Dean looked up from cleaning their weapons and glanced at Sam.
"Yeah?" he said.
Sam swallowed, knowing that what he was about to say could end up with him flat on his back holding his teeth in his hand.
"I've been thinking," he began and Dean rolled his eyes.
"Oh God. Now what?"
Sam glared at him before continuing.
"About the car. I mean, now we know we've got the cops on our tail? It's pretty distinctive, man." he said holding his hands out.
Dean grinned with pride. "Hell yeah she's distinctive, Sammy. No other car can match my baby."
Sam rolled his eyes. "That's not what I meant, Dean - I meant, she's pretty easy to spot. Maybe we should, you know.." he tailed off as Dean frowned at him.
"Maybe we should what?"
Dean stared at Sam, unblinking. Sam fought the urge to shift uncomfortably.
Sam's eyebrows shot up. "What the hell? Dean!"
Dean shook his head. "Hey, it's a valid concern Sam – I know the only way you would even think about suggesting I trade my baby in is if you were possessed by evil."
Sam shook his head. "That's funny, but I'm being serious! How long till that description is all over America huh? How long till cops everywhere are looking for our licence plate? You really want to risk that?"
"No, but there is no way we are trading in the Impala, Sam – end of story." said Dean firmly.
Sam wasn't done though. He had to make Dean see reason.
"No, it's not 'end of story' Dean! It's just a car.."
Sam realised his mistake as Dean threw the gun he'd been cleaning down on the bed and leapt up.
"It is NOT just a car, Sam! That's the car that Mom sat in, that Dad drove for years, it's the car you and I grew up in! It's the nearest thing we have to a home and I am not getting rid of it, not now, not ever!"
Sam swallowed. "I know all that, Dean and I know how important it is to you. But a car is not more important than your freedom, is it?" he said, desperation colouring his words.
Dean shook his head. "If she means so little to you Sammy, then why the hell were you so insistent Bobby didn't scrap her?"
Now it was Sam's turn to stand, running his hands through his hair in frustration.
"Because I couldn't save you! Because saving the damn car was the only thing I could do, and scrapping her would have been admitting I thought you were never gonna wake up again!"
Dean winced at the pain in Sam's voice and felt a flash of guilt. He could only imagine how tough those few days must have been and he felt bad for stirring up the bad memories. Before he could contemplate apologising though, Sam dropped back onto the bed and carried on talking.
"Look, Dean, I'm not saying I don't love that car too.."
He didn't get to finish as Dean raised his eyebrows, grinning widely at him.
"You love the car too? I knew it – you've been trying to hide it all these years, but I knew." he said smugly.
Sam glared at him, and then his lips twitched as he thought of a way to get Dean back.
"As I was saying – I love that car too, but I love you more, Dean."
The words were true, but Sam normally would never have said them out loud – he was a Winchester after all. But given the way Dean was gloating over what he'd inadvertently admitted about the car, drastic measures were called for. And it was worth it for the horrified look on Dean's face.
"Jesus, Sam! Warn a guy would you? You're gonna start spouting the 'L' word all over the place at least give me a chance to leave the room!"
Sam chuckled as Dean shook his head in disgust, muttering about 'emo little brothers' under his breath.
"You know most normal people would be pleased to hear someone say they loved them." he said dryly.
"Yeah well we're not normal people, remember Sammy?"
Sam shook his head and tried to get the conversation back on track.
"I mean it, Dean. If it comes down to getting rid of the car or watching you wind up in prison, or worse, then I'll happily wave goodbye to the car. They want to charge you with murder, remember? This isn't a misdemeanour, they could give you the death penalty." said Sam with a shudder.
Dean sighed. "You think I don't know that? But what do you want me to do? Yeah, it pisses me off that we're not just running from demons, and spirits, and God knows what else, we're now running from the law too. And all for doing the right thing and trying to help people. But we can't change what's happened, and there's only two things that keep me sane through all this, that keep me going,"
Sam frowned at him. "And what's that?"
"Driving the Impala. Hearing her engine and feeling her eat up the road. Picturing Mom sitting in the passenger seat and Dad driving her." He stopped, swallowing the lump that had materialised in his throat at the memories.
Sam's expression softened. "And what's the second thing?" he said, trying to draw Dean out of painful memories.
Dean looked up and held Sam's gaze. He raised one eyebrow and said nothing. Sam frowned for a moment and then the penny dropped and his eyes widened.
"Oh. Oh!" Now it was his turn to flush as he realised what Dean was trying to tell him without words. He couldn't help smiling and although Dean rolled his eyes, he found himself smiling back.
Clearing his throat and heading off what was threatening to be a 'moment', Dean carried on.
"So, in answer to your question, Francis, no we cannot get rid of the car. She's as much a part of this family as we are, so we take our chances." he said firmly.
Sam sighed, not all that surprised. He hadn't really expected Dean to go for the idea but he'd had to try.
"Ok, fine – we keep the car. But you gotta know then that whatever happens, if we do get caught one day? I'll do everything to get you out of it, Dean. I am not gonna let you end up in prison, or worse. I'll get you out – even if it means pulling a Butch and Sundance."
Dean stared at him. "You gotta stop watching the late night movies, Sam." he said dryly.
Sam smirked but held his ground. "I mean it Dean." he said with total conviction.
Dean looked at him and swallowed. He could see Sam really did mean what he said and it meant a lot. Course he wasn't about to accept it, not when Sam was talking about putting himself in danger to save Dean.
"Yeah, well that's sweet Sam, but it's not happening. We get caught you take care of yourself. I can deal with me – you are NOT getting yourself in trouble on my account, you hear me?"
Sam looked at him. "You can say what you want but I'm not changing my mind. We go down, we go down together, Dean." he said firmly.
Dean raised his eyebrows. "Damn, Sammy! Would you please rephrase that?" he said, horrified.
Sam ran the sentence through his head again and then winced as he realised what he'd said.
"Could you drag your mind out of the gutter for 5 seconds? I'm being serious here!" he said exasperatedly.
Dean threw his hands up in the air. "Fine, I get it! You want to go out in a blaze of glory. How about we just work on not going out at all, huh? That sound good to you?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "Fine. Just promise me you'll be a bit more careful, try and keep a low profile now and then. I know it's hard for you but we got enough to worry about with someone recognising the car, without you making an impression everywhere we go."
"Hey, I can't help it if I make an impact." said Dean, grinning smugly.
Sam shook his head. "Why do I even bother?" he muttered, turning back to the laptop.
The room was silent for a moment, except for the sound of Sam's fingers on the keyboard and the click of a shotgun as Dean cleaned it.
"Whatever. You know Butch and Sundance didn't really die, right?"
Sam turned to look at Dean, frowning. "What?"
"Butch and Sundance. They got away. At the end." said Dean seriously.
"Come on, Dean! You know that's just a legend." said Sam but Dean shook his head.
"Uh-uh. They got away, trust me. It was all about the teamwork. Those soldiers might have had all those guns, but they had each other. They got away." he said quietly, fixing Sam with a determined look.
Sam held Dean's gaze for a moment and saw what his brother was trying to say. That however things might end up, he wouldn't stop fighting.
Sam smiled and nodded, letting Dean know that neither would he.
Satisfied, Dean smiled and went back to the guns.
Sam watched him fondly for a moment before turning back to the laptop. It was true their lives had definitely got more complicated and yeah, that sucked. But Dean was right – whatever happened, they still had each other. And sometimes, that was all they needed.