Category: angst. inexplicit death!fic. squint and you will miss it.
Word Count: 500 + 160 + 178
Author's Note: Writer's Block be gone! Title and summary taken from Audioslave's "I Am The Highway". This story has two endings, with B being the "happy end" - though myself I prefer A.
I Am The Highway
Nothing but miles of empty road ahead of him, a grey head and tailless snake winding its way towards the sun, daring him to follow and burn.
Dean isn't the type to back down from a challenge.
Most of the time the landscape left and right of him is just a blur. Green meshed with brown and yellow and sometimes brick red. Gone too quickly to identify anything other than endless expanses of forest.
Every now and then though, when he's not staring straight ahead he will catch sight of something that's clear and sharp like he's standing right in front of it – not speeding past it at 60 mph.
A tree maybe, looking not old but ancient. Branches high enough they touch the sky, and Dean imagines the roots going so deep down into earth it would be near impossible to uproot it in a man's lifetime. It screams eternity at him. Like the tree is saying I was here long before you came and I will be here long after you are gone. And Dean believes it.
Because he wants to believe that in the long run it doesn't matter what he has done and what he hasn't. Wants to believe that he doesn't matter. It would make living with his failures so much easier.
It wouldn't pain him so much every time he dares to glance to his right and sees emptiness.
Instead he concentrates on the feeling of smooth leather beneath his hands, on the low vibration of the motor humming through his body. It feels like a caress to him. A reassurance that there's something in his world he can still connect to, that there's something left to feel.
From time to time other cars will share the road with him, not often but it does happen. Not that it matters to him. He'll just manoeuvre effortlessly around them like he did all his life. With people. Never touching, never leaving a lasting impression, not even his real name.
Even the seat beside him is left empty.
There's peace in this but more importantly freedom. Driving without remembering where you came from and not caring where you are going. Dean could do this forever. If forever wouldn't be such a scary idea to him.
Then there is the voice. He can't make out what it's saying, not even who it belongs to but there is this sense of familiarity with it. When he hears it it's like someone has been shouting at him while standing at the side of the road. When the sound finally registers in his brain he's long past the source.
Stopping the Impala never comes to his mind. It's just not possible. He thinks.
But then there is this something smack in the middle of the road. It's huge but shapeless, just raw power. Blocking out the sun and everything beyond it. Neither dark nor light.
All Dean can do, all he remembers to do is slam on the breaks and…
It's no use. He's reaction comes too late and the Impala hurls right through the thing.
For a split second his world is washed white and he sees nothing, feels nothing. But then he's through on the other side. Back at 60mph, Dean can tell without checking, and a look into the rear mirror confirms nothing but empty road.
"I'm sorry, Dean."
He doesn't turn towards the voice just grips the steering wheel so much tighter.
"I'm sorry, I failed you. But you were too far gone, past the point of no return."
The words shouldn't mean anything to him, but they do. They make a world of sense.
"I tried so hard, Dean, but I couldn't… you wouldn't… I'm sorry."
This time when he looks to his right Sam is sitting there in the passenger seat, staring straight ahead.
"It doesn't matter, Sammy" he says and means it because there is nothing either of them could do to change anything and Dean knows it.
They just keep driving towards the sun together, daring it to burn them.
This time he recognizes the voice as Sam's. More than that, he can feel – can feel hands on his shoulders, shaking him.
Then strong arms cradling him to a broad chest.
Warmth starts to flood through his body. Instinctively, he tries to soak up as much as he can, store it somewhere deep inside him for the times he has to do without it again.
But he's motionless now. Somehow Dean already misses the reassuring cadence of the Impala's roar, the feeling of leaving behind million miles of road.
Instead he listens to the sound of a heartbeat, lets the strong pulse echo through his own hollow chest and fill him up with life again.
A million years later, when he pries his eyes open he finds Sam staring down at him. Smiling like only Sammy can smile, his face so close that their noses almost touch and their breath mingles.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, Dean."