Posted today in honor of Jen (JennK528). Happy birthday, my dear friend! -KHK
Leaving a Mark
K Hanna Korossy
It didn't start out as a "thing." They were just two bored kids stuck in a room with a lot of weapons. Dean had tried carving wood with Dad's big knife, cut his finger, and given that up. Etching initials into the motel room's battered baseboard seemed like the next logical step.
Sammy was about four or five then, and of course he'd wanted to do it, too. "S" was curvier than "D," though, so Dean finally taught him the stylized "S" from KISS's logo. He figured it was good for Sammy to practice his letters—and knife skills—and it was one less afternoon he had to find something to keep the kid busy.
That wasn't the end, though. Maybe it was Dean's desire to somehow prove he existed. Maybe it was about Sam's desire to make something permanently his. Kid-Dean didn't think to analyze it, and adult-Dean never wanted to. But they started regularly marking their space: behind nightstands, under the edges of curling wall-to-wall carpet, on the inward sides of posts. A secret only the two of them shared.
They didn't carve their presence into every room. Not the one they were staying in when Dean got shot by that farmer, or the place where Sam caught pneumonia. Not the rooms they wanted to forget. But often enough that it became a habit, that it was only natural when one day Dean pried the sidewall off the Impala's door and they christened her, too. Their permanent home.
They stopped somewhere around Sam's mid-teens, when bitterness started to congeal around his little brother's frustration and he didn't want to memorialize anything from his childhood. It never even occurred to Dean to leave his DW by itself. What did it matter without the SW?
Then Sam left, and Dean didn't have any reason to remember any of it at all.
They were two years back to the hunt, Dad gone and Sam firmly here and Dean not sure where he belonged, when they stayed in a motel that looked vaguely familiar. Of course, all of them looked the same after so many years, so Dean didn't give it another thought as he went to take a shower.
He came out to find the bed pushed to the middle of the room, and Sam grinning like he'd hit the jackpot.
"Dude, look at this." He led the way, Dean still dripping in a towel, to crouch against the wall by the nightstand. Dean knew what he'd see even before his brother pointed.
It hadn't even been painted over. The grooves had faded with age, but there they still were, DW and a little clumsier SW etched into the moulding.
"I can't believe we found one of 'em." Sam shook his head in amazement.
"I found another one," Dean found himself admitting. "When you were at school."
Sam's openly curious looked softened the memory.
"Crap motel outside St. Paul. I thought I recognized it, and there it was, back of the desk." He didn't mention the stab to the heart seeing it was, or how drunk he got that night.
Sam's eyes had gone distant. "I think I remember that. The walls were too hard, so we had to find someplace else."
"Yup." Dean tried to rise, then took Sam's hand with chagrin as the hip he'd bruised on the hunt nailed him down with pain. He swore under his breath.
Sam sat on the askew bed. "Why'd we stop?"
Dean grunted as he dug through his bag. One more thing he tried to forget: the offer of his knife, their secret partnership, one of the few ways he could ease his brother's displacement, and Sam's angry, Why bother, Dean? Not the first or last time he'd said one thing and Sam heard something else. "You turned into a whiny brat," he finally muttered.
"Huh," Sam said mildly. "Guess I did."
Dean's mouth twitched despite himself.
He pulled a shirt on, then climbed into his boxers very carefully, trying to decide if jeans were worth the trouble, or maybe he'd just wear Sam's sweatpants and roll the cuffs—
He had turned as he deliberated, and realized suddenly that Sam was sitting there holding something out to him. Sam's own Bowie knife, hilt first. Offered with a small, knowing smile.
He would remember this moment later, when he etched "Sam" into a baseboard in 1944 with the hope Sam would see it in 2012, then again when he took out his knife and carved DW into the main bunker library table before passing the knife to his brother. It would be one of the moments he'd hold on to in the many hard years to come.
But at that moment, all he did was huff a smile as he went stiffly back to his knees and affirmed his place one more time next to his brother.