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The Best Gift Of All

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Summary: Sam runs from an abusive relationship, taking his daughter with him. When his car breaks down, Dean a retired hunter now a mechanic offers to let them stay with him through Xmas. AU, Schmoop, Domestic, Incest (Not brothers). Time stamps follow.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Supernatural > Non-BtVS/AtS Stories(Past Donor)CasFR181396,47481110,22024 Dec 1022 Apr 12No

Chapter 1 - The Best Gift Of All

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Our heartfelt thanks to smut_slut for this beautiful story banner.

co-written with: BrimstoneGold
Pairing: Sam/Dean (not bros) (incest warning given only because required by site)
Ratings/Warnings: AU, NC-17, domestic abuse/violence (mostly short flashbacks)
Disclaimer: The characters don't belong to us, they belong to Kripke
Summary: Sam runs away from and abusive relationship, taking his daughter with him. On the road and trying to get as far as possible on limited funds, his car breaks down. Against his better judgment, Dean, a mostly retired hunter and the town mechanic, offers to let them stay with him until repairs can be made. Hurt/comfort, schmoop, domestic fic, X-mas, HEA.

A/N: Inspired by this video by the awesome herebutnotremembered

Dean was tired and his leg was aching fiercely enough that he was limping badly and wished he had his cane. It had been a long day. There had been a big accident on the interstate due to a whiteout during the earlier snowstorm and all the local tow trucks had been called in to help clear out the cars. The cold didn't do a helluva lot to help, only making his leg ache more. An honest day's work sucked ass.

He hated that he'd had to 'retire' from actively hunting but he had more screws in his leg than he had loose in his head. That's what Bobby would've said anyway...if he'd survived that last hunt. Bobby had left Dean everything in his will since Bobby didn't have any family. With Bobby gone, someone had to take over doing research, manning the phones to back up other hunters pretending to be FBI or whatever. Dean still went out to help hunters sometimes if they needed it. He could do back up, he just wasn't much good on the front lines if it required running or jumping. Even digging up a grave was a strain now. And that sucked ass too.

The first year after that final hunt had been sheer hell. He'd had more operations on his leg than pieces his leg had been broken into from the cave-in. He and Bobby, they'd gone after a wendigo, nailed it, but the bastard had set up some deadfall traps. They were headed out and Dean felt the tripwire as his ankle caught it. Neither of them had seen it. Neither of them had expected it. They started to run for it then Dean felt the hand in his back shoving him forward. The collapsing roof, it killed Bobby instantly they said. Dean had been half buried under rubble. He'd suffered broken bones, a concussion, and his right leg was broken up so badly it might as well have been crushed.

When he and Bobby hadn't returned to their room, search teams were sent out and Rangers had found their Jeep. Dean had apparently been trapped for over a day, though he had been in and out of it for the most part and didn't really remember much of anything other than pain and calling for Bobby. He was damned lucky they found him at all, though many times, he wished they hadn't and that he'd died there right alongside Bobby.

It was his fault. He'd tripped the trap and maybe if Bobby hadn't taken that extra micro second to shove him forward, Bobby might be alive now too. Yeah, probably busted up to hell and back, but alive.

This last year had been better, more or less. He'd sorted out Bobby's business and got it back up and running again. Bobby's life insurance was pretty much gone, most of it paying for Dean's hospital bills and nurses and rehab. He finally had to stop going to rehab because he just really couldn't afford it anymore and didn't see the point. He could usually walk without a limp, or without much of one at least, unless he was on the leg too much or he was out in the cold for too long. Today, it had been both.

What money he had left he put into the business to keep it running. Since he couldn't hunt and driving for more than six or seven hours got his leg to hurting like a mother fucker, he'd resigned himself to taking over Bobby's job. He'd expanded the salvage yard to doing car repairs on older model cars, the ones before all the damned computer crap. He rebuilt engines and had a handful of loyal customers. Between that, towing, and the salvage yard, he made enough to get by. He had even managed to start saving money, something of a foreign concept to him. He had never thought about getting too old to work, figuring the job would get him killed long before he had to worry about that. All things changed though and it looked like he would live into retirement and he'd need money to live on. He also had to have money to lay his hands on unique items needed for rituals some hunter might need or old books that had valuable information in them.

Dean limped into the little twenty-four hour diner, rubbing his hands to try to warm them. The snow had stopped but it was still pretty damned cold out there. He waved to Bess the waitress. She was an older woman, her hair streaked with gray, a little chubby around the middle, and real nice. She'd come over and checked on Dean once Dean moved into Bobby's place. Everyone in town knew Dean was sort of Bobby's adopted nephew, that Bobby and Dean's dad had been friends. Maybe Bobby had been the town nutcase, but that didn't mean people didn't like him and they sort of took Dean in, watching over him until he got his feet back under him. Literally. It was all new and strange to Dean and he still tended to be secretive and leery of the townsfolk, but he was coming to terms with the idea that this was his life now.

He settled down at the counter and Bess brought over a coffee. "Heard about the mess on the highway." She set down a bottle of aspirin on the counter. "What's your pleasure tonight, Handsome? And it's on the house."

"Yeah, it was a real mess," Dean said opening up the bottle of aspirin and pouring out four. He'd take something stronger when he got home. "Nobody really got hurt bad, mostly just a bunch of fender benders and cars scattered all over the place. Must have been twenty or thirty cars. Once we got them back on the road, most of them were drivable though. Ah, give me country fried steak. What's the pie tonight?" He had long since given up arguing with Bess when she said it was on the house.

"Dutch apple, blueberry--which I'd stay away from--cherry, coconut crème and chocolate cream."

"Apple," Dean said with a nod.

"I'll get the order in. Skip the salad I'm guessing?"

Dean gave a nod. "Yeah, in no mood for rabbit food tonight. And gimme some chili to go. I gotta feeling I'm not going out tomorrow unless I have to."

"We've got fried chicken. Tim made it. Want me to pack you up one of those too?"

Dean thought for a minute. If his leg was hurting as badly tomorrow as he figured it was going to, he wouldn't be up to standing long, so he wouldn't be cooking anything fancy. Not that he did anyhow really, and Tim made damned fine chicken. "Yeah. And another piece of pie. Cherry."

Looking around the diner he gave a nod to Chuck who worked second shift at the gas station. Maureen and JJ were over in their typical booth playing checkers or chess or something. Debbie and Nathan were cuddled up together talking. He figured Nathan was going to ask the girl to marry him come Christmas. Looked like the weather had kept the other regulars away.

The only other people in the restaurant were a young man and his daughter. They must belong to that gorgeous machine sitting out in the parking lot, that black 1967 Impala. Man he'd love to look under its hood. It looked so much like his Dad's that he briefly wondered if the guy would consider selling the car. The guy was drinking coffee, the little girl had hot chocolate, and they were looking at the menus. He couldn't see the little girl's face, but he could see the man. The guy was good looking, dark brown hair, muscular, but it looked like he had taken a beating within the past few days. Dean could see the remnants of a black eye and bruising along his jaw. The way he was sitting suggested he might have been hit in the gut too. They looked underdressed for the cold South Dakota night, but he might not be able to see their coats from where he was sitting. It was going on eleven thirty at night and he wondered why they weren't holed up in some motel.

He discreetly watched them as the girl pointed to a picture on the menu and the young man shook his head. "That's too much, Em," he told her.

It took three choices before he finally nodded. She bounced in her seat apparently happy enough. Bess went over to take their order and Dean heard the guy only order one meal. Bess refilled the guy's coffee then returned to the counter and topped off Dean's.

Dean drank his coffee, letting the heat of the diner soak into his bones. Between the heat and the aspirin, his leg was definitely feeling better. He'd take a hot bath when he got home, let the leg soak for a while. He listened to the father and daughter chatting. She was practicing reading by reading things off the menu, and they played some simple counting and math games with pennies. When their meal arrived, it didn't seem to stop the girl from being a chatty Cathy. When the girl was done and went to the restroom, Dean saw the guy quickly finish off what was still on the young kid's plate and then he brought the plate up to the counter as if not wanting the girl to know he had eaten what was left. The guy gave him a brief smile then returned to the booth. The guy even had dimples, Dean thought with some amusement. Not only hot, but those dimples put him in cute category, too.

The father and daughter left soon after that, the guy picking the girl up and holding her close. Neither had a coat. He wondered if they even had enough money for a motel. Well, not his problem.

Dean finished the rest of his meal and his dessert at a leisurely pace, then paid Bess for the chili and chicken. Grimacing at the thought of facing the cold again, he pushed the door open. At least it wasn't too long of a drive to his place and the tow truck warmed up fast.

He'd gotten about four miles up the road when he saw the lights of a car pulled off the road and with the hood up.

"Great," he muttered. When he got closer, he saw it was the '67 Impala. "Careful what you wish for," he muttered with a sigh, remembering how much he'd wanted to look under the hood. He pulled in front of the car and backed it up a little, put the truck into park and put on the parking break but left it running. Out of habit he made sure his 9 mm was secure in its hidden holster in his coat, then he eased himself out of the tow truck's cab and limped toward the guy, his hands in his pockets. His right hand he had slipped through the special pocket access and gripped the gun. He might be 'retired,' but that didn't make him stupid. The hunter in him said these two weren't dangerous, but it never hurt to be prepared.

"Need some help?" he asked the guy who had a blanket wrapped around him as he studied the engine as if by some miracle the problem would simply identify itself. He saw the girl wrapped up in a couple blankets in the front seat.

Sam's heart was still hammering against his chest. Just the sight of headlights slowing down and clearly making for them had him tense until he saw it was only a tow truck. Pulling the blanket tighter, he let out a deep breath that instantly formed a cloud of mist. Help. How often had he found himself in need of it, begging for it in the past six months? People seemed to be fresh out of help these days and sometimes they were there just to heap more trouble on your head.

"Sure could," he answered, a little wary. Guy was driving a tow truck, it made sense he'd stop when he saw someone with car trouble. Maybe, just maybe this would be a quick fix and he and Emily could be on their way. He stepped aside, making room for the guy. When the guy came nearer, Sam gave a small smile. "I saw you at the diner." Yeah, he'd noticed the guy, at first because of the limp but then he'd seen his face and heard that low scratchy voice and all he could think of was 'bad boy'... just the kind that brought you trouble.

He licked his lips and drew his gaze away, looking instead down at the engine he knew nothing about. "She was fine, the car, and then the engine just cut out. If you could get her started, I'd be real grateful. We've got someplace to get to before Christmas," he said nodding past the hood, toward Emily.

"Just cut out?" Dean frowned. New cars with their computers and fuel injector crap, those would just cut out. Older cars didn't typically die while you were driving them. Although the light from the moon reflecting off the newly fallen snow made it almost seem like twilight, under the hood it was still all shadows. He pulled out his flashlight and grimaced. Hoses and belts were old, head gasket was leaking a little, sparkplug wires had seen better days...the guy needed a major tune up. He pulled out the oil stick. Oil needed changing but the levels were fine. Same with the transmission fluid. He gave the belts light tugs. There was a little give in them but the headlights were bright. He tilted his head and had a sinking feeling in his gut. He popped off the distributor cap so he could see the rotor. "Try to get the car started. Just one good crank."

The guy did and Dean shook his head, put the distributor cap back on then closed the hood. "You aren't making any more miles tonight. You broke your timing chain. It's rare for it to happen while you're driving, but it happens." He saw the guy's blank look. "Think of it like a bike chain. You can pedal all you want but if the bike chain is broken, you're not going anywhere."

After dry scrubbing his face, leaving some grease streaked across it in the process, Dean said to the guy still in the car, "Let me tow your car to my place. I can try to get it fixed tomorrow or you can have me take it to one of the other shops. I'll drop you and your girl off at a motel not far from my place. It's nothing fancy, but it's clean and cheap. You and your girl, get in the truck, get warmed up. I'll get your car hooked up for the tow and we'll get you taken care of."

"Daddy, I'm c... cold," Emily said in her soft voice.

Sam put his blanket over her already blanketed body and answered, "I know sweetheart." They'd been without the heater for a quarter of an hour and it was chilly inside the car. "I'll be right back," he told her, rolling his window back up all the way and stepping out of the car.

The humid cold immediately penetrated through his thin clothes causing him to cross his arms over his chest. "Could have used some better news," he admitted. "Listen, is there a shelter in town? Or an all-night bus station?" He was only too aware that many shelters didn't let people in after a certain time, and that many towns didn't even have any. "Or a hospital?" Hospital lobbies were nice and warm and often no one was around to ask you what you were doing there at this time of the night. Once, he'd have had to force these questions out, but he had Em and a little embarrassment was nothing when he had to keep her safe.

"No, no, and only a small one." He gave a sigh, knowing he'd probably regret it but he was tired, wanted to get his leg soaking or wrapped up in heat packs and he couldn't just leave these two to freeze. "You can stay at my place for the night. Got a spare bedroom you can use, full bath right next to it." He'd planned on sleeping down there for the night so he didn't have to climb the stairs, but he didn't really want them in his regular bedroom. "You can," he waved his hand, "do my dirty dishes or something in trade." He yawned. "Deal?" he asked tiredly.

Each 'no' had Sam's heart sinking lower and his mind whirling with alternate ideas of where he could take Emily when the guy made an offer Sam couldn't refuse. "Sure is. Thanks, really I... thanks. I’ll get my daughter in the truck and come out and help. Name's Sam, and that's Emily," a slight smile quirked the corners of his lips.

"You just get you and your daughter in the truck. This'll only take a minute and I can probably do it faster without your help, no offense." After a moment, he added, "There's a bowl of hot chili in the takeout bag. Help yourself. There's water bottles behind the seat. Hopefully they aren't frozen." He knew the guy had to be hungry and hell, he could just eat soup for lunch tomorrow. My name's Dean. Now git, before you freeze your balls off."

The offer of food had Sam wondering how much this guy, Dean, noticed. Probably too much. Still, this was the first run of good luck he'd had in a long time so he couldn't sit there and worry about it. Instead he gave a chuckle, "I think it's too late for that."

Walking around the car, Sam opened the passenger door and easily lifted Emily into his arms. "Em, this is Mr. Dean, and we're staying at his place for the night," he told her.

Though she looked at Dean, she gave a yawn and cuddled closer to Sam.

Quickly, Sam got her to the truck and got them settled inside. The engine of the truck was on and so was the heater but he wrapped his arms around Em to give her just a little more warmth, if his body was capable of generating it now that he had frozen his balls off. "Go back to sleep," he said, looking in the rear view mirror.

He saw Dean's stiff movements as he hooked the Impala up. He could tell the guy was in a lot of pain, and he'd bet the weather wasn't helping, or being out there because of them. Maybe he could help Dean out with something other than the dishes, which he was sure was just something Dean had thrown out there to make him feel better about accepting his hospitality. Sam wondered if there was a missus, then drew his gaze away. So what if there was? It might even be better if there were.

He hummed under his breath for Em and she never minded that he was slightly off tune, but stopped the minute Dean pulled the door open and got inside. "Really appreciate this," he said, then looked out the front window.

"I've been down on my luck before too," Dean said gruffly. "It sucks out loud." Dean put the truck into gear and slowly pulled back out onto the road, shifting gears, but keeping the speed down. Between hauling the car and the icy roads, he didn't need any more trouble. "Look...Sam, is it? I got a lot of weapons at my place, scattered all over the place. Make sure your girl knows not to touch any of them. Weapons get touched and your butt's back out in the cold, got it? Got a big dog too. Don't freak. He'll probably bark up a storm until I tell him it's okay and he knows you're not trespassers or something. Make sure he sees the girl too and you don't hafta worry about him hurting either of you." Dean smirked. "He's a freaking pushover once he decides you're allowed there and aren't threatening me."

Once again, Sam appreciated that Dean was making it easier for him to accept help by saying he'd been in tough spots too, it said a lot for the guy even bothering to do that, let alone taking strangers into his house. But the mention of weapons had him tensing, flashing back to what home had been like a half a year ago. Guns in every drawer, boxes of bullets and magazines in cabinets, knives too close at hand when tempers flared. "She won't touch anything," he promised, holding her a little tighter. "What's a mechanic doing with a lot of weapons, no offense," he said, turning his face toward Dean. God, if he'd landed himself in a situation with yet another thug....

"None taken. One, I used to be a hunter, professionally. Two, I have a junkyard now and some stranger passing through sees a guy with a bad leg, I look like an easy target. A lot of the shot guns you'll see are just loaded with salt. Smarts like a bit--" Dean looked at the girl. "--hurts. But without doing anything serious to trespassers other than making them think twice about skulking around on my property. Unfortunately, I can't do much in the way of hunting anymore. I go out on easy hunts sometimes if another hunter calls and wants some help."

Dean glanced over at Sam. "Bobby, kinda my adopted uncle, he collected rare books on the supernatural. Demons, ghosts, werewolves, religious manuscripts, whatever, and did research on 'em. I've got the same interest so don't be freaking when you see all the books and manuscripts. I'm not some devil worshiping weirdo." He'd heard that accusation so many times he figured he might as well lay it all out on the table so he didn't have to see the look in the guy's eyes when they got home. "You aren't comfortable there, then tomorrow we can talk to the local priest. Maybe he can find you another place to stay while your car's being worked on.

"If you're a smoker, no smoking in the house. If you're a drinker, I don't care if you have a beer or two, or a couple shots of whiskey, but no getting drunk. Too many weapons, too many irreplaceable manuscripts. We clear on that?" He glanced back over at the young man to make sure the guy understood his rules. He was tired, he hurt, and he wasn't going to put up with any bullshit, even if the guy seemed nice. He knew all too well how deceiving looks could be.

"Clear," Sam nodded his agreement. Maybe if they'd been on equal footing, he would have said 'okay Dad' and teased him for acting older than his age. Sam figured they were about the same age but the guy had a world weary look to him at times, though Sam might be over-reading. Still, the way he laid out his rules, it was pretty clear he was very set in his ways. Maybe he was regretting the invitation already, but there was nothing Sam could do about that other than make sure that he and Em weren't under foot and didn't disrupt his life, even for the one night they were there. He'd really thought this timing chain thing could be fixed the next day but if it was going to take a few more days, he couldn't impose on the man. He also had to think about a way to get a little money together because the twenty four dollars he had left in his pocket wasn't going to cover parts, let alone labor.

He fell silent, thinking a little on what this guy's place might be like. Weapons and strange books he'd said. No, it really wasn't a combination that brought any particular expectations to mind, unless he lived in some sort of museum, which, yeah, he didn't seem the type. He stole a glance at Dean's profile. The guy was ruggedly handsome, no question about that. Even with the rather tight and grim expression he was wearing, he couldn't hide that. He had a brash 'take it or leave it' attitude and was up front about it. That was fine with Sam, it was much better to know the lines that you shouldn't cross than to have to guess where they were. He'd had a lifetime of that already, thank you very much. Still, he wouldn't want to cross this guy, he instinctively knew being on the other side of his wrath would not be pleasant. It was odd though, he wasn't afraid of him. Something in his gut told him they'd be safe with this guy.

He suddenly wondered what color his eyes were, they'd seemed light under the moonlight. Letting out a soft sigh, he looked down and saw Em was asleep. Guess she had to feel safe too, he thought, thankfully.

Dean had to admit, the guy seemed to take what he said without getting all freaked out about it. If he were on the road with his kid and some tow truck driver picked him up and told him the things Dean had just told the guy, he might be a little nervous. Still, it wasn't like the guy had many options apparently.

The rest of the drive was silent, not that there was far to go. He'd picked the guy up about two miles from his place. He pulled right up front to the porch because he didn't want to walk any further than he had to and the motion activated lights came on. Getting out, he left the truck running and lowered their car to the ground so they could get into it, but left it hooked up in case the guy wanted it taken to a different shop. That done, he opened the truck door and turned off the engine. He grabbed the bags of takeout.

"Let's get your girl settled then you can come back out for your stuff," Dean said and limped up the well salted steps to the house, though for the temperatures, the salt wasn't doing shit for the ice. After unlocking the screen door, he then unlocked the deadbolt and regular lock. Opening the door he reached inside and flipped on the light for the living room. Rumsfeld was right there, silent, his hackles raised. Dean gave him a hand signal and Rumsfeld's hackles settled. He gave a loud bark of greeting, his tail wagging.

"We've got company, Rummy." Dean stepped aside and let Sam follow him in. "Kneel down if you can and hold out your hand, let him sniff you, then your daughter. And be prepared to get a slobbery welcome."

Dean tossed his keys on the table by the door and took off and hung up his coat. God, it felt good to be home.

Sam was right behind him with Emily asleep on his shoulder. "Rummy as in Gin?" he asked. "Hi there boy. Animals usually get along with me," he said, "but meeting Emily is gonna have to wait until morning. She's out." It was obvious the guy hadn't been around kids, at least if he thought she'd wake up just because they'd arrived. From what he could see, the house was a bit of a mess, but it was clean. Like the guy had said, there were lots of books, piles of them on a table. Thankfully he didn't see any weapons. "Where should I put her?"

"Rumsfeld is his name. Some politician I think or something. Never really asked. I said just let him smell her hand, she doesn't have to be awake. He just needs to know there's a kid in the place. He is a guard dog and he doesn't take well to surprises. He's normally outside, but it's too damned cold at night right now. Take her straight down that wide hall. The door at the end is the bedroom. There's a closet and the other door leads right into the bathroom. Light's on the right."

Dean limped to the kitchen and put the food in the fridge. He looked over his fridge contents. Yeah, cleaning out the fridge wasn't a top priority for him, but he had enough eggs, juice, milk and bacon to feed the two in the morning.

Oh crap.

He hurried back to the spare bedroom and saw Sam laying...Emily...down in the queen sized bed. The hospital bed table was pushed off to the side along with the folded up wheelchair in case he needed them. There were Busty Asian Beauty pin-up girls on the walls but that wasn't what concerned him.

"Hang on a minute there, Dude," Dean said and reached under the pillow, pulling out the gun from beneath it, picked up the shotgun leaning against the wall by the bed, and pulled open the nightstand and took out the silver throwing daggers and hunting knife. "Okay, all yours. Take down the pinup girls and trash them. She," he jerked his chin to the sleeping child, "shouldn't be waking up to those on the walls. Haven't changed them out in a while anyhow."

He carried the weapons out to the dining room and put them away, except for the shot gun which he just leaned against the wall. Returning to the kitchen he looked at the line of phones on the wall, each labeled with the appropriate government agency. Dammit, he'd need to cover those. He slowly made his way out into the dining room and picked up a towel. It had grease on it, but he didn't care. He duct-taped the towel over the wall above the phones, hiding them. When he came back out, he saw Sam headed for the door.

"Take the denim coat to wear," Dean told him as he sank down onto the couch. "It'll help against the cold some."

Having heard Dean rushing around, moving things in the other room, Sam had taken his time getting Emily settled and in bed. He wasn't going to wake her to get into pajamas and her clothes were loose enough not to bother her. He'd put the posters away in a drawer and concluded that it meant Dean wasn't married and unless he was dating a model, didn't have girlfriend. Then again he might have a girlfriend who didn't mind the 'eye candy' on the wall, or Dean could have told her to 'take it or leave it.' God knew Sam had been forced to put up with a lot of Dex's bullshit. He didn't want this man to be like Dex, he wanted him to be a man who'd take care of his girlfriend and treat her with respect, not that it had anything to do with Sam. He just liked to think there were people like that out there.

He glanced at the jackets on the coat hanger hooks near the door and reached for the one Dean indicated. Shrugging into it, he was glad to see it was only a little short at the sleeves. Tugging the door open, he walked out and was forcefully reminded of the chill. Going to the trunk he got out a duffel bag and a small backpack, then went to the back seat to get Emily's stuffed bear. By the time he climbed back up the porch stairs, it had started to snow.

Walking in, he locked the door behind him and met Dean's gaze for a moment, then went to the hall and into the guest room. As he put his stuff down and checked on Emily, he looked around a little more. He could tell the room was in use, and not just as a guest room. When he'd had a regular job, a lot of the rehab patients he'd worked with and who had houses with two floors had rooms set up a lot like this. Some of them converted their dens, others a part of the living room. A room downstairs meant they didn't have to make a climb to the second floor. Now he had to wonder how Dean was going to get up the stairs.

Sam came back out into the living room and stood there, rubbing his neck. "We don't want to put you out. Upstairs or even the couch is fine. Believe me, we've seen plenty worse than a couch," he said, not complaining but just stating a fact.

"You're not putting me out," Dean said with a shrug. "Believe me I've climbed those stairs in a helluva lot worse condition than this. And I've slept on this couch plenty of times, as well as worse places when I was younger," he agreed with a smirk. "Do me a favor Sam, can you take off my boots and socks and get me that electric blanket," he said, using his chin to indicate the blue blanket draped over the chair. Bending over was not something he was ready to do just yet and he hoped the guy didn't mind. "Then I want you to go raid the fridge or pantry. Your kid's asleep. She won't know you were hungry when you got just her dinner. Just leave me the fried chicken and pie. There's plenty of frozen dinners and pizza in the freezer too. Help yourself to whatever looks good."

Being hungry wasn't something to be ashamed of, and yet Sam felt a flush creep up his face. He'd been right, the man was too observant. It made Sam wonder how closely they'd been watched at the diner and why. Course there hadn't been much going on there that late at night. "Sure thing," he said, crossing in front of Dean and squatting down to undo the laces of his boots.

"Get my boots off."

"Sure thing, Dex." Sam bent down to unlace Dex's boots. "How... how did everything--"

A vicious kick to the chest, right next to his shoulder, propelled Sam backwards, his grunt of surprise and pain completely drowned out by laughter. Holding his shoulder, Sam got up and met Dex's gaze, and that of his men, before leaving the room. They were getting liquored up and it was going to be a bad night.


He blinked and realized he'd pulled Dean's boot off and was just holding his foot. Licking his lips, he pulled the thick socks off and quickly took off Dean's other boot and socks. It wasn't until he stood up that the tension and fear passed. Sam ran a hand over his face, looked around and saw the electric blanket on the lazy boy. Grabbing it, he brought it back and put it over Dean, bending once more in front of him to tuck the blanket under the man's feet. It was already plugged in so he just turned it on and stood back. "Do you want anything? Coffee, tea, a snack?" he asked awkwardly.

Dean saw something, some bad memory pass over the guy's face and fear touch his eyes. He'd studied the guy when the guy had been frozen in place, caught up in the past. He wondered if it had anything to do with the person who beat the guy up and odds were that was a big fucking 'yes.' He looked at the guy's hands. No wedding ring. Maybe...maybe the mom was an abusive bitch. Or maybe he had lived at home and the dad was a drunkard. Who knew. He wondered where the guy was going for Christmas. Maybe his mom's or grandparents or something.

It felt so good to get those damned boots off and not to have to bend over to do it, he almost groaned in pleasure. Then the guy practically tucked him in and offered to bring him something. "Some coffee would be good. I like it strong, black. Just to make things clear, you don't owe me anything for putting you two up for the night. Saying thanks is enough. Well, and maybe doing those dishes in the sink. I hate washing dishes." He grinned at the guy. "And thanks for getting my boots off. I appreciate it."

The electric blanket was beginning to warm and it felt so good on his leg. He might just end up sleeping on the couch because he wasn't really sure he wanted to move again. Reaching over to the coffee table, he grabbed his bottle of pain pills. He always left them there because he never knew where he might end up if he was hurting. He checked the time then dry swallowed one.

"I'll get you some water for that, it's bad for your stomach and your kidneys," Sam said.

Dean gave a soft snort. Not like he was up to going and getting the water for himself. He dry swallowed pills all the time, or chased them with beer.

Entering the kitchen and seeing the sink piled up with pots and pans, Sam gave a loud "Huh. You weren't kidding about not liking to wash."

A quick look in the cabinets netted him a couple of glasses and a mug, which he set on the counter as he got the coffee going. He took both glasses of water inside, set one on the coffee table for Dean and the other one near the lazy boy for himself. Then he went back to the kitchen and warmed up the chili. When he returned, he had his bowl and Dean's coffee, which he put down next to the glass. "Did you want cream or sugar in that?" he asked. When Dean shook his head, Sam went to sit down.

He stirred the steaming bowl of chili, wincing when its smell got his stomach growling. It wasn't like he hadn't eaten at all, for Christ's sake. Yet that first spoonful tasted like the best damned chili he'd ever had. He took another spoonful, then slowed up. "I was watching you earlier," he said finally. "I think you may be getting a tilted pelvis from favoring your leg. There are some exercises that could help stretch the right muscles for that, and to strengthen your leg." Though he spoke matter of factly, he braced, ready to hear 'shut up' or 'you don't know shit' or 'none of your business'.

Dean had swallowed down about a third of the water, because he was thirsty and hadn't even realized it until the water was in front of him. When Sam returned with the coffee and chili, he sampled the coffee. Damn near perfect. He cocked an eyebrow at Sam's comment about a tilted pelvis. "Nothing wrong with a tilted pelvis if it's tilted the right way at the right time," Dean said, smiling as he drank his coffee. He grew a little more serious then. "Yeah the rehab guy said that might happen. He was going to show me the exercises, but I had to stop going. Couldn't afford it. These damned pain pills cost a fortune anyhow. So you know something about rehab and physical therapy?"

Sam gave a soft laugh at Dean's joke then also got serious. "He could have shown them to you, even if he wasn't going to help you do them," he said, nodding at Dean's question. "I have a physical therapy license, but not in this state. Haven't used it much lately, been getting by offering masseuse services at hair salons and odd places." He gave a dimpled smile. "You wouldn't believe how much business you can get at a truck stop. I have one of those chairs with a cut out for you face, you know the kind you see at malls?" Sure, you had to be state licensed for that as well, but it wasn't as big a deal to be busted for giving a massage versus therapy.

He ate a little more chili, then put the bowl down. "I can help you with the exercises tomorrow. If you want, I can probably relieve some of the pain with a few adjustments and some massage right now. If you're comfortable with that," he added.

Dean chuckled. "I'm trying to picture some of those big truck drivers getting on a massage chair. That had to be priceless." His eyes practically twinkled at the idea then he refocused on Sam. "Ah, I hadn't really planned on stopping going, but...." he shrugged. He considered the guy's offer. Hell, could it hurt? Well, rehab hurt like a bitch so the actual answer to that was 'probably,' but he was hurting so bad that the thought of getting some relief, any relief, he figured it was worth the risk of the guy screwing him up more. "Yeah, sure, so long as you still agree to do the dishes," he said, grinning. "But finish your chili first. I'm still warming up."

"Dishes are covered," he promised, then picked his bowl up and finished every last drop of his chili. Taking the bowl and Dean's glass, he added them to the stuff in the sink and decided to clean up after Dean went to bed. He went to check on Emily, then came back to the living room holding a small messenger bag. "Why don't I help you upstairs? There's more room on a bed and you'll be nice and flat. There's the added benefit of not having to move again, afterwards," he added.

"Yeah, I was kind of thinking right here was pretty damned comfortable. Can't tell you how many times I don't make it further than this couch." Sighing, he reached over and turned off the electric blanket. Screw the hot bath. He just wanted to crash and the thought of a massage? Didn't hurt that the guy was pretty damned hot. The guy almost certainly wasn't into other guys, not with having a kid and all, but Sam didn't need to know Dean swung either way. "Okay. Upstairs."
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