Friday morning was semi-clear when Dean headed to see who was awake just yet. He knew that Ryuuzaki would be as the man was pretty much a total insomniac. It still made no sense to him as to how he could stay awake so long and not become ill, especially with the ungodly amount of sweets the man put away. Mello was nearly as bad in regards to chocolate.
Watari was in the central main room that all the wings opened into when the older Winchester came out. "Good morning, Dean."
"Good morning, Sir, " ex-hunter replied. "I am looking forward to this evening. There's that new area on the northern outskirts of town that a lot of well-to-do people have moved into. God, I hope this is not going to be a trend. They've added some nice restaurants there. There's a Steak and Ale. I haven't seen one of them in a while. I got reservations a week ago. It's perfect for Near. They won't care."
"Won't care about what?" Watari set his book in his lap, which he'd been reading to enjoy the rare silence. Mello, Near, and Matt were working on assignments for the moment, and L was focused on his case. He'd left a tray of hot coffee and cakes for the detective to munch through for a while.
"You said I had to find a place that won't mind how he dresses and the need for privacy...not a lot of people. He can wear some sandals and snow boots over them. The rooms only have four or five tables in them. The only time he'd have to leave the room is for salad. if wants it, he can me tell what to fix for him, and I'll do it. I only plan to wear jeans, shirt, and cowboy boots."
The older man gave him a soft smile. "You did well, Dean. I'm glad you were able to find such a location. It'll help Near relax a bit more and enjoy his outing."
"That's what I want. He hasn't had these opportunities. There's got to be ways to give them to him and not frighten him away. I want to help do that."
Watari nodded. "Outings are rare for them considering who and what they are. Near even more so," he said softly.
"I want to have the time to do things with all of them and Ben. It's just...Near does so little normal things. I understand why, but there are things he can do if the circumstances are right. They're all my kids, Watari, but Near more so. We've been through some tough times together."
"Being orphans and in the programs they're in, it's difficult to give them that one on one time. It's one reason Ryuuzaki has them now instead of at the school," he said softly. "It's good to see them getting out and interacting."
Dean spoke just as softly, "I think of them as my boys too. Dad was never around much. You know that. Mom was dead. Sammy and I took care of each other. Who am I kidding. I raised him since I was four, but you know all that. We were pretty much orphans too. Once in a while, Caleb, Pastor Jim, or Bobby took us, but Dad didn't want to do it all the time. It limited his travels. We weren't learning what he wanted us to know when we were with the others. Sammy was too little to understand when he told Dad that we got to play. I want to give them time to be kids, to play."
"We try to encourage that though the studies are demanding," Watari answered, looking into the flames that were burning in the fireplace. "Near's issues with sunlight make it difficult for him to join the others in outside games."
"There's a lot of good inside games, Watari. Do you think, when winter is over, that we could convince Ryu to build a gymnasium here? Why should Near be left out of games because of the sunlight?"
He nodded. "I can ask him," he said to the other. "Sunlight is needed for children but with his fair skin. He burns quite badly after a few moments. Hence the special inside garden for him. The plants grow in minimal light."
"They can use the gym for their martial arts, if they wanted to. They can play volleybally and basketball. There are other sports, like kickball, that can be played in a limited space."
"This is certainly a conversation I will bring up with him."
"I'd be willing to work more cases if he thinks I should do it. Just let him know that."
Watari nodded. "I shall definitely bring it up with him and see what he thinks."
"That's fair enough. Everyone's still asleep upstairs. I'm gonna fix some breakfast. Have you eaten? I hope to find Lisa's cookbook. I could eat cold cereal but I'd rather have one of the dishes you cooked for me. She's got all the recipes. I will fix some for you if you haven't eaten. I guess I could do something in our wing, but I just wanted out for a bit. Thought I'd go for a walk after I ate. Is it still snowing much?"
The older man held his hand up to stop the flow of words. "I have warm scones on the stovetop covered. A bit of coffee and those will do you some good with the mixed fruit in the refrigerator. As far as snow, we've had about an inch this morning so far. It's not a blizzard but coming down steadily"
"I guess we'll be taking that all-terrain vehicle I rebuilt during the summer. Near and I tonight; all of us tomorrow. It's a monstrous thing. That will make a good walk for me. I'll go pick it up at the shop. I don't relish putting any of our vehicles on the road or trying to get out of here in them. We do need to get a a small snow plow for here. That way we can drive the vehicles."
"That and I would advise either renting or looking into getting a snowplow for the roads on your land that you're responsible for. Even if normal vehicles can't make it, an all terrain kind will have an easier go of it," he suggested.
"I hadn't thought about the other access roads to the mountain trails that are on our land. I hadn't thought of the possibility of anyone trying to climb those trails this time of year. Would anyone really try to climb them this time of year, Watari? Come to think of it, these really aren't the kind of mountains to have an avalanche or anything. They're not skiing type of mountains. We don't have to worry about that, do we? I honestly thought about putting road closed barricades up. Keep people from trying those trails in this weather."
"I meant the roads leading to town," he said mildly, putting his book aside and leading him to the kitchen. "I wouldn't put it past someone to try to reach the garage in this weather if there's an emergency."
"Hell, I need to find out if the state or the county do that here. Damn! I don't want someone having a wreck or getting lost in a drift somewhere. I'll make some calls after breakfast. I'll take the walk later."
"Make sure to dress warmly and take a thermos of hot coffee with you," he said, setting scones onto a plate along with honey and butter. He poured coffee for Dean and set it on the table, then set a kettle on for himself.
"Ill make sure that I do that," Dean spoke softly, sipping the coffee with enjoyment. He was allowed a cup once or twice a day, but figured he'd be drinking tea with the older man. Coffee for breakfast and in a thermos was unheard of in his household. He smiled softly and enjoyed the cup even more as he quietly asked, "Decaf?"
"Exactly," he said, adding water to the teapot to allow the leaves to steep before bringing it, milk, and a tea cup to the table. "Now try the scones."
Dean smiled softly as he took another sip of coffee. He knew this particular Englishman so very well. He had told no one how felt about the man. Watari was the consummate Englishman, and Dean would never embarrass him with an emotional reaction the him. They'd already had so many that Dean felt almost ashamed of. His breakdowns, loss of control, and emotional outbursts would be difficult much less for an Englishman. Dean thought as much about Watari as he did Bobby. Bobby was the Dad Dean had wished grown up with. The older man in front of him was the grandfather he wished he had had."
Dean bit into the scone, and his mouth stayed still for a few seconds, his eyes closed. Watari watched the reaction, recognizing the younger man enjoying something new. A tongue slowly slipped out, licking up honey, butter, and the few crumbs that were there. "It's wonderful, Watari. Thank you."
The Englishman smiled and chuckled at his surrogate grandson. "I'm glad you like it. Not all Americans are fond of English cuisine. I'm rather glad you and the others are open to trying new things."
The young man across from him smiled the type of smile that not everyone was given the chance to see. It was genuine and open and the laugh lines around his eyes wrinkled a little. He had two of the scones, finished his coffee and reached for his cell phone. "I hope it works? Ryu did put up those towers so it ought to." Dean walked over to a cabinet in the kitchen by a wall phone and grabbed a phone book out of it. Walking back to the table, he set the phone book down and resumed his seat. He began to call the local sheriff's office, figuring they would know if the roads would open, or if he'd have to hire a snowplow.
"It works," he said. "We've tested those in a variety of locations and weather types. Ryuuzaki simply cannot function without full access to the world," he murmured, going to refresh the coffee and tea cups. He buttered a scone for himself, and the older man nibbled his food while watching to see what the verdict was on the snowplow.
Dean talked to a dispatcher and was on the phone for about five minutes, jotting down a number. He sighed, took a sip of the coffee, thanking the older man, and dialed the number he had written down. He continued to talk softly so as not to bother the other man. Watari noted that the ex-hunter wrote down a several numbers and some words. He nodded to himself, took out his wallet, pulling a credit card from it. He read the numbers off the card. Hanging up the phone, he replaced the card in his wallet and put it back in his jean's pocket. He looked up at Watari and smiled.
"Snowplow service for hire?"
Dean smiled sweetly and nodded, taking another drink of his coffee. "Yes, sir. In about two hours. I'll walk down and bring back the ATV at that time. It will be a little easier. He gave the price of a mid-sized plow. I'll have to talk to Sam. A new one is not cheap. Have to see what we have in the account. We did buy those cars and tools, you know? I might be able to find a rebuilt one cheaper."
"Depending on how often it snows, it just may be more financially feasible to continue to employ his services in inclement weather. It frees up more time for you and Samuel and keeps both of you out of the cold. I would do it when here as well," he murmured.
"That will be the deciding factor, I guess. If it snows like this a lot, I just don't know. He says that it's clear to you get to fork that heads to the back way to Big Bend. That's a long way from there to here, but we have to have the roads clear. He charges $350.00 and that's if I'll work on his car for parts only I agreed for this one time, but, Hell, Watari. My labor's not that cheap and it could be a lot more than if I'd just paid him, you know?"
"Let's do some research on the recorded snowfall for the last five to ten years, balance that with the trade off on services. We'll price snow plows, upkeep, and fuel and see which is the most cost effective per year."
"That's what I'm gonna to talk to Sam about. I don't want spend my small amount of shop time doing free labor. That cuts into groceries and things. I have the upkeep of the shop to consider. It gets around that I'll do that and I'm in trouble."
"You both have too much on your plates..although, Bobby might be willing to do the plowing. We'll need to bring him in on this discussion and see what his thoughts are on it."
Dean sighed softly. "Yeah, maybe Bobby could do it. He'd probably enjoy it. He used to do it South Dakota. Hell, he may have a plow up there that just needs some work."
"We will figure it out. Again, just a matter of research and discussion." He took his cell phone, typing in a message and hit send. Watari knew that the best way to handle things was to delegate, so he'd given the research to one of the boys.
Dean watched him and murmured, "Thank you, sir." He got, took his dished to the sink. He did not bother opening the dishwasher. To him, it made no sense leaving dirty dishes in a machine until it was full. He reached under the sink grabbed a bottle of liquid dish soap and turned on the hot water. He washed his plate and cup. Turning, he asked, "Are you through, Sir?"
He handed the cup over to Dean and headed to the second coffeepot. One was labeled 'decaf' and the other 'regular.' The older male restarted a fresh pot of regular coffee, guessing that L would be requiring fresh soon.
Dean disappeared into the main room and knocked on the door to his brother's wing. It was still early morning, and Sammy was usually out of bed early, but there was Sarah.
"You gonna need me to cut more stuff today? I need to walk down to the shop after the plow gets here and pick up the ATV. I'm leaving here about 5, with Near. The roads are bad, so I need the extra time."
"What's your schedule like for the day?" She was thinking on what she had cut already and timing on painting them.
"I know I cut quite a bit this week, but you've been working on them? Right? I know we're gonna be gone tomorrow. As long as it's like this, the diesel school is closed. I gotta couple of hours before I need to walk down to the shop. I can put it off for a while, but I want to have it done and the cutting done so I have time to shower and rest up before I take Near out to Steak and Ale."
Sniffing the air, Dean set the apples on the counter and proceeded take his winter outer wear. He turned to take them into the patio and hang them, but knew he had to walk to the shop. "Did the plow get here yet?"
"Started about thirty minutes ago," Sam said, looking at some papers as he did so. "Matt got the estimates we needed for buying a used or new one and all the numbers we need."
"What's the best we can do, Sam?" Dean went the stove and put soup in a bowl. He sat down between Lisa and Sara, across from his brother and Cas.The heat in the kitchen began to overwhelm him a little. He closed eyes and took a deep breath. Looking up, the cold man noted the heating vent right over his head. Knowing this group, this was intentional. He started trembling from the heat hitting his half frozen body. He looked up at Castiel and saw the knowing look. Dean reached for his spoon and almost dropped it. The surprised look on his face was seen by all. "What the Hell!"
"According to the research, it would pay for itself in about a year and a half. However, Bobby has one that he's going to get for us when he can. It just needs a bit of work," he said and Bobby nodded.
Near looked at Dean. "Dean's body is overly cold and is reacting to the warmth. The shaking and tingling will stop soon."
Dean whispered his thanks to Near. He gripped the spoon in a vice-like grip and managed to get a spoonful into his mouth. He slowly chewed the meat and swallowed. "So, we have this guy do it until we can get the other one down here and repair it?"
Castiel continued to stare at the trembling man. "Why did you leave you coat and boots in the kitchen, Dean? Are you planning on going back out into the cold? I promised Sam we would keep you from harming yourself. You need a hot shower or bath and a nap until it is close to time for you to take Near out."
"Cas, that's over stepping it, " Dean murmured softly. Lisa nudged him and Sarah turned and stared.
Matt spoke up. "I'm sure he's got work to do. What's on the agenda, Dean? Can we help? Mells, Near, and I are done with our work for today unless Ryuuzaki springs something on us."
"I was only work two hours. It somehow turned into a little more than three. Sarah, there's thirty apples in a metal basket on the kitchen counter. You didn't put a size, so I made the big Delicious apples and I used redwood. so unless you're turning them into caramel or candied apples, they area pretty shade of red. You would just have to maybe stain the leaves green and the stem brown or black. I was through with the shop, guys. I just got to walk down and get the ATV back here. They didn't happen to do the all the way up here and to the trailer compound first did they?"
Sarah's eyes lit up. "You did great, Dean!" She got up and looked them over. All some of these would need was a clear varnish to preserve the color. "I love it; these are fantastic!"
Sam nodded. "It's done all the way to our drive and the shop. Lisa sent some cookies and coffee as a thank you," he told him.
Dean smiled as Sarah. "I didn't have the time to do more, but you only needed thirty. I had just finished the thirtieth when Watari came and stopped me. I had planned on using that redwood for some large bowls and things, but that wood cried out to be apples."
Dean took another bite of soup, shook his head, and looked across at his brother. "Sammy, would you drive me to the shop? I was trying to keep from asking someone, but I think Cas is right."
"Dean..if you have time, you could offer these at craft fairs and online at artist sites. These are gorgeous. I've never seen any of this quality," she told him.
"Sure, I don't mind. Do you need the boys for anything or should I let them be Sarah's minions for the day?"
"Let them be her minions for the day. Thanks, Sam. Sarah? Seriously? i wouldn't know what to ask for them?"
"For a dozen? I'd say about fifteen to twenty, depending on size," she told him. "Also too if they want the raw form like these or have me touch for detail work on stem and leaves plus a seal on the main part of the apple."
"Sarah, I don't know anything about marketing stuff like that. I know cars. I'll make them. You market them? I prefer doing the bigger ones. Little ones will cost them more in the long run. They're harder to do, and will take more time." Dean proceeded eat his soup and reached for a slice of bread. His shaking and slowed down. He just felt drained. He cold could do that to you. He just had not realized he'd gotten that cold.
"I can do that," she told him, getting up and handing him some water to help hydrate him. "I could put you to work a few hours a month and make a small fortune."
Dean took the water and drank about a third of it, not realizing he was thirsty. "Really? Exactly how much is a small fortune? We'd split it after costs."
"I'll give you an estimate by tonight or tomorrow. Between the apples and other ideas I have, we've got a potential market that we need to explore. I had no idea you were this good with power tools." It was obvious she was plotting now.
Sam looked at his brother in surprise when he saw him turn red. Cas just stared at him in confusion. The others who could see his face could remember a few times during his healing where he had done so, but seldom.
"The stuff you gave me before this was simple. You just needed me to out flat items. Nothing required any skill other than following a drawing."
Sarah moved in front of him, cupping his face. "You would be surprised. A lot of carpenters can't do this," she told him, pointing at the apples. "It takes a steady hand, eye for detail, and imagination to be able to make this out of my plans. We make a good team, brother mine."
No one thought it possible, but Dean was more red then he was before. He stared in Sarah's eyes and swallowed hard. "Okay. You tell me how many you need, and when you want me to do something different, draw me what you want. Until then, I'm going to make what you asked me to make for Christmas."
"We'll talk about this after Christmas and the weddings are done," she told him. "Afterwards, when the chaos settles, we'll plan things out and set up the sites. How's that sound? We'll put Sammy-boy to work on the computer side," she teased.
"That actually sounds good." Dean looked at the clock. "It's almost one. Sam, you ready to haul me over there? I really want that shower and a nap. I need to be up around 4:30 to be ready to go. Near, we still have the dinner date, correct? I found a good place that will comfortable for you."
"I'm ready," he said with a grin.
Near nodded, a small almost smile on his face. "Near will be ready," he told him. He'd been looking forward to this and hoped that Dean would remember. It seemed the other had.
Dean grinned. "Good. Let's go, Sammy. Near, 5:00. The reservation is at 6 . It's normally about 25-30 minutes to town, but the roads are gonna be bad. I want to give us plenty of time. I'll call and make sure they know we're still coming." Dean grabbed his cell phone and hit the number for restaurant as he walked towards his winter outerwear. He grabbed them and walked onto the patio and sat down and put the boots on. He got an okay from the restaurant. After he had dressed for outdoors, he stuck his head back into the dining area and said, "They're holding it for us." He walked through, touching Ben's back as he headed towards the big front door.
Sam bundled up before heading to his truck. "Crap, it's cold. I didn't think Texas could get this cold!!!"
"The Panhandle and west Texas do, Sammy. Damn the cold sure can drain you fast. I knew heat could, but not the cold. It's a dry cold and you don't realize you're freezing."
He climbed into the truck and started it, hoping the engine would heat fast. "I didn't remember it getting this cold on our trips. Damn, this is unreal."
"You don't remember that trip to Montana when I got so sick with the flu? Dad wouldn't stop. He wouldn't drop us off somewhere. Said the the case was an emergency. We stayed in that car. He said it was dangerous to leave it running for the heat. We bundled in all the blankets, Sammy. I was damn cold cause I had that fever. I spent half the time in the snowbank upchucking, Man. This is cold, but it isn't that cold."
"Vaguely, I remember melting snow for drinks," he said. "You mentioned something about me being like a boy scout for thinking of it," He started driving to the shop.
"I know I was grateful. It kept me from dehydrating. Dad kept stopping at places and buying stuff to eat that I couldn't even look at. I need Mom's tomato and rice soup. That's what she always gave me. It's a miracle Dad didn't kill me."
"I think we've got the recipe for that somewhere. Sarah found one," he said, coming to a stop at the shop. "I told her that you mentioned it a lot when we were growing up. She said she'd tweak it until it's the same as the one Mom made."
"How would she know, Sammy? How would she know if it was like what Mom made? I'd have to judge everyone she made. I won't go there, Sam. after the kilt fiasco, Hell, no. Women are weird when it comes to their cooking. If wasn't like Mom made and I told her, it might hurt her feelings. She gets hurt, Lisa gets pissed. I'll just do without the soup. Thanks though."
"Dean, shut up a moment. Sarah offered it and will make the original recipe. You try it, compare it to your memory and make suggestions. She'll make notes and try again a different day. She offered this," he told him. "Sarah was really excited too."
"Sam, I don't understand that. I really don't understand that. Why is she being so nice to me all of a sudden? I thought. Hell, I don't what I thought. Tell her thank you and I would like that. It was mainly when I was sick that Mom made it. I don't get sick easy. You know that."
Sam look at his brother before Dean got out of the truck, thinking about the health problems his brother had faced since the incident with the creatures in the cave. Dean had never fully recovered from any of it. He still had problems. "Yeah, Dean. I know. I'm not leaving until that ATV starts and I'll follow you."
He looked at his older brother. "Besides, she's trying to fit in. She's an only child and wants to be accepted as part of the family. Sarah knows how much the soup means to you and wants to give you something from home."
"Hell, Sammy. She is family. She became my sister when she said she'd marry you. I told you years ago you should marry that girl. I was right."