"Skepticism is the Beginning of Faith"
Dean turned, surprised by his brother's voice. 50 miles, and Sam hadn't said a word. He didn't respond to the music, didn't laugh, didn't joke. He had just watched the road, lost in thought.
Dean didn't blame him. The apocalypse took a lot of thought.
Sam didn't continue so Dean turned back to the road until curiosity got the better of him. "'So', what?"
He heard Sam shift in his seat and though he kept his eyes on the road, he knew his brother. Sam was antsy, which meant he wanted to say something but didn't know how to say it, which usually didn't mean good things for Dean. Was it a sharing and caring session? Because he didn't exactly remember doing anything that called for any of that. Granted, Dean never thought they needed any of those touchy-feely sessions, so maybe he had just missed it. Maybe he had stepped on a bug funny and Sam thought this was sign of a Deeply Rooted Bug Trauma.
When Sam finally went for it, though, it turned out to be a very simple statement.
Well, that's useful. "What's your point?" Dean prodded, because Sam was still shifting and even though whatever it was definitely wasn't good, Sam hiding it was only going to be worse.
"Don't you think we should … " Sam trailed off, shifted again. "You know."
"No, I don't, so how about you tell me?"
"… Go to Church?"
Dean blinked. Turned. Turned back. "Sam, for Christ's sake, I thought you were going to say something important."
"This isn't important?"
"No, because we're not doing it."
"Why not?" Sam asked, exasperation clear. He wasn't shifting anymore though—just pulling off a stupendous glare—so as far as Dean was concerned, he had escaped the worst of it. "It's the right thing to do, Dean."
"Yeah, says who?"
"I don't know, the angel that plopped down out of the sky and pulled you out of hell?"
"That was his choice."
"I'm not doing it, Sam. So he pulls me out. So he says there's an apocalypse. That means I've gotta get down on my knees and start singing the praises? No way. All this? It doesn't change anything. God can get off his throne and do the moonwalk if he wants to; doesn't mean I got to believe in him."
Dean stared straight at his brother as he said it, making sure every word was bored into that Winchester-thick skull of his. Unfortunately, Winchester-stubborn was made of strong stuff and Sam especially was one stubborn ass; and an amused one at that. "I think it does," he said, barely holding back a smile as Dean scowled.
"Well, it doesn't mean I gotta pray to him. We're not going."
Silence. Sam shifted, but a different shift, an "I'm going to give you a piece of my mind so big you'll be crapping it out for days" shift so Dean spoke first. "Look, you wanna go? That's fine. Hell. we're in the Bible Belt, there's got to be one somewhere. But I'm not going."
Dean turned back to the road because some idiot in a smart car of all things just jumped out in front of him (who the hell tries something stupid like that in what basically amounted to a plastic bag on the side of the road?) but he still caught a glimpse of Sam's expression. He was smiling now, and definitely not trying to hide it, which meant only one thing
"I mean it, Sam."
"I'm not going, Sam!"
"I said, fine!"
Dean apparently forgot the part about how things Sam wanted to say but didn't know how never meaning good things for him though, and if it wasn't for the fact that murder was probably doubly bad in a sanctuary he would have definitely strangled his little brother a few times over.
It wasn't like Dean didn't know how to handle Church. He and Sam had spent many a weekend with Pastor Jim which inevitably led to getting guilt tripped into going. He just didn't understand it. So there was this priest you were supposed to listen to. Nice guy, really. Dean had an eye for faces and the priest had an easy smile he would have taken to if he were anywhere but here. But how the hell was he supposed to know anything? Didn't all this stuff happen thousands of years ago? Like the Bible wasn't ridiculous and contradictory enough already. First it was talking about breaking babies on rocks, then about forgiving some selfish son of a bitch who gambled all his money and then came back home to beg for more? Did people even pay attention to this stuff?
Looking around, he supposed they did; at least the older people did. Anyone still young enough to fully retain their natural hair color was busy looking at anything but the guy in the muumuu, but the rest were taking in every word. One guy was nodding so hard he looked like a Darth Vader bobble head they used to keep in the Impala when they were little. Actually … If Dean squinted, the way his hair was styled? He could probably pass for Vader if he wanted to.
Dean turned to Sam to point it out but thought better of it when he caught his expression. For all the clamoring, Sam looked ready to burrow into his coat and never come out (like he could; the thing had always been small on him and it was even smaller now—Sam seemed to get bigger every time you looked at him). Dean hadn't seen him so spooked since his dead brother walked into his motel room—and at least that time it had made sense. Aside from the disgusting scent of incense, what was there to be afraid of here?
"Hey," he whispered, apparently too loudly as the lady in front of them gave him the dirtiest look a little old Church lady could make. "You okay?"
Sam nodded, but not soon enough for comfort.
"You want to get out of here?"
Sam shook his head. "I'm fine."
"Sam, you look like a Night of the Living Dead reject."
It was a total lie. For no reason, as far as Dean could tell, but fine. Sam didn't want to tell him anything. Okay.
He could work with that.
"Well, I'm going." And he did.
It didn't take long for Sam to follow him, and only a little longer for the door to shut so Sam could yell, "Dean, you can't just bolt in the middle of the homily."
"You're welcome," he tossed over his shoulder as he looked for the car. What kind of Church didn't have a parking lot? Cars lined the sidewalk for miles and just his luck, they were all SUVs and caravans that he couldn't see over.
"I said I was fine," Sam huffed, reaching him.
"Then why didn't you stay?"
"That's not the point!" Of course, his voice showed it was and Dean snickered as he walked, Sam stepping into place beside him easily.
"Look, I went because you wanted to go. I left because you wanted to leave. What's the problem?"
Sam looked away and didn't answer; not that Dean expected him to answer. He didn't regret it. A little pissed off that Sam wasn't explaining? Sure. But his brother was back to his old skin tone now and Dean would settle for that any day.
But then Sam did speak, as they finally found the Impala: "Maybe it's not about what I want, Dean." Sam dunked his hands in his pockets. "Maybe it's about what you should do."
"What I should do," Dean repeated. "Because you're suddenly irrelevant to all this?"
Sam looked away, but just for a moment, so quickly Dean couldn't tell if it was a spasm or deliberate. "Look, I'm just saying that something good happened to you, Dean. Something really good. And I think, whether you want to or not, you have to acknowledge it."
Dean stared; then nodded. "Okay."
Sam frowned. "Okay—"
But he didn't have a chance to finish, as Dean spread out his arms and shouted to the sky, "Thank you for pulling my ungrateful ass out of hell, O Mighty One. You're about two centuries late on that whole helping out the human race thing, but on behalf of the Winchester family, I thank you for finally getting out of the freaking tub to do us a favor."
He let the words sit for a moment and entered the car. Eventually, Sam got over the shock and came in too, already bitching, "You didn't have to be a jerk about it."
"Can't let you be a bitch for no reason, Sammy."
Supernatural is the property of Eric Kripke and Warner Bros. This fic is written for fun, not profit.
Many thanks to Audley, my beta of awesomeness and win.