Summary: AU Tag to 5.16, Fireworks Scene – Pre-Series/Teenchesters – This night...July 4, 1996...was going to be epic. One of those nights they would remember...or at least Dean would.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Warnings: Spoilers for 5.16 (obviously) and language (of course)
A/N: I see this taking place a few months before Fire In The Blood.
Weird dream. ~ Dean in 5.16, "Dark Side of the Moon"
"I don't have a good feeling about this."
Dean arched an eyebrow while keeping his attention focused ahead. "Why's that?"
Sam shook his head but offered no verbal response. He did not feel like explaining, and Dean would probably just dismiss the whole thing anyway.
"Because..." Sam shook his head again. It was nothing. He was being ridiculous. "Just because."
"Well, that's enlightening," Dean commented dryly.
Sam sighed. "Whatever."
There was a beat of silence, filled with the rumble of the Impala's engine and the barely audible hiss of tires running over wet asphalt.
"You know Dad's gonna be pissed."
Dean quirked a smile, his attention darting from the rain-slick road that stretched out beyond the windshield – illuminated by the Impala's headlights – to his little brother slouched in the passenger seat. "Think so?"
Sam scowled. Everything was a joke to Dean. "I'm serious, Dean."
Dean's smile widened as his gaze flickered to the road, then to his rearview mirror, and back to the road. "You're always serious, Sammy."
Sam sighed again, the volume and force with which he did so indicating his level of annoyance – at being called "Sammy" and at Dean's maintained flippancy – and sat up straighter as he turned to stare out the passenger window; a nonverbal "whatever" and "fuck you" all in one gesture.
Dean glanced at his brother – the kid's entire body now a rigid rod of tension – and shook his head. Sam worried too much.
"Dude, relax," Dean soothed, switching on the Impala's wipers and hoping the downpour would stop by the time they reached the field. "Dad is two states away."
"So, he won't find out."
"Dad always finds out," Sam reminded ominously, watching as two fat rain drops seemed to race each other to the bottom of the passenger side window.
"Not always," Dean assured smoothly, recalling at least two instances in which he had successfully covered their tracks and had thus remained off John's radar.
"Those don't count," Sam asserted, knowing what his brother was thinking even though he still was not looking at Dean. "We just got lucky."
"Lucky, my ass!" Dean retorted, irritated that Sam was implying them evading their father's suspicions was the result of anything other than Dean's epic awesomeness. "I knew what I was doing then, and I know what I'm doing now."
Sam sighed. Dean did not understand – because Sam had not told him – so...
Dean's grip tightened on the steering wheel. He had heard that particular response delivered in that particular way one too many times throughout the afternoon and into the evening. And while Dean loved Sam more than he loved anything else, the kid could really be a little shit sometimes.
"Hey..." Dean called.
To which Sam ignored.
Dean glared at the road, feeling his blood pressure beginning to rise. Because no one could piss him off quite like his little brother. "Sam..."
And Sam heard the warning in his brother's tone but ignored that, too.
Dean felt the warmth of anger spread through his chest. Because Sam knew what he was doing, knew that Dean hated it when Sam did not acknowledge him.
And Dean knew Sam hated it when he...
One hand left the steering wheel long enough to reach over to the passenger seat and swipe the back of Sam's head.
"Ow!" Sam immediately responded; his shoulders flinching as he ducked on instinct, even though it was too late to avoid the blow. "What the hell, Dean?" he demanded, his gaze instantly refocused on his brother sitting across the bench seat.
Dean rolled his eyes, his attention back on the road. "Drama queen, much?"
"You hit me hard," Sam accused, gingerly rubbing the back of his head; the sleeve of his oversized grey hoodie bunching around his wrist.
"Yeah, well..." Dean shrugged coolly even as he inwardly cringed; because he had to admit he had not softened the blow as much as he usually did these days.
When Sam had turned 14 a couple months ago, the kid had started suffering more frequent, intense headaches, and Dean – awesome big brother that he was – had tried to keep the head smacking to a minimum. But sometimes Sam pushed his buttons, and Dean could not stop himself.
"I was talking to you," Dean defended lamely, switching the wipers to a faster speed.
"I heard you," Sam replied, continuing to rub his head.
"Then answer me."
"We're not on a hunt, and you can see me sitting right here. Therefore, I don't have to answer you, Dean."
And god help him, but Sam's know-it-all tone and bitchy expression just made Dean want to smack the kid again.
"What the fuck is your problem, Sam?" Dean snapped; his eyes leaving the road long enough to glare at his brother. "This is supposed to be a fun night, but all you've been since we left the motel is a pain in my ass – which is funny, since this was your idea."
Sam's hand dropped to his lap – his sore head forgotten – as his eyes widened at Dean's choice of words. "My idea?" he asked incredulously. "My idea was to get some sparklers or something and light 'em up in the parking lot. I wanted to stay at the motel tonight, Dean. You're the one that decided to use all of our money to buy a whole freakin' crate of fireworks and drive out to the middle of nowhere to shoot 'em off."
"Hey. Go big or go home, Sammy," Dean replied casually, once again checking his rearview and remembering the expression on Sam's face earlier that afternoon as they had stopped at the roadside fireworks tent.
When they had first arrived, Sam had been excited – because they had never done anything like that before – and had openly stared in awestruck wonder at the tables upon tables draped with red, white, and blue cloth that were piled high with colorful cartons and tubes of all shapes and varieties.
"Wow," was all he had whispered as he had glanced over his shoulder at Dean.
And it had been at that exact moment that Dean had decided what he was going to do.
"Yeah, I know," Dean had agreed and then had nodded toward the tent's far corner. "Go get what we came for," he had instructed his brother, keeping an eye on the kid as Sam had wandered through the maze of tables, while Dean had set his own plan into action.
Sam had turned his back to Dean for mere seconds, carefully selecting two boxes of sparklers; and had turned around to find Dean loading up a crate with what the vendor was describing as "the big boys".
"What are you doing?" Sam had asked; no attitude at that point, just genuine confusion.
"Getting fireworks," Dean had replied simply, grabbing the sparklers from Sam and adding them to the crate's stash.
"But..." Sam had shaken his head, still at a total loss.
"It'll be fun," Dean had assured as they had stood in line, waiting to pay.
"Maybe, but..." Sam had shaken his head again and had lowered his voice. "We can't do this. It's a bad idea."
"It's an awesome idea that totally kicks sparkler ass," Dean had corrected. "Besides, I saw you looking at the tables, Sam."
"I was just looking," Sam had immediately defended, as though he had been caught with porn. "Please put them back."
Dean had frowned. "What's wrong with you?"
Sam had looked away; his eyes had roamed the interior of the tent as though he had been searching for the answer and then he had looked back at Dean. "How are you gonna pay for all this?"
"Dude, we've got money," Dean had reminded and had known from the expression on Sam's face that the kid had been deflecting from the real reason he was bothered by the turn of events.
"But that's the money Dad left," Sam had informed, as if Dean had not already known. "We're supposed to eat and stuff with that, not buy fireworks. You can't do this, Dean. Put them back!"
Dean had smiled politely at the woman in front of them when she had turned around at the sound of Sam's raised voice.
"He's a little excitable," Dean had explained, had even forced a laugh. "Kids, huh?"
The woman had smiled in return but had remained quiet as she had turned her back to them and had moved up in line.
"Why are you freaking out?" Dean had hissed as he had pinned his brother with an equally heated glare. "This is not a big deal. We're not spending all of it, Sam. And whatever we do spend, I'll just make back at one of the pool tables."
"But Dad – " Sam had begun to argue.
"Dad's gone for two more days," Dean had interrupted, had wondered how his good intention of making his little brother happy had somehow resulted in a borderline meltdown. "He'll never know. So do us both a favor – take the stick out of your ass for once and relax. Jesus..."
Sam had opened his mouth to respond but had stopped when it was suddenly their turn in line.
"Looks like you boys are gonna have fun tonight," the bearded man in the oversized Uncle Sam hat had commented as he had tallied up the contents of their crate.
"That's the plan," Dean had replied as he had looked meaningfully at Sam.
"Sounds good," the man had praised. "Fourth of July only comes once a year, right?"
"Right," Dean had agreed and had paid the man with the majority of the cash they had left.
Sam had stood there in a daze – and would probably still be standing there if Dean had not shoved the crate into the kid's grasp and had then nudged him in the direction of the Impala.
Dean shook his head and sighed. He switched the wipers to a slower speed as the rain began to lessen and glanced over at his brother in the passenger seat; the kid once again silent and sullen.
Sam had alternated between uncharacteristically quiet and unusually bitchy all afternoon. He would stare at Dean as though he wanted to tell him something but then ignore him if Dean asked. And although Sam had said he was hungry for dinner, he had barely eaten any of the pizza they had had delivered to the room before they had left.
And while Dean knew those traits were just part of living with Sam – especially adolescent Sam – he also knew there was something else going on here.
Sam worried about money issues more than a 14-year old should – although not as much as Dean had at the same age; but even taking that factor into account – that the kid was truly concerned about Dean having enough time to replace the cash before their dad returned – did not add up to this level of moodiness.
Sam sighed, not feeling annoyed as he had before when his brother had called him that; but feeling deflated – because he knew Dean was about to call his bluff – and inexplicably close to tears, which was somehow worse. "Yeah?"
Dean frowned, his urgency to find out what was bothering Sam increasing at the kid's tone. "Tell me."
Sam watched as the wipers swept back and forth; the rhythmic motion dispersing the rain across the windshield and strangely soothing his frazzled nerves. He sighed again.
"C'mon, Sam," Dean urged, shifting in the driver's seat.
"You'll think it's stupid," Sam predicted quietly, drawing his hands inside the sleeves of his hoodie as his fingers bunched the fabric.
"Maybe," Dean agreed, noticing his brother's nervous habit. "But I still want to know."
Sam nodded. It was their policy, after all; they kept secrets from others – even from their dad sometimes – but never from each other. "I had a dream a few nights ago."
Dean arched an eyebrow. Because this was going to be interesting; Sam's dreams always were. "Okay. A dream about what?"
Sam swallowed. "Tonight."
Dean nodded, suddenly feeling uneasy. "Okay," he replied patiently, keeping with their usual routine when talking about Sam's dreams. "What about tonight?"
"I was in a field." Sam paused. "The one I think you're taking us to right now..."
Dean glanced at his brother, feeling like he was in an episode of The Twilight Zone. "How do you know that?"
Sam shrugged. "I don't know. I just do."
Dean nodded again, always a little unnerved by how matter-of-fact Sam was about his dreams. "Okay. Were you alone?"
"No." Sam gave a small smile, looking somewhat relieved. "You were there, too. Only you were an adult."
"I'm an adult now," Dean reminded, feeling slightly offended. Because everyone knew 18-year olds were adults.
"Fine," Sam acquiesced. "But you were even more of an adult...like late 20s, maybe even early 30s."
Dean cringed. Early 30s...damn. But it was nice to think that maybe he would live that long – since a lot of hunters did not – and maybe it would not be so bad if...
"Was I still good-looking?"
Sam stopped watching the wipers glide across the windshield and stared at Dean, his blank expression saying it all.
Dean shrugged. "Just wondering," he defended, switching off the wipers as the rain finally stopped. "Besides, if it wasn't me like I am now, then how did you even know it was me at all?"
"You didn't look that different," Sam replied. And even if he had, even without the Impala and the leather jacket, Sam figured he would always know Dean, no matter when or where they were. After all, Dean had not been wearing the amulet in the dream – which was weird and kinda bothered Sam – but Sam still knew it was his brother.
There was a beat of silence.
"And I think you thought you were dreaming."
Dean scrunched his face and glanced at Sam. "I was dreaming in your dream?"
Sam nodded. "I think so."
"Huh," Dean mused and then smiled, trying to lighten the mood as he refocused on the road. "Sounds kinda trippy."
"Yeah, I guess," Sam agreed doubtfully.
Because it had not felt trippy; it had felt real. It had felt like today; like right now – same location; same clothes; same moment.
"Anyway," Sam continued. "We had a crate just like the one with the fireworks in the trunk – "
Dean snorted, interrupting his brother again. "There's nothing special about a plain black plastic crate, Sam. You make it sound magical."
Sam scowled. "Don't be a dick, Dean. I know it's not magical. I just recognized it from my dream."
Dean widened his eyes and lifted his eyebrows in a sarcastic gesture. "Fine."
"Anyway..." Sam sighed, drawing out the word and then pausing to make a point. "We were out in the field, lighting the fireworks and watching them and then..."
Dean frowned as Sam abruptly stopped speaking. "And then what?"
Sam hesitated, because this was the part that really freaked him out; this was the part that had been on his mind since he had turned around at the roadside tent and had seen Dean loading the crate; that crate, the one he had recognized from this dream.
Dean glanced at his brother, noticing the kid's hands once again bunching the fabric of the hoodie's sleeves. "Sam? What happened next?"
Sam blinked. "I don't really know," he admitted.
Dean paused, confused. The way Sam had been acting, Dean had expected some horrible outcome, as was usual for his brother's dreams. And while Dean did not want to be an insensitive asshole, he honestly could not understand why Sam seemed anxious. Except for the part about Dean being so old, it sounded like a good dream – a rare occurrence for Sam – so...
"What's the big deal, then?" Dean asked, hoping he sounded like a concerned big brother and not a douchebag. "Sounds like we lit some fireworks and had a great time. Good for us, huh?"
"No," Sam whispered and shook his head. "I don't think that's how it ended."
Dean paused again, seeing the field he had in mind up ahead and to the left. He eased the Impala to a stop, putting her in park and shutting off the engine.
Sam glanced out the window – the field as eerily familiar as he had expected – and then looked back at Dean.
Dean nodded, knowing Sam recognized their location, and then asked what he was not sure if he wanted to know. "How did your dream end? There's not zombies buried in the field or a Wendigo in the woods or something, is there?"
Sam shook his head. "No."
"No, Dean. It was nothing like that."
Sam bit his lip – his second nervous habit – and stared at Dean. "We were both standing at the edge of the field, looking up at the fireworks. And then I ran out into the middle of the field and was looking up at the sky. And then..." He swallowed. "...then there were gunshots, and I woke up."
Dean arched an eyebrow. "Gunshots?" he repeated and then paused; not doubting his brother but strangely unnerved by that detail. "Are you sure? It wasn't just the fireworks going off?"
Sam sighed; freaked out kid instantly replaced by moody teenager. "I know what gunshots sound like, Dean."
And Dean could not argue that point. But still...
"Who was firing? Were they firing at you?" Dean demanded and then seemed to pale. "Were you hit?"
"I don't know," Sam replied quietly, seamlessly slipping back into freaked-out-kid mode.
"Was there blood?"
"Not that I remember," Sam responded. "Not in that dream, anyway."
Dean blinked. Not in that dream? Well, that was...disturbing. Did that mean there was blood in Sam's other dreams?
"I just heard the shots and then woke up," Sam reported, hands out of his sleeves and now resting in his lap.
Dean nodded even as his jaw clenched and he willed himself to calm down. It was a just a dream. Sam was fine. "Why didn't you tell me before now?"
Sam shrugged. "I dream crazy stuff all the time. It didn't seem like a big deal until I saw you loading up all those fireworks this afternoon. And then I kinda – "
"Freaked out," Dean finished but said nothing more; because now he was a little freaked out, too.
"Yeah," Sam agreed shyly and ducked his head, his bangs falling over his eyes.
Dean sighed. He had to admit Sam's dream sounded unnervingly déjà vu. But all of his brother's dreams over the past couple of months could fit that description, and nothing had resulted from any of them. Just Sam being freaked out and a little clingier than usual for a day or two – or however long they had to wait for the dreamed event to pass – and then they moved on with their lives.
"Okay, listen..." Dean began, shaking the unease that continued to linger. Because seriously; it was just a dream. There was no reason to let it alter their plans. "We're still doing this."
Sam's eyes widened as he peered up at Dean through his fringe of bangs. "Seriously?"
"Hell yes," Dean responded confidently. "If we changed our plans every time you had some weird-ass dream, we'd never do anything. You said it yourself – you dream crazy stuff all the time, and nothing ever happens, right?"
Sam nodded slowly. Dean had a point. "Right."
"So, there's no reason for you to think anything will happen tonight..." Dean grinned mischievously. "...except for us blowing shit up."
Sam snorted and felt himself marginally relax. "You're such a pyro, Dean."
Dean chuckled. What could he say? His brother knew him well.
Silence settled between them as they continued to sit in the Impala's front seat.
Sam felt his smile fade and his anxiety return as he stared out the windshield.
Dean watched his brother and slowly shook his head. The kid really did worry too much.
Sam startled at the sound of Dean's voice and refocused on his brother.
"Relax," Dean soothed, playfully shoving Sam in the chest and then lightly squeezing the kid's shoulder, ducking his head to look his brother in the eye. "You know nothing bad is gonna happen to you while I'm around, right?"
Sam blinked against the sting of threatening tears, surprised by the sudden overwhelming urge to cry. Because he somehow knew that promise was not always going to be kept; that one day, even Dean's presence would not be able to stop something bad from happening. He knew because he had dreamed about that, too; had felt the blood and the heat and the desperation of life slipping away.
Dean frowned; alarmed the Sam seemed even more upset than before. "Sammy..."
Sam sighed shakily. He really needed to pull it together.
"I'm okay," he assured and forced a smile. Because he wanted to be okay; wanted to enjoy their night; wanted Dean to enjoy their night, especially since he knew his brother had done this for him.
Dean narrowed his eyes, studying Sam's face; knowing there was something else going on but deciding to let it be for the night. Sam would tell him later.
Dean reached for his brother's head, gently ruffling the kid's shaggy hair. "How's the head, huh? Hard as ever?"
Sam smiled, feeling the warmth of love and protection, as he did every time Dean checked on him. "It's okay."
Dean nodded, his hand still resting on Sam's head. "You know I didn't mean to hit you that hard earlier."
Sam nodded. "I know," he replied, knowing Dean knew he knew but still needed to hear it.
Dean nodded as well. "Good." He paused, before lightly smacking Sam upside his head. "Now your move your ass," he ordered good-naturedly, snagging the keys from the ignition and dropping them in Sam's lap before turning away from his brother and opening the driver's side door. "We've got shit to blow up."
Sam grinned – actually feeling the expression, not faking it – and grabbed the keys. He pushed open his own door and climbed out of the Impala, crossing to the trunk to get the crate.
Dean stood motionless on the wet asphalt. He was aware of Sam moving around at the rear of the car but was more focused in front of him; his eyes scanning their surroundings, on alert for the slightest hint of danger. Because even though Sam's dreams had never become their reality, experience had taught Dean there was a first time for everything. And Dean meant what he had said; nothing bad was going to happen to Sam as long as he was around.
Hearing Sam slam the trunk, Dean turned to face his brother.
"C'mon, let's go!" Sam responded excitedly, all traces of anxiety gone – more a result of an awesome big brother than adolescent mood swings – and ran off into the damp field, carrying the crate of fireworks with him.
Dean shook his head once. "Weird dream..."
Because what else could it have been?
This night – July 4, 1996 – was going to be epic.
One of those nights they would remember...or at least Dean would.