On Labor Day, seven years in, Sam learns something new about Dean.
He can play the harmonica.
It shouldn’t surprise Sam, but it does, and he spends the entire afternoon fixated on Dean’s mouth. That isn’t new, but it is, and Sam is all kinds of turned around.
A request is made mid afternoon, once lunch is done and the rest of their plans are a slow, lazy sprawl over a blanket on the back lawn. Elsewhere in their neighborhood, folks are having barbecues and cook offs and juntas and reuniones. They were invited to their share, but the politest of no thank yous were given.
On his back, Dean refuses to do anything until Sam gives into his demands.
He wants to go to the Field Museum next weekend and stay at a fancy hotel afterwards. The hotel isn’t the problem. It’s the museum. Dean is the most obnoxious person in a museum to ever exist. Even the mummies know it. He will walk from exhibit to exhibit and comment on how if the dinosaurs were so smart, how come they’re extinct. If the ancient Egyptians were so advanced, how come there’s not a pyramid made out of solid gold?
Why go there, pay money, spend hours surrounded by screeching children, and listen to Dean complain about the angle of the T Rex in the grand lobby?
To the side, the harmonica taunts Sam.
With a few hours of sunlight left, a decision should be made soon. Sam sighs and weighs his options. He lays beside Dean, resting his head on Dean’s chest, and decides that if all goes to shit, he can hide in the gift shop.
They spent years all over the country. Louisiana was always a favorite haunt of Dean’s. When he starts to sing, there’s a twang and an accent that isn’t forced. These are things they’ve picked up that aren’t scars or battle plans.
"Mama got a voice like sugar, it’s so sweet and fine. Sister’s singin ‘mazing grace, she right in time. She been up all night, she got crows walkin round her eyes. He left her on a Tuesday still. Now she’s waitin at the Jackson Station lookin over the hill."
Dean doesn’t make Sam move. He does just fine like this. The outside quiets to them on the blanket and the harmonica that is brought to life again.
Rich, clear, and bright, the sound of the harmonica is brilliant. Dean plays it like he’s doing nothing more than breathing.
A nudge is given to Sam.
Sam smiles and closes his eyes. He sings along at the next break. Together, they’re alongside a river in Louisiana.
"Take me away. Here that whistle playin sad sad songs. Lay me down, where the river runs wide and strong."
Smirking and shaking his head, Dean plays again. He draws out the notes, gets fancy, and Sam is lost in it all. As he plays, Dean’s hand moves expertly to get the right sounds, to draw out the correct pitch.
When Dean stops, Sam’s world is what he sees in front of him.
"Just waitin at the Jackson Station," Dean breathes, "never comin back."
It’s not the most romantic song. But it’s one Dean knows and that makes it important. Their life isn’t completely apple pie, either. But it’s one they know and that makes it important.
Gratitude is passed from Sam to Dean.
And all around back again.