"What are you clacking away at over there?"
"I'm searching for suspicious occurrences in the area."
"Hey, I offered to let you drive."
Sam glanced up, eyebrows raised. "No, you didn't."
Dean shrugged, cracking a small smile. "Yeah, that doesn't sound like me."
Sam sighed and turned his attention back to the laptop, open on his lap, illuminating the interior of the car with a faint – and kind of creepy – bluish glow. Outside of the car, the creep factor was heightened by an eerily large and full moon lighting up the road with an equally eerie white blush.
"We're the middle of nowhere and you're telling me that you're getting a wireless signal?"
Sam nodded absently. "Yeah, we're probably close enough to a hotel. Or a Starbucks."
Dean gave an exaggerated mock of Sam's sigh and rotated his neck. He almost (almost) wished he had offered to let Sam drive. They hadn't stopped in at least four hours, and his arms – and other parts – were getting stiff.
What if he just…no. Not gonna happen.
Dean chewed on his bottom lip. It wasn't exactly a nervous habit, just something he did unconsciously when he was thinking thoughts usually running somewhere along the line of 'I can't believe I'm about to do this.' He opened his mouth but shut it quickly, rolling his eyes in frustration. After a few moments, Dean finally lost the battle with himself. "You wanna – "
"Nope." Sam looked up from his laptop and with a shit-eating grin stretched lazily in the passenger seat, extending his lanky limbs as far as the interior of the Impala would allow for the sole purpose of pissing his brother off. And it worked.
"Bitch," Dean muttered under his breath, switching hands on the wheel to shake out his increasingly numb right one. He glanced down at the glowing green numbers of the clock on the dash. It was nearing two a.m. and Dean was in desperate need of a strong cup of coffee. Unfortunately, there wasn't a rest stop in sight. Or any sign of civilization, really. He vaguely remembered passing a sign for a town a few miles back, but it wasn't visible from the road. There were just woodsy trees on both sides, tinted white in a heavy sheen of moonlight.
They were driving through some part of southern Illinois, with nowhere in particular in mind for their next stop. It had been a couple of days since their dad has sent any coordinates their way, and for this reason, Dean had actually contemplated taking a few extra days in that shitty motel room in Podunkville, Wisconsin for a little R&R. For about thirty-seven seconds. Then he thought about what his dad would say. It was always better to be on the move, and ready for whatever came their way next.
Sam had tried to argue this point, saying there was no logical explanation in that – if they were moving around, weren't they likely to be less prepared? Not wanting to have this same fight again, Dean only responded "You lost me at 'logical'" and tossed his bag into the trunk of the car.
Dean frowned and wiggled on the bench seat, readjusting his body as he started to lose feeling in his ass. "Sam – "
"Not a chance."
Biting back a guttural roar of frustration, Dean released a long breath and reached over to turn up the volume of the stereo. Over the loudly thumping bass, he heard Sam give a small, triumphant laugh, which only served to aggravate Dean further. "You findin' anything over there, Chuckles?"
Sam shrugged and waved a hand dismissively at the computer's screen. "I dunno. Police reports show a lot of drunk drivers in the county, but nothing more exciting than that."
"Yeah, people losing control of their cars, driving off of the highway…stuff like that…"
Dean had asked, but he wasn't really listening to Sam; his attention had been drawn to a dark shape approaching from the opposite direction. The light from the full moon clearly outlined some kind of car (Dean squinted – older model, seventies maybe), driving down the highway without its headlights on.
"Would you look at this idiot?" Dean asked, shaking his head.
Sam looked up as Dean reached down and hit his own lights, flashing the predetermined idiot twice with his high beams. Both watched the car pass, Dean in the rearview mirror and Sam turning his body to look over the bench seat, and both sighed as they lost sight of the vehicle around a bend, lights still off.
Dean gave Sam a sideways glance. "Drunk drivers, huh?"
Sam shrugged. "Must not be a lot to do around here." He shifted his laptop to one side and dug into his jacket pocket, pulling out his cell phone. "We should call it in, before they hurt someone. Could you tell what kind of car it was?"
But Dean was again not listening to Sam, but staring into the rearview mirror. He frowned and squinted. He could have sworn there was something following them – at a safe distance, but still following them – but couldn't make out a shape in the dark well enough to be sure, even with the ample moonlight.
Dean shook his head at Sam's question. After a moment, he turned his eyes back to the road. "Nothing. Thought I saw something." After once final glance in the rearview, he let out a breath and rubbed at his tired eyes.
Sam cocked his head, bringing his cell phone to his ear, preparing to do the valiant little bother thing he did oh-so-well. "Do you wanna – "
"No. Nah, I'm good."
Sam nodded and reached out with his left arm. "Can we at least turn down the rad – "
Suddenly, the car lurched forward and a sound somewhere between a thump and a crack echoed through the car as it was hit from behind, jostling and displacing its occupants.
Dean had already been preparing to slap Sam's hand away from his radio knobs, and his hold on the steering wheel perhaps hadn't been ideal for the unanticipated ram into the back fender. He now found his hands sticky and slipping down the sides of the wheel as they worked to find a strong grip. He looked down, instantly connecting the wetness sliding under his fingers and the tickling sensation running down his face, not to mention his now-blurry vision. He brought a hand up to the cut at his hairline, hissing as his palm made contact. "Sam?"
"Yeah." Sam's voice was strong, and Dean took his eyes off of the road long enough to see that Sam was more pissed than shaken, again twisted in his seatbelt, squinting out of the rear window, his cell phone clutched in one white-knuckled hand, muttering various curses to himself.
"What the hell was that?" Dean asked, gripping the wheel with his left hand, his right still pressed to his forehead. He looked up at the rearview mirror, and shook his head slightly. He couldn't focus enough to see a damn thing, but couldn't be driving too badly, or Sam would have already grabbed the wheel from him. Still, he eased up considerably on the accelerator.
"I don't know." He shook his head. "I can't tell – "
Sam was cut off by a second unexpected ram that seemed to come out of nowhere, and he threw his arms out to brace himself on the dash as he was flung against his seatbelt, losing his cell phone in the process. "What the hell?"
Dean managed to keep his head from striking the steering wheel a second time, but this next round of lurching did nothing helpful for the throbbing already there. "Son of a bitch!" he shouted, slamming a fist into the wheel. Yeah, his head hurt, but there were more important things to worry about. Like what in the hell did this asshole think he was doing to Dean's car?
Sam was twisting wildly in his seat, trying to get a good look at who or whatever it was battering their car. MY car. His pursed lips and narrowed eyes told Dean he was having about as much luck, or lack thereof, as he himself had had.
A pair of headlights suddenly flashed to life directly behind them, and both brothers squinched their eyes shut momentarily from the brightness.
Dean peeled his eyes open, and through vision blurred by blood, they widened as they watched the vehicle behind them roar as it pulled even with them on his side. "Not a chance in hell," he muttered to himself, and pressed harder on the gas. The engine of the other car growled and the vehicle's speed increased as well.
"I SEE it, Sam!"
But due to vision compromised by the blurry eyes, the knock on the head, or the combination of both, Dean misjudged the gap between the two vehicles and wasn't prepared for the other car to swerve to the left and then hard to the right, bashing into the rear door on the his side with a bone-jarring crash, sending the Impala into a nauseating one-eighty turn that abruptly ended when the driver side of the car slammed into the guardrail.
There was no slow dissolve into consciousness. Dean's head snapped up quickly and forcefully, eyes the size of dinner plates. It took a little longer than he would have liked for the world to right itself, and for him to figure out just where he was and what the hell was going on. There were now two points of throbbing on his skull, and it felt his brain was leaking out of the left side of his head, thanks to a fun little smack against the window. There was something in his eyes giving the outside world a red tint, and he groaned, because as soon as he was aware of it the oozing gash on his forehead was sure as hell making itself known again.
He raised his right hand slightly and bowed his head the rest of the way into it, closing his eyes against a sudden wave of nausea. He felt like his stomach was lodged somewhere in his throat, and like his head was going to roll right off of his shoulders and into his lap. "Sam, I think something might have happened to the car," he said with something of a crazed bark of laughter.
When he received no answer from his brother, Dean turned his head slightly to the right, to the passenger seat. The empty passenger seat.
Before this could fully register in his mind, the small movement pulled his shoulders and Dean bit back quite the unmanly yelp at a sharp pull in his left wrist. He looked down dumbly at the limb, wanting to know how he could have been awake for a few minutes already and not fucking noticed how his HAND was caught between the steering wheel and the now-cradled-in door. And not just a little stuck.
It was obvious that his watch was not going to be salvageable, and Dean wasn't sure that he was going to want to salvage the little fucker, not when it was now molded to his skin. It pinched and stung, and Dean could feel warm drips running down his forearm. He tugged gingerly on the hand, pulling from his shoulder, and when that didn't accomplish anything but grating the small bones together and further scraping the skin off of his wrist, he pulled a little less gingerly, wrapping the fingers of his right hand firmly around his forearm. Nothing.
"Awesome," Dean muttered to himself, using his right hand to wipe the blood out of his eyes so that he could better inspect his predicament. "Sam," he said, wincing as he tried to rotate his wrist, "I think I'm gonna need a hand here. No pun intended..."
Dean leaned his head back against the seat and looked to the right. And that's when it hit him that Sam wasn't in the car. Empty passenger seat. "Sam?" Not quite panicked yet.
The passenger side door was wide open, a chilly breeze making its way into the car. "Sammy?" A little more panicky.
Dean bolted upright and tugged on his hand with all the strength that he could muster, using his intimate familiarity with English curses to quell the unnatural twinges, aches, pulls, stings, and throbs that he was creating in his wrist. If some fucker wanted to take his little brother right from under his nose, there was going to be hell to pay…as soon as he got out of the fucking car...
Dean wrenched so hard on his wrist that for a moment, he was sure that he had snapped it clean off, turning again to the right, to the sound of Sam's voice. "Sam? Where the hell – "
"I called for help. Had to find my phone first, and then I had to walk a little down the road to get a signal." Sam leaned into the car through the open door and braced himself on the bench seat, eyes wide, looking a little pale in the moonlight, but otherwise unharmed. "Paramedics are on their way."
Dean frowned. "Para wha - ?"
"Dean, you're trapped in the car." The pitch in Sam's voice was high, like he barely keeping himself together, and Dean couldn't really see the reason. He was the one with his own car trying to bite his hand off.
"Well, thank you, Captain Obvious," Dean said, his lip curling. "Now help me get outta here." He turned his full attention back to his ensnared hand. Now that he knew that Sam was okay it was back to hurting like a bitch. He tried a new tactic and, muttering a small apology to his baby, tried to pull on the steering wheel. He growled in frustration, and was ready to thump his head against the cursed wheel when he felt a firm hand on his shoulder and spun as well as he could to find Sam hovering in his personal space.
"Get offa me," he snarled, chucking Sam's hand off with a shaky throw of his shoulder.
The hand was instantly back on his arm. "You're going to make it worse."
"You're going to make it worse," Dean mumbled half-heartedly, giving one final tug on the wheel. With a "fuck it" that was barely above a whisper, he flung his head back against the seat and closed his eyes, unable to keep the worry at bay, unable to keep the burning question in any longer. "How's it look?"
He could feel Sam hovering again as he crawled across the seat and cautiously leaned over him. "I don't...I mean, it LOOKS broken, but a doctor – "
"Sam. How's it look?" he repeated firmly, prying his eyes open enough to give Sam a pointed glare. Sam said nothing. "Sam?"
Sam sighed. "It's not good, Dean. The back bumper is...and I mean, obviously, the driver's side..."
"Ah, no," Dean said, shaking his head. "Dammit."
"Dean, I know how you feel about the car, but I think we have more important things to worry about right now."
Dean glared. "I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that."
To be continued...