Rating: PG - Gen
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: During a ferry ride a storm hits.
"How long is this gonna take anyway?"
"A few hours."
Dean's hands repeatedly gripped and then released the steering wheel. A subtle and often missed sign that his older brother was nervous. Truth be told, so was he. But not for anywhere near the same reasons.
A bank of storm clouds flickered lightening just on the ocean's horizon, the dark gray mass of a thunderhead looming up into the sky and hanging like an anvil. The blue gray waters of the bay spread out just as far to meet the clouds, the wind picking up just enough to send the even surface into the steady ripple of waves. They drove up as the car ahead of them finished paying the man seated importantly in the red painted booth. As they pulled up alongside him Sam could hear Connie Francis crooning from his patched little radio, and smell the deep rich scent of the pipe the old guy had hanging from the corner of his mouth.
Sam couldn't decide whether it was the very North or the extreme South that had perfected the art of taking their sweet time to do even the most simple things. But whoever did it better, it had to be close to a tie. Everything was simple and no problem but it always took a year and day to accomplish.
Like buying a ferry ticket.
It should have been charming or even soothing but Sam couldn't shake his vague distraction. It was filling his thoughts like the clouds that were spreading across the sky.
"Hey sir?" Dean asked to the turned back of the man that was spending ample care to count out the 4 dollars in change. "How long does this boat take to get to the island?"
The man chewed his pipe and took a good look at the sky.
Sam sighed, looking ahead at the almost completely filled ferry. Its deck a mini parking lot filled with everyone trying to avoid the extra 50 mile drive to the only existing bridge.
The booth guy took in a deep breath. "In this weathah, she'll be about the bettah of the hour and then maybe anothah and then some." He turned back to his work of laboriously preparing their ticket.
Dean looked back at his brother in annoyed exasperation. "Was that even fuckin' English?"
"I told you," Sam repeated. "It will probably take a couple hours."
"The drive to the bridge will probably only be like what, 45 minutes?" Dean calmly negotiated. "We'd be there in no time--"
"And then drive who knows how long on muddy who knows dirt roads to get to the only who knows where town on the island?" Sam shook his head. "No way Dean, we're going."
There were lots of reasons to argue his point. Someone might die. Someone might vanish. Someone might hurt someone else. It went on and on. There were a thousand faceless someones waiting for them everywhere to do something to save them. And they didn't even know it. Dean snatched the waiting ferry ticket out of the solemn booth attendant's hand.
The man leaned down low and nodded slowly to them both. "You have a real nice time out there in Chebeague."
"I won't." Dean promised under his breath as he drove towards the metal ramp where yet another old man was waiting. The Impala was guided into the last and only spot on the boat.
Sam glanced behind them as the ferry gate slammed noisily closed. Dean switched the ignition off, watching the scant boat crew start to shove chocks up around all four wheels of the car.
"What are those for?" Dean leaned out the window to ask.
"Storm's coming." One guy said gesturing to the rumbling clouds with his chin. "Just in case we get some chop."
"Sure... chop. Chop? What the hell is... hey wait a second pal!" The guy had already moved on to his do his work. He turned quickly and in all seriousness to his brother. "Sam, what's this chop talk about?"
"Waves." That was all he was willing to say.
Dean watched him, waiting for more but not getting any.
"It'll be fine." Sam said shortly unable to reassure anyone about anything at the moment.
He got out of the car and took a deep breath of the cold humid salty wind. With two hours of Dean at sea to go and maybe a thunderstorm to boot, he was going to have to pace himself. If he was really lucky maybe his brother would just get seasick enough to stay in the bathroom for the duration. Dean swung his own door shut, looking around in alarm when the boat's engines thumped into gear and the whirl and thud of its propeller churned up the water behind it.
"So like, Poseidon Adventure wave or like ... oh shit there goes Japan wave or...?"
Sam really hoped this old tub had a bar.
A beer later and things were decidedly much better. For Dean anyway. The promise of alcohol always put his brother in better spirits in just about any and all situations no matter how dire. Toss in a fried fish sandwich, hot chowder and strong coffee and Sam was feeling at least not hungry anymore. All of their fellow passengers were milling around in the lower deck's enclosed area, chased in by the first cold smatterings of rain that blew in with the ocean spray at the leading edge of the storm.
It left the open deck and walkways for them to wander alone besides some of the crew. They walked with their hands shoved deep into their pockets, turning away from the rain of sea water that occasionally hissed up over the stern. Sam paused to watch a sea gull dive down into the water beside them and reappear with its kill.
Something was always waiting around a corner or under a bed to finish something else off. It was law of the universe and certainly a steady one in the shadow of their own. For no reason, Sam looked over his shoulder at the bleak and wet empty deck behind him. Even here there could be something unseen and volatile. Watching them walk and talk. Observing like a predator from the murky shallows... He rubbed his forehead. Since when had he ever felt their existence was this delicate? Maybe he had just never allowed himself to think of how much it really was.
"So where are we?" Dean leaned on the railing and looked back towards the mainland they had left behind. "Are we 'port' or are we 'starboard'?"
"We're 'starboard aft'" Sam automatically summoned the information. They were at the very back of the ferry, just past the small fleet of parked cars and standing just above the massive chaotic white wake the boat was cutting behind it. "Why, you wanna take up yachting now?"
"OK, OK, it's not so bad," Dean admitted with a shrug. "I just don't like all the water. Not natural to be around nothing but water if you ask me."
More like his brother didn't like not being up at the wheel telling the boat exactly where it could go, but Sam kept his thoughts to himself. Dean mistook his silence for doubt.
"Look, you think I can't do it? Think I can't face my..." Dean cracked a smile, easily amused by himself. "...demons...as they were?"
Why was it that his brother's demons were mass transit and his were the actual scaled and clawed kind? Sam pulled his jacket zipper further up his neck. That wind was really starting to pick up.
"Cuz I can you know." Dean insisted semi-sincerely.
"Hey, you didn't hear me say a thing man."
"Fine," Dean tentatively stepped up onto the very lowest and first section of the ferry railing and stood up straight. "Look, no hands."
Sam rolled his eyes at his brother's small and unspectacular feat, his attention caught by the splash and fall of a curtain of sea water as a powerful wave lackadaisically struck the port side just opposite them. He turned to watch it come down in a cold fine mist over the rows of parked cars. There was another right after it, a swell making the boat lurch up, the port side lifting and suddenly making the swaying deck a brief incline. It didn't look like much but it was steep enough to make Sam, who had never spent much time on the water, to start to stumble sideways.
In his peripheral vision he saw Dean begin to falter forward from his lean over the railing.
Sam went cold with the fear that had been playing on the edges of his senses all day, a bitter copper taste spreading on his tongue. Without thinking, his hand shot out instinctively and swiftly. He grabbed the collar of his brother's jacket and with all the strength he possessed, yanked him as hard as he could backwards. Dean landed hard on his back with a surprised gasp and cracking his head against the metal deck. He lay there silent, chest hitching and dazed.
Stunned, it took Sam a few moments to realize that the force of it had knocked the air right out of Dean's lungs. Another wave broke against the ferry spraying them both with frigid salt water. He hadn't meant to toss him back that strongly. He hadn't meant to--
"I-I'm sorry man--" He knelt to help but his brother pushed him away.
"W-What the..." Dean wheezed. "What the HELL w-was that for?!"
"I thought- I thought you were about to fall?"
"I wasn't about to do anything. I was-I was.." He groaned as he sat up and nursed his elbow. "...I was fine."
Sam swallowed, trying to slow his breathing and calm his heart that was thumping wildly in his chest. He breathed out a strange laugh as he attempted to will his sudden and dizzying flood of adrenaline away. He was laughing at himself. He was laughing at Dean for now looking as startled as Sam felt. Monsters? Ghosts? Curses? Time to add low pressure systems and gravity onto that list. Maybe even himself. Christ, he was really losing it.
Dean stumbled to a stand with the rocking deck, his hand ruefully touching the back of his head before his gaze fell back on Sam. A single question there. Behind the sick tug of whatever it was that just came over him, Sam felt thankful and safe enough that Dean wouldn't go about asking it just yet. The ferry began to seriously dip and rise in the slow undulation of the storms lazy passing. Sam gripped the railing as he felt his fish sandwich move with it. Rain finally started falling down in fat heavy drops, splattering around them.
Dean's flustered gaze finally shifted away from him and onto the nearby Impala. "All this salt water... it's gonna really screw up the car." He said in a distracted low voice, barely heard over the ferry engine and the rain.
Sam swallowed back a wave of nausea. He suddenly wanted nothing more than the feel of that leather bench seat and the sound of rain drumming on the metal roof. He just wanted to sit down somewhere familiar until all this motion stopped.
Dean took in the green cast to his face. Sam wondered if he knew it wasn't just the deep steady rocking of the ferry that was turning his stomach.
"Wish we had taken that bridge now don't ya?" Dean mumbled.
Sam realized what he had to do. He couldn't survive this if he let his mind go into every place it wanted to go. He couldn't ponder about next week and what it would bring. Hell, he couldn't even linger too long on tomorrow. He was sure it was humanly possible to exercise that level of selective denial. Dean blinked up through the rainfall and into the dull glow of lightening that flickered in the storm clouds drifting above them.
"Come on, let's get inside."
He wordlessly followed his brother along the slick wet deck and shrugged deeper into his damp jacket. All he had to do is watch Dean fall into a peaceful night's sleep after decapitating something that most people only thought existed in the pages of books. Living that way was more than possible. It was preferable. Sam had grown up almost succeeding in being just like him.
He guessed this was his second chance.