Rating/Warnings: Gen, PG, set some time post 6.11, so general spoilers to that point.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: It's said walking is good for the soul.
A/N: Just a random thing I wrote, tidied up. (Originally posted March 6th on LJ)
It was a bad night for Sam. It had been a good day, and he couldn't quite remember what had turned it bad, but he was trying very hard not to give in to the urge to flay his own skin off, metaphorically or physically.
"Go back to sleep, Dean."
Dean flicked on the light between the beds. "Where you goin'?"
Sam's hand was on the door handle, his coat over his arm. "Out."
"Where? It's four AM?"
"Just out. I need-" he shrugged into his jacket. "I need air, something."
"I'll come with you."
Gritting his teeth and holding back the sharp refusal he wanted to give, Sam waited for Dean to pull on his boots and a jacket. The way Sam felt, a fight with Dean was not what he needed. Or maybe it was. He didn't know what he needed, except to get out and away and not be so trapped.
The night air was cold and damp outside the isolated motel in northern Idaho, and the waning moon glowed behind a thin cover of cloud. Sam picked a direction and started walking; Dean followed.
They walked in silence. Usually after a while walking, Sam could feel parts of himself unbending, not muscles and tendons, but things unbending nonetheless. Like walking grounded him, made him aware that there were things in the night that didn't want to kill anyone. Even after everything that had happened since, he could still remember the nights after class when he had just met Jess and they would walk around campus in the dark. They'd lay on their backs in the center of the main quad, looking up at the stars over Stanford, trying to feel like they were stuck to the earth and about to fall out forever into space, giggling about nothing until campus security rousted them and sent them back to their dorms.
Nothing about Sam was unbending on this walk. He wasn't altering his stride any in deference to Dean, but Dean had no trouble keeping up.
He wasn't mad at Dean. He wasn't sick of Dean and he didn't want to get away from Dean. Sam didn't know what he wanted, just that he couldn't settle in his own skin. Everything itched.
Don't scratch the wall.
Sam clenched his teeth and stepped off the road to lean on a fence enclosing a recently ploughed field. The uneven ground lumped up in shades of grey in the bare illumination of the cloud-shrouded moon, stretching out into deeper darkness. It didn't look anything like a sea of ripples frozen in place, or any of a hundred other metaphors or similes. It looked like ploughed dirt in the dark, and smelled like a new grave.
"Remember that night I walked out?" Dean settled beside Sam at the fence leaning on it, looking out at the dirt.
Sam frowned. "Walked out? When was this?"
"I was sure you'd remember. You brought me back."
"Sorry, I don't," said Sam, shaking his head.
Dean turned away from the field, resting his elbows on the fence and looking back up towards the unlit road. "A long time back. You were fourteen, we were living in that glorified rat-trap trailer in Montana. You and Dad, I don't remember what it was about, or even if it was about anything, but you and Dad were just hackles up at each other all week."
Sam snorted. So like every other week since I turned nine?
"It was a Tuesday. We were all actually there at the same time, and I made a pot of beans and some toast - we even had plates - but you and Dad..." Dean's teeth flashed in the dark as he shook his head. "Even eating, you were on edge, like any second you were gonna rip each other's throats out."
Over fifteen years ago, why's he bringing this up now? Sam scowled. "Look, Dean, I'm sorry about-"
"No, no. It's fine, that's just the way it was with you and Dad. This time, though..." Dean shrugged. "I remember watching you both, listening to you snipe back and forth, not outright fighting but boiling under the surface. Then all of a sudden it was like my head started floating, like I couldn't take anything any more, and I had to get out. I said I was gonna get something from the car, walked out the door and just... kept walking."
A cricket chirped once in the opposite ditch. Sam watched Dean's face in the faint moonlight, staring at the road before nodding up at the sky.
"It was kind of a night like this, not much moon, nothing on the hunt, safe enough for a walk, but I wasn't even thinking. I was blank; one foot in front of the other and keep going. No idea where I was going, just away. I didn't have a bag, or a coat or even my shoes."
Memory surfaced and Sam swallowed. "Hunh. Yeah, I remember now. I noticed you hadn't come back, Dad was back into researching the next case. He said you'd be fine, and you were just blowing off steam. I saw you didn't take your shoes, though, so I borrowed the neighbour kid's bike-"
"Susie's bike." Dean turned toward Sam, eyes glinting. "My little brother Sammy, riding on a thing with pink streamers and a banana seat. Wish I'd've had a camera."
"Shut up." In the dark, Sam smirked.
"You stole little Susie's bike, and rode like hell after me. Found me, too. I didn't know where I was going, but you found me anyway."
"I guess there wasn't a lot of 'away' to get to."
"There never is." Dean bent down, picked up a rock and threw it clattering across the pavement. "Thing is, you rode out to find me, and you brought my shoes and coat."
"Yeah? So? You needed them."
"I did. My feet hurt all the next day. I'm surprised I didn't step on a busted beer bottle, there were enough of them along that road."
"Not much else to do in rural Montana."
"True. The thing is, that was all you did. You didn't ask me why I'd left, where I was going, when I was going to come back. You just brought me my shoes and coat."
Now Sam could remember the weirdness of seeing Dean in the glow of Susie's bike-light, walking barefoot along the road. The sight had scared him, like Dean was maybe possessed or something. When Dean had turned towards Sam his face had gleamed in the light like it was wet, but then he'd rubbed his face and the gleam was gone. Sam had handed over the shoes and coat and hadn't been sure what to do after that, so he turned the light off and kept pace with Dean in the dark.
"You didn't tell me I had to go back," Dean said. "You didn't ask me why I took off with no shoes, or even if I was okay. You didn't say a thing, just rolled that stupid pink bike along like you were going to follow me forever."
Sam shrugged. "I suppose I knew you'd go back to the house eventually."
Dean's head bowed in the dark. "Yeah. I guess that was a safe bet."
"So, you followed me out here tonight because...?"
"Just because." Dean grinned over at Sam, picked up another rock and pitched it down the road, away from the bare glow of the hotel behind them.
"Okay then." Sam smiled, feeling the beginnings of something unbending.
Dean held up an admonishing finger. "No pink bicycles though."
"No pink bicycles." Sam nodded gravely.
They walked along the road together until dawn, not saying another word.
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