( All the previously posted bitsCollapse )
Breakfast is leftover fish and yet another apple of mysterious origins, which he shares with a pair of fieldmice who have curled themselves into his doublet collar. The rabbit's settled itself comfortably between his feet, a welcome warmth in the early morning chill.
"It's a mite unsettling, I must admit," Benny says, watching Dean feed the mice bits of apple peel. "Never met anyone who had such a way with animals before." Behind him, the horse blows a great cloud of frosted breath, nosing at his shoulder until he produces an apple for it as well.
"You're telling me," Dean says, licking the last of the apple-stickiness from his fingers. "It's nothing like this at home." Well, aside from that time he was able to talk to dogs, but just thinking about how to explain that is enough to restart his headache so he doesn't. "Maybe we'll get lucky and it'll work on the dragon, too."
...The dragon turns out to be an adolescent alligator.
"I feel gypped," Dean says, though the mice in his collar curl a little more tightly against his jaw and the rabbit has huddled its way up nearly into his armpit. He pets it reflexively, trying to soothe away its shivering.
As alligators go, it's not very impressive, but the horse is doing a sort of stompy thing with its front feet anyway, snorting like it's an angry bull. Which is probably sensible, given how stupid teenagers can be--gotta make it clear up front that nobody's going to be eating anybody else right now.
"You know anything about a tower with a princess in it?" Dean asks, not really expecting an answer, but he might as well try.
The alligator goes off on a long tangent about snakes and catfish and being hungry before it becomes clear it doesn't have the vaguest idea what a tower even is.
"It's like a really big tree made out of stone with a person stuck inside." Dean can feel the amusement emanating from Benny and if it were Sam, he'd elbow him in the ribs. But it's not Sam, so instead he just glares at the back of the Benny's head as he has to spend the next five minutes explaining the same thing over and over in more excruciatingly simple terms. To an *alligator*. At this point a dragon would be preferable, since in the stories those are usually at somewhat intelligent--this guy's like a frat boy with brain damage.
Eventually one of those little tooth-cleaning birds shows up and takes pity on them and they get pointed west again, meaning the whole detour was a complete waste of time.
"Gotta admit, chief, this whole thing is starting to feel like a wild goose chase," Benny says later when they stop to give the horse--and themselves--a break. Lunch is yet more apples, and Dean is quickly coming to loath them.
"Yeah, I know," Dean sighs, and preemptively gives the rest of his meal to the horse.