"Hold up a second, Sammy," Bobby says, and Sam stops talking, abruptly aware of Dean's soft breaths near his ear and the grit kicking out from under the wheels of the truck. He hadn't even noticed it while he was speaking, but a quiet rain has started to fall, clouding the landscape with a dull sheen. The whole world looks gentle from here, and he shifts so that his shoulder can be a better pillow for Dean's heavy head. He waits, hearing the little grunts Bobby makes as he thinks everything through.
Bobby’s voice, when it cuts through the relative quiet, still comes as a surprise. "You think Dean woke up when the Demon jumped back in your daddy?"
He can't nod without disturbing Dean, so he just says, "Yeah," at once stating the obvious and making it a question with a lift in his voice, wondering where Bobby is going with this train of thought.
"What makes you think it had somethin’ to do with the Demon? You said you put the amulet down on Dean and less than a minute later he was breathin' on his own again."
That's an angle he never considered, and put like that, it sounds so simple and clear; he feels his face go hot with embarrassment at not making the connection. Now he knows why Bobby had insisted on cutting the old knot in the cord free and retying the amulet around Dean's white throat before any of them set foot outside the hospital room. His heavy, blunt fingers had looked curiously gentle wielding a knife and strangely nimble knotting thin black cord.
"Course, the Demon theory makes sense too," Bobby says without pause, generously keeping his eyes on the road instead of letting them stray to Sam's pink face. "Either way, I'm just glad you boys are safe."
The truck eats up the miles of road like it’s starving for it. Sam looks out the window, cracking his neck, and thinks they must have been driving for at least twice or thrice the time it had taken Bobby to get to the hospital in the first place. But he could be wrong about that. The hospital messed up his internal clock, made him count in breaths rather than minutes. And anyway, he's never had Dean's uncanny sense of direction, the ability to look once and just know where he is, where he needs to go, and what he'll find just down the road.
Still, he can’t quite shake the feeling that they’re going the wrong way, that Bobby has an entirely different destination in mind. His heart slams into his throat when Bobby taps out a tattoo on the steering wheel, windshield wipers laying down a syncopated rhythm, and begins to speak, his voice low and determined. “Sammy,” he says, looking as calm as ever, his eyes still fixed on the road ahead, “I’m not taking you boys home with me.”
Sam feels the burn of betrayal hit him sharp and fast. He’s beyond glad that Dean isn’t awake to hear this, though part of him wants to hold up Dean’s lolling head and shame Bobby into submission. “I’m not gonna hurt Dean that way,” Bobby continues, and Sam has a hard time finding the words he needs; body language would be the way to go here, if only Dean weren’t lying helplessly between them. “Look, Sammy, I take you boys home with me, and then what? Dean’ll be worried about trying to find your Dad, fixin’ his car, going through every book in my house for ways to kill that damn Demon. And all the while not giving himself time to rest or recover. You know it and I know it and I bet even Dean knows it, but that’s the way the boy is built. So let’s not give him the option.” Bobby shifts in his seat and flips on the headlights.
The illumination dazzles Sam’s eyes for a moment and he shuts them tightly. “Where do you think we can go that Dean won’t push himself? There’s no such place, Bobby.”
“Maybe so,” Bobby allows, turning to face him directly. “I guess you’d know best, Sam. So you tell me what you want for him.”
Dean starts to shift restlessly in his sleep when dawn breaks. The first rays of light shine on his frowning face and Sam rubs the sleep out of his eyes and smiles at Dean’s disgruntled expression. He surveys the flat land, the empty lots bare of houses and trees, and wants to shiver at the lack of cover. But when he looks at it again, all he can think is fresh start.
Dean is fully awake by the time Bobby cracks a window to let in a little fresh morning air, and he looks straight ahead at the road they’re on and says, “Nebraska.”
Sam looks at Bobby for confirmation, and Bobby says to Dean, in a voice equally scratchy from an early morning without coffee, “Yeah. Caleb’s.”
Dean just nods and leans back in his seat between them, the long line of his leg blurring into Sam’s at the hip.
Still gen, still R-ish.
Word count (today): 858
Word count (total): 13,537 (45.12%)