A/N: This is the fourteenth part of the Brothers Apart series. If you want to read the rest of the stories, they are found on my page.
Part 1: Brothers Apart
Part 2: The Golden Touch
Part 3: First Interlude
Part 4: Home
Part 5: Shadows and Reflections
Part 6: Second Interlude
Part 7: Taken
Part 8: The Schism of Fire and Water
Part 9: Adventures at Bobby's
Part 10: A Lich of Sense
Part 11: Calling John Bonham
Part 12: Like a Moth to Flame
Part 13: The Ties That Bind
Part 14: Bittersweet Parting
Part 15: Birth of a Nightmare
Part 16: For Science
Related short stories: Out of the Frying Pan
After a forced relocation from Trails West, new information surfaces about the witch the brothers have sought for years, throwing them all into a confrontation they weren't prepared for, and could never have expected.
Walt watched the scenery pass by outside, his face expressionless.
The ride in the Impala was smooth and less eventful than he thought possible. All Walt's life, he'd lived in one building. His family raised him in a small B&B that was later turned into the Trails West. He'd gone on to raise his own family there, watching his daughter grow up happy and content. Everything he'd done, he'd done for her and her mother, Mallory.
Life was harsh in the motel. Walt had almost been taken away when he was just a teenager. He'd spent hours staring at the door, watching and waiting for his moment to come. All it would take was one human. They could do whatever they wanted to him. Take him away, kill him, make him into a pet. He'd spent so many hours afraid, thinking he'd never see his new wife again. Her blue eyes, always warm and loving even when she argued with him, were always in his thoughts.
Even at a time like this.
Walt was hesitant as he shifted position. He wasn't quite sure what to make of his seat, or indeed, their current circumstances. Riding in the Impala wasn't something he'd ever expected to do. There was no reason for him or anyone else their size (with the notable exception of Sam) to leave their home. It was their world. They got all their food and supplies from the different areas of the motel and had safe passages that ran throughout the entire area. Walt had helped create most of those passages, back in his youth.
That motel was no longer safe for the little people that lived in the walls. A hunter by the name of Gordon Walker had found them, tracking the signs and snatching up young Kara and Walt's daughter Bree. Without Dean Winchester's help, that would have been the last of them they'd ever seen.
Dean Winchester, the man whose shoulder Walt was sitting on at that very moment.
It hadn't been his idea. Not in the least. The truth of the matter was, they didn't want to leave everyone in the massive duffel that Dean had carried into the Impala. Walt's entire world, his friends and his family and all the possessions they had the time to grab, in one bag slung casually over the shoulder of a man who stood over six feet tall. Dean didn't even look winded as he gently shrugged the strap off and placed the bag in the footwell of the passenger side seat. Down there, if he hit the brakes, they wouldn't have to worry about falling off. There were a few of Dean's shirts along the sides of the duffel bag, padding the walls to keep the small people safe.
The sight of how careful Dean was with the bag reassured Walt. This was the same way the hunter had brought the others with him the last time they'd road tripped cross-country.
Almost two dozen people were inside right now, a huge jump up from Dean's last transport of Kara, Christian, Mikael and Bree. Every person willing to leave Trails Westbehind, escaping the clutches of the hunter that was on their tail. Dean wouldn't kill the man in cold blood, so he'd tied him up to give them a head start on escaping. Some of the little people had dug their heels in and refused to leave, but most had come. It was difficult to convince people to willingly place themselves into the care of a human who looked like Dean.
He was a good man, regardless of how intense he became, and regardless of his size. Walt knew they could trust him with their lives, but telling others that didn't always go the way he planned.
Those who'd remained in the motel would have to bunker down. Gordon might figure out what Dean had done, taking the majority of the little people with him, but he might suspect that not all would leave. Walt said a prayer under his breath, much like he'd seen humans do from time to time in the motel, though he himself followed no faith.
Maybe the humans were onto something.
Walt was to remain out with Dean and Sam to make sure that care was taken with the bag, but from what Walt had seen so far, he doubted they needed him to be a chaperone. It was only to reassure the others that he was looking out for them, especially those who had never met Dean before and were wary of trusting a human.
"You holding up okay?" came a question from the side, and Walt glanced over to meet Sam's eyes.
Never in a million years had Walt ever thought he'd be sitting on a massive human's shoulder next to Sam. No matter how many times he'd watched Sam do it, as casually as though he was sitting on his old bed.
Walt shifted again, his entire body tense. A look upwards showed Dean's eyes trained on the road ahead, focused on the driving. From the look on his face, he hadn't noticed Walt's movements. There were slight shifts in their perch as they sat there, though neither would complain. Dean was controlling a vehicle that roared down the highway, larger than any single thing Walt had ever seen before in his life. Because of him, they could cross unimaginable distances to a safe home. Complaining about the way the man's arms shifted under them while he turned the wheel- a wheel Walt could swear was bigger than his old house- would be downright ungrateful.
"I'm… fine," he said, finally answering Sam's question. There was more hesitation in his voice than ever before.
Sam didn't look quite like he believed the answer. He scooted an inch over, away from Dean's neck and closer to where Walt was sitting. Walt would never stop being shocked at how much room there was for them on Dean's shoulder. It sloped downwards at an angle, but there were plenty of handholds to cling to in the thick fabric humans favored, their skin less sensitive than Walt or Sam's would be.
Putting a hand on Walt's shoulder, Sam dropped his voice down quiet enough that it wouldn't be picked up by Dean. His ear was only a few inches up from where they were sitting, meaning he could hear every word they said if they spoke at a normal volume. Hell, for all Walt knew, he could hear them whispering and just choose not to react to it. This human was one of a kind, spending over a year and a half with someone who fit in his hand. Dean was used to listening to soft voices.
"You know he doesn't mind, right?" Sam asked in a hush. "Really. I've sat here pretty much every day since I left."
Walt couldn't stop his eyes from flickering to Dean's again. Dean didn't even twitch at Sam's words. Maybe he really couldn't hear them like this.
"It's just…" Walt kept his voice just as soft as Sam. "You're used to this. And him. How?"
Sam grinned and couldn't stop a slight laugh at that. "We make our own normal, Dad. If I can't ride shotgun like a regular human can, I'll do it here."
That didn't answer Walt's question, and he stared blankly at Sam, trying to work through what 'ride shotgun' meant. Humans had some strange sayings. He might have to ask Bree about it later if he remembered. She had a lot of insight with humans after all her years living with that Beth girl, though Walt was uncomfortable with how comfortable she could be with being in hands. Years of having humans pick her up whenever they wanted left her innured to the effect it had on the rest of them. She stood out among his people like a beacon, though it had never stopped Kara, Krissy or Sean from becoming her best friends.
Another shift from Dean caught Walt's attention before he could respond. His hands shot out and latched onto the thick shirt fabric he was sitting on, his fingers threading through to get some kind of grip.
Sam didn't show any sign of alarm, simply swaying in time with Dean's movements.
Dean glanced to the side to see where they were sitting, the visible corner of his mouth quirking up into a grin, familiar even from that angle. "Found us some grub," he said, sounding proud. "You two should get some cover."
Walt jolted at the sound of the gruff, rumbling voice. It was the first time Dean had spoken up in an hour. It was easy to forget exactly how the vibrations alone could shake them right to the bone. And his voice was softer than most humans, prepared to talk to people that fit in his hand after so long spent with Sam.
The landscape outside of the car was changing too fast for Walt to understand where they were. He could see other cars flashing by in a rainbow of colors. Red, blue, a purple and several silvers, all crawling down the other side of the road. The Impala was behind a large blue van, far enough back that any casual look into the black and chrome muscle car wouldn't give away Sam and Walt's existence. Only after staring out for a minute did Walt realize that Dean was turning off the road, towards a building with a bright red roof.
That was all he made out before Sam's hand tugged at his sleeve. "Don't," Sam said, halting his downward climb before it started. "That's too far, you can stay up here."
Walt went to open his mouth and demand exactly how they were to do that when Dean himself had said to get undercover, but before he could utter a word Sam pulled him as close to Dean's neck as they could get. The curved surface formed a wall of skin that blocked them from sight of the building, and Walt hunkered down as he heard Dean rolling down his window. Their perch shifted and juddered with every movement, and by the time Dean was done, Walt was plastered to his neck as much as Sam.
"Next time, the seat," he shot back at Sam, lowering his voice.
Sam smirked. "I dunno," he said lightly. "It's not the best perspective from down there."
Walt's breath caught in his throat, reminded again of how large Dean was, and trying to imagine staring up at him from down on the seat. The man was tall next to other humans, a behemoth to people like them.
That was when Dean's voice interrupted his musings, drowning out anything else Sam might have said. Gone was any attempt to keep his voice down, since he needed to talk to other humans now and call out his order loud enough to be heard. Walt curled further inwards. Too much. This was too much at once.
"Hey," Dean called out, answering a static-filled voice that was talking to him, "I'll take a bacon double cheeseburger, a side salad and a fruit cup. Do you have bottled water?"
Such an odd order for a man who'd once subsisted on nothing more than greasy sandwiches and beer. Pizza and chinese food- anything that was quick to grab. Now he ordered salads regularly (Sam refused to speak to him if he didn't), fruit when he was around others Sam's size (Dean might not eat fruit himself regularly, but even he recognized the good fresh foods would do for them after years of scraps), and water instead of soda to keep it easy on small stomachs. The carbonation could actually hurt if they drank too fast.
After getting an affirmative in a staticky reply from the black speaker out the window, Dean pulled the car around. He couldn't help but notice Sam and Walt had almost become one tiny lump on his shoulder. He felt bad that they had to hide like this, but it couldn't be helped. So long as he had a car full of vulnerable passengers, he wasn't going to leave the car to order. This was going to be a straight ride to Bobby's, and thank God it was a day trip. Taking a week long drive like he'd done for some cases would be more than he wanted to put his passengers through. They were having enough trouble during their first car ride, stuck in a duffel bag the size of a school auditorium. Dean hadn't heard a sound from them the entire trip.
"Thanks," Dean told the girl at the pick-up window as he took the food from her. He put the paper bag down on the leather bench seat, feeling Sam and Walt shift on his shoulder. They kept away from where it sloped down, trying to stay steady as he moved. It was just as weird for Dean to have two people sitting there instead of one, and one of them was Sam's adopted father. The man Dean had to thank for his little brother surviving his initial curse. Without Walt, neither brother would be alive by now (considering the number of times Sam had saved Dean's ass since being reunited).
It was easy to tell the difference between Walt and Sam without having to look at them (a good thing with how close to his neck they both were; he'd just end up knocking them off if he tried). Sam had one arm casually braced against Dean's neck, his posture relaxed and shifting with Dean. Walt, on the other hand, was stiff and froze constantly. He wasn't completely comfortable with the arrangement, and Dean doubted the period of time it took for them to drive from Trails West to Bobby's would be enough for him to thaw.
At least now he had something to offer his passengers. "Hope everyone's hungry," he said, lowering his gruff voice for their benefit. He gave the girl at the window a wave and drove around the building. He didn't stop until he found a forgotten corner of the parking lot and parked the Impala under the shade of a sprawling oak that was left to grow as it pleased.
An amused thought struck Dean that Bowman would point out that trees should always be left on their own by humans.
Sam took Dean's offered hand when he raised it, and Walt joined him hesitantly. Dean gave them a hopeful grin as he lowered them down to the passenger side seat, far enough away from himself to give them space. His own appetite was gone, destroyed by the knowledge that a hunter like himself had threatened the lives of all the people in his car, and they hadn't been able to save everyone. They could only hope that Gordon never found the others that had stayed at the motel. Dean pulled out the sandwich and opened up the salad and fruit, letting Sam and Walt gather what they wanted to share with the others.
"I know you'd rather get your own food," Dean said, apology on his face for their forced circumstances, "but I'm afraid there's not much to find in the car. Once we get to Bobby's you won't have to 'rely' on me." A bit of distaste colored 'rely' for him, knowing they had a hard time accepting food from him simply because he was human, family or not.
Walt looked up, and even from a distance Dean could see those sharp blue eyes. "Thank you for everything you've done for us," he said formally, one hand on the ridged plastic barrier of the fruit cup. "Don't doubt yourself or what you're doing."
Dean smiled haltingly, taking heart from Walt's stern words. Their differences chafed at the hunter, forever wondering if there would be a point they'd refuse his help completely. Seeing Walt's conviction helped dispel some of that fear. Both of them only wanted the best for the others.
The duffel bag on the floor was left open, one side slumped down while the other side remained propped up against the seat. No one was visible from Dean's line of sight, so he could only watch Sam and Walt to know what was going on.
Both men filled their arms, and Sam stashed what he could in his duffel bag before they both made their way over to the side. Sam's hook fit snug on the side of the seatbelt, and they scaled down one at a time. The hush of voices was all Dean could make out, and only the sound of his brother's voice was clear to him, used to listening close to pick it out against the ambient sounds of the world. He settled against the door of the Impala with a growing smile, glad to see the others being taken care of.
They deserved it after what they'd gone through.
This is it! The final story of Brothers Apart: Season 2!
No set schedule for posting once again.
Note on the stories: The Ties That Bind and Bittersweet Parting are linked stories, much like Schism and Adventures, but just different enough to need to be separated into two parts. So they were written together as one part and later divided.
Next: February 10th, 2018