Title: Gifts in One Hand
Author: [livejournal.com profile] chasingtides
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing/characters: Dean and Sam Winchester
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, the town, or the mythology. I am not making any kind of money off them.
Prompt: Dean's birth certificate is for 'Deanna Winchester,' same as their grandmother. Bonus points for John learning to raise Dean as a boy.
Summary: Written for [livejournal.com profile] lgbtfest: In their time crisscrossing the country hunting evil and hiding out in motel rooms in small town America, Sam and Dean spent a few months living out life in a crossroads town in southern Alabama. Dean loved hunting and loved his family, but he'd learned not to expect anything from anyone else.
Author's Notes: This was actually remarkably hard to write and I'd be here all day if I were listing everyone who helped me - but know that I appreciate it. I drew both from Italian Inquisition records and some Cherokee mythology, as well as local history to Coffee County Alabama.

This is the story of America. Everybody's doing what they think they're supposed to do.
Jack Kerouac

Dean put out the still-smouldering cigarette under the weight of his second-hand boot. It was too hot, really, for his boots and Dad's old jacket, even if it was October in southern Alabama. They'd spent the whole summer staking out hunts along the Canadian border and the lingering, sticky heat of the deep South wasn't sitting well with him yet.

"Skipping school again, Miss Winchester?"

"It's not skipping if they don't let me into class," Dean told the crossing guard. "And I don't know any Miss Winchesters. You might want to get your eyes checked."

The older woman gave him what Sammy called The Look and turned her back to him. She started talking with another woman, one carrying a sleeping baby, and Dean couldn't bring himself to care. He was at the school to pick up Sam, same as everyone else was hanging out in the little ring of live oaks and Spanish moss to drag one poor kid or another home.

Their first week in Turner’s Crossroads, Dean left the high school early, after Mr Marshall told him he couldn't have regular gym classes. Dean didn't care. He really didn't. He just hated how people like Ms Crossing Guard and Sammy's teacher talked about his "truancy" and his bad influence on Sam and called him Deanna. Dean thought the crossing guard, who made a point of saying something every damned day, was a bitch, but he'd threatened Sam with triple training on Saturdays if he said anything.

The other family members waiting for the kids gave Dean a wide berth and generally didn't talk to him. He knew it was because Sam's teacher always called him Miss Deanna and once even asked if he was thinking of joining the cheer squad “with the other girls.” And really, who in Turner’s Crossroads wanted to talk to the weird kids who lived in the motel half-way out of town on the county road to Enterprise, anyway? Christ. He wanted another cigarette.

"No Dad?" Sam asked, appearing suddenly at Dean's side as school let out. When Dean shrugged, Sam continued, "No class?"

"Marshall's an ass," Dean told him. "And I did double training exercises this morning anyway. Come on."

Sam nodded and followed Dean down the road toward the Wild Turkey Motor Lodge. The air was heavy and hot; Dean almost wondered if he'd be able to cut through it with his best hunting knife. Ryan, who sat behind Dean in algebra, said that it was a real Indian summer this year and Dean hadn't had the heart to ask if it would ever cool down. The motel room he and Sam shared didn't have air conditioning, but Dean had liberated a couple of fans that made it tolerable.

Dean tried to finish his algebra homework and started to read Death of Salesman before abandoning his homework altogether. Sammy, of course, was going at his homework like a starving man at food, the little geek. The kid loved it, loved anything that wasn't hunting, really. Dean would help him with the hard stuff, especially the math, after dinner. but Sam was needing less and less help lately. Dean didn't know if it was because Sam was getting smarter or if the school just sucked.

"Mac and cheese and tomatoes," Dean announced, when the room was finally cool enough to even think about eating a hot meal. He put the plastic bowls on the nightstand between their beds, next to the iced tea cans from the vending machine by the stairwell.

Closing his history book and leaving it on his chair, Sam asked, "Again?"

"You want more ramen?" Dean snapped. When he saw Sam's face, he amended, "We can hit up Ma’s Diner for breakfast in the morning, get us some real food."

"'Kay. Thanks, Dean."

Sam dug into his food and Dean wondered when it got to be like this. He hated it when Dad was gone for so long, but it was happening more and more now that Dean was in high school and they could be sure child services wouldn't be after them in a heart beat. The longer Dad was gone, the more restless Sam got and the harder they fought when Dad did get back and ordered them to pack up to move to the next small town in a new state.

As if he was reading Dean's thoughts, Sam swallowed his macaroni and asked, "Will Dad be home tonight?"

"How am I supposed to know?" Dean replied. He didn't know if Dad was alive or dead or even still in the state of Alabama. Dad had said he was hunting a shape shifter and he'd take it out of Dean's backside if Dean made a huge fuss in Turner's Crossroads like he had back in Fremont Junction. Then he just took off on the hunt, leaving them more than a month's stay at Wild Turkey. Dad was not Dean's problem.

"Ms. Jones wants Dad in for parent-teacher conferences next week," Sam explained.

"You want me to go?" Dean asked. It wouldn't be the first time Dean had to explain that Mom was dead and Dad was on a business trip. "You in trouble?"

Sam frowned under his mop of brown hair. Dean would need to take him to get it cut soon or, given the state of Dean's wallet, cut it himself. "I think you are."

"Dude, Ms. Jones is your teacher, not mine. I can only think of one kind of trouble I want to get in with her."

"Dean, gross!" Sam complained. "She made me skip recess every day this week for talking about my brother and said she needs to talk to my parents."

"Dad would just ignore her, even if he was around," Dean pointed out. "He hates that shit."

Sam made his little pissed off huff noise. Dean was not looking forward to Sam's teenage years, especially since it didn't look like Dad planned to be around much for them. "All he ever says is -"

"Stop bothering my sons and keep your nose out of our business," Dean finished for him.

Sam picked up the empty bowls and carried them over to the big sink in the bathroom. He rinsed them, washed them down with bar soap, and left them to dry by their toothbrushes. "I think I'd believe him if he cared enough to bother us."

Dean didn't have anything to say to that, so he just let Sam get back to his homework. Dean made another attempt at Death of a Salesman and then mostly pretended to be reading it while he waited to see if Sam needed any help with his homework. When Sam seemed fine, Dean took over the old television and watched a marathon of old Twilight Zone episodes until Sam crawled into the bed furthest from the door.

After that, Dean flipped to the local news station and then to a couple of the national ones, trying to see if there were any stories about guys fitting Dad's description. There weren't. He hadn't heard from Dad in a week and a half. Dad wasn't his problem. It was Dean's mantra, but he couldn't really bring himself to believe it.

The next morning, Dean practically had to drag Sam out of bed by his hair. Sammy liked his sleep, same as any other kid his age, but he was still growing like a weed and normally the promise of a hot diner breakfast had him ready to go before Dean was fully awake. It was just plain weird, the way Sam didn’t seem to care about going to the Ma’s Diner.

Dean himself had woken up at an ungodly hour, when the bare little room was still a dark gray with predawn light and he could still feel the stir of the cooler night breeze on his sheets. It had taken him a solid minute, lying in his own sweat in his old t-shirt and boxers, to figure out what had startled him awake so suddenly. The quiet of the room, where there was nothing to cover the noisy whirr of the old fan and the chorus of insects in the marshland behind the motel, gave it away.

Sammy didn’t talk in his sleep, not exactly. He generally made enough noise, though, that the average person would have thought he was awake. He snuffled and moaned and twisted around like he was dreaming about climbing his own personal jungle gym. Motel beds creaked under under him, adding to the noise, and, in the spring and fall, Dean was always able to hear the noise of his breath through the heaviness of Sam’s allergies.

That morning, though, he was silent. The ancient bed didn’t creak while Dean’s baby brother tossed and turned. Sammy didn’t make the same nonsense noises he’d been making since he was a baby. His heart in his mouth, terrified that he had once again failed as a brother, as a protector, Dean leaped from his bed and was at Sam’s side in an instant.

He was on his back, like the corpses Dad burned, but Sammy was still breathing. It was shallow and noiseless, but Dean could see Sam’s chest rising and falling. His eyes twitched under his eyelids, but those were the only movements he made. Otherwise he might as well have been a statue of Dean’s brother.

Dean spent the rest of that God forsaken morning sitting in the plastic chair by the television set. Sam had barely moved in the two hours until dawn. He made some noises, closer to squeaks than the normal snuffling noises the kid usually made. He watched Sammy for two hours, while the dull grey motel room slowly filled with sunlight, until he could wake him up for his promised diner breakfast.

At Ma’s Diner, a tiny place with a tin roof on one of the many ancient side roads lined with live oak and pecan trees, Sam seemed fine. Old Ma Rawlins, an aging lady with tightly curled white hair and the darkest skin Dean had ever seen, served them up their usual number three breakfast. Dean never told Sam that Ma gave them a discount on the food or that he would sometimes hang around the back of the diner instead of going to school. There was no need to worry Sammy, not when he was eating enough eggs and sausage and grits for a kid twice his size.

Sammy rambled, through his eggs and toast and grits, about his dreams the night before, something about being a kitten and rolling around with acorns and shit and Dean just tuned it out after Sammy wondered if he could write a story about it and get famous. He liked that Sam still thought about that kind of thing, had dreams that weren’t all the ways he could be eviscerated by a skinwalker, but it wasn’t exactly interesting.


Thursdays were English and History with Mr Larson. Dean didn’t mind Larson, not really. He was old, older than any teacher Dean had had before and maybe as old as Ma Rawlins except Larson’s skin was thin and wrinkled and he sounded as dry and gone as death already, when Dean was pretty sure Ma Rollins would be around for another decade at least. Larson wouldn’t call him Dean, but he didn’t call him Deanna either; he was just Winchester and Dean didn’t mind. It was better than most people gave him. He hadn’t finished Death of a Salesman but he’d read more than at least half of the class and it didn’t matter. Larson didn’t even ask them about the stupid play, just droned on.

After Larson was Ward and Algebra and then lunch and shop class with Leclaire and… Dean sighed, as he slid into his seat beside Ryan and wondered if he could get away with actually skipping class that afternoon. He liked shop with Leclaire, especially since they were just starting to work on mechanics and Dad had promised him the Impala once he was old enough. But he had Spanish with Milligan after shop and, Christ, he’d get more out of a couple of cigarettes and helping with the dishes at the diner than sitting through Spanish class being called Senorita Diana and being asked about his favorite shampoos.

“You know the answer for number six?” Ryan asked from his left.

Dean rolled his eyes at him. “I’m not giving you the answer. Besides, I’m,” he paused and looked at his paper, “on number one.”

“Ellie already did number one, dumb-ass,” Ryan told him. “It’s Group Work Thursday, remember? You’re six.”

Dean looked down at the mimeographed sheet of paper. For all r’s not equal to plus or minus 2, (r squared - 5r + 6) over (r squared - 4 = ? That didn’t make much sense at all. He scrubbed down his worn out pencil and began to write out the equations on his notebook, the same one he’d used in Michigan and Nebraska and Oklahoma last year. He’d figure it out.

“I thought you said it was smart,” he heard Ellie Thompson say to Ryan, her accented voice dripping with scorn. “It can’t even do basic math.”

Dean just gritted his teeth. He wasn’t going to punch the prettiest girl in his year if he didn’t have to and if he did, it wasn’t going to be in Miss Ward’s class. But he was surprised when he heard Regina snap her pencil. “Shut up, Ellie. Dean’s distracted. Didn’t you know his dad’s been off driving a rig to Chicago? He’s just fuckin’ tired. So you shut your mouth before I go and tell your dad what you’ve been saying.”

Ellie frowned at Ryan, but just tucked a wayward brown curl behind her ear. She turned to her own equations, a mess of sine curves and graphs, but managed to glare at Dean from her own half desk.

“Six is (r - 3) over (r + 2),” Dean said quickly, not wanting to give any of Ellie’s friends or the other guys in their work group a chance to say anything. “And, uh, nine is 6x2 – 5x – 6.”

“Not bad, Winchester,” one of the JV football players said from the other side of Ellie. “I guess Turner wasn’t lying about you.”

Dean shrugged and just put his answer sheet on the pile in the middle of their desks. He liked math, the way the number fit together like the parts of a car or stereo and worked themselves out. It made more sense than people or words or goddamned Ellie Thompson and the people like her. He didn’t bother to look up at Ryan and Regina who had their heads together and were whispering about something that obviously wasn’t Mr Ward’s algebra equations.

Luckily, the lunch bell rang, shrill and loud, before anyone said anything else and Mr Ward collected all of their worksheets, warning them of the quiz on Friday. It wasn’t anything new; Mr Ward always had a quiz on Friday and Dean had taken Algebra I last year in southern Michigan. Besides, it wasn’t like any of it mattered. When Dad got back from - wherever Dad was, hunting whatever Dad was hunting, they’d be out of Turner’s Crossroads and on to some fresh, new small town half way across the country that wouldn’t be any different.

Ryan elbowed him with a sunburned arm as they made their way out of the stuffy classroom and into the even more claustrophobic hallway. “Come on. Ignore Ellie. She’s just got a stick up her ass after Jack dumped for for one of the junior cheerleaders.”

“And I’m the new kid in town and the easiest to pick on, I get it,” Dean told him, edging past a group of seniors to get to his locker. “It happens all the time.”


That night, in Room 18 of the Wild Turkey Motor Lodge, Dean served them another dinner of bright orange macaroni and cheese and canned drinks from the soda machine near the motel office. Sam didn’t complain this time, which worried Dean a bit. He just ate it like he was starving, like he hadn’t already had a grown man’s meal at Ma’s Diner and the hot lunch at school. Sam was a growing kid, but he normally wasn’t that hungry, not when it was one of those months where Dean couldn’t afford much but mac-and-cheese or ramen.

After Sam finished his homework and was busy working his way through a family-size bag of tortilla chips Dean had bought from the discount store back when Ryan’s cousin gave them all a ride to Enterprise in his truck, Dean asked him, “Ms. Jones say anything else about needing to see Dad?”

Sam looked up from Buffy Summers stabbing some overly made up vampire into dust on their crappy table top television, his face crusted with salt and bits of corn chips. “Uh, no,” he said slowly, like it hadn’t even occurred to him. “She just said that if I could get my permission slip signed before we go on our field trip to the Boll Weevil Monument, it’d be better for the school. I told her the story about Dad driving the rig out up to Cincinnati and Chicago and she just told me to do my best.”

“Yeah,” Dean replied, equally slow, but with disbelief rather than confusion. “You know I’ll sign it for you. No need to miss out on the boll weevils if we’re still around by then.”

“Okay,” Sam nodded, turning back to the screen, where Buffy was shouting at her friends about something involving vampires or monsters or... Whatever it was this week. Dean wasn’t paying much attention to the television, no matter how hot Sarah Michelle Gellar was, not when there was something going on with Sam. “I don’t think Ms. Jones would mind. Maybe if you faked Dad’s signature again.”


Dean watched Sam that night, not bothering to turn on the news to see if he could learn anything about their father and his hunt. Not even ten minutes after the kid fell asleep, he was silent and still as death, frozen on his back like some kind of corpse. He couldn’t imagine how he missed it last night, how he could have fallen asleep with his little brother like this.

He spent the night propped up on Sammy’s bed. Around 11:30 he manhandled Sammy into his lap and it was just a sign of how wrong things were that Sam didn’t wake up over that. Sammy was usually a stupidly light sleeper. Sometimes, when he and Dean had to share a bed on the road while Dad took the one by the door, Sam would wake up just when a big rig drove by on the highway. Dean grunting and hauling him all over the place should have woken him up in a heart beat. But it didn’t.


He dreamt that night about fighting witches and skinwalkers. He was in some kind of strange, empty field, like Dad would drive through in Iowa and Nebraska in the dead of winter, except there wasn’t any snow. Like all of his dreams, he wasn’t binding or trying to hide or change his body. He was naked and only fighting one witch, a man with a wicked painted skull for a face, with a corn stalk covered in cotton blossoms.

He lunged at the pale man, swinging his corn stalk at him, but the witch caught him on the upswing with his own hemlock branch, hitting Dean across his chest. It was a hard blow that knocked Dean onto his back. He caught his breath faster than he did in the waking world, when a blow across his chest would cause radiating agony in his breasts, and was back in the fight in a moment, corn stalk at the ready.

He was vaguely aware of other people around him fighting, probably other hunters. There were even animals underfoot, hounds and wildcats and rats and mice fighting each other with teeth and claws. The other hunters were armed with plants, like Dean, and so were the witches and skinwalkers and necromancers on the other side of the dead field. Dean wondered if it was some sort of hunter’s Valhalla, an endless battlefield that couldn’t be won or lost but had to be continuously fought.

It didn’t matter, though. Dean’s mind was almost solely focused on the battle with the skull-headed witch. He felt his dick swing between his legs as he ran and dove and fought his adversary. The other man, who was also naked but half-skeletal, fought with equal skill and focus. Neither gained nor lost ground as they circled each other and attacked with corn stalk and hemlock branch over the dead, brown field.

It had to be one of the weirder dreams Dean had ever had.


He woke up slowly, feeling the ache in his back and his legs from sleeping sitting up with Sam draped over his lap. Dean’s eyes felt heavy, like he hadn’t slept enough, and the dreams he had were slipping away as the motel room brightened. By the time he was fully awake, he could only remember something vaguely about skeletons and skinwalkers attacking him.

The grainy television was still showing the news station, now with a pretty blond woman giving them the day’s traffic report, when Dean woke up. Sammy was still lying with his head and shoulders in Dean’s lap, breathing shallowly and not moving. He hadn’t moved since Dean hauled him around the night before, as far as Dean could tell. Dean stayed put, remained with his back against the painted concrete wall and his ass on Sam’s pillow, until Sam woke up, yawning and smiling like he never did.

“Dean?” Sam asked, twisting to the side to get a better look at his brother’s face. “What are you doing?”

Dean didn’t answer. “How are you feeling?”

“Fine,” Sam told him, frowning as he sat up and looked around the motel room. “You slept in my bed last night?”

“You looked sick.” Dean pushed himself out of bed and rummaged through one of their old bags, one of Dad’s old bags with the badges and black stamped lettering, for a clean shirt. Eventually he found a blue plaid button down that didn’t smell too bad and hid his shape. He pulled off yesterday’s slightly-too-big Good Will t-shirt and exchanged it for the new one. They would have to haul their bags to the laundromat by the Kroger soon.

Sam didn’t care that his brother wore two sports bras and wore bulky sweaters and LL Bean flannel cast offs to hide his shape. Too Sammy, he’d always been just Dean, even back when Dad was still trying to convince him to wear his hair long and put bows in it. Sam had just latched on to his leg and declared Dean the best big brother in the world. Dean wouldn’t ever forget Dad’s face or the fact that Dad let him go with Sammy to get his hair cut at the barber’s the next day.

Sam was still sitting up in his bed, just wearing Dean’s old, over-sized Ghostbusters t-shirt, watching Dean like he always did. And Dean promised himself he would figure out what was going on with Sam. Sam had been there for Dean even when Sam was too little to know what he was doing. The least Dean could do was look out for his little brother while Dad was on a hunt.

“What do you think about going back to Ma’s for breakfast?” Dean asked.

Sammy frowned, still looking confused and out of it. “But… what about the money? I thought you said we were gonna hafta eat ramen all next week ‘less Dad comes home.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Dean reached over and mussed Sam’s hair. “Come on. Get dressed. Ma’ll give us some eggs and OJ before school if you get your ass in gear.”


Dean walked Sam as far as the edge of the already-hot blacktop outside his school and watched his brother go in, talking to some other kids his age as he went. Instead of heading down the road, past the Dunst peanut farm, to the high school, he retraced his steps, toward Ma Rawlins’ diner and the nearby Wild Turkey Motor Lodge. No one would care much if he skipped class for a day. If anyone asked, the tea he drank the previous night was bad and he was puking.

He spent most of the morning staring at the ancient black telephone that sat between the narrow beds in their motel room. He couldn’t call Dad. He didn’t even know what state Dad was in, never mind how he could reach the man. But Dean had a couple of phone numbers memorized as well as he knew his own name. Uncle Bobby or Caleb could help. Pastor Jim probably couldn’t leave the parish this time of year, but he might know what was going on with Sam. Pastor Jim and Sam always got along so well.

In the end, Dean didn’t call any of Dad’s friends. After eating a Snickers bar and drinking a couple of glasses of water for lunch, he went back to the diner. He promised Carl, the morning cook, that he’d do afternoon dishes since he couldn’t pay for breakfast. Carl knew he was one of Ma Rawlins’ favorites and just told him to make sure he didn’t cheat the old lady out of any of her money.

He slid in between Adam and Kate in the back of the little diner and no one gave him any extra attention. Jazmin, who was lunch waitress Wednesday through Sunday, would hand him the dirty plates and, if it got to be too much, Kate would pitch in. Otherwise, everyone had their kitchen duties. Dean had worked off his meals enough that he fit in, even if his accent and clothes were all wrong for the hot, Southern kitchen.

After the lunch rush, when Jazmin took her smoking break on the diner’s front porch and Adam went down the road to check on the kids, Dean stretched himself out by the road under one of the pawpaw trees. He pulled a cigarette from the crumpled box in his back pocket and lit it casually. He wasn’t any closer to figuring out what was going on than when he dropped Sam off for school. It wasn’t any good. He needed to help his little brother.

“Figured I’d find your lazy ass here.”

Dean looked up when he felt the sneaker kick at his shoulder. “What the hell, Ryan?”

Ryan shrugged and settled himself against the same pawpaw tree. He was just wearing a wife beater that afternoon and it showed off his terrible farmer’s tan. “Regina said you weren’t in second period. I asked around. Do you know, it turned out no one had seen you all day?”

Dean shrugged and tried to blow a smoke ring. “I got busy.”

“Too busy washing dishes at Ma’s Diner to go to class?” Ryan asked, but then rolled his eyes. “What am I asking? Of course, Deanna Winchester is too busy working at a tin roof diner to go to class.”

“The name’s Dean, just Dean,” he told him sharply, putting out the cigarette under the heel of his boot.

Ryan didn’t say anything for a minute, just looked at Dean and down the road toward the motor lodge and the half-dry swamp beyond it. “What had you so busy today, Dean?”

Thinking of what Uncle Bobby would say about talking to civilian about a hunt, Dean said, “It’s just my brother. I think he’s coming down with something.”

“Sammy?” Ryan asked. “Scrawny kid with too much hair and a Power Ranger’s bag?” When Dean nodded warily, Ryan explained, “Reggie’s sister, Alice, is in Ms Jones’ class with him. She tells my Mama stories about Sammy Winchester after school. Apparently Dana Ann Cartwright has a crush on him and he’s terrible at spelling.”

“He’s just… sniffling and sleeping too much,” Dean told him, not wanting to lie too much to a rare friend. “It’s probably nothing, but I worry, you know, with Dad out up north. I’m old enough to take care of him now, but still.”

“He’s sick?” Ryan sounded like he actually might be worried about Sammy.

Their first week in Turner’s Crossroads, when Dad had still called the motel room and he and Sam were still figuring out the school hierarchies, Ryan had just been the guy who sat next to him in Algebra I and Biology. He saw him a couple of times at Sam’s school, waiting with Regina, his cousin, for Alice. Dean didn’t know why or how they got to be friends so fast, especially when Dean knew he’d be picking up and leaving as soon as Dad got back, but it was nice. It was good to have a friend.

Dean shrugged. “I don’t know. He’s not normally like that, you know? Back in Escanaba, he was all energy and how late can he stay up and, you know, being Sammy. Now…” He shrugged again. Ryan wouldn’t get it. He was just an Alabama farm kid. He wouldn’t be able to understand that something was wrong with Sammy.

“I bet he’s fine,” Ryan told him. “Lots of kids get like that this time of year… it’s like a growth spurt or something. Besides, he wasn’t sick at all last night.”

Dean rounded on Ryan as fast as he could and had the other boy pinned against the the rough bark of pawpaw before he could react. Dean wished for the life of him that he has something on him other that salt and a bit of lodestone iron in each pocket of his jeans. “What do you mean last night?”

Ryan looked a little scared and Dean could feel his panicked breathing. “I didn’t mean nothing.”

“Winchester, what’re you doin’ to my cousin?” Kate, his fellow dishwasher, demanded, stepping out of the diner.

Dean didn’t bother looking up at her, but kept his eyes of Ryan’s broad, sunburned face “He said something about my brother.”

Kate sighed and stepped closer to the pair of them. “What’d you say? Do I got to tell your Mama?”

“He said he saw my brother last night,” Dean told her, not letting Ryan say anything. “I want to know just what he meant by that. My brother didn’t leave our room last night, not even to get a drink of water. So what’d you mean, he wasn’t sick at all last night?”

“He wasn’t!” Ryan protested.

Dean pressed his knee a little closer to Ryan’s throat, just letting him know that it was a threat. “What’s that mean?”

“Oh, get off him before I go and tell Ma Rawlins that you’re out beating folks up by the road, Dean,” Kate told him sharply. “And Ryan, you damn better tell him what you’re talking about if you want to go running off at your mouth like that. If you get yourself beat by Winchester, I’m telling your Dad that you deserved what you got and he oughta teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

Ryan twisted under Dean, but Dean didn’t let the bigger boy up from beneath his knees. Dean leaned his weight just like Caleb taught him, so it was getting harder for Ryan to breathe. Eventually someone would explain what the hell was going on. He watched as the other boy’s face got whiter.

“Fine,” Kate said, her hands on her hips as she watched the boys. “I figure you’ve been having nice dreams, Winchester? Good food, good sex, that sort of thing?”

Dean snorted, only surprised to hear Ryan make a similar chuffing noise. “I told you, Kate,” Ryan said, his breath shallow. “He’s a guy. He hasn’t been dreaming any of the good dreams if he’s got any.”

“I dream about killing things,” Dean said shortly. “I’d love some of your sex dreams, though.”

Ryan went a little limp under him and stopped struggling. “That’s you, man? Seriously? I’ve never seen anyone fight like that in my life!”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You went right after the Kalena last night, right?” Ryan asked. “You were the one with the green corn.”

Dean leaned back toward his heels, completely baffled.

“You dreamt about fighting a skull headed man, right?” Ryan continued. “You went he was fighting you with the hemlock branch, remember?”

Dean stood up sharply and brushed the dirty from his knees. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I had some freaky dreams, but I want to know what you know about my little brother. What’d you do to him?”

“We didn’t do nothing,” Kate said slowly. “You already got it in you to fight. Sometimes it’s in families and sometimes it ain’t.” She motioned at Ryan. “He’s got it. Every fall, like clockwork, he goes off and sleeps sixteen hours a day and fights with the rain and Kalena and whatever else is out there. And his Dad? He does it, too, and my mama, she has the feasting and the sex and glory. Me, I just dream about my teeth falling out.”

Ryan laughed at her. “Better that way. You don’t want to be fighting with your teeth and claws when you’re trying to memorize French verb tenses.”

Kate shrugged and put out the cigarette she had been smoking. “Whatever. You get a handle on your boy there or I’m tell Uncle Paul that you’re running your mouth on the caul.” She headed back through the dense grove of pawpaw and sassafras trees toward the diner, disappeared into the humid afternoon as easily as she had come.

Ryan pushed himself back to his feet, bracing himself on a tree as he did, and walked toward the narrow country road. “It’s not a bad thing, you know. I mean someone’s got to do it and, fuck man, you’re the best fight we’ve seen. Dad was talking to Paster Emmet about you this morning, saying that we’re definitely safe this year with you on our side. No one could figure out who the hell you were, though.”

“I don’t get it. And what’s this have to do with Sammy?”

“Your dreams of killing shit?” Ryan explained. “Not dreams. Or at least, they aren’t around here at harvest time. We got to keep it safe, you know, from the people who’ll get it. Most of us who dream, though, we’re…. Like, dogs or some shit.” He shrugged expressively. “I’m a wildcat, when I sleep, same as Sammy. We’ve got some decent power. But we’re nothing like you and my dad - you’re fucking warriors at night man.”


Dean didn’t get it, not even when Dad showed up in November, long after Sam’s class trip to the boll weevil monument and after Dean stopped dreaming of fighting skull faced men with corn stalks. Ryan tried explaining a couple of times and even took him and Sammy to the old church to talk to Pastor Emmet about it. It didn’t make any more sense when Pastor Emmet explained it.

It sounded like witchcraft, which put Dean on edge, but Pastor Emmett insisted they were fighting witches. That sounded good, as far as it went. Dean knew that Pastor Jim and Dad had busted up a couple of witches’ covens and figured that it wouldn’t be a bad thing to follow in their footsteps. And it didn’t hurt that the teachers didn’t seem to care if he took a nap at his desk before class. Even old Milligan just called him Senor Dee.

For the first time in years, Dean was almost reluctant to leave Turners Crossroads when Dad gave the order around Christmas. Dad looked at him strange and said he figured Dean would jump at the chance to go from the sticks to the big city. Dean didn’t know how to explain to Dad, without telling him about the vision-dreams and witches and sleeping through the harvest moon, that no one in Turners Crossroads, Alabama called him Miss Winchester anymore. He was Mr Winchester and Dean and “that young man,” even if he had earned it in his sleep.
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