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Over the Hills, Far Away

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"So, this place, it's a place—it's something Dad thought—hoped—that he'd need one day. Maybe."

"Jesus, Dean. Stop talking in riddles. Giving me a headache."

"You gotta headache? Want me to pull over—is it? Are you—"

"It's just a headache, Dean, just a normal, annoying, fucking headache. Brought on by being annoyed."

"Fuck you too," Dean muttered like Sam couldn't hear him, then stepped on the gas, just like he always did when he was being a dick. Sam ignored him but after a bit, curiosity got the best of him.

"Well? What about Dad's damn mystery place, then?" he snapped, and Dean rolled his eyes. Dick.

"Nothin'. We're almost there, anyways."

Sam sighed and rolled his own eyes. Great. Best ride of his life. Stuck in the car, legs aching from hours shoved into a space that had been too small for him since high school…Dean hunched over the wheel and locked up like a curse box. Fan-fucking-tastic.


A half hour later, the car slowed and rolled up a slight incline. The ground under the tires crunched and creaked with the sound of gravel being pushed into dirt as they crawled to a stop. Dean shut the car off and sat, apparently listening to the engine cool in the pitch black night. "Okay…this is it," he said. "Gonna be rough for a few days before I sort it all out but. Gives us a place to stay for a while."

Sam grunted and shoved the car door open, grabbed his bag out of the back seat. "Well? Gonna open the door or…?"

"Right. Coming. Lemme get the key out…" Dean staggered when he stepped out of the car, slamming his hand down on the roof to keep from falling. Sam made a face and ignored Dean's stumbling around the car. It was his own fault for insisting on driving miles and miles past the point he should have stopped and let Sam take over.

Dean trudged up to the dark house in front of them without waiting for Sam, picking out the way with a flashlight. The weak light bobbled to a stop at the door and with some jiggling of the handle, a little cursing, and a kick or two, it sprung open. "There," Dean said.

Sam stared into the pitch black inside that wasn't much different than the pitch black outside…maybe a little blacker.

"Stand here, don’t move," Dean said and went back out to the car. Sam stood, not moving, not caring…hell, barely breathing. It was quiet—super quiet. Still as the grave. He was deciding if maybe screaming was an option, when he felt Dean at his back. "Here," Dean said and shoved something thick and squishy into Sam's arms. Sam gasped and almost dropped it before his brain provided sleeping bag and he squeezed it hard.

"Lemme see…" he could hear Dean moving around the place, more bumping, more cursing. Thumping and banging and then, thin white light lit a corner of the dark. Sam could barely make out a room, all the corners rounded off by the dim light of the battery-powered lamp. Dean laid a familiar worn nylon sleeping bag out across the rough looking floorboards and Sam looked down at the bundle Dean had shoved in his arms and exhaled. Yeah. Sleeping bag. Of course. Caught Dean giving him a funny look but Sam ignored it and shook his bag out.

"Get some sleep, Sam. We'll start getting shit organized in the morning."

Sam had no idea what that meant but he was tired. Took his boots off and shoved himself into the bag, sparing a half a moment for thinking about spiders and bugs that lived in abandoned dumps and crawled into small moist places, before passing out.


Morning light didn't make much of a difference. It was still dark in the place, and from what he could see in the crack of the open doorway, it looked like they were somewhere in the assback of nowhere. Another cabin hidden in the woods, Sam thought. No one around but him and his brother and a countdown to murder/suicide….

"Hey," Dean called out and shoved the door wide open, letting sunlight stream in. He carried a paper tray holding two cups and a bag of something that smelled good. "Got bagels. There's jam and butter and one of those little cups of cream cheese in there, too."

"Really? Thanks…" Sam juggled a warm bagel and a hot coffee, staring stupidly at the over-caffeinated cow or deer or possibly dog plastered across the take-out cup, wondering where…how…"I thought. I thought we were up in the woods somewhere, that you…we're gonna low-profile it, right…?"

Dean stopped sipping at his own coffee and stared at Sam, giving him that look, the one where his eyes got huge and round and pretty, not that Sam cared about the pretty part. It was the round part that was important, the part that meant Dean was about to flip his shit. But he didn't. He just inhaled and looked like he was counting to ten. "We're not hiding. We're resting. Okay, we're hiding a little. We're outside of a place called Millville. About fifteen minutes from a strip mall. And a coffee shop." Dean waved his cup at Sam, "Twenty minutes from the town. This is Dad's place."

Dad's place? What the fuck did that mean? Sam squinted at Dean. Bullshit, there was no way this…house… was Dad's. "No, it's not. If Dad had a place somewhere normal, there's no way you'd have been able to keep it from me."

"Yeah well, it's not just some of the Winchesters who are good at keeping things hidden."

Sam wanted to smack Dean, smack him like the bitchy little girl he was, but didn't. He gulped down a swallow of pretty good coffee and faced away from Dean. Pretended like he was staring at something through a window so grimy it was almost opaque.

"Dad had this place for when it was all over," Dean said, not getting that Sam just wanted him to shut the fuck up and leave him alone. "For when the time came we could start over again." He stopped, sighed heavily before going on. "Look, I get that it's not exactly time to start over and there's a lot of shit waiting for us but…you need to sit shit out a little. Pull yourself back together."

"I'm as together as possible. And last thing I want is to hide out with you in the 'burbs or wherever."

"I know that, okay? But let's just. Shit, I need to take a breather if you don't, so do you mind?"

Sam hated his liar of a brother but at the moment he was kind of dependent on him, so he just nodded and didn't say anything else.


Dean pulled the thick brown paper that had been stapled and taped over some of the windows off. Light oozed in and reluctantly lit the rooms. Sam was surprised to see that the inside of the place was…average. Plain. Weirdly normal. Somehow, he thought any place his dad settled in would've looked like a paramilitary sorcerer's camp instead of some place just waiting for the hand of a soccer mom to make it shine.

So. Here was the place John Winchester had planned to come to, after it was done. Sam inhaled, shoulders going high, chest filling, he held it until he was forced to exhale. Yeah. The old man hadn't bought this place for himself. Sam knew who he'd bought it for, for his…for Dean, more than likely. Dad had apparently always held some idea that Dean needed a place to put down roots, that this was something Dean craved. Sam cut his brother a look. Dean was bent over one of the war bag, muttering to himself and making a racket. He came up with a triumphant grin, holding something that was not a gun or a knife or a censer….

It was a tape measure. A really fucking big, bright orange, tape measure. Dean caught him staring. "What? We need to know how big the windows are, dude. You have to buy curtains."

"Curtains? What the hell for?"

"Maybe you want people looking in the windows but I'm not an exhibitionist like that. Freak."

"Yes, you are," Sam muttered and walked to one of the front windows, trying to keep his eye on Dean and look out the window, too.

Well. The view certainly nailed home that this wasn't the remote mountain cabin he'd imagined. Sure, might be a good sprint between this place and the next but…there were neighbors within shouting distance. There was a front yard, a driveway, a garage…some kind of tree, a fucking apple tree, fruit still green and clinging to the branches. He dug his thumbs into the corners of his eyes and wondered what the hell was wrong with him, why all this just made him so angry. Jesus—"What the hell had the man been thinking?" Sam growled. "Where the fuck did this all come from? Who the hell did he think was going to be stupid enough to want this?"

The hurt look that flashed across Dean's face sparked a flicker of guilt, but Sam shoved it back down on top of the tons and tons of other shit he'd shoved down his own throat. Waited for the evil chortle of glee he'd come to see as part of his waking life now…nothing. No one crowing in his ear about what a dick he was, what a pathetic little lovelorn girl…the presence he'd suffered for centuries gone but not really gone….

Dean jammed the tape measure onto his belt. "Whatever. We're staying here, like it or not, okay? So you just—just shut the fuck up and deal."


Sam yanked himself away from the window, and jerked when he realized Dean was right behind him now. His heart raced, he smothered a yelp but Dean caught it.

"Sam…" Dean raised his hands and Sam flinched back so hard it felt like his back popped. He felt his face flame as he went red, and he rushed out of the house. He took off for the back yard, needing to be away from Dean and his eyes, big, accusing, staring, blaming eyes.


Sam wandered around behind the house, eyeing the little porch off what he guessed must be the kitchen door, waiting for Dean to slam through it but he didn't. Sam shook all over, his hair falling into his eyes in a way it hadn't since he'd been a kid—blew out a sharp breath and took off down the center of the yard away from the house, his only thought in putting some distance between himself and Dean…more distance.

He waded through pools of neglected grass—the thick strands nearly thigh high, beige and green and sage. He was surprised. He had no idea an almost suburban back yard could behave so much like…a…a wilderness. He almost expected to hear the cough of some predator stretched out lurking in the grass. The half lawn, half meadow spread out behind the house, wide, deep. Here and there were pockets of shrubs clumped together and were punctuated with scrubby, spindly trees. A power pylon broke up there view, bisecting the clear blue sky. That was going to fuck the hell out of any EMF readings…though the house was John's; it was probably warded and supe-proofed up the ass.

A garage sat a few yards to the side of the house, double doors hanging open to an empty space. He could see big, black grease spots on the concrete floor as he passed, some heavy duty chains hung down from exposed rafters. Looked like someone had a working garage at one point…Dean might like that. He wasn't sure but it looked like maybe a truck or a van was parked in the rear of the building. He'd let Dean know....

Behind the garage were a couple of falling down, rusty sheds, no discernible purpose to them. It didn't look like anything had ever been purposely put in the ground—the trees and shrubs were probably volunteers from somewhere, birdshit, probably, or squirrels…and for extra surprise grins, he'd discovered the ground at the farthest part of the yard was riddled with booby traps. He'd tripped over bits of machinery hunkering down in the weeds and rusting into nothing, had fallen down twice what with jamming his foot into a hole or a tunnel under the soil—each time flooded with relief he hadn't broken an ankle. He guessed that the holes were from groundhogs or moles or maybe chupacabras, big as the damn things were. Sam made himself a promise that tomorrow, bright and early, he was coming out armed and shooting the fuck out of those little bastards.

A blunt, furry snout popped up out of the ground a couple of yards away and gave him a beady-eyed, appraising gaze before disappearing again…Sam sighed. What the fuck. Maybe he'd just scare them really bad.

When he limped back up to the rear of the house, he found the kitchen door open and more importantly, he smelled food.

Dean was sitting with his back pressed against one wall, staring at the open door. Between his spread feet, there was a box of pizza on the floor.

Sam stopped and gave the box a puzzled look. "How'd you get pizza?"

"Dude. Told you. Mall down the road. Pizza place delivers."

"But I was only gone a few minutes."

Dean gave him one of those looks. "You were gone for like, an hour, little more," he said, in that artificially patient way that made Sam want to kneecap him. Sam tried taking calming, healing breaths but he couldn't find the least thread of calm to hold onto. He was pissed off, so fucking mad all the time and damn it, it was exhausting. Exhausting.

Dean nudged the box towards Sam with something like a smile curling the edges of his lips. "Can you sit down and eat something? I know we have to talk, but you gotta eat something first."

Sam snatched a slice and waited for the noise, the soundtrack of disgust that usually accompanied food but the inside of his head was silent. "I don't hear anything," and only realized he'd said it out loud when Dean replied. Sam ignored him and put all his concentration into eating.

The pizza was pretty good, considering.