Word count: 2,909
Summary: Dean is cursed with helpfulness. For cursed!week on spn_bigpretzel
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Supernatural.
“So I talked to the guy who stabbed Sarah Jane Parker. He said he just lost it and stabbed her for no… Dean, where are you going?” Sam stared after his brother, who for some reason had stopped listening and was walking off through the parking lot. Huh. Maybe he’d seen something. Sam followed him.
A tiny, middle aged woman was struggling to lift a set of drawers into her little red hatchback. “Want some help with that?” Dean offered.
The woman looked up in delighted surprise. “Oh, thank you. You know the store wouldn’t even send someone out to help.”
Dean gave her a dazzling smile and grabbed one end of the dresser. Sam took the other end, helping Dean lift it and position it so it wouldn’t fall over.
Well, that was nice, he thought as they watched the little woman drive away with her drawers. Kind of unusually thoughtful of Dean. But nice. Sometimes it felt good to help with something small.
“What were you saying?” Dean asked as they started driving back to the motel on the outskirts of town.
“Matthew Fife, the guy who stabbed the first victim, said he just lost it for no reason and stabbed her. He was really upset about it, said she hadn’t done anything wrong and was just being nice, but it was so annoying that he stabbed her.”
“There’s definitely something weird going on here,” Dean agreed. “The second victim’s wife was pretty freaked, but she said all the guy did was offer to mow the neighbour’s lawn for him and the neighbour lost it and bashed his head in with a garden gnome.”
This case was weird. Sam couldn’t wait to get back to the motel and have a shower before a long night of research. But it was no to be. Dean was pulling the car over.
“What are you doing?” Sam asked.
“I think they’ve got a flat,” Dean told him, gesturing to an old blue station wagon that was pulled up in front of them. “This’ll take five minutes.”
After Dean changed the tyre, the trip back to the motel was uneventful. Sam watched his brother. This was good. Maybe he’d finally got through to Dean about being more considerate. Now if only he could get through to him about the importance of diet.
Dean’s new thoughtfulness lasted even after the door of the motel was shut. He let Sam have the first shower, and brought him his towel when he realised he’d forgotten it. He actually helped with the research, rather than pacing annoyingly around the room, whining about wanting to do something, or sitting on his bed watching something with lots of explosions in it, with the volume way up.
They decided to take a break after a couple of hours of research got them no further. There had just been the three murders in town following the pattern. No previous murders in the area showed the same M.O., although there had been a series of similar murders in Alabama in the sixties. Dean had discovered that, and Sam couldn’t help feeling a bit annoyed that Dean had more to show for his research than he did.
Sam closed his browser and pulled up solitaire. He’d just have a nice, relaxing game before bed.
Ten minutes later he was staring at the screen, working out his next move. He’d used up all his uses of the card pile at the top, and needed a way to access the cards face down under his columns.
“Why don’t you just move the eight of hearts onto the nine of spades?” Dean suggested over Sam’s shoulder, pointing at the screen.
Sam glared at him. Everyone knew you were supposed to help when someone was playing solitaire. Especially when it was really obvious.
Sam started to think that maybe something was really wrong the next morning, when he buttoned his shirt wrong and Dean came over and re-did it for him.
“Dude, are you feeling okay?” Sam examined his brother. Dean looked fine. Happy, even. He shrugged it off. Dean did weird things sometimes. They had more important things to worry about.
The waitress at the diner they went to for breakfast was rushed off her feet. Someone hadn’t turned up, and they were short-staffed. Sam resigned himself to a long wait, and pulled out his case notes to discuss them while they were waiting. Dean tapped his fingers on the plastic table and jiggled against the red vinyl cushions of the booth.
“Are you listening to me?” Sam asked in annoyance, but Dean was distracted. The happy smile that had been all over his face after helping Sam with his buttons was gone, replaced by a tense, twitchy expression. He kept glancing at the waitress. “Dude, the food’s not going to be that long.”
But Dean was getting up, going over to talk to the waitress. Sam groaned. And then, to his surprise, the waitress’s face was lighting up, and she was handing Dean her coffee pot and a pad and pencil.
“What a helpful man your friend is,” The waitress beamed at Sam as she handed over his oatmeal.
Sam looked over at his brother, who was filling up a trucker’s coffee up and writing down his order. Helpful was right. Too helpful. Not that Dean wasn’t a helpful person. It was just that Dean’s helping usually involved more killing things and less offering to wait tables for free. Something wasn’t right, here.
When they finally left the diner, an hour and a half later than planned, Dean’s smile was back in full force. It disappeared two feet out the door, when they saw the homeless guy. Dean disappeared back into the diner and came out with bacon and eggs on toast for him, and his smile back in place.
They stopped again, two cars down from the Impala in the parking lot, to help a nice Chinese couple who were examining a map confusedly. They didn’t speak much English, and neither Sam nor Dean spoke any Chinese, but after much gesturing and pointing, Dean eventually managed to direct them to the interstate. The tourists smiled their thanks and shook the brothers’ hands, and Dean’s shoulders relaxed again.
On the street where the witness to the third murder lived, a small, fluffy white dog was wandering the street. Dean stopped the car and carried it back to the address on its collar. He disappeared inside the house with the distressed-looking owner. Half an hour later, he still hadn’t come out, and Sam went to investigate.
The woman who answered Sam’s knock left the chain on and peered at Sam suspiciously. “What do you want?”
“I’m, uh, looking for my brother,” Sam replied, hoping that Dean hadn’t told some complicated lie to get in.
“Oh,” the woman unhooked the chain and opened the door, looking up at Sam. The fluffy white dog snuffled at his feet. “Can you get him to leave?” She hissed.
“What’s going on?” Sam asked.
She beckoned him in, and he followed her down the hallway. He could hear clanging and the sound of running water, and Dean swearing quietly. She pointed into the room the noise was coming from. Sam looked. The bottom three-quarters of Dean’s body was visible, lying in a growing puddle of water on the pale blue tile of the bathroom floor. His head and shoulders were in the cabinet under the basin, where he was banging away at the pipes.
“Dean?” Sam ventured. “What are you doing?”
“I’ll be with you in a minute, Sammy. I just have to finish helping this lady. Her pipes are broken. Shit!” There was a gush of water, followed by the sound of Dean spluttering. “Maybe I should’ve turned off the water.”
The lady in question was looking at Sam desperately. “I was just going to call a plumber, but he barged in here and won’t leave. Please make him leave.”
“Dean, she doesn’t need your help, you’re making it worse,” Sam said firmly, “We need to go.”
“It was flooding her bathroom, and Ralphie escaped.” Dean said, because in his mind that qualified as a good reason for coming into this poor woman’s home uninvited and refusing to leave.
“Maybe you could help her by calling the plumber?” Sam suggested, but apparently Dean needed to be more hands-on in his approach to helping her, because he ignored Sam and reached for the wrench.
“If you don’t leave in two minutes, I’m calling the police,” Ralphie’s owner announced, picking the dog up and holding him tightly.
“Come on, man. You don’t have to do this,” Sam said persuasively. They really didn’t need cops sniffing around them right now. Not when they had an investigation to finish. An investigation they were getting way behind on.
Then miraculously, the water stopped gushing out all over the floor. Dean emerged from the cabinet, soaking wet, but with a satisfied expression on his face. “Fixed,” he announced. “Should I clean this up?”
“No!” Ralphie’s owner practically shoved them out of her house. Sam heard the snap of the dead bolt behind them, and what sounded like a chair being shoved up to the door. She was making sure they couldn’t get back in.
“We should probably interview that witness now, huh,” Dean said cheerfully as he squelched down the garden path, leaving a trail of drips behind him. “Wait –“ he held up a hand for Sam to stop. Sam stopped in his tracks as Dean knelt in front of him and retied the shoelace that had come loose on Sam’s shoe.
“You know what, let’s do that this afternoon instead,” Sam said as casually as possible. “Maybe we should go back to the motel now.”
It took them nearly four hours to get back to the motel. Dean helped two old ladies across the road, helped a guy in a wheelchair with his grocery shopping, weeded someone’s garden, untangled a kid’s kite from a tree, and spent twenty minutes talking to an old man on his porch, who was lonely and needed someone to talk to. He also had the police called on him when he went into someone’s house to help a ten year old boy with his math homework. Sam had to wrestle him out before the cops came (“But he’s crying, Sam! I know a really easy way to do long division.”).
Sam finally managed to get hold of the car keys after that, and he really thought they might make it back to the room with no more trouble. Dean freaked when they passed a young mother struggling to control several children, and again when they passed a kid who’d lost his balloon. He tried to get out of the moving car to help when he saw a teenage girl walking along the street, crying. Sam refused to stop. He felt bad for these people, he really did. But that didn’t mean you had to help everyone. For one thing, you’d run out of time. For another, half of them didn’t want help.
On the way from the Impala to the motel room, they met a woman in her late twenties. She was tall and thin, with mousy hair and glasses. She wore a loose shirt buttoned all the way up to her neck, practical jeans, and sensible shoes.
Dean offered her his best smile. “Hi, I’m Dean.”
She looked at him like she wasn’t used to being spoken to. “Hi. I’m Charlotte.”
“Well, Charlotte, what’s a beautiful woman like you doing in a motel like this?” Dean asked her, catching her eye.
Sam groaned. Oh no. Dean was putting the moves on her.
Charlotte looked disconcerted and mumbled something Sam couldn’t catch.
“Why don’t you come to my room for coffee, and then…” Dean trailed off suggestively, running his eyes up and down her body.
“No thanks,” Charlotte said, and went to move on.
Dean opened his mouth to say something, but Sam interrupted, grabbing his brother’s arm and attempting to drag his brother in the direction of the room. “Come on, Dean.”
“Wait,” Dean tapped Charlotte on the shoulder and she turned automatically to look at him. “I’m sorry,” he said, “It’s just you seem really sexually frustrated and I want to help.”
The slap she gave him echoed down the street.
Sam finally managed to drag him into the motel room and lock the door.
“There’s something weird going on, man,” Dean said. “I would never normally act on that impulse.”
The problem with locking Dean up in the motel room, Sam soon discovered, was that the only person available for Dean to help was Sam. And so he helped him and he helped him and he helped him.
He tried to help Sam research by looking up instances of altruism on the internet, but Sam had to shut that down, in case it gave him ideas. So he filled the void by looking over Sam’s shoulder and suggesting ‘better’ keywords for his searches and pointing out typos in Sam’s notes, and offering to type for him so his fingers wouldn’t get tired. He made Sam cups of coffee, and toast cut into soldiers. He washed all of Sam’s clothes in the sink in the bathroom, and then ‘helped’ by going through and throwing out the ones he didn’t like, including Sam’s favourite yellow and green plaid. He made dinner with the ingredients Sam had purchased while Dean was helping the guy in the wheelchair, and proceeded to cut it up for Sam. After dinner, while Sam was trying to concentrate on figuring out what or who Dean might have come into contact with that would cause a helpfulness curse, Dean cleaned Sam’s gun for him, and then found Sam’s book of crosswords and filled in all the blanks that Sam was going to go back to after he’d had time to think. When Sam had his shower, Dean wouldn’t shut up until Sam let him scrub the places he couldn’t reach and Dear God, Sam was never thinking about that again.
When Dean was finally asleep, Sam congratulated himself for not yelling at his brother too much. He’d come to the conclusion that whatever was affecting Dean must be what had caused the earlier murders. He could totally understand murdering someone if they kept trying to help you and you didn’t need it, or if someone misinterpreted someone’s attempt to help, like the math kid’s parents had. It probably wasn’t a cursed object, because the three victims and Dean had never come into contact with the same object. It must be a witch, and Dean must have met that witch while he was interviewing the second victim’s wife.
When Sam woke up, Dean had laid out his clothes for him, made his coffee and made him breakfast. It was a boiled egg and toast. The toast was cut into soldiers again, like it always had been when Sam was little. Dean helped him make his bed, and tied his shoelaces for him, like it was completely normal.
“Who did you talk to when you were interviewing the wife?” Sam asked.
“Just the wife. She gave me cookies.” Dean’s eyes glazed over momentarily. “Man, those were good cookies.” His eyes cleared and he looked closely at Sam’s head. “You should get a haircut, man. It must be hard to see with it in your eyes all the time.”
Sam made a mental note to hide the scissors. The last thing he wanted Dean to do was cut his hair. Dean might think he was helping Sam by making sure he could always see the monsters coming, but Sam liked his hair. There was no way he was letting Dean hack it off.
“What kind of cookies?”
“I dunno. They were kind of different to any I’ve had before. So nice, though, man. You have to taste one.”
Sam kept a close eye on his brother as he drove them back across town to see the second victim’s wife.
She confessed immediately, wailing that she hadn’t realised what was happening, and only figured it out when she saw that the third victim had eaten her cookies at a shared lunch. “It’s my Grandmother’s recipe! I only wanted people to be a bit more helpful. People think they should help, and then they don’t follow through. The cookies were just meant to help people act on those impulses! But I guess they just affect some people more than others, and now…” she sobbed, “Now Clive is dead and I don’t know what to do.”
Dean stopped doing her dishes and gave her a hug.
Sam just tried to look sympathetic but stern. “When does it wear off?”
“My kids stopped volunteering to do chores after three days,” she sobbed into Dean’s shoulder.
Great. Two more days of either being locked in the motel room and having Dean cut up his food for him, or being out on the street trying to stop Dean throwing himself in front of buses to save children (although to be fair, Dean did that anyway) and horribly offending the majority of people he interacted with (Dean did that anyway too).
Sam sighed. He supposed he might as well let Dean out. Maybe if Sam went along on his ‘helping’ missions, people wouldn’t be so freaked out.