On the Road Again

by Dira Sudis

Disclaimer: I may occasionally impersonate the people who own the Winchesters and Supernatural, but I do it really badly. My badge says Bikini Inspector.

Beta thanks to Iulia!


Andy exhaled as he looked around, sweet mellow smoke floating free of his mouth to join the fog all around. The fog was light and beautiful, constantly shifting on some changeable breeze so that it seemed constantly on the verge of clearing, though Andy couldn't see more than six feet in any direction. A soft red-orange light like sunset or dawn seemed to come from everywhere at once.

He stood a while, admiring the light and the fog. They seemed complex and important and just on the edge of being perfectly understood. From time to time he exhaled smoke he didn't remember inhaling, so the feeling made sense. At some point the fog closed in, tendrils curling around his feet like a cat's tail, and Andy looked down. When the fog slithered away again, he realized he was standing on a road, right in the center between two dashes of yellow.

It was a new road, smooth black asphalt perfectly crowned so that each lane sloped down to a shoulder lost in the fog. Andy didn't like this kind of road. It was one of those two-lane highways that took you away from town, away from home and everything familiar. Plus it was way too curvy--even where he stood he could see the yellow lines bending--which meant there was no safe straightaway where he could park the van.

Andy frowned a little, looking down at the road. The road seemed beautiful and important, too, almost-understood like the light and the fog. He knelt down and pressed his hands to the black surface, warm as skin under his palms. Andy exhaled again, and the smoke he breathed curled against the road and then cleared away, leaving Andy with a feeling of déjà vu.

It had happened again. He'd been picked up and moved to a strange place again, that was it. This time that last bong hit wasn't wearing off.

But he hadn't had his bong in the last place. He'd been in that creepy ghost town with Sam--

Andy was on his feet without another thought, taking a quick wobbly step forward into the fog. He had to find Sam, he had to warn him.

Ava had broken the salt line, and that creepy too-fast demon girl had gotten in, and--

Andy stopped and looked around again, running a hand through his hair. This time the understanding rolled right through him, huge and sharp and profound. The road and the fog and the light were all important, and still beautiful even now that he knew. "Oh, Hell."

The fog closed in tighter, like Andy had called it by name. It felt just as soft and friendly as it looked, and it slid gently over his skin. He breathed in cool clean fog, pure as water, and breathed out smoke, and when he could see as far as his feet again, he felt calm.

He was dead, and he was here, standing on a road. It didn't seem like there was anything to do but to take the road where it went, so Andy swung one foot out and then the other, and the fog opened in front of him and followed behind.

He heard the oncoming traffic before he saw it: a low steady grumbling voice, repeating words Andy couldn't quite make out. A moment later a man stepped out of the fog, bare arms crossed over his chest. He was leaning forward, head down and forehead creased, like he was walking into a strong wind that didn't touch Andy, though his hair--short in front and streaming down his back--was undisturbed.

He kept coming, dead center up the road with his head down, muttering.

Andy blurted, "Sweet ten-ninety," when the guy was a half-step away.

He realized at the same time that the words the guy was muttering were, "Gotta tell Dean. Find Sam. Gotta tell Dean."

The guy stopped short and looked at Andy. "Thanks," he said, "but I don't have time for the welcome-to-Heaven talk, I have to--"

"Find Dean Winchester and tell him where Sam is?"

The guy stared, frowning harder at Andy and swaying a little while standing still.

"I'm Andy, I'm one of the--"

"Psychics," the guy interrupted, his pointing finger landing nearly on Andy's nose. "I helped Sam and Dean find you in the first place. I'm Ash."

"Ash, okay," Andy said. He nodded, and when Ash's finger jabbed his cheek he remembered to stop nodding. "It's okay, though. I've got it covered. I was with Sam, I sent Dean a message."

Andy tapped his forehead to show Ash what kind of message he meant. "I can do that now. Well, I could."

Ash kept frowning, looking over Andy's shoulder into the fog, back in the wrong direction. "This is big, I have to tell Dean..."

Andy reached for Ash--he was still swaying a little in place--to try to steady him. "It's the Winchesters, Ash. Dean will find Sam, they'll figure it out. That's what they do. You and me, we're done."

Ash shook his head again, swaying harder, but he didn't pull away from Andy's grip. He ran his hand over the top of his head, ruffling the short hair.

"I don't know, man." Ash looked back the way he'd come, and on past Andy, back toward wherever he'd been headed. Back, somehow. The fog kept swirling, beautiful and soft, and Andy wondered if it looked different to Ash, if Ash was standing on a different road even though he was right here beside Andy. "I don't know where this road goes."

Andy squeezed Ash's arm. The skin under his hand was as warm as the road under his feet, but soft as fog turned solid, nice to touch. "It doesn't matter where the road goes, Ash. We can't see where it goes. The road is the road. We walk it."

Ash gave Andy a skeptical look, and Andy turned his head and blew smoke rings into the nearest tendril of fog. "I think I'm kinda high," he added. "That helps."

Ash swallowed and licked his lips. "That way, huh," Ash said, turning back the way he'd come.

Andy let go of Ash and stepped up beside him. They stood a little while, and Andy smiled at all of it--the fog and the road and the guy beside him who knew what he was and didn't flinch. Maybe Ash was right about this being heaven.

Finally Ash sighed and took a long decisive step, and Andy jumped out to match him. They stayed side-by-side with the dashed yellow line between them, and the third or fourth time Andy looked over at Ash he realized that Ash was still frowning. He didn't seem to be getting into the whole heaven vibe.

Andy thought for a few steps about telling Ash to relax, but that didn't seem right at all. He needed to distract Ash, make him think about something other than where they'd been and what was happening back there.

Andy realized what he should do about it and did it all in the same giddy second. The words create a distraction were still drifting across his brain like particularly coherent fog as Ash stumbled to a stop and covered his face with his hands.

Andy scratched his head and hoped he hadn't hurt Ash. Obviously he'd managed to do something, but maybe it worked differently in heaven, maybe...

Ash straightened up, blinking rapidly at Andy, rubbing his eyes. Andy knew from observation, though--there were some things you couldn't unsee, and gay porn beamed straight to your brain was definitely one of them. Except Ash didn't look mad or even freaked out.

"Was that some kind of psychic come-on?"

Andy giggled, smacked a hand over his mouth, and giggled harder. Ash finally cracked a smile and Andy's breath caught strangely in the middle of a laugh, doubling him over. Ash's hands caught his shoulders, and Andy let himself be pulled upright, still laughing. Ash shook him a little, but Ash was laughing too, shaking his head, hair flying all over the place.

Andy's laughs kept puffing out of his mouth as smoke, which just made him laugh harder, and made Ash look a little hungry. "Man, I miss reefer," he snickered, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth.

Andy repeated, "Reefer," in the same totally unironic way Ash had said it, and leaned into Ash--Ash was still holding his shoulders, his hands warm and steadier than Andy felt or Ash looked. Andy held his breath for a minute, swallowing his laughter until the burn in his lungs had built up, and then let out a burst of smoky giggles in Ash's face.

Ash tried to breathe in and coughed, making a little tornado of smoke between their faces. "Not like that," Ash said hoarsely. "Good try, though."

Andy nodded and held his breath again, and one of Ash's hands caught his chin, holding Andy's head still as Ash leaned in. This time when Andy opened his mouth Ash's mouth was right there, breathing in, tugging the smoke from Andy's mouth and throat and lungs. Their lips brushed together, soft as the smoke, as one or both of them swayed. It tickled, but Andy didn't have any breath to spare for laughing. Ash stopped inhaling a second before Andy would have had to pull away to breathe. Ash turned his head to exhale, still shaking with buried laughter, and Andy leaned his forehead against Ash's cheek. Stubble prickled between his eyebrows, and Ash's hand stayed on his face.

"Oh," Ash said, turning his head a little side to side. Ash could feel the hit roll through Ash's body, smoothing him out. "Oh, that is primo stuff, Andy."

Andy nodded against Ash's cheek, throwing one arm around Ash's body. Ash turned toward him but pushed him away.

"Not in the road."

That made a certain amount of sense, so Andy nodded and turned. With Ash beside him he walked downhill, toward the invisible edge of the road. For a second the fog refused to recede before them, turning chilly and opaque. Andy reached for Ash, scared suddenly that the beautiful fog would turn against them, turn colder and harder and encase them in ice for daring to try to leave the road. Hadn't he just told Ash they had to walk it?

Then Ash's shoulder was under his hand, and Ash's hand on his back propelled him forward. Andy looked down and saw the solid white line under his feet. His next step crunched on gravel, and two strides after that his foot came down without a sound on cool green grass.

As soon as they'd both stepped onto the grass the fog disappeared. The sky arched before and above them, crystal clear and full of stars.

Ash let out a whoop, throwing up the arm Andy wasn't still clutching. "Now that's a sky!"

Andy stared dizzily and held onto Ash. The sky was bigger than any sky he'd ever seen, the dark places darker and the stars shining brighter. They all seemed to be moving a little in his peripheral vision, fixed only when he looked right at them. He turned his head to try looking at Ash, but Ash was staring up at the sky, mouth open, face lit up by the twinkling stars.

After a minute he looked over at Andy, smiling lazily. "Breathe, Andy."

Andy nodded and breathed, his eyes on Ash's eyes when he inhaled, Ash's mouth on his mouth when he exhaled. Ash's tongue felt strangely cool when it touched his, and tasted like beer, like he'd just swallowed an icy-cold mouthful. Andy licked curiously into Ash's mouth, chasing the taste of beer and Ash as Ash's lips dragged slowly against his, stubble stinging his face just right.

When they broke apart to breathe, Andy looked around again. He could see where the edge of the road was, but he couldn't see the fog from this side. Ash hooked an arm around his neck and pulled him in for another kiss, but Andy held back just enough to ask, "You really think this is heaven?"

Ash smiled. "It's what it is, man. We're here."

Andy nodded, because that made sense. He was here, and he wasn't alone, and the sky was beautiful, and the rest didn't matter anymore.

"Anyway," Ash added, tugging Andy down to the grass, soft as the mattress in the back of his van and sweeter. "I don't think Hell tastes like a cold PBR."

Andy couldn't argue with that.


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