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on the road

December 2007

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rejeneration in spn_50states

Drive (Sam, Dean, OC's) PG-13

Title: Drive
Author: rejeneration, but you can call me Jen
Pairing: Sam & Dean
Rating: PG-13 for language, violence
Word Count: 5080
Summary: Set after AHBL 1 & 2. Hell isn't the only side interested in the Brothers Winchester.
A/N: This was written for spn_50states, my state being Illinois. HOLLAH! It's not the story I set out to write, but it's the story that got written. -grin- This is the story in which Dean plays pool with my Dad and Sam gets ganked by an angel. By the way, these places? They're real. -grin-

My everlasting faithful love goes to rindee, who promised me the story was worth telling, despite my usual lack of faith.



Things are strained. Every time Sam falls asleep, he wakes to one less day with his brother, like he's the one cutting Dean’s time short. But it’s easy to start resenting the days as hours, minutes slip away.

Fear ties both, manifests in different ways; Sam biting his fingernails ‘til they bleed, Dean’s going through check-lists, things Sam’s going to have to do when he’s gone. Squaring his shoulders, Dean rambles on and on about cleaning the guns and changing the oil, like it’s just another day. Like he’s not afraid of the thing - of the endgame.

Dean’s never given Sam enough credit, always thought he‘d cornered the market on knowing his family inside and out, but Sam knows Dean, too. Hears the small tremble in his voice. Sees worry working fright into sudden terror, apprehension kindling the creases at the corner of his eyes.

Their days are all slap-dash, hurry-now, neither one of them taking care of themselves, Dean still pushing to do the job. If Dean can just finish putting back into Hell what escaped the night Jake opened the gates, Dean can go in peace. Fucking walk back to the crossroads, hand himself over without a fight. Spend eternity roasting in a pit, writhing in agony. All to save his brother, to save Sam, and supposedly, Dean’s just fine with it.

But it’s Dean’s resignation that’s slowly driving Sam insane. Dean pushes him, tells Sam to quit playing tug-o-war with his soul. Only these days, Sam shoves back harder, reads faster, eats less, never rests, until finally, Dean has to make it physical, slaps a flat hand across Sam’s chest and yells, “Stop it! Just fucking stop it already! I’m tired, Sam, so please, just… quit, man.”

Sam understands the meaning, reconciled and blunt. ”I’m tired of all of this false fuckin’ hope.” But he can’t give up. Won’t. A month, two weeks, a minute-and-a-half, Sam’s going to fucking follow this through – as far it goes, straight down to zero-hour.

The closer it gets, the more pressure builds, so Sam takes to hiding photocopied pages behind the classics, doing research in the middle of the night, when and if Dean sleeps. Dean slowly begins to relax after a bit, after Sam switches gears, but the clock’s still ticking, and neither one forgets.

+ || + || +


“Fuck!” Dean shouts.

Sam leans back against the bright glint of sunshine, the Impala’s skin hot under his forearms, the light a constant starburst behind his lids. He’s been listening to the clatter-clank of metal, tools Dean’s either flung overhead, or thrown in a fit of rage onto the bubbling blacktop. “Son of a bitch!”

“Problem?” Sam smirks, knowing full well his tone is gonna get him into trouble, laughing all-the-same. They’ve been like this for the past forty-five minutes, ever since the car groaned and wheezed, jerked and twitched a few times before Dean eased her onto the shoulder in an abrupt stop.

“This state is fuckin’ cursed.”

“Don’t blame the geography, Dean,” Sam grins, sliding the sole of his shoe through melted tar, smearing it into a swirl. “C’mon, we passed a little town about three miles back. We’ll call a tow, and I’ll buy ya a beer.”

Dean hauls himself out from under the car, rubs the grime of grease deep into his jeans. Sam’s gonna have to work really hard if he wants to get the stain out.

A gust picks up at the back end of a field, carries off the highway, travels like a rolling tide through a sea of corn, the rustle of the leaves echoing in the silence. His brother’s cheeks are bathed golden under the sun, brown flecks baked into them, the bridge of his nose; too many hours spent under a windshield. “Sammy,” Dean huffs, and when he turns away, Sam can see the vee of sweat wetting Dean’s t-shirt between his shoulder blades. “I’m not letting Cletus the slack-jawed yokel tow my girl.”

Sam just laughs, shaking his head, his hair curling damp against his temples. “C’mon jerk. Let’s get outta this heat, before you throw a tantrum like a five-year-old girl.”

+ || + || +


“Holy shit,” Dean breathes, green door sliding bolt-tight behind them, issuing a painful shriek as it slams. “I’ve been to a dive or two before, but this…”

“Ridott, Illinois,” Sam blinks, eyes fighting to adjust from the pure, luminous sunlight to the suddenly dark hole-in-the-wall innocuously parked on a hilltop off of Route 20. “Population two hundred and two, Dean. What the hell do you expect?”

“S’long as the beer’s cold,” Dean grunts, lumbering towards the bar.

The place hasn’t been updated since 1960, Sam’s pretty sure, small four-person tables tucked into each corner, stools edged up against the bar, cotton batting pouring out the seams and tears. In small wooden windows, the neon signs advertise Pabst and Michelob, and Sam can’t help but think Dean’s gonna be right at home.

“What’s on tap?” Dean asks, slamming a twenty to the bar. The guy behind gives Dean a wary and impatient glance. He doesn’t answer, just points to the spigots in front of them.

There’s only one other guy in there, and as it happens, Dean bellies up next to him. “You boys follow baseball?”

“Not really,” Dean admits, and looks pointedly at bartender. “Two of whatever’s coldest, and keep ‘em comin’.” Casting a glance over his shoulder, Dean checks out the pool table, practically abandoned in the crook of the room, dust motes filtering lazily down from the green-glass fixture above.

Sam adjusts on his stool, pleather complaining about the abrupt intrusion of his ass.

“You play?” the guy asks, tilting his head towards the felt.

“A little,” Dean nods, palm skimming the outside of his glass. Sam watches the condensation drip down behind his brother’s fingers.

“Whadya say we rack ‘em then? Bottom of the ninth, and the Sox are down big.”

No one but Sam would be able to see the sheer candid joy in Dean’s eyes as he pushes off his seat. “Got nothing pressing for the next hour or so, suppose I could let you win a couple.” It’s been a while since Sam’s seen Dean so full of gusto. Too many hours wrapped up in … Sam’s educated, but even with his vocabulary, he’s not sure there’s one word to cover all the shit they’ve been through.

“John,” the guy says, extending his hand. He’s in his late forties, early fifties, Sam guesses, hair thin and gray, only a hint of the black it once had been. He’s wearing wire rimmed glasses, thick lenses a testament to how long he’s needed them.

“Good to meet ya,” Dean smiles, taking the older man’s hand. “I’m Dean. This is my brother, Sam.”

“Sam,” John grins, shaking Sam’s hand with a business man’s grip. “How ‘bout it, any good?”

“No better than my brother, sir.” Sam has to cage a smirk. Of the two them, Dean’s definitely the better player, but Sam’s no slouch. He’s just never been into hustling, especially nice guys in the middle of Nowheresville, USA.

“What brings you boys to our little shit-heel burg?” Lips tilted crookedly, John grabs a few cues, and Sam laughs, a little startled by the guy. It’s like looking at Dean in twenty years, open and friendly, relaxed like he owns the joint, fit and ready to fill a passing stranger’s ear with a damn good story. “I’m avoiding the wife,” John confesses behind a conspiratorial hand, bastard of a grin spread out over his face as he picks up his beer. “Here, let me buy you kids a coupl’a rounds.”

Sam thinks to protest, but John’s already peeling twenties off a roll, bobbing his head to the man behind the bar. “Just cover 'em, Keith.”

Keith nods, his attention still directed toward the game. “We were just passing through,” Dean says, arranging balls in the rack. “Car broke down, now we got a three hour wait for the tow.”

“Hmm.” Looking up at the low ceiling, John seems to consider. “Wayne doing it?”

“That’s the guy,” Dean nods, but it’s pretty clear Dean’s not real happy about it.

“Don’t worry, son,” John smiles, rests a reassuring hand on Dean’s arm. “Known Wayne most of m'life. Guy’s as good as my money. Now, how ‘bout we make this interesting?”

Even with his back turned, and despite Dean’s accomplished deadpan, Sam knows his brother’s instant enthusiasm. “What’d you have in mind?”

The negotiation continues from there, Sam paying it only half-hearted attention, popping pretzels into his mouth.

+ || + || +


“Can’t shit a shitter, son,” John’s laughing as he sinks the eight ball like it’s nothing. Dean’s been playing his A-game, too. “Been a regular 'n pool halls since I was thirteen.”

“Damn,” Dean mouths over John’s shoulder, Sam shaking his head in amusement. For some reason, it’s a good feeling, knowing someone out there can best his brother at least once. Not that it’s a good time for a lesson in humility, but Dean seems to be taking the thrashing in stride.

Sam wanders over, puts a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “How much money you planning on losing today?”

Dean shrugs him off with a glare, and racks the table again, John still pleased as he heads towards the bar for another round. “Don’t worry, Sam,” he says while walking by. “He’s keeping me entertained. Haven’t seen that kind of determination in a long time. Reminds me of a young me. I’ll make sure his money finds its way back to him.”

“Oh, no!” Dean objects, raises an opposing hand. “Double or nothing. Winner keeps.”

“Whatever, man,” Sam smirks with an exaggerated eye roll. “I’m hitting the can.” Sam might play at bellicose, but he’s damn glad to see Dean acting like himself again, having a little fun, despite the hit to their bankroll.

“Dude, enjoy.” Dean says straight-faced, all ”Thanks for sharin’,” and it only goes to reinforce Sam’s happiness. Even an hour ago, Dean would have been all up on him, nervous as fuck ‘til Sam reappeared.

Sam shuffles down the long dark hall, crates and boxes making an already close space even tighter. It’s a guessing game which door leads to the bathroom, the one at the end of the hall with frosted glass and the steel knob, or the one to his right, solid, featureless wood. Sam goes for the door to his right, squinching his nose at the smell. Bathroom’s 'bout as nice as the bar, but Sam’s gotta piss, so… whatever.

He’s easing his zipper open when a face appears in the mirror in front of him. Over his shoulder, he can see she’s beautiful, more stunning, really, than anyone he’s ever seen, the kind of eye-catching, drop dead gorgeous that kinda takes a person’s breath away. “Uh,” he mutters stupidly, fingers scrambling to do up his open fly.

“Hi, Sam,” she smiles softly, two rows of white, perfect teeth shining back at him. Her face is a pale oval, skin so light it’s like ivory, a flat satin Sam’s hands are suddenly itching to feel. He can’t be sure where it stops, not without turning around, but her hair, an absolute sliver-blonde, hangs down well past her shoulders, straight without even a hint of curl.

“Don’t be afraid. I promise this won’t hurt,” she says and Sam trusts her, doesn’t even think to resist. Her voice is smooth rushing water, laced at the ends with a tin-type instrument, flute, harp, something Sam can’t name. Twining and concurrent, it’s a sound Sam can imagine drowning in. Her blue eyes are haunting, heavy and ancient. With the touch of her finger to his forehead, Sam falls into oblivion.

+ || + || +


When he comes around, Sam is suspended in the middle of … nothing. No lights, no sounds, no hint of color… not even black. A seeming hole, there’s an absence of anything, even the panic he should be feeling. “Where am I?” Sam whispers, waits for the shallow ping of an echo to fill the void, but he’s not sure he’s even spoken aloud.

“There are a few things I have to show you, Sam. Do you remember that time in Kootenai County?”

How could he possibly forget? One of the worst hunts Dean and Dad had ever been on. Sam was only fourteen then, staying with Pastor Jim while they were away, stuck systematically conjugating Latin for hours. When Dad burst through the door, carrying his brother’s unconscious body, Sam had panicked. “He was supposed to die that day.”

“What? I don’t understand.”

She materializes before him, long white cotton dress a woven invitation on every curve. Her hair’s as long as Sam thought, flowing past her waist, thin, lightweight strands falling flawlessly around her face.

As she kneels at his feet and sits, curling her legs underneath, a meadow springs beneath her, a small swath of green that starts slowly, then unfurls swiftly, filling the nothing with trees and grass and the bright, bold colors of an orchard. “You will,” she murmurs, patting the ground beside her. Finding earth under his feet, brown and mossy, he perches by her side.

Sam blinks, and in the span of a second, his brain floods with a rush of images. A kaleidoscopic panorama of things he’s never been part of – seeing Dean and Dad and Kootenai County playing out like a film.

Dean launches his body between his father and a raging march-stepper, the thing turning its furious purple eyes on his eighteen-year-old brother. It gashes Dean open, splitting him down the middle with nails as sharp as knives, Dean’s guts spewing into the cold, night air. Dean bleeds out, Dad trying to staunch the flow. Dad picks Dean up, carries him, stumbling and falling to the Impala, drops him when he realizes Dean’s gone. Gone. Dead. His father hunches over Dean screaming, “I killed my boy,” into the unforgiving sky until finally, he crumbles down over Dean's body.

The images don’t stop with Dean’s death, they project an alternate reality. Dad and Sam fighting, most of Dad’s days spent drunk and reeking of the small-town bars he drags them to. Hunting, Dad putting them into more danger, never remorseful enough to appease Sam, never sorry enough for having gotten Dean killed. Fist fights, bloody noses, Dad finally pawning Sam off on Bobby, driving away and never looking back. Sam’s gift, fury-fueled as it evolves. The first person, the first human, Sam rips apart with his own bare hands.

Sam gasps, falling out of the vision with a silent scream, emotion real enough, deep enough to send him lunging to his knees. Braced on his hands, he tries to stay the bile forcing its way out of his mouth. Sam can still see Dean fading, wounds wide and swimming with blood, dark syrup staining his chest, his legs. “Please.” Pounding the dirt underneath his palm, Sam fights to breathe, rid his head of the garish stream of illusion.

“Things could have been worse, Sam.” Her fingers are cool and calming when she trails them through his hair. “Much, much worse,” she’s whispering, her voice soft, gentle. “You lost a mother, but you could have lost them all.”

Fear colors his gaze when he looks up at her. “Jesus ... why?” Sam’s not even sure what he’s asking.

She smiles at that. “Do you think your lives are destined to be unfair?” Her face is set with patience, a perpetual mask of empathy and concern. “It's about balance, Sam, whether you’re able to see it or not. Your mother knew.”

“Mom?” Sam’s voice breaks, and he has to look away, licks his lips to soften them, correcting himself on his knees. “What do you know about our mother?”

Rising weightlessly, the woman stands, no exertion in the motion. The first step she takes changes everything, a long dirt road swelling beneath the arch of her foot, the picture multiplying in quick succession until Sam can taste the dust, see the wooden fence running parallel to the road's edges, touch the venerable trees standing sentry at its sides. She makes no effort to answer, only situates herself stoically on an outcrop. “Please,” Sam gasps, moving to join her, “Tell me what you know.”

“I can’t, Sam. I wish I could, but it doesn't work that way,” she says, lightly taking his hand. They walk, and over the hill, Sam can see the horses running untamed and liberate, clomp of hooves like distant thunder. “That’s not how these things go, and we only have a short time here.” Remorse. Her voice is burdened by it, tolerance and affection making up the rest. “Layla Rourke,” she murmurs, the sound picked up by the wind. A flock of birds shoot up into the sky, graceful wings flapping in objection to the name.

Sam stops, pulls comfort from the malleable texture of her hand. “Another time Dean was meant to die?”

“Let me show you.” Her words stretch and flip, like a feather caught in a breeze. Sam shuts his eyes, sets his stance, prepares for the flood. A river, a sea… a whirlpool of images, all starting with Dean. Dean dies, no ceremony involved, just Dean dropping to his knees, the ground, his skin cold and waxy on the back of Sam’s hand. Layla. Layla gets the life she was never meant to have, but it’s Layla’s mother who forfeits her own soul as an exchange. Months later, caught by the realization of what she’s done, Layla commits suicide, cuts open a vein with a straight razor, tap water diluted raspberry-pink when paramedics find the body.

Sam gasps, teetering on shaky legs. “Equilibrium,” she says, securing Sam in her delicate grasp. “The things that happen, Sam… they are meant.” Only now is Sam starting to see.

+ || + || +


Between the lub-dub of his heart, the world shifts again, submersing Sam back to nothingness. “Who are you?” he questions, straining through the absence of sound.

“I think you know,” she says calmly, and even though he can’t see her, he can feel her presence, a warm blanket isolating them from the abyss.

“No, I don’t.” But even as he’s denying it, he knows he does. “And all this is to avoid tipping the scales? It can't really be that simple.”

“Nothing is ever simple, Sam. Like the way you see yourself.”

“Cursed-”

“Yes, damned by demon’s blood. Everyone around you condemned. But that’s not the case, Sam. Look at Dean; you waste your energy expecting an end, afraid of losing him, frightened by a destiny you’ve yet to create. Terrified of what you’ll become without him, of what you’ll do to save him. So much dread, Sam. How can you ever find the thing you need if you’re not open to the answer? None of it’s simple. It’s a hazardous road, but you’ve never walked it alone. Neither of you.

“You’re the only one who can save him, Sam. But you have to be willing to look inside yourself, to let go of the fear, to get ready to let go of him, if you have to.”

Sam wants to beg. Shout. Talk faster. Make a deal. “Doesn’t work that way, either, Sam. I’m sorry. And our time is nearly done.” Her hand is cool and light when she takes his again, their amorphous space transforming into a small room, a hotel room, bleak and bare.

Staring at his own image, his back, head hanging heavy on his shoulders, hands hidden in his lap, Sam shudders. “This is the result. Anger, fear, cowardice,” she whispers, the two of them rounding the bed, side by side. This vision is less like the others, physical, more like the time he and the yellow-eyed Demon stood in Sam’s nursery. He watches himself, hands gingerly fingering his gun, adjusting the weight between each palm.

Sam doesn’t need to see this, not when he’s imagined it a hundred times, but the gun-metal taste is intense, unforgiving in his mouth, demanding to be noticed. Sam can feel his lips tighten over the muzzle, his fingers squeeze, tears falling warm and wet over his face in this desolate place. Tilting the gun up, a sudden, severe decision, the Sam who's not him, not really, pulls the trigger. Steps off the ledge and ends his life, because there’s nothing left and maybe, just maybe, he’ll find his brother on the other side.

“This isn’t the way. You’ll both burn in hell, because Dean has no faith, and you can’t see a future without him. It’s not the way it’s supposed to end, Sam. Faith has to start somewhere. You have it inside you. You just need to trust, be strong, believe.”

Sam’s still crying as the room fades away.

+ || + || +


“So, you’re my-”

“No, his,” she quickly corrects.

“Dean’s?” Sam breathes, surprised, because Sam’s always been the one insisting on good and evil in matched-pairs, rebuffed by Dad and Dean as early as he can remember. That it should be Dean’s angel to find him… Dean’s angel… The thought swirls, circling in Sam’s mind, until recognition dawns, abrupt and blinding, like the sun breaking through the clouds. “I don’t… I can’t, can I?”

“You’ve always had Dean, Sam. What happened to you wasn’t your choice. You were a baby, an innocent. The blood was forced on you; you wouldn’t have chosen this path for yourself had it been offered. So, no, Sam, you can’t, but that doesn’t mean we abandoned you.”

“My best friend,” Sam whispers, amazed by the sudden clarity. “My guardian’s my brother.” Sam smiles at the irony. His protector, his angel’s the man who’s only ever shown the tiniest shadow of belief.

“Do you remember your brother's first words when he found you? After he made the deal?”

Sam closes his eyes, tries to remember back. Pain radiating up and down his spine, his back to the mirror as the door swung open. Just seeing Dean’s face had taken up all of Sam’s attention. “No,” he whispers thinly, even though it’s a space of time Sam should have memorized.

“He said ‘Thank God,’ Sam. Thank God. With all the evil your brother’s seen, all the things he’s done, all of his doubt, how peculiar that the first words out of his mouth should be… thank God. He made a deal with the devil to save your life, and still… he ends up thanking God. Why do you think that is?” Even though the questions hardly rhetorical, Sam can’t come up with a decent answer.

“Dean’s faith may be imperceptible, even to him, but it’s there, Sam. He’s never had much reason to believe. There was a time you gave him a little hope, but it was only the smallest flame. Leave the door open and the slightest draft will extinguish it.”

“But...”

“Your mother used to tell him angels were looking out for him. Tell him she wasn’t wrong.”

+ || + || +


“Christ, Sammy, I was about to send a rescue party in after you,” Dean snarks. Sam walks unsteadily towards him, takes the cue from his brother’s hand, John coming back from another trip to the bar.

Dean’s brow furrows, first in irritation, then in concern when he looks up into Sam’s face. “Vision?” he mumbles, pulling Sam aside. Sam only looked at himself for a brief second before leaving the bathroom, but he knows what he saw, and it was more than enough for Dean’s unease.

“Not quite,” Sam manages, John approaching, twin beers in hand.

“Hey, your brother lost another one. Think he’s just trying to lull me into a false sense of security before he beats the pants off an old man?”

Sam takes the beer, grateful, grinning, clinking the brown glass against his brother’s bottle. “You don't mind me stealing him for a few minutes, do you?”

“Hell, no!” John says, hiking a foot up onto the steel edge of a stool, lighting up a Marlboro Light. “Take all the time you need.”

“Thanks,” Sam grins, the tilt of his mouth a little shaky, nodding at his beer. Pulling Dean by the sleeve, he leads him outside, the two of them cringing under the terrifying intensity of the sun.

“What’s this about, Sammy?” Cocking his head, Dean looks at him with expectation, patience Dean has with no one else.

“When I died, when you put me on the bed in that cabin, Dean, how did you feel?”

Anger works in Dean’s jaw, muscles ticking before he jerks back, counting off ten paces in the gravel lot. He storms back at Sam, stops just short of him, looking, for all intents, like he’s ready to take a swing. Sam lets him react, knows he has to. “Fuck, Sammy, why the hell now?”

“You think what you felt then is any less real for me, any less valid? You’re yelling at me for trying, Dean, for wanting to save you, but come on, man. Do you even wonder what’s going to be like for me if I can’t?”

A jet paints the blue sky, streaks of jet-wash underlining the silver capped clouds, prairie grass swaying on the side of the highway. Dean scuffs his boots in the grimy white dust and rubble, staring up at his brother from under his lashes. “Look, some things are meant to happen, Dean, some things aren’t, but I need you to have faith.”

“Faith?” Dean scoffs, drops the shoulder of the hand still holding his beer. “Faith in what, Sammy?”

“In me? In God, in karma, I don’t know, in… something, Dean. Just a little. Enough to believe we’re not alone in this. That it’s going to work out, for once. Enough to know we’ve done good, man. That we’ve saved people. That all the sacrifice hasn’t been for nothing. Even the shit that seems like it's gone wrong, the stuff that didn’t work out, even that we did okay.”

“Yeah, we’re regular fuckin’ heroes, Sam.” When he turns this time, Dean doesn’t look like he’s coming back.

“Dean,” Sam calls, rough edge to his voice. “What was it mom used to tell you as a kid?”

The question slows him down, draws Dean to a stop. “What’d you say?”

“You heard me. Mom used to tell you angels were looking out for you. She was right, Dean, they are.”

With his back rigid, Dean swivels on his heels, leaving a perfect circle on the ground. “You’ve heard me say it before-”

Sam’s seen his brother try to wiggle out of enough things that watching this is like an insult. “No. Just, no,” Sam states, eyebrow hiked to his hairline. Closing the space between them, he takes Dean’s hand, rallies against the stubbornness of Dean trying to pry away. “Faith, that’s all I ask. I need you to have it.”

”Faith?” Dean repeats, only this time without the blatant ridicule.

“Yeah,” Sam adds softly, squeezing Dean’s hand. “I don’t think it’ll violate the pact.” His lips bend into a dry smile, and Sam squints haughtily down at him.

Shaking free of Sam’s hand, Dean smirks, elbowing him in the ribs before growing more serious. “The thing about mom, how’d you know?”

“Not sure you’d believe me if I told you.” But, of course, he tells him, doesn’t exclude a single detail.

After he’s gotten it all out, Dean sighs, makes to say something. Whether it’s a question or doubt, Sam doesn’t give him time, delays the conversation with a staying hand. “Later,” is all he says, then ushers Dean back inside.

+ || + || +


The green door swings open just behind them, Wayne immediately identifiable from his name stitched into his greasy overalls, John Deere cap tucked down over his blond mop, wide sunglasses hiding his eyes. “Which one of you boy’s’ Dean?”

“That’d be me,” Dean says; John makes his way to the three of them, rests a hand on Dean’s shoulder.

“John,” Wayne nods, handing the keys to Dean. “She should be fine from here on out, distributor shaft pin sheared, broke the timing chain. Funny thing. I just happened to have one lying ‘round. Might want to replace it with a new part, but that 'n' should do for a while.”

Looking over at Sam, Dean mutters, “Thank God for small favors,” and neither one of them manages to stifle the laugh. “Shit, man, thanks,” Dean says in earnest, reaching to shake Wayne’s hand. “Whadda we owe ya?”

“Forget it. John’s a friend, said you were good kids. Obviously love the car. Ain't seen the inside of a ’67 since I was a teenager.”

Dean blushes, the pride he has for the Impala clearly written across his face, but it’s also plain as day he’s about ready to gripe about the charity. Swiping the keys out of his brother’s hand, Sam faces both the older men. “Thanks, really. Both of you. Means a lot.”

“You boys gonna be okay to drive? You’re welcome to crash at my place. Last of my girls moved out this year, might be nice having boys around for a change. Son-in-law will be over in the morning for golf. You’re welcome to tag along.” John’s smile is warm, familial, makes Sam think about Dean, and home.

“Thank you, sir, but we can’t. We’ve gotta get movin’ on.”

“Well alrighty, then,” John nods, clapping each of them on the shoulder. “You boys be safe.”

+ || + || +


Sam turns over the engine, well-known rumble beneath them. It’s been a long time since he’s felt this calm, like it’s not just him and his brother and a wide, indifferent road. Like maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason for the things that have happened, and one day they’ll find answers to the questions they have.

Flipping on the radio, Sam smiles, station playing something familiar. “What the hell’s this shit?” Dean complains from his seat.

“Shut up, Dean,” Sam says, tousling his brother’s hair.

“Whatever,” Dean shoves him off, flailing like a child. “I swear to God, if I hear Linkin Park, you’re walkin’.”

Sam just shakes his head with a smirk, touches his finger to his chest. “Driver.” For the first time in a long time, Sam thinks he knows exactly where they’re headed.

Comments

I'm having trouble coming up w/words to discribe how much I liked this. It was so Sam & Dean yet very also very calming,

I'm so glad you like Sam and Dean in this. -grin- And that it was also calming. I figured everyone was getting sick and tired of the same thing over and over again... darkside stuff, lots of emo!angst, and resolutions that basically pan out to be Sam killing or swindling the crossroads Demon. -grin- Not that I don't love those, but I was hoping to try something a little... different.

Thanks so much for giving it a read!
Trying to decide whether it's the brothers you're calming or the fans. Maybe both, but yeah this calmed me down a little. Even though I enjoy seeing our boys suffer, seeing them suffering too much is cutting off points on my health (being tense and all) O___+
Trying to decide whether it's the brothers you're calming or the fans.

I'd like to go with both! -grin-

but yeah this calmed me down a little.

Fantastic! Then my work here is done! -packs up pencils and paper-

Even though I enjoy seeing our boys suffer, seeing them suffering too much is cutting off points on my health (being tense and all) O___+

Of course there's about a trillion ways to go with these kinds of things... but I really wanted to do something I hadn't seen done before. No Sam standing at the crossroads killing or swindling the Demon out of Dean's soul with the darkside stuff. Plus, the whole thing with Dean saying 'Thank God,' just kills me! -grin- I've been dying to explore that in fic. This gave me the chance.

Thanks so much for reading!
Whoa, this was really awesome. Great fic. So brilliant.
Aww, thank you so much! -grin- I'm so glad someone enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it (in an airport terminal in Portland, hah!)
Oh god, so pretty! Even with the summary thing I was skeptical about this not being a downer, 'cuz I'm a little paranoid about the post-AHBL fics (ironic, given the angst whore what is me). But this brought me up instead, which was a marvelous and pleasing surprise! You managed to take the boys somewhere positive without actually having Sam figure out the answer... I'm going to sit here and be in awe of that for awhile.

Loved this, so much yay!
Hi!! -waves- Nope, no downers on this one, hon. I've read so much... dark, desperate, terrible, tragic, hopelesshopeless fic about ways to save Dean, ways to save Sam, and I was determined (even though there is some dark in this) to try and find a way a) to leave it unresolved, b) to work it from another angle I hadn't seen, and c) to try and make it happy. -grin- Those were big feats, I tells ya!

But this brought me up instead, which was a marvelous and pleasing surprise!

And you make my heart all joyful to know that! You're the third person to say so in comments, and I worried with the part about Sam's ultimate demise after Dean buys it, too! But yay!!

I'm going to sit here and be in awe of that for awhile.

-grin- Oh you hit on all the highlights. Thank you for reading, sweetie! I'm so happy this was enjoyed, if only by a few. I wrote this in the airport in Portland and so it's just nice knowing it worked out the way I'd hoped. -mwah-
You're killing me with gen now? (Oh, and the pun was so totally intentional!)

So, it's official. There is truly no end to your talent. And don't try to argue with me this time. (There are pizza delivery drivers, calculators, and cute paramedics who know the heimlich maneuver to take care of the rest.)

But, seriously...

“You think what you felt then is any less real for me, any less valid? You’re yelling at me for trying, Dean, for wanting to save you, but come on, man. Do you even wonder what’s going to be like for me if I can’t?”

That is exactly what I want to see Sam say to Dean. This was so dead on from start to finish. Dean is Sam's guardian. Sam is Dean's faith. And you nailed it again.
Noooo! No killing for you. -grin- Only alive and well, 'cause... you're making me an addict for your commentary. No. Really!

So, it's official. There is truly no end to your talent. And don't try to argue with me this time. (There are pizza delivery drivers, calculators, and cute paramedics who know the heimlich maneuver to take care of the rest.)

-laughing- I stood in my kitchen the other night and thought of another dozen rejoinders to that earlier comment! And now I understand I can't argue with you, you'll only make good points and force me to bow to your superior intellect. -grin-

That is exactly what I want to see Sam say to Dean. This was so dead on from start to finish. Dean is Sam's guardian. Sam is Dean's faith. And you nailed it again.

First of all, -huge blush- thanks! I ... these things have been bothering me for a long time, and I've been wanting to explore some of them, but I had no idea I was going to do with spn_50states. I thought I was just going to write this little nothing story, but then the premise came to me in the Portland airport and I sit there in this awesome little cubbie and wrote the first half of it waiting to board. It was so cool!

One of the things that's been killing me since AHBL2 is Dean coming in and saying, "Sam, thank God." It's just been driving me batshit insane! -laughing- Who does that???? I mean, yeah, it's an expression, but DUDE! You just sold your SOUL!!! -grin- The crap I think about.

Thanks again, sweetie. For reading, for sharing with me, for catching my typos! I love it all!
-sheepish grin- I was hoping you'd forgotten about the typo thing. Way to make a first impression, huh?

Oh, and none of this "superior intellect" stuff, okay? You're the one writing rock solid, kick-ass pieces in every single genre of SPN fic! I'm just the newbie lurker. Although I must admit, it makes me smile (huge)to know that you're enjoying my comments. (I was a little afraid you might think you had a stalker.)

I'll make you a deal: You keep writing and I'll keep commenting. :)
That was awesome. 'nuff said.
Why thank you! It was a lot of fun to write. -grin- Thanks for reading!
Really enjoyed this and so well written. Thank you.
Thank you, hon! I really appreciate that!
Loved this darlin'. You snagged me when Dean rubbed the grease into his jeans and Sam knew he was gonna have to work really hard to get out the stain, cuz c'mon, we both know the wasn't thinking about jeans...

Then, when Sam was relieved just to be able to take a piss without Dean getting all up on him, cuz you know, Dean's gotta have some issues about Sam getting out of his sight.

And the whole thing with the angel and faith. You know, I've said this before when the issue of faith comes up, but faith is about believing in what you don't see, not about knowing what's right in front of your face. In one way, the idea of Dean being Sam's angel is spot on perfect, because angels have no faith. The have seen God and don't need it. In another way, I think Dean has more faith than any of them, because no matter how many times John and Sam have let him down, he still hopes for a good outcome.

This was really brilliantly done, subtle where it needed to be and then beautifully descriptive where it needed to be more obvious. Love it to bits, my dear.

Thanks.
Loved this darlin'. You snagged me when Dean rubbed the grease into his jeans and Sam knew he was gonna have to work really hard to get out the stain, cuz c'mon, we both know the wasn't thinking about jeans...

-grin- I loved that you caught this. When I was writing that, I was sitting in a cubbie in the Portland airport waiting for my plane to board and this image was just so ... vivid in my head. Sam watching Dean rub the grease in and there's the topical thought - I'll never get that out - but then there's the longer, the underlying, the deep-dark-neversay. That stain'll stay longer than my brother... Sort of gripped right at the heart.

I've said this before when the issue of faith comes up, but faith is about believing in what you don't see, not about knowing what's right in front of your face.

I hear ya!

In one way, the idea of Dean being Sam's angel is spot on perfect, because angels have no faith. The have seen God and don't need it. In another way, I think Dean has more faith than any of them, because no matter how many times John and Sam have let him down, he still hopes for a good outcome.

And I couldn't possibly agree more. And I _love_ that you shared this. Honestly, I wish I could have said it as well, as much up there! -points up-

This was really brilliantly done, subtle where it needed to be and then beautifully descriptive where it needed to be more obvious. Love it to bits, my dear.

Thank you, darlin'. Considering the beautiful writing you've recently shared with us, how much it has shaken me, how I wish I could possibly just pimp it far and wide (though I did it see some other folks doing it, and I keep wanting to just interject and say, "Yes! Yes! YES!!") I'm just really happy you enjoyed. I had a fantastic time writing it.
You're more than welcome. I'm not often moved to write in-depth comments about fic. Yes, I'm one of those yay, squee, flail reviewers, because something has to be really profound for me to say, "I know what you did here, and I really appreciate it." I love just plain fic, too, but I love even more the ones that you have to work a little bit for, because they're so much more rewarding in the end. This was one of those.

And as far as my stuff, well...*smishes you*
This is great! I really enjoyed the overall tone of the story. And I love Dean's guardian angel. But even more, I love that Sam can't have one, but that he has one anyway, in Dean. Fantastic piece!
This is great! I really enjoyed the overall tone of the story. And I love Dean's guardian angel. But even more, I love that Sam can't have one, but that he has one anyway, in Dean. Fantastic piece!

Thank you, thank you, and thank you, for reading and letting me know what you enjoyed :D
Oh yes, please! I like this outcome. Muchly. And this John. And the fact that he is sooo fatherly and all. *melts*

Yep, managed to track other fics down. HA!
Oh yes, please! I like this outcome. Muchly. And this John. And the fact that he is sooo fatherly and all. *melts*

-grin- There is so much irony in writing your father into fiction. I have never done it before, but it was... quite the thing.

I see! Thanks so much for looking into it! This is, quite obviously, unlike all the others. -grinning- But I appreciate you taking the time to read it!
You wrote your father into it? Teehee! Yep, that's bound to feel a bit...erh...weird.

And I appreciate the time you took to write it even more. And yes, sooo unlike the others. :D
Thank you, so much! :D
This was very beautifully written.

And OMG you used Ridott in a fic!!!! When I was a lot younger, I would go there every Sunday to see my grandparents and my great grandmother.
This was very beautifully written.

Eee! Thank you :)

And OMG you used Ridott in a fic!!!! When I was a lot younger, I would go there every Sunday to see my grandparents and my great grandmother.

Hah! Then you know exactly the place I was writing about then! Or at least, I'd assume you do, considering you most likely took Route 20 into Ridott and that bars been there as long as I've been alive. -grin-
Yup, if you mean Ridott Corners. I've never been in there myself but I hear the food is good at least. (Now, I might have to stop by sometime just to see who I might run into. ;) )

A little over 10 years ago my sister was in a very bad accident near there and people from that bar came out to help.
Fabulous.

I swear this gave me chills when I read this:

“Your mother used to tell him angels were looking out for him. Tell him she wasn’t wrong.”

Also, I loved the idea of Dean being Sam's guardian angel. It's so ironic really because throughout season 2 and even moreso when Houses of the Holy came out, I really speculated that Dean could really be more than what we have known about him. He would fit the bill where his brother is concerned.

Your writing is like crack:) *hooked*
-grinning, slinking around you- Dear Lord, girl. How did I _not_ respond to this? And to the rest of the people who commented to this fic! Man, I suck! And don't you dare take a minute of your gorgeous Vegas vacation to respond to this. I mean it, missy!

But I wanted to tahnk you. I think maybe LJ was doing one of those things where it didn't tell me people responded. That's the only way I can even rectify the brain fart. -smirk- I'm as hooked on yours as you are on mine, possibly more. -grin-
Very, very well written fic! I loved the scene you set for the boys and the additional characters were both entertaining and believable! John was certainly someone you could see them running into down the road!

Thanks for sharing this with us! It was a great read!

Thank you so much, hon! I'm really seriously happy with your thoughts about the additional characters, since they're all based on people I know. -grin- I love the idea of the boys running into my father, because I know him well enough, that I know he'd be just as he was in the fic. Perfectly happy to buy them drinks, for the company, perfectly happy to see himself in them, perfectly happy to offer them a place...

Thank you so much for reading and I sincerely apologize that it took me this long to get back to this! I think LJ just didn't send me the notifications! -shakes fist at LJ-
Oh, I loved this. I love the idea that it's more than just "Watch out for Sammy, Dean." That there's a reason Dean won't stay dead, can't stay dead. I mean, I'm not actually too into the whole thing with Sam's faith, but I love the way you've explored it here.

And oh, the beginning with the boys standing by the car and ribbing each other just made me ache. I really hope they spend some time (and i don't see how they won't) next season on just how lost Sammy would be without his big brother, because that scene here made me so sad for how much Sam cannot lose his brother. Which is a nice change of pace. :)

Thanks so much for sharing this!
That there's a reason Dean won't stay dead, can't stay dead. I mean, I'm not actually too into the whole thing with Sam's faith, but I love the way you've explored it here.

The funniest thing? I'm not too actually into it myself, either! -grin- Which pretty much explains why it was fun for me to write. While I may have been at one point in my life, I've definitely changed... and it was like visiting old stomping grounds. -grin-

And oh, the beginning with the boys standing by the car and ribbing each other just made me ache. I really hope they spend some time (and i don't see how they won't) next season on just how lost Sammy would be without his big brother

ME TOO! I just can't see him not being devastated with the entire idea of losing Dean.

Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to tell me what you thought! I'm sorry it took me so long to respond. I don't think LJ notified me that you'd commented, so I had no idea until I went back tonight!
*stomps foot, shakes finger* Ahm beginnin' to think you do it on purpose.... Want to see if I can find 'em when you post. Hee.

It's very much a change-of-pace for you, but there are so many things to love about this fic, dear. The sense of hope, buoyed by an angel, and the concept of faith. The rural dive bar - loved your descriptions, which felt pitch perfect, to me, and loved the choice of environment. Two young, strange men, walking into that place, could have been shunned, driven out, but it's Dean, and he's right at home, so the place is safe as houses. Personally, I love those kind of places, largely because they are, or can be, so safe and benign.

Of course, I thoroughly enjoyed "John" - hangin' out and hidin' from the wife, buying some beer and shooting some pool. Btw, one of my favorite phrases, evah, is "can't bullshit a bullshitter" so Yay! for that. And I adore your reverence for the Impala, such a great old beast, I could "hear" the rumble when Sam started her up at the end. Your writing always makes me happy, but the imagery of the countryside - something I don't think I've ever seen you do, before - was so spot-on, I was totally there, walking along the fence, horses galloping off in the distance, breeze ruffling the corn. I can even "smell" it, and feel the sun on my face.

Considering your struggle with the ending, I thought you got it just right: Sam turns over the engine, well-known rumble beneath them. It’s been a long time since he’s felt this calm, like it’s not just him and his brother and a wide, indifferent road. Like maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason for the things that have happened, and one day they’ll find answers to the questions they have. I know that feeling, have had it, every once in a while, and it's utterly perfect for the fic.

Wonderful, sweets, as ever. *mwah*
Wow honey! I can't believe LJ didn't notify me that you'd read! That several people had and I hadn't gone back to comment. I feel rather shitty now. :P Anywaaaaaay...

It's very much a change-of-pace for you

Absolutely, which makes it so much fun! And you'd know better than anyone about what I've done, where I've been.

The sense of hope, buoyed by an angel, and the concept of faith. The rural dive bar - loved your descriptions, which felt pitch perfect, to me, and loved the choice of environment.

Thank you, sweetheart. You know what they say about writing about what you know. -grin- And this dive bar in the middle of corn and nowhere? I know it pretty well.

Two young, strange men, walking into that place, could have been shunned, driven out, but it's Dean, and he's right at home, so the place is safe as houses. Personally, I love those kind of places, largely because they are, or can be, so safe and benign.

Agreed, and agreed. And the best part about it? Was that I could totally see my father, just so clearly, welcoming these two, seeing himself in them, offering them a haven... not because dad's a perfect guy, not because he's a saint or an angel (as a matter of fact, he's rolling his eyes about his bitchin' wife -laughing-), but because he's just... he's just _that_ guy, ya know?

one of my favorite phrases, evah, is "can't bullshit a bullshitter"

My father, ladies and gents. King of colloquialisms. Can't shit a shitter, stay out of the pasture, if you don't want to get shit on your shoes... he's got a million of them. :P

Considering your struggle with the ending, I thought you got it just right:

Thank you, honey! Every once in a while, I manage to get something to come out the way I want it to. And of course, you're always there to help guide me. Forever, you will have my gratitude. You do so much for me. -smiling-

Thank you so much for being here, sweetheart. -mwah-
Wow. So much good.

And Dean's, "Thank God." I didn't think about that; I don't remember anyone else bringing it up. But yes, you're right--and that's when the tears started yet again.

This show is going to kill me--and all you damn fine writers aren't helping!
And Dean's, "Thank God." I didn't think about that

This has been driving me NUTS. -laughing- Ever since the moment he said it. I needed to find a way to work it into fic in the hopes that someone would talk about it with me! I mean, I know it's an expression and all that, but SERIOUSLY! The first words out of his MOUTH!!

I know, this show is just hard on the heart. -grin- Thanks so much for reading hon and for taking the time to let me know. So sorry it took me this long to get back to it. LJ did one of those things where it didn't let me know someone commented. -shakes fist at LJ- :D
You're not the first one whose said that about LJ recently.

And yes, you're right. Dean just might be the one to find faith this year. It would be a fascinating revelation to witness, wouldn't it?
I think it might be a little... unlike character, but I don't want to say OOC, especially after the reveal in, hmm, what episode was that, the one where the pipe skewers the guy. -grin- Dean certainly finds a little... something there. But I think it might be interesting to see Dean grow _spiritually_.
So much might happen in the coming year, so much could be revealed. With Hell hanging over him, Dean might be more open to, let's say, alternate interpretations of events. It all depends. He's a 'show me' kind of guy. He's not likely to take anything purely on faith.

But who knows, after all that's happened, maybe TPTB with cut him a break, even if it takes a whack up side the head to get his attention.
This...was beautiful... Hopeful, scary and oh-so-satisfying...

Thank you!!

*hugs*
Awww, thank you puddin'! -grin- I'm really happy it was 'satisfying'. I loved this story, to be truthful. And from someone who predominantly does _not_ write gen, it was such a fun departure.

Thank you!! And happy new year! -hugs-
Happy New Year love!! May it be an awesome year for you!
“Ridott, Illinois,” Sam blinks, eyes fighting to adjust from the pure, luminous sunlight to the suddenly dark hole-in-the-wall innocuously parked on a hilltop off of Route 20. “Population two hundred and two, Dean. What the hell do you expect?”

This town is just a few miles from where I grew up. And, I used to go out with the Cletus who owns the tow-truck. Love that you picked this place. And, love the fic.