It'll Turn Your Head Around

Been walkin' my mind to an easy time,
My back turned towards the sun.
Lord knows when the cold wind blows,
it'll turn your head around.

"Fire and Rain" by James Taylor

~~~

Dean stopped at the curb of Sammy's school, slipping the car into park and waiting impatiently. Sam shifted his backpack and didn't get out; Dean looked over at his brother for the first time that morning. He'd been busy thinking about the day ahead -- Dad gone and Sam begging for another soccer game and Dean had already known when he'd woken up that morning that he was going to miss school today. Two weeks until the end of the year and nobody would really notice, or care.

He found Sam looking at him, jaw set in a stubborn look that didn't make sense. He'd already agreed to let Sam stay until four thirty. If this was about going over to Jeff's house for dinner after, Dean was going to thump him.

"What?" Dean snapped when Sam didn't get out of the car or explain why he looked like he was gearing up for a fight.

"I want to go."

Dean blinked. "Fine, get out of the car and go," he said, not really having a clue what Sammy meant. But he was irritated at wasting time, when he could be driving. Going to visit--

Sam glared at him defiantly and said, "I want to go with you."

It hit him, then, what Sam meant. Although how he knew that Dean was skipping school, since even Dad didn't have a clue... Maybe someone in Sam's class had a older brother or sister who knew Dean. Why would anyone talk about it, though? No one in Dean's classes paid any attention to him unless they needed someone to get Mackey Jennings to leave them alone.

"Sam, what--" he began, and his brother shook his head. Still looking at him, stubborn and arms crossed. But his eyes were wide and there was something... He looked stubborn, definitely, but there was hurt in his eyes, as well.

"I know where you're going," Sam said, and he leaned forward and unzipped his backpack. He pulled out a map and unfolded it. A map of the central states, with a neat circle drawn around the little Missouri town they lived in. At one spot on the upper left hand arc, was a tiny circle around Lawrence, Kansas. Sam gave Dean a brief glance, then stared at the map. "I looked at the odometer. Every time you skip school, you put 408 miles on. 204 miles there and 204 miles back. It was easy."

He sounded proud of himself, like he'd completed a school lesson precisely. His voice was shaking ever so slightly though, as he laid a finger on Lawrence.

"You're going home," Sam said. "And I want to go, too." He looked up at Dean, then, and the question was there, unspoken but clear.

Why haven't you been taking me all along?

Dean didn't know if Sam realised what Dean was doing when he went home, but -- it didn't matter. He knew enough.

Dean swallowed. "You talk too much," he said gruffly. "You always spill stuff to Dad when you should keep your trap shut."

It wasn't entirely fair -- Sam had almost grown out of spilling secrets he really shouldn't have shared with Dad. he'd always been good about not telling secrets to other people, but Dean hadn't ever been able to teach him how to not spill stuff to Dad, as well. But he had gotten better; Dean could count on one hand the number of times he'd got into trouble because of Sam's big mouth over the last two years.

But this had been big, and he'd told himself that Sam would never be able to keep it a secret. Dad would do more than assign extra pushups or chores, or forbid him to use his pocket money on motor magazines. He'd be hurt, and he'd be disappointed and he'd tell Dean not to do it again.

Dean bit his lip as he looked at his brother, and he had to admit that it hadn't been the only reason. He'd wanted this for himself. Selfish, maybe, but Dad had been selfish for the last twelve years, hadn't he? Never bringing them home to see Mom. And now that Dean had been visiting her all year...

He nodded. "You breathe one word to Dad and he won't just punish us, Sammy. He'll make sure we never live close enough we can do this again."

Sam nodded, fast, eyes shining. "I promise. I promise! Dean, I'm not a baby. I can keep my mouth shut."

"Yeah, right." Dean rolled his eyes but he pulled away from the curb.

Sam bounced in the seat, excitedly.

~~~

Dean stopped just outside of town and called Sam's school, letting them know Sam was home sick. He'd had Sam cough in the background for effect, and the secretary had sounded like she'd believed them as she made a note of the absence. Then they'd hit the road, and Dean found himself telling Sam about all his other trips -- the funny people he'd seen at the gas stations, the time he'd got stuck behind a tractor, the time he'd barely made it over the tracks before the train came.

He exaggerated, of course, but it entertained Sammy and kept him occupied during the long drive. When they stopped for lunch, Dean bought chips and soda for Sam -- he hadn't enough cash for them both, so he'd bought a piece of bubble gum and chewed it, finally swallowing it when his jaw grew sore.

During the drive Sam never once asked where they were going exactly, or what Dean did when he got there. He just kept his eyes glued to the road ahead, counting off the miles on his map like he always did when they traveled. When they reached the sign welcoming them to Lawrence, Sam grew silent and still.

Dean drove through the town, down roads he had learned but had no other memory of. He'd thought about trying to find their old house, but the information to track it down was in Dad's journal, and Dad always kept it with him. When Dad was home it was too dangerous to look, so Dean had just located the cemetery and his mom's grave. Mom was more important than an old house, anyway.

He turned down the street and they could see it up ahead; he glanced over at Sam again and saw his little brother's eyes go wide. Dean slowed down. "Sammy... if you don't want to...."

Sam shook his head, fast. "Please, Dean," was all he said.

Without another word, Dean drove them to the cemetery. He parked in his usual spot and climbed out, going around the front of the car where Sam had gotten out and was waiting. He looked uncertain, but held out his hand for Dean's when he drew near.

Dean took his hand and led his brother into the cemetery, not saying anything until they reached their mom's grave. Dean stood there, letting Sam look at it, keeping an eye on Sam's face. He looked a little pale, and confused, but he stared at the headstone like he was trying to see something in it. He opened his mouth, then stopped, glancing at Dean, self-consciously.

Giving his brother's hand a light squeeze, Dean turned to the headstone. "Mom, Sammy's here with me this time. I'm sorry about letting him skip school, but he wanted to come see you." He didn't look over at his brother as he started to talk about the last few days, telling her about Sammy's grade on his science project and about the car Dean had his heart set on owning someday.

After a few minutes, he stopped and waited.

It wasn't long before Sam said, "Hi, mom."

the end