Characters: Dean, Sam
Rating: PG-13 for language and mature scenes
Spoilers: This story is set in Season 1, overlapping the ending of 1X12, “Faith.”
Summary: While Dean struggles to keep his head in the game after being healed, Sam works to come to grips with John's purposeful distance. The last thing they need is to run sideways of two brothers hunting for buried pirate treasure...
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity.Story title from Bad Company album of the same name.
There was something comforting about driving at night.
Once he’d been old enough to take a shift and let his dad and brother sleep, Sam always volunteered the night hours. With his family huddled in their own versions of comfort, Sam could wrap himself in the shield of darkness with nothing but music, the glow of the dash, and the lights of the other cars to interrupt his train of thought.
Within minutes of returning to the highway, Dean had fallen into a fitful sleep, his bruised face pulled tight and lined with whatever demons visited him in his dreams, the finger marks on his neck visible in the muted light of the dash. Sam sighed, turning down the radio a bit to try to let Dean sleep off some of the drunk he’d taken on. He still stung from his brother’s earlier comment that the reaper should have taken Dean, giving Layla a chance to live.
He thought for a moment about what Dean had said about Marshall Hall, that they would never know his intended purpose in life because it had been traded for Dean’s. Same could be said in reverse, Sam mused, glancing silently at his sleeping brother. Bet you didn’t think of that. Maybe there’s a reason you were picked out of that crowd, given a second chance.
His cell phone vibrated in his pocket and he plucked it out, glancing at the screen. Same message as before: a series of numbers and two letters, JW.
Sam’s lip bounced in a rebellious snarl and he stuffed the cell back into the pocket of his hoodie, turning up the music. Mike and the Mechanics were asking can you hear me running, can you hear me calling you.
Sam knew John had received his message about Dean. That had to be why he was calling Sam’s phone and not Dean’s with coordinates. Did he even wonder if Dean survived? What if it had been John and Dean who’d run into the rawhead? Would John have taken a chance on Roy LeGrange? Taken that leap of faith?
How far would you go to save us, Dad?
He rolled his neck as he left Utah behind and slipped across Nevada’s border. Hours evaporated. Dean slept, barely moving, sometimes mumbling, often snoring softly. Sam stopped once to relieve himself and fill up the car, but Dean didn’t budge. When he got back in the car, Sam actually reached over and rested his hand gently on his brother’s chest, checking for breath.
Dean stirred, his brow furrowing slightly, but remained asleep.
Sam continued to head west, thinking. He’d not been able to see his way to a clear path since the night Jess died. His lifeline had been to hang on to Dean and find dad. Walking away from Dean on that wet highway in Indiana had been one of the hardest things he’d ever done. Hearing Dean say he was proud of him for having the strength to walk away almost shattered him. Seeing Dean pale, weak, feeling him tremble with every step, watching him fall weakly to his knees on the stage in that tent…
Sam shook himself. He was done with that. They would find John, stick together, finish the job and then he was going to make sure they both got a shot at normal. He wanted his brother to know what it felt like to finish a day of work, come home, sit on a couch in his own home, and sip a beer while he watched a baseball game. He wanted his brother to know what it felt like to have the same girl lay beside him night after night and never be able to get his fill of her.
The sweaty slide of a saxophone suddenly filled the car and Dean jerked in startled reaction. Sam glanced over, but Dean simply readjusted his slump against the side window and settled. Gerry Rafferty’s vanilla voice waxed nostalgic about leaving the big city for time on Baker Street.
What would it take, Sam wondered.
What would it take to give his family roots? How far was this fight going to go? Would Dean stop with just the demon that killed mom? Could he, when as Dean reminded him, they know what’s out there, they know to be afraid.
“But you know he’ll always keep movin’. You know he’s never gonna stop movin’. ‘Cause he’s rollin’, he’s the rollin’ stone…”
He crossed a bridge passing over an industrial section of a nameless Nevada city, the lighted billboards catching his tired eyes with warnings about motorcycle safety, promises of renewed energy, and announcing that the Nevada Powerball was at $65 million and change.
Sam grinned ruefully. That’s what we need… to win the lottery… no more fake credit cards, no more skanky motels, no more sleeping in the car… we’d make the ghosts come to us.
He laughed softly at himself, and drove on through the night.
As dawn crept up in his rearview mirror, Sam saw that they were just outside of Carson City. He debated on waking Dean, but decided that this time, he’d pick the exit. Pulling off, he parked at a Denny’s with a gas station next door. The tank was just about empty once more, but he needed fuel before the Impala got some.
“Dean,” he said, reaching over and shoving gently against Dean’s shoulder.
Dean huffed slightly but didn’t fully wake.
“Hey, man, rise and shine already,” Sam shook him a bit harder.
“Oh, dude, seriously,” Dean groaned. “You do not want to shake me right now.”
“One too many shots of whiskey, there, Butch?” Sam teased. “I’m surprised. You were still walking in a relatively straight line and everything.”
Dean rolled his neck against the back of the seat, joints cracking with the motion. Sam narrowed his eyes in a sympathetic wince.
“Nice shiner,” he said.
Dean blinked blood-shot eyes at him. “Leave it to us to pick the one hole-in-the wall place where Bubba the Giant has a crush on the Sherriff’s daughter.” He yawned.
“Hey, first, you picked the place,” Sam pointed out. “I had nothing to do with it. And second, no one asked you to hook up with the Sheriff’s daughter.”
Dean’s eyes dropped half-mast and his grin slipped from sleepy to lascivious. “Trust me, dude. She asked.”
Sam rolled his eyes and waved a dismissive hand at him. “Whatever.” Stretching his arms out in front of him, popping his shoulders, and rolling his neck, he said, “I’m starving, and I know you’re hun—“
He stopped at the look on Dean’s face.
“What?” He curled his fingers into fists to stop himself from reaching out to check Dean for injuries, so pained was the look on his brother’s face.
“Dude. What. The. Hell.”
“What?” Sam asked again, his brows meeting across the bridge of his nose.
Dean’s eyes slid to the softly-playing radio. Sam followed his gaze, tuning in to the now static-filled music.
“…a summer's disregard, a broken bottle top, and a one man's soul. They follow each other on the wind ya' know… ‘cause they got nowhere to go…”
“Tell me that isn’t Michael Freakin’ Jackson on my radio,” Dean said.
Sam’s hand shot out and he quickly turned off the music then shut off the car. “I wasn’t paying attention.”
Dean lifted an eyebrow in doubt, then followed Sam from the car into the restaurant gingerly rubbing at the fading marks on his neck. Luckily, it seemed Billy hadn’t held on long enough or tight enough to do serious damage.
Sam slid into the booth and waited to order until Dean joined him after washing up from a night of drinking, sex, and sleeping in the car. He busily contemplated his menu asDean returned, a sigh following him.
“Nothing like a sink bath in a public restroom to brighten your day,” Dean grumbled, Sam said nothing, knowing his brother was simply biding his time. When Dean said nothing else, Sam hazard a peek over the edge of his menu. Dean was looking through the restaurant window.
“You win, Sammy,” he said, his voice soft with awe.
“You pick the exits from now on,” Dean continued.
Dean jerked his head toward the window. “Check it out! It’s like a muscle car convention. A Chevelle, Charger, Falcon, oh, dude…” Dean sighed, his voice becoming reverent. “There’s even a Shelby. My baby’s in good company.”
Sam dropped his menu. “What, do you have some kind of special grease monkey EMF?”
Dean grinned. “What can I say? It’s in my blood.”
Sam shook his head, looking out through the window at the cars Dean was currently drooling over. “The only thing in your blood is cholesterol. And possibly Chlamydia.”
“Eh, it’s curable.” Dean grinned as a sleepy-looking waitress walked up and asked them what they’d like. “Well,” Dean started, cutting off Sam’s reply. “I’ll have a coffee, two eggs, hash, toast, bacon. What about you, Sam? Some… pop, maybe? That would be a real thriller, huh?”
Sam looked up at the confused waitress. “I’ll just have some pancakes and an egg on the side, please.”
“You want her to beat it?” Dean asked, mirth making his green eyes dance.
“I’ll have a large coffee, too,” Sam said, handing her his menu. As the waitress walked away, Sam looked at his older brother with a tolerant gaze. “You happy now? Got it out of your system?”
Dean’s grin widened. “Not even close.”
Sam’s tired eyes wandered through the large window, watching as another muscle car pulled into the lot near the Impala, looking a bit worse for wear. As the driver killed the engine, a large plume of black smoke belched from the exhaust. Sam winced, glad that Dean’s attention had centered on the coffee set in front of them instead of the two, twenty-something passengers exiting the road-weary vehicle.
“Huh.” Dean bounced his head once.
“You weren’t listening?”
Dean pulled the side of his mouth into a small grin and shook his head. “You gotta start paying attention, again, Sammy.”
“Eavesdropping, you mean.”
“You used to be pretty good at it, before…”
Sam sipped his coffee, lacking the energy to get into a semi-nostalgic argument with his brother about how things used to be when it was the three of them on the road, dodging child services, keeping under the radar, and staying one step ahead of the devil.
Dean leaned his elbows on the table, wrapping his hands around his white coffee mug. Sam eyes strayed down when his brother’s ring clicked on the porcelain. He saw a pale pink lipstick stain on the side of the mug facing him, but decided not to bring Dean’s attention to that.
“Two tables back behind me,” Dean said, “there’s a girl, I’m gonna say fifteen, sixteen. She snuck out of the house and went to some party. Dad pulled her out and is trying the when I was your age speech.”
Unable to help himself, Sam lifted his eyes past Dean’s shoulder and zeroed in on the pair Dean referred to. He saw the girl fling her long red hair over her shoulder and look away from her father. The dad sat back, one arm hooked on the back of the booth, the other slowly rotating a mug of coffee.
“What am I going to do with you, Jill?” The dad sighed.
“Doesn’t matter,” Jill huffed, crossing her arms and frowning. “My life is over anyway. Everyone at school is going to start calling me the girl with the psycho dad.”
“I was protecting you.”
“It’s like you’re two different people,” Jill retorted, a hint of tears in her voice. “At home you’re just… y’know, regular. And then you get around actual people and you’re like some freak.”
Sam pulled his attention back to their table when their food came.
“Sounds like you,” Dean commented when the waitress left. He bit into a piece of bacon and Sam noticed an odd light in his eyes.
“The girl,” Dean said, digging into his hash. “You used to tell me you thought Dad had a split personality.”
Sam shrugged, cutting into his pancakes. “You have to admit, our lives were—hell are weird. Dad would leave for weeks at a time; you were like, twelve or thirteen the first time you had to hustle pool for grocery money.”
Dean lifted a shoulder, eating silently, his eyes still on Sam, as if searching for something.
“Hell, Dean, he was gone for a month when you turned sixteen.”
“Seventeen,” Dean corrected.
“Whatever. A month,” Sam shook his head, chewing thoughtfully. “I mean… what was different about this last time?”
“What do you mean?”
“What made you worry? What made you come after me?”
Dean frowned, finally pulling his eyes away and using his toast to push his egg yolk onto his fork. “You heard the EMF on that voicemail he left.”
“Yeah, I did, but… I mean, there had been hinky stuff before. What was different about this time?” Sam pressed, guessing the answer, wanting to hear Dean admit it. Admit that he’d simply been lonely. That he’d missed his brother. That when life was lived with eyes wide-open, it was harder to do it alone.
“I just had a feeling, Sam, okay?” Dean replied. “Turns out I was right.”
Sam tilted his head, his eyes wandering outside. “Maybe.”
“What do you mean, maybe? We found his journal, man. He left that behind for us to use to find him.”
“Or to turn us into… what did you call it? His hunting puppets?”
Dean pushed his empty plate back, sipping his coffee. “I was pissed. I didn’t mean that.”
“Why the hell not?” Sam challenged. “Dad’s a smart guy, sure. He’s tough as they come. But it doesn’t mean he’s exactly… balanced.”
“Who is?” Dean shrugged rolling his neck.
Sam saw that he was starting to chip away at Dean’s defensive walls and a night without sleep made him just daring enough to keep at it. “You should be pissed, Dean. Hell, I am. Dad gets a voicemail less than a week ago that you’re dying and he doesn’t try to find us, doesn’t send help, doesn’t even fucking call back to check in!” Sam was leaning forward, the tip of his right index finger pressed into the table top to enhance his point. “Instead he sends coordinates—to my phone no less.”
Dean brought his head up, fast, his face paling. “He did what?”
Sam sat back, immediately regretting his exhaustion-loosened tongue. “Never mind.”
“Bull shit. You tell me.”
Sam sighed, looking out through the window once more. “While you were, uh… busy… last night, I got a text. Coordinates.”
Dean looked down, absorbing. Sam held his breath, waiting.
Dean was quiet for a beat longer. “Son of a bitch,” he said softly. “I knew you were hiding something.”
Dean signaled the waitress for more coffee. “You get this like über-innocent look on your face when you’re hiding something or lying to me.”
“I don’t lie to you,” Sam protested.
Dean lifted an eyebrow.
“Often,” Sam conceded.
“So, coordinates, huh?”
“We’re not going, Dean,” Sam shook his head, movement in the parking look catching his attention once more. He looked closer, trying to decide if he’d actually seen a figure dart between the cars parked outside, or if his tired eyes were playing tricks on him.
A police car pulled into the diner parking lot and two cops exited the vehicle, heading for the front door.
“Sam, he wouldn’t have sent them to us if he didn’t—“
“No.” Sam’s voice was firm. “We’re. Not. Going.”
Dean narrowed his gaze, his eyebrows meeting over his nose. “What if he’s there?”
“He won’t be,” Sam shook his head. “He hasn’t been so far.”
Dean watched him a moment longer. “What are you thinking?”
Sam shook his head. “Ever think about playing the lottery?”
“What?” Dean laughed.
Sam lifted a shoulder. “It was just a thought.”
“Keep sipping the happy juice, Sam. Winning the lottery… hell, we got a better chance of Dad calling us back.”
“I say we head to Sacramento,” Sam proposed. “See what Dad might’ve been hunting there.”
“Pick up his trail?”
“He’s gotta be after the demon, right?” Sam asserted. “I mean that’s what he said when he called—that he was close, but that it was…” He trailed off, narrowing his attention to the lot outside.
Dean picked up his trailing thought. “Too dangerous my ass. Man’s got a crazy way of protecting us. Sent us to that damn rawhead—“
“Dean!” Sam barked, finally realizing that what he was seeing was actually happening.
Dean jumped, face tense, looking wildly over his shoulder to follow Sam’s line of sight.
“Someone’s breaking into the Impala.”
There were only a few things sacred to Dean Winchester in this life: his family, his Bowie, his Colt 1911, and the Impala.
He’d seen a figure in black leather lift the jimmy from the Impala’s lock at the same time he’d heard Sam’s announcement, but somehow, his body was already moving from the booth to the front door, an oath on his lips before the implication truly registered. As the palms of his hands hit the silver crossbar of the door, he saw another figure slipping into the front seat of the Shelby parked two steps from the front door.
His boots hit the sidewalk just as the nimble fingers of the Impala Thief wired her engine to life.
“HEY!” Dean barked across the lot, the diner door swinging shut behind him, catching his bellow and tossing it back inside where, unbeknownst to Dean, the two police officers heard and turned. “Get out of my car!”
The thief ignored the order and before Dean was able to step from the curb in a dead run, the thief had closed the driver’s side door and was rocketing the powerful car out of the parking lot.
“SON OF A BITCH!” Dean roared, turning on his heel and heading for the Shelby, murder on his mind.
Dimly, he heard his name in his brother’s voice, but the only sound that mattered to him in that moment was the rapidly fading growl of his baby’s cylinders as they ate up the road. He tore open the door of the Shelby, grabbed the would-be car thief by the back of his collar, and with a heave, dragged him from the car and dumped him on the asphalt, taking his place.
In two heartbeats, he’d finished the hotwire job the inept thief had been attempting, slammed the car into reverse and rubber met the road in an impressive flash of chrome and navy blue paint.
“WAIT!” Sam tried one last time, his voice catching on the back of his dry throat as Dean took off after the stolen Impala in an equally-stolen Shelby. “Dean! You dumbass…”
“He stole my car!” Came a voice behind him.
“Yeah, I know he di—“ Sam turned to face an angry muscle-car owner, his words evaporating on shocked lips when his eyes hit those of an ancient black man, powerful hands not worn down by age gripping the shirt front of a slim, red-haired kid.
“Uh, I know he did, sir,” Sam said, darting a desperate look over his shoulder at the police as they exited the diner, one speaking into the walkie-talkie on his shoulder. Sam lifted his hand to tap two fingers on the old man’s chest. “Don’t worry, okay? I’ll get it back for you.”
“Better be in one piece, or there’ll be hell to pay!” The man yelled, jerking the thwarted thief with him as he headed back toward the diner.
Sam nodded, jogging over to the police cruiser. “Take me with you,” he demanded to the heavy, ruddy-skinned driver. The cop looked up at him, incredulous.
“We ain’t no taxi service, kid.” He tried to pull the door shut, but Sam slid his leg in the way. “We’ve got a car thief to catch; you wanna back up, or do I arrest you for obstruction of justice?”
“Take me with you,” Sam repeated, acutely aware of how far Dean and the Impala were both getting from him as he stood there, helpless, “or you’ll have to add homicide to you list.”
The cops squared his shoulders, a brow raised.
“’Cause if my brother catches the guy that stole his car,” Sam continued, “he’s gonna kill him.”
Glancing quickly at his partner, the cop sighed and nodded. “Get in.”
I’m gonna kill ‘im, Dean vowed to himself, his eyes pinned to the backside of the Impala, his body moving in automatic rhythm to the demanding beat of the heavy Ford. I’m gonna rip his arm off and beat him to death with it… then I’m going to tie him up and drag him behind my car…
The Shelby had a manual transmission. It had been years—many of them—since Dean had dealt with a clutch, but he didn’t have time to think about it: he simply drove. Barely taking time to press the clutch to the floor, he slipped the gear from third, to fourth, to fifth, downshifting once to take a tight turn, slipping the stick up through the catches and slamming the accelerator to the floor, demanding performance.
The powerful car responded, holding Dean as close as a lover as it skidded around a left-hand turn, dodging cars and semi-trucks that were moving at a moderate pace in comparison. Dean glanced down once to the odometer and barely registered that they had passed the one-hundred miles per hour mark. His whole being was focused on following the Impala, on getting it back.
You take care of her, she’ll be with you for life. She’s forty years old and still as bad-ass as they come… John’s words beat in his ears along with the sound of the Shelby’s pistons. You earn this, son.
Dean downshifted and tightened his stomach muscles to absorb the impact of a rough exit to a dirt-and-gravel road.
Earn this… The words left a bitter aftertaste in the back of his throat. He’d spent his life earning that car, earning his father’s respect, earning the honor of owning her. And no goddamn punk was taking that from him. He floored the accelerator, left hand on the wheel, right gripping the rounded head of the gear shift.
“Damn, this kid can drive,” muttered the cop.
“Which one do you mean?” Sam asked from the back seat, his long arms spread across the divider, trying to keep himself intact as the boxy cruiser followed the two powerful machines down a deserted road, through traffic, and then off into the Nevada desert.
The screaming sirens turned into so much background noise and the crackling calls of dispatch echoed numbly through the car as the three occupants focused on their prey.
“Good… point,” the cop managed. “The Chevy’s your brother’s car, you say?”
“Yes sir,” Sam ground out, bouncing hard on the seat, the crown of his head cracking against the roof of the car as they rambled over the rough road.
“He’s not letting it out of his sight is he?”
“No… sir,” Sam replied, then swore as his cheek bounced against the glass of the side window. “He’ll catch him… we just better be there when he does…”
“Looks like that won’t be a problem,” the other cop commented in a tight voice.
“Why?” Sam said, bracing his feet against the floorboards.
“He just ran out of road.”
“Oh, you gotta be kidding me,” Dean breathed as through the dust kicked up by the Impala’s wheels he saw a slice cut into the earth as if God had drug a butter knife down the length of the dessert. “Stop…” he breathed, easing up on the accelerator and downshifting, his eyes on the Impala, watching for brake lights. “Stopstopstopstopstopstop…”
“Oh, my God,” Sam breathed, his eyes on the rear lights of the car his brother drove up ahead. “OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod…”
“Atta baby,” Dean murmured when the Impala’s rear lights flashed and her wheels locked as the breaks were applied. “Atta girl, slow down now, slow, slow, slow…”
“He’s not stopping!” Cried the cop.
“He’ll stop,” Sam asserted. “He’ll stop.”
“They go over, there’s not going to be anything to identify—“
“He’ll stop,” Sam repeated, his voice hard. “He’s gonna stop.”
Dust billowed around them, settling on the two cars like sugar frosting, turning the dark paint almost pastel. Dean took a trembling breath, his brain slowing to register present time, ticking back from the super-sonic processing that had taken him from the diner booth and thoughts of his father sending coordinates to Sam and not him, and propelled him with the energy of the insane to this precipice.
He’d shut off the Shelby’s rumbling engine as soon as both he and the Impala had come to a sliding stop. Swallowing the bile of realization, he opened the door and stepped from the vehicle, his eyes on the Impala’s door, the din of a police siren wailing in the background.
The Impala’s door opened and Dean saw two hands poke out through the opening.
“I’m gettin’ out, okay? Don’t shoot!”
It took until that moment for Dean to realize that his Colt was sitting at home in his grip and was pointed mercilessly at the driver.
“Shooting is too good for you,” Dean replied, biting off the ends of his words, keeping his gun up. “Get the hell out here where I can see you.”
“I’m comin’, okay? Just… why don’t you set the gun down, okay? Let’s talk about this?”
“Shut the hell up,” Dean shouted, registering the fact that the sirens had stopped. “Get out of my car.”
Slowly, sliding his skinny body through the small opening between the door and the car, a kid of about twenty-one emerged, platinum-blonde hair spiked, right eyebrow and bottom lip pierced, left eye blackened in a bruise that rivaled Dean’s.
“I’m out, okay? I’m out.”
Dean approached, gun up, eyes taking in the thief’s countenance. Truthfully, he couldn’t decide if he wanted to shoot him, push him off the ledge, or take him back to the diner and buy him a meal. The kid skidded along the side of the Impala, blue eyes large and trained on the gun.
“Wanna put that away now?”
“Not especially,” Dean replied.
Dean blinked, keeping the gun on the Impala Thief and shifting his eyes quickly to the side. “Sam?”
“I, uh… the cops… brought me.”
At that, Dean finally relaxed his arms, his gun dropping to his side. The kid sighed loudly and let his hands fall. Turning from the thief to Sam, Dean tucked the Colt into his back waistband. Sam stepped up close, two men in blue highway patrol uniforms behind him. Dean asked with his eyes if they were in trouble. Sam blinked once, slowly, indicating that if they kept their mouths shut, no worries.
“Emerson?” One cop exclaimed, bringing his handcuffs out and stepping up to the skinny kid. “What the hell were you thinking, boy?”
“I gotta get to San Diego,” Emerson replied, turning and crossing his arms behind his back as if this move were familiar to him. “I told you that!”
“And I told you to buy a fuckin’ bus ticket!”
“You think if I could afford a bus ticket I’d be going after the—“
Turning him, the cop biffed Emerson on the back of the head, shutting him up. “Not one more word about that damn treasure.”
The cop put his hand on the butt of his gun. “I ain’t kidding, boy.”
Dean and Sam stood silently, watching as the other cop jotted down the license plate of the Shelby, moving around front to capture the VIN number. The brothers moved closer, Dean moving deftly to protect the Impala’s plate from sight as Sam leaned closer to the cop’s notebook.
“What’s that for?” he asked.
The cop shrugged. “Records,” he said. “In case Saul Denton files a claim later.”
Sam moved to innocently block the cop from the Impala. “That the name of the guy that owns the Shelby?”
The cop nodded. “He’s a fixture ‘round here. Buys ‘em broken, sells ‘em like new.”
“Huh,” Sam nodded. “Think maybe he might want to get his hands on the pile of scrap metal this guy and his friend drove in? Could, uh,” Sam glanced quickly at Emerson, "could make up for the other guy going after his car."
The cop nodded, lips folded down in a thoughtful frown. “Yeah, maybe.”
“You guys got Mack, too?” Emerson asked as the cop who’d cuffed him took him by the arm and started to haul him toward the police cruiser.
“Lemme give you some advice, Em,” the cop closest to Sam tossed up, having been effectively distracted from capturing the Impala’s information. “You decide to steal cars with your little brother, let him take the one furthest from the building.”
“Dammit, Mack,” Emerson grumbled, his curses fading as he was tucked into the backseat of the cruiser.
The cops turned to Sam and Dean. “You want to press charges, you’re gonna have to come back to the station,” the ruddy-faced cop said.
Dean shook his head. “I got her back, that’s all that matters.”
“What do you want to do about Saul’s car?”
The ruddy-face cop looked from his partner to the brothers. “One of you want to take it back to him?”
Dean nodded. “Least we can do,” he said, willing to agree quietly so as not to stir up more trouble. He was well aware that if this Saul Denton wanted to press charges, he was facing a tricky escape. Mental note, grab a paperclip…
With a small salute of thanks, the cops slid into their cruiser, pausing to complete paperwork while the brothers regarded each other silently.
“That was close,” Sam said softly.
“You’re telling me.”
“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you want to drive the Impala back to the diner.”
Dean grinned, digging in his pocket for the keys. “Guess we still have to pay a bill there, too.”
“Yeah,” Sam nodded, opening the driver’s side door of the Shelby.
Dean put his hand on the Impala’s door and pulled it to him, stopping at the sound of his name. He turned, seeing Sam stare into the interior of the car.
“It’s a stick.”
“Since when can you drive a stick?”
Dean blinked. “Since… uh… hell, I don’t know. I just could.”
Sam was looking at him, his face unreadable.
“Dude, stop staring at me like that.”
“Y’know, just when I think I have you all figured out…”
Dean lifted an eyebrow. “You wanna drive the Impala back, Sammy?”
“I’m gonna have to,” Sam lifted a shoulder. “Never really bothered to learned how to drive a stick. Didn’t know you’d learned how.”
“Guess I’m just full of surprises.”
It took an hour to get back to the diner and pay their bill, another hour to wash Saul’s Shelby good enough that he agreed to not press charges against Dean, and yet another hour of driving West before Sam surrendered.
As the sign welcoming them to California passed them by, Sam told Dean to take the first gas, food, lodging exit. To his surprise, Dean complied with little argument.
“Thanks, man,” Sam sighed, his body bone-weary.
“It’ll give me a chance to clean up the Impala,” Dean shrugged.
They checked into a roadside motel and Sam made a bee-line for the shower. Leaning one hand on the questionably clean tile wall beneath the shower head, he dropped his chin to his chest and let the hot water beat against his neck and run in a river down the valley of his spine. He could hear Dean walk in and turn on the water in the sink, knew he was splashing his face and downing ibuprofen. Morning-After Dean was predictable, even when a high-speed car chase was thrown into the mix.
“I’m gonna take these towels to wash the car,” Dean said over the noise of the shower.
“Leave me one,” Sam said.
“No, man, I thought I’d let you air dry.”
“Bite me,” Sam retorted, tipping his face up and letting the hard water run over his eyes. “Call down front for more, okay?”
Dean said something in reply, but it was lost in the sound of water. Sam stayed under the water until it ran cold. He stood in front of the mirror toweling off, marveling that they were once again in California. Nowhere close to Palo Alto, but he still had never guessed he’d be back in this state so soon after Jess’s death. Stepping out into the dank coolness of their room, he dropped his towel and stood naked in front of the small table, digging through his duffel bag for clothes.
He was tugging a pair of sweatpants over his bare hips when his cell phone vibrated against the table top, startling him. He looked down. It was Joshua. Frowning, Sam picked up the phone and pressed ‘talk.’
“This is Sam.”
“Sam, it’s Joshua. How’s your brother?”
Mentally, Sam kicked himself for not circling back and letting John’s friend know that his tip about the faith healer had worked, despite some side-effects.
“Hey, man, he’s good. Thanks, y’know, for—“
“Yeah,” Sam wrapped an arm around his bare chest. He moved to the heating unit; even in California, December was cold. “Yeah, he’s fine. I mean, there were some… issues…”
“What kind of issues?”
Sam sighed, cranking the ancient heater deep into the red and listening as the unit clicked to life. “Well, there was a reaper, and it turned out the faith healer’s wife was… kinda trading lives.”
“But Dean’s okay?”
Frowning, Sam parted the curtains, looking out into the parking lot. The Impala was back and Dean was sitting behind the wheel, staring at something in his hands. “Yeah, he’s okay. What’s going on?”
“Have you heard from your Dad?”
Sam’s shoulders dropped and he felt his face empty of emotion. “Why?”
He heard Joshua sigh, pausing as if searching for words. “I got a call. From John.”
Sam felt cold. “What did he say?”
“He, uh… he said to check on you.”
“He couldn’t do that himself?”
“That’s the thing… I don’t think he could. It’s okay—I mean, I don’t think he’s hurt or anything… but, I think…”
Sam sat down on the bed, his eyes on the door, seeing nothing. “What are you trying to say, Joshua?”
“Sam, he’s the one that gave me the name of the faith healer. And… I got the impression that he thinks—“
“That Dean’s dead?” Sam asked.
Joshua paused again. “Yeah.”
Sam was silent for a moment, processing. With each intake of breath his emotions ricocheted from elation that John had heard him, had gotten wind of his desperate search, had reached out in his awkward, tangled-up way to offer them help even before Sam had called to let him know what was going on. With each exhale, anger swelled that if their father thought Dean dead, why had he contacted someone that was basically a stranger to them to find out more.
Why wasn’t he searching for them as ardently as they’d been searching for him?
“Thanks, Joshua,” Sam sighed, unsure what else to say.
“Oh, one more thing,” Joshua said. “The call came from some place called Windom, Minnesota. He’s called me from there before. Just thought you’d like to, y’know, let him know everything’s okay…”
Sam hung up feeling numb. They had a location. A location that their father had visited before. A thought struck him and he scrolled through his list of text messages until he found the coordinates John had sent twice before. Pulling his laptop from his bag, he typed in the series of numbers, searching for the location. The cross-hatches landed in Minnesota.
Well, fuck. He was there after all… What am I gonna tell Dean?
The door of the motel room opened and Dean stepped in, a brown and yellow parchment rolled up in his grip.
“Hey, Sammy check this out—“ he said, his words halting as he looked directly at Sam’s face. “What?”
“Nothing,” Sam lied, unsure yet how to broach the subject of Joshua, the coordinates, and John’s location.
“What?” Dean repeated, closing the door and dropping his chin.
“I’m just tired,” Sam said, closing his computer. That wasn’t a lie. He was exhausted and it didn’t look like he was going to get sleep anytime soon based on the energy radiating from his brother in that moment.
“M’kay…” Dean hedged doubtfully, then apparently decided to drop it in light of the item in his hand. “Check this out.” He pushed Sam’s duffel to the floor, shrugging out of his jacket. He spread the parchment out on the table. “I found it kinda jammed under the driver’s seat of the Impala.”
Sam stood, peering down at the parchment. “You think that kid Emerson left it there?”
Dean looked at him over his shoulder. “Well, unless you have a habit of stashing old maps in our car, I’m gonna say yeah.”
“Maps?” Sam frowned, looking closer.
“Dude, what else could it be?” Dean replied excitedly. “Look, there’s a compass, right? And doesn’t that look like the edge of land?”
Sam looked closer. “What is this? Spanish?” He pointed to the compass and the words norte, sur, este, and oeste.
Dean was quiet for a moment as he, too, studied the parchment. “Well, it sure ain’t Latin.”
“You know any Spanish?” Sam said, tilting his head to take in the faded word California running along what looked like a land mass. More writing from the lands edge followed a series of arrows inland to a feather-light X. Along the torn bottom of the map more words were visible.
Dean replied, a grin clear in his voice, "¿En tu casa o en la mía?"
Sam shouldered him aside, snorting. “What’s that mean, your place or mine?”
“How’d you know that?”
Sam just shook his head and reached down into his bag.
“What are you doing?”
“Getting the light refractor.”
“So I can see the words at the bottom better,” Sam snapped, his fingers wrapping around a make-shift magnifying glass.
“And again with the why? You don’t know what they mean.”
Sam looked at his brother over his shoulder. “Since when has that stopped me?”
Dean folded his lips down, his brows tenting into twin V’s. “Good point.”
As Dean watched, Sam re-wrote the words he could make out onto a clean pad of paper. Dean sat on the bed, waiting, his feet tapping impatiently. Opening his computer once more, Sam pulled up a translation url and began typing.
“Okay, so, this?” he said, pointing to mil seiscientos quince, “means 1615.”
Dean frowned. “Like the year?”
Sam lifted a shoulder, typing more. “This,” he pointed to en el solsticio de invierno regresará ellaa las aguas y la sangre de los hombres correrá hasta que volvamos a alzarnos, “is something like… she will return to the water on the winter solstice and the blood of men will flow until we rise again.”
Dean straightened his shoulders. “Okay, that doesn’t sound good.”
“This,” Sam continued, pointing to cuando la luna caiga sobre la hoja de la espada, ella llevará su carga a casa, “is… uh… when the moon falls on the blade, she will bear her burden home.”
“Blade? Blood? Old map from 1615? We talking, like… pirates here, Sammy?”
“There’s more,” Sam said, looking up at the sound of a knock at their door.
“There usually is.” Dean stood. “Maybe these are the towels you called for,” he said, gripping the handle and sliding the chain lock free.
Sam straightened suddenly as Dean turned the handle. “Wait! I didn’t call for towels. I thought you—“
The door opened a fraction and Sam slid his chair back in surprise as he saw the barrel of a gun jammed roughly into Dean’s bruised face, causing his brother to stumble back. Before Sam could step forward, the gun was shoved into the tender flesh under Dean’s chin and his shirt was fisted in a no-nonsense grip as the assailant forced his way into the room.
The door slammed backwards against the wall as another gun barrel was trained on Sam.
“Hi, again,” said the blonde-headed gunman who was now pressing Dean against the closed bathroom door gun barrel shoved so deep under Dean’s chin, Sam saw his brother fighting to swallow.
“You’re the kid that stole our car!” Sam exclaimed, his eyes darting from Dean to the gun barrel centered on his own heart.
“Emerson Guiley,” the blonde nodded, his back to Sam, his deceptively slim frame conveying strength enough to immobilize Dean. “That handsome devil painting you as a target, there, Stretch, is my little brother Mack. And I think you boys have something of ours.”
Sam watched as a smaller version of Emerson, sporting red hair instead of blonde, but with just as many piercings, kicked the door shut behind him, and grinned. Sam felt the hairs on his bare skin rise in reaction to that grin.
“That’s rich—“ Dean tried, but Emerson shoved his gun harder into Dean’s throat, causing him to gasp.
“Oh, believe me,” Emerson said, tilting his head to the side, and stepping closer to Dean. “I get the irony. I do. Had me a good laugh all the way over here from Carson City hiding in the back of a livestock truck. Didn’t I, Mack?”
“Yup,” Mack replied.
“Not big on words, huh?” Sam snarked, tiring of the way Mack’s blue eyes raked him. “So you left something in our car when you stole it and now you want it back?”
“And they say the big ones lack brains,” Emerson quipped.
“Well, take it and get the hell out of here,” Sam ordered, his eyes on Dean’s face as its hue shifted from red to gray to white. “And let him go already!”
“Nah… don’t think so,” Emerson shook his head.
“Dude, he could have killed you back there,” Sam pointed out, stepping forward. He stopped when Mack cocked his pistol. “He let you go.”
“Correction!” Emerson snapped. “He let the cops take me. That’s a bit different from letting me go.”
“So what the hell do you want?”
“Yer—“ Dean wheezed.
“—not taking our car,” Sam finished his brother’s assertion. He moved forward again.
White-hot pain sliced across the outside of his shoulder and Sam jerked, going sideways to his knees, and grabbed his arm. “Son of a…”
“Quit whining,” Emerson said. “It’s just a flesh wound. Mack don’t say much, but he can shoot the wings off a fly.”
Sam blinked away the white bulbs of light that illuminated the corners of his vision when he heard something click. Thinking it was the gun being cocked once more, he brought up his bloody hand in surrender when suddenly Emerson exclaimed in surprise.
“Holy shit! I did not see that coming.”
Sam pushed himself clumsily to his feet to see that Dean had managed to open the bathroom door, tumbling ass first onto the tile floor and causing Emerson to release his grip or fall with him. Dean lay coughing rough gasps of air, his hand on his bruised throat. Emerson gripped the doorframe of the bathroom with one hand, surprise clear on his face.
“Sam?” Dean rasped, his voice like sandpaper on a chalkboard.
“I’m okay,” Sam assured him. “Listen,” he said to Emerson, resolutely ignoring Dead-Eye Mack and his gun. “You’re after that map, right? It’s right there, man, take it and go. We could care less.” Seriously… there were much bigger issues on the Winchester agenda at the moment then some old map.
Emerson turned, leaning in the doorway of the bathroom, his tongue teasing a hooped piercing in his bottom lip. He rubbed the barrel of his gun along his temple. “You know it’s to a treasure, right?”
Sam gripped his bleeding arm, closing his eyes briefly against the stinging pain. “Whatever.”
“Pearls, man. Gold. Everything the Spaniards stole from the Indians when they first got to California.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “That’s a bunch of shit. Stories about a… a lost ship in the California desert have been around for hundreds of years. Can’t prove it ever existed.”
“What…” Dean reached up and gripped the toilet, then the sink to pull himself shakily to his feet. “What makes you… think that this… map… is real?”
Emerson looked at his brother. Mack glanced back, grinned once more, and nodded.
“Tell you what,” Emerson straightened up and stepped away from the bathroom door. “I’ve changed my mind. I don’t just want your car.”
He pointed his gun at Dean’s face, cocking the hammer.
“I want you to take me to the treasure.”
a/n: For those of you who like music in stories, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. For those of you who don’t so much, but would like to keep reading, don’t despair. From here on out until practically then end, it’s a rather music-free environment. You’ll see why.
Translations: are included in the text, but will be provided in this space in later chapters. Many copious thanks to the amazing Onari for help with authenticity of the language. Babel Fish may have let me down, girl, but you never have.
Poor Twisted Me by Metallica
The House that Jack Built by Metallica
Sweet Child of Mine by Guns ‘N Roses
Heartbreaker by Led Zeppelin
Aces of Spades by Motorhead
Aqualung by Jethro Tull
Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
Layla by Eric Clapton (I know it was Derek and the Dominos originally, but I’ve always loved the live version Clapton played the best)
Nutshell by AIC
Two Step by DMB
Silent Running by Mike and the Mechanics
Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty
Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson (Amy, I hope you’re happy.)
Chapter 2, Part A can be found here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/52543.html>