Title: The Distance Between Us
Pairing: Dean/Sam undertones, if you squint
Summary: It doesn't matter who they are, where they are, what they are; they will always find their way to each other; even if it means having to create the other. Because there's no world with a Sam and no Dean.
Prompt: You always find me
A/N: written for si_star_x for the SpnSpringFling 2011 challenge on LJ.
Two brothers are fighting by the side of the road. Two motorbikes have
fallen over on the shoulder, leaking oil into the dirt, while the interlocking
brothers grapple and swing. You see them through the backseat
window as you and your parents drive past. You are twelve years old.
You do not have a brother. You have never experienced anything this
ferocious or intentional with another person. Your mother is pretending
that she hasn't seen anything. Your father is fiddling with the knobs
of the radio. There is an empty space next to you in the backseat of the
station wagon. Make it the shape of everything you need. Now say
You Are Jeff, byRichard Siken
It's mid-afternoon and the sun has already started setting. The sky is turning this sweet mix of blue, orange and violet and the world feels like it's in constant move, restless and ever-changing.
The rumbling of the engine underneath him is familiar and it's lulling him slowly to sleep, senses dulled and slow. His hand, still small and pudgy at ten, baby fat not completely gone, is curled against the cool window of the backseat cushioning his head and the tick-tock of the watch around his wrist is making him want to start counting each second and each minute that passes, yet it's calming on a subconscious level and his eyelids are starting to droop.
Two days ago he had been playing in the car, both front doors wide open, the light of the sun catching on the recently polished dash and hood, the wind ruffling his short hair. Two lines of small, plastic green and grey soldiers had been arrayed across the dashboard and the troops were ready for an epic battle, right hand poised over the green ones, left over the grey-no extra pair that would make things really come to life-and eyes intent on the battle field, when his foot had slipped, knee crashing down on the gear and somehow an elbow destroying the cassette player.
Dad had been angry and upset and the new radio can't play cassettes; his knee still hurts when he tries to run and the bandage on his elbow itches with every move. Now, as he listens to the radio stations changing one after the other, his Dad's fingers fiddling with the new, unfamiliar buttons, volume low enough in case he was already asleep, he can't help but realize that he doesn't really miss Led Zeppelin blurring in his ears.
He wants to point it out, almost on the edge of doing so in his sleepy state, but Dad will just ignore him. It won't really be any fun trying to argue about it because Mom will tell him to stop. It isn't fair, but he can feel the words bubbling up, ready to spill from the tip of his tongue.
In a moment of complete silence his ears catch the sound of something moving around from the inside of the dashboard, a sound like something is scrapping over the inside of the car. Then the low country music is back and Dad's brief glare is gone with it.
It shouldn't matter, but the thought of the lone soldier stuffed somewhere inside the car makes his stomach tighten and his eyes sting. He bites the inside of his cheek and looks out of the window again.
Now the sky is darker, twilight promising a quickly approaching night. The car is moving slowly, his Mom always insists on taking the time to actually see the scenery, try and enjoy what others always bypass. His Dad could never say no to her.
A flash of movement catches his eye and he turns his head towards the side of the road and his eyes are suddenly wide open, sleep no longer clouding his brain. He bites down on his lip and his other hand comes up, fingers splayed on the window, the outline of his palm shaped by the fog his breath creates against the cool glass.
Two motorcycles, both red and dirty, are lying on the shoulder of the road, beaten up and old as time, mud covering most parts. Identical pieces of metal, colorful stickers on their sides the only thing setting them apart.
There is a bundle of flesh and cloth and flashes of flying limbs next to the motorcycles. His eyes zero on the two figures rolling around on the dirt of the road and his breath catches as a punch connects with a dusty cheek and he can't take his eyes off of the smiles; wild, feral, honest.
The older boy can't be more than twenty, the younger seventeen, maybe even eighteen. They are tall and gangly, matching blond hair and freckles marring necks and shoulders; obviously brothers.
He keeps on watching them throw fist after fist, shins bruised and knuckles scratched raw and he thinks he hears someone laugh, deep rumbling voice going right through him and he doesn't know how it's possible; there is no way he can hear those two boys from behind the car's windows and the soft music still in his ears.
They leave the motorcycles and the brothers with their laughter and their bruises behind them and he looks at his parents, a pang in his chest that hadn't been there ten minutes ago when sleep had still been trying to claim his senses.
Mom is looking outside the window, her blue, blue eyes still and unmoving and her head is turned towards Dad. She is looking outside the window, but she's not seeing; not the scenery, not him, not Dad, not the two brothers they left behind.
Dad's fingers are once again fiddling with the radio, trying to find a station that has more music than commercials, where the country music is at least bearable. His eyes are trained on the road and he isn't seeing anything, never really has.
He turns his head to the empty seat next to him and he wants to reach out and lay his hand upon it, but there's nothing there. His body wavers for a moment and he briefly wonders what it would be like to feel something warm against his cheek instead of the chill coming from the window.
His eyes are suddenly wet and he has to blink twice against the moisture there because his vision is somehow distorted and it's playing tricks with his mind; there are colors and a figure in front of him, taking shape out of thin air and everything is green, green, green…
"Hey Sammy," says a voice he has never heard it in his entire life and yet he knows as intimately as his own.
"Hi Dean," he whispers and everything seems a little bit brighter.
There is a playground a few yards off the main street that used to have this small pond with fish swimming around idly. The pond has no longer fish and the water is shallow and muddy, the swings of the playground rusty and broken. Sam is on his knees, palms scrapped raw from the fall, left knee already turning blue and throbbing. His lower lip is trembling and he's not about to cry, he's not; he isn't a kid anymore, he's twelve!
The playground is empty and Sam tilts his head up, the sun a bright, unforgiving disc on the clear sky above him. All he sees is Dean.
"You know that blood is a bitch to get off clothes, right?"
Sam doesn't say anything; he stands up and tries to dust off his hands without aggravating his irritated skin any more than necessary or making contact with his t-shirt.
"Here," Dean says and snatches Sam's hands before Sam has a chance to react and cleans them carefully himself, "can't even trust you to walk without getting hurt. Christ."
Sam keeps silent and repeats like a mantra to himself that he's not a kid and he's not stupid and he's perfectly fine and he doesn't need-
"So, ice cream?" Dean interrupts his internal monologue and Sam fights it for a moment, contemplating pouting just on principal, but he can't really help it anymore than he can help his stomach rumbling and so he lets the corners of his lips twitch up before nodding his head once.
"Such a girl, Sammy," Dean's voice is amused and teasing, the jibe used one too many a time to have any impact, but Sam can hear the tenderness underneath it all as clear as the blue sky above him and he clings to it like a lifeline. It makes his heart swell and his cheeks flush and he fights off a giggle because really, boys don't giggle-Dean's words, not his own.
They're back in the playground within twenty minutes and there's not much shelter from the brutal sun, so they sit on a bench and Sam makes it his personal life goal to finish the ice cream before his hand is covered in it.
Ten minutes and two scoops later (Chocolate Chip and Cookies), he's trying to clean his chin by licking away the remains of the ice cream and he turns to Dean who's watching him with amusement. He sticks his tongue out and Dean rolls his eyes, not concerned in the least bit by the rivulet his melting ice cream is creating on his hand.
"Wanna finish this off for me, kiddo?" Dean asks and Sam is not really surprised to see the outstretched hand offering his half eaten cone. Sam nods frantically because who is he to turn down more ice cream even if it's half melted; his grin is brighter than he sun as he licks away at the remains of Dean's Strawberry.
They've never chosen the same flavors; Sam thinks he knows why.
It's raining outside and the drops are hitting the window with such force, he thinks it's a miracle the glass hasn't broken yet and the room hasn't been flooded. It's a cold, dark day, the humidity cutting through clothes and bones and everything is depressingly quiet.
There's a dark spot on the ceiling and Sam has been staring at it for almost an hour. It looks like it used to be an insect that someone took a rolled newspaper and smacked it against the ceiling, but he doesn't think that's quite possible.
The spot starts blurring after another half an hour he spends with his eyes glued to it and he's starting to get dizzy, so he turns on his side and gathers his knees against his chest and makes himself curl into a small ball. It's awkward and uncomfortable, body not yet adjusted to long bony limbs, but Sam doesn't care; he tightens his arms around his legs and closes his eyes.
"How long is this moping gonna last?" Dean asks, voice teasing and entirely too close to the back of his neck.
The mattress doesn't shift.
"Go away," Sam sighs.
"It's your own fault, Sammy. You made the choice."
"Just go away," he repeats, because he doesn't need this. He knows he made his own choice and he doesn't need anyone to remind him.
"You did the right thing, she wasn't your type. A cheerleader? Seriously? I bet she wouldn't even be able to name the elements of the eighteenth group in the periodic table."
"Shut up, Dean. Neither can you."
"Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton-"
"Okay, fine, you made your point. Show off," Sam grumbles. "Now go away."
"She asked you to the dance and you said no. Shouldn't you be, I dunno, not moping and entertaining me, instead?"
There is a heavy silence for a moment, the rain pelting against the window the only sound in the room besides their synchronized breaths.
"Mark said I'm a loser," Sam's voice is barely a whisper, but he knows Dean will hear him anyway and he feels like a petulant kid for saying it and thus, admitting that it's what has been bothering him.
"Mark's first kiss was with a fifty-eight year-old lady who's related to him, Sam. He calls everyone a loser."
Sam can't help but smile, even if it's a kinda sad one. He doesn't point out that at fifteen Mark at least had a first kiss to talk about, no matter how mortifying the experience was. Still, no matter how stupid and petty it may be, Dean's comment inadvertently makes him feel better and Sam leans back towards him and there's another silence enveloping them, this time not as heavy as the previous one.
"Are we staying here, being emo all day?" Dean finally asks and he's not exactly teasing and Sam knows he's concerned and trying to hide it, but right now, lying on the bed just like that seems like the perfect idea to him.
"Not emoing," Sam huffs, "but yeah, I wanna stay here," he admits a bit reluctantly.
"Okay, then, fine by me," Dean says and there are arms wrapping around Sam and his body relaxes against Dean's wide chest as the sound of Dean humming Enter Sandman reaches his ears. He doesn't even like Metallica.
He snorts and he feels warm all over and he bites his lip as he feels a tear slide across the bridge of his nose.
On the good days, his laughter is almost as loud as Dean's. On the bad days, he wishes he could feel the warmth of Dean's arms around him.
Today is a bad day.
In another place, in another time, a boy is fighting his brother. His fists are curled tight, his throat is sore and his lips are pressed together in a thin line, his too long hair falling in his eyes. His brother's eyes are sparkling, his lips curled in a smirk and his body is quick and strong and his hand curls around the back of the smaller boy's neck and they are both grimy, bruised and pressed so close together.
It's dirty and rough; it's fighting and loving; it's raw and it's real. Nobody understands-nobody can-but they don't need them to.
In another place, in another time, a boy is fighting his brother; he is smiling.