My seat in the impala wasn't my seat in the impala anymore. It was now Lisa's and occasionally Ben's. That was kind of hard to take but when Dean started the ignition that day, it was me he smiled at, it was me that he knew would get it and it was me that felt the most comfortable in it.
In just under a full year he hadn't done a thing to her and for that I was eternally grateful. If I had've noticed even one change I don't know how I would have reacted. It made me regret my own decision to hook up an IPod jack when Dean had been gone. At the time I didn't really see the big deal but now I absolutely did. Now I wanted to apologise for it, but unfortunately for the both of us, that moment had passed long ago.
I smiled back. Being in her with my brother and on the road again was where I felt the most familiar and the most content. It didn't matter that my head was still so craptastically messed up. I could still appreciate her every rumble and purr and I could still feel how much I had missed her.
I sat back into the seat, closed my eyes and soaked up her warmth that swallowed my body. Yes, I was home…even if it was just for one day.
An hour later was the next time I opened my eyes and I found myself parked right in front of a chicken store.
'I'll just wait here.' I said noticing how desperate I sounded. There was a group of workmen sitting outside at one of the tables eating their hot lunches. It wasn't that I was scared of them, I wasn't; it was just that I didn't want them seeing me. I didn't want anyone seeing me.
'No deal. You're coming in.' Dean said simply, ripping his keys from the ignition and opening his door.
I hadn't even taken my seat belt off and instead of making a move to do so, my eyes locked onto the guys at the table. One stood up, then another did and I hoped they were all getting ready to leave because then I would be more able to get out of the safety of this car and walk into a damn freaking store.
It blew my mind that I could've missed Dean walking around to my side but I only realized he had when he opened the door and I jumped in fright. 'Come on.'
When I looked up into his eyes, for a second he faltered and I hoped that meant he was going to back down. That was what it usually meant but not this time. This time it meant he was about to get frustrated. 'Sam, let's go. We're just going to get some food.'
Moving my eyes back to the men caused Dean to do the same. When he looked back at me, I was still eyeing them. 'Dude, they're just having lunch.'
Only two left the table. The others settled back into their rowdy conversation. Damn it!
I took just about the deepest breath I could inhale and forced myself to undo my seat belt. For Dean's sake, not mine.
He opened the door wider for me and waited for me to get out. The second I moved my right foot, one of the younger men looked over at us. 'Hey man, I like your car.' He called out.
'I'll wait here.' I told him again as my foot moved back into its place.
The guy stepped over to him. 'My dad had one just like her.'
I tried to shrink out of sight but being the stupid size I was I couldn't freaking shrink out of anyone's sight so instead I just glared at the floor in front of me while Dean turned around and spoke to him.
I wished my brother wasn't still leaning on the top of my door, I wanted to close it so bad but his arm wouldn't move and so I kept feeling exposed to these people; as if their eyes were boring into me and could see everything I had ever done. I imagined them sizing me up and taking in my ratty hair and even though they weren't even smiling, I felt like they were laughing at me because I was some insane freak that didn't belong in their human world. All I wanted was to shut myself off from them and hide and the longer I couldn't do it, the worse I felt.
Much to my terror another two guys ventured over to them and stood even closer to me. I felt surrounded and the interior of the impala as well as my throat began to close in on me, my chest began to tighten and my breath began to restrict. Oh God.
When they laughed it was a loud and booming sound that caused me to jump again. It hurt my still pounding head and made me panic all the more. The world started swirling and I felt like I had no choice but to shut the door - and so I did. Then all I could do was watch helplessly as my brother fell back against my window and listen regretfully as his body crashed down on the concrete with an almighty thump.
The guys rushed to help him up but I didn't. I just kept sitting there feeling all sorts of crap and wishing the men would leave so I could get out and make sure he was okay. But they didn't and so I didn't. Instead I just shrunk down deeper into my seat.
'It's cool, I'm okay.' I heard Dean say but then I shut my eyes again and purposely blocked out the rest of their conversation because I didn't want to hear how they thought I was some weirdo, crazy psychopath and I really didn't want to hear Dean agreeing with them.
After making sure Dean was definitely okay they got his message and returned to their table.
After making sure he himself was okay, Dean returned to the driver's seat and glared hard at me.
'I'm sorry.' I said unable to look at him.
He started the car and slammed the gear into reverse. I wanted him to say something but I didn't know what and if he was going to yell at me I didn't know if I could take it, so I sat there in silence feeling suffocated with the tension that hung thick the air while he burned off.
'You okay?' I tried when we were back on the road and driving straight ahead. The guilt was killing me and I really needed to know that he was alright.
'We're going to a frickin store and you are going to go in!' Was his loud reply.
He was pissed at me and that was the last thing I wanted so until we hit the next store I worked hard on my stupid and pathetic mind so that the second he pulled up in front of the next chicken place, I would undo my seat belt and open the door and get out – just like a sane and normal person.
Exactly what my brother wanted me to be.
My shoulder hurt and my arm was pinched and scratched to the crap from where the door was yanked from under me. I had smashed right onto my ass which jolted the hell out of my back and left my leg sort of twisted and aching. To make matters worse, the incredulous looks I copped from the guys I had been innocently talking to made me want to wrap up the conversation I had been enjoying as soon as frickin possible so I could get the hell out of there.
Yes, I was pissed and I was pissed at myself for being pissed, but it was a stupid ass thing for my brother to do and I was sore and hurting and all I wanted him to do was get out of the damn frickin car and he couldn't even do that.
And to be honest that scared the freaking hell out of me.
I needed more music, a power ballad or something, to calm me down. I chucked in a Poison cassette and fast forwarded to Every Rose has its Thorn and repeated it until we hit the next store. I parked in a car park that had empty spaces on both sides, did a quick check to see if there was another crowd that would panic him and looked back at my remorseful and sad little brother.
'You ready?' I questioned harder than I wanted.
To my relief he nodded and unclipped his seat belt. I didn't miss his massive breath in or the shaking of his hands and for a split second I almost let him off the hook and went in by myself. But I knew that wasn't what was best for him. He had to face these fears one by one and confront them head on – with me by his side.
God, all this for a damn chicken.
We were so close to the lookout that instead of buying anything else that resembled a picnic from another store, we would just have to get some chips and salads and cans of drinks from this one and do our usual take-away, junk food lunch. Come to think of it, maybe that would be better anyway. Bring back a bit of normal for him.
I watched as he hesitated when a mother stepped out of the door with her toddler and a plastic bag full of hot food. Thankfully though, it didn't stop him and finally – finally he managed to get himself out of the car.
'You got any cash?' I asked him casually as we crossed the car park. 'I haven't been to a bank,' I lied. 'You reckon you can get this one and I'll pay you back?'
'You don't have to pay me back.' He said while he flinched at a car driving past us. Seeing his reactions to every movement around him made me wonder how he had made it to the store for his lunch every day.
'You alright?' I checked just as we were about to enter. Only three people were inside; a young couple waiting for their order and the teenage worker behind the counter. He nodded and handed over a twenty from his back pocket and we stepped in.
I wasn't a total asshole, I did the ordering while he kept his head down and his shoulders slumped. I pulled at his sleeve for him to follow me to one of the two tables and sat down. As soon as he took a seat opposite me, he started playing with the salt shaker.
'Hey.' I leaned over to him.
He fought to look up at me but the very second he did; his eyes darted around to scan the other people.
It wasn't my intention but it was me rolling my shoulders to ease the soreness that got him back and meeting my eyes.
'I'm sorry.' He said again. 'Are you okay?'
'Yeah, I'm fine. How are you doing?'
He raised his eyebrows.
'It's alright Sammy. You just keep hanging in there. We're going to have a good day today. Just keep remembering that.'
'Yeah.' He nodded and tried to smile at me.
All of my anger dissipated right there and then as I watched a clump of his hair fall into his anxious eyes. Fact was, I had my little brother back with me and there was nothing better. No pain from a fall could change that. I just had to help him.
So Lisa was right, the lookout was kick ass and being up there, just Sam and I, got both of us smiling for real. He seemed to relax as he kept his eyes on the view and breathed in the fresh and cool air. I got our food organized and for the first time that day freed my mind of any stressful thoughts. Up here they didn't belong.
'What was Bobby doing today?' He asked me after I handed him his plate and a coke and set down my own.
Beer. We should have got some beer too I thought. 'Visiting a friend. He told me his name but I've never heard of him. Couple of hours away.'
'Is he coming back tonight?'
'Nah, probably tomorrow.' This pasta salad was frickin awesome. I would have to tell Lisa about it. She was always trying to replicate recipes when we enjoyed something we had eaten out... and she was good at it too. I couldn't pick much in anything but usually always she got it pretty similar to the way it was. I would take some home for her if we didn't finish it. All I could pick was pasta and some kind of seeded mustard. Maybe some mayonnaise.
'Was your boss okay with you taking today off as well?'
'Yeah fine.' I lied. How could I tell him? He wasn't up for it. If he was, I would have but he wasn't so I couldn't. Speaking of my boss…maybe I could call him and apologize. Maybe then I could get my job back and earn some much needed dollars again. Uggh that would suck. I didn't know if I could do that.
Before I could take a single bite of my chicken, my phone rang. I reached into my pocket and checked the screen. 'Lisa.' I stated to both Sam and myself. 'I better get it.'
'Yeah, of course.'
'Dean –' She sounded upset, 'The school called. Ben has been taken to hospital.'
(To be continued…)