Title: Golden Silhouette

Rating: Light PG or so.

Category: General vignette. And, of course, there's the angst.

Disclaimer: The following characters and situations are used without permission of the creators, owners, and further affiliates of the Warner Bros television show, Supernatural, to whom they rightly belong. I claim only what is mine, and I make no money off what is theirs.

There is dried blood turned brown on the underside of Dean's ragged fingernails that dance over the steering wheel in a nervous fashion. When he glances down at his hands, he realizes that he doesn't know where the blood came from or how long it's been there. He drives on anyway, pushing forward to forget what has been until this moment. Cautiously, he watches the needle on the fuel gauge drop lower while the miles spin together to march in a glutton's parade of numbers. Sooner or later, he'll have to stop for gas before he's left stranded in the middle of nowhere, but he wants to get to his destination as soon as he can. Nobody knows where he is right now, and to the rest of the world, Dean Winchester no longer exists. Right now, so far away from everything he's ever known, he isn't even sure of who he really is anymore either.

He hasn't bathed under a hot shower in a day, hasn't shaved with a sharp razor in two, and has been driving in a black car for three. The cassettes play in a nostalgic loop until he shuts off the stereo all together and listens to the rolling wind and murmuring engine. This, this crazy random decision woke him in the middle of the night and ate away at him until he swung his legs from the thin, stained mattress and started the Impala. Eight states later, he's still wondering if he just should have went back to sleep that night.

Hours later, he pulls into the parking lot, larger than any he's ever seen and half full with new cars dipped in gold from the brilliant morning light creeping over the peaks of the buildings that shine like the blades of his knives. Cutting the engine, he sighs and glances into the rearview mirror. Bloodshot eyes on a haggard face he does not immediately recognize stare back, and instantly, he truly wishes that he had rolled back over in his motel bed when the idea first came. But, it's too late now to merely turn around, so he steps out of the car and sits on its trunk, waiting. All he has to do is wait. And, this waiting without knowing is the hardest thing he's ever done.

The sun is behind him, warmer than he's accustomed to on his back, and he rests his feet on the vehicle's silver bumper, elbows on knees and lips pressed to his knuckles. He's surprised to discover that he still smells of gunpowder and fried foods. From his distant position, he watches this unfamiliar world awaken to a day of dew dropped grass and passionately painted blossoms. There are a few people already out, mingling in the morning rays, but they pay no heed to the disheveled man with the black car. They laugh, and they touch. Dean wishes he didn't feel such a twinge when he remembers that he hasn't laughed or touched like that in too long. He wonders when life grew so cold.

Then Dean sees him.

On his way to class, wearing clothes Dean's never seen, always the early riser, always the one who poked Dean awake at five when the world was still dark, always the first to greet the sun with open arms of childish delight. Oh, Sammy. There are no fitting words for him, and Dean knows that if he goes to his brother right now, fumbling on the conversation he's planned for days, Sam may reject him just like he rejected their life. Dean's still not ready for that kind of a rejection, a rejection of brother to brother. Not yet.

Soon Sam is joined by three other students, one male and two females. They smile with Sam, teasing him like Dean used to and talking with him like Dean wishes he could. But, Sam's happy and he's safe, so Dean can sleep again without lurching upward in his bed, covered in a cold sweat at three in the morning. He won't worry that he'll awake to discover his trembling fist around the handle of a knife buried into a pillow that took the form of Sam's attacker in yet another dream. No more waking into the tendrils of darkness with thoughts of Sam in pain and calling Dean's name for help as he bleeds and writhes. No, no, this is Sam with flashing white teeth, brushing long dark hair out of his eyes that sparkle against smooth, bronzed flesh, oh, this is Sam at his best now, and Dean knows that. He would be a fool to think otherwise, and seeing Sam so easy and carefree, Dean is relieved that he came. There will be no further nightmares. For awhile, at least.

Then Sam, across the parking lot, so small near the buildings he now calls home, notices the figure in the parking lot. Sixth senses trained from childhood overwhelm him more than they ever have since he left the men who share his surname, and he stares at the hunched silhouette on the trunk of a car he thinks he recognizes. He squints into the sun, golden illumination spilling down and obscuring his vision, and he only sees the dark shape of a man spotlighted by the heavens. He steps off the sidewalk into the parking lot, crossing the warming asphalt in long, smooth strides, and his friends go silent with confusion behind him. By the time Sam raises his hand to shield his eyes, the car is gone.