"It's a rock, Sam."

"It's an important rock, Dean."

"To quote a great man, 'It's a big rock. I can't wait to tell my friends. Bet they don't have a rock this big.'"

Sam sighed and rubbed at his temples, trying to stave off the Dean-induced headache. "It's a magical rock, Dean. And Spike was not a 'great man'. He was a vampire, not a man."

"Whatever. He had it right," Dean said, swinging the flashlight beam over the small stone. It was dark red in color, like metal rusting in the sun, and could easily fit into the palm of someone's hand. He bent down and hefted it up, testing it for weight before Sam could stop him. "Not bad," Dean said, raising his eyebrows. He turned to Sam with a grin. "This would not feel good in the head."

Sam counted to ten before he answered. "I can't believe you just picked that up. It's a magic stone for a reason, Dean. Who knows what the hell type of curse there's on it, or what it even does, or-"

"Sammy, Sammy, don't worry so much," Dean said cheerfully, turning away to inspect the rock. It was smooth against his skin, and glistened in the small amount of light in the crypt. Most people, when they asked to be buried, asked for their most prized possessions. A picture of their long gone spouse. A piece of jewelry. Tons of little odds and ends that meant something to them.

Dean had never heard of someone's most prized possession being a rock.

"One of us has to worry about things, since you don't anymore," Sam muttered, and Dean's good mood vanished. He should've known Sam would try and figure out a way to weasel that into the conversation.

Dean let out a heavy sigh before turning to his brother. Sam was giving him the usual look, which used to be a puppy pout or a look of doom and gloom. Now, the look was anger and grief, and for god's sake, Dean wasn't gone yet.

"Enough, Sam, all right?" Dean said, giving his brother a look. "Just...lay off it, okay? I'm at peace with it, I made the decision, so just...brood about something else."

If anything, Sam appeared even more pissed off. Of course. "Why won't you even fight this?" Sam hissed, stepping forward. "I can't believe you're just so easy going about the entire thing. You're going to Hell, Dean, in case you haven't noticed. Because of me. And every single time I try to get you out of it, you keep stopping me! So what the hell, Dean?"

"Dammit Sam!" Dean shouted in answer to his brother's yelling. "I just wish you'd...you know what? Just shut up, okay? Just stop talking. Right now." He turned and stormed off, without even looking to see if Sam would follow him. He knew he would; Sam hadn't let him out of his sight since he'd found out about the deal two weeks before.

He made his way out of the cemetery and slid into the driver's seat. Sam slid in a moment later, slamming the car door unnecessarily hard. Dean threw him a glare, but Sam simply turned away to look out the window.

Silent treatment. Right. Well, two could play at that game.

Gritting his teeth, he pulled the car away from the curb, the stupid stone still in his pocket.

Twenty minutes later, and Sam still hadn't spoken. They were slowly pulling off jackets now in the motel room, throwing them over chairs or whatever surface was closest. Sam sank down onto the edge of his bed, back to Dean. Dean toed off his shoes, taking as much time as he could, before he finally turned to Sam.

"So what, you just not gonna talk to me for the rest of the year? Because I'm not changing my mind, and you're obviously not gonna change yours, so we're sort of stuck here." No response. Dean clenched his fists. "You need to get over that right now. While you're at it, you can get over yourself, too." Sam shifted, so Dean knew that Sam was listening, but still no answer. Dean pulled off his button up shirt and began balling it up. "As long as I'm talking about impossibilities here, trying pulling the stick out of your ass that got lodged up years ago," and he threw the shirt against the wall.

Silence continued to fill the room. Dean cursed under his breath and moved for the bathroom. If Sam wasn't going to speak up and claim it, the shower was Dean's by full right. He glanced Sam's way as he went, throwing a glare as he did so, which froze along with his steps.

Sam looked freaked. His hands were pulling at his shirt collar, tapping his throat. His lips were parted, and tears were welling in his eyes.

Dean forgot about the shower. "What's the matter?" he asked, sliding down to kneel beside Sam. "Sammy, talk to me."

If anything, Sam looked even more upset. He was breathing, hitched breaths that Dean could hear, so he wasn't choking. Just...really freaked about something. "Sam, what's going on?" Dean asked, starting to feel a little freaked himself.

It was then that he realized that Sam's lips were moving, as if he was trying to speak. Dean frowned and watched his lips. I can't followed by something that Dean couldn't read, but it only took two seconds to figure it out.

"You can't talk," Dean said flatly, his eyes displaying his shock. Sam nodded frantically, but he didn't look more relieved when Dean figured it out. He tried to say something else, and the panic only flared higher when the words wouldn't come out. He pulled at his skin around his throat, as if trying to claw a hole open so the words could come out.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Dean said, grabbing Sam's hands and keeping them still. They shook in Dean's grasp, and Sam desperately tried to pull them away. His lips were still moving a million miles an hour, still speaking without sound, and Dean finally dropped Sam's hands to grab his shoulders, forcing him to look Dean in the eyes.

"Sam. Stop. Right now," Dean ordered, locking his gaze with Sam's. "Before the panic attack keeps going further and you can't breathe. So listen to me: take a deep breath and stop moving."

Sam looked terrified. Dean softened and said more gently, "Just breathe with me here, okay? We'll figure it out, I promise."

Sam's deep breaths were nowhere as deep as Dean wanted them to be, but his eyes had lost the maddened look, and he wasn't clawing at his throat anymore. Dean glanced down and winced at the red, scratched skin. He was just glad he'd stopped Sam before he'd done anything worse to his throat.

When he glanced up, Sam's lips were moving again. Slowly and deliberately this time, however. Dean frowned and concentrated. I need something that either started with a b or a p. Sam's right hand was moving up and down in a pattern, and it clicked. "Paper," Dean said, glancing around the room even as Sam nodded. "Um...hold on." He moved to let go of Sam, then stopped, giving his brother a look. "You gonna freak out on me again?"

Sam shook his head. "Then stay put," Dean said, before moving around the room. Where was that complimentary pad of paper the hotel always gave...? Ah ha! There it was. He grabbed the pen and paper and handed it to Sam, who instantly began writing. After a moment, the sounds of the pen scratching on the paper stopped, and he handed the pad back to Dean.

It has to be a curse of some kind. I was talking fine earlier.

"Which means we can reverse it," Dean said. Sam made a sorrowful face, and Dean's lips pursed into a thin line. "We can, Sam. Don't argue with me here. Curses are reversible."

Sam didn't have to say it, though. Not all curses had a way to reverse; some were a one-way ticket only.

Dean's cell phone rang in the following silence, startling them both. He hurried over and grabbed it, tossing Sam the pad of paper back as he did so. "Hello?"

"Any luck?" Bobby asked through the line.

"Yeah, we found the rock all right; we're a little busy with another problem right now," Dean said, glancing back at Sam. Sam mouthed Bobby? and Dean nodded. Maybe the crypt had been booby-trapped with a curse; had Sam been the first one in? Or the first to touch the sarcophagus?

"Problem? With the wish stone?" Bobby asked, and Dean frowned.


And then it clicked. Dean was suddenly the one who was having problems breathing, the one who couldn't speak because it had finally clicked.

Oh god.

"What happened?" Bobby asked sharply when Dean didn't continue. "Dean, what happened?"

"I'll call you back," Dean said numbly, clicking his phone shut. He couldn't even look at Sam. God, the terror on his face when he'd realized he couldn't talk, and it was Dean's fault that in the first place.

I just wish you'd...you know what? Just shut up, okay? Just stop talking. Right now.

Wish granted.

A hand on his shoulder made him turn to see Sam's very concerned face. You okay? he mouthed, and Dean couldn't even nod or shake his head.

Sam mouthed his name, and Dean had to say something then. "I didn't mean to," he whispered. "God Sammy, I didn't mean to..."

It was Sam who grasped his shoulders and focused his attention on Sam. It's not your fault, Sam mouthed. Dean began to argue, but Sam shook his head. I know, Sam mouthed again, before he glanced over at the stone, which was laying innocently on the table. He turned his gaze back to Dean, a small smile on his face. It's not your fault, he repeated.

There was nothing else Dean could say. Sorry and I didn't mean to and I wish it was me could've all rolled off his tongue, but Sam already knew them. There wasn't a point to voicing them.

When Sam put the pad in his face, Dean backed up slightly before his eyes focused on the words. Can't go back, only have to go forward, he'd written, right above the words, Take a shower. We'll grab dinner, and then sit down and figure this out.

Plan. A plan was something he could work with. "Right. Okay," Dean said, trying to sound more confident than he felt. He straightened himself and stepped forward to get to work.