Title: Housatonic Reel
Rating: PG-13 (language)
Summary: Dean arched an eyebrow at Sam, something tugging up the corners of his mouth. "You know what this means, don't you?" Tag scene to 5.12, "Swap Meat".
A/N: From Wikipedia: "reels are figures in which three or more dancers follow an interweaving path."
"Wait, he recited an exorcism with you?" Sam stared across the front seat at his brother.
Dean's head dipped to the side. "Kid's Latin was nearly as good as yours."
"Huh." Sam shook his head and looked out the window, the lights of the town fading behind them as they headed south into the Berkshires. "Guess Gary was more complicated than I thought."
"Hey, everyone's complicated at seventeen," Dean returned. "At least in their own heads."
"You weren't," Sam scoffed. "You knew exactly who you were and what you were doing with the rest of your life."
He didn't say it scornfully, like he might have once upon a time when he thought Dean had become a hunter by default. He's come to realize over the years that his brother made a choice to do something he was good at in a way that very few other people are, that it was some kind of duty to keep that up, and that he makes that choice again every single day without having to think about it.
"Yeah, I made it look that way." Dean quirked up the corner of his mouth, but the glint in his eyes told Sam there was no point in asking him to expand on that point.
They rounded a corner and topped a hill simultaneously, the Impala almost catching air and sending Sam's stomach up in a pleasant swoop. "Well, it's a damn good thing he was able to help," he said, remembering his own helplessness at being tied to that chair in the basement with half the physical strength he was used to while knowing a demon was gunning for Dean.
"No kidding." Dean's shoulders twitched in what looked like a shudder. "I hadn't realized body-swapping was something we had to worry about."
"I hadn't realized it actually existed," Sam said. "'Freaky Friday' aside."
"So, Jodie Foster or Lindsay Lohan?" Dean asked with a sly grin.
"Both jailbait," Sam said disapprovingly.
"Yeah, it's you again," Dean said with that tone of fond exasperation that Sam only heard in reference to himself and that always made his heart feel a little warmer.
They drove in silence through the next little town, a handful of clapboard houses crowded right up to the road and side streets shooting off at odd angles into the hills. Sam wondered what it would be like to grow up in a place like this, where the sheriff could be dispatched to bring your wandering child home and half the high school would know about it by morning, where kids were so bored they turned to demonology to have something to do with their lives. He leaned his head back against the seat. As trapped as he'd felt in his own childhood, did Gary have it any better?
Dean's voice had dropped to a more serious tone, and Sam turned away from the hypnotic view of the curving road to focus on him. "Yeah?"
Dean arched an eyebrow at him, something tugging up the corners of his mouth. "You know what this means, don't you? What that demon was trying to do?"
Any other time, Sam might have tried to come up with a wise-ass comeback to pre-empt whatever shit Dean was about to give him, but thinking about his narrow escape was still more than a little unnerving. "No, what?"
"It's not you." Dean's gaze lingered for a second before he looked back at the road, rain-slick and winding before them. "What Lucifer's after. It isn't you."
He gave a tired sigh. "Of course it's me. You didn't see how happy that demon was when she realized what she could do."
"Exactly. That demon wanted to take advantage of your body while you weren't in it. That means it's not you, Sam." Dean's hands clenched around the steering wheel and then relaxed. "It might be your blood, or your body or whatever, but it's not your soul. So all that freaking out you were doing after the nuthouse about how angry you are? It doesn't matter. There's no Dark Side in you dying to get out. It's not you."
It took Sam a moment to absorb the words. When he did, he felt a bubble of hope and relief shoot up through him so fast it almost made him dizzy. "You think?" he asked, almost timidly.
"Yeah, I think." Dean reached over and gently slugged his shoulder. "There's nothing wrong with you, little brother. Never has been." There was a pause that threatened to grow into something awkward and emotional before he added, "Well, except for that salad shake thing. Dude, what the hell?"
Sam felt a grin pulling up the corners of his mouth, something like happiness threatening to break free for the first time in…well, in a really long time. He wanted to demand that Dean repeat himself, that he reiterate that it wasn't anything in Sam's mind or heart or soul that kept drawing Lucifer to him, but Dean didn't say important things like that twice.
They'll have to talk to Castiel and Bobby about a charm or a tattoo or more rib carvings to keep Sam's soul tethered to his body so no one else gets the bright idea of yanking him out and stuffing Lucifer in, but the notion that that was a worse threat than his own acquiescence had Sam temporarily doing cartwheels in his head.
He had to say something before Dean started wondering about him, so he teased, "I thought you were going to eat like a human being now instead of a garbage disposal, Dean." With his eyes and his heart, he said Thank you so strongly and sincerely that it was almost audible in the close confines of the Impala.
"God invented bacon cheeseburgers for a reason, Sammy." The twinkle in Dean's eye showed that he'd heard everything Sam was saying, spoken and unspoken.
He huffed out a short laugh and turned back to the windshield. There was a brief straightaway in front of them, wet black asphalt and yellow reflective lines shining in the Impala's headlights, and suddenly he was glad they had a night's drive ahead of them so he could think over Dean's words.
Because maybe, just maybe, given enough time, he could allow himself to believe them.