A/N: Metallica's album ReLoad came out in 1998. If math serves me (which it doesn't, by the way, but just go with it for me), Dean should be 21, and Sam 17.

As always, taking requests for scenes/songs in this series.

Disclaimer: Please ignore my lack of knowledge about cars and medicine! I try to be vague enough that it doesn't matter, because what I like to write about is the character interactions, but feel free to point it out if I get something actually blatantly wrong and I'll try to remedy.



Turn on beyond the bone / Swallow future, spit out home / Burn your face upon the chrome / Yeah! / Take the corner, join the crash / Headlights, headlines / Another junkie lives to fast / Yeah, lives way too fast…

Dad is gonna tear me a new one.

Sure, that Chupacabra had been a hell of a lot faster and smarter than anyone would have guessed, so it wasn't totally Dean's fault that he'd skidded off the road and blown out the front passenger tire in order to get a clear shot at it. One silver bullet to the head later the thing was crumpled motionless on the side of the luckily lonely stretch of I-40. No—shit!—he wasn't even on I-40 anymore, he'd almost forgotten but he'd pulled off somewhere to keep with the Chupa. So now he was a bit lost. Maybe totally lost. Time would tell. Anyway, that wasn't the half of it, not after Dean had gotten out of the Impala to survey the full extent of the damage done to his baby.

Strike my last. Dad is gonna kill me.

Baby was overheated, and that was the main problem. She wasn't going anywhere soon, and aside from the immediate suck that could be very bad. Poor baby was low on fuel, too: not enough to keep herself cool and get back to town even if he got her cooled off now. Which was looking unlikely, as he was in The Middle of Nowhere, West Texas, in the middle of the day, without much in the way of radiator fluid or extra gasoline.

Okay, well, first things first. Dean did have lighter fluid and salt, so the Chupa was easily finished off. If he was lucky, someone might see the smoke and give him a lift, but when were the Winchesters ever lucky?

God damn, but it was hot. Dean had long ago shrugged his leather jacket and now peeled off his overshirt as well. Of all the days to wear his black Metallica t-shirt. He was boiling already. Dean changed the tire with the spare in the trunk as quickly as he could, sustaining what he was sure were only minor burns in exchange, before he lifted the Impala's hood.

"Man, you gotta be doin' worse than me, huh, girl?" he murmured gently to the black beast before him. "I know, I know," he chuckled, rubbing the burns on his hands absent-mindedly: "I can heal; you can't. Don't worry, I got my priorities straight." He had to wrap his overshirt around his hands to even touch the engine.

Resigning himself to the beating of his life, Dean dug around for his cell phone in the pocket of his jacket to call his dad.

But there was no reception out here. Of course there was no reception.

"Goddamnit!" he finally shouted, throwing his phone and kicking the spare tire. "I'm twenty-fucking-one years old, and I just wasted a fucking Chupacabra, you think I'd be able to take care of a fucking car!"

There was nothing for it. Dean grabbed his wallet and a bottle of water and locked her up. "Sorry, girl. You'll just have to wait for me. Think I saw a sign for a gas station somewhere down this road. I'll be back with radiator fluid and some extra gas before you can say Sam wears women's underwear, okay? If we get back soon enough, Dad won't even worry, won't even notice we've been gone. You can't tell him I screwed up, though, yeah?"

"Hey, Dean! Dad, I'm home!"

Sam Winchester shut the motel door behind him, nudged the salt line back into place, and dropped his backpack to the ground with teenage apathy. No one answered. Sam would be lying if he didn't admit he was on instant alert, although it was hardly time for that yet. He pulled his folding knife out of his jeans pocket before advancing any further, skirting the walls and looking around for any sign that anything was wrong.


A quick survey revealed that the only thing amiss was sitting on the bedside table, written in Dean's economical script:


Out hunting. Chupacabra headed west on I-40. Back by dinner. Call in pizza or whatever. Dad might get home before me so order for him, too. Call if any problems.

Dean 4/27 0940

Sam felt immediately foolish and put the knife away. Beneath the note was a twenty dollar bill. He was actually quite glad to have the room to himself for the evening. He had about four physics problems to work on, and that meant at least four hours of work. Man, he hated physics. But it looked good on his transcript, whatever motley amalgamation of a course list he ended up with after the insane life Dad forced on him. He'd been to, what, eight different schools this year already? They were probably already due to move on in another week or so, once Dad and Dean finished up on this string of hunts and got a lead on another.

He hated how much they moved around. More than he hated physics.

Dean checked his watch, which he had been trying not to do since he'd begun walking.

Going on four hours since he left the car. Christ, it was hot. He'd long since finished his water bottle, and even jogging intermittently, he hadn't reached the alleged gas station. He had already entertained the possibility that the one mile sign might have said ten miles, and he really wasn't in the mood to wonder if it had actually said one hundred miles. That would just be typical. Fucking Texas.

It was really hot. Dean grimaced. He was frying already, he could tell. Not a tree or scrap of shade for miles, and at least five hours left of daylight to slog through. His arms were already visibly red, and he felt extra crispy even through his t-shirt. And he was seriously considering cutting his jeans off into shorts.

The thought of Dad's reaction to the fact that he let the car get overheated and out of gas in the middle of fugly West Texas was the main thing that kept him going. He couldn't go back to the car and just wait around for Sam or Dad to come and get him. That would be the smart thing, sure, but being smart was Sam's gig. His job was being responsible. His job was taking care of himself. I mean, he just iced a Chupacabra! He could make it to a friggen gas station to get radiator fluid and oil and—

Ice. Lots of ice.

And water.

God, it was hot.

To illustrate this point, Dean bent over double and puked.

The four hours of homework was looking like it was going to turn into seven before Sam's rumbling stomach reminded him it was dinnertime and he called it quits. 7:10pm. Past dinnertime. Where the hell was Dean? And where was Dad for that matter?

Sam stretched and moved to the bedside table to the motel phone. He dialed Dean's cell, and pouted as it went automatically to voicemail.

"Uh, hey, Dean, just seeing when you were gonna get in. I'm calling in pizza. Gimme a call or I'm getting the Veggie Delight. Ha. Just kidding. But seriously, call me before you head in."

Sam placed the receiver down on the phone with a frown. Almost immediately it rang, and Sam picked it up again.



"Oh, hey, Dad, I thought you were Dean."

"Is Dean there?"

Well, hello to you, too… "No, Dad, he's after the Chupa. Spotted it heading down I-40."

"Finally zeroed in on it? Good. Listen, Sammy, I'm gonna be late getting in. Might be a few more days here in El Paso. You guys all right?"

"Uh. Yeah. He…I think…he should be back any time now."

"Okay, good. You checked all the salt lines?"

"Yes, Dad."

"And you're stocked up on holy water?"

"Yes, Dad."

"Cat's eye shells?"

"Yes, Dad!"

"Watch your tone, boy. Stay sharp. I'll be back in a few days. Call me with any problems."

"'Kay, Dad. Bye."

Sam sighed as he hung up the phone. Dad never meant that, call me with any problems. His phone was never on, and when it was, he never picked up. Not like Dean. Normally, anyway. Where was he? And why was his phone off? Sam tried the number again, but again it went straight to voicemail. This is Dean Winchester, leave a mes—

Sam huffed again. What a friggen jerk. He always wanted to be just like the Old Man. Sam hung up and promptly ordered pizza with all the vegetable material he could possibly think of and felt immediately better. Dean would be ravenous when he got in, and he would have no choice. He would winge and whine but he would eat it and not like it and it would be hilarious.

So why did he not feel any better?

Okay, so since when were there two roads?

No, wait. Dean stopped, steadied himself, rubbed his eyes. No, that was just him.

Great. Now he was seeing double. Definitely a bad sign. So was the headache, and the fact that he'd thrown up what little water might have been left in his system.

Dean knew the signs. This was bad.

But he was also Dean Winchester, and Dean Winchester did not admit defeat. If you admitted it, it made it true.

Sam would see the flaw in his logic. But Sam wasn't here. Sam was probably eating pizza and too busy geeking out with his head in a book to notice he was even gone.

Ha. Perusing his stash of skin mags, more likely. Sammy may play the innocent brainy boy but Dean knew there was a red-blooded man somewhere deep down inside there. Dean chuckled a little, even stopping to put his hands on his knees and wheeze out the laugh. By the time he straightened, he forgot what he had been laughing about.

Okay, maybe he should head back to the car. This was getting stupid. Like, he should have turned back yesterday. He checked his phone again: still no reception. This whole thing had been a bad plan from the beginning.

Now if only he could remember which way that was.

Dean looked down the road. Then he looked the other way. Both looked exactly the same to Dean: flat, yellow, wavy, and threatening. No mountains to go by, not here. He checked…uh…the ground, for tracks. But he had been walking on the pavement and there was nothing….

Not even sweat. He'd been leaving a trail for a while, but not any more. The droplets of sweat that had been pouring off him in rivers for the past…long time…they…no more. All dried up.

Why did he smell burning rubber?


His feet were on fire! Or, you know, felt like it. Dean collapsed to the red-hot pavement and scrabbled to untie his shoes, throwing them away like the hot potatoes at a kid's birthday party. But the black asphalt burned his hands and his ass, too, so he forced himself back to his feet.

Okay. Pick a direction and go. There had to be something along this Godforsaken road…a house, or something. Worst case, he could probably make it back to the car. There he could cool down and….yeah…

Like, not let his brain boil?

Sam was gonna kill him for how retarded he was being…had been…may never live to be again. That was about a million times worse than Dad killing him.

Okay, Dean was officially MIA. It was ten o'clock at night, the pizza was cold and his physics was finished, and his little-brother spidey-sense was tingling. One hour past rendezvous was an unforeseen stumbling block—nothing to worry about—but four hours late was trouble. Sam tried Dean's phone again, with no success, and this only confirmed the emergency.

Dean could be hurt somewhere. Admittedly, a Chupacabra wasn't much of a hunt once you'd spotted it, but it could fight back. Injured out in this heat—God, he could get heat stroke if he wasn't careful! But Dean wasn't a moron. Surely he'd brought enough water, and he wouldn't do anything too stupid, Dean's not as dumb as he looks…

Oh, hell.

Sam tried Dad's phone. No answer. Of course.

Too fed up to even bother leaving a voice message, Sam scribbled a note to add to Dean's on the bedside table and grabbed his wallet, the first aid kit, a gallon of water, and his lock pick kit. The night was still sweltering, but Sam felt himself go a bit cold: he'd forgotten how hot it had been—sitting inside with the motel A/C going full blast, it was hard to think about how easy it would be to bake bread outside. What if Dean had been out here all day? Sam had felt like dying on the fifteen-minute walk home from school.

He jumpstarted a convenient Datsun pickup before he even had a chance to feel guilty, and headed west down I-40. Yeah, like that was real specific. Stellar, Dean. It didn't help that it was dark, so any clues that would have been obvious in the daylight might go unnoticed now.

But not to Sam.

He'd know the tire marks of the Impala's wheels anywhere. He knew how Dean took a hard left: he slammed the wheel back to the right as soon as he began skidding to control the slide and slow him down, showing in the tracks as a slight zigzag before evening out, never leaving his side of the road. Yeah, that was Dean. How many other hotrods would take a turn like that in the middle of nowhere, unless it was a hunter tailing a Chupacabra?

Too bad it had been the opposite direction from the gas station, one mile off the highway. Sam dreaded to think of Dean waiting all alone in the black tin can that was the Impala if she'd had any mishaps. He at least knew Dean wasn't stupid enough to walk all this way in this heat.

But when he finally reached the Impala, almost ten miles after the turnoff, Dean was nowhere to be seen. A niggling feeling at the back of his mind bothered Sam with the possibility that his brother wasn't quite as smart as he hoped he was.

Sam tried Dean's phone, only to discover he now had no cell reception. That would explain it. At least that meant Dean was probably nearby, in the same dead zone—which, admittedly, could be a huge chunk of territory. Next to the Impala lay a smoking ruin, Sam guessed the remains of the Chupa. Letting the truck stall out on the side of the road, Sam inspected the Impala. She was still hot to the touch, and was sporting the spare tire on her front passenger side. A look inside revealed her gas gauge was rather on the low side of ¼ empty, and on the high side of overheated. But Dean just wouldn't have gone out in this heat for radiator fluid and gas. He knew better than that. It wasn't worth sacrificing your personal safety for pride or, worse, a stupid car.

The fact that Dean simply wasn't here argued otherwise.

After watering down the radiator with good old H2O and siphoning most of the Datsun's extra gasoline, Sam urged the Impala down the road. He hadn't seen Dean on the way up to where the Impala had been left, and if he had made it to the gas station he surely would have called it in. Dean may be stupid with himself but he wasn't stupid with his family. That much Sam could count on.

It was very little consolation now.

Especially since that lump on the side of the road—twenty miles from where he'd found the Impala—looked suspiciously Dean-shaped.

"Dean!" Sam practically fell out of the car over to where Dean lay. He was lying face-down, skin burning against the now cooling—but still hot—it had only been dark for two hours—pavement. "Dean!" Sam shouted, touching his brother's shoulder. He gave no signs of life, so Sam gently shook him. Still nothing. "Dean, come on, you moron, you gotta wake up!" Sam felt for a pulse and then, against his better judgment, rolled Dean over onto his back.

Dean was a sight to behold. Even in the light of the headlights his skin looked discolored, badly burned where it wasn't outright fried from lying against the pavement. There were burns on his hands and feet, too—"Where the hell are your shoes, Dean?"—and he was hot to the touch, his pulse weak and fast. "Shit, dude," Sam said, and ran back to the car for the water. Then, lifting his brother's head so it lay against his leg, he poured some water over his head in an attempt both to cool and wake him.

Reaction was slow, which only unnerved Sam all the more. Did Dean need to go to the hospital? Sam was pretty sure they were out of insurance cards. A conscious Dean would know what to do, but, then, a conscious Dean wouldn't need to go to the hospital.

"Dean!" Sam shouted, grasping the side of Dean's face to force him to look at him. "Dean, you gotta wake up, man!"

Dean groaned and flinched away from painful reality. But Sam was persistent, and Dean really had no choice:

"Wha? Whaddya, want, dude, where's the fire?"

"You, you fucking moron. You're way overheated, and you passed out. Here. Drink, you sonofabitch," Sam growled, forcing the water to Dean's lips. Sam didn't often take an authoritative tone with Dean, nor did it usually have much of an effect even when he tried it, but the few and far between times that it did work at all, it worked like a charm. Part of Sam wondered if, deep down, Dean was more afraid of Sam's wrath than their father's.

Dean gulped the water obediently, also, admittedly, because he was really fucking thirsty. Sam let him drink all he could, until he choked a bit, and then helped him to his feet. Dean was unsteady and weak, but managed to make it to the car, whereupon Sam immediately set about manhandling him out of his clothes. He stuck the thermometer in Dean's mouth in the meantime to keep him quiet.

"I can't believe you would do something so stupid, Dean! It was a hundred and ten in the shade out there! What were you thinking?" Sam snatched the thermometer from his mouth and read it with alarm: 104˚!

"Gas station?" Dean replied timidly.

"No, Dean, other way. Ten, twelve miles, admittedly—but twelve miles the other way. Way to pay attention."

"Where's Dad?" Dean suddenly asked, sitting up and looking around. He looked heartbreakingly vulnerable like that, so that Sam's mood almost softened. Almost.

"He's gonna be in El Paso for a few more days. Just you and me. So: hospital?"

Dean began to shake his head earnestly, but stopped as dizziness overtook him. He might have fallen over if Sam hadn't steadied him.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, man, easy. Just chill."

"No hospital, Sammy."

"Dean, you're well past heat exhaustion, dude. What if you have a stroke, or go into cardiac arrest on me?"

"Won't," Dean insisted, but Sam wasn't convinced. He settled with drenching Dean's t-shirt and laying it against his chest.

"Dude, you…"

"Can't, Sammy. No insurance, and…"

"We'll go to a clinic or something, then, Dean! Damnit, I can't handle this!"

Dean fixed him with haunted eyes: Sam may have been the master of the puppy-dog-eyes, but that didn't mean he held the monopoly. "You have to. Y-you're not eighteen yet…child services…"

Sam deflated. Fuck, yeah, someone probably would insist on an investigation, one which wouldn't go well if their father wasn't here. They'd been through enough of those to know how much fun they definitely were not. Sam sighed and added this to the ever-growing list of hits Dean took to protect Sam. Not that avoiding the hospital was much of a sacrifice to someone as doctor-phobic as Dean Winchester, but still.

"Fine," Sam growled, and although Dean flinched slightly at his venomous tone, he nodded and relaxed back. "Hey, wait, easy. Stay up with me for a sec. More water."

Dean's attempt to remain conscious was valiant, but once he'd drunk all the water he could and Sam laid him flat in the back seat, sleep's pull grew stronger with every passing second. By the time they pulled into the gas station for a fill-up, radiator fluid, and to purchase Gatorade and ice packs, Dean was out for the count.

Dean woke uncomfortable. And this was coming from a guy who had hardly led the cushiest of lives. At least, he consoled himself, he was more comfortable than the last time he remembered being conscious. He was lying practically naked on a motel bed, ice packs piled around his throat, armpits, and groin. His skin felt tight, and though it felt moist somehow, whether from some sort of sunburn cream or just water, it still felt crispy and flaky. That was going to suck out loud in about twenty-four hours.

Before he even fully registered that he was awake, Sam was hovering in his vision, helping him lift his head and drink Gatorade.

"Mm," Dean moaned orgasmically in reaction to the distinct taste of purple, waiting until Sam took the drink away before continuing. "You are an awesome brother."

"Holy fuck, did the sun damage your brain, too?" Sam grinned. He knew Dean had a thing for the blue-colored, fake-grape-flavored Gatorade, and as much as Sam didn't want to reward his stupidity, making Dean happy was going to become increasingly impossible once that sunburn grew to full intensity. "Open, up," Sam said, and Dean's eyes were closed but he obeyed, feeling the thermometer slide beneath his tongue.

The room was silent as Sam waited for the thing to beep.

No, not quite silent. The radio, right next to Dean's head, was playing softly. So softly probably only he could hear it. And while Sam had probably flipped it to some gay classical station while he worked on homework, it was now back to the rock station Dean had already settled on in this town.

Dean recognized the song as one of Metallica's newer singles, Fuel. This was a fucking tune. His foot began twitching, involuntarily, to the backbeat.

"One-oh-one, Dean, congratulations," Sam said, taking the thermometer from his mouth. "You're eligible to buy life insurance again." Sam set to removing the ice packs from his body, throwing them into the cooler, and then putzed around the room, putting the first aid kit, except for the sunburn cream, back together. Seeing Dean's twitching foot, Sam eased the volume up on the radio the tiniest bit. Dean nodded a weak thanks. Some science show was on the TV, the sound muted, and Sam was content. Dean still felt like shit, so he guessed it had only been a few hours since Sam had found him, so that meant that Dad was still days away and hopefully wouldn't ever find out the full extent of his stupidity. Sammy could be trusted to keep his trap shut when their dad was concerned.

Sam waited until the song was finished before setting a paper bag on the bedside table next to Dean. "I got you food, whenever you're feeling up to it. Bacon cheeseburger and fries."

Dean eased himself into a sitting position, groaning at the pull of his reddened skin. "What happened to pizza? How long was I out?"

"Uh, yeah, about that." Sam looked guilty.

Dean laughed and shrugged. So the kid's latest growth spurt left him dangerously close to being taller than Dean, and the bottomless pit hadn't left him anything to eat. Burger was fine. Dean wasn't difficult to please—

"And you got me pie?" Dean exclaimed, peering into the paper bag like it was a treasure sack.

Sam laughed. "Yeah, uh. Felt guilty."

"Don't feel guilty, man. You saved my ass." Dean met Sam's gaze, suddenly serious. "I owe you one, dude, seriously."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Oh, yeah. Because the saving-each-other's-asses balance is totally tipped in my favor."

Now it was Dean's turn to roll his eyes. "Fine. You don't want me to thank you—"

"You know how you could thank me? Try using your brain occasionally."

Dean chuckled wryly. "Yeah, we'll see. Wanna get me some more water, Sammy?"

"And that's another thing. I absolutely refuse to be your slave while you're recovering. This is your own freaking fault, Dean, because you're a retarded macho bastard, and I already rescued your sorry ass from the side of the road so—Dean, it's not funny!"

Dean was laughing pretty hard now. Bullshit, it isn't, Sammy. Bull.

Ooh, I burn / Fuel is pumping engines / Burning hard, loose and clean / And on I burn / Turning my direction / Quench my thirst with gasoline…

A/N:I'm actually not incredibly pleased with this one. It is clear I need prompts to write these. Or maybe it's divine punishment for neglecting The Tongue of a Vampire/Dark Side of the Moon. So if you have any ideas for scenes/adventures, happy moments, or good times for Dean, preferably but not exclusively of the H/C variety, that you'd like to see here, please let me know, and I'll set a Metallica song to them!