A/N: This was written some time ago, before the season started, and I'm happy to see I'm thinking along the same lines as Kripke. With Fresh Blood, its good to see some of this tension resolved. What's interesting with this is the song "Crop Circles" by Insane Clown Posse fits so well with the brothers Winchester. Also inspiring this piece is Beki of Dorvan, and her unique way of wandering around inside their heads.
Three Weeks After the Gate Opened
The room reverberated with shouts, air thick with anger, despite the silence that now descended. Sam's fisted hands were white-knuckled with strain, and he could feel the prick of fingernails biting into his palms. He kept his head down, eyes on the threadbare carpet, Dean's boots just visible in the top of his peripheral vision. He wanted to forgive, actually wanted to give Dean anything he requested, but this – Sam couldn't do it, couldn't hand Dean the death he craved.
"Maybe we should split up." Sam's voice low, still harsh with too much shouting.
There was a scuff of boot on carpet. "No." Dean's voice equally low.
Too much sacrificed to keep the little brother in sight, to keep the little brother safe. Sam knew it was a request Dean wouldn't accept, given what he had paid to keep the little brother with him. That, on top of a lifetime of watching out, keeping safe – it had been foolish to ask. But in Sam's view it was the only way to save Dean, and he could feel words bubbling up, scratching at the back of his throat to be heard. He bit them back, gritted his teeth until his jaw ached, counted to ten in Latin. Raised his head to look at Dean.
And it was too much, the stubborn line of his brother's jaw, the look of acceptance soft and unnatural and fatalistic on his angular face. Sam broke, turned on his heel, the motel door opening almost magically under his hand, and he burst out into the late afternoon sunshine.
They had been traveling in Iowa, the line of the horizon around them always straight and unattainable, all perspectives and distances and right angles. The motel they had stopped at, when shouting in the Impala became deafening, was surrounded by wheat fields, golden and glowing in the September sunlight. It gave Sam an unlimited area in which to run, to escape, the dirt soft under his sneakers, the wheat slapping against his legs almost painfully. He heard Dean call his name, and he pushed himself, a last burst of speed that left him gasping in the middle of the wheat field.
The sun was mellow and warm over his shoulders, the smell of wheat and earth and growing things pungent and pervasive. His gasps for breath slowed and evened out, and he straightened, taking in the unlimited horizon around him: the towering blue sky and the endless golden wheat. There was soft, constant susurration as the wheat moved in the slight breeze, and the sharper sound as Dean pushed his way through, walking slowly out towards him.
It took about a minute for Dean to reach him, time enough for Sam to soothe his anger, to slow his heartbeat to match the peace around him. He picked a stalk of wheat, feathering the head with his fingers, the head heavy with grain, and stuck the stalk in a corner of his mouth. It tasted of sunlight.
Dean came even with him, scented with sweat and gun oil, nudged Sam's shoulder easily with his own. A stalk of wheat dangled from the corner of his own mouth, and he kept his eyes firmly down. "Sorry," he said, clearly.
Sam stilled himself, then nudged Dean back with his own shoulder. "Me, too. I'm sorry too."
"It's terrifying, Sammy. Never been so scared in my life. You say, let's check this out, it might be something – and if I say okay? If I drive? One little word, and you'd be – " He plucked the stalk from his mouth, picked at the grain in the head, the unsaid word as loud as a shout.
Sam found himself nodding, his chin tucked as he stared at the ground at Dean's feet. Keeping secrets from Dean, keeping information from Dean, his brother walking in a land of perpetual twilight – it reminded Sam of that first year, orbiting his father and wondering about the visions, about Jess burning. Dean was not made for twilight. Dean needed the sun.
It was a fine line Sam was walking, and the sudden vertigo of it hit him, amid the golden of wheat and the blue of sky. He chose his words carefully, finding his way forward in small, hard won increments. "Okay, Dean. Okay. But you gotta trust me, man. If I say go west, then we go west, and you can't open your big mouth and bitch about it. If I wanna spend three days in a library doing research, then you sit there and shut up and let me do it." He turned, faced Dean, sought out the hooded green eyes aggressively. "You did this, Dean, and I know why, and I can forgive why. But I'm not gonna let you sit back and do nothing, make me do nothing. I'm gonna save you."
He caught a flash of green from Dean's downcast eyes, a slight curve to the lips as Dean hid a smile. "You're gonna do something." Said lightly, almost mocking.
Sam frowned. "And you're not sitting holed up in some shitty room like George Darrow with goofer dust at the door."
Dean's head came at that, the gaze sharp. "I can't do anything to help, Sam. You want me to just do what you say? Drive west, research – what if that's reneging?"
It was Sam's turn to look away. He had been guiding his brother as subtly as possible, small hints here and there, following a lead Sam had picked up from Bobby. Sam wasn't stupid, didn't want to die, especially standing in the middle of this wheatfield dazzled by sun, with Dean solid and present at his side. So Dean, again cast into darkness, Sam trying hard not to be obvious while wondering how much of Dean's blindness was self-inflicted.
He hesitated too long; Dean turned away from him brusquely, looking back at the motel. "Aw, crap, Sam, you're already doing it. Goddammit, Sammy." He moved with hurt, rolling his shoulders and raising his hands to lace his fingers together at the back of his neck. His shadow stretched out before him, wing-like and poised to fly.
Sam looked away, out at the waves rolling through the field, endless and timeless. "Which is why," he said carefully, "I suggested we split up."
Dean's short bark of laughter was not amused.
Frustrated, Sam rounded on his brother. "Well, what do you suggest, asshole? Touring the country all happy and shit and then me just sitting there when the hell hounds come? Is that it?" Dean did not answer. "Fuck that, Dean. No way in hell I'm gonna just sit. You wanna leave me like Dad left you? You want that on my shoulders?"
Dean winced at the mention of his father, and Sam bit the inside of his cheek, strangling on the angry words he wanted to heap on his brother's head. He turned away again, soaking in sun and peace and the eternal sound of the wind in the wheat. The pause was just as eternal, Sam feeling as if they were caught in amber, wishing they were, frozen in time and place with nothing ahead of them and nothing behind them. Just them.
"You remember that chick movie, with the 66 Thunderbird and the diesel blowing up?"
Sam fumbled a moment, trying to find his footing, Dean as always throwing him off and disrupting his focus. "Uh, what?"
"The chicks on the roadtrip."
It clicked, somehow it clicked, with a lifetime behind them of shared rooms and breakfasts, long nights wondering if their father would show up alive. "You mean Thelma and Louise?"
Dean's hands were shoved in the pockets of his jeans, his shoulders slightly hunched. He was talking to Sam's knees, his gaze guarded as ever. "Yeah. Remember them at the Grand Canyon?"
Sam's turn to wince, his brother's train of thought as obvious as a neon sign. "No, Dean."
"Let's just keep going, Sammy."
"Don't do this."
"Let's just keep going."
Sam's balance was lost, Dean pushing him over as easily as the wind a house of cards, and Sam forced with having to make do. It was a position Sam was familiar with, but never with so much at stake, with his brother's life hinging on Sam's ability to land on his feet, to make a nuclear bomb out of a gum wrapper.
"You are a jerk," he said, without heat, coming next his brother and nudging him with a slumped shoulder. The tense line of Sam's neck and shoulder had disappeared, all stress draining away as the decision was made for him, and him just having to figure out the how. "But you still – " He paused, recognizing how they could dance around forever, leaving their own kind of crop circle, inevitably saying something that could hurt too much. "Just give me a chance to drive more often. And don't bitch when I go for really long walks."
"You're such a girl." Dean's face still too open, and Sam couldn't really look at him squarely, remembering the convertible in the air over the Grand Canyon. But Dean was grinning, sharp and biting, and Sam had to smile in return.
Their passage through the wheat back to the motel created a dark trail of broken stalks, an umber line through the pale gold, but by the time the sun sparked in the morning, it had disappeared, smoothed away by wind.