They stop in Middle-Of-Nowhere, Illinois. Bumfuckville, Iowa. Redneck-Central, Nebraska, steadily moving west. And it's somewhere around there that Dean decides he needs to stop. He can't tell one fucking state from the other anymore, and he scrubs one hand through his hair, digs brutally short nails of the other into the steering wheel. He pulls into a gas station by the side of the road, ignores the corn fields on either side of his car, ignores the startled look that Sam gives him. He fills up his tank at the pump, tapping his foot impatiently on the asphalt underneath it. Always half-listening out of one ear for the sounds of the unnatural, and he can't help but hope something will turn up at the gas station in the middle of fucking nowhere. It's been two weeks with nothing, and he's starting to get antsy. He's jittery, jumpy, hands always in motion, and if he has to look at another stalk to corn ever again, he might just snap and kill someone. Fortunately, there's usually no one around but Sammy, and there's no way in hell that he'd kill his kid brother. Ever. Not fucking happening. He'd rather fucking die himself.

Why does no one ever understand that?

When the tank is full, he goes into the attached junk food store, keeping his eye on the old guy behind the register, stereotypical cover-alls unbuttoned on one side. Restrains himself from checking the store for demonic activity, hands twitching at his sides, and buys a large blue slushy. Sips it on his way out the door, sugary blue liquid filling his mouth, almost brain-numbingly cold.

Slides into the driver's seat, and notices Sam's quick glance, and takes a pointed sip.

"Comfort food, leave me alone." And Sam looks out the window.

"We'll find something soon, Dean." Sam says, doesn't look at Dean, eyes trained firmly on the corn outside. Like it's so goddamned interesting.

"Promise?" Dean asks, and doesn't know if he's serious or if he's just being petty. Can't tell, doesn't want to know. Sam says nothing in response, just lifts one shoulder in a minimal shrug. Dean slurps at his slushy.

When, a few hours later, there's the screeeeech of the new black paint job and about half an inch of roof ripping, peeling off the top of the car, Dean swerves to the side of the road, smell of burning rubber wafting through the open windows. Stony faced and internally cursing at the bits of black and metal he can see on the sizzling asphalt in his rear-view mirror. Doesn't care what it is as long as it can die.

Swooping sound of big wings that he can't see, and there's just the grey silhouette against the bright blue sky and Dean wonders where the fuck it came from, why it attacked them, what it wants, and can't help but be grateful for its attention.

Sam is already getting things out of the trunk as Dean finishes off the slushy, leaving the empty plastic cup in the cup holder.

It can die, and it does. It's not just one, it's many.

Dean can still feel their thin skulls crunching under his feet, eggshell thin bones and claws cracking and fracturing under thick rubber soles after they're dead, and he can feel his stomach roil. He can still see brain matter, and organ matter, and blood and feces and mucus splashed on the walls the floor his hands his face. He almost gags, and it doesn't happen often, but his jeans are covered in red and black muck halfway to his knees, and the smell of rotting flesh burning has settled in the back of his lungs and every time he breathes in he can smell it, and they'd fucking almost i killed /i Sammy, and no one is allowed to do that. No one is even allowed to i think /i about doing that.

He rubs his fingers over the shallow claw marks up and down his arms, the deep bites on the side of his neck and shoulder where the blood is just now clotting, and he looks to Sammy sitting next to him in the car. He'd almost failed, almost, come so close this time.

Sammy has deep scratches on his face, half of it covered in dried blood, but Dean can see that he'd been pretty fucking close to losing an eye. He just hopes that he'll never has to reset his brother's dislocated shoulder again, that he'll never have to see him thrown against a wall like a rag doll, that he'll never have to – and he's pretty fucking glad they aren't moving, because he opens the car door and leans out and vomits blue onto the asphalt. Sammy's fingers are in his hair, against his forehead, and he coughs, spits, sugary bile taste in his mouth.

And one of Sam's arms is around his waist, and there are lips whispering words to the back of his neck, but he's not sure what they're saying, and he can smell dried blood and regurgitated slushy. He presses back against the weight behind him, lets himself know that it's really there, that Sam is really there, that he didn't fail, that he still has something to protect.

He doesn't care where they're going now; he just knows that he needs to get out of Nebraska, that he needs to change his clothes, and that he would kill almost anything for a hot shower.