Title: Lasagna
By: Emily Brunson
Pairing: gen
Series: 1) Red Beans and Rice
Rating: PG
Summary: It's been a long time since Dean cooked for Sam.

It’s mid-afternoon and they’re both drunk, Dean more than Sam. Sam blames the alcohol for everything. Beer is pretty goddamn handy for such things.

“If you’re so damn tired of convenience-store burritos, why don’t you just cook? I know you know how.”

Dean just keeps right on drinking, although there’s a ridge between his eyebrows that wasn’t there four seconds ago. “Nah.”

“I mean it. Man.” Sam leans back in the rickety hotel-room chair and manages not to slop beer on the carpet when he makes a broad gesture with the bottle. “At Stanford? I sat there in the cafeteria and choked down mystery meat and dead vegetables, and you know what I thought? That whole time?”

It takes a moment before Dean asks, “What?” Almost sounding interested.

“Dude, what I would not GIVE for my brother’s cooking.”

Dean shrugs. After a moment, gazing at the drawn drapes, he says, “Coulda had it anytime you wanted.” Soft, not sounding particularly drunk.

Studying him, Sam grins. “Well, I want now.”

“What do you want?”

It surprises him so much that he just sits there for a second, mouth hanging open.

Dean eyes him and says dryly, “Helps if you got something in mind.”

“I…dunno. Surprise me.”

“Nah, you’ll just bitch about it. What?”

Sam shakes his head. “I mean it, Dean,” he says, feeling the mellow edge of his buzz sharpening, turning into a faint blush of – not exactly worry, but something close. Like he’s shuffling his feet in the dirt at the steep lip of a ravine, watching pebbles loosen and clatter as they bounce away. “Whatever you feel like. It’ll beat the hell out of whatever else we find.”

“Don’t be too sure. Been a long time, mighta lost my touch.”

Sam snorts. “No way,” he says honestly. “Never.”

Dean polishes off his beer and belches ringingly. “All right, then,” he says, placing his bottle with exaggerated care on the table. “But if I’m doing the grocery shopping you’re damn well doing the laundry. Deal?”

“Deal,” and Sam grins.

The kitchenette is just barely adequate, even Sam can see that, but when he comes back from the laundromat the place smells like heaven. Dean’s standing by the sink, nipping from a glass of something that definitely isn’t beer while he does something with vegetables, and shoots him a sharp look.

“Don’t even ask if it’s ready yet,” he says, upper lip curling. “I’ll let you know.”

Sam shifts awkwardly, rubbing his hands on his jeans. “Can I help? Chop something? You used to make me do the salad.”

Dean shrugs and goes back to his broccoli. “Go play outside. It’ll be ready when it’s ready.”

Dean’s tone is light, but there’s no smile, no crinkling at the corners of his eyes, so Sam nods and steps outside into harsh Oklahoma sunshine, looks around. There isn’t jack to do – they’re between cases, no rush anywhere in particular, not unless you count the big kahuna ticking away like an invisible, hated metronome. He swallows air and slumps off in the direction of the main drag. There’s about three businesses open here, but he figures the store will have paperbacks, even if they’re all romance novels and Dean Koontz recycled crap. Any port in a storm.

He winds up playing an ancient video game in the rear of the grocery store – who the hell even knows what Galaxians IS anymore, right – and when he looks at his watch it’s been a little over an hour. What the hell. Dean can just suffer with him peering over his shoulder.

The smells are beyond heavenly now. His stomach announces his entrance with a lusty gurgle.

“Sit.” Dean looks sweaty and distracted, a smear of tomato sauce in a long diagonal across his tee shirt.

Sam sits, feeling all of about twelve, and watches, gnawing on his lower lip, while Dean plops a salad on the table, a bowl of broccoli and another of – oh Jesus it’s his squash and zucchini, the one Sam swore was its own food group a lifetime ago. Storebought bread, real butter, and finally a heavy, steaming pan.

“Oh my god,” Sam says weakly.

Dean tosses him a paper napkin, and ducks to get a carton of milk out of the fridge. “Need calcium,” he says, putting a glass in front of Sam. “The hand.”


“What?” Dean lowers himself into the other chair, shaking out a napkin. He looks tired, hot, distracted.

“Jesus. It’s -- Man, it’s your specialty.”

Dean shrugs and grabs the squash. “Only fucking thing I could remember how to make,” he mumbles. “So, dig in.”

They don’t talk. It’s exactly as he remembers it. Not close – exactly, the taste of the sauce, the sausage, the noodles, the hints of herbs he can’t identify but knows, knows so well. A taste, and it’s as if a titanic hole has yawned open in his belly; he cannot eat fast enough, aware in a totally uncaring way that he’s actually sort of grunting while he does it. The squash is tender and fragrant with onion and oregano, broccoli cooked just the way he’s always preferred.

He downs three huge glasses of milk and four slices of bread, three plateloads of lasagna, and both the bowls of veggies are gone before he can bring himself to even think about anything but NOW, MORE, YES, GIMME.

When he glances up, Dean’s leaning back, sipping at his glass of Jack. “So,” he drawls, “guess I remembered okay.”

Sam’s earlier beer buzz has been replaced with food drunkenness; he feels a little dizzy. “Holy crap,” he wheezes without strength. “I’m gonna pop.”

Dean smiles and stares down into his drink. “Looks like I wasn’t the only one sick of burritos.”

“You made Dad’s lasagna. Do you KNOW how many times I freaking dreamed about this?”

The smile slips away. “Made it so many times,” Dean mumbles. “Like riding a bike, something.”

His stomach feels heavy and hot, his brain dull. He shifts in his chair, smothers a burp in his paper napkin. “Did you – After I left, you –“

“You know, something funny.” Dean’s smiling again, but it’s a cool smile, not a friendly smile, and Sam’s overburdened belly tightens. “You’d been gone, I dunno. Few months, maybe, half a year. Yeah, had to have been, it was like dead winter, cold as a witch’s tit.” He slugs whiskey and wipes his lips on the back of his wrist. His plate, Sam sees, looks barely touched. “Me and Dad had been hunting a revenant. Scary-ass fucker, like a ghost on PCP. Weird thing, though, me and him, got away without a scratch.

“So we’re staying in this cabin, place just outside My Left Testicle, Pennsylvania, and Dad goes, ‘This’d be a great night for lasagna. Make me a list, Dean, I’ll stock you up.’”

It’s hot, so damn hot, between the weather and the oven it’s about 98 degrees in the room and the AC is nonexistent, but Dean’s ice-cold smile brings gooseflesh to Sam’s arms. “De—“

“So, I dunno, I was tired, I was pissed off at the fucking world back then, you know, and I just looked over at him and said, ‘Don’t feel like it.’” Dean tilts his chair back and snags the bottle on the counter, slops about six fingers into his glass. He drinks about two before he says, “Didn’t go over real well.”

“What –“

“Dad, you know, he’s not used to me just laying it out like that, not gonna happen. So he starts saying how we could both use a homecooked meal and whatever, and I looked at him and I said, ‘I cooked for Sammy. And that was fine, Dad, that was great. Peachy.’” He’s looking at the drapes again, eyes far away as Neptune. He licks his dry lips. “’But he ain’t here anymore, and I’m not your goddamn wife. Go find a diner.’”

It’s cold. So cold. “What did he do?” Sam breathes, almost silently.

Dean knocks back another belt of whiskey – drunk, Jesus, he’s beyond drunk, he’s at that place Sam’s always hated, that mean cold place most people only see right before they get the everloving shit pounded out of them – and says, “You know something?”

He’s looking at Sam now, that sharp, artificially alert look like, go ahead, ask me.


Dean leans forward and says, conspiratorially, “Not a goddamn thing.”


“Just kinda looked at me, didn’t say a thing, and then he grabbed his coat and split.” Dean slumps again, shakes his head. It’s a tight motion, tense, and the muscles in his jaw dance like St. Elmo’s fire. “Came back drunk, and we split the next day. Never asked me to cook him anything ever again.”

Sam swallows sour spit, and reaches out with numb fingers to pick up his glass. The two inches of milk left are warm and kind of disgusting, and after he’s finished it he’s thirstier than before.

Quietly, Dean says, “Wish I had.”

Sam can’t look at him.

“Wish I’d made him his goddamn lasagna. Or fucking – tacos, or whatever.” Sam can hear him swallow. “Wouldn’t have been so much.”

The room is quiet, oven ticking tiredly, the brush of hot dusty wind ticking against the windows. It’s gotten dark outside, but no cooler. The air conditioner lumbers on with a grinding clank, and they both flinch.

“You got dish duty,” Dean says, voice a little bit slurred now. He stands and wavers a little, catches himself long before Sam can reach out for him. “Made too fucking much. Ain’t like we can take it with us.”

“You cooked for me,” Sam says. “When I asked for it. You always did.”

“Yeah, well, things change. Ain’t that right, Sammy.” Dean gives him a sunny, too-bright smile. “Change all the goddamn time. Only trick is to keep up.”

Sam stands up, fingers still pressed on the tabletop. “When you cooked,” he says jerkily. “Back then. That was when I felt like I was home. Wherever we were.”

Dean meets his eyes, blinks and looks away again. “Maybe so.”

“If I -- If I ask, will you? Cook?”

Dean doesn’t say anything, for so long Sam feels like all the air has been leached out of the room, it’s all carbon dioxide. Then he gives a short chuff of a sigh and smiles and says, “You’re a big boy, Sammy. Cook it yourself.”

Sam meets his hooded gaze, gives a short nod.

Dean swigs down the last of his whiskey and says, “Going out. Don’t wait up.”

Sam waits until Dean’s footsteps on the sidewalk outside have faded away, and then slowly clears the table. Scrapes the plates into the trash, rinses them under the tap. It isn’t like he absolutely has to do the dishes – it’s what they have maids for, whatever – but it’s something to do.

When the dishes are clean he empties the big pan, too. They can’t take it with them. Not where they’re going.