Title: Homeward, These Shoes Worn to Paper
Fandom: Supernatural
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1,056
Summary: There are some things a big brother does best.
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Kripke & Co. I'm just having fun. ;-)
Notes: General spoilers for the current season and not beta'ed, so all mistakes are mine. Title from the song "Homeward, These Shoes" by Iron & Wine. My way of wishing Sam a (slightly belated, but nonetheless) happy birthday. ♥

Homeward, These Shoes Worn to Paper

Loop under, over, pull

Small, clumsy fingers stumble over the worn lengths of black nylon, wrenching and knotting them into anything but the right shape. Sam pokes his tongue through his teeth to the left side of his mouth, eyebrows knitted together as he tries to wrestle the strings into submission, making discontented noises when he fails and ends up with something like a twisted cobweb on top of his shoe.


Nothing from the armchair in front of the television.


The remote points, and Sam sees the volume bar slide up on the screen until Raphael and Leonardo sound like they're right there in the room and have grown five times bigger than their already freakish turtle size. Puffing out a breath, Sam aims a kick at the back of the chair around where he figures the middle of Dean's back is.


A frustrated yell, and then a loud, grating screech as the armchair swivels around. "Jesus, Sammy, what?"

"Look" — he lifts up his foot and his bottom lip instantly juts out — "I did it, I did it just like you said, and look."

"Aw, is that all this is about? Give me a break. All the other four-year-olds already know how to do this crap." Dean swats at the sneaker waving forlornly in his face.

"You tied it so fast last time, you didn't really show me, and I can't do it. 'S too hard," Sam says, clambering onto the seat so that they're crowded together side by side. He throws his foot resolutely on top of Dean's knee.

Rubbing his eyes tiredly, Dean sighs and presses the mute button before tossing the remote onto the coffee table and leaning forward to take a nubby shoelace in each hand. "All right, I'll show you the easy way this time. But it's the last time I'm doin' it, so you better pay attention. You watching?"

Sam quickly bobs his head up and down.

"Just make two lassos, cross 'em like — this — and put one through the hole — here — and... pull tight. There." Dean catches the tiny foot just behind the ankle and lifts it up like he's displaying a trophy. "Ta-da. Now you try."

Bending his knee so his other foot is resting on the chair within his reach, Sam mirrors Dean's movements one by one until there's a slightly crooked bow dangling loosely from his sneaker. Dean offers a Congratulations that's only half sarcastic, and punches him lightly on the shoulder. Sam beams for a moment, twin dimples sinking into his cheeks, then frowns.

"What is it now?" Dean says, raising his eyebrows.

"'S not straight. Yours is better."

"First try, Sammy. You'll get better at it with practice." Dean kicks the carpet to turn the chair facing the television again and picks up the remote.



The foot with the lopsided laces lands on Dean's knee. "Could you fix it anyway?"

A pause, then Dean puts down the remote again and starts loosening the knot holding the two uneven loops together.


The last thing he remembers before losing his sight is the heavy tang of metal, of smoke curling around his throat and seeping from his pores until the electricity crackling through his veins has built too much momentum and the fault slicing into the ground under his feet spews pure hellfire, bathing the field in red.

His brother stands at the other end, a figure in the distance edged with a wall of light.

"Sammy. Sam. Sam."

He feels someone gripping his shoulders, shaking him, and he blinks, realizing as his vision clears that he's had his eyes open the whole time.


The thick cotton swathing his sight dissolves slowly to show him the sky, an endless sheet of an almost blinding white that pierces his retinas and forces him to throw a hand up to shield his gaze.

"Sam," the word exhaled in a rush. Sam shifts and sees Dean crouching over him, eyes bright and focused on his every move. As he tries to sit up, a series of aches like bruises running the entire length of his body shoot and flare up, overwhelming him into lying back down again.

"Whoa, whoa, take it easy. Baby steps, dude."

"What happened?" Sam asks, voice like flint striking sandpaper.

"Hey, doesn't matter," Dean says quietly, gingerly laying a palm on his chest, right over his heart. "It's over now."

Sam turns his head, craning his neck to see, and his eyes scan along the massive walls of crumbling earth circled around them, tilting up for what feels like forever and stopping at least several stories above the compact dirt floor where he's lying and Dean's kneeling. A modest gust of wind eddies around them, cooling their grime-steeped sweat.


"Yeah. So take as long as you need, all right? You don't have to snap yourself in half trying to climb out of here. Yet." A slow grin breaks over Dean's face, and Sam can't help but follow suit, despite the questions crowding his parched throat.

The sky's faded back to a normal overcast grey by the time Sam feels well enough to let Dean angle an arm under his shoulders and help him sit up, and it surprises Sam when Dean looks down and snorts loudly.


Smirking, Dean says, "How the hell did you manage to lose your shoelaces, but hold onto your shoes?"

Sam straightens his legs and sees the singed boots just barely but still attached to his feet, nothing but air threading through the metal holes in the leather.

"Son of a—"

"Ah, save your breath, Sammy. You'll probably need it while we're trying to find a way out of this hole."

Sitting back, Dean tugs at the laces on his own shoes until they slide out neatly and flutter loose in his fingers.

"Dean," Sam starts.

"Look, man, don't expect me to do this every time you almost destroy the world." Dean pulls the nearest of Sam's feet over and rests it on top of his knee.

When he's done, both boots laced up with a tidily knotted pair of loops resting atop each one, Dean wipes the filmy layer of dirt from his fingers on his jeans, stands up, and holds a hand out to his brother.
Current Mood: accomplished
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