Author's note: Something really short that popped into my head after watching the UK repeat of ELAC on Friday...
Even as he stood there, chest heaving from the exertion, Dean felt the crowbar become heavy in his hand. Dropping it as if it was suddenly red hot he stared at the damage he'd done to what remained of the Impala. He closed his eyes briefly.
Great. Now he had even more work to do.
"If you didn't like that trunk you coulda just said."
Dean whirled round as his eyes snapped open, fixing on Bobby who was stood a couple of feet away leaning against one of the wrecks that littered the yard.
"Jesus, Bobby! You nearly gave me a damn heart attack!" said Dean, mentally kicking himself for not having noticed he had company sooner. He wondered just how much Bobby had seen.
The older hunter sauntered over in that casual way of his and surveyed the damage.
"I know you Winchesters like a challenge but there's no need to make it harder than it needs to be." he said and Dean's gaze flicked towards him quickly, wondering if he was just talking about the car.
"Yeah, well. That one didn't fit quite right." he said as casually as he could, waving a hand vaguely at the crumpled trunk.
"Uh-huh." said Bobby, sounding like he neither believed or disbelieved him.
Dean shifted uncomfortably. What was it all of a sudden with people wanting to invade his personal space every 5 seconds? Couldn't they just leave him alone until he managed to get things together?
He looked up and realised Bobby was looking at him with a gaze that seemed to go right through him. Dean cleared his throat and picked up the fallen crowbar, walking over to the bench and laying it next to the rest of the tools.
"Something I can do for you?" he said, not looking round this time but instead busying himself looking for a wrench he really didn't need.
The pause was so long he was just about to give in and turn round when Bobby finally spoke again.
"He's only doing it because he cares you know." he said in that calm way of his and Dean sighed.
No need to ask what Bobby was referring to.
"I know." he said softly and Bobby came over to stand beside him, leaning against the bench.
"Do you?" he said and Dean frowned at him.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" he demanded and the other hunter sighed.
"When I got that first call, asking me to collect what was left of the Impala – I swear I never heard Sam's voice like that. And I never want to again for what it's worth. That boy was distraught and even though he'd pulled himself together somewhat by the time he came here, when he first saw her.. I swear he took it almost worse than you did." he said quietly.
Dean swallowed. He knew how Sam must have felt, seeing the wreckage of the closest thing they had to a home and he wished he could have been there for him. He was pulled from his thoughts by Bobby's voice again.
"I gotta be honest with you, Dean, I told him there was nothing here worth salvaging. But Sam, he got this look on his face like you and your Daddy rolled into one and he told me if there was even one part still working then she was worth saving. He wasn't gonna give up on her. If you ask me he wasn't just talking about the car." he said, meeting Dean's gaze and searching it to see if he was getting his point across.
The slightly stunned, glistening look in Dean's eyes told Bobby he was getting it across just fine.
"He just wants to help you try and put things back together, that's all. He loves you and he's scared for you. Don't have to be a genius or a psychic to work that one out." he said mildly and Dean flushed.
He knew Bobby was right but 22 years of being the eldest, of taking care of Sam, meant he couldn't just shift gears and let Sam be the one to take care of him.
He just couldn't.
"It's not that simple." he said aloud and Bobby frowned at him.
"Because! I can't fix this, Bobby! I can't make it right, I can't – I can't bring Dad back!" said Dean, his voice rising and his eyes stinging as tears threatened to make an appearance.
"He ain't asking you to, Dean! I know you can't fix this – neither can Sam, hell, neither can any of us! But maybe between the two of you you can make right the important stuff. The rest will come in time."
Dean glanced at him and then looked back down at the tools.
Fixing the car was easy. He knew which tool fitted which bolt, he could put her back together again and she'd be good as new. Maybe even better. But he didn't know which tools to use to put him and Sam back together again. In fact right now, he wasn't even sure that was possible.
"Let him help, Dean. There's two of you in this thing and I know for a fact you're stronger together. You always have been." said Bobby softly and Dean closed his eyes briefly.
It was true and he knew it. He was just scared he was going under and he didn't want to drag Sam with him.
Of course the idea that Sam might be able to help him keep his head above water was one that was only just beginning to occur to him.
"Alright." he said, sounding so old and weary that Bobby wanted to hug him like he was a boy again. Of course that would likely have him on the receiving end of the crowbar so he settled for putting a hand on Dean's shoulder and squeezing it briefly.
"I'm not letting him near my baby with any tools though." said Dean suddenly, flashing Bobby a look that was very nearly the old Dean Winchester.
Bobby snorted. "Hell, I just said let him help – lets not go crazy." he said, shaking his head. He knew as well as Dean that Sam had never had the flair for mechanics John and Dean did.
Dean chuckled too and for a moment things felt almost ok.
"You might as well send him out here then – I'm sure he's sitting around brooding somewhere." he said in a voice that was part exasperation and part fond amusement.
Bobby grinned and headed off towards the house. Dean knew he'd been right when literally seconds later Sam came practically bouncing back towards him.
Dean rolled his eyes and sighed. Just because he'd agreed to let Sam help did not mean they would be turning this into a 'moment'.
Sam stopped a few yards from the Impala and stared at the broken window and shattered trunk in horror.
"What the hell happened, Dean?" he said and Dean shrugged.
"Fell against her with the crowbar. Smashed the window." he said, deliberately casual.
Sam glanced from his brother to the Impala and back again, incredulously.
"And the trunk? Don't you tell me you fell against that too?" he said and Dean shot him a warning glance.
"It didn't fit anyway." he said and Sam stared at him for a few seconds longer. Something in Dean's gaze must have told him that no good would come from pushing the issue so he let it go.
The grateful half smile his brother gave him made him glad he had.
"So, Bobby said you needed a hand?" he said, trying not to sound too eager. The eye roll Dean gave him told him he hadn't quite succeeded but Dean's look was more amusement than derision.
"You can hand me the tools – saves me having to keep getting out from under her. Don't even think about actually coming near my baby with any of them though" he said, pointing a warning finger at his brother
Sam rolled his eyes but nodded. "Okay." he said and when Dean slapped him lightly against the chest as he walked past him to the car he couldn't stop the smile that lit up his face.
Silence descended as they began to work quietly in tandem. The only sound was Dean's occasional request for another tool and Sam's question here and there when he wasn't sure which one it was.
They hadn't talked about anything nor had anything really changed, but somehow the silence between them was comfortable now.
It was the silence that came when two people knew each other inside out.
It was the silence that came from years of history behind them and years yet to come.
It was a silence between brothers.
Both of them knew there was still a lot of work to be done, and still a lot of pain to be dealt with. But right now, none of that mattered.
They were alive, they were together and they were fixing things.
The rest would come of it's own accord – just like it always did.