Longer Than That Road
© 2010 gekizetsu
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For buffyaddict13, whose prompt was for gen happy-type-with-angst fic involving Sam and Dean hanging out over the years, based on the lyrics to the Beatles’ Two of Us. So: these are several vignettes on things the boys have seen and done together, in ways they never could or would with anyone else. 4500 words, PG-13 for language. Lyrics follow the tale.

-|-

I.
You and me Sunday driving
Not arriving on our way back home…

“They could make a goddamn reality show out of this,” Dean said.

They were lost. In Kansas, of all places. Whether it was the map they had or how tired they were or how hungry, they had taken a wrong turn and another wrong turn and the entire road system seemed to be trying to purposely thwart them.

“It’s a flat state. We can practically see the entire state from any part of it, but no, it’s this. They should hold the next Survivor here. Survivor: Bum Fuck Kansas.”

Dean’s bitching wasn’t helping, but it wasn’t hurting either. As little as he wanted to be lost, Dean was always good to be lost with even when Sam felt like he didn’t want to hear anymore.

“When a guy is born in a state, the law should be that he automatically gets a pass on ever getting lost there,” Dean continued. “It’s like it doesn’t want us to leave.”

Sam kept quiet, dividing his attention between the map spread out on his knees and the surrounding landscape. They had both of the Impala’s doors open on the side of whatever road that really was, and a lazy breeze passed through, ruffling Sam’s hair and the corner of the map while Dean paced on the white line and ranted.

Sam was not going to suggest adding a GPS to their arsenal; not again. No, they had to navigate manually. Like men. Sam had no idea what the hell that had to do with anything, but that was the reasonable part of his brain talking. He had a grasp of what Dean meant by it, and also that he was not going to get anywhere with that, so he’d let it be. Dad read maps, and needed nothing else, except maybe the stars or the plane of the ecliptic or the way the wind was blowing. When Dean said men he meant Dad.

“Except we can’t really live off the land here like they do when they get dropped onto an island or something. We have to find a corn field. Hurry, Sam, or we’ll die.”

Trying not to smirk, Sam said, “There’s no way you’re hungry enough to eat raw corn.”

“Almost. There isn’t even road kill. Nothing dead or alive, for miles. This is a desperate situation, Sammy.”

“It’s Sam,” Sam corrected yet again with the barest hint of a sigh. There was little point in pressing that point, either. He was 17, for Christ’s sake, and already taller than Dean. He didn’t have any of the muscle yet, though. Not enough to body-check his brother to the floor. But that day was coming, and when it did, he was going to make the most of it. Dean at 21 was even more insufferable than Sam had thought possible, mainly because Dad was letting the two of them hunt together and Dean decided that meant he was the head of some kind of crew, that crew being Sam.

Also, they had Dad’s car. Dean had arrived.

There was only the rumor of a chupacabra, but they were chasing it down on the off chance, and it was nowhere near Lawrence, so it was all good. Something was killing entire coops of chickens by tearing their heads off and then arranging the bodies in a deliberate north-south alignment. No sign of the heads, no blood left. There should have been an insane amount of blood.

“I suspect fucking stupid teenagers,” Dean had said.

“You always suspect them,” Sam had responded, as if neither of them were teens.

“Or Satanists,” Dean said with open disdain. There was nothing worse, in Dean’s book. Except maybe witches. Not Wiccans; he didn’t care about them. Witches.

“Fucking stupid teenage Satanists,” Sam drawled.

Sam and Dean hunted well together. On their own, there was still squabbling because of how different they were, but there was no tension. They were still playmates on some level. Dean’s ubiquitous need to please their father, and Sam’s inherent wish to rebel against him, was absent. Neither of them had an idea of it and they would have vehemently denied it had they been called on it at that point in their lives.

Dean returned to the car and leaned his head in to stare at Sam, one hand braced along the almost-too warm metal of the roof. “Why are you still staring at it when it’s not going to do you any good?”

Sam rattled the map in question and shrugged without looking up. “It’s what we’ve got. You wanna just keep driving?”

“No,” Dean said. Then after a moment he said, “Yes,” and got back in the car.

They headed east again for a while just to do it. Sam thought maybe they were close to Kendall Township. They were supposed to be on the 25, still, but…

“It’s the lack of road signs that’s starting to get on my nerves,” Dean said. “That comment about Survivor was just a joke at first.”

“We have to hit civilization eventually,” Sam said.

“How can you be such an optimist and be so emo at the same time?” Dean said.

Sam ignored him.

Dean slowed suddenly and Sam glanced up to join him in watching a single brown chicken totter across the road in front of them before it started bobbing along the right side with some purpose that only it knew.

They glanced at each other and kept going.

“Too easy,” Dean said.

If it had a head, there was no point investigating it anyway.

A few miles of more nothing later, they began seeing telephone poles and the occasional farmhouse set well back of the road. Barns, then a feed store and machine shop. A grain elevator. A church, denomination unknown. Then, abruptly, there was a small town that consisted of a single street down the middle. There were spaced shops on either side, none of them open - some boarded up - except for a diner at the very end of the brief respite from the open countryside. A pickup and a flatbed were the only vehicles parked in front of it.

It looked perfectly normal through the windows when Dean pulled in alongside the flatbed. The exterior was weather-worn and definitely worse for wear, but the windows were spotless and the people inside looked fairly sane from that distance.

Dean shrugged, knowing Sam was looking at him. “Corn won’t be raw, at least.”

It was cool inside and small, with an open layout in an L shape. The front counter was orange, and the vinyl upholstery on the barstools and booths matched. The place looked either like some sort of throwback to the 70’s, or maybe just a place that had not been updated since then.

The middle aged woman behind the counter looked up and smiled at them and gestured with a coffee pot to indicate they could sit wherever they chose.

Sam slid into a booth and folded his hands on the cracked tabletop. Dean immediately wandered over to the jukebox against the wall to the right of the door. There was nothing in it that dated past 1983. He approved.

There was no one else in the diner, despite the vehicles outside. That didn’t make much sense, unless they were just employee vehicles, but Dean didn’t feel any concern over it. There was nothing too weird about the place.

He slid into the booth across the table from Sam and mirrored his pose. “Any ideas in that giant head of yours?”

“My thoughts are worth at least five bucks,” Sam said.

Dean snorted. “I might have some loose change.”

“I think we should ask where we are,” Sam said. “For all we know, we’re not even in Kansas anymore - shut up, Dean.”

Sam knew immediately that Dean had been about to make the Toto reference and he just didn’t want to hear it.

Dean shrugged.

“If it hurts your pride that much, I’ll ask,” Sam said. There was no sarcasm or judgment in Sam’s tone. He simply knew how things were.

The waitress approached and smiled down on them. “How are you boys this fine afternoon?”

“Fine, thank you,” Sam said, and without ulterior motive or even being aware of it, there was an application of puppy dog eyes and a dimpled grin.

Dean shook his head as the poor woman melted. Still dorky, skinny jail bait, and yet knocking them dead. That’s my Sam.

Dean asked for coffee and Sam wanted a Coke, and they perused yellowed, dog-eared menus. When the waitress - her nametag declared her to be Doris - returned with their drinks, Sam blinked up at her and asked which town they were in.

“Why, Wilburton, honey,” she said.

“I told you,” Dean said. “Why didn’t you believe me?” He raised his gaze to Doris. “Kids these days,” he said.

Sam kicked him under the table just hard enough to make a point.

The food was good. Sam checked the map and wondered aloud how’d they’d managed to get so far off track as to end up in Wilburton.

Wilburton was not on the map.

As they left town, a man, a pregnant woman, and a boy of about four walked into the diner just before it faded away altogether.

-|-

II.
Two of us sending postcards
writing letters on my wall…

As far as abandoned, condemned houses went, the one they were in was still pretty sturdy. Sturdy enough to allow them to use the upstairs bedrooms without fear of falling through the floors, anyway. There were no holes in the roof or windows, and most of the wallpaper was still intact. Rural Ohio apparently didn’t have enough squatters or rotten kids to take advantage of that particular house. Yet.

They’d gone in the back door once they’d realized there were no close neighbors and that disturbing the boards on the front might be seen from the road even with the driveway being so overgrown.

It was Dean who started mapping things out on the walls with a Sharpie. They needed something bigger to work with than the small symbols so painstakingly printed in their father’s journal, and the plain walls in the kitchen and dining area seemed just right.

Plus it offered a small thrill to draw on the walls. He had once gotten into a hell of a lot of trouble for drawing on the walls with crayon, when he’d been three.

He recreated the symbols for the banishment of an egregore to get used to the feel of them, knowing he’d need to draw them quickly once the opportunity arose.

Sam returned from a run to the store, setting gallon jugs of water on the kitchen counters before pausing to watch Dean work. Without comment, he rifled around until he found another marker, then chose a separate part of the wall and began to mirror the symbols.

When Dean glanced at him, Sam said, “We should both know how to do it in case something goes wrong. You get knocked through a lot of walls, dude.”

Dean had to agree. Things liked to throw his ass into walls. It got old.

Sam added the beginnings of an entreaty in Aramaic for the banishment of non-specific evil to his part of the kitchen, humming a little as he went.

Dean leaned over to watch for a moment, then said, “Your handwriting sucks.”

Sam squinted at him, went back to the journal, and then used a large empty space on the wall to recreate his father’s drawing of a Wendigo, with the added bonus that it was flipping Dean off.

BITCH, Dean wrote in foot high letters.

JERK, Sam retorted.

Dean sketched a very basic recreation of the album cover for Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. Then he drew an outline of his hand and turned it into a turkey, just like they’d had to in grade school around Thanksgiving every year.

Sam snorted and bent his attention to scribbling out lines that Dean couldn’t see at first, humming softly as he did it.

Dean abandoned turkeys and decided just handprints on the walls would be pretty damn spooky on their own.

When he returned to Sam it was to find lyrics to a song that was on the damned radio every ten minutes or so.

Out of the island
Into the highway
Past the places where you might have turned
You never did notice
But you still hide away
The anger of angels who won't return

And then he’d been drawing angels. Standard, classical angels with multiple pairs of wings and little halos, mostly just stick figures.

Dean wasn’t going to bring up, yet again, that angels didn’t exist. Sam was seventeen and too old to believe in that nonsense anymore, not with everything else he’d seen, but Dean just wasn’t going to beat that dead horse right then, not when ‘hey I’m an adult now, fuck off’ Sam was indulging in some goofing off with him. If he said something, Sam would shut right down like he’d been doing too often those days.

Let him draw angels.

-|-

III.
You and me burning matches
lifting latches on our way back home…

Salting and burning had become such a typical part of their lives that it really didn’t warrant much thought by the time Dean was in his late twenties. Not unless it was being done while a pissed off spirit was trying to kill them at the same time, of course. But that hardly ever happened. It was usually fairly boring except for the digging.

The one they’d just completed had not done its job, though. The spirit was still wandering around setting fire to the homes of his prior neighbors, coworkers and even some…well, they could be classified as clients, maybe.

Sam sighed beside him, his one constant since the fire that had killed Jessica a year earlier.

Dean was not in the habit of being grateful for the pain or misfortune of others, especially in Sam’s case. But…

Sam was there. With him. It couldn’t be that bad to be happy about that.

“We have to look at it a little harder,” Sam said. “The guy was a fireman and an arsonist, so no matter what rules there are about destroying remains -- ”

Dean could not help getting an annoying old ditty stuck in his head. My brother Bill’s a fireman, and he puts out fires… “Well, there are definitely no more remains,” he said. “Fire should have been the end of it on top of being a little ironic, and it wasn’t, and we don’t have any kind of a goddamn example before now where that didn’t work.”

“Precedent,” Sam said.

“Whatever,” Dean shot back, annoyed. “We don’t have much to work with.”

“If he liked fire that much, then, we should give it to him. More as a going away present than a punishment.”

Dean stared at Sam for a moment, trying to figure out where he was going. He had always liked to try to get there on his own without asking questions, always hoping they were on the same wavelength. “Like a ritual of some sort?”

Sam nodded. “Something to appease him and send him on.”

“Shit, more research,” Dean said. “I know fuck-all about fire rituals. How about a Viking funeral?”

That actually got a little bit of a smile. Hallelujah.

In the end, Dean was not that far off with his suggestion. After picking the lock on the cemetery gates one night, they proceeded to reenact a cleansing fire ritual involving a complete ring of fire around the arsonist-fireman’s grave fueled by a lamp oil mixture they’d had blessed.

It didn’t work either. More fires. And it wasn’t some copycat idiot, either. It was their angry, restless arsonist spirit.

Dean didn‘t bother to hide his annoyance. “I can’t understand why the sonofabitch doesn’t just go on to hell and get all the fire he wants there.”

“There are lots of fire rituals,” Sam said. “Maybe…”

“We can’t keep randomly throwing rituals at it,” Dean said. “We don’t have that kind of time. Plus, we’re gonna get caught in there sooner or later. We’ve done all the desecration we can safely do.”

“How about an eternal flame kind of thing?”

Dean looked at Sam. For a moment, it seemed like such an awesome idea, so there was no way it could work. Life didn’t work that way. “With what as a constant fuel source?”

“Tap into a gas line,” Sam said. “We can get a utilities map and find the nearest one.”

“So assuming we don’t accidentally blow ourselves up, someone’s got to notice that sooner or later,” Dean said.

“Not from the city,” Sam said. “You know it won’t use enough gas to be noticed as a leak. We bury it at the bottom of the headstone, so no lines will be visible. We can enclose the flame just enough so that the weather can’t get to it, but it’ll still get oxygen. We’re not talking mini bonfire, here, not even candle flame. Just a really small --”

“I’m in,” Dean said.

It took a couple of days of researching and gathering equipment, and a couple of near misses with locals, plus some hardhats and official-looking safety vests and clipboards. They found the nearest gas line running parallel to the street below the cemetery and dug it up, tapped in, and ran a small peripheral line into the cemetery before hiding it, capping it off, and masking any sign that someone had been messing around alongside the road.

They returned after dark and finished running the line to the target grave, burying it, and setting the flame.

“If this works, I’m going to admit this once that you are awesome,” Dean said.

Sam grinned unseen.

The fires stopped.

They hung around for several days to make sure.

They checked the flame after it rained the second day, and it was difficult to detect, but it was there.

Dean added the episode to the journal, with the caption Sam is awesome beneath the newspaper article detailing the last arson.

-|-

IV.
Two of us wearing raincoats
standing solo in the sun…

“Wait, wait, wait,” Sam said. “Just a little further.”

“Dude, it’s not an exact line.”

“It is. It is. Just…okay. Right here. Seriously.”

Dean sighed and pulled over at Sam’s direction. The windshield wipers made lazy passes, continuing to swipe at a dwindling rain shower.

“Okay,” Sam said. “Now it’s raining in the front seat and the sun is shining in the back.”

They got out of the car. It was true. It continued to rain at one end of the car and not the other. The sun slanted just far enough out of the clouds to catch what rain remained and spark miniature flashes of brightness as the droplets fell.

Sam turned in a slow circle, looking for the inevitable rainbow.

Dean made an okay, not bad face and shrugged. He stared at the line between one type of weather and another and wondered with his continuously superstitious, rightfully paranoid heart if purposely parking the car in the middle of that situation was a curse or a good luck charm. “A sun shower means the devil is beating his wife.”

Sam glanced at him over the roof of the car as he moved into the rain. “Who’s dumb enough to marry the devil?”

Dean stayed in the sunny part of the equation and said, “Better yet: the devil believes in marriage? There’s a reception you don’t want to be invited to.”

Sam smirked. “Yeah, so, the honeymoon is where?”

“No honeymoon,” Dean said. “Just a really long, drawn out, pissed off divorce. Eternal divorce.”

“Plus, anybody who marries the devil is gonna be the one beating him, not the other way around,” Sam said. “She runs the place, and you know it.”

“Sounds good to me,” Dean said, opening his door and preparing to get back in the car. He paused. “Of course, since there’s no devil, it’s all bullshit anyway.”

Sam nodded and moved to get in on his side. “All bullshit.”

-|-


V.

You and I have memories
longer than that road that stretches out ahead…

The place in Wolf Cut, Montana had a kitchenette, and for once Dean couldn’t ignore it. He didn’t want something that just needed to be warmed up, not out of a can or a bag or takeout in Styrofoam. It’d been cold and damp and miserable for days, and he just wanted something hot and simple and homemade.

They could both cook the basics; they’d traded off in one temporary house or another while growing up. It was easy to stretch things out with practice. And damn near anything could become an edible casserole.

While Sam got stuff out of the car, Dean took inventory. Couple of chipped bowls and dishes in an upper cupboard, a few scratched glasses, and a frying pan, a medium pot and 9x12 dish in the cupboard next to the fridge. He made a few mental notes and was satisfied with the idea he came up with. His stomach agreed immediately. He was pretty sure he remembered the recipe, and if not he could look it up online.

He told Sam he was going for beer and maybe to pick up dinner, then took off.

No problem getting the ingredients; the dish was basic enough that he could get what he needed pretty much anywhere no matter how small the local grocery store. Onion, celery, potatoes, a little flour, ground beef. Plain old Crisco. Sugar, cinnamon. God knew they already had plenty of salt on hand, so no point picking up more.

He put the grocery bags on the counter when he returned, and tossed Sam a beer. “Dude, guess what I’m making.”

“Seriously? We’re cooking?” Sam’s interest was apparent and immediate.

“I’m cooking, you’re prepping,” Dean said. “Peel potatoes, little helper.”

Sam ended up using his own knife on the potatoes, since the available silverware consisted of spoons and forks and one lonely butter knife. It looked kind of hilarious - such an innocuous task being subjected to Sam’s huge hands and 5” hunting knife. Dean fried the ground beef with onion and celery in the frying pan, waiting for Sam to guess what he had planned. It had been one of their favorites before Sam left for Stanford.

“More potatoes than that, padawan,” Dean said. He pushed the small bag of flour and the Crisco to one side, realizing he didn’t have measuring cups or spoons and would have to half-ass it from memory. “Boil a crapload of those babies. Use the whole bag.”

Sam squinted at the items on the counter and put the pieces together. “No way. I haven’t had that in years.”

“Come on, you didn’t make it once while in college?” Dean said

“Forgot all about it,” Sam said. “Glad to be reminded.”

“I just realized we don’t have a goddamn rolling pin,” Dean said. “Shit, what am I gonna roll out pie crust with?”

“Maybe one of the other units has one,” Sam said.

“Go use your big, sad eyes and find one,” Dean said.

Dean grinned to himself while Sam was gone. This was awesome. He had totally made Sam’s day.

It was an easy habit to get back into, even if that was a little difficult to admit, even to himself. Sam had been harder and harder to please in his late teens, and Dean had finally given up in favor of messing with him instead, just to get some kind of reaction. It hadn’t occurred to him until Sam was gone that he had depended on attention from Sam in return for looking out for him. He had needed Sam to be impressed.

Sam actually hit the door with a thud in his hurry to get back in, and Dean stepped on a laugh. Sam was flushed and grinning, brandishing a wooden rolling pin. “The owner lives in a unit on the end,” he said. “She had one.”

“And she probably adopted you on the spot, right?”

“We should put some aside for her,” Sam said. “She was nice.”

The pie crust was square because of the dish they were using, and Dean had to kind of patch it together in spots because it had been a long time since he’d made it, but it ended up being serviceable. He popped it into the oven. Then he made a separate double batch of crust and rolled it out and spread melted butter, cinnamon and sugar over it before rolling it up and cutting it into inch long sections. Dessert.

“Jesus Christ, you’re trying to kill me, aren’t you,” Sam said. “I love those damn things. This is a serious flashback.”

It was the simplest stuff in the world, but so freaking good.

The shepherd’s pie turned out just right, the crust and mashed potatoes just the right shade of crisp brown thanks to an oven that actually worked predictably.

They managed to save enough of the rollups for breakfast, and maybe a snack in the car.

Sam looked so contented that Dean just wanted to say fuck it and stay there forever.

In the morning Sam took the rolling pin back with a sample of the previous night’s fare, and Dean wanted badly to go along to watch, because Sam was so hilarious when he was ducking his head and trying to lessen his height in front of someone he was trying to be solicitous with. But he hung back and made sure everything was put back the way it was. They were only passing though, after all.

There were years of memories and moments, good and bad, that existed only between the two of them. They couldn’t share a good number of them with anyone else, either for legal reasons or to protect themselves and each other somehow. Sooner or later there would be other somebodies, and more memories, and necessary separations, if there was going to be any kind of sane future for them. Sanity involving staying in one place for a while with no plans otherwise; sanity involving connections with other people that wouldn’t also include saving them or killing something. Somewhere to call home, maybe.

But, in the meantime, Sam was still with him. And as close to happy as he could be, maybe, under the circumstances.


It took Dean that long to realize that as long as that was true, he was always home.

-|- -|- -|-

Two Of Us

(Lennon/McCartney)

Two of us riding nowhere
Spending someone's
Hard earned pay
You and me Sunday driving
Not arriving
On our way back home
We're on our way home
We're on our way home
We're going home

Two of us sending postcards
Writing letters
On my wall
You and me burning matches
Lifting latches
On our way back home
We're on our way home
We're on our way home
We're going home

You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead

Two of us wearing raincoats
Standing so low
In the sun
You and me chasing paper
Getting nowhere
On our way back home
We're on our way home
We're on our way home
We're going home

You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead

We're on our way home
We're on our way home
We're going home