile of blankets when the sound of the men's laughter drifted up the rickety wood stairs.
Right now there was nothing wrong.
And Dean hoped it would stay that way for a real long time.