Characters: Dean, Sam, Bobby
Word Count: 5100
Rating: R (language)
Warnings: Spoilers through 7X02 and then it veers into a curtain!fic AU from that point on.
Author's Notes: Written for ratherastory's awesome comment-fic meme , but then it kind of took on a life of its own. I followed the first half of the prompt at least before getting sidetracked into serious curtain!fic: That last blow to the head proved to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Sam starts having seizures a lot more frequently than any of them like. Sometimes they get lucky and Sam just spaces out for a few minutes, but mostly they're nasty and drop Sam like a ton of bricks. I did a better job of filling this second prompt: Have Sam experience Post-concussion syndrome. I'd love to see him trying to help Dean out in the cabin while struggling with this, but fics further down the road, or around the Amy incident are cool too. Basically, I'd like to see a reasonable head injury recovery process for Sam.
Summary: Sam takes one too many hits to the head…
Compared to what they’ve been through, what costs they’ve already paid, this is chump change. They will have to give up hunting, give up the life. It is every bit as simple and staggering as that.
The truth is right in front of him…Sam cannot hit his head any more.
Dean stares at the CT scan he’s holding, trying to make sense of what he’s looking at. The doctor has already run them through it, pointing out the areas in Sam’s brain that are lit up like a Christmas tree.
The doctor says Sam's brain is the perfect storm for a neurological disaster.
Bobby flinches, and from the bed, Sam just closes his eyes. Dean wonders if they should take this outside. Even though the seizures seem to have slowed down, it’s hard to know what Sam is taking in. If Lucifer shows up unexpectedly, the last thing they need is Sam screaming at the devil and getting himself committed on top of everything else.
After a long moment, Dean rubs his hand over his face and asks, “How do you fix this?”
The doctor has the balls to shrug. Dean would most definitely shoot the messenger if only he had a gun in his hand.
“Let it go,” Bobby warns him, resting a stabilizing hand on Dean’s shoulder.
Dean forces himself to take a deep breath and calm the hell down. He can’t afford to get Sam kicked out of this place, not after they’ve driven a half day in that stolen ambulance and the rest in a stolen minivan, Sam seizing all the while in the back, trying to find a hospital with a decent trauma center. They’re lucky to have a neurologist even talking to them.
“You have to understand.” The doctor is now directing his words to Sam, who does seem to be tracking. “This sort of repeated injury could have lasting consequences that could jeopardize your health for the rest of your life. Mr. Dresdow, I can’t stress this enough. If you have another injury like this, it will most likely be the last one.”
The neurologist is running through all the ways that Sam is messed up. Some of them, Dean hasn’t even heard before. Imagine that—Sam is screwed in a new and improved way. The gist of it is Sam’s got second impact syndrome. From the way the doctor’s putting it, it’s more like hundredth impact syndrome. Dean can’t even count the number of times Sam has been knocked out.
The neurologist is calling it Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy—CTE in the pamphlet he handed Dean. The symptoms go on and on. Progressive degeneration of brain tissue, memory loss, personality changes, seizures—yeah, the fact that Sam has had two while the doctor was examining him could be a clue—confusion, impaired judgment, spatial and balance issues, headaches, impulse control issues, aggression, depression, and eventually if they don’t treat it aggressively—prolonged dementia.
“So what you’re saying is Sam’s brain is pretty much fucked,” Dean states flatly.
Sam turns his head to glare, forehead all furrowed and his lips pressed tight. “Dean, shut up,” he says disapprovingly, and it’s all Dean can do not to slap him upside the head. He doesn’t want to hear it. This is serious shit, and he doesn’t need Sam bitching at him while he’s trying to listen. But he’s pretty sure that clocking his concussed brother wouldn’t go over well.
“To be honest,” the doctor continues, also frowning at Dean, “we typically see this kind of damage in professional boxers.”
“Or professional football players,” Sam mumbles. “I looked it up once.” Of course, Sam would have researched a condition he didn’t even have then.
But the doctor nods. “It’s a huge problem in professional football. We don’t usually see this kind of sustained damage in non-athletes.”
Dean hands the CT scan over to Bobby because he doesn’t want to look at it anymore. His leg hurts, his heart hurts, and if it weren’t for the fact he was fucking crippled, he’d take off for a while. Find an open bar and drink all this crap away…at least for a little while. Damn, but hasn’t Sam suffered enough? Haven’t they all? They’ve lost Cas, Bobby’s house, Sam’s sanity, and every hope Dean ever had for a normal life. There’s just no end to this nightmare. It just goes on and on and on.
“There’s gotta be some way,” Dean begins, but Sam shakes his head before wincing. The movement obviously hurts, and Dean hopes like hell they’re pumping Sam up with some good shit. “I mean it, man. We can fix this.”
Sam bites his lip, and Dean notices the dried blood on the corner of his mouth, leftover from the morning’s worst seizure. He bit his tongue badly that time, and afterward, the nurse tried to explain to Dean what to do the next time, how to keep Sam from biting it off altogether. Dean blames it on the morphine that he vomited all over the squeaky clean floor.
“Dean…” Sam wants his attention. With Bobby’s help, Dean scoots his chair closer to the bed and lowers the rail, although he isn’t sure why. He practically has to press his ear to Sam’s mouth to hear what Sam is trying to tell him. “Sorry,” Sam is whispering again and again. “Sorry, sorry, sorry.”
Dean pushes his chair back and swears under his breath. He can’t listen to this any more. It’s too much—Sam being sorry for getting his brains bashed in one too many times, and it’s not fair. This isn’t something Sam should have to worry himself about.
“Calm down, Sam,” Bobby is saying, patting him on the shoulder, but Dean sits up straight.
Suddenly, Dean knows what they need to do, and it’s a game-changer. He is shocked at the thought of it, but for once, the answer is crystal clear. In his life, Dean has made decisions that affected the planet, his soul, Heaven and Hell and everything in between. Compared to what they’ve been through, what costs they’ve already paid, this is chump change. They can do this.
They will have to give up hunting. It is every bit as simple and staggering as that.
By the time he looks up at Bobby, Dean feels like a huge weight is off his shoulders. They’ve paid their dues to the world—it’s time to collect their pension.
The doctor is talking again, and Dean hopes Bobby is taking notes. It’s more than he can take in right now, but he hears pieces of it—the drugs, the medical care Sam will need, the therapies, the rehab, all the intervention. Dean has no idea how he is going to pull this off, and maybe his expression shows it.
Sam notices something is wrong, and the idiot is trying to sit up in the bed. “Dean, does your leg hurt? You need more meds?” The doctor looks up from his chart, like he’s noticing Dean’s friggin’ cast for the first time.
Dean shakes his head. “I’m good.”
It’s true enough. Bobby filled his pockets with painkillers before hauling them out of Sioux Falls General. Dean is going to be fine. Broken bones heal. Broken hearts keep beating. Broken minds are another story altogether. Not for the first time, Dean misses Cas…not just for his healing mojo but also just for being his friend.
Stop it. He can’t do this now.
Dean shoves that grief down. He can’t mourn for Cas yet.
Bobby and the doctor are still talking. Sam is starting to doze off, but Dean needs to fill him in. Leaving the life is Sam’s decision as well. They’re partners as well as brothers.
Dean leans over the bed and shakes Sam awake. Quietly, he says, “We’re retiring, Sammy. It’s gonna be all right.” Sam swallows, but then he glances over Dean’s shoulder and stares hard at the empty air. Lucifer must be doling out some more of his bullshit. Dean squeezes Sam’s bandaged hand, hard enough to hurt. “Hey! Look at me, not him.” Wild-eyed, Sam’s gaze shifts back to Dean again.
“What about the leviathans?” Sam asks, and Dean realizes Sam must be really out of it to say that out loud in front of a civilian. But the doctor doesn’t seem to be paying attention.
Dean says softly, “There will always be monsters. It’s time for someone else to gank them. You and me…we need to be done, Sam.”
Sam keeps digging his fingers into his palm, but he nods, and Dean knows Sam gets it. This time it’s for keeps.
The doctor leaves them with a file full of referrals, pamphlets, phone numbers, and prescriptions. There are even online forums where nut-cases can find community support—Sam will love that shit.
Dean knows this is the end of something important, but for once, it’s not the end of the world. They will adapt. It’s what they do. Again and again and again.
They hole up in one of Rufus’s cabins until Dean can get the cast off. It’s got a TV with some decent channels, it’s got a stocked fridge thanks to Bobby, and it’s got a bed that’s big enough for Sam to crash on, twenty friggin’ hours out of each day.
Being stuck out here gives Dean way too much time to think about what’s coming next, so he keeps as busy as he can. He drinks straight from the bottle of Jack when he’s too lazy to hobble over to the small kitchen and get himself a glass, watches the fucking food channel when he can’t reach the remote, and eats Sam’s wheat germ crackers when there’s nobody around to pass him the chips. He’s counting the days until he gets the cast off. His leg hurts all the time, it itches, he can’t take a shower, and he is sick of Bobby suggesting he needs to take a friggin’ sponge bath, and he is bored out of his stinkin’ mind.
Bored and worried.
It has been a long three weeks.
The front door creaks open, and Dean glances up sharply to see Bobby coming in the door, arms full of bags. Dean swears at himself under his breath for not hearing him coming… his instincts are shot. How is he supposed to defend his comatose brother? He didn’t even hear Bobby’s engine.
Bobby nods at him. “Sam still out? Brought some grub.”
Dean glances over at the bedroom door always cracked open so they can keep an eye on him. “He was up earlier. Still pretty out of it.”
“Satan or seizures?” Bobby asks dryly. Dean is sick and tired of that question.
“Hard to tell. Sometimes Sammy doesn’t even know.”
Bobby grunts at that and starts unloading the groceries. Dean reaches for the crutches, struggles to his feet, and makes it to the table. He’d rather try hopping or walking on the cast, but Sam always bitches him out when he does that, and it’s just not worth it to hear his griping for the rest of the day. It would be just like Sam to wake up just so he could catch Dean in the act.
Bobby is pulling more meds out of the bag—all Sam’s refills. They have enough to stock a small pharmacy right here on the kitchen table. Dean had to make a chart, just to keep the dosages straight. He can’t keep track of them otherwise. Every day, Sam has to take mood stabilizers, atypical anti-psychotics, some drug they use for Parkinson’s (experimental, the doctor said, which is just great), anti-seizure meds, an anti-inflammatory…
Sam hates the meds. It’s what he was afraid of once the wall came down—that he would need to be pumped up full of crap just to function. When it was just Lucifer, it was one thing, but this is different. The leviathan’s crowbar sort of took the decision out of their hands. Sam doesn’t have to like it.
And if there is a part of Dean that is the tiniest bit glad that his brother is getting the help he needs, well Sam doesn’t have to know….It’s just that Sam’s brain was a train wreck before that leviathan took a swing at it. Even though the doctor in the hospital cautioned against false hope, Dean can’t help but believe that maybe…just maybe… the meds will do some good.
“You with me, Dean?” Dean looks up sharply from the drug bottle he’s holding, and realizes that Bobby is staring at him. “I asked you three times what you wanted for dinner. You’re not having seizures, are you?”
Normally, the question would piss him off, but given the circumstances, it’s a fair one. When Sam spaces out, something is definitely wrong. Not all Sam’s seizures are violent, thank God. More often than not, he’ll just check out for a while, only glassy eyes or a thin trail of drool giving him away. On bad days, he’ll piss himself, but fortunately, there have been more good days than bad ones.
“I’m not hungry,” Dean says because he doesn’t want to say I’m fine one more time.
“You gotta eat,” Bobby says flatly. “Set a good example.”
“Why don’t you wake up Sam? Make him eat.” Dean can hear the whine in his voice but he is too tired to care.
Bobby just rolls his eyes and heads over to the stovetop and starts opening a can of soup. Looks like cream of mushroom. Again. Bobby has always had a thing for beige foods.
Dean sighs and looks back at the vial. The doctor has authorized six months of refills. Right now, the co-pay is only ten dollars, but Dean doesn’t think Sam Dresdow’s health insurance is going to stay legit for that long. He has already looked it up online—just one of Sam’s drugs would cost over a hundred dollars a month without insurance. He hasn’t had the heart to do the math yet, but he is pretty sure they would be looking at one grand or more a month if they weren’t covered by a fake policy. And that doesn’t include all the therapies and rehab the doctor wants Sam to be starting.
Dean rubs his eyes. Bobby keeps telling him to worry about one day at a time, but that has never worked out well for them. Sam can’t afford that kind of denial.
“Eat your soup,” Bobby says, plunking it down on the table. “And stop thinking!”
Dean picks up his spoon reluctantly. Both are easier said than done.
After the cast comes off, Sam and Dean leave Montana and drive southwest to Nevada. Rufus owns another cabin in the foothills near Lake Tahoe, and there’s been no evidence of leviathan infestation out there. Rufus was quite the real estate investor, and it turns out he left everything he owned to Bobby, which may explain why Bobby isn’t more freaked over losing the house.
Bobby didn’t come with them. Claimed he had his work cut out for him in just recovering his secret cache. He isn’t retiring. Says with their lazy asses out of the picture, somebody’s got to pick up the slack. He grumbles a lot about being too old for this but Dean can see right through him. He wouldn’t leave if he didn’t think they could handle it.
The seizures are going away, but Sam’s still got a shitload of symptoms, most of which are barely controlled by the drugs. It is becoming a full time job, trying to get refills for Sam. The truth is Dean is running out of options.
They’re not far from civilization, so it feels safe to leave Sam alone for part of the day while Dean hits pharmacy after pharmacy. The trick is setting up a distraction to empty out the store and then only taking a couple bottles at time, not enough to attract attention. Sooner or later, someone is going to notice the rash of false smoke alarms going off in the region and will manage to connect the dots, but Dean isn’t planning to be around by then.
Dean tries not to stay away too long. Sam is bored, restless, and scared, and the longer he’s alone, the worse it gets. He’s still being stalked by the devil, but worse than that, he can’t friggin read. For Sam, not being able to read is its own kind hell.
The doctors say it’s some kind of problem with his vestibular system, which is another way of saying that Sam’s balance isn’t worth shit. He vomits if he stands up too quickly, hears a persistent buzzing sound when he’s not listening to Lucifer, and literally cannot make his eyes focus long enough to decode the words on the page or the computer screen. Watching TV makes him seasick. He’s got headaches—not as bad as he used to get with the visions, but more persistent. Even the filtered light through the pine trees outside hurts his eyes.
Sam is dizzy all the time.
Dean has always been good at surviving, at taking care of Sam. He’s got the glove compartment stocked with meds, but he knows they won’t last forever. The instinct to pack up his brother and just hit the road is almost overwhelming, but Sam can’t handle riding in the car for long.
They definitely couldn’t hunt like this. Dean isn’t even sure they can live like this. It’s bad. Really fucking bad, and Dean is running out of options. But he’s not running out on Sam. Not going to let his brother down.
Deliverance can be found in the most unlikely places. Starbucks for one.
It is a cold day in hell when Dean applies for the job of full-time barista at a corner Starbucks in downtown Palo Alto. It’s only a few blocks away from the Stanford Hospital clinic where Sam spends so much of his time these days. They can’t afford to rent near the university, but they find a rundown apartment in East Palo Alto. It’s near the bus stop and has plenty of parking out front, so it suits them just fine.
It’s kind of full circle, the fact they’ve ended up where it all began, where Dean first broke into Sam’s college apartment to pull his brother back into the life. But Stanford also has one of the top CET research centers in the country, and Sam needs all the help he can get.
Of course, Dean explored other options—he looked into a construction gig like the job he had when he was with Lisa, temp work at a local start-up. Hell, he even applied at a grocery store to work as a bagger—a union job meant benefits. But an exhausted thirty-something with a limited work history can only be so picky.
Just when Dean was ready to give up and call Bobby, a nearby Starbucks had a hiring fair and miracle of all miracles, Dean found out provided benefits. Bucket-loads of benefits. And for whatever reason, the manager at Starbucks liked his smile.
Miracles still happen—Dean can attest to that. He was hired on the spot.
The company’s health insurance plan is comprehensive; Dean actually kissed the policy booklet after he read through it, even though Sam looked at him like he was crazy. It covers everything—all the prescriptions, the hospital visits, the therapies, the specialists, and even an occasional visit with a shrink.
Most importantly, it covers domestic partners. The fact that Dean didn’t go into detail about exactly why he and Sam shared the last name was the easiest scam he’s ever run. It was like the company wanted to believe in the integrity of their employees or something. Just asked for their social security numbers, and Dean has always been good at getting a hold of those.
The paycheck he brings home hardly covers their rent, let alone groceries and Sam’s deductable and co-pays, but Bobby sends them money every month. It turns out Bobby had a decent insurance policy on his house and business. Sam’s health expenses would run through it pretty quickly, but he can afford to help them out.
Dean hates charity, but Bobby calls him an idjit and says, “you’re welcome.” Says, “that’s family for you.”
So between Starbucks and Bobby, Dean has found a way to make ends meet. Sure, the job means Sam will probably bug the shit out of him for all eternity, assuming the whole soul-mates deal pans out. Sam fucking despises Starbucks—in theory.
Dean is working a quiet shift…the university must be on some kind of break so Dean he keeps himself busy sterilizing spoons and crap when the door jingles open. He’s got his back turned, but Rachel, his awesome manager with a riot of curly grey hair, nudges him and says teasingly, “Your better half is here.”
Dean turns around, and sure enough, there is Sam.
Rachel thinks Sam is adorable, even when Sam checks out in the middle of a sentence or trips across the floor or, one memorable time, puked all over the bar. She knows Sam has issues but doesn’t know why. She tells Dean he’s a hero for how well he copes. Rachel has no idea what she’s talking about…she is a civilian, but Dean doesn’t hold it against her.
Sam pulls up a stool over to the bar, and Rachel smiles and slides him a cookie. He gives her a full-on grin. Figures.
Dean wipes off his hands before frowning at his brother. “What’s up, dude? You’re supposed to be at OT.”
Sam has occupational therapy a few times a week. It’s important. Balance and spatial instability still cause him all sorts of problems, but Sam is doing so much better.
“Finished early.” Sam says, looking down at his hands.
“Sam,” Dean says warningly. After all these years, he can tell when Sam is bullshitting him. If nothing else, being brain-damaged has only made him that much more transparent.
Sam looks up and rolls his eyes. “Okay, fine. I skipped my session.”
“What the hell, Sam?”
“I’m tired, okay.”
Sam won’t meet his eyes. “He told me not to go.”
He only means one thing. Dean takes a deep breath. One step forward, two steps back. Story of their lives.
“He isn’t real, Sammy,” he says wearily.
“I know,” Sam says sharply and then lowers his voice. “I know. Really. Sometimes, I just forget.”
Sam forgets a lot of things. Dean doesn’t know how much of the confusion is caused by Hell and how much of it is caused by actual neurological damage. Bobby is right though—it probably doesn’t matter. They may never know. Damage is damage, but they’re dealing. They’re doing the best that they can.
“I’m sorry,” Sam says quietly. “I know we get fined when I miss an appointment.”
“It’s fine,” Dean says automatically. It is fine. It will have to be. Dean will just call the rehab center and see if he can reschedule for a time when he is off work and can make sure Sam actually gets there. Sam does better during his sessions when Dean is there anyway. “Don’t worry about it. It’s not a problem. They’ll understand. You want me to make you a drink?” Dean gestures at the espresso machine.
Sam looks disgusted, and Dean longs for the day when he could just deck him when he was being irritating. Dean has no idea how Sam got so spoiled. It’s an ongoing battle between them, kind of funny in the beginning, but not so much any more.
“It’s an automatic machine,” Sam says, and Dean slams the dishrag down by the sink.
Sam never lets him hear the end of it. Anyone listening to Sam would believe Starbucks is responsible for the demise of western civilization. Dean is sick of pointing out that Sam’s relative health is made possible by the company’s liberal definition of what makes up a family.
He has to admit Sam has a point when it comes to the coffee. Dean will drink almost anything, but not half the crap that’s on the menu. Now that Sam can sit in front of computer again, he’s researched the right way to make coffee and has opinions about everything—the correct water temperature, ideal extraction times, the coarseness of the grind, and the freshness of the beans.
But this time, Dean isn’t going to let him get started. “That automatic machine is paying for the decent latte I know you bought earlier, so shut your trap, Sam.”
Dean jabs a finger in Sam’s face, and Rachel scowls at him from across the shop. Sam does look sorry though. He still feels guilty, dumbass that he is, that Dean has to work to support them. The fact that Sam is a little bitch sometimes is what pisses Dean off. Taking care of Sam…Dean will never hold that against him. Never.
To make it up to him, Dean dumps a couple floral-scented teabags into a trente cup, dumps in two packets of sugar, pours hot water over the mess, and hands it over. Tea covers a multitude of sins when it comes to Sam, and Dean quirks a smile when Sam actually takes a sip.
Sam looks up at him through his straggly hair. Dean tried bangs the last time he cut it for him, but it wasn’t much of a success. “The water’s a little too hot for steeping tea correctly, but it’s okay.”
Dean rolls his eyes. “You’re welcome.”
Sam spends a long time with his drink, which is a good thing because business is starting to pick up. Once it starts, the floodgates open, and they are busy enough that Dean doesn’t have a chance to talk with Sam for the next hour. Finally, he catches a break and checks in. Like always, Sam is fading fast. Coping with the constant vertigo still takes a lot out of him. Sam needs a lot of naps.
“I haven’t taken my break yet. I can drive you home,” Dean offers.
Sam can’t drive—his infrequent seizures make it unlikely the DMV is unlikely to renew his license anytime soon. Now that they’re legit, the government has ways of tracking that kind of thing. Dean doesn’t want to do anything to endanger Sam’s SSI. Besides, there’s no way he should be behind a wheel, and nothing is that far away. Dean usually drops Sam off when he has an appointment or Sam takes the bus.
Most of the time it works out fine, but there have been a few times when Sam disappeared for a full day. Made Dean go out of his mind before he got Sam back. It’s usually Lucifer up to his old tricks, convincing Sam that his demons are after him again. Sam thinks he is running for his life, but most often, he is only a few blocks from home. When Sam seems shaky at all, Dean doesn’t like to take chances.
Right now, Sam just stares at him and Dean knows his instincts are spot-on. Lucifer is probably mocking him with a venti-minty-caramel-soy-latte at this very moment. Dean wouldn’t put it past the sonofabitch.
But Sam is tougher than anyone thought. Even Satan can’t wear Sam down.
“I’d rather stay until you’re done,” Sam says and shrugs. “If it’s okay. You don’t seem that busy.”
The idiot knows it’s okay. Dean grumbles at him, “Fine but you’re making dinner.”
He’s only got an hour left on his shift, and he’s starving. Sam is taking a class at the community center with some mortifying title—Classy Cooking for Couples on a Budget—but he’s actually getting pretty good at it. Dean is pretty sure they still have half a pound of hamburger in the fridge. Sam will come up with something.
A guy in a suit comes in. Orders a grande chai skinny latte with no foam. Rachel writes the order on the cup and then slides a muffin over to Sam. He smiles at her and takes a bite. There’s something about Dean’s little brother that makes women want to feed him.
“You need to keep the steam wand submerged in the milk. There are too many bubbles,” Sam tells him, mouth full of muffin, and Dean scowls at him.
“You’re full of shit,” Dean hisses under his breath, so the customer won’t hear. “It’s submerged plenty.”
“You never admit when you’re wrong,” Sam gripes, and Dean doesn’t bother calling him the bitch that he is because that would be fucking inappropriate for a Starbucks employee. Instead he looks around to make sure nobody is looking and punches him on the arm instead. “Ow!”
“I know how to steam the friggin’ milk,” he growls, “I swear, Sam—get a life and let me do my job.”
Sam purses his lips and sits up straighter. “I’ve got a life,” he retorts indignantly like it’s the best comeback ever.
But there’s something about the way he says it that hits Dean…
It’s got to be that he’s just tired and hungry, but all of a sudden, Dean isn’t pissed off anymore. Instead, his traitorous eyes well up, and he turns his back on Sam so he can rinse out the carafe in the sink. He’ll be damned if Sam sees him cry over steamed milk.
It’s just that they’ve come so far. Dean honestly never thought they’d actually pull this off. It’s not the life he expected, but it’s a hell of a lot better than anything he ever thought he would have. He wipes at his eyes and takes a deep breath. He smiles at Sam who is now staring at him suspiciously. It’s not often he lets the geek have the last word, but he’s feeling generous.
God, he wishes his shift was over already. His stomach is growling, and he’s not going to fill it up with any more coffee. Dean wants nothing more than to pack up his brother and get home, kick back on the couch with a beer. He doesn’t drink the real stuff any more. It’s a fucked up life by anyone else’s standards, but thank God, it belongs to them.
Dean mutters to himself that dinner had better be good or he won’t let Sam hear the end of it. Sam can handle the cooking. Dean will set the table. The devil can do the dishes.