And Fools Shine On - VI - 'Coordination'

Warnings: smooshies, epithets, denial, etc.

_____________

Sam's standing guard.

There's enough salt at the door and around the beds to raise the entire town's blood pressure. He doesn't know what kind of sublevel noise the revenant may have been making, or what else might be in the area, so he waits.

It wasn't the first time he's had to swing his brother into a fireman's carry, and likely not the last, but he was desperately glad for just the chance, this time. He isn't sure how he knows, but Dean is still in there somewhere.

Dean has never been as vulnerable to possession as he is right now, and Sam can feel the bullseyes on their backs. That would have been true even if Dean hadn't...come loose, or whatever he's done. Sam can feel differences even though Dean hasn't been conscious yet. Dean is an open door of some sort now and Sam thinks that can be good and bad if they can figure out what it means before anyone - or thing - else does. It's not power by definition but it seems to Sam that Dean may be wearing himself on the surface for awhile and it's going to be odd. If he's right.

They should keep moving but he's not going to throw Dean in the back of the Impala. Something this bad deserves genuine rest even if they have to make a stand to get it.

-|-

Dean tries to surface a couple of times and realizes it's a matter of handholds. The terrain is still his but not as familiar as it should have been.

no one knows you, eldest

The voice isn't even close to Sam's anymore in his memory although the bastard used Sam's voice to say the words. He realizes now that the voice was never even like Sam's. He wanted to see Sam and so Sam is what he got.

-|-

When Dean opens his own eyes on the external world for the first time in maybe a week, it's to a semi-dark motel room. The bathroom door off to his left is open a crack and light is stabbing around the edges. It tells his fogged brain one of two things: Sam didn't want him waking to total darkness, or Sam could no longer handle the darkness. Dean thinks it's a bit of both, because they used to leave the bathroom light on all the time when Sam was a kid.

Sam's certainly not got the light on due to being in the bathroom, because Sam is sprawled partly in the bed with him. His feet are on the floor but his head and one shoulder are on Dean's chest. He can't possibly be comfortable but Dean understands about keeping a foot on the floor in case rolling out of bed isn't fast enough. He reflects that bunking with Sam in earlier years had been like getting up close and personal with an octopus; the boy was a snuggler and apparently the years have not changed that. Sam is 6'5" now, something Dean will never be used to.

Sam's head on his chest, though, that's fine and comfortable and he could be used to that. As long as he never has to admit it. All he has to admit is that things were pretty damn bad this time and Sam has earned the right to listen to his brother's heart all night if he wants to; and maybe subconsciously hold him down in case anything else comes calling.

He thinks over what he remembers of that little scene on the overpass, and he thinks about pulling Sam's hair for starters, but all he does is lift his left hand - Christ, why is that so hard? - and thread his fingers through his little brother's hair. Sam is whole and warm and real and actually asleep for once, so he can wait awhile longer to punch him for being an impulsive dumbass.

It's probably the first time he's ever been so happy to see a motel room.

Thinking's hard and boring so he quits.

-|-

When he opens his eyes again he's starting over from the beginning and remembers next to nothing. It's daylight. He blinks in it and wonders at how disconnected everything feels. His limbs are his but it feels like he's wearing gloves that are too large. He's not fitting into his whole skin, there's too much room in there with him. He understands on some level that he's got to fill everything back out.

He has got to get up or his bladder is going to disown him. That part, at least, has filled out.

He rolls toward the door to start the process of sitting up, and holy shit the door is open. He braces his arms to shove himself off the bed, not realizing how wide his eyes are or how much terror is visible in his face. It's going to get in again and crush him and go right after Sam -

"Hey, hey!"

It's Sam's voice and form coming in the door, and Dean is scrambling for something to use as a weapon. It doesn't occur to him that he hasn't had a weapon until now and that it's mainly because he's no longer in headspace. All he sees is that he left the door open and let it in.

"Dean. It's over, it's done, come on." Sam's already got his hands up and palms-out, placating, because he can count on one hand the times he's seen the whites of his brother's eyes from a distance.

With his lack of coordination, Dean's managed to knock everything from the nightstand onto the floor, and because of it and the fact that he's still not entirely awake he pauses when Sam sits down on the floor just inside the door with his hands still held out. It takes Dean that long to catch up again and remember.

He relaxes and keeps his feet on the floor, listening to his own heart hammer. He keeps blinking at Sam, and with each blink Sam is a little clearer - and not just in a visual sense. Real Sam, real world. His first comment is suitably profound. "Dude," he says and waggles his head back and forth a little as if he's just come out of the pool a bit waterlogged.

"We're okay." It's all Sam says and all he needs to, the fewest words in the smallest space to convey as much as he can. He does it with eyebrows slightly raised and head tipped forward, tone and body language calm despite the raised hands. Dean mulls it over while his eyes keep darting around the room and checking the door. Check Sam's eyes, check the door, check Sam's eyes. Safe. 'We're okay' means you're not hurt and I'm not hurt either and it also manages to imply you didn't do anything to me while it had you.

Sam will never tell Dean about the blood on the door. It will occur to him in later years when this week comes up, and he will never share that bit of trivia because Dean is swagger and guns-a-blazing but the failures wound him permanently. He would automatically assume the death of an innocent by a hand almost his. Sam is sad eyes and insight but he is the hardcase here, the true killer of the two underneath. He sets his jaw and settles in for the long haul. They are both good , he knows and feels that on levels best left in the quiet, but he also knows that good comes in subtle shades that vary as widely as the colors of the available light.

Given the choice between flash and smoulder, the world may not be kinder to embers but it does respect them. Sam's embers will keep things going when Dean is through burning the world down.

They'll never talk of the blood the same way Dean doesn't ask about what it said in his voice. The same way he doesn't ask about the shapeshifter. If it didn't come straight from him, the real him, then it shouldn't be dignified with acknowledgement.

"Where are we?" Dean says.

"Indiana."

"How long?" Dean says, and doesn't notice that Sam is having a hard time holding his gaze.

"A week since the big adventure started, and you've been out for two days. What's the last thing you remember?" Sam drops his hands and keeps sitting by the door.

Dean is trying to run his hand through his hair and it's all he can do not to fall over on the bed when he does. Tiltling head: bad idea. "Uh...I don't know. Something about telling you not to touch me." He pauses, and Sam recognizes the look in his eyes when he raises them: brimstone.

"You...idiot. Just... fucking idiot!"

Dean's best and first way of letting Sam know he's fine is with shouting and arm waving, sound and fury signifying nothing.

"Aaaaaaand you would have done what, with the roles reversed?" Sam is goading him in his best and most caustic drawl as he climbs to his feet. "Let me jump? You're a goddamn hypocrite sometimes."

"I would have loved chasing your dumb ass all over the country trying to pry you loose, assuming it ever let go of me," Dean says, too angry to go on shouting. Dean's best and first way of being truly worried: growling. "I don't think it meant to settle for a hijacking in your case, Sam."

All the dark things just loveyoucan'tresist -

"Not like you were gonna shoot me either," Dean says. "The least you can do is let me save you when you need it." Sam shoots him an incredulous glare, then finds himself trying not to laugh, because the quickly disappearing look on Dean's face says the words got out before he could shut himself up. To cover, Dean quickly resorts to shouting again. "You moron!"

Sam can feel himself clenching his teeth, and his mouth is pressing into a line of impatience while he pauses a foot away from Dean with his hands on his hips. "Guess what? I don't want it. Did that ever occur to you? It's not okay for you to go all martyr on me every chance you get. I'm gonna do what I can, sometimes. What I did was all I had left." He pauses and with a tilt of his head, adds "You're all I have left. If we've gotta argue about who can afford to let go of who, I didn't bring my violin. Don't be such a girl , Dean."

Dean shakes his head and looks disgusted.

"We did what we could with what we had," Sam says. "So...shut up. I can make my own mistakes."

Dean's too tired to bother shouting anymore, so he sighs and looks at the ceiling with a practiced indifference. It causes him to lose his balance, fall over backward and sprawl on the bed. He immediately tries to make it look like he meant to do it. He fails.

"We're obviously gonna be here a couple of days," Sam says. He kicks the bed, not to see if something's under it but to annoy what's on it.

"And then what," Dean says.

"Dunno," Sam says. "Dad sent us coordinates three days ago." When Dean frowns and glares at him, he shrugs. "No point reminding you we could have been the coordinates, the way we've been acting."

Dean decides to glare at the ceiling instead, and Sam grins. "You want help getting up?"

"No."

"I'm gonna get food then," Sam says. He watches Dean tense a little at the thought of being left alone and knows that would never have happened if Dean had his shell in place. Taking him along would expose them both to more than leaving him somewhere he could salt himself into oblivion. "Whatever else it was up to, at least it fed you. But you've gotta be starving by now." He shoves his hands in his front pockets because he's not sure what else to do with them.

Dean nods a little, careful not to look at Sam. "So what was it?"

"Probably a revenant. The road we were on was fairly new, and until someone paved through there it didn't have a shot at anybody."

"And the construction guys would only have been out there during the day," Dean says. "It had to be you and me, stopping right there, right then. Brilliant."

He pauses, and Sam says, "It might not have been the only one."

Dean raises an eyebrow. "What makes you say that?"

"I don't know. But it won't hurt to check and make sure. It's on our way to the next job." Dean's eyes focus on the ceiling with visible effort, and Sam feels a stab of sympathy. It'll probably hurt. "Prepared, this time. So no one else runs into the same thing."

Dean grins suddenly. "Maybe there's a little cult of them out there. I already know the secret handshake. I don't suppose there's a chance of salting and burning anything?"

Sam shakes his head. "If it was ever human, it was too old for there to still be anything to burn. I think."

He hopes.

-|-

After a couple days of eating and sleeping, Dean's ready to do anything but keep hanging around. He has enough coordination back to count on his reflexes but not enough to make Sam happy. Dean wins the argument for getting back on the road but Sam wins the coin toss for who's driving the first leg. Sam purposely buys a converter to hook up to the cigarette lighter and a cd player and several CDs. Dean purposely makes a show of sleeping for the first several miles.

"I hate this hippie folk crap," Dean says when he's awake.

"Dave Matthews is a genius, Dean," Sam says. "If you'd give it a chance, which you will, you'll probably like some of it."

Dean makes a face and slumps further down in the seat. "They ripped off Dylan's Watchtower."

Sam sighs loudly and taps his fingers along the steering wheel. "What's the rule?"

Dean is silent for a moment but Sam doesn't need the benefit of anything approaching telepathy to hear the stream of annoyed grouching in his brother's thick skull.

"Shotgun, blah blah, cakehole," Dean finally mumbles. "Wiseass."

Half an hour later Dean grudgingly admits to enjoying 'Jimi Thing'. He does so by bobbing his head slightly along to the beat. Sam is generous enough not to laugh.

Not back where they were, yet, but that isn't necessarily bad.

-|-


 

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