Disclaimer: All things Supernatural belong to Kripke, not me. (Rinse & Repeat)
Author's Notes: "Oscillation is the only certainty. Uncertainty? The only rule of the game." – Penelope Swales. Beta'd by the patient kimonkey7, who does not know when to put a fic down and turn on her television. Dude. Seriously. Written for challenges 20 & 21 over at foundficspn on lj
It was nearly four by the time Sam came out of the library, head down and school bag swung over one shoulder. By then, Dean was pissed and antsy from waiting. He slid off the hood of the Impala and opened fire.
"Been blowin' your geeky friends behind the returns counter, dipshit?"
"Fuck off, Dean."
Sam brushed passed him, threw his bag into the backseat via the open passenger window and yanked on the door handle. He rolled his eyes when he found it locked, and Dean jingled the keys, pushed off from the front quarter panel with his hip.
"Wait a minute, brainiac. Come 'ere."
Sam ignored him, set about trying to unlock the Impala door with an irritable glare. Dean leaned towards him, brow furrowed, and waggled a finger between them.
"I said, come 'ere, ya little dick."
Sam sighed large, stepped sideways along the car until he was in arm's reach. Dean shot out his hand and closed a fist around the front of Sam's shirt, swung him round to face him. He squinted at Sam's black eye, nose crinkling.
"Jesus. Who the fuck hit you?"
"Nobody," Sam mumbled, and Dean shot a look over his shoulder back at the library entrance.
"Nobody gave you a black eye, huh?" He raised a dubious eyebrow, hand still curled in the fabric of Sam's school uniform.
"Last night?" Sam reminded him, finally meeting his eye, and Dean cocked his head a little, face a picture of concentration while he recalled the detail.
"Holy shit, the tree branch?"
He inspected Sam's face again, brought two exploratory fingers up to the bruised eye. Sam slapped his hand away roughly, face crumpling. Dean brought his palm to his mouth instead, laughing.
"You got that running into a tree branch?"
He let go of Sam's shirt with a little shove, sent him stumbling back against the hood of the car. Sam already had a good inch or so on his brother but he was six foot two and a half of pure awkward. Dean was working a brand of slapstick sibling torture designed to ensure Sam never forgot it.
Dean held up the keys. "You wanna drive?"
Sam's mouth dropped open. He took a step towards his brother, hand outstretched. "Seriously?"
It got him every time. Dean shook his head, snapped the keys back into his fist with a smirk. "Nope."
As they pulled out from the curb, Dean slowed to ogle the butt of a petite brunette heading up the library stairs, kid on her hip.
"Holy crap," he muttered. "It must be MILF day at this library."
Sam buried his face in his hands. "Dude, can you be more obvious?"
And hell, yeah. He could. Dean leaned on the horn, yelled "Nice ass!" out of Sam's open window when she turned around.
Sam nearly went through the floor of the Impala trying to make himself invisible.
It wasn't far to the garage. Four streets, to be exact. But one of them was a ten mile stretch bridging two townships through the rolling pasture of Cow Country, USA. It was the kind of scenery that should have bored Dean to tears, but it didn't. He opened up the Impala down the two mile straight past the church, ignored Sam when he cautioned him on the posted speed limit as it whizzed by.
When you spent your life on the road, it was the open ones through those endless fields of rolling green that had a promise to them. Potential. While the rest of the twenty-year-old slackers from Bean Town were lamenting the blank canvas, Dean was mixing paint and knowing a hell of a lot better. There was plenty to keep you busy in those moonlit dells where the pasture met the Pioneers' Cemetery. In this town, that was right where things got interesting. Small town life? No such thing. Teeming cities or steaming cowpats, they all had their ghosts, one way or another.
Dean was finding his trigger finger suited the rural lifestyle. Suited anywhere you didn't have to explain a shotgun blast at three in the morning.
They drove in silence for a couple of clicks, until Dean throttled the car back and said: "Dad see that before you left this morning?"
Sam shook his head. "He was still asleep."
Dean started laughing again.
"What's so funny?"
"Dude, you have got to be the only sixteen year old on the face of the earth who actually gets himself outta bed for school. Seriously. Why didn't you just stay home?"
"I had a math test," Sam snapped.
Dean rubbed his temple, appeared to find the information distressing.
"Oh, my God. You are such a fuckin' nerd." He cleared his throat, shook off his disgust. "Teacher say anything?"
Sam was silent.
Dean flicked his eyes from the road to his brother, back again. "Sam? You get us a visit from Social Services, Dad'll bust your balls into next week."
"I told her you did it."
"You told her-? What? Gee, thanks a lot. Why am I the asshole?"
"Well, whattaya want me to tell her? Not like she was gonna buy that I ran into a tree."
"You did run into a tree."
"Whatever. Anyway. Dad's off the hook. You're my asshole brother." He picked at the knee of his pants.
Dean let it go for all of ten seconds.
"If I'm such an asshole, why are you riding home in the car insteada havin' to walk?"
Sam twisted on the seat. "Yeah, why are you picking me up? Where's Dad?"
"Aren't you supposed to be working? At the bar?"
Dean didn't answer right away. He ran his tongue around his mouth, chewed his cheek. "Change of plan."
"Dude, did you get fired again?"
Dean shrugged. "No biggy. I'll find somethin' else."
Sam shook his head, delighted. "What is that? Five times this year?"
Dean shot him an annoyed glance. "What are you, keeping track on your abacus, Math Boy?"
Sam looked out the window, laughing. "Did they find out you're underage? Oh, my God. Did you get fired for screwing Marita?"
Dean barked off a laugh. "No, you little pervert. I was supposed to be working last night."
Sam frowned. "We were working last night."
"Not hunting, dickweed. At the bar. I missed three shifts last two weeks. So…"
"So this means you can show me the one-eighties."
Dean yanked on his earlobe, screwed up his face. "What?"
"Remember? You said last week. You'd show me how to do a one-eighty turn."
Dean shook his head. "In this car? Are you bent? I don't think so."
"Promised? Really? That doesn't sound like me, Sammy. I mighta alluded. Implied…" Dean pulled the Impala up across the road from the garage, shut off the engine.
"No," Sam assured him. "You promised."
Dean looked at his watch. He had planned to drop Sam at the garage, loop back round to the bar and pick up Marita when her shift finished at four. Her roommate was away for the weekend, which meant… well, he wasn't gonna be spending much time looking for a job in the next couple of days, put it that way. He was already running late, thanks to Sam dragging his heels out of the library.
"Dude, I have plans tonight."
Sam looked at him skeptically. "How can you have plans? You got fired, like, two seconds ago."
Dean squinted at him. To get laid, dude? Yeah, I can make plans in two seconds.
"Promised, huh?" Dean pulled the keys out of the ignition.
Sam nodded. "You did."
Dean sighed. "Alright, I gotta make a call. And we're takin' Dad's. You're not pullin' any one-eighties in this car. Ever." He cracked his door, jerked a thumb over his shoulder into the backseat. "Grab your shit and put it in the truck. I'll go talk to the old man."
He dialed Marita's cell as he waited on the curb for a logging truck to pass. The garage his father had been working at for the last couple of months was a ma and pa outfit. It was the kind of lazy establishment that relied on the fact it was the only place for a good hundred miles where you could get any work done on a vehicle. They didn't even bother with a sign. The building itself was like a drab Lego piece dropped down onto the roadside, stepped roof and blue frontage. It was the same washed-out, tired old color of his dad's pick up, and about as aesthetically pleasing.
But the pay was okay, and the rent in town was do-able. They'd rolled into Hayseed Central two months ago, after his dad had picked up a lead on a demon. While John had tied up that job, Dean had stumbled on the Pioneers' Cemetery. There had been enough action there to keep them busy for another couple of weeks, and then his father had inexplicably dropped anchor and taken a job at the garage. Dean had no idea why they were still in town, but he was banging a chick eight years older than him and, up until today, he'd had a job he actually liked. So who was gonna argue?
When Marita picked up, he told her the truth.
Hey Em, small problem. Kinda got landed with my brother this afternoon. Can you find your own way home? No, no. I'll still be around later – (Jesus God Fuck, YES) – 'bout seven thirty? See you then. 'Course I'm thinking about you. I can't STOP thinking about you…I just gotta do this thing with my brother, and then I am one hundred percent yours. I swear to God.
Goddamn it. That woman was an instant fucking hard-on. He tugged his shirt down over the crotch of his jeans as he slapped the phone shut going into the first of the two wide car bays that fronted the garage.
The office was just inside the building and Dean was almost past the door when he saw his dad in there, on the phone at the desk. He skidded to a halt, grabbed the door frame and stuck his head in.
His dad held up a finger, pointed to the phone at his ear and mouthed One second. Dean waited while John penciled the client into the appointment book in front of him and hung up.
"Where's your brother?" John turned his palms up, shook his head a little. Dean tossed his temple in the direction of the street.
"Outside. I need your keys." He held out his hand.
John raised his eyebrows, looked up at his son through the dark mess of his fringe.
"To the truck," Dean clarified, when no keys were forthcoming.
His dad's expression didn't change. "This face is asking why, not which, Dean."
"We're goin' for a drive."
"In my truck?"
"Yeah, in your truck. Sammy wants to drive."
"Sam wants to drive my truck?"
"No, Sammy wants to drive the Impala. I want him to drive your truck."
John narrowed his eyes. "They're both my fucking cars, Dean. You're gettin' a smart mouth on you, kid. I can still kick your ass."
They both knew that wasn't strictly true. Hadn't been for a while. Dean gave him a lopsided grin. "Yes, sir."
"Have it back at the house by six." He threw his set from the drawer beside his chair, and Dean snapped them out of the air, volleyed the Impala keys neatly onto the edge of the desk in return.
"And no fucking around. Keep it under eighty."
Dean snorted. "It's Sam, Dad. He craps his pants when the oil light comes on."
Out on the driveway, Sam was talking to a girl. She was blonde, stick thin, and her school bag was dangling down between her feet, hands gripping the straps in front of her. She was waggling her hips from side to side as they chatted, and Sam was smiling like Dean hadn't seen him smile in about two goddamn years.
Ever since the kid had turned fourteen, he'd been a miserable, sullen, little prick. It had been suggested to Dean, on more than one occasion, that his persistent shit slinging might have contributed to his brother's mood. Dean was unconvinced. As far as he was concerned, it was entirely possible Sam was genetically predisposed to be a sniveling shithead for sixty percent of his waking life. So it was a good thing the other forty percent of the time he made up for it.
Dean caught Sam's eye over the chick's shoulder as he approached, stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth, and tugged at the crotch of his jeans. Sam reddened and shook his head almost imperceptibly. Dean read the mortified FUCK OFF loud and clear in his startled eyes, and chuckled as he threw the pick-up door open and hopped into the passenger seat.
When Sam didn't immediately follow, Dean reached over and applied the horn.
"Come on, ya little fuckstick. Let's go!" he shouted.
He watched while Sam awkwardly disengaged himself from the conversation and… what the fuck was that? Did he just kiss her on the cheek? Dean clapped both his hands over his eyes, groaned. He raked his fingers down his face as the pickup door opened and Sam got in.
"Dude," Dean moaned, "Did I just see you just lay one on that girl's cheek?"
Sam held his hand out for the keys. "Shut up, Dean."
"What the fuck…? Was that the Kelly girl? The one you were goin' on and on about last week at the cemetery?" He dropped the keys into Sam's hand.
"Her name's Kristy, Dean."
"Well, do you wanna fuck her or knit her a sweater? Kiss on the cheek. You grandma."
Sam started the engine, put it in reverse and eased off the clutch, twisting to look through the back window. He touched the gas and the pickup stalled violently. Dean pointed at the stick shift.
"Hit the clutch again, genius. You're not in gear. Jesus."
"It gets stuck," Sam complained.
"Yeah, it gets stuck 'cause idiots like you grind the teeth." He reached over and yanked the stick into reverse, flapped a hand at him. "Okay, go again."
In truth, Sam was already pretty sound on the technical aspects of driving. The pick-up was a shit to handle, had an unforgiving clutch and a gearbox that was about to drop out its ass. Dean stalled the thing trying to sweet talk it out of the driveway as many times as he didn't.
By the time they hit a stretch of dirt road far enough out of town, Sam had found his groove, was moving up and down through the gears without Dean finding too much to pick on. So he got personal.
"So is this Kelly chick your girlfriend, or what? You do realize you're gonna have to find your dick before you can use it."
"Ha ha. Very funny, Dean. She's not my girlfriend. And it's Kristy."
"But you want her to be."
Sam shrugged. "I asked her to the end of year thing, yeah."
Dean glanced at him, frowned. "When is that, like June or somethin'?" He pointed to the side of the road. "Here's good. Pull over."
"Yeah." Sam eased the pick-up to the shoulder. He killed the engine.
Dean raised his eyebrows, shook his head. "Well, you might wanna revise your schedule there, kiddo."
"Dude, it's only May fifteenth. We're not gonna be here."
Sam dropped his hands from the steering wheel, looked at Dean. "What do you mean? Dad's got the job at the garage. We've been here two months already. I've got exams in June. Where are we gonna go?"
Dean shrugged. "I dunno, but I guarantee you we're not gonna be here in June. We'll be lucky if we're here end of next week. You know what Dad's like."
Sam gripped the steering wheel again, and Dean saw his knuckles whiten.
"Why would we stay here for two whole months and then just go?"
It wasn't a genetic predisposition. Dean knew that. It was this rootless transience that was deep core drilling his brother, the job that was poisoning him.
Dean shook his head. "I don't know, man, but you better un-ask her. Better now than later. If you really like her, I mean." He moved a hand between them, swept it all away. "Okay, so we're gonna switch. I'll do a couple and you can watch, then we change back."
Sam slammed his door so hard it pulled Dean up a step as he rounded the front fender. He frowned at Sam as they passed each other.
The passenger door bounced open again when Sam hauled it shut and he leaned out, yanked it back closed with a resounding crack. Dean swung up into the driver seat, eyed his brother warily as he started the truck.
"You might wanna dial that shit down a notch, Sammy. You know, before you go throwin' the handbrake on a speeding car or anything. It is what it is, man. I mean, it's not easy and it's kinda a drag, but he's doin' the best he can."
Sam said it quietly, but he put every bit of him into those three little words. "I hate him."
Dean shifted into gear, rode the clutch till it almost engaged. He shook his head. "You don't mean that, Sammy."
Sam gave him a flat, dead stare. "Don't I?"
Dean returned the gaze for a long minute, equally impassive, before he pointed down the road, dropped the clutch and hit the gas.
"You heading over to Marita's tonight?"
John was standing behind the couch, looking down at him where he was stretched out reading. Dean dropped the monthly down against his chest, hoped his dad hadn't noticed what was slid inside the Guns and Ammo magazine. He looked at his watch.
"Yeah, in a bit. Why?"
"Well, whatever you gotta say to her, say it tonight, Dean. We're outta here first thing, so…"
Dean rubbed a finger under his nose, edges of his mouth twitching downwards.
"Okay." He was already mentally hauling anchor. People and places of the last two months unbolting, sliding, realigning in his mind. By the time the second "Okay" left his lips, Dean was pretty much on board.
"Okay, then." John nodded at him.
"We got a gig?" Dean asked, and his Dad gave him a vague, sad smile.
"Not yet. Woman called today from Social Services. Wantsta come talk to me Monday."
Dean closed his eyes. Lifted his head an inch off the armrest and cracked the back the skull against it again. Oh shit. Sammy. Sam, Sam, Sam. Shit.
"Kid went to school with a black eye, Dean. They're just doin' their job. Same as us."
Dean nodded, eyes still closed. Then he snapped them open.
"Do me a favor, let me tell Sam?"
John tilted his head, confused. "You wanna explain to me how that's gonna go down any better?"
Dean pinched the bridge of his nose. "He's got a girl on the hook and exams comin' up and he hates you right now. For starters."
His dad stared down at the carpet behind the couch. Huffed off a humorless laugh and bit his lip. "Sammy's got a girl on the hook? Really?"
Yeah, Dad. That's the thing to focus on right now.
Dean slapped the magazines shut and swung his legs off the couch, stood up. He stretched.
"He'll still pitch a fit. But seriously, I can do without another round of you two right now. Lemme do it."
John rubbed his forehead. "I dunno how it got so hard with him. You were never this hard."
Dean shrugged. "He's not me. So lemme go talk to him. Please? Just, I don't know, go grab a beer or somethin'. Give me an hour to talk him outta his tree and I'll go to Marita's when you get back."
Dean saw his father consider it, want it. But it was a cop-out and John Winchester had never been fond of the cop-out. "No. I'll do it. No point him bein' mad at both of us. Go see Marita."
He turned to head for the hallway, and Dean hopped after him around the couch.
"Dad, please. Don't. I'll clean all the guns for a month solid. Please, just let me do this."
John stopped, shook his head as he turned around. Dean saw him teetering on the fence and gave him an imploring "Come on, please," to seal the deal. His dad folded. Sighed as he pointed at his son.
"You know, you get that face from your mother, Dean. It's dirty pool." He looked at his watch. "You got an hour. Don't say I didn't warn you. He's gonna hit the roof, kid. Trust me."
Dean watched him grab his keys from the kitchen table and waited until the screen door slapped shut behind him. Then he looked towards the hallway and Sam's bedroom.
Dean hadn't exactly planned what he was going to say, but as it turned out, it didn't matter.
Sam took one look at him from his books as Dean entered the bedroom and his face fell.
Dean winced. "Tomorrow."
Sam leapt out of his chair, sent it to the ground. "Tomorrow? TOMORROW?" And then he was pushing passed Dean into the hallway.
John hadn't quite made it to the pick-up. Sam took the steps at the front porch in one flying stride and got the truck's open door slammed ahead of John's outstretched arm. His dad turned, hands raised soothingly, and Sam shot a fist out hard between them. The punch snapped John back, sent him bouncing off his shoulder against the truck, palm to his mouth. Sam had pulled back for his second shot when Dean caught up, skidded to a halt on the lawn between them with his forearm raised against Sam's chest.
'HeyheyheyheyHEY. Jesus. Sam, back off." Dean threw a look over his shoulder. "Dad, you okay?"
John toggled his jaw in his fingers, and Dean could have turned around and clocked him one himself when he heard his dad was chuckling. "I'm fine. That right hook needs a little work, kid."
Sam exploded again. Dean had to sink down a little, throw his weight up through his arm to toss his brother back a couple of steps, get some distance between them.
Christ on a BIKE, Dad. Shut the fuck up.
"Dad, please. Just get in the truck and go. I got this."
He didn't feel like he had it. He felt like they were having a domestic dispute on the front lawn of their suburban house. In fact, he was pretty sure that was exactly what this was. He felt hot and angry and embarrassed and scared. And he didn't like the fact that he was calmest person in the ring. Because he wasn't very calm at all.
Behind him, Dean could feel his Dad standing close, the air worthy of a knife for cleaving.
Sam took another step forward and Dean bent at the elbow, straightened his arm with enough force to send Sam hopping. "Sam, stop it!"
He could have collapsed in relief when he heard the pick up door creak open and his father get in. Sam looked like he was about to implode, or cry, maybe both.
Dean raised a shaking finger, poked at Sam with it. "Let him go."
John swung the truck out onto the street, leaned out the window and pointed at the house.
"I want you packed and on that porch, five a.m.. You little shit. Or we really will be goin' a round or two."
Dean closed his eyes, tilted his face back up at the night sky. Jesus H Christ.
The porch light of the neighbor's house was on. Dean took a couple of deep breaths, saw the husband and wife silhouetted on their steps, watching them.
Nosey fuckin' assholes. He was suddenly very glad they were leaving in the morning. Before the police had a chance to join the interview queue.
"God, I fucking hate him."
Sam's voice was shaking, but Dean was too angry to care. He rounded on his brother, shoved him hard in the chest back towards the porch.
"Get in the fuckin' house, you moron," he snarled.
Sam tripped backwards, his face a startled accusation. Dean shoved him again at the top of the stairs, hard between the shoulder blades, sent him stumbling through the door.
"You stupid son of a bitch."
Dean took a beer out onto the back steps, drank it slowly. He sat on the top stair and listened to Sam tossing his gear around inside the house, packing with the kind of angry enthusiasm that made light work of heavy things. Dean wasn't done with him yet, but he didn't want to go at it when they were both a bee's dick away from boiling point.
Seemed like a quick way to end up slugging it out on the front lawn again.
So he drank his beer and stared into the darkness of the backyard.
First one they'd had in a while. Probably last in a while, too. And it was kind of strange, the way he could not need it, but at the same time understand so fully why Sam did. The same way he could at equal measure curl his mind to Sam's bright, burning rage and his Dad's dogged, uncompromising dedication to the job.
Dean felt like a worn joint between two immovable rods.
He leaned against the doorframe to Sam's room for a while, watched him going through his school books. When Sam finished sorting and proceeded to throw the whole lot into his trashcan, Dean shook his head and spoke up.
"You and Dad, you gotta sort this shit out, Sammy. I mean, Christ, you guys throwin' punches now?"
"Twenty four hours, Dean. I get less than twenty four hours notice." Another stack of books thudded into the garbage.
"Yeah, we both do. And I'm not goin' batshit on the trashcan with two months of hard work. Sammy, pull that stuff out, man. Please."
Sam stopped, hurled the book in his hands across the room. "You know what I can't wait for?"
Dean wasn't sure he wanted to know. He was trying to remember if they had any guns in the house or if they were all safely stowed in the Impala's trunk. He didn't think they should have any guns in the house tonight.
"What's that, Sam?"
"I can't wait until I graduate, which I will, even though I never get to stay in a school for longer than two fucking minutes. And I can't wait until I open the freaking envelope on my scholarship to whatever the fuck university I damn well like. And then I'll get to pick when I pack my shit up and tell him to stick it up his ass."
Dean rubbed his mouth, cocked his head and grimaced. "Okay, so you're still a little angry there."
"What am I supposed to do, Dean? I got exams in like, three weeks. I'm gonna miss the end of year party. And Kristy? I mean, God. I don't even get to say goodbye to her. She's gonna think I just took off."
Dean had to purse his lips against the sudden tightness at the back of his throat. This wasn't just anger. He knew that. This was deeper, more insidious. The kind of primal resentment that was steeped in years of silent compliance. And now Sam was finding his voice. Starting to BE Sam. And it made Dean feel proud and scared and vulnerable and protective.
He'd been going to throw it at him. Use it to pull him back into line. Get over yourself, shithead. We're leavin' cause YOU fucked it up. Mr. Math Test.
But standing there in the doorway he couldn't. He just wanted to fix it. Dam that angry rise in his brother, and make this fucked up little triangle work again. A small, quiet voice inside him was calling him a fool. Knew a border had been crossed.
For all his adaptability, the new territory they were headed into made Dean sick with fear. This was sand in his hands now. Sand on his boots. At his feet.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out the keys to the Impala, and tossed them onto the bed in front of Sam.
Sam stared dumbly at the keys. "What?"
"Go see Kristy. Take your books out of the trash first, dude. Then get outta here."
Sam shook his head. "Are you crazy?" He looked around at his tornado swept bedroom. "Packed and on the porch by five a.m. Did you not hear him?"
Dean gave the room a hesitant, sweeping gaze. "I got it. Go see this chick, and say your piece. I'll get you packed."
"I thought you were going to see Marita."
Dean scrubbed a hand up and down the back of his head. His dick was seconding Sam's query. Yeah, I thought we were going to see Marita.
"So I'll call her tomorrow from the road."
No, I won't.
"What about Dad?"
"I'll handle Dad. Sammy, please. Go, 'fore I change my mind. I was gonna be gettin' laid like you would not believe tonight."
Sam snatched the keys and swept into the hall. Dean grabbed his elbow.
"You can't tell her, man. You know that, right? Not where or when or how or what. None of it. Okay?"
And he could tell from Sam's nod that he did.
"And this isn't talky time I'm givin' you. I was gonna be fucking Marita six ways to Sunday. So I need at least a hand down the panties from you. You hear me? Action, Sammy. Not yapping. And you kiss her anywhere EXCEPT the cheek. You fuckin' grandma. Action. Hand down the panties. You get your tongue in her mouth?. Got it?"
Sam gave him a lopsided smirk, and Dean let him go, flattened against the hall wall to let him pass.
Dean waited until he heard the rumble of the Impala in the driveway, surveyed the debris of his brother's frustration on the bedroom floor. He sighed, hands on hips.
Then he started with the books in the trash.
Thanks for reading :-) Pdragon76