When She's Gone
K Hanna Korossy
It came out of the blue, as things often did with Dean.
"You wanna see a movie?"
Sam blinked, turned in his seat to look at his brother. "What?"
"A movie. You know, big screen, buttered popcorn, Angelina Jolie in leather?"
"You want to see a movie," Sam slowly clarified.
"No," Dean said patiently, fingers tapping the steering wheel, "I'm asking you if you want to see one. Pay attention, Sammy."
Sam stared at him.
Dean shrugged uncomfortably. "Never mind, forget it."
Sam paused, trying to remember the last movie he'd been to. The last movie he'd been to with Dean. He thought maybe it was the The Bourne Identity, right before he'd left for school, and the thought made him shift in the seat. He couldn't think about school now, and Jess. Not with Madison so… "What movie?" he burst out.
"Dude, I don't know," Dean answered without hesitation. "You pick something."
Sam rubbed at his forehead. He couldn't remember not feeling tired anymore. Sitting in a dark theater for a few hours not thinking was wasted time that could be spent sleeping, or researching their next hunt…and it sounded really, really good. "Yeah," he said on an exhale. "All right. Let's find a paper."
"That's the last time I let you pick the movie."
Sam smiled a little, knowing this rant by heart. "You said anything."
Dean's arm flung wide. "I meant anything good! Not some black-and-white chick-flick."
The smile grew; the retrospective playing at the local dollar theater had been an unexpected treat. "So…you're seriously telling me you don't think Audrey Hepburn's hot?"
Dean paused, head tilting. "Well…yeah, okay, maybe a little hot."
Sam nodded in agreement, jamming his hands into his pockets as he kept pace with Dean. The movie had been cool, but the ending, Audrey giving up Gregory Peck because of her royal responsibilities, had hit a little too close to home. His smile faded, memories returning to fill the vacuum. This is the way you can save me…
A nudge of Dean's shoulder brought him back with a start, to realize they were standing in front of a restaurant. An honest-to-God homey little Italian place straight out of a hundred different flicks, and a definite cut above their usual diner fare. Sam cocked a yeah…and? eyebrow at Dean.
"I'm in the mood for pasta," Dean said with a shrug, and went in without waiting to see if Sam joined him.
But, of course, he did.
There was something about homemade linguine. And lots of clam sauce, and molten, crusty garlic bread. Sam discovered his appetite somewhere around the third bite, and managed to clear seconds and the bread bowl, to Dean's obvious amusement. "Growing boy," Dean had said to the waiter with a smirk, and didn't even jump when Sam kicked him under the table.
"Oh, God," Sam groaned as he dropped the silverware onto the plate, knife and fork together like Jess had taught him to do when he was done eating. "You can just…roll me out of here now."
"No way, dude—I have to walk, you have to walk." Dean hadn't eaten as much, but then, he'd put away most of the popcorn at the theater. He snagged a handful of Sam's jacket and tugged. "C'mon, Stringbean, it's only a mile back to the motel."
Sam swallowed, sliding out of his chair to follow him. "Could we just not mention food for a while?"
Dean snickered. "Hey, at least now I know how you got so big. Must've been all those second and third helpings at school."
Sam hunched into his jacket even though the night air was mild. Jess had marveled at how much he could put away at school, too, and, God, would his life always be about beautiful women who'd died in front of him? He shook his head angrily, picking up the pace.
He didn't realize how fast he was walking until Dean jogged to catch up to him, calling a "Whoa." His hand slapped Sam's shoulder. "We got someplace to be that I don't know about?"
"No," Sam said tightly, shaking his head and making himself slow down. "Just… No."
They walked in silence a few minutes, Dean nodding at people they passed on the street, Sam barely noticing. He startled when Dean cheerfully interrupted his replay of memories. "Night's still young—wanna get a beer?"
The thought of being in a bustling roomful of people suddenly made him a little nauseated. Sam shook his head again.
"Dean," he said, exasperated, "you don't have to do this, okay?"
Dean frowned at him. "Do what?"
"A movie, a nice dinner—you don't think I get it? Last time you took me on a night like this, I was in Junior High and Steffi Rand had just dumped me for a football player."
Dean's head nodded slowly back and forward. "So…not helping?"
Sam opened his mouth, shut it again. "I didn't say that," he said quietly. For brief minutes there, he'd actually forgotten the past, and…the world hadn't imploded. He took a breath, managed a weak smile. "Does this mean you're going to steal me an ice cream bar from the 7-11 next?"
Dean's shoulder hitched. "I was thinking a six-pack, actually." A beat. "You want ice cream?"
"No," Sam groaned. But he was smiling, just a little.
They ended up sprawled on the Impala's hood, backs to the windshield, looking at the stars. The six-pack between them was almost empty, which meant that Sam was nursing his second bottle while Dean was about to move on to his fourth.
"So." Dean's quiet voice sounded loud in the otherwise empty parking lot. "It too soon for the 'you're not cursed' talk?"
Sam's fingers tightened on the longneck. "Yes."
"Oh. Couple of days?"
He drank another swig, felt the buzz in the back of his skull. "Couple of weeks, at least. Maybe."
"Okay." Dean drained his bottle, belched, and tossed it into the darkness on his side of the car. Not like they were going to recycle in the middle of…whatever state they were in. He turned to Sam. "Well, while we're not talking about this, just don't forget, she was already gone before we got there, Sam. You just made the end a lot easier for her."
He pulled in a ragged breath, the air burning over his alcohol-roughened throat. "As long as we're not talking about it," he rasped, aiming for sarcasm but hitting some sort of pathetic pleading note instead.
Dean patted his arm, managing to forget to pull his hand back when he was done. "Dude, you know me, I don't push."
Sam couldn't help snort at that, head lolling easily against the glass as Dean jabbed him in the side. "God, we're so messed up," he sighed, reaching up to rub his eyes.
"Hey, speak for yourself, man," Dean quickly shot back. "Me, I'm friggin' awesome."
Sam tilted his head to look at Dean. "Cassie," he said simply.
Dean grimaced. Before Sam could feel more than a twinge of guilt, though, his brother nodded. "Yeah, okay. We're screwed."
It shouldn't have made things any better, and maybe it didn't. But somehow it made it all a little more bearable. Sam huffed a laugh, rolled another sip of beer around in his mouth.
Dean pulled out the last bottle, popping the cap off with his ring and sending it sailing after the others. He paused a second, then tilted the bottle toward Sam. "To Madison," he said soberly. "She was a classy lady."
Sam swallowed, and clinked his beer against Dean's. "To Madison," he echoed softly.
And they drank in the comfortable silence of company, present and lost.