Forge stood at the bottom of the porch steps, clearly not wanting to go any farther. Dean's eyes focused immediately on papers held in Forge's hands. He knew, without looking Sam did the same thing. Dean's stomach lurched, mouth dried, he felt a bit dizzy for a second or two. He had a sinking feeling he knew what those papers were. Hearing Sam's harsh, ragged breathing close behind him, Dean recognized Sam came to the same conclusion, with a bit different reaction, results.
Dean had no delusions about his brother. Even though Sam rarely fought or became physically violent, in fact avoided it most times, when he felt the need he was about as harmless as a horny, hungry, wounded grizzly bear. Sam, Dean knew, without even looking at him was feeling the need. Dean was only just beginning to understand that as much as he needed Sam, feared being without him, alone, Sam felt that way times ten. The only difference being until their dad died Sam simply hadn't conceived of Dean not being there, even when they were physically separated. Since then his confidence in that regard had been badly shaken when the idea sunk in separation was liable to be a permanent one, result of Dean's death. Sam's sticking so close the last months had been as much for his own benefit as Dean's.
This cop was most likely here to arrest him, take him away, put him in jail, he'd undoubtedly get a death sentence for murders he didn't commit. While Dean wasn't too concerned he'd get away if arrested, the place Sam was in right now prevented him from having the same opinion Dean did. Sam was reacting purely to the threat of Dean being taken away, Dean could feel it radiating off him in tidal waves. Pulling one over on cops, feds, was one thing, actually damaging one, killing one was another. Stupid and troublesome, it would bring every cop, wannabe cop, department store security guard, fed and court official down on them.
This could get real ugly real fast.
Turning to Sam long enough to give his arm a squeeze and a 'stay put' look Dean knew this was just going to be big trouble. Every muscle Sam owned was clenched, coiled, ready to strike, he looked back with wide, bright eyes, glared at Dean. But for a few minutes at least he'd do what Dean wanted and stay there. If such a thing as cuffs appeared, Dean thought it pretty unlikely he'd actually be able to stop Sam from attacking Forge. He could only hope Forge wasn't fast enough with his gun.
This could get really, really ugly, really, really fast.
Walking down a few of the porch steps Dean planted himself directly between Forge and his brother, not exactly sure at this point which one he was actually protecting. "What can we do for you today?"
"I wanted to apologize again for not telling you both everything from the start. There's a victims' fund in the state, I took the liberty of putting in for it, for Sam, and you." He held out an envelope to Dean. "And I took the liberty of cashing it for you."
Dean stared at the offering for a minute, heard Sam suck in his breath, before he reached out, meeting Forge halfway, taking the envelope. Both men immediately retreated back a pace once Dean's fingers closed around it. He opened it, took one quick glance at the small thickness of hundreds before shoving it into his back pocket.
"I thought you might want these too." Forge swallowed, giving Dean the definite impression the man was worried for his safety and wellbeing, and was still taking a plunge. He stepped closer, pushing a folded paper, and a second, opened, envelope into Dean's hand. "You can do with them whatever you want. I figure it must be some mistake, obviously a mistake."
Dean unfolded the paper first. Sam was now hanging over his shoulder, looking down at the paper. Dean's face and his FBI wanted flyer stared back. Sam snatched it from his grasp. Dean pulled paperwork from the second envelope, arrest warrant, rap sheet. Sam snatched those away too. Dean met Forge's steady gaze.
"I sure don't see anyone here who would do those things."
"Guess you have really good eyesight." Dean smiled enough to look friendly. "Thanks." A quick glance back at Sam, "For everything."
"You two take care of each other." Forge turned, heading back to his car. Stopping after a few steps he turned back, smiling. "Oh, and so much as run a stop sign in this state, and I'll have to look again."
Dean cracked a true grin this time, "I'm a superb driver. Would never so much as think about running a stop sign."
"That's good to know, I hate rereading things." He turned, walked back to his car, pulling open the door he stopped again, half in and half out of the vehicle. "Oh, and I know about the offer Redding made to you."
"Guess that's a bust huh?"
Sliding fully into the car, "Actually, no. Still stands. Crooks make the best cops, I know." Pulling the door shut, he rolled down the window, "So do hunters." He waved, honked and drove away.
Dean blinked at the retreating car then turned fully to Sam, who stood there with his mouth open, eyebrows so far up they'd vanished under his bangs. He simply cocked his head to one side, giving Dean a questioning look. Dean supposed his own expression mimicked Sam's, minus the bangs.
"We need to leave, as soon as Bobby is back, we're outa here."
"Yeah." Sam agreed, then a small smile, not gone in an instant this time. Dean was keeping count of those, they were being offered a little more each day.
It was much later in the day than Dean would have liked before they were able to leave. Saying good-bye to Bobby turned out to be much easier for both than it was saying good-bye to Valkyrie. She'd have a good home with Bobby, they both knew.
After giving her a hug and a serious belly rub Sam retreated to the Impala, waiting for Dean.
"You listen to me chicky," Dean knelt next to the dog, holding her head just behind her ears, "You have to stay here, take care of Bobby for us, look out for him, ok?"
He gave her a final pat on the head when she reached out, licked his chin. This time her bushy tail barely moved.
"Thanks." He barely got out around the lump in his throat. Bobby nodded. Valkyrie watched with sad, sad eyes as Dean headed down the steps, to the car. Sam watched him over the top of the Impala.
"Hey Sam, maybe next time you come to visit could you not be possessed or kidnapped or anything?" Bobby said, slight smirk on his face.
A slow smile spread across Sam's face, lingering a bit, which made Dean feel warm. "Yeah, I'll work on that."
Starting the car, Dean glanced over at his brother, "Where to?"
Sam shrugged, "Anywhere not here."
"You got it." Dean watched as Sam turned, looked out the back window as they pulled out of the yard. A glance in the rear view mirror, wished he hadn't. Valkyrie stood on the porch steps, looking between Bobby and the Impala, clearly confused why she was being left. Tail down, gaze shifting, waiting for an answer. He reached over, lightly smacked Sam's knee. "She'll be fine Sammy, Bobby loves dogs, he'll take good care of her. He needs the company."
"Yeah." Sam said thickly, facing forward again, but not before a quick look at Dean. "I hope he remembers she likes to catch the Frisbee."
Dean flipped on the left blinker, pulling very carefully onto the road, no traffic violations in this state. "He will. We can't have a dog Sam. I forgot to tell him which treats she likes the best. We'll get some and send them when we stop."
Sam nodded agreement. "I know. We can't have a dog, not with how we live. I forgot to tell him which brush she likes being brushed with the most."
Stopping at a stop sign, full stop. Dean was careful to look for any traffic, tapping his thumbs against the steering wheel. "I tried to explain it to her. Told her Bobby needed her more."
"We can't have a dog Dean." Sam looked over at him. "Think she understood? Think she'll miss us?"
Another left turn, Dean pulled into a drive, shifted into reverse and retraced their way back to the intersection. "We can't have a dog Sammy. We'll have to come back to take her for her shots in a few months."
"I think it won't be so bad, coming back for that, just to visit Bobby. I'll try not to freak out if he starts a fire again. We really can't have a dog, Dean."
The car rumbled down Bobby's drive, as if it knew the way, on second thought Dean's baby probably did. Putting it in park, Dean sighed, and climbed out of the car. Bobby and Valkyrie were in the same spot, except now Bobby was sitting on the steps, a duffel bag beside him. One glance at Sam told him this was right, his brother was grinning stupidly for the first time in too long a time. Dean marched across the drive to Bobby, leaving the car door open. Valkyrie sat up, woofed, tail began wagging furiously. Waving one arm back at the car, snapping his fingers Dean said, "Furry ass, car, now. And no shedding on the upholstery."
Valkyrie was a virtual chestnut and white blur, freckled feet barely touching the ground, dirt and gravel flying in her wake. She bound into the car as if built on springs.
"Another damn mouth to feed. As if Sam doesn't eat enough. Do you know how much he eats? This is just until Sam feels better, then we'll bring her back."
Bobby merely smiled, nodded and held the duffel out. Dean took it, grumbling, "Great more luggage to keep track of."
Bobby's fingers tightened around the duffel's straps. Dean quirked an eyebrow at him, but said nothing.
"You did real good Dean. Real good."
Dean didn't know what to say or do. "Thanks. I don't mind telling you, I had a few doubts for a while that I'd ever see Sam alive again."
"You did good with that too, but that's not what I meant, not what I'm talking about."
He could only stand there, staring at Bobby, waiting to hear what the man meant.
"I'm talking about everything, your whole lives, you and Sam. What you did, what you do, not just for him, but for you too." Bobby's chin jutted towards the Impala. "Sam'll be fine, he will, it might take a while, but he will. You'll both be just fine. It might be that car of yours, but the boy's got a good, safe, loving home. You both do." He gave the duffle straps a jostle, making sure Dean was completely focused on him, paying attention. "You did that, you've always done that. It's something you should be proud of, and you've deserved to hear it more than you have."
Now he definitely didn't know what to say, wasn't sure he could say anything. Nodding, which he knew Bobby would understand as thanks, well that and the earnest look of gratitude on Dean's face, he dropped his gaze. Bobby let go of the duffel, releasing Dean. Bobby nodded in return. They understood one another. Dean understood Bobby wasn't just talking about what happened here, but what might be coming to them, someday down the road. He was giving Dean a big vote of confidence, he and Sam were survivors, they really would be just fine.
They drove south, winter was coming and that meant snow. Snow meant lots of fires, and Dean wasn't ready to deal with that part just yet, every motel, diner, camp ground would be filled with cheery fires, they'd skip the fires this year. That part was scaling back some too, but it would take time, like the rest. While they wouldn't stop for the night till they were at least in Nebraska, they did have to make several short stops to let Valkyrie out.
Leaning against the car, watching Valkyrie bounce around in a small grassy spot away from the main part of the rest stop, Sam standing next to him, their shoulders brushing every so often, able to feel the rustling of his brother's jacket when he breathed in, Dean felt more relaxed. Sam, he saw, felt, wasn't as tense. His features smoothed out, losing the lines of tension. He concentrated better, smiled sometimes, looked more like his old self. If anything good had come of all this, it was at least Sam had stopped asking Dean to kill him every third day. Staring at possible death for nearly a week seemed to change Sam's willingness, attitude on the subject.
"How many more times will I have to do this Sam?" Dean gently nudged his brother's side.
"Let the dog pee? I don't know, ask her. You're the one who wants to stop every two hours so she can stretch and sniff, she wasn't asking."
"Naaa…not that. You know, if I hadn't been able to get that cage door open, save you, I sure wouldn't have let you burn alive."
The muscles in Sam's shoulder tensed, he stilled, giving Dean a sidelong glance. Dean realized he hadn't given any thought to the what-ifs of that situation. Dean had given plenty of thought to it.
"But I got the door open, got you out, saved you." Dean was hoping he wasn't going to have to beat Sam over the head with this. Digging in his side pocket he fished out the syringe cap, holding it up. "Think I'll keep this, a reminder."
Sam lifted his eyebrows, gave him an odd look, but didn't say anything before shifting his gaze to watch Valkyrie again.
'You know, Sammy, you're the one who keeps talking to me about hope and belief, you need to have some. You know how I found you?"
"The leads from some pictures, you said some dreams and this." Sam's voice was soft, low as he touched the cap Dean held.
Dean pocketed the syringe cap again. 'Yep. That and I believed I would, I could. I never believed anything else. I paid attention to what I was getting, the dreams, or you reaching out to me, or whatever they were, and I believed those were something, I believed in them too. I believed you'd be there for me to find. I believed in you." He whistled, waving one arm in an arc towards the car. "Valkyrie!" Reddish triangle ears, one up, one dipped immediately turned in their direction, in the next instant were bounding through tall grass to the car. "Believe me, believe in me Sammy." Dean rolled off the car, kicking at the grass and dirt as he made his way to the driver side.
He could feel Sam's eyes on him, watching him. Sam opened his door, Valkyrie bounced in, jumping across the seat to nuzzle Dean's hand, lick his cheek. As Sam's door squeaked shut Dean heard his brother's soft, determined, "I always have."
Turning the key, Dean smiled as they pulled back onto the highway.
It was late, very late when they stopped for the night. Sam knew Dean would have kept driving till he passed out, putting distance between Abaddon's prison and them. But finally Sam had enough of being cramped and was about to say something when his brother announced a motel sign, twisted to crack his back and made some comment about Sam needing to be out of the confined space of the car or his shoulder would never heal…….How does he do that?
They were three quarters of the way through Nebraska, it would never be far enough, but it would do for tonight. He was tired, and achy and not too proud to admit it either, but he'd made a point of not dozing in the car, wanting to keep Dean company. He knew what Dean's little speech was really about, and again felt gratitude he had no words to express, and no way to repay. Well, maybe there was one way, to do as Dean asked.
Sam could do that, Sam could always believe in his brother.
"You want to go play darts later, or tomorrow?"
Dean's expression of surprise was genuine, making Sam chuckle.
"You don't even like darts. And sure! Hell ya!"
Sam shrugged, "You do. I really don't like playing for money."
"Ok." Dean nodded, "We play for who does the laundry."
"You just have to gamble, don't you?" Sam poked at Dean's ribs, got the side of his head smacked as a reward.
Sam felt good, still edgy, still had nightmares, but those things would ease off, the good feeling only get better. He'd made Dean feel good too, that was more important.
"Think they'll cremate Redding's and the other twin's bodies?"
Dean shot him a look, Sam realized Dean thought of this already, kept the idea to himself. "I don't know, couldn't figure out how to ask. Don't worry Sammy, if there's a problem, we'll deal with it, we always do."
Sam couldn't disagree.
A brief stop near the motel office before they pulled in front of their room.
"Ya know Sam," Dean popped the trunk of the Impala, handing him the supplies bag, hanging Sam's duffel over his good shoulder, "You go out for burgers and get possessed, you go to a video store and get kidnapped by a deranged psychopath…..I'm seeing a pattern here."
Sam hooked his fingers around Valkyrie's bag, pulling it out, "That I can't have burgers or see a video again?" Cause really that was how Dean's mind worked.
"Only if I get them." Dean handed Sam his duffel. "You need a keeper." He wandered off, opening the door to the room, disappearing inside. "Don't forget the laptop kiddo."
"Not a kid."
"Are…" Sam huffed out a deep, heavy sigh, "…Not…." looking down at Valkyrie. She gazed up at him, tail wagging in lazy circles, she yawned. "Why do I bother?" Then grinned, "I already have a keeper." He stopped, turning his head from one side to the other, looking at the bags hanging off one shoulder, and in both hands. "One who has apparently mistaken me for a pack mule. It's a good thing, Val, that I love the guy or I'd have to hit him often and hard."
Stepping away from the Impala, shutting the trunk, he didn't quite clear the bumper, whacking his shin, cursing softly under his breath so quietly ghosts couldn't have heard let alone anyone else, then laughed outright when Dean's head popped out the motel room door.
"Sammy, you ok?"
"'M fine." Sam smiled……….Really, how does he do that?
Two souls bonded through eternity.
Without one there truly would not be the other.