They weren’t on the highway anymore; Dean could tell before he even opened his eyes. He felt his stomach shift as the Impala careened around each bend in the road, going a little too fast. Dean blinked slowly as the rest of his senses came back to him. There was the soft hum of music leaking from the radio. The cool glass of the passenger side window against his forehead. Tilting his head slightly to look out, Dean was surprised by how dark it had gotten—almost pitch black—but he could just make out the shadowy outlines of wide tree trunks resolving in and out of focus. Fog clung to everything like a sheen: the ground, the road, the dim glow of their headlights. They must still be near the coast.
Something was digging into Dean’s stomach. It was Adam’s elbow. The kid was sprawled out and fast asleep in Dean’s lap. His head lolled to one side against the pillow they’d wedged between him and the door and his little socked feet dangled over Dean’s knees. As Dean shifted his brother gently (which was difficult with his busted-up wrist), he noticed that someone had laid a jacket over his shoulders. Must have been Dad—it was the fleece one he’d been using the whole drive to wipe condensation from the windshield.
Something moved in the backseat and Dean turned. Sam was awake too. He had his chin in his hand and a book with a cracked spine flopped open in his lap. Dean couldn’t help but roll his eyes, even as he grinned. Sam looked up and raised an eyebrow.
“Go to sleep, nerd”, Dean mouthed. Now it was Sam’s turn to roll his eyes. Then, he went right back to his book. The kid never listened.
Finally, straightening up a little, Dean looked over at the driver’s seat. He could tell immediately that Dad was tired. One hand held the wheel while the other rested slack on the gear shift. He was looking straight forward in a way that made Dean feel like he wasn’t entirely in the car with them. His dad was a large man—he felt like he was twice Dean’s size, usually—but he looked especially huge in this confined space.
Dean cleared his throat. “Dad? Um, how are we on gas?”
It took Dad a second to come back to himself. Then, he lifted his hand slightly so he could see past the steering wheel to the fuel gauge. “Half.”
Dean nodded slowly. He looked out again at the trees pressing in on them. “Where are we?”
Dad tipped his head toward the wide trunks at the side of the road in answer. “Redwood forest.”
The response from the backseat was immediate. “No way!” Sam dropped his book onto the duffel at his feet and had his nose practically flattened against the window, craning to see the treetops before they disappeared into the dark sky. Dean had also read about these mammoth, ancient trees, thank you very much. He tried to remember where they were… California? Yeah, northern California.
“Did you know some of these trees are almost as wide as a school bus?” said Sam excitedly.
Dad glanced at Sam in the rearview mirror. “Don’t wake Adam,” he warned, but Dean thought he saw a small smile as he turned back to the wheel.
Dean reached down and absentmindedly ran his hand through his little brother’s tangled hair. “Where are we stopping, Dad?”
Instead of answering, Dad reached into the cup holder on his door, sifted through wrappers from salt water taffy they’d picked up 200 miles ago, and produced a small, folded piece of paper. Dean took it in his uninjured hand and held it against the window to read.
1827 Meadowlark Ln
Angel’s Footprint, Oregon 97135
Dean groaned. “Is this place going to be full of religious nuts?”
“It’s a good situation. Bobby found it for us.”
Good. Bobby’s placements were almost always for at least a few months.
Dad continued, “Sam, put that book away. You should both go to sleep. It’s another six hours north.”
Sam grumbled but did as he was told. Dean watched his dad for another moment. He fiddled with the corner of Adam’s pillow. “Are you okay to drive?”
“Don’t know what you think the alternative is.”
“If you’re tired, we can pull over somewhere. Or… um, I could drive.”
Dad threw him a sharp look. “I don’t need cops on my ass because I let you drive without a license.”
Dean flushed. “I’m almost old enough.”
“I’m tired of telling you ‘no’ about this. Go to sleep, Dean.”
Dean looked out at the dark forest for just a moment longer, then pulled up a corner of Adam’s pillow to put between him and the window, readjusted the jacket around his shoulders, and settled back into sleep.