Title: "Sweet Hitchhiker, Won't You Ride?"
Author: monimala
Fandom: Supernatural/Friday Night Lights
Rating/Classification: language and adult content, crossover, Sam/Jess, Sam/Tyra (Dean's in it, too, but Not That Way)
Disclaimer: I don't own either set of characters. More's the pity.
Summary: 1520 words. A sequel to Always Look on the Bright Side. Sam hasn't forgotten Dillon's goddamn Applebee's.

They stop in Dillon on the way back from dealing with the chupacabra situation. Or, as Dean has taken to calling it, the "goat sucker, my ass" situation. There's salt under their nails and ash in their mouths and Dean turns to him, one hand on the wheel, and says, "There's that Applebee's. Want to grab a bite?"

Only he knows Sam hasn't forgotten Dillon's goddamn Applebee's. Not in a hundred fifty miles. Because he woke up mumbling for Jess every time they stopped for the night, reaching out for her in the dark. Aching. Bleeding out.

He wonders if this is Dean's idea of therapy. He's always got to solve what he thinks is troubling Sam (not that the reverse is ever allowed) and maybe fries with a side of look-alike is what Dr. Dean is bent on prescribing him. Sleeping pills would be better. Maybe then he wouldn't mumble, wouldn't throb, wouldn't *see*.

"Sure," he shrugs, tapping Creedence out of the deck and shoving it into the glove box. "Whatever." He pretends to be pensive and Very Sam, weighed down by the horrors they just so recently witnessed, but he knows Dean sees right through the act.

They picked up a hitchhiker on their last drag through this town and he wants the ghost exorcised, the back seat cleared out. "It's for your own good, Sammy. You're torturing yourself."

"You ever think maybe I *need* to be tortured?" he asks as they pull into the lot. "What do you think drove Dad all those years? He did it for Mom, Dean. He hunted for *her* and if I can't do the same for Jess, then what did she die for?"

"If I knew that, I would certainly not be sitting here." Dean lets the engine settle, shoves the keys in his pocket. "Oh, wait, I'm not sitting here. C'mon, I got Riblets calling my name." The door slams, but then, a second later, Dean's got his hand on the roof of the car and he's peering in the window. "You don't need to be tortured, Sam. You just need to remember her and keep moving."

He's got no problem remembering her. It's the moving part that's a bitch.

**

"Tyra Collette only picks up a shift now and again these days," the dark-haired waitress in charge of their section tells Dean, her mouth curling in disapproval. "She ain't on the schedule today."

"Well, alright. Thank you, Ma'am." Dean shrugs, draping one arm along the back of his chair, and proceeds to order his Riblets and an MGD. Sam doesn't know what he's playing at exactly, but it's a good scam. The charming grin, the disinterested look in his eye. Maybe he just wants honey barbecue sauce really bad.

But after Sam asks for a Coke, the woman ends up leaning forward, dropping her voice to a whisper. "She's sitting right over there, Boys. One row over, with the coach's girl."

Do not turn, do not turn, do not turn. Sam wills himself. But once LouAnn (according to her nametag) leaves to put the order up, he can't help but shift in his seat and look over the low divider at two blond heads bent together.

His heart thumps in his chest and his head starts to swim.

How did he not notice when they were walking in? How did he not feel her from two feet away when he practically saw her from the street the last time? Baby sister playing Mel's Diner dress-up, he reminds himself. It's not her, not Jess. Only he doesn't know how he convinced himself of that because right now, watching her laugh at something her friend is saying, he can't tell the difference. Her profile. The way her head tips back and her nose crinkles. It's the same. And it hurts the same.

"Go say 'Hi.'"

"Fuck you. They're in *high school*." His knuckles whiten and he clutches his water glass tight enough to rattle the ice.

"Did I say 'break statutory rape laws'? I said 'say Hi.' There's nothing wrong with making nice."

Great. Now he's getting deportment lessons from somebody whose idea of stellar dinner party conversation is describing in great detail that there is, in fact, more than one way to skin a cat. "You didn't drive through here so I could 'make nice.' You're trying to prove a point."

That earns him a dose of the classic Dean Winchester 'Who, me? I'm innocent!' look. "When have I ever tried to prove a point? I like the food here. You like the girl here. It's that simple."

Before he even opens his mouth, Dean adds, quietly, "If you let it be."

**

"Hi."

In the end, she's the one who says it. She makes the first move, stalking over with one hand on her thrust out hip and her chin up with mistrust.

"Uh, hi." He tries to smile. Dean is the one who actually succeeds, saying, "Hey," waving casually and dimming the wattage on his pick-up phermones.

Tyra is younger than Jess, but… harder. There's an edge to her mouth and lines at her eyes and she's beautiful in that way that a faded wall calendar in a garage is. Curled at the edges and full of years. "You've been staring holes in the back of my head for near an hour and you need to stop," she drawls, in a voice that's not so much honey as it is bourbon on the rocks.

"I-I'm sorry," he stammers out, exhaling a shaky sigh and dragging his hand through his hair. "You just look a lot like someone I used to know."

Tyra's eyebrow goes up, along with her back, and Dean jumps in before she can. "It's not a line. Seriously. You really do."

Sam has watched his brother charm a lot of women over the years. It's easy. Like breathing. He grins, shoots off some flip one-liner, and they're putty in his hands. "Sure, I'll get you that number." "Here's that extra pillow you wanted." "Why, no, I don't mind if you never call me because I will forever treasure the memory of our one night together." But this one's immune, uncharmable, and she barely glances his way.

She flattens her palms on the table, leans forward and he catches a whiff of her perfume… something surprisingly subtle and flowery and he thinks about walking across campus at midnight holding Jessica's hand. "You want a good time, go down to The Landing Strip. I'm not on the menu."

And then she's turning and Sam doesn't even realize his hand is shooting out to wrap around her wrist and stop her. Just like he doesn't know he's digging out his wallet with his free hand until the picture of Jess is there, splayed between his thumb and his index finger. "Wait," he gasps. "Just wait."

Her lashes flutter downward. He hears her breath catch clear over the clattering of silverware, the sports blaring on all the TVs, and the Travis Tritt on the jukebox. "Oh… oh, my God."

The shock knocks the chip off her shoulder and, suddenly, the resemblance is blinding. "I don't want a good time," he chokes, stroking his thumb across her pulse. "I've had enough of those."

**

Sam doesn't remember the awkward pauses, the explanations, where Dean went and what she told her friend. He remembers "please," and "okay," but not who said what. He doesn't know how he got here. Only that the road was long.

Her skin is familiar and the hollow of her throat tastes like cinnamon and smoke. She arches up against him as he presses her against the sink and he meets the weary sadness in her eyes with an "I'm sorry," and a kiss. She's probably a nice girl. She probably deserves better than this. He used to be a nice boy. He did deserve better than this. But she's willing and he's hungry and oh God her hips curve just the right way and when she unrolls the condom over him and he slides inside her, he remembers what it felt like to have a home.

He cradles the back of her head in his palm and she winds one leg around his waist and the only sounds they make are gasps and sighs. No names. No swears. Just the reflection of them in the mirror under the harsh white lights, every freckle and every flaw, and the un-perfection of fucking laid bare.

He knows this body. He worshipped it once. He sins against it now.

Her hair drags across his jaw and he pushes it aside, back, so he can see her face as she comes. He remembers a dozen, twenty, 1001 nights watching these eyes close and this mouth shape the word "Sam." He makes every effort to say "Tyra," when they're slumped, sweat-slick and spent, against the Formica, but she hears the lie in it and laughs without judgment.

"Don't worry, you never have to call me," she whispers against his cheek. "So let this just be her, alright?"

And he realizes he was wrong about her voice. It's honey all the way. The perfect dressing for his wounds.

It's that simple.

He lets it be.

--end--

March 30, 2007.

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