"Conversations: To Cure What Ails You"
Author's Note: This is my little project for the year. It’s called Conversations and I'll toss one out every now and then. And although not really long enough to be a story, it’s just some things that I felt needed to be said, or maybe a peak into a day in the life kind of thing. It’s a way to let my muse play so I hope you enjoy. As my writing partner and beta wonder put it, it isn’t ground-shaking but it will probably put a smile on your face. This little conversation takes place after the episode Family Remains but no real spoilers.
“Hello to you too, Sunshine.”
Sam leaned on the sink, avoiding touching the dirty porcelain surface. “I mean it, Caleb. He’s not sleeping, barely eating, and if I have to spend one more night in the backseat of the Impala I might kill him and…”
Caleb interrupted. “You do know what Deuce and Anna did back there, Right?”
Sam looked towards the ceiling focusing on several dark water spots. He took a deep breath to keep his irritability in check. “Are you listening to me?”
“I’m listening, Sam.”
“Where are you?”
“Just leaving Georgia, finished up a job with Ethan. Where you at?”
“At the moment I’m in a very questionable bathroom stall of a Texaco station.”
“Planning a hook-up with Ruby? Sounds like her kind of place.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Depends on who you ask.”
“Have you talked to him?” Sam knew his brother had called Caleb on a regular basis, but he wasn't sure what they discussed besides his brother’s sexual conquests.
“If you count him giving me the heads-up on various jobs, then yes, we’ve talked. The endless 'things Caleb needs to-do' list that started at the farm has bled over. The Guardian-elect apparently has Knight and Page confused.”
Sam turned to stare at himself in the mirror over the sink. He looked almost as bad as Dean did. “It’s like when Dad died, only worse. He’s had us working consecutive jobs since after the holidays. It’s not getting better. This last one… ” Sam thought of the twisted, inbred children and the family they had saved. “I think it made things worse. You just need to talk to him.” There was a small part of Sam that still believed fixing Dean was what Caleb did best.
“I did talk to him-last night. He talked about everything but what’s really on his mind.”
“He doesn’t want to deal with it, but he can’t get away from it.”
“I remember that feeling.”
Sam ran a hand over his face. He knew exactly what Caleb was talking about. When Dean was dead, the grief was not only unbearable, but inescapable as well. He was being a hypocrite, but he couldn’t help it. “I’m really worried about him.”
Caleb’s tired sigh gave Sam only a tiny twinge of guilt. “You still have those mojo bags your girlfriend whipped up?”
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Sam growled.
“Depends on who you ask.” Caleb gave a light laugh and Sam couldn’t find it in him to be angry.
“Stop talking about me with Dean.” Sam knew he was high on his brother’s list of things he could focus on and not think about his own issues.
“But I’m talking to you about him.”
“That’s not the point.” Sam jumped when Dean banged on the bathroom door. He really was being a hypocrite.
“Sammy, get your ass out here. Daylight’s burning.”
“Look, I have to go.” Sam held the phone closer and lowered his voice. “I have the bags.” Dean couldn’t complain about The Triad being together and out in the open if they were undetectable by the usual suspects. “What do you have in mind?”
“I was thinking maybe it’s time we let him in on what went down while he was gone.”
“But we swore an oath.” Sam couldn’t believe Caleb was suggesting they reveal to Dean the lengths they had gone to while he was in Hell. “He’ll never let us hear the end of it.”
“But it will give him a distraction that doesn’t involve hunting.”
“That’s your big plan? More distractions?” Sam looked towards the door as Dean pounded on it once more. “What about the heart to heart?”
“Why don’t I get him a slot on Dr. Phil? Or maybe a weekend retreat to a good spa?”
“Dickhead.” Sam exhaled heavily. He understood Caleb’s point. Either scenario was probably as likely as Dean actually discussing how he was feeling. “Just remember this was your idea.”
“You’re sure Damien wanted us to meet him here?” Dean leaned against the Impala and looked from his brother to the warehouse in the distance. “What’s the deal?”
Sam shrugged and Dean crossed his arms over his chest. His brother had been tightlipped since the phone call he said he got from Caleb asking them to meet up. Before Dean could press the issue, headlights flashed in the distance and he heard the distinctive purr of the Murcielago before he saw it.
Caleb pulled the car into the spot next to them and stepped out. “Glad you two made it.”
“What’s going on, Damien? I thought we agreed to meet next week at the farm where it’s safe?” Dean wasn’t in the mood for any surprises.
“Don’t worry, Deuce. We’ll still celebrate your birthday on Saturday.” He gave Dean a half-grin. “I can’t help it if I was bored.”
Dean’s gaze narrowed. Surely they didn’t think he would fall for the obvious set-up. “You’re never bored-too many single women and Tom Clancy novels for that. You know why we shouldn’t be out in the open. “
“I’ve got that covered,” Sam said. He pulled three mojo bags from his coat pocket, tossed them each one before sharing a satisfied grin with Caleb. “We’re off the radar for the night.”
Damien slipped the pouch over his head and rubbed his hands together. “Sounds good to me. Let’s do it.”
Dean balked. “Do what?”
“Head into the gutter.” Caleb reached into the Lamborghini retrieving two black leather bags, which he sat on the Impala’s trunk.
“Is the place haunted?”
Caleb and Sam exchanged another look and Damien dropped his gaze in reverence. “Only by the ghosts of those who never reached that perfect 300 game.”
Dean looked to the warehouse, then to his brother and finally Caleb. “You’re kidding me?”
“We don’t joke about the sport,” Sam said.
“Baseball is a sport,” Dean said. “This…this is embarrassing.”
“Don’t judge.” Caleb picked up one of the black bags. “It kept us sane while you were gone.”
“You sought solace here while I was in Hell? That’s fucked up.”
“Here and places like it.” Caleb reached into his car again pulling out a small duffel which he tossed to Dean. “It was a great way to blow off some steam.”
“We found out the hard way that skydiving required way too much equipment,” Sam said, taking one of the black bags.
Caleb shut his door, setting the alarm. “Same with golf. Our weapons left no room for clubs.”
“But bowling?” Dean gestured to the glowing neon sign across the top of the warehouse that read The Gutter. “It’s so…”
“Awesome?” Sam said.
“No.” Dean shook his head. “Normal. It’s disgustingly normal.”
“You haven’t seen my ball.” His best friend slapped him in the stomach as he passed by. “It’s one of a kind and top of the line.”
Dean rubbed his abs. “After the conservative choice in cars, I’m afraid it might light up and be made of Kryptonite.”
“It has a stupid dragon on it.” Sam nudged him with his elbow, a goofy grin on his face. “Mine is way cooler,” he whispered, patting the black bag. “It’s a Storm Pro 300.”
Dean frowned. “Impressive, Sammy.” Their childhood could have been a whole hell of a lot different if his brother had shown half as much enthusiasm about weapons.
Ten frames, two pitchers of beer later and Dean was yet to be awed, although the collection of classic rock on the digital touch screen juke box was nothing to scoff at. The pizza was fair. Then there was the amusing spectacle of watching his little brother and best friend make complete idiots of themselves.
He picked up his third piece of pepperoni, watching Sammy pump his fist into the air in a disturbing victory dance. His latest strike had obviously ensured his victory. Caleb handed Sam a twenty and sauntered to the table to join Dean. “The Runt wins every damn beer frame. It’s unnatural.”
Dean stared at his best friend. “Bowling, Damien? Really?”
“Why not? We had to have something to do.” Caleb picked up a piece of pie, wrapping the stringy cheese around the end. “You should at least give it a chance before you throw it under the bus.”
“You might be surprised to know bowling takes the hand and eye coordination of archery, the detailed attention to form of swordsmanship, and your grip on the ball has to be just right, not too loose, not too tight, a lot like marksmanship on the gun range. It’s all about being in the zone, man.”
“Right.” Dean took another bite of pizza. “You’re definitely in a zone, Dude. The twilight zone.”
Caleb split the last of the beer from the pitcher between their plastic cups, glancing up at Dean with a half smile. “Hell, you might be right. But it wasn’t like I was in the mood to hang out at bars or play a game of poker or pool. That was always our thing and I was trying not to think about you, Deuce.”
Dean wiped his hands on his jeans, swallowing hard to get down the last bite of pizza. “So Bobby was right when he said you guys really did go to the gutter?”
“Yeah.” Caleb laughed. He gestured towards the lanes. “This all started when we were in some Podunk town in Nebraska and passed this little place called Strikes and Spares. We’d just finished a brutal hunt, needed a beer and well, it was definitely one thing neither me nor Sammy had ever done with you.”
“Damn straight.” Dean rocked back in his chair. “So why drag me down with you two now?”
Caleb looked towards the concession stand where Sam was standing in a long line behind two gray-haired ladies and a couple teenagers. “The kid is worried about you.”
“Sam’s worried?” Dean had a feeling that Caleb would have rather died than told him about his bowling fetish. This would give him material for years to come. The concern Dean instantly recognized in the gold gaze confirmed it.
“Okay, I’m worried, too.”
“Damien, I’m okay.”
”Sure you are.”
“Even if I’m not.” Dean picked up his beer. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”
“And that’s the real bitch.” Caleb looked at him. “Use to I thought there wasn’t anything we couldn’t talk about.”
“Come on now.” Dean took a drink, giving a tight smile. “Talking has never been one of our things. You must be thinking of your best bud, Ethan.”
“I’m serious, Deuce.” Caleb wasn’t thwarted by the redirect. “Even at our most repressed, I still thought I could connect with what you were feeling.” Dean watched as Caleb began the telltale fidgeting with his hunter’s ring. “When you were a kid I understood about your mom. We grew up hunting the same horrific things. Even when Johnny died, I could relate because I loved the stubborn sonofabitch, too. But this, what you’re going through… Shit. I don’t have a reference point.”
“I can’t say I’m not grateful for that.”
Caleb leaned his elbows on the table. “I know it’s not the same thing, not even in the ballpark, but there was a time after I used Noah Seaver’s amulet that I just couldn’t let go of what I’d been capable of. I mean, there was a part of me, a big part that liked it. The power it gave me, the way it dampened my conscience. It was liberating. And after you died, I drew on that feeling-used it to do some of the things I did.”
Dean sighed. “Damien, you were using the amulet to save me. You would have never gone that route if you didn’t feel honor bound to do whatever it took. And as for what you and Sam did while I was gone…you’re right about it not being in the same league as what I did. Nowhere near.”
“Deuce, you were doing what you had to do to survive.”
“We’ve had this conversation before, Dude.”
“Meaning I’ve beat my head on this particular wall before.” Caleb ran a hand through his hair and sighed. “Look. I know you’re not going to listen to me. I told Sammy you’re not going to listen to me. But if you won’t let yourself off the hook, then at least promise me you’ll take care of yourself. If you can’t sleep, I can help with that. I’ll block the nightmares; shut them down before they can start.”
“You offering to be my WooBee bear, Damien?”
“If that’s what it takes. If you don’t want me in your head, we’ll get Mac to prescribe you some meds. Hell, maybe you should talk to your buddy Cas. Maybe he can help you. I don’t care how you handle it as long as you do handle it. I can’t go through your death again, Dean. Neither can Sam. ”
Dean looked around. It felt both odd and somehow comforting that they weren’t in their typical setting, but they were having the kind of forced chick conversation that defined who they were. Things had changed, but at the core the most important things were still the same. Maybe there was hope Dean would come to feel that way about the changes within. He returned his gaze to Caleb. “It definitely did a number on all of us.”
“Sammy and I survived. So did you.”
Dean’s mouth twitched and he knocked his plastic cup against Caleb’s. “And I did it in my own damn shoes.”
Caleb snorted. “There’s the insufferable smart ass I know and love.”
“Just don’t think this means you can buy me my own monogrammed bowling ball and count me in on the Musketeer League.”
“Are you sure?” Caleb raised a brow. “I’ll make it black, shiny and very expensive. We could even have a jade phoenix airbrushed on it to match your ink.”
“No way. I want to save the cheap booze, poorly lit bars and loose women for my Damien time. You and Sammy can keep this little piece of heaven to yourselves.”
“Suit yourself. I’m going to get in a practice frame before the runt comes back.”
Dean pantomimed gagging. “Please stop before I decide to see if Ethan wants to be my new best friend.”
Caleb smirked. “I’m sure Castiel would be willing to take my place.”
Damien stood just as Sam arrived with the new pitcher of beer. “I’m going to get us another game going.” He slapped Sam on the back. “I see a 300 in my future tonight.”
Sam shook his head as Damien walked away. “It’s sad how optimistic he can be.”
Dean refilled his glass as his brother claimed Caleb’s vacant seat. “And you’re such the realist?”
“I am.” Sam filled his own glass and snatched the last piece of pizza. “Check the Hunter’s Handbook. It’s in The Scholar’s job description.”
“Does that description have anything about leading The Guardian into ambushes?”
“No. That’s part of my master plan for becoming a better brother. How am I doing?”
“Sleeping with demons, slumming at the bowling alley…I don’t know, Sammy.”
“I get it.” Sam rolled his eyes. “You hate it.”
“The bowling-most definitely.” Dean grinned. “The company-not so much.”
“I just want you to be okay, Dean.”
Dean sloshed his beer around the cup. “I know, and I’m sorry.”
“For being an ass, for pushing the hunting, and mostly for snapping at you during the last hunt.” Dean gestured to where Caleb was busy polishing his ball. “When I said you had no idea of what Hell was like, obviously I was wrong.”
“It’s okay.” Sam smiled. “Lack of sleep leads to irritability.”
“You don’t say.”
Sam nodded. “I’ve done research. It can affect other areas, too.”
“Other areas?” Dean asked.
Dean rubbed his chin. “Now there’s a reason to enjoy a good eight hours.”
“I’m glad something finally got your attention.”
“Thanks for the heads-up, Sammy. You’re a good brother.” Dean lifted his glass in a mock toast. “That’s why I’m not going to kill you for this peak into the secret lives of Caleb and Sammy.”
“You’re welcome.” Sam scooted away from the table. “Now you can stay here and enjoy your beer, or you could come watch me destroy Caleb’s naïve dreams of beating me to the perfect game.”
“Why not.” Dean stood, taking the pitcher with him. “But I’m bringing the beer. Watching you and Damien play to the death in this completely gay game might just be what it takes to finally put me to sleep.”
Sam threw an arm around his brother’s shoulder. “It could have been worse, Dean. It could have been ballroom dancing.”