A/N: My first Supernatural Fanfic, so please read and review. I welcome constructive criticism, and if it's long and detailed feel free to also email me. It's rated for language and Dean whumping in later scenes.
Timeline: Set some time after 'Asylum', which doesn't mean to say it's a PostAsylum story. Those issues will arise, but they won't dominate.
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural in any way shape or form.
"We're lost," Sam sighed, glancing at his brother. Dean was squinting trough the windshield, making a show of trying to see the road ahead through the pouring rain.
"We're not lost," Dean mumbled.
"Will you just admit we're lost?"
"We're not lost!"
"Then why haven't we seen anything but trees, muddy roads and cows for the past hour? Cows, Dean."
"We're taking the scenic route," Dean answered distractedly, shrugging.
Sam sighed again, restlessly leaning back against his seat. He could tell that Dean's newfound concentration was actually in pursuit of finding a sign or some telltale clue to their whereabouts, and he was losing patience with Dean's inability to admit it.
They'd been driving for hours. His legs were cramped and the humidity that the rain had created was beginning to eat at his nerves. And that music! Metallica blaring from the speakers over and over again.
Sam had had enough. In the best act of defiance he could think of, Sam leant forward and, with as much force as he could muster without actually breaking the damn thing, switched off the music.
"Hey!" Dean objected. Slapping away Sam's hand, he reached to turn it back on. But Sam was too quick. He grabbed the cassette tape, then lunged for the old cardboard box that Dean kept all his music in and dumped the whole thing in the backseat. He turned to Dean, satisfied with the loud clatter Dean's tapes made as they hit the seat.
Dean just raised an eyebrow, a smile flickering onto his face. "Panties in a twist, sweetheart?"
Sam shook his head, ignoring the urge to strangle his brother. He took a few deep breaths, forcing himself to calm down. "Look, Dean. I'm tired. We've been in this car for ages. Forget your ego for a moment. Lets just turn around and ask for directions at that diner we past earlier."
"Why?" Dean asked with the best innocent look Sam had seen him pull in a while.
"We. Are. Lost." Sam reiterated. He glared at Dean in exasperation until Dean dropped his innocent look and finally admitted to their predicament. Or as close to admitting as Sam could hope for:
"Well, you're the one with the map, college boy."
Sam raised his eyebrows disbelievingly. "Yeah, but you refused to follow any of my directions."
"I was taking a shortcut," Dean replied, smiling innocently again.
"A three-hour shortcut isn't a shortcut, Dean."
Dean just frowned, choosing to ignore that logic. But he couldn't ignore the desperation that had crept into his little brother's voice. He stole a glance at Sam, not liking the dark circles he found surrounding Sam's eyes.
"In fact, when you include a growing number of cow sightings to that three-hour shortcut," Sam continued, oblivious to Dean's concern, "it means we're going the wrong way."
"Chill, vision boy. We'll help those people in your dream. A few hours later than planned, maybe, but we'll still get to them. Just relax. Remember now," he waggled a finger in Sam's direction, "anger leads to the dark side."
Sam ignored him, choosing to stare out the window instead.
Dean instantly felt bad, but was careful not to let it show. Damn those visions, he thought. Not only did it have them chasing god-knows-what in some god-forsaken town miles out of their way, but it was haunting his brother with images of terrified townspeople. And Dean didn't know how to handle that. How could he protect Sam from his own mind? He couldn't. So he reacted the only other way he knew how – by joking away the concern. And if that was an unhealthy coping mechanism…well, Freud wasn't here to discuss any alternatives with him, so it'd have to do.
After a few moments of silence, Dean began singing under his breathe. "Ninety nine bottles of beer on the wall…"
Sam didn't notice Dean's attempt to make Sam return his music. He had retreated back into his latest premonition, trying again to work out what the threat was that they needed to defeat.
His dream had shown a neat little neighborhood. Too quiet to be normal. Houses rowed up evenly, gardens cut precisely. The houses were large. Old. There was something behind one of those doors. Something dangerous. But he couldn't tell from which house he was sensing that energy. A little girl ran down the empty street, crying for help. Something was hurting her family. And that's when the dream became fuzzy. Sam knew there was something else, and though he had dreamt this same dream for days now, he was never able to recall what happened next. Something about…a room, maybe? A dark room. And two figures. Strangers, no brothers. Was it him and Dean? Dean and somebody else? Two completely different people? It was too fuzzy for him to make out. All he knew for sure was that they needed to be in a small town called Point Ardeer. And they had to be there with enough time to figure out what was going on and stop it before it killed that girl's family.
Sam was suddenly brought back to reality with a bump – a literal one – when the car swerved into a U-turn, knocking Sam's head against the window.
Sam looked over at Dean, a small smile overpowering the scowl he tried to give Dean for making him bump his head. Dean had finally decided to turn back.
Dean pretended to ignore both.
"You're asking for the directions," he finally said.
Sam chuckled. "That's fine."
"And just for the record, I'm only turning around for the impala's sake," Dean continued.
"The impala's sake?"
"Yeah. This road is covered in cow shit. Would you like to be walking through that?"
Sam shook his head. "I'm sure she'll thank you one day with a bouquet of flowers."
Dean retaliated to the sarcasm by continuing to sing where he'd left off. "90 bottles of beer on the wall…"
"Dean…" Sam warned. Dean knew Sam hated that song. Always had. Since they were kids. Mainly because Dean sung it every time he wanted to piss Sam off.
"Hey, you're the one that 'confiscated' my tunes. 90 bottles of beer…"
"Dean!" Sam implored.
"Kill joy," Dean mumbled, but he stopped singing.
The boys were so busy annoying each other, that they didn't notice the figure standing out in the rain, watching their car pass with cold, dark eyes.
Half an hour later, Dean gave the wheel a sharp turn and the impala skidded into the diner's parking lot. He looked over at Sam after hearing the soft thud that meant Sam had knocked his head again.
"You gotta stop doing that," Dean said, with a grin that could rival the Cheshire cat's.
Sam was about to tell Dean where he could go, when a memory suddenly flashed across his vision. In that moment, Dean seemed to flicker out and become the stranger in his dream – streaked in dirt, blood staining his fingers, a wild look in his eyes.
"Sam? Saaaam." Dean clicked his fingers in front of Sam's eyes, shattering the image. Sam blinked a few times and refocused. Dean became his normal self again. No blood, no dirt. Sam ran a had across his face, trying to shake the image. Trying to work out what had happened. What it meant.
"Sammy, what's wrong?" Dean was looking at Sam, a frown creasing his brow.
Sam just shook his head, quickly collecting himself so that Dean would stop staring at him. "Nothing. I'm fine. I just…My mind just left me for a moment, that's all."
"Where'd it go?" Dean asked, trying to work out what had spooked his brother. And what had caused Sam to stare at him like that.
"Nowhere. Nothing. Come on. Lets go get directions before this place closes. And some coffee." He hopped out of the car without waiting for Dean's response. He knew Dean wouldn't like being brushed off, but he was too confused to worry about that.
And he was right. Dean wasn't happy. But Dean decided not to push it. Sam would tell him what was going on in his own time. At least, that's what he tried to tell himself, ignoring all the times Sam had only revealed certain things because he had no other choice. Like the fact that he had applied for college, or that he had dreamt about Jessica's death, or that he blamed Dean for not having found their dad yet.
Hell, their whole family wasn't exactly the share-all kind.
So instead of letting the concern linger, Dean quickly caught up with Sam and shoved him aside so that he could go through the door first.
"You're 26, not 12," Sam snorted, following Dean in, relieved Dean had dropped his inquisition.
Dean slapped Sam over the head and grinned. "And you remember that, little brother."
"Was that meant to be some sort of threat?" Sam asked, smiling. "Because you do know I'm bigger."
Dean shrugged, dismissing his argument. "Fuck off. I can still whoop your ass…" Dean trailed off, looking around the diner having finally realised how quiet it was. He was startled to find that everyone in the small diner was staring at him. Not at Sam. Him. But they quickly averted their eyes when Dean stopped speaking, noise finally entering the diner again as people resumed their conversations and eating.
Dean turned to raise an eyebrow at Sam, speaking more quietly than when he had entered. "I'm use to people staring when I walk into a room, but that was just weird."
"Very," Sam nodded, chilled. "Maybe we should go."
Dean was tempted to agree, but looking at Sam again he couldn't help but notice that the circles under his eyes had deepened.
"Nah," Dean said. "I'm not gonna be run out by group ogling. Lets just get the directions and find a motel for the night."
Dean sauntered up to the counter, more conscious of his movements than usual. Hell, who wouldn't be? He quickly scanned the people manning the counter. There was a older man with a big beer-belly. "Nope," Dean whispered, moving his eyes over to an older woman with a deep frown creasing her tired face. "Nope," he repeated, then checked out his last option. A young woman, about Sam's age, with a shy smile and big blue eyes. "Bingo," Dean grinned, walking up to her end of the counter. Sam rolled his eyes and followed.
Dean straddled one of the stools directly in front of her. "Uh, miss? Excuse me, miss?"
The girl turned to Dean, removing a pen from her pocket, ready to take his order. Dean flashed her one of his most charming smiles. "Actually," he leaned forward on the counter to read her nametag, "Mary, is it?"
The waitress nodded, a small blush creeping onto her cheeks.
"Nice name." Dean continued, "we're actually wondering if you could help us out." Dean looped his arm around Sam's shoulders, drawing his weary brother closer to the conversation. "Sam, here, got us lost."
"What!" Sam practically choked out, looking at Dean disbelievingly.
Dean tightened his grip on Sam's shoulders. Trust Dean to find a way to tell him to shut up without actually using any words.
"He has a sense of direction like a flyaway baseball, this guy. It's just drive with force and end up wherever the hell we end up. You know how it is."
"Yeah," the girl said, giggling softly.
Sam turned to the girl, feeling betrayed by this stranger. Then feeling betrayed with himself for feeling betrayed by a stranger. He finally decided he was too tired to argue with Dean, and swallowed any retorts, content for now with just glaring.
"Where you guys need to be?" the girl asked, eager to help.
"We're heading to Point Ardeer. Heard of it?"
The girl beamed, straightening up eagerly. "Well you're already here, silly!"
"We are?" Dean said, matching her enthusiasm with his own fake mix. Sam couldn't help smirking.
The girl didn't notice though. "Yeah! Well…sorta."
"Sorta?" Dean prompted.
"This diner sits at the very edge of Point Ardeer. To take in the traffic coming in or out. And so people like you got a place to stop and rest."
"Uh, that's…real nice of you guys," Dean said when she didn't continue.
"You just gotta drive a bit out, then take your first left and it'll take you to town."
Dean turned to Sam. "See, I told you we were close!" he whispered.
"Yeah… we would've been three hours closer if you'd just listened to my directions," Sam retorted in a normal voice, not bothering to whisper. "But again, what does a fly-away baseball know?"
Dean turned back to the girl, who was frowning at the exchange. But Dean quickly switched back on his charm and the girl's quizzical frown dissolved. "So, do you live in Point Ardeer?"
What? Sam couldn't believe it. Was Dean trying to get her number? Now, of all times?
"Yeah! I live –"
Sam cut her off. "Hey, Dean. Didn't you say you'd call your girlfriend about now, to check in?"
Mary frowned, clearly disappointed. Dean slowly turned and shot daggers at Sam, his smile twitching with the effort to remain intact and not turn into a growl.
"I need to go take some more orders." Mary quickly moved down the counter. Dean watched her go helplessly.
"Fucker," Dean muttered once Mary was out of earshot, cuffing Sam across the ear. Sam just chuckled, picking up the menu, suddenly hungry. Which had nothing to do with how amusing it would be to watch Dean awkwardly avoid Mary's gaze. Really.
Dean was about to complain some more, when he again noticed how quiet it'd become. He instantly forgot about his sabotaged chance with the waitress as he looked around to find most of the diner's patrons staring at him. Again! Only this time they were trying to veil their attention by relegating it to sidelong looks and quick glances. It wasn't working. A chill ran down Dean's spine. And given all the shit he was used to dealing with, Dean didn't get chilled easily.
Dean grabbed the back of Sam's jacket and yanked him from his chair, quickly dragging him out. "Lets stop at the diner," Dean muttered along the way, imitating Sam's voice. "What's the harm in asking for directions?" Once outside he quickly jumped into the car, unnerved by the looks he could feel following him through the windows. "The harm is encountering my own little group of stalkers, that's what."
Sam followed Dean's gaze back to the diner's windows, frowning at the sea of faces turned towards them. Towards Dean, more accurately. Sam shot a glance at his brother as Dean fumbled for the keys. Did this have anything to do with that…vision, he guess he'd call it…he'd had of Dean earlier? Sam couldn't just ignore the coincidence.
He doubted the patrons in the diner could see much in the dark, but Sam was still relieved when Dean sped out of the parking lot. The further away they got from that place, the less his skin tingled. Sam turned to gauge out Dean's reaction to the whole thing – Dean's hands were gripping the wheel and he kept shooting disgusted looks into the review mirror. "I hate townies," Sam heard him mutter.
Sam asked the obvious question. "But why are they so interested in you of all people?"
"Hey!" Dean answered automatically.
"Dean," Sam said. He was being serious.
Dean threw his hands up in the air, taking them off the wheel for a moment to do so. "I dunno! My good looks? I don't know why, Sammy."
"Okay," Sam said gently, seeing that Dean was unnerved. "I guess we just - " Sam's sentence was cut short as he gasped, an image ripping across his vision: Someone – someone familiar – stood over a broken and battered body, a gun hanging from his stained red fingers, dirt smeared across his face. And then, as abruptly as it appeared, the image was gone and Sam was staring at the inside of the car again.
They'd stopped moving. Dean had pulled over the instant he heard Sam gasp. "You guess we just – gasp? What the hell, Sammy?"
Sam just stared at Dean, shocked by what he'd just seen. And shaken. Could that really have been his brother? Sam knew he should tell Dean what he saw…but… not yet. Not until he could work out what it all meant. His brother wasn't a killer. Not when it came to other humans, at least.
"It's nothing," he whispered, suddenly realizing how tired he was. "Lets just go find a motel."
"It's nothing?" Dean looked incredulous.
"Really? Another nothing, huh? Gee, those nothings really pack a wallop." Dean frowned. "Why do you keep looking at me like that? Don't you start doing that weird staring shit too." When Sam didn't offer any further explanation, Dean twisted the review mirror around so he could look at his reflection. "Do I have an antler growing out of my head or something?"
Sam cracked a smile. "It would be an improvement."
Dean, smirking, responded by swerving back onto the road, making Sam grab onto the glove box to avoid bumping his head for the third time that day.
Dean and Sam trudged into what had just become their home for the length of their stay. They'd easily found an affordable motel right in the heart of Point Ardeer. "Jackpot," Dean had cheered when he saw the many food outlets surrounding the place. But Dean had something to take care of before he began scouring for the greasiest burger this town had to offer. He watched as Sam slowly removed his jacket, his eyes staring at something only he could see.
"Earth to Sammy," Dean joked in an effort to get his brother's attention.
"Huh?" Sam responded after a beat.
"You going to tell me about your latest Love-Hewitt moment, or what?"
That got Sam's attention. His head whipped towards Dean and he gaped a little, startled. How did Dean know?
"You look like a fish," Dean said dryly. He was a bit miffed by how shocked Sam looked all of a sudden. Did Sam really think his half-assed assurances would keep Dean from guessing what was going on?
"You…but…how…you knew?" Sam spluttered, taken off guard.
Dean grew more annoyed. "Well, yeah, I'm not stupid. You don't need a college education to tell when your brother's having another case of the shining." He looked at Sam sternly. "Or when he's trying to hide it."
Sam sunk onto one of the beds. The growing feeling of dread in his stomach making it impossible for him to remain standing. He hadn't wanted to tell Dean about his visions. Not yet. Not until he knew more. Hell, no one wants to tell their brother he might become a killer in the near future.
Sam heard Dean sit down on the bed opposite.
"Tell me what you saw, Sam," Dean said, confused and slightly worried by Sam's reaction.
Sam looked up at Dean. At those eyes that always shone with so much concern for him. How could they ever become the wild, cold eyes he saw in his 'dream'?
"No," Sam said.
"What?" Dean was taken aback.
"Not yet, anyway," Sam quickly corrected, seeing Dean's concern give way to daggers.
"Why the hell not?"
"Just…trust me, okay?" Sam implored.
Dean contemplated the request for a moment. "No," he finally said in the same tone Sam had used earlier.
It was Sam's turn to look taken back.
"Look Sammy, whatever it is, we can deal with it. We can stop it. But only if I know what we're up against here."
When Sam still looked unsure, Dean continued, opting for a different tactic. "And we're not moving from this room until you tell me." He took his keys and clipped them onto his belt, leaning back on the bed with a content sigh, eyeing Sam the whole time.
Sam ran a hand through his hair, getting a bit annoyed himself. Why couldn't Dean just let it be? Just this once? "You're serious." It wasn't a question.
"Like a bald spot."
So Sam told him. He probably shouldn't have, and most likely wouldn't have if Dean wasn't being so stubborn. But as it is with brothers, sometimes better judgment isn't an option. So Sam told him. About what he'd seen. About the figure leaning over the battered body. About…and here he faltered, but was somehow able to eventually dreg out the words…about believing the figure was Dean. And about the shotgun in his hand.
Sam looked up when Dean didn't say anything. Dean was staring at him with an odd expression. Sam couldn't work out what it meant.
"So you're sure it was me. You saw my face and it was, without a single doubt, my face? My hand holding the gun. Mine. Not some good looking fool who just looked like me?"
"Well…not exactly," Sam admitted. He hadn't actually seen the figure holding the gun so much as felt it. The flashes had been too quick to get a good look.
Sam was looking down at his feet, so he didn't see the flash of hurt that crossed Dean's face. When he looked up, he only saw the anger than remained.
"So you just assumed it' was me?" Dean asked, tight-lipped.
Sam didn't know how to respond. And Dean could tell; Sam was doing the fish thing again.
"I just…it just felt like you. I don't know how else to explain it."
Dean shrugged, trying to keep his hurt and anger at bay. "Then it must have been evil. That thing 'I' shot."
"No, Dean," Sam responded quietly. "He was human."
Dean abruptly stood up and began pacing. He couldn't look at Sam anymore. "You think I could just kill someone in cold blood? Just like that."
"No! Of course not. There's got to be an explanation for why you'd shoot that person. I know that. We just need to work out what it is."
Sam was looking at Dean with sympathy. Or was it pity? Dean couldn't tell and he didn't care; he wanted Sam to knock it off. So it went for the low blow: "Because if I recall correctly, you're the trigger happy one."
Sam looked like he'd had the wind knocked out of him. But he quickly recovered and gave a hollow laugh. "Fuck you, Dean. I've apologized a thousand times for that. If you don't want to talk about what happened at the asylum, then you can't bring it up as fuel against me."
"Careful now, Sam. Don't want to get too annoyed at me. Never know when there'll be a spirit around giving you an excuse to go ape-shit on my ass."
Sam sprang up and yanked his jacket from the chair it was on. "I'm going to get us dinner." And he was out the door, strangely proud that he'd resisted his juvenile urge to slam it behind him.
Sam stuffed his hands in his pockets and strode to the furthest food store on their block, needing the time away from his brother. And not to mention the sudden cold that had enveloped the dark street was refreshing compared to the earlier humidity.
Sam knew he shouldn't have told Dean what he saw. Knew it would upset him. Stupid! Sam berated himself. Why did he always cave to his brother's demands? Whatever rift had opened between them after the incident at the asylum was obviously still in need of patching, and telling Dean that he believed he was going to end up killing someone in the near future sure wasn't the first step to closure. He just wished Dean would let them talk through what had happened. Wished he wasn't so hot-headed all the time.
Sam was brought out of his thoughts by a sudden chill. It had just become incredibly cold. Icy, even. He could see his own breath! He hugged his body tightly and jogged into the nearest food outlet.
There was only one other person in the shop (it was getting pretty late) – an older man who lent casually on the counter, chatting with the clerk. The clerk smiled at Sam – an automatic reaction to hearing the tinkering bells above the entrance - while the older man just eyed him. Not unfriendly, just curious.
Checking out his options, Sam settled on two packaged hamburgers, two bottles of root beer and a pack of M&Ms. He paid and was on his way out, when the older man addressed him. What he said stopped Sam in his tracks.
"Your brother isn't welcome here."
Sam slowly turned around, the chill returning. And this time it had nothing to do with the mysterious weather.
"What did you say?"
The man walked up closer. He stopped a few paces away, though, and stared Sam in the eye. Not menacing, just grave.
"I saw him at the diner. He's loud and swears and hits on our innocent girls. That kind ain't welcome here."
Sam frowned, that's why Dean was being singled out? His lack of manners? Sam was caught between wanting to laugh in relief and wanting to get him and Dean the hell away from here. Something didn't feel right.
"Um, I'll make sure to wash his mouth out." Sam waited for the man to respond angrily, to grab him by the arm and demand they leave his town. Hell, Sam had seen enough small-town horror flicks to expect the clichés.
But the angry retort didn't come. The man didn't so much as glare. He just looked at Sam with…was that sadness in his eyes?
Sam broke the gaze first and quickly ran out of the store, the store bells ringing ominously behind him. His spider senses were tingling; he had to get back to his brother. Now.