Winnie aka Mink(mix)
Rating: PG - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Sam POV. (early S4) The boys crash for the night in an abandoned church.
Fog never slowed Dean down.
Slumping down in his seat, Sam stared at the stark glow of the headlights that cut only a dozen feet ahead across the yellow lines. He was glad he couldn’t see much. Every night he had come much too aware of the stars and how the constellations shifted from one corner of the sky to the other.
“So I told the lady to call in my badge number,” Dean continued his story. “Hell, I freakin’ dared her to do it.”
The humid flow of heat gushing through the vents was turning all the windows opaque with condensation. It was closing Sam up in the car and sealing him away from the blur of the bare trees that arched above the two-lane back road. He dragged his sleeve down the wet glass and swallowed back a wave of claustrophobia.
“Course it didn’t come up through the system,” Dean said. “But I didn’t think the old broad would actually look the shit up.”
“Am I talking to myself?”
Sam could feel the creep of winter coming just like he could feel the miles pass underneath the tires. Squeezing his eyes shut he tried not to concentrate on feeling the thrum of the planet moving, careening faster and faster through space until-
“So then I tell her it’s a typo,” Dean sighed. “I said yeah, that’s right, I get it all the time. I said that Smith is commonly spelled with a Y and not with the widely believed I.”
“Told her it was an old Persian thing. You know, linguistics.”
“Good call,” Sam mumbled. “There‘s a ton of Smyths in Iran.”
“Persia is Iran now?”
“No shit,“ Dean thoughtfully tapped his ring on the steering wheel. “That lady was a lot dumber than I thought.”
Sam unzipped his jacket but it did nothing to stop the cold sweat sticking him to his T-shirt or the sickening churn in his stomach when Dean took a sharp turn without braking. Sam caught a roadside sign welcoming them into another state before it quickly vanished behind them.
“You know what your problem is, Sammy?”
Sam braced himself against the dashboard as they took another high speed turn.
“You get too caught up with plausibility,” Dean explained. “The beauty of life is that you don’t have to make any sense. You just got say it like you mean it and any chump listenin’ will believe it too.”
“I know that.”
“Knowing and believing are too different things.”
“Are you sure you took the right turn back there?” Sam rubbed at the spot between his eyes. “Where the hell is this place?”
“Hey pal, you’re the one with the map.”
“Wait,” Sam lowered his voice as the tires left the asphalt and crunched on a gravel drive. “There it is.”
“Where?” Dean squinted over the wheel. “I can’t see jack.”
The car jerked to a stop as the faint outline of sagging stairs solidified in the headlights. Up on a weed choked slope was an old church covered in rows of boarded up windows and painted in graffiti along with the messy scrawl of the artists tagging their work.
“W-Why couldn’t we just break into one of those condos they’re building down by the river?” Sam licked at dry lips. “No one would notice if we parked down there and we could-”
“This is the safest place in town, dude,” Dean said. “And you can’t beat free.” Kicking open his door, he stretched and tipped his head back to study the dark shape of the church’s steeple looming above them in the fog.
Sam dragged himself from his seat and headed towards the popped trunk.
“Grab my duffel would ya?” Dean asked. “And the guns.”
“There was that motel down by exit 52,“ Sam tried not to wince at the smell of their musty sleeping bags as he wadded them up in his arms. “I wouldn’t mind a shower sometime this week.”
“I think you smell great.”
The cold metal of his pistol slid uncomfortably into the back of his jeans but Sam didn’t bother digging up any extra clips from the trunk. It was no big surprise to find the entrance of the church chained up but Dean jumped the fence and started kicking at the basement windows until he found a broken one. Sam watched him slip down into the dark and waited impatiently for Dean to find his way back to the front doors. Glancing back at the car parked out of sight in the overgrown trees, Sam forced himself to turn his back on the swirling fog to concentrate on the sound of his brother’s heavy footfall approaching in the church. A few well placed yanks with a crowbar and the doors swung open nosily on their hinges.
“I think we’re out of luck with the lights and water,” Dean took a few bags out of Sam’s hands. “But like said, this joint is the safest place in fifty-square miles. Unless you count any crack heads I missed in the basement.”
“We got a few candles,” Sam peered up at the wall of dark stained glass over the far off pulpit. “I bet we could even make a fire.”
“Fantastic,” Dean was already walking back between the dusty pews. “You start tossing the salt while I find the can.”
Sam paused at the threshold, his grip on the duffel in his arms tightening.
“Check it out,” Dean laughed somewhere in the dark. “Some squatters left a TV in here. And a VCR.”
Sam slowly lifted his foot and carefully stepped through the doorway. He had felt the presence of the consecrated structure of brick and stone from almost a mile away and he was fairly certain that physically walking through its door would bring much more. As soon as he put his boot down he felt the jolt of it radiate up his leg, through his groin and spread through his belly in a dull burn that doubled him over. He stumbled when it flooded up his spine and filled his head with noise, turning his skin numb and his vision white. Sam didn’t remember falling down, but he was on his knees, his hands gripping the gritty floor and the cold sweat running down his back flashing nauseatingly to hot.
“I’m-I’m fine.” Sam used the doorway to prompt himself up. “Just tripped.”
His brother’s flashlight lit the vestibule with a dull yellow glow, the space between them lit up brightly with the tight circle of its faltering bulb.
“Tripped on what?” Dean flashed the light around. “I’m not seein’ any banana peels.””
Sam’s skin turned icy again, his hands gripping the doorway with the sudden fear to attempt venturing any further onto hallowed ground. He’d walked through these places all his life, but he hadn’t been through many since he had begun his education. The spaces that had been sanctuaries where now turning as toxic to him as they were to the beasts he’d hunted. Sam felt his fear suddenly replaced with anger.
It wasn’t fair.
He didn’t ask for this.
All he did was use what had been forced into his blood. The only thing he was guilty of was taking the Family Business to a whole new level. Becoming closer to the enemy to better destroy it. Learning from those that had the upper hand and always would. For all these years he’d been forced to hide and hunt in the dark with outdated firearms and a book of flimsy prayers. When he was lucky he could arm himself with bits and pieces of information from the scant collection of books that were as old as the evil his family had been condemned annihilate.
And this is what he got for finally having an edge against the dark?
“Your eyes,” Dean’s voice sounded strained. “Sammy...”
He focused on his brother and immediately noticed that everything in the room including Dean appeared different. There was an aura of light outlining Dean, like a shadow of a flame dripping from each gesture of his hands and flaring from the top of his head as if he’d been ignited like a torch. The brightest spot was concentrated over Dean’s heart, it was a deep orange that had seeped into angry red with his agitation. Sam blinked and realized he could hear things as well as see them. The steady stream of noise wasn't full of coherent sentences but random thoughts, fragments of fear and uncertainty…
Gold eyes. I saw them.
The ground is shaking.
He might kill me.
What do I do, fuck, what do I do…
“Back up, Dean,” Sam rasped. “Back way up.”
Dean didn’t turn his back but started to slowly walk backwards with his hands out to brace himself against the pews. Sam cocked his head to watch him move. All of it was pretty in a way, the flashes of his brother’s aura shifting from the burnt orange of a sunset and back to the angry red that pounded over his chest, fluttering faster and faster as Sam took a step forward for every two Dean took towards the ruined pulpit.
“They say that only the high level demons can walk on sacred ground,” Sam told him. “They say they’re too powerful to be stopped by any of the wards.”
“You’re not a demon,” Dean stumbled when he backed into a pew that had been shoved sideways into the aisle. “You’re human. Anything that’s messing you up is because of that, you hear me? It’s because you’re not enough of a demon for any of it to read you right.”
“You seem pretty sure about that.” Sam stopped when Dean got to the pulpit steps. “You make it sound so … plausible.”
“What do you want me to say, Sam?” Dean asked. “You came in here and you haven’t gone up in a puff of smoke because you’re just too badass? You aren’t turning inside out because God loves you?”
The polished wood of the pew under Sam’s hand had been carved with more graffiti, the uneven initials of boys and girls that swore to be 2together 4ever. Sam passed his thumb over the mediocre declarations long lost love and felt an unexpected smile come to his face.
“You’re safe here,” Dean said. “Because as far as I can tell the will of God ain’t usually real subtle.”
“My eyes,” Sam gingerly touched the skin of his face as if it was an open wound. “What do they look like?”
Dean was silent for a moment, slowly looking around the pulpit littered with trash. The stained glass towering behind him was all intact and solid black with the early morning hour. But Sam could make out the familiar saints and holy men despite the lack of radiance of the morning sunlight meant to illuminate the walls and ceilings.
“Come here, Sammy.”
Sam studied the cistern a few moments before he climbed the steps to stand next to his brother. The pool of holy water was black and Sam was thankful when Dean said nothing when all the candles scattered nearby flickered to life with a small force of his will. Leaning down over the mirror of water, he peered at the familiar tired features of his face, the slight downward curve of his mouth, the creased brow and his eyes…
“What does it feel like?” Dean asked. “Does it hurt?”
“Not exactly,” Sam wanted to explain how the gold turned everything inside out. His brother’s blood thrummed over his skin in a network riot of color as the heat of his body dissipated down into the floor boards in cool blues and purples. The wind outside was nothing but degrees of pale greens, and the great wide sky was filled with a horrible rushing sound, monstrous and unstoppable as if all the universe was like a major freeway out of sight just over the trees. “I see… more.”
“Well,” Dean shrugged. “Switch it off.”
“I figure it came on like that because you walked into this place,” Dean considered. “You know, like some kind of instinct.”
“It’s not that easy, Dean,” Sam stepped away from the pool and slumped into a pew. “It doesn’t work that way.”
“You don’t have to obey an instinct,” Dean sat down next to him. “You’re not a freakin’ animal.”
Sam felt his eyes go hot, the usual burn of tears running down his cheeks as commonplace as any other part of the day. It had gotten downright easy after Dean had died. Welcome even as he spent night after night all alone with no one to hide from. After a few months of being alone it had become second nature. But ever since Dean had come back he hadn’t done very well hiding it. There was always the shower. Driving graveyard shift. Sometimes when he was digging a grave it was hard to tell the difference between sweat and tears.
“You hear, me Sammy?”
Sam was surprised when he blinked up and all the colors and sounds had started to fade away to barely a whisper of what they had been. Dean’s face was half hidden in the shadows of the candlelight, his hand gripped like a vice around Sam’s bicep and steady as a rock.
“See?” Dean gave him a half smile. “No more gold.”
“…it’s hard.” Sam dragged a hand under his nose. “Sometimes it feels better to just … to just-”
“Wallow in it?”
“No!” Sam surprised himself with the vehemence that came out with the word. “It’s not like that.”
“We can do this,” Dean said. “God knows how you did it all on your own all this time, but now we’re back together. You don’t have to do any of this shit alone. Do you get me?”
Sam’s vision blurred as he nodded down at his folded hands, the searing sting of his tears rolling down into the palms of his hands. Dean’s arms eased over his shoulders and Sam let his face fall into his brother’s neck, allowing himself to cry like he did only when he was alone. It was harsh, violent and desperate.
It was ugly.
“D-Dean…” Sam wheezed, clutching at Dean‘s jacket. “I’m sorry. I‘m so sorry…”
“Don’t think about that stuff right now,” Dean said. “It’s going to be fine.”
Dean used his shirt sleeves to wipe away the spit and snot running down Sam’s face. When that ran out, he performed a little blasphemy by soaking a bandana in the cistern and squeezed the cold water into Sam’s dry mouth and wiped it across his swollen eyes.
“Just breathe, okay?” Dean had pushed his jacket under his head. “I want you to try to relax.”
Sam lay on the steps of the pulpit and started to shake as Dean‘s callused hand came down to rest on his forehead. Keeping his eyes closed he could still hear the dull roar of the world waiting just outside the church doors. The doors rattled on the chains as if they were buffeted by a strong wind, the rafters creaking as if a hand had closed over this makeshift refugee and was tightly squeezing it in its grip.
“You’re not alone,” Dean was laying next to him, whispering into his ear like he used to do when they were kids crammed in the same single bed. “You got to believe that.”
Rolling over onto his side, he found by utter accident that when he pressed up against his brother the ramble of static waiting at the church’s threshold quieted and dimmed. He pressed his back into his brother’s side and felt something close to sleep pull at the edges of slowing thoughts.
“Get some sleep, Sammy,” Dean told him. “Everything’s always better in the morning, right?”
The musty sleeping bag was warm and made the hard wood floors feel just about as comfortable as a mattress. A metal waste can turned into a fireplace and the light flickered and danced up the church walls as if it were the only way the artisans that created them had meant for them to be lit.
Sam rolled onto his back and studied the mural that stretched across the ceiling. The angels. The saints. The demons. The chosen. The fallen. He closed his eyes and tried to forget every detail in the mural that hung above. He was surrounded by the legions of heaven and hell. Some wanted him destroyed and others wanted him for their use. Rolling over, Sam studied the gentle rise and fall of his brothers chest as he had somehow managed to settle into sleep.
Some of them simply lived to keep him alive.
And despite it all, Sam had never felt more alone in his entire life.