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Normality's Overrated

Title Normality's Overrated
Rating PG-13

"Don't you miss it?"

Dean didn't look up from the newspaper he was currently scouring. Obits first of course, then the 'oddly enough' afterthought pieces, and then finally the headlines. Maybe if he acted like he hadn't heard the question, Sam would leave him alone.

"Dean." No such luck. He grunted noncommittally and turned the page, trying to make it clear through telepathy that it was too damn early for conversation.

"Hey?" Sam was getting frustrated now and Dean figured he had about five seconds before the next interruption. His brother was all but squirming on the bench opposite, sitting sideways on so that his freakishly long legs fit under the table without constantly hitting his knees off Dean's seat.

Five. Four. Three. Two... The newspaper vanished from under his nose and Dean used all his hard-learned poker skills to keep the grin from his face. Even after all this time he could read Sammy like a book.

"D'you mind?" He made to snatch the paper back but Sam was holding it just out of reach. "What?" Dean didn't have to put too much effort into sounding annoyed. Something about the early rise was just bringing out the natural actor in him.

"I asked you a question." Sam had his serious voice on now. Actually, now that Dean came to think about it, it was pretty much the only tone he had these days. Sometimes it veered towards the pissy end of the scale, but mostly it was just serious, straight to the point. It was really starting to bug him, yeah there was cause enough for it, and he could understand it completely, but the way Sam was tackling everything head-on was just going to get him hurt. Or killed. So Dean figured it was just as well he was around to remind the kid just what a big brother was for.

"Yeah, and I ignored you, can I get the paper back now?"

"Not till you answer the question." Sam looked like he was on the verge of pouting. Hand to god, actually pouting. Winding him up was a lot easier than it used to be. Course, that was clearly the problem with a modern education in Dean's opinion. Too much time spent chasing the next grade, and not enough time spent on how best to bug the crap out of your sibling. Not that Dean had ever really needed lessons on that particular subject nor had Sammy back in the day.
Dean sighed melodramatically and folded his hands on the melamine tabletop. "Every minute of every day. It's like there's this hole deep inside and nothing seems to be able to fill it."

Sam's face scrunched into that 'yeah, right' expression of his, "Really?"

He let the grin escape for a second and shook his head. "Nope. Not at all. How could I miss something when I have no freaking idea what it is I'm supposed to be missing?"
Sam's eyes rolled. "Dumbass."

"Bitch."

"Jerk."

A little half-hearted on Sammy's part, but at least some thing's hadn't changed that much. "So," Dean prompted. "What am I meant to be missing then?" Lack of caffeine and sleep was making him more than a bit fidgety so he picked up the laminated menu and pretended to read it to stop his fingers drumming on the table. Maybe it wasn't the best time for Operation Get Sam Out Of His Funk. Definitely not if that was the best name he could come up with.

The waitress who must have been psychic or something - approached with the coffee and Dean could swear his taste buds sat up and begged at the sight of the glass pot. He smiled at her as she poured a healthy measure into the cup he was all but pushing towards her and she lifted the corners of her mouth in that distracted way that told him she really wasn't paying attention. Right now, he didn't care. So long as she kept the coffee coming that was all that mattered. He took a long swallow of the black gold, ignoring the scalding sensation on the roof of his mouth and feeling the warmth and the caffeine start to spread through his system. Finally he sat back and looked over at Sam. "Well?" he asked again, as if Sam and not Dean's need for coffee had been the reason for the interruption to proceedings.

"Doesn't matter." Sam sighed and slumped back against the faux-leather and Dean felt his jaw clench. Dammit, this was starting to get a little too much like hard work now.

'Man... what do you want from me Sam? Want me to say 'how high' when you ask me to jump? Want me to drop everything every time..." He stopped, took a breath, started again. " Not what I meant. What am I supposed to be missing? And it does matter, 'cause... it does." Dean managed not to say 'because it matters to you', but he was pretty sure his brother knew that was what was on his mind.

Sam looked up through that damn forest of hair that seemed to have a mind of its own half the time and studied him. Dean was used to that kind of scrutiny and it wasn't really a chore not to squirm or look away. He might be able to read Sam like a book, and he figured the same was probably true in reverse. And that was just fine with him. It seemed that hours went by in silent evaluation before Sam finally spoke.

"Normality. Real life. Don't you miss it?"

Dean actually rocked back at that, "Normality? Dude, this is normal. We're living the American dream right here, on the road, stopping when and where we want, seeing the whole purple mountain majesty deal. Those folks living that 'real life'? They pay good money for this kind of thing."

"Yeah, for like a week a year. Then they go back to their real lives."

"Because they feel like they have to, like they've got no choice." Dean leaned forward again, wondering at the fact that yet again Sam had somehow managed to drain even the tiniest piece of enjoyment out of the morning so far. It was a talent; the boy must've learned it during all that time in the library or in chess club or whatever the hell he'd been doing at Stanford. They probably had a trophy or something for the person who could suck the most energy out of the room. The grin threatened to make a return as the picture of a room full of Sam's with floppy hair all sighed dramatically and looked like they had the weight of the world on their shoulders while examiners wandered round marking things down on clipboards. He focused back on the here and now, "But us? Hell we don't have to go back to whatever it is that those folks call normal. We get to keep going. Just like we always have. And hey, this is what we do. So... this is normal. For us."

Sam looked down; probably a little surprised that Dean had managed to understand where he was coming from. And although he knew that surprise should be a kick in the teeth, he had to admit he was a tiny bit impressed that he'd still been able to pick up on it himself.

When he finally looked up, there was a new look in Sam's eyes, something that Dean hadn't seen there for far too long. A hint of the old Sam was almost trying to get through, the kid who would be just as deep in whatever scam Dean was running instead of this world-weary emo freak who'd been occupying the passenger seat in silence for the past month. "This? This is not normal." He was picking at the food on his plate with a smile trying to quirk his face out of the perpetual frown.

Dean grinned and reached for a handful of fries from Sam's plate. "Doesn't get any more normal than a decent burger in a diner. Flame grilled and everything."

"Dean. It's seven in the morning. Normal people don't eat burgers for breakfast." Sam's put-upon expression was ruined by the smile he now wore and Dean patted himself metaphorically on the back for the tiny victory.

"Yeah, well, you know what they say, normality's overrated."

all these moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.