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We are Both Afraid Before the Dawn

Chapter Text

"Sammy, it’s the middle of the night. Turn it off."

"It wasn't a fire alarm," Sam snapped.

"What the hell else would it be? Shark alarm? The Russians are coming?"

"We're in Tornado Alley, Dean."

"But not a trailer park. Go back to bed."

Sam glared and turned the radio up louder. Dean tossed an arm over his eyes, trying to block out the light, the radio his brother currently had tuned to KYW--and Dean thinks anyone whose voice sounds that barking loud shouldn't be in radio, let alone nighttime radio--and the rattling wind on all sides of their house.

Outside, the sound of a siren war-whooped, and a voice began commanding over a speaker. Sam got to his feet and started for the living-room, but Dean ran a quick intervention.

"No way you're heading out there."

"Dean--"

"No, Sam. Dude, what the hell is wrong with you? Cops plus Winchesters equals lots of fast-talking."

"Something's wrong. Please, just go look?"

And damnit, Sam had his great big brown eyes doing that damn stupid sad little please-please-please thing that had been wrapping his big brother around his little finger from the day he was born.

"Fine. Just...sit down and shut that thing off." He stomped out of their room, passing their father's empty one--John had taken off to investigate an old theater with a ghost that was vying for Phantom of the Opera level-notoriety with its chandeliers--and through the small living room to the front door. The block was made up of small, one and two story rentals, all with old looking clapboard and ratty front lawns. It felt more like some backwoods hillbilly hole than a few blocks outside of a clean, suburban, Midwest town, but John felt it far enough off the grid to rent out for the summer, and Dean had to admit, he actually liked being in one place for awhile. They knew the neighbors’ names and, once Dean oh-so-casually-mentioned that their mother had passed away and his duty in life was to watch out for his brother, they were always kept in a running supply of casseroles and pies and cakes and standing invites to "wander on over" whenever the barbecues lit up.

Sam, of course, did what Sam did best, which was try to kill the mood. He bitched that the carpet was ugly--okay, it was--and the pipes were rusty--and the water was too cold, but still--and they were perpetually out of milk—Dean didn’t have a car for grocery runs, that was hardly his fault--and it was five miles to the library.

Dean loved his brother, God knows he did. But every once and awhile he ached for Sammy to get to an age where Dean wouldn't feel guilty for wanting to pound the bitch out of him.

Dean opened the door and jumped--some strange kid stared back at him.

"You scared the shit out of me," the kid said. He seemed way too young to be using that kind language, but Dean's already got one little brat's mouth to watch and doesn't need another.

"What do you want?"

"Mama sent me over. Said to tell you to git in to town. They're settin' up the station and everybody goes."

That's when it finally clicked in his sleep-deprived brain who this kid was--Timmy, or Jimmy, or Tommy or something, one of the litter of Texas brats that ran around next door for hours after it got dark. They were overseen by their mother, Sal, a large, loud, but sweet woman who held down two jobs but "still sets the whole family down to supper together and has the best-behaved boys in the whole dang town at the Sunday sermon." If there were a southern stereotype factory, she'd have been fresh off the assembly line. But Dean liked her attitude, Sam liked her cooking, and John actually smiled when she scolded him for not "walkin' right over and introducin' himself," so as far as they were concerned, she had the Winchester stamp of approval.

"Station?" Dean asked. He glanced to the street, where people were loading up in cars and trucks and hauling tossing backpacks in backseats.

"Twister comin'."

"You've gotta be kiddin' me."

"Ain't got time to kid. Happens every summer. Once or twice if you're lucky."

Damnit-to-hell. Sam was going to be gloating about this for weeks. "Where’s the station?"

"High school. You'll see the cars. We all clear out."

"Tell your Mom thanks."

Timmy-Billy-Jimmy-Tommy-nodded and took a running leapt off the porch and back toward his yard. Dean shut the front door and bolted back inside.

"Hey, Dorothy!" he called. "Best grab what you can carry."

He stopped, surprised Sam was already dressed and quickly packing two backpacks.

"There's small ones all over the state," he said, his voice remarkably calm, though his hands shook. "But they say something big's on its way here. Might not develop, but we're still going to get a really bad storm."

"Alright." Dean forced down the sudden wave of nerves and assumes his solid, calm, watch-out-for-Sammy-face. "Make sure you grab the small guns and the salt shaker. I'll call Dad, let him know where we'll be."

Sam nodded. Dean grabbed his clothes from the previous day, but they smelled so much of training he tosses them aside and opts for clean ones. While he changes in John's room he leaves a short message--it's 0143 hours, there's tornado warnings, we'll be at the high school, I'll watch after Sammy--and met Sam in the hallway.

"Do you think Dad's okay?" he asked.

"He's hours away, bud."

"Where are we going?"

"Shelter at the high school."

"Will we get there in time?"

"Dude, it's not math class," he knuckled his brother's head, dodging the question. "C'mon, gotta move fast."

They locked the front door and joined a few families on foot. Cop cars circled the block, bellowing out orders to proceed in a calm and orderly fashion to the nearest Emergency shelter. The wind was already twice as bad, and Dean could smell rain from the dark sky. Lightning flickered off in the distance, but it was still so bright that, for a second, the Winchesters could see as clear as 2:00 in the afternoon rather than 2:00 in the morning. Sam walked a little closer than usual, and Dean rested his hand briefly on the back of the kid's neck, giving him a reassuring squeeze as they follow the cars and other people on foot out of their neighborhood.

"Dude, my bag weighs a ton. You smuggle Toto in there?"

Sam snorted. "You realize if I'm Dorothy, you're Auntie Em."

"Hell no. I'm the badass farmhand who jumped into the dogfight to save the screaming damsel."

"Dogfight? What Wizard were you watching?"

"In the black and white part. Dorothy's all 'Ms. Gulch is a fugly' and then falls into the pen with all those dogs, and the one guy leaps in and carries her to safety. That dude was badass."

"Those were pigs, Dean."

"Pigs?"

 "You know. Oink, oink?"

"She was screaming about pigs?"

"There were a lot of them."

"They're not exactly carnivores."

"They couldn't have Dorothy ripped up by mad dogs in the first five minutes."

"It would've been a better movie. Friggin' melt the green bitch witch? With a bucket that just appeared? How easy would that make our lives?"

"You really need to stop thinking about this," Sam grumbled. Dean rolled his eyes as a deep thunder rolled over them. Dean felt it in his chest. Behind them, a kid started crying. Sam shivered and Dean bumped his side against his brother's shoulder, a casual attaboy.

"Seriously, dude. This thing is bulky. What did you pack?"

Sam shrugged in a way that supposed to look casual. The kid was the worst liar. Dean and John could make up stories as easy as breathe. Sam, for all his brains, wouldn’t be able to lie about hiding grass in a goddamned field. "Changes of clothes, and stuff."

"What, you cram the sawed-off in here? You make another library run without telling me?"

"No, just...grabbed, y'know...some extra shirts and all. And your jacket, in case we can't get back for awhile."

"It's 85 degrees, man."

"I know, but..." Sam was definitely turning red. Even in the dim streetlamps and flashes of the squad cars, he could tell that. "I know it's...your favorite. And it was Dad's. And if...something happened, you know...it'd be hard to find one just like it."

That's when he realized which coat he meant: the old leather one, the one their father had given him when he turned seventeen. It was badass, smelled of years of smoke and gunpowder and was broken in across the shoulders and elbows in all the right places. Dad had worn it on endless hunts and it resisted everything--dirt, rocks, trees, blood. He loved that stupid coat. And in moments like these, he loved his stupid brother more than anyone on Earth. More than Dad, more than their Mom, more than their car. This is what, in John's own words, turned him into a "lousy, ignorant sap."

And yeah, Dean did have a tendency to let Sam talk him out of drills to go to the movies, but it's not like Dean didn't want to sit in air conditioning and eat junk food for the afternoon, instead of sprinting and sparring in the hot sun. And so what if they neglected Latin to watch sports, or went swimming instead of running? So what if he liked seeing his brother be goofy and smiley and just a normal twelve year old? So what if he felt pride when he was able to give him that? It didn't mean Dean was soft. Sammy was just a kid.

Okay, fine—so Sam could turn him into friggin' Julia Roberts. Sue him.

The wind picked up so suddenly and savagely that Sam was thrown into him, and Dean was half thrown into the road. The school was half a block away, and those who could run took off. Several policemen leapt out of their cars and started hollering that women and children should get in. Dean gripped his brother tightly and prodded him into a run, making sure to keep pace with Sam's shorter legs. He'd saved his brother from a fire and the angry undead, he sure as hell wasn't going to lose him to a goddamn bit of wind on 'roid rage.

But this wasn't just wind. This was some kind of Old Testament vengeance. And weirder still, running over it was the sound of a train, like some crazy speeding engine was trying to beat its way down the tracks. Sam gasped as screams and more crying started up around them, and Dean set his jaw and half dragged, half carried his brother the remaining distance to the high school doors.