SPN gen, PG, 1401 words. Thanks and love to Pru for the beta.
There's a place outside of Lordsburg, New Mexico, half a fingernail to the east on the I10 -- if you're in Deming, you've gone too far. Itís six turns off the highway with the road zigging and zagging and looping around until the black asphalt and yellow lines become dirt. It's small, not even a dot on the map, but if you go out there, drive until the road ends. You'll see a silver trailer guarded by an old yellow dog with the body of a Mastiff and the face of a beat up Rottweiler, and if you want a psychic, someone with the real shining instead of a Madam Cleo, that's where you go.
They drove there in the summer of '89, bumping along, the sound of the engine and gravel beneath their tires playing backup to Waylon Jennings as he sang about a sad eyed girl with rollers in her hair.
Dean was in front and Sam was in back, staring out the window, maybe focused on nothing but maybe, probably something. (If you asked him, he'd name the pokey bits of yellow and green shrubs, tell you the name of the road signs they'd passed, and it wouldn't be until he smiled at you that it'd hit you like a punch in the gut that the boy was only seven. Seven goin' on thirty, ain't ya, son? Johnís buddies liked to say, with a hand on Samís shoulder and fond, granite smiles on their scarred faces.)
Both boys drank warm, too sweet RC cola from blue cans to clean the grit out of their mouths, quiet except for every half hour or so when Sam would kick the back of Dean's seat, and Dean would say, Goddamn it, Sammy, and turn around, giving Sam a noogie and sometimes an Indian burn -- not too hard, though, never too rough.
So they bounced along, the Impala loud and growling, kicking up enough dirt to create a cloud around itself, dusting it the color of rich earth. Eleven hours of sand and heat and a too-bright sky, of Waylon Jenningsís deep voice, and the rumble of the Impala's engine.
Eleven hours is half a lifetime to an eleven year old, longer for a boy who's only seven, so when the trailer appeared in the middle of desert -- around a corner and through the desert the Winchesters go -- both the boys blinked twice to make sure that it wasn't a mirage. They saw the silver first, half hidden by weeds and shrubs, the cracked windows, and an old blue pickup truck, paint faded to almost-gray, then the dog, ugly but friendly-looking, tail wagging when the car slid to a stop.
The doors of the Impala opened with a creak and shut like thunder. The boys got out, stretched, bowing their backs and kicking their legs, stopping to pat the dog that bounded from one to the other. They were like that, Sam leaning down to pet the dog and Dean between John and Sam, arms stretched over his head, when Greg stepped out of the trailer -- What kind of name is Greg for a psychic? A good enough one -- his pockmarked face wide with a smile, a "you old sonofabitch," for John, and a long look for Sam and Dean. "So these are your boys."
"Not them, Spears."
Greg took a step away from them then, boots leaving strange marks in the dirt -- he walked toe-heel, which John already knew, Sam didn't notice, but Dean would remember -- "No, no you wouldn't want me to see for them. Well then, come on in."
They didn't touch him. John had told them a little the night before, about Greg Spears, about his "gift", about what it was like when Greg had his vague glimpses and fleeting ghosts, about how much stronger it got when anyone touched him. Vietnam and soldiers everywhere, some with years and age spots in their future, but the other ones, the other ones were counting their life in weeks, days, hours. Two months of flash bright pictures in his head and Greg was afraid to touch anyone, didn't want to be near anyone just in case, just to make sure. And most didn't believe him. Most thought it'd gotten to him: the heat and weird language and gun fire. Crazy Spears probably took too much peyote down on the reservation (he was raised in Cincinnati); Crazy Spears just canít take it; Crazy Spears just wants to go home; crazy crazy crazy Spears.
It filled the room where they listened quietly. John could spend hours telling them how to hold a gun or how to kill a poltergeist, but this, the details, nonessential information, it was rare. So Dean and Sam stayed still and listened to John's voice fill their room, listened as he spoke of his doubt then (with John, fire brought belief and killed faith, or so the story goes).
They listened as he told them about Greg -- Gregory Spears from Ohio, who could see people's futures, could see death like most people see street signs and billboards. Crazy Spears who wasn't crazy after all, but then again, who are we kidding? They're usually not.
A small television with one broken antenna, a blue couch with sagging flower patterned cushions, and a long coffee table with a glass ashtray full of cigarette butts (unfiltered for his pleasure), crowded the small space. "You boys have a seat," Greg said, shutting the door tight behind him.
Neither of them sat. Instead they looked around; they took in the empty Kraft Macaroni and Cheese box on the counter, the Vonnegut book laying open on the floor (not that it meant anything to them at the time; theyíre only kids, after all), the thick smell of cigarette smoke and an unaired room.
Dean picked up a picture in an old frame, the only one in the room. It was wood, hand carved and dark, and it pushed a splinter into his finger when he ran a hand down its side. A young boy wearing a plaid shirt with Spear's face and a crooked grin stared back from the lap of an old man with a century's long beard. "So this is a psychic."
"He doesn't look crazy."
Outside, the voices got louder, John's gruff words and shorter, harder phrases were easy for the boys to pick out, common whenever they went on one of these trips to see their dadís old friends. So when five minutes turned to fifteen, Sam started a game of I Spy.
"I spy with my little eye, something that's brown..."
Twenty-four minutes, an old coke can, carpet fuzz, one indecipherable couch stain that they called a draw, and four goddamits later, John and Greg came back in with crab faces and stiff walks. ďCome on, boys, letís go."
And that should have been it. That would have been it. One trip that would maybe, possibly, if they were lucky, give John a lead. One trip to see an old buddy, to find out a little information. And if it weren't for a touch, that'd have been all it was. One forgettable summer day in the summer of '89.
It wasn't much, really. John was already out the door, feet making loud crunching sounds against the gravel, Sam was in front of Dean, moving around the end table.
It wasn't much. It wasn't much at all. It was just a brush, see. Not even a touch. No skin on skin contact. Just Sam's hand and Spear's shirt. But it was enough. It was all it took.
Sam was already out the door, one foot on the step and going down when Dean heard Greg's voice -- no, not Greg's voice, Spear's voice -- quiet, so quiet that he couldn't make most of it out, the syllables tossed together like a foreign language. It was only a few seconds and then Spear's stopped and opened his eyes again, saw Dean looking at him and nodded. "You better get going now, son. Your dad's waiting."
Dean was almost out, a breath away from the door when he heard Spear's say, "Tell Sam to watch out for fire, and --" He misses the next part, his father's voice calling to him, but he catches the last. "...I'm sorry about his girl."