Catalyst

(c)2006 gekizetsu
a/n: Fell back into present tense on this one. Meh, who knows why. Also: Americans are stupid and still haven't converted to metrics and we still use Farenheit, so, I apologize to the rest of the world. Slightly cracked out lunacy for Maygra on her birthday! It's a paltry thing but offered with lots of <3.
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cat-a-lyst , n. : 1. Chemistry. A substance, usually used in small amounts relative to the reactants, that modifies and increases the rate of a reaction without being consumed in the process.
2.One that precipitates a process or event, especially without being involved in or changed by the consequences.
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The main thing is getting past Dad.

Everything else is cake.

It speaks to how well John's trained them as well as to how well they've taken to it. They're silent and clever enough to sneak up on anyone, on anything, wild animals as well as all the unnatural things that put piranha to shame, and it's second nature. John is something else though, and they know it. Maybe there are times he simply lets them go. It doesn't really matter. He either can't stop them or chooses not to, and in any case they get out and run loose. He probably trusts them enough not to go too far - in distance or in any other way - but that's something Dean's got ingrained without even knowing, something Sam lacks because Dean fields that line drive with his head and heart every now and then and makes it his responsibility. It frees Sam up in a way, and they're blissfully unaware of it at the conscious level. Sam's ignorance is Dean's well and willfully worn albatross.

During summer vacations they belong nowhere and everywhere. Both boys understand consequence, but the lesson can't stick as hard when they'll just be leaving it all behind in a few days.

This particular night John sleeps in the bed nearest the door, his customary place. Sometimes Dean tries to usurp the spot and Sam follows suit; the boys usually share a bed, and Dean pushes his luck with a grin while lounging lengthwise. John lets him get away with it occasionally, and only between hunts. Only when he's sure there's nothing dogging their steps, which isn't often. He knows that Dean is up to something when he tries to sleep near the door. Dean never openly challenges him, and that makes the difference.

There are nights that the boys don't mind that John would wake sooner or later and that there'll probably be - at the minimum - a stern lecture. The risk is the best part and only starts with getting out.

Dean has a length of surgical tubing, borrowed from the first aid kit and meant for tourniquets, and there's a six pack of beer from the car. Fifteen year old Sam is almost as tall as nineteen year old Dean, and their shadows mix and match their way across the motel parking lot and out of sight, through vacant lots and jaywalked streets. Sam is babyfaced and probably always will be and he's still trying to find center in all that sudden height nature's giving him, but he walks like Dean does. They walk like mountain lions and a million other things people understand not to fuck with. They're more dangerous than anything they could run into out there because they've been raised to survive; more dangerous even than their father, who knows it all but wasn't born to it the way they are.

Two of the beers are gone before they get into the downtown shopping area of this passthrough place, someone's home turf that looks the same as everywhere else they go. The street names change and the faces vary but damn if they don't sometimes copy each other. Dean points out that so many states have a town called Winchester every time they look at a map, and he insists that sooner or later he's going to visit every single one and make sure that people knew he was there. They'll remember me and I don't really care how.

Sam still can't hold his liquor and it doesn't matter. He's lanky and growing too fast and he lopes around like a yearling colt, but he's never absent of his basic grace, so if he gets loopy there will still be something to get by with even if Dean isn't with him. Still Dean is always with him, because Sam is taught every day how to rely more on himself and Dean is learning how to shadow him instead of the other way around. Sam is coming up on not needing him anymore but that's not today or this week so they're running wild and don't belong to anything but each other, and their shadows match just for now, for the first time. There is no Dad, there is no hunt, and the world only turns because they will it.

Sam is giggling because the first beer goes straight to his head and he knows they're going to do something stupid and he's all in because he runs as fast as anyone else now and Dean doesn't look over his shoulder anymore. He's snickering because Dean has always done things just to make him laugh, Dean is everything he thinks he should be, Dean is a demigod that's left room for him to find sainthood and share the sky.

It's been dry for days and hotter than anyone likes it, and even now at one a.m. it's still in the nineties. Dean ties one end of the surgical tubing as they walk, double knots in double time, making Sam hold the beer and goading him into having another while he looks for a water source. They pass a gas station and he tests the water from the water-and-air pump and bitches when he finds it's warm. He wheedles the key out of the attendant and ducks into the restroom, then yells for Sam. Sam laughs when he sees what Dean is doing - he's managed to get one end of the thick tubing over the faucet and it's expanding almost obscenely in length and girth. The laughter turns into the knee-weak kind, the kind that screws up blood flow and causes the nervous system to shut down a little, and Dean's laughing too but he's also ordering Sam to grab the end of the damn thing because he's going to drop it otherwise. He can't hold it on the faucet and keep it from falling. Six feet of tubing becomes twelve, and Sam is on the grimy tile floor laughing too hard to do much more than hold the damn thing up. He's quit making noise at all except for the occasional whimper of mirth, sweat trailing down his face and neck and soaking his shirt.

Dean finally shuts the faucet off and pinch-pops the end loose as he winds it around his fingers. The huge and unwieldy thing is slippery and looks ridiculous and there's no way they'll go unnoticed, but they're Dean and Sam and that means they can do anything, one way or another. Dean is breathless with laughter but not like Sam is, and the only way to get Sam up finally is to squirt him with a little of the super-pressurized, ice-cold water, and Sam shrieks and lets go. They both suck in a breath as the thing bounces on the tile and Dean doubles his grip on the untied end. It somehow doesn't become a water-grenade, and they get it up on their shoulders and take off across the parking lot with the world's biggest water-weenie.

Dean makes some comment about condoms and balloon animals; Sam snickers and counters with something so filthy that Dean laughs out loud, and that's all the applause Sam needs. His days of saying or doing almost anything to get Dean's approval are almost over, but not tonight or next week.

Even at this time of night, someone should see them. They're half drunk and carrying something odd on their shoulders and they're laughing like this is the most fun they've ever had, which is true and not quite true all at once, like freedom. Dean still doesn't say exactly what they're going to do and doesn't really have to. Part of the ritual is the fact that Sam rarely knows exactly when Dean is going to stop going round and round the mulberry bush. The anticipation is almost better than the payoff. Sam's smart enough to know they're going to piss someone off and he won't get much warning. As long as they don't get shot or arrested, it's all good.

When they end up pressing against the cracked stucco of the outside of a bar, shoulders pressed to the slightly cooler surface and out of the reach of the safety lights, Sam knows what's coming but not when so he tries not to laugh but it's too hard. Dean would shush him if he wasn't so close to losing it. When Sam takes in a too-fast breath and accidentally snort-laughs, Dean's shoulders begin to shake and Sam knocks his head against the stucco when he throws his head back to try and keep it all in. They're out there for maybe five minutes before Dean hears someone coming and signals to Sam with a jerk of his head.

When the guy comes past them on the sidewalk - later they're glad it was a guy, really, because a pissed chick will go all out to hunt you down and kill you - Dean's hands have cramped and he can't let go of the damn end of the thing at first. So the guy is several steps past them when a huge jet of still-cold water shoots fifteen feet straight out and nails him in the back, several gallons of water splashing into him and soaking him from head to toe.

Dean whoops, he full-out war-whoops like he does sometimes in a chase to blindside things, and it's that as much as the water that startles the guy into losing his footing and falling off the curb. Sam has one brief thought about those fainting goats he's seen on the nature shows and he's laughing way too hard to run. The guy is rolling in the street and there's still water coming out of the goddamn tubing. Then Dean is spinning and grabbing for Sam and pulling him along, the tubing trailing out along behind him and whipping the rest of the water over them, sparkles of wet arcing in the safety lights. They run like hunters, heel-toe, a maximum of movement with a minimum of sound, gone before their victim knows how or how many.

The stream of obscenity behind them is deadly serious but too emotional to even make sense. The words string together as seamless as the cascade of water that caused them, but come out of order. Sam later repeats some of the better combinations and invents his own, and the amusement comes more from the event than the value of the words.

They hit three more people before two a.m., and a group of girls in a convertible. That last one involves the loss of the tubing and forces them to jump several fences to cross the yards of sleeping urbanites. Between the screaming of the girls (harpies, Dean is convinced) and Dean singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic with his own lyrics as they run, the lights come on in houses and apartments. Someone's Labrador nearly turns inside out trying to get off its chain as they cross another yard, and later several people will say they saw and heard at least a dozen kids.

By the time they stop, they're soaked in sweat from the heat but if they're out of breath it's from laughter and not the run. The run was easy. They have no idea where they are in relation to the motel and that's fine, because in relation to each other they're one shadow, tonight and next week, matched up.

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