Rating: PG - Gen
Spoilers: General (for aired episodes only)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Late night conversation during a hot summer night. Dean recalls their father's father...
Sam lay awake and glanced over at the dimly lit clock. It was one of those old ones that flipped the numbers minute by minute with one small little click. He hated those. They forced him to watch the night slowly creep by, waiting, staring for the next number to appear like the lamest card trick in the world.
"It's hot as balls in here."
So Dean was awake too.
Sam sighed. Just one week into the hottest stretch of a Louisiana summer and they had finally crash landed into a motel that finally had an air conditioner. Unfortunately all it did was blow the hot air from outside back into their room. It was like laying still in a dark convection oven with the added pleasure of damp musty sheets.
Dean groaned, his silhouette suddenly in the parking lot lit glow of the curtained window. He stumbled ungracefully over his share of crap on the floor by his bed and headed for the bathroom. Sam always wondered how a guy with one duffel bag worth of belongings managed to spread it out into so many places with such efficient speed. The bathroom light didn't click on after Dean entered it without shutting the door. There was a creak of a faucet and then the hard hiss of the shower came on.
Sam turned his head towards the dark doorway. His hair damp on his forehead and back of his neck. He sat up scrubbing at his face, his limbs lethargic and slow, his mind moving like molasses with the humidity. Getting up made him just want to fall back down. He peered into the small dark cave that was the windowless motel wash room. Sam flipped on the light.
Dean blinked up at him, using a hand to shield his eyes from the offending glare. He was sprawled limply in the bathtub under the shower spray that smelled vaguely like sulfur.
"What is it with this state..." Dean grumbled. "Even the cold water is hot."
"Comfy?" Sam asked.
"Hey, look dude, yer lucky I even have some boxers on right now."
Sam sat tiredly on the sink counter and yawned. "Want me to run to the ice machine?"
Dean perked slightly. "Hey yeah, be a pal and--"
"It's broken." Sam had already checked earlier while Dean had paid for their room. Even the soda machine spit out nothing that wasn't a few degrees above molten lava.
Dean sagged back down under the lukewarm droplets of water.
Sam flipped the toilet seats up, too tired and too far gone to care if anyone else was in the room or not, let alone the fifth limb that was his brother. Family got to be like that he guessed. For some reason, something suddenly occurred to him.
"Hey, didn't Dad's Dad grow up around here?" Sam wondered out loud. "Wasn't he born here?"
"It's fitting." Dean said solemnly from behind him. "Because we're gonna die here you know."
Sam flushed the toilet, wondering how often Dean inadvertently quoted Star Wars.
"No seriously, didn't he live out in um, in DeQuincy or something?" Sam asked looking over his shoulder as he washed his hands, the cold tap water disturbingly almost higher than room temperature.
Dean rolled his head to look at him, the flow from the ancient limed up shower nozzle splattering chaotically on his face and chest. "DeRidder."
It was interesting how Dean had taken up the role of family historian. It seemed like the province of the aged and gray. Or women who kept carefully made photo albums with written descriptions and dates behind each picture. Dad hadn't ever been much about sentimentality. In fact, if they hadn't been back towards Lawrence they wouldn't even have the scant collection of Winchester memorabilia as it was.
Dean rested his bent knees on either side of the large tub. "Only went there once or twice. Last time you must have been 4 or so."
His elder brother also frequently seemed to measure their family's time in Sam's age and not his own. But he was right, he had been pretty young. Just young enough to remember having been there and that was about it. He vaguely remembered the stuffy house and some plaid furniture. Not much else. Sam settled back down on the sink. He didn't know much about either side of his extended family outside of some names and cities and was surprised when it occurred to him that Dean actually might.
"He wasn't too thrilled to see Dad. Probably was hittin gramps up for some funds." Dean laughed shortly. "Dad hadn't quite mastered the finer details of The Life back then."
His brother didn't often volunteer much information that wasn't directly asked of him so he was a little surprised and curious that he was doing so now. Sam imagined the reality of the man that raised their father and came up short. "That must have been just before he died."
"Yeah, he was pretty sick when we were there. Still working though." Dean said. "Tough old guy."
Sam had a flash of memory. Sitting on a brown shag carpet as he watched their father's father adjust a knob on a green tank that fit on a portable roller. He remembered the wheezing. He remembered later that night seeing the old man smoking out on the paint chipped porch and coughing until he doubled over. "He was working?"
"Yeah, he was some kind of custodian in this real old jail. All stone and about jillion years old. Took us to see it and everything." Dean told him offhandedly. "I remember it real well because it didn't look like a jail. It looked like a haunted house right outta some movie."
Sam thought about the strange glimpses of century old Gothic architecture that appeared unexpectedly amongst the rural towns of the South.
"Dad had to take you back to the car because you were pitching a fit about something...." Dean's hands fidgeted on his sopping wet boxers. "But gramps made this big deal out of wanting to take me for a walk around. I thought maybe he was waiting to have a real honest to God grandpa to grandkid moment and yeah well, he was a real fun guy let me tell ya."
Sam's brow furrowed. "How do you mean?"
"I don't know, we took this walk and the old guy could barely make it around without stopping every 10 feet to get his shit together. The place was pretty big and I thought he might drop dead right there, but what was I going to do? If the guy wanted to walk, we were going for a walk."
Sam nodded, seeing a picture in his head of the stone arches, looming towers and the sweep of windows with heavy iron bars bolted into place. The echo of deserted corridors. A large ring of keys to go from one heavy door to another.
Dean folded his hands on his stomach and shifted in the tub. "Then he starts telling me about the place and how it was called the 'Hanging Jail' because I guess back in its day it had regular executions right in it."
"Sounds like a real touching Winchester moment."
"Yup." Dean half smiled but it died as soon as it came. "In fact, he was pretty keen to tell me that two prisoners had once been hanged at the same time for some murder. The hanging got screwed up and one of them was half decapitated after the fall. And, according to record, still alive afterwards for more than 10 minutes."
Dean's vivid recount of detail made Sam's brow furrow even further.
"Yeah so we finally get to this big hall with one of those old metal staircases, you know the kind that twist up to the ceiling? You know, one of those spiral staircases..."
Sam crossed his arms, a frown forming and pulling down the corners of his mouth at how his brother's offhanded tone had shifted to something else. Something quieter and slightly baffled.
"And so we sat down on it, on this spiral stair case, the one the old guy just couldn't wait to show me." Dean shrugged. "And then dear old grand dad delivers me his big ole punch line."
For some reason he just knew exactly what that punch line had been. He could almost hear what it was that the old man had said to his young grandson with about as much relish as their own Dad could. About a new way to die. A new kind of murder. Or a great deal of other horrible things that would make most people cover their ears.
"It was the exact spot where they performed the hangings." Sam murmured.
"Weird huh?" Dean made a small forced laugh as he looked back up at Sam. "To go to all that trouble just to show me that?"
Sam let out a deep breath, unsure of what to say.
The loud air conditioner in the next room hitched and coughed, reminding him just how useless it was to even leave it on. A trickle of sweat ran down his back between his shoulder blades. God damn it was freaking hot in here. He pulled his T-shirt off over his head and tossed it aside.
"What?" Dean looked up at him in indignant alarm. "No way man, I claimed this shower for Spain--hey!! Geeze."
With only the briefest of struggles, Sam displaced his unwilling but limp older brother easily, sliding into the ceramic tub and forcing Dean to sit on its edge instead. The strike of the hard unfiltered ground water feeling as welcome as diving head first into a glacier lake.
"I was here first." Dean grumbled shaking out his wet hair and sighing in annoyance.
Sam settled down under the shockingly cool flowing splatter and closed his eyes.
"We should drive up there tomorrow." Dean said almost to himself.
"I bet that old jail has a job or two in it for us." Dean winked.
Sam smiled a tired smile. He bet it did too.