Chapter 14

Sam was staring so intently for any signs of movement across the street inside the closed diner he almost jumped when his cell went off. Staring at in surprise, he glanced at the caller ID and saw it was Dean. A twinge of apprehension shot through him, having anticipated that his brother would sleep for several hours, leaving him plenty of time to take care of things and get back without him ever suspecting he'd been gone. He flipped the phone open hoping nothing was wrong. "Hey."

"What are you doing?" Dean knew the question came out a little gruff, but his brother leaving the room without letting him know he was going or where, especially with everything that had happened lately, hadn't left him in a good mood. If Sammy had deigned to leave him a note, there was no way he'd be finding it in the mess upstairs anyway, so might as well get the 'story' straight from the horse's mouth.

"Couldn't sleep. Went to get a burger." Sam fidgeted inside figuring a half truth was better than none. With Dean's usual protective streak, and what he heard in his brother's tone, he could well imagine he'd not taken finding him gone too well. He'd hoped his brother would never be the wiser for it. When Dean crashed, he normally crashed hard. Could he have been awakened by a nightmare? Though his brother had told him he remembered nothing of his time in Hell, something which Sam hoped with all his heart and soul was true, maybe a part of him still remembered some of it.

"In my car?" Though he'd been a little distracted at the time, Dean didn't recall seeing it in its spot at the parking lot. Another major rule broken and Dean hadn't been back a week yet. Sam knew better than to take Baby out without permission. He really was suicidal.

"Force of habit. Sorry." Sam felt his irritation rise though he tried hard not to let it. Asking permission from anyone over anything was long past in his book the moment Dean died. Getting taken to task for it on top of that was definitely something he didn't need right now. There were more important things afoot.

Though Dean being awake could be an issue. "What are you doing up?"

Sam glanced out the window again toward the dark diner wishing like heck Dean wouldn't get it into his head to go out to raid the very place he was going to as well. The way his luck ran sometimes, he wouldn't have been all that surprised. What Dean said wasn't always what Dean did. And there was no way his brother wasn't worried about three demons on the loose and so very close to where they were staying.

Dean heard the question and it brought back everything that had happened but minutes ago and he felt his ire cool. There were reasons why he should be damn glad Sammy had been out and about instead of at the hotel, and he needed to remember that. Also the longer Sam stayed away from there and seeing the destruction and all the ugly questions that would raise, the better. "Well, uh, Bobby's back. Going to go grab a beer."

He was waiting for it and wasn't disappointed when Bobby threw him a look like what the hell was he talking about, beer being the last thing on their minds. Dean raised a hand, second finger up, silently asking him to hold off from making any comments at the moment. Bobby didn't look thrilled at this, but kept his thoughts to himself regardless.

Dean tensed, waiting to see what Sammy would make of what he'd said, knowing it was lame as hell. The two of them were family, yet lately, even before he'd been dragged to Hell and back, all he and Sam seemed to do was lie and keep things from each other. How did they always end up like this?

Sam blinked, the remark sounding strange, especially at this hour of the morning. Dean had been exhausted and if Bobby just got in, he'd probably not had a chance to rest either. Going out for a beer was the last thing he'd expect either of them to want to do.

He decided not look a gift horse in the mouth though, not if it meant his brother would be busy and out of the way. Surprisingly, Dean didn't even ask for him to join them, so that was another hurdle passed. He couldn't have set it up any better. "All right, well, uh, spill some for me, huh?"

Hopefully, it would stay that way. The lies and secrets were already so deep it was disturbing. He'd not liked doing it last year when Dean's time was running out on the contract, but with his attitude back then, and his insistence not to place Sam in danger by mucking with the deal, Sam had had no choice but to research into the thing on his own, secretly. In the end it had gotten him nowhere, but it had been better than doing nothing. It felt odd having to repeat the same patterns just so his brother wouldn't see the things he could now do to keep him safe.

Dean couldn't believe Sam was falling for this. Even better, he'd not even mentioned wanting to meet up with them. He clamped onto this fast, before his sibling might think to change his mind. This would work out perfectly, with Sammy none the wiser and totally out of danger's radar. "Done. Yeah, I'll catch you later."

He closed the cell phone with a certain amount of relief. Sam would be out of the way and safe while he settled things. Dean had nowhere he could hide and knew that now. Whoever or whatever this Castiel was could find him anytime it wanted. It would be best if they met on Dean's terms and not its. Tonight, too, had shown him just how easily what happened to Pamela could end up being Sam's fate as well. And that would not do. Especially with Sam's new seeming semi suicidal gung ho-ness. For his brother to be jumping willingly into the line of fire was not what Dean had signed up for. He needed to get rid of this Castiel as soon as possible. Bring things back to a manageable level, then get things squared with Sammy again.

Sam hung up the call and stared at the phone, glad he'd be free to take care of business. With Dean not there, he was open to use all the means at his disposal to get rid of the demons. Another set of evil bastards would be struck from the list and he would take yet another step in making himself stronger and hopefully riding the world of Lilith's evil forever. Thus guaranteeing she'd never get her mitts on Dean again.

Though their plates were full, these demons needed taking care of. He wasn't about to let their enemies run free until they got it into their heads to try to take Dean back to her to gain her favor. Whatever they were afraid of, it would only hold them off for so long. So he would take them out before they even contemplated the thought. No way was Dean being taken from him, not when he'd just got him back. Plus the less of their kind that knew Dean was around and where, the less chance Lilith would try to do something about it.

Dean stared out the front windshield of Bobby's car, his course set. He didn't like lying to Sammy and keeping things from him, but what he liked wasn't always what needed to be done. And he had to get rid of this Castiel. Only then would he get the chance to try to vainly tip the scales for all the evil he had done in Hell. Something he hoped never to tell his brother about.

Sam reached for the handle of the driver's door, ready for whatever awaited him inside the diner. Later, once that problem was solved, he could start worrying about how to gently start working on Dean to let him know the truth about what he'd been doing the last four months. His brother would flip. There was no doubt about that. It might even come to blows. But he would find a way. He had to. Yet in the end it would change nothing.

They would do whatever they had to, to keep each other safe. Even if it meant keeping secrets.

The End

In Memory of Kim Manners – without whose vision and great work this episode would not have been all that it was, or drive me to write a novelization of most of it. Mr. Manners, you will be missed…

Notes: For anyone curious, 40 or so minutes of show took 9 plus hours (done in 2 hour increments or less, I am only so insane, you know) to get all the info I needed down and jotting mad flares of epiphanies or ideas as I went along. Had to go back several times too! I kept missing details or being distracted. At one point I had to turn the sound off as the hotel room was driving me batty and it was the only way I could truly pay attention and finally get that super simple floor plan (which had not seemed simple at all before!) down.

I made many discoveries while taking this sucker apart. Things I'd not discovered in my usual 3 time viewing of episodes. Green and Red were total motifs in this episode, used in a myriad of lovely ways visually, yet the shades were soft and varied enough that you wouldn't normally notice though the work on the subconscious would still go on. The only people not part of this scheme were Sam/Ruby, done in gray (though Ruby did succumb to a red shirt when she was leaving) and Pamela, who was in black and gray, though her home had lots of red, the outside green. Watch the episode again with no sound and look at the colors. It will blow you away.

Could have never done this sucker without Kim Manners, Jared and Jensen (and their fabulous work), and all the other wonderful people who put such time and creativity into making this show all that it is. Thank you! You made this so easy for me! Keep up the great work!

And finally thanks to my beta Kaz for poking me with sticks when I needed it and keeping those eyes peeled. Yay! (Though I still didn't measure up to her monster angst meter. Sigh…) Heh heh.

Hope you all enjoyed the ride! Happy Reading!