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Interlude: Dead in the Water

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Sam managed to hold it in for almost three miles, but then his laughter burst out in a deafening guffaw. Dean, who had been deep in thought, swore and jerked the wheel to one side, rolling them onto the dusty shoulder before straightening out again. A pick-up sped past them while he was sorting things out and one of the high school wits inside yelled, “Save the blowjobs for the bedroom!” Dean thrust his hand out the window to deliver the finger and then glared at Sam, who was only laughing harder now, his voice going up and cracking into those noises that sounded embarrassingly like giggles.

Get a grip, he told himself. It wasn’t that funny. And it wasn’t, really, but it was the first thing that he’d found humorous since Dean had pulled him out of his burning apartment, so maybe he was allowed to blow it out of proportion a little. Maybe he was just relieved that he was still capable of feeling something other than a dull, empty ache.

“You been smoking something when I wasn’t looking?” Dean asked, and Sam, wiping his eyes, shook his head.

“Your—your face—” he managed, and then dissolved into giggles (manly laughter) again.

“I know I’m gorgeous, man, but you really have to control yourself,” Dean deadpanned.

“No, you looked—dude, you looked like—like a—” Inspiration struck, and Sam burst out into hiccupping, amusement-choked song. “Like a virgin, ki-kissed for the—very first—t-time—”

Dean winced. “That’s just foul,” he muttered, and Sam wasn’t sure if his brother was commenting on his singing skills or the song selection (probably both), but then Dean leaned over and turned the radio up and it was a moot point.

Sam waited until he’d gotten himself under control again and then reached out to lower the music to manageable levels. The glance Dean tossed at him was slightly wary. “You ready to share some more witticisms with the class?” he drawled.

Sam grinned, but only asked, “Seriously, man, what was up with that?”

“With what?”

“With Andrea. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look that pole-axed.”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Pole-axed. You know: startled. Surprised.”

“Oh,” Dean grunted, and kept his eyes studiously on the road.

Sam waited a few minutes for his brother to answer and then elbowed him in the side with one elbow. “Earth to Dean Winchester.”

Dean’s mouth tightened and he said shortly, “I remembered who she reminded me of.”

“Really?” Sam snorted. Last night at the motel, Dean had gone on and on about how familiar Andrea looked, about this nagging feeling of deja-vu that was driving him nuts. “Who? If you even bothered to get her name before you—”

“It wasn’t like that.” Dean’s voice was harsh, and Sam got his first hint that something was wrong here. He studied Dean more carefully, trying to see behind that stony façade, and ended up locked on the outside the same was he always was these days. But something was definitely off because his brother's knuckles were white on the steering wheel.

“So what was it like?”

Silence.

“Dean?”

“Dad and I saved her. Few months after … well, after. Pack of goblins had moved in near this hiking trail, and she was about two minutes away from being the main course in a free-for-all when we showed up.”

And what else? Sam thought, but didn’t say. He didn’t ask because Dean’s eyes had darkened to this stormy evergreen color, and Sam remembered enough about his brother’s signs to know that if he pushed right now Dean would either lash out or clam up tighter than Fort Knox.

Sam watched his brother drive with one hand on the wheel and the other curled around the amulet. That amulet that Sam had never seen Dean without, even when he was strolling around after a shower with nothing but a towel wrapped around his hips.

What happened when I was gone, Dean? Why won’t you talk about it? What happened with that girl Andrea reminded you of to have you looking so spooked?

What the hell is that amulet doing around your neck?

But Sam couldn’t ask those questions, as much as he wanted to. He couldn’t because it would be unfair: a one-sided inquisition. Maybe Dean was hiding something from Sam but he hadn’t told Dean about the dreams, either.

Home Sweet Home, Sam thought, his buoyant mood spoiled, and turned his body away from his brother to look out the window.