by Maygra

SPN: Dean & Sam and the whole crew.

Vague future-fic, set in the Salvation future-verse, set well before Time's a'Comin. Once more, with more questions than answers.

Notes to follow.

(5,960 words)

"Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope - a slight change, and all patterns alter." ~Sharon Salzberg


The house would need some work. A lot of work. It would hold all of them for now, but it was going to need work to add a couple of extra bathrooms, a kitchen big enough for all of them, and those who would come after.

It looked more worn out than it was, the last coat of paint probably applied a decade or so ago, and the vagaries of  weather in upper Wyoming winning against the best combinations Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore can come up with. The porches wrapped, back and front, giving some break from summer sun and a buffer against winter snows. If he cocked his head and squinted his eyes, the fading grey paint on the sides made him think of an old time locomotive or maybe a barge with the long single story center of the house and the two-story rises on the either end, each with it's own low-ceiling dormer attics.

It was built for a big family that got bigger; more functional than showplace, despite the long circular drive that led from the main road to the front door; the attempts at some landscaping to break up the vast expanses of wide open space that surrounded the house and outbuildings. A working farm, a ranch, or it had been six or seven years ago. Now it was just a reminder of someone else's life, of children who grew up and didn't want to stay out here where amenities were few and neighbors fewer.

"How many bedrooms?" Danielle asked, breaking the silence softly.

Sarah had the property sheets on her lap, but she was looking at the house, not the paper.

"Six. Three and three. Two and half-baths.  Living room, den, dining room, laundry room, mud room. Foreman's cottage."

"Called!" Allie said. Sarah's mouth twitched.

"Two barns. One grain silo, pumphouse, bunkhouse--"

"Bunkhouse?" Charlie leaned over the middle seats and tickling Sam-John in the process. "Called."

"You don't get the bunkhouse all to yourself," Leigh said.

"Called it first," Charlie shot back.

Sam put the van in park and opened the door. "Let's look at the house first." He didn't move as the doors slid open. Not even when Dean came around the front of the van, staring at the house, Sam-John dangling like a monkey from his arm, full of pent up energy but not willing to stray too far from his daddy's side in this strange place. Sarah leaned against the front bumper, hand shielding her eyes as the girls tumbled out, coltish and long-legged, a herd not quite sure which way to go.

Images and phantoms flickered at the edges of Sam's sight, and he kept his gaze down. He knew this was the place, but he wouldn't push it, wouldn't force it. Couldn't.  Ready to choke on or laugh at the idea of the Winchesters as working farmers, not by choice or desire, but by necessity.

Dean got the herd moving forward, hitching Sam-John high on his shoulders, Dani stepping up to his side, the girls tumbling after. Not that they were, really, but Sam saw them that way, rushing too fast to their own futures, pushing each other out of the way, tugging each other along.

Up to him to make sure they had those futures.

The door was unlocked; the land and property agent Sarah had talked to promised it would be. Sarah didn't move either, tucking her hands into the pockets of her jacket. She had her hair pulled back in a serviceable ponytail, the streak of grey that had come up showing prominently. She'd talked about dyeing it, too young for grey, but Sam had taken the strand gently and wrapped it around his finger. He'd helped put it there.

That had been months ago. It wasn't a scar, but it was, like the one faint and barely seen on her forehead. He moved up, leaned against the grill next to her, the engine still warm against his back. Eased the constant ache a little.

There was a lot of land here. More than Sam could see with just his eyes.

"We're going to be awfully isolated," Sarah said.

Sam nodded. "At first."

She nudged, leaning into him. He dropped an arm around her shoulder, kissed the gray streak at the roots.

Dean reappeared on the porch sans the monkey boy. "You two coming in?"

Sarah smiled and slipped an arm around Sam's waist, levered them both up. "Yep," she said with a definitive twang. "Be right along." Dean rolled his eyes but the corner of his mouth twitched.

"But not alone," she said as she and Sam took step forward together.

"Nope. Not alone."


Dean didn't look at anyone when he started upstairs, frown on his face as he bent a little and swung Sam-John up against his hip. "Charlie, watch the stairs," he said when she blurred past him, taking the steps three at a time.

Charlie made an impatient sound but slowed, and as if to echo her father's concern the step she was standing on creaked and the railing rattled in its brackets.

Danielle looked less than happy, but resolute. Sarah met Sam's eyes with a raised eyebrow, are you sure about this?, but she had that patient smile on her face and Sam couldn't help but grin at her a little.

Leigh was systematically going to each doorway, laying her hands lightly on jambs and lintels and Sam was surprised that she only had to stretch a little bit. Allie was still taller, but Leigh was going to catch up soon.

He felt Mary's arm creep around his waist and he rested an arm on her shoulder, rubbing the joint and pulling her in a little tighter. She wasn't worried about the house unless Dean or Charlie or Leigh found something she or Sam had missed, but all the things surrounding this search had left Mary quieter than usual, resolute as her Aunt Dani but not as accepting as her mother.

They can't stop what's coming, and Sam's tried desperately for months not to let his fear that they are at least part of the catalyst spill over beyond Dean, who knew as much as Sam did, and Sarah, who deserved to know everything.

Leigh made her way back into the kitchen, trailing fingers over counters and cabinets and then stopped at the heavy butcher's block in the center of the room. It was huge and solid -- probably why it was left behind -- and Sam could see no seams or joints. It was possible it was cut from a single massive tree trunk. When Leigh leaned over the block on her elbows, forearms laying flat, Allie leaned in from the opposite side, caught her sister's fingers, and closed her eyes.

The girls had all been practicing; they'd gotten better since the Shift. He knew better than to try and hold Mary back when she went to join her sisters, laying a hand on each of their shoulders.

Circuit complete.

Or mostly. Throw Charlie into the mix and Sam had to be careful about how hard he looked at them. How he looked at them at all.

But Charlie was thumping through the upstairs rooms and Danielle was taking slow steps up to join her brood. He could hear Sam-John asking questions and Dean's voice answering simply, straightforward.

Sarah slipped into the place where Mary had been, but her eyes were on their daughters.

The four of them together made up something Sam wasn't sure he understood, something he thought Dean got on a visceral level but couldn't explain.

But his three girls just together did the same thing -- could see and hear and feel, well past what Sam could even on his best days. But he could feel it when they did this, like an extra heartbeat, like a second surge of blood in his veins -- connected too, but not part of them, beyond the biological sense. There was no crossover or immersion like he still occasionally got off Dean, where it felt like they made up two halves of a whole. His girls were complete in themselves.

Together they became more than the sum of their parts.

The girls didn't hold their strange and silent conference for very long: Allie finally opened her eyes and blinked, Leigh started kicking the leg of the block and playing drums on the surface with her fingertips in nervous energy and  Mary let them both go and backed up to hoist herself up on the counter and see if there was water in the faucets.

Sam didn't ask and Sarah gave him a squeeze and tugged him toward the rest of the house. Allie would tell them what she'd heard when she sorted it out. Leigh's entire demeanor said she approved of the house.

Mary only met Sam's eyes briefly, with eyes too old. She saw what and when she wanted to now, for the most part. Maybe further than Sam. He was pretty sure she'd seen his death, maybe her own, but he didn't know how to make it easier for her. She didn't act like she was afraid, though. Just resigned.

Sarah tugged him toward the other set of stairs, and they went up them side by side. Below them the back door opened and closed and Leigh's voice rang back through the house, awed and a little happy. "Oh, that's so pretty!"

His youngest daughter didn't really ever see anything half-empty.

The bedrooms weren't large, but big enough. The bathroom will suffice for the five of them until they can build bigger. Sarah's been rough-sketching, planning.

She's also been learning how to can and salt and smoke. They'll need to learn to do for themselves and fairly quickly. They've run the numbers. They can make this work.

Sam has to believe that.


They couldn't tour the whole property without a vehicle with better shocks or horses, which they were also going to need at some point. But they walked a few acres of it, Sam-John getting a lift from anyone handy when his legs got too tired. They kept him in the middle, more or less; not that there was any threat here that any of them could sense besides loose rock and gopher holes and the occasional bee. He was the youngest though, the one who knew nothing yet, except that he was the center of attention for parents and cousins and sister and his aunt and uncle. He was a little bow-legged like his dad, and the mix of dusky and fair like his mother, curly brown hair and wide green eyes and a smile that took up his whole face.

He was fearless as long as family was close, climbing fences and boulders, sure if he slipped or stumbled, a hand would be there to catch him.

Son and heir. Prince of all he surveyed. His sister and his cousins were guardians in ways he didn’t understand beyond scraped knees and piggy-back rides.

Sarah and Danielle gave up the hike on an outcrop of rock. The girls and their charge stopped by a thin trickle of water, looking for tadpoles or crawfish or whatever else the irrigation canal could offer.

Sam and Dean walked on a little further, eyes on the far fence that opened into pasture and farmland beyond the next hill. They didn't touch but they were shoulder to shoulder nonetheless.

Dean finally stopped and Sam did too, almost inevitably. The house behind them looked fragile and small and awkward, a boat in a sea of grass.

"The house is good," Dean said, hands on his hips. "Build out, build up. Foundation is solid. Difficult for anyone or anything to approach without us seeing it. This isn't going to be easy."

"No," Sam said, shrugging. "None if it is or will be. You caught the news this morning?"

Dean chewed on his lip. "Yeah. Happening faster. Water up an inch, current shifts…"

"It won't happen at once. People will have time," Sam said, knowing it for a weak excuse.

Some people would have time, and they'd argued that, how they could warn people, but there was no way to do it without saying why or how and be believed. "We can't save them all. Not this time."

Dean glared at him, turned his back. Sam felt it like the punch he knew Dean wanted to throw, had wanted to throw for months now. He started back and Sam remained.

The world wasn't going to end, but it was going to shift. Had started, in ways that were already being noticed. Faster than global warming, less predictable than a nuclear strike, probably more devastating than another world war.

But it wouldn't end.

"You coming?"

Dean had stopped a dozen yards away, still glaring.

But waiting.

He didn't start moving forward again until Sam was beside him.


They didn't stay in the house. They probably could have, or driven into Basin and found a hotel, but the camping gear was in the carrier on top of the van, the night would be cool but not cold and camping was something that even Danielle enjoyed as long as she didn't have to dig a latrine. That they would use the house for and Sam carried two five gallon jugs of water to refill the tank in the half-bath on the first floor and a set lantern in the hallway.

Mini-vacation, Sam wanted to think, holding it in his mind like that once they'd built up the fire and were full and warm and feeling lazy from skillet steaks and potatoes, and two cherry pies that Danielle had managed to pack carefully enough that the crusts didn't even break off. The whipped cream came in cans and that was as much fun as the pie was good.

Sam-John was trying to stay awake but losing, sitting on his sleeping bag between his sister and his mother; blinking to try and keep his eyes open as the stars appeared, brighter and bigger than they ever saw at home.

"We're really going to live here?" Charlie asked, quiet like she usually wasn't. They couldn't see much beyond the edge of light the fire cast: shadows and distortions of grey where the land rose and fell. Mountains further off, supplying the rocky crags that thrust up here and there. There were a few stands of trees, left for shade for livestock, and there was what was left of an orchard further out, closer to the stream that ran along the back end of the property.

"It's a choice," Dean said, reaching for the heavy coffee pot. There was milk simmering for hot chocolate. Leigh leaned forward to stir it a little bit, to keep a skin from forming.

"The people who lived here before…" Allie said, and stopped, chewing on her lip. She hated talking about her gift, used it rarely. She respected secrets, maybe more so than ever when it was difficult to keep things from her. "They loved this place. I mean the ones who stayed. The ones who built it."

"Then why did they leave?" Danielle kept her tone neutral.

"They didn't want to. Not really, but it was too much for…their kids didn't want it. And they didn't want to live here with strangers." Allie folded her arms around her knees and rested her head on them. "I like it here."

Sarah didn't say anything but she reached over to stroke Allie's hair, got a smile for it and Sam felt something loosen in his chest. Allie was the one  --  Mary and Leigh and Charlie they could still keep together for now, if only due to age. Mary would be eighteen in a few months but Sam already knew she'd be with them. Allie, though…Allie had already started a whole other life that went beyond her family. Her staying with them hadn't been a sure thing.

"It's a good place," Leigh said and lifted the pan from the ring of stone. She poured hot milk into cups, and passed them around. "Are we voting?"

"We're not voting," Danielle said. "All or none…" She laced her fingers through Dean's, eyes shining a little when he brought their joined hands to his lips.

"All or none." Sam-John's voice was almost a whisper and he was half-asleep. "Are these our stars now?"

Dean leaned over and pulled him into his lap and Charlie scooted closer to her mother. "Yeah, buddy. These are ours."

Through closed eyes, Sam could still see them.


It was colder when they returned; Sam feeling it in his bones and joints. They'd dug a new well already, giving it the winter to settle. Come spring they'd be moving and building and shifting their lives out here. Sam spent the summer drawing up trusts and wills and incorporation papers to secure their hold on the land. They weren't anticipating the fall of civilization, or even the loss of central government or all critical infrastructure, but there would be a rough few years while things settled. While the world adjusted.

Dean's hand closed over his shoulder. "Mary says this is the place."

Sam nodded, glimpsing his daughter out of the corner of his eye. She and Charlie stood side by side, not looking at anything in particular -- there was nothing much to see. Dawn hadn't broken yet but the haze of a new day was starting to show on the horizon.

They were well out of sight of the house, on the far eastern end of the property. Had driven up the day before and stayed in Basin. Hit the road again before dawn.

It was going to be a long day.

Dean had the tailgate of the truck down,  and Sam reached in to help him pull out the first of the iron stakes. They weren't large but still heavy as hell and it took both of them to carry it into place. Mary had cleared the ground of rocks; just a little circle of cleared space which she carefully filled with salt.

The design was pretty simple; most of the real work had been done on or in the metal itself, the cross piece at the top designed as much to be a hand grip as anything. It would look like an unusual boundary marker to anyone who happened upon it, save those for whom it had been designed. To them it would me more of a real boundary, both marker and warning.

"The Winchester version of 'say friend, and enter'," Dean had said when the last of them had been forged and delivered.

He helped Sam hold it steady until the last possible moment, before giving way to his daughter.

Charlie was outwardly calm -- the only tell the fact that she was chewing on her lip as she stripped her gloves off. She reached up and laid her small warm hands over Sam's. She could do this. They'd practiced.

"Ready?" Sam asked her with a smile and she took a breath and nodded, eyes on her father.

Dean didn't really need the notes he'd cribbed, but it gave him something to do with his hands, and Mary stepping up close -- within reach -- gave him a back up plan.

Nothing horrible was going to happen but Dean couldn't touch. That was the deal. Sam could have done the incantation himself, and it wasn't that Dean didn't trust Sam and Charlie to handle it, but magic and his family, incantations and summonings done with or by his brother and his little girl, without him there to make sure you don't screw it up, was a no-fly.

It wasn't spectacular, or impressive. Not from the outside, but Sam caught Dean's flinch as Charlie punched downward. Sam felt the force of it through his own hands, the give of bones and muscles that didn't quite break, but hurt just the same.

His flesh and blood the buffer to the sheer force of Charlie's mind. It was as much symbolic as actual, because Charlie would never hurt Sam if she could help it. She didn't have the fine control for something like this to keep the stake trued-up, not when they were pushing through stone as well as dirt. She'd shattered the first test spike they'd driven, pushing too hard, trying to force the iron rather than coax the rock to give way. Understood the symbols and runes welded into the metal but couldn't push and pull at the same time.

The iron sang, vibrating under their hands, humming through Sam's blood enough to make him feel shaky. When the spike stopped vibrating, Charlie eased her grip, ran a thumb over the faceted symbol carved at the top and stepped back, shaking her arms out.

Sam waited until the hum in his blood eased off, flexing his fingers and testing the stiffness of them before uncurling fingertips and palms from the metal.

The solstice sun was just breaking the horizon. It lanced through the open sections of the symbol, sheened the black metal with silver and gold, and cast sharp shadows on the ground.

"Let's go get breakfast," Dean said, tousling Charlie's hair, and them putting a hand on Sam's lower back, gripping his jacket, just a little bit.

Breakfast was biscuits and ham and eggs already going cold in their plastic containers, coffee from Dean's oversized thermos, all of it eaten off the tailgate of the truck as their table.  They had three more to set: one at true noon, one at sunset, and one at midnight. Sam stuck with the biscuits and coffee, his fingertips still tingling and numb. They had time to kill and the girls knew it would be a long day. Mary had brought her books and Charlie her sketch pad.

Mid-morning brought them to the house, to check on the well, the other minor changes to the property. The house still stood empty and silent, but there was paint on the porch, covered in a tarp, tools inside the door,  and fresh tracks laid in the ruts in the drive.

Dean idly carved a few runes in the porch posts, careful but mostly because he was bored. When the sun started to climb, they loaded up again and drove to the south end of the property, about a hundred yards from where the single lane blacktop gave way to the lane that led to the house. There was fencing here; post and rail and barbed wire, a surveyors stake and bright pink tape fluttering in the breeze that Mary used to start her hunt from and worked slightly west of the drive.

Cardinal points, all. Later there would be smaller markers set between, a different kind of fence. They wouldn't require the force of these -- anchor bolts to the rest. Eastward, the Big Horn Mountains were pale grey against a pale blue sky.

The urge to help Charlie set the spike was strong and Sam pushed it back. He and Charlie both were leaving their fingerprints all over these things, something Dean didn't like and Sam wasn't all that happy about either.

Everything left a mark, an imprint. An echo.

The second spike went in easier; more dirt, less rock, Sam having to exert a countering force when Charlie's psychic hammer struck a little too hard. She looked embarrassed. "Sorry, Sam."

"It's okay, Charlie," he said, automatic and easily. This time the tingling didn't leave when the spike was seated, and the numbness in his fingers spread to his hands and wrists. He could feel it in his knees and lower back, and he was sweating despite the nip in the air. The hair around Charlie's face had curled into small dark red ringlets, plastered to her skin.

He let his fingers rest on the lower curve of the cross piece, where the metal had been smoothed, could see but not feel the script laid into the folded metal. His shoulder twinged and he heard Dean make a huff of sound but when he looked, his brother's eyes were squinting against the sun, watching the road.

Sam headed back to the truck, let the uneven ground be the reason for his uneven steps, and fumbled for the thermos and the last of the coffee. They should eat something, maybe rest. He could sleep in the truck if it came to that.

He didn't look up when Dean was there unscrewing the top of the thermos that had defeated Sam without him really noticing.

"Things might notice when we set the third," Dean said, pouring the coffee for Sam as well.

"They might." The coffee was only barely warm and Sam drank it anyway, draining the plastic cup from the top. He missed Dean taking the cup from his hand and lifting his legs into the foot well. "Blood would help."

"We're not doing blood magic, Sam," Dean said.



But they totally were, and the lack of actual blood on any of the stakes didn't make it any less true.


Nothing came at them when the third was set, driven deep, Mary apologetic when the actual point was dead center in a section of rock. Charlie had no real trouble driving it in and had Sam been any less tired he might have been awed (again) by the sheer amount of force she was able to summon.

His job was to shape that force, to keep her from shattering the rock entirely. There were still a few splinters; Mary and Dean ducking a little to avoid the tiny missiles. Sam wasn't so fast and there was a scrape on his cheek when they were done.

He put his back to the stake and Charlie sat beside him. Dean was fretting and Sam waved him off, annoyed only because he'd hoped it would be easier than this. His joints felt loose and liquid, but he didn't really hurt anywhere.

"It's vibrating," Charlie said quietly, one hand on the iron upright. "I didn't expect that."

They'd talked about it before, during the design, during the test and trial, grid lines and boundaries and the contrary nature of both repel and attract. Sam reached over and put a hand on her head, curling his fingers around her skull and rubbing gently. "That's part of you in that metal. All of us."

"Like to like?"

"I hope so, yeah-yeah."

Mary sat in the back seat of the extended cab with the door open, tapping her feet on fiberglass. Dean couldn't remain still but kept his distance, eyeing Sam and Charlie and then striding off, agitation in every movement. He had a shotgun on his shoulder and his favorite 9 mm in a back holster. The day had warmed up some and Sam could see the top edge of the scar that bisected Dean's chest above the collar of his t-shirt. He shrugged his shoulders constantly, unconsciously, easing an itch he didn't quite feel. Sam felt it too, but let it lie.

His girls and his niece made one kind of circuit and he and Dean made another. The girls could close and ground theirs without much effort.

He and Dean, not so much.

It wasn't time to close it yet.

Sam closed his eyes instead, and ignored the shapes and flickers against his eyelids that told him exactly where Dean was….

… and everything connected to him.


"You come back with broken bones and Sarah will have my ass," Dean said.

"Nothing broken," Sam said. The girls had to help with the spike, which left Sam to make his way to the set point on his own. Dean had parked pretty close, but Sam still felt like he was walking on hard rubber balls, the ground shifting and rolling under his feet. Dean held the spike up with Charlie until the last second and was probably standing too close; Sam had a feeling he might need Dean after this and was pretty sure Dean suspected it as well.

Midnight ticked closer in time with their unified breathing, all four of them. Charlie's fingers flexed and tightened over his and her eyes were dark lights in her face. A cold breeze chilled the sweat at the back of Sam's neck, and he shifted slightly, hearing his spine pop. It brought a little relief.

No rolling darkness came to greet them and they were too far south to see the northern lights, but as the metal slid into the earth like coming home, Sam felt/heard/saw both.

Click of a lock, shutting of a door, fall of rain on the roof, the hum of tires on the road.

The shimmer of Saint Elmo's fire flickered over the stake, over them, all of them, even though it was too cold. Charlie's wonder was a sharp gasp and Mary stared at the dancing light on her hands.


Dean was right behind him, voice pitched low, warmth at Sam's back and a different kind of light burning.  The stake wasn't just vibrating, it was practically singing in an audible range, like a low bell toll that didn't fade. The not-sound of rushing water grew louder, filling the not-empty spaces in-between, opening cracks and cutting through things like flood waters. The gaps got wider, enough that Sam could almost see through them, the overlay of phantom images, out of step by fractions of millimeters, out of place by seconds and minutes and years, overlapping and colliding, passing though one another and seeking to align.

It was all off true, tilted a little, teetering on a rift that had started long before the stars in the current sky settled in their places. Sam felt the rift widen, much like the hole that he and Dean had once nearly slid into, but there were no cries or compelling pleas to make the step forward, to seek past.

"Sam." Dean was a blur of sound and light and presence, or really Dean was still and Sam was blurring and letting the cracks widen.

Time to shore them up.

"Yeah. Now."

Dean's hands closed over his shoulders, stretched along his arms, pulling him back, and turning him. The moment his hand came to rest along the side of Sam's neck and his face, the glow snapped off and the ringing fell silent. Everything realigned and centered, but the earth still spun and the night sky still turned like a wheel.

Sam felt like he'd been run over.

"Mary, you drive," Dean said, pulling Sam in closer, against his side. Charlie didn't protest the privilege of driving, only came up under Sam's other side, shoring him up.

He didn't hurt. He wanted to tell Dean that the whole time, through the stumbling few steps to the truck, to the clumsy climb in. The flare of the dome light in the truck made his head ache and haloed out his vision. Dean's hand closed over his wrist and pulled a little, settling Sam sideways, curled up and really, he was too old for it any longer. Fifty years old and he curled into the comfort of his brother's arms like he was five or fifteen or like he'd wanted to at twenty five.

He didn't hurt and nothing was broken, but he felt a little hollow on the inside, emptied out.

Dean's hand rested along Sam's shoulder and back as Mary got the truck turned around, back onto the dirt track. It was a bumpy ride but Sam felt cushioned and rocked.

Dean couldn't use his cell phone until they got closer to the road and he called, because Sarah would be waiting.

"We're done. We're going to stay in Basin and head back tomorrow --today. Later."

Charlie was humming something under her breath.

"He's fine Sarah, just tired. We all are. We'll see you in a couple of days. We'll probably stay in Twin Falls tomorrow night. Yeah…yeah. As soon as he wakes up."

Charlie's humming wasn't really a song but it was familiar. Pitch and fall, rise and crest.

Echoing the tune they left behind humming under the land.

It was kind of like a lullaby and Sam slept.


They got two rooms, two beds each, but the girls hovered for a bit, into the wee hours until Dean shooed them out. They'd all need sleep, even if they shared the drive back. Sam didn't do much but kick off shoes and shed his belt and jacket. His fingers had curled up again, knuckles and joints swollen; arthritis, the doctor's said, and it was as good an explanation as any and most of the meds worked as if it were.

Dean had shed the girls but not the energy still crowding his spine, a shimmer Sam could see through closed eyes. Needed grounding. He almost said but Dean was smarter than that and finally settled because otherwise neither of them would get any sleep and they both needed it.

You've got to take it apart before you can figure out how to put it back together again, Sam had told him, what felt like years ago, but was really only months ago.

That's great, Sam, except you're missing a few pieces, Dean had shot back.

True enough, but nothing of importance, nothing vital. They didn't actually need a key to unlock the door any longer, and if Sam didn't quite fit inside his body anymore, it wasn't likely to slide off him, shed like skin or an overcoat. Kite string and sealing wax could mend promises and cracked facades alike. Everything else actually fit together better now as far as Sam was concerned, filled things out to where they were supposed to be.

Great. Psychic botox, Dean had scoffed, and Sam had only smiled. All the ends were tucked in, the edges of tears neatly stitched and repaired carefully. They would hold for as long as was needed.

"Move over," Dean said, sitting on the edge of the bed.

"Sleeping here."

"Bullshit," Dean said, but he was the one that moved, around the end of the bed, to settle on the opposite side on his back, shoulder nudged into the center of Sam's back. Sam shifted a little, moved into the pressure. "Could have had Charlie dig the well, instead of the drilling company."

"Only if you want a well the size of an olympic swimming pool," Sam murmured back, but not necessarily a bad idea. Swimming helped, he'd found. "It's done, Dean. We're all good."

Dean didn't want to hear it except for the part where he did. He made a disparaging sound.

Sam reached behind him, found his brother's arm where it lay along his side, closed his fingers over the bones of his wrist.

"Now you want to hold hands?"

Sam smiled, settled. "Yeah, now I want to hold hands." He rolled to his back, both of them looking up at the shadowy but still boring ceiling.

Dean's fingers closed over his, warm and sure and strong. "Girl by osmosis, Sam."

"If you say so, Mom."

Sam closed his eyes again. Sometimes he saw what Mary saw; the house bigger, faces he didn't know yet, voices that didn't yet make him smile. He'd know the feel of freshly threshed grain sliding over his hands, hold babies yet again. He'd see Sarah's hair turn greyer and Dean's face lined by age and sun and laughter.

Beside him Dean was humming under his breath, not quite tuneless, but close. Half asleep Sam thought it, too, sounded like a prolonged bell ring, subtle and barely heard, the laughter of water over stone, the hum of wheels on the road.

Pitch perfect.


Notes: There is, obviously, a great deal that happens between what's been written and when this takes place.

I freely admit that it's entirely unfair to write snippets and well, codas, to things that thus far exist only in random scraps of universe exchanges between Barb and I, referring to things we plan to have happen (and to write) but haven't yet put together. The only excuse I have is that sometimes it's easier to see how things yet to be turn out on the other side as a way to ensure we (or me, anyway) stay on course. Less easy to get lost if you have point A and point 232, with some idea of points C, K, S, 42, 11, and 202 spread out in between.

Or you know, on the road trip between the worlds largest ball of twine and the real Fiji Mermaid, there's plenty of side trips to be made. So, think of this as more of vacation pictures and just be glad Dean and Sam (or I) aren't forcing you to watch our slideshows.

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