This is the next in the A War With No Front Series and picks up where Colt & Winchester left off. Many thanks to my awesome betas, Vanessa, Cookie6 and Deej1957! Links to the previous stories can be found on my profile and Sojourner84's profile pages.
Dean Winchester: As long as I'm around, nothing bad is gonna happen to you.
Sam Winchester: People don't just disappear, Dean. Other people just stop looking for them.
It was old, an antique, ancient even. There was rust and the paint was nothing but a ghost of its former self. It needed work. Lots and lots of work before it would look like it once had. There would be plenty of parts needing replacement. Now it was nothing more than an old, beat up piece of metal.
It was perfect.
"It's older than you," Sam observed.
Even Bobby taking a swing at his head didn't dim Sam's smile. Ducking away easily made the smile even bigger.
"Ya know, boy, I should whup your ass for that." Bobby was making a real effort to be gruff.
Sam saw right through it. "Uh huh."
"Yeah, well, 'cause I don't think I've ever seen you smile so much in your entire life, I'll let it ride for now."
"This is really it?" Sam paced around it. Reaching out with one hand, he was just a few inches short of touching when Bobby's fingers around his wrist pulled him away.
"Sam, you get tetanus and Dean'll chop my head off. Him I can't whup."
Rolling his eyes, Sam snickered. "He's gonna love this. He will love it, right?"
"Don't hear you calling him old."
"I like my head where it is." Sam turned and looked at Bobby.
Bobby stood looking back. Finally he shook his head and sighed. "You really need me to tell you your brother is going to like this?" Bobby waved one hand at it.
Sam pulled his lower lip between his teeth and chewed at it, nodding. He felt all of five, not twenty-five. His bangs took the opportunity to flop into his eyes, now he definitely felt five. He brushed them away impatiently.
Shaking his head, Bobby heaved another sigh. "Yes, Sam. Dean is going to love this. You could give him a dirty rag and he'd love it because it came from you."
Sam felt the flush working across his cheeks but continued anyway. "I can pay you," he said softly. This time he didn't have a prayer of getting out of the way of Bobby's hand smacking the back of his head.
"Boy, are you trying to piss me off?!"
"N-no." Sam sidestepped away from the second swing. He knew his face was completely red now.
"What do you mean, pay me? You're gonna need that cash to get this rust-bucket fixed up; those parts and paint won't come cheap you know."
Bobby snorted and made a big show of taking his hat off and putting it back on again. "Twice in twenty-five years you ask me for a gift for Dean, and you want to pay me. I should just keep this car myself for that."
Sam's stomach dropped through his shoes. "I'm sorry. Bobby, I didn't mean—"
"Sam, shut up." Bobby glared at him and cracked a huge grin. "I can't think of anyone who should have the Colt brothers' car more than you and Dean."
His face actually hurt from the smile it broke into of its own accord. "So, you think Dean can fix her, get her to run?" He paused, looking from Bobby to the '37 Chevy and back again. "Back up, I've never asked you for help getting Dean a gift before."
Bobby was moving around the car, Sam sprinted after him. Fingertips brushing Bobby's sleeve, he pulled up short when Bobby stopped and turned to face him. "Oh?"
Sam cocked his head to one side. His mind raced trying to figure out what the heck Bobby was talking about. He had the feeling he was missing something important here.
Bobby scratched at the collar of his shirt. "Last I saw, he's still wearing it around his neck."
Sam opened his mouth, closed it again. He scanned the salvage yard for a few seconds before coming back to look at Bobby. "You didn't…that wasn't…you never said anything to either of them."
"No." Bobby shook his head. Shrugging a bit, he went on, "No reason to. Honestly, it wasn't like I didn't expect it anyway."
Bobby chuckled. "You kidding me? Sam, from the first time I met your daddy and he brought you boys here, I could see you were Dean's kid. You always were. You were maybe three—four—something like that and you boys and your daddy would be here. Your daddy would tell you to do something, and you'd turn around and look at Dean to see if it was okay."
"I would?" Sam asked softly, feeling the flush moving back into his cheeks again.
"Oh, yeah. So when you asked me for help finding your daddy a Christmas gift, I always sort of wondered if you really meant your brother. I wasn't a bit surprised when next I saw Dean he was wearing that amulet. It was fitting, I thought." Bobby paused for a minute, taking a look around the salvage yard. "C'mon, let's take the scenic route."
Sam followed obediently, waiting for Bobby to continue.
Another minute or two went by before he said more. "You know much about that amulet, Sam?"
"No, sir, nothing but what you told me, that it would keep whoever wore it safe."
"Lemme tell you a bit more. According to the legend, it protects against possessions, but not just the physical act. It protects the soul from possession, keeps it safe when it's in danger." Bobby leveled such a hard gaze at Sam it made him want to squirm.
"Keeps…the soul…safe." Bobby repeated the words, pronouncing each one slowly. "It only works however, when the wearer gets it from the most important person in his or her life, the person the wearer loves more than themselves. The other side of that is the giver has to love whoever receives it more than themselves. So, in a way, I never once expected it to go to John. The legends also say the amulet has a way of finding its way to where it needs to be, where it'll do the most good." Bobby stopped, laid one hand on Sam's arm, and turned him so Bobby could look straight at him. "I thought you knew all about that amulet, that you would have figured it out after Dean…after the Hellhounds got him?"
"I—" His voice cracked and faltered. He shook his head. "I didn't do…I don't know what I did, other than I didn't let go."
"Hmmm." Bobby scratched at his chin and gave Sam a look that read he wasn't too sure he completely believed that Sam didn't know what he'd done, if anything, or how exactly Dean had gotten back from Hell.
Sam had a theory that somehow the amulet formed some sort of bridge between them, safety for Dean's soul and a means for Sam to hang on tight enough Dean could find a way back. It was only a theory and if Dean remembered anything of his time in Hell, or how he'd gotten back, he wasn't talking.
"You should give it some thought, Sam. While you're at it, give some thought as to why when Dean had the chance to make a deal to bring your father back, he refused. Yet with you, it was never a question." Bobby patted his shoulder, started walking again. "You coming back to the house to give Dean his gift, or you gonna stand here till he's forty?"
Sam stared after him. Was the man some sort of super ninja of obscure information? Yes, he was, Sam decided. Moving quickly to catch up, Sam shortened his stride to match Bobby's once he was beside the other man.
It was nearly impossible for Sam to not bounce up the steps and into Bobby's kitchen. Dean looked up, bleary-eyed, eyes skipping from Sam to Bobby and back again.
"Hi. Morning. Did you sleep well?" Yeah, smooth Sam, real cool.
Dean eyed him up and down before giving Bobby a look and half-hearted grin. Snorting, Dean handed Sam a coffee mug.
Bobby's knuckles shoved into his side made Sam twist and jerk forward a step.
Another searching look from Dean. "You two out for your morning date or something?"
That sent a shiver down Sam's spine. "Euw." Sam had no more warning than the sound of material whizzing through the air. "Oww!" He ducked away from Bobby's hat, blocking the second blow coming at his head with the back of his hand.
"You gonna stall all damn day?!" Bobby snapped.
Dean leaned back against the counter, sipping his coffee and looking annoyingly amused. He knew. Sam was convinced he knew. Or…
"You told him," Sam blurted out, not caring if that pissed off Bobby or not.
"Oh for Pete's sake, Sam, I did not," Bobby huffed. "But if you don't, I will."
Dean silently looked from one to the other, finished his cup of coffee and poured another.
"It's your birthday in a few days. Your thirtieth birthday." Why was it that everything he was saying came out as if he was some sort of idiot?
"I got…um, we got…" Sam waved one hand between himself and Bobby.
Shaking his head, Bobby crossed to the door and opened it. "Sam got you a gift. What he's trying so hard to ask you is to come outside and see it."
Nodding, Dean smirked and patted Sam's shoulder as he walked by. "Why didn't ya just say so, Sammy?"
Ambling down the steps Dean turned and looked back up at Sam who was still in the house. He raised one eyebrow and one hand. Sam sprinted down the steps and ignored how Dean snickered when Sam grabbed his shirt at the shoulder and marched, brother in tow, through the salvage yard.
"Gee, Sammy, if you got me a stripper, this sure is a crappy place to have her—" Dean's lips smacked shut when Sam took hold of both his shoulders, stopped him, and turned him to the 1937 Chevy Master.
Dean's breath sucking back into his lungs and expelling just as quickly told Sam his brother had no idea what Sam had been up to the past few days. "Sam." His name was nothing more than a blown out breath.
Sam grinned and rocked back and forth on his feet. "What do you think?"
Stepping away from him, Dean moved closer to the old—ancient—car and knelt down to look at something underneath. He cocked his head to one side, stood up, and moved slowly to the front of the car.
"Dean?" Sam said and immediately pulled his lower lip between his teeth.
Dean held up one hand as he headed around to the far side of the car. Sam held his breath and shot a look at Bobby who smiled and shook his head.
"I thought you—"
Again Dean's hand came up, palm facing Sam, stopping his words in his throat. Dean leaned down and looked into the car's interior. Finally, after what seemed like decades, he straightened and looked at Sam over the top of the car. A smile slowly spread over his face. "Sammy." His name came out breathless and sort of wet.
Sam burst into motion. Pulling out the folded piece of paper he'd had tucked away in his back pocket for days now, he closed the distance to his brother and held it out. "Look, I've got a list. Bobby helped me figure out what we'd need, and I did searches online to find where to go to get them." He stopped when Dean took the paper from him.
Standing there holding the paper in one hand, Dean ran the forefinger of his other hand down the list, nodding as he did so.
"I could help you with it," Sam said softly.
Dean looked up from the list, sharp gaze focused on his brother. "Damn straight you're gonna help me with this. You think for one minute I'm doing all this work by myself you're nuts." Pocketing the list, he clapped Sam's shoulder and headed for the house. "Get your ass moving, we need to have breakfast before we leave. I'm not listening to your stomach grumble and you bitch while we drive."
Sam grinned at Bobby. "See, I told you he'd love it!"
Bobby grouched something Sam didn't catch.
Then came the telltale whir of material through the air. "Ow!" Sam ducked away and ran to the house and up the stairs before Bobby could get another swipe at him.
Dean had a map out on the table next to the three plates of food he'd set down in the short time it'd taken Sam to get from where the Chevy sat to the kitchen.
"Okay," Dean said around mouthfuls of sausage. "I think our best bet is head east, hit here because I need these parts first, then we can shoot south to the second one, head back here and work with what we've gotten so far."
Sam nodded enthusiastically. Frankly, he didn't care if they drove zigzag and backwards as long as Dean was happy. Unlike the weeks of running, this was the good kind of road trip, the kind he liked and to which he actually looked forward. He and Dean, a mission to accomplish and a way to accomplish it; yeah, he was going to enjoy the next week or two.
He leaned back in his chair, drank some more coffee, and watched his brother turn into an excited child in front of his eyes over the prospect of this trip and fixing up an old car. It felt good. It felt right. Anything Sam could do to make Dean's life better, he'd do. In the span of a few minutes, gone was the antsy, agitated hunter of a few short weeks ago. He was replaced by a guy excited to have something to work on that pleased him. It was one of the few moments in Sam's life he could honestly say he was happy. It was one he'd treasure forever.
"C'mon, you going to sit there all day and eat? Let's go." Dean's hand swiped over Sam's hair, giving a quick ruffle on the way. Sam didn't even think to be annoyed, he didn't mind at all and in fact for once, he liked it. For the first time in too long, Dean was nudging him to hurry not to another hunt but to something they were doing just for themselves. For them to be brothers even if it was only going to last a short time before the next job reared its ugly head, and they were off to save the world…again.
Their first stop was a day's drive away and by the time they rolled into town it was late enough that everything was closed up. They'd spend the night, collect what they needed and plan to be on the road by noon the next day. In the meantime they found a bar to grab dinner and spend a few hours. Dean played some pool, picking up some cash before the two of them played a few games with each other for fun.
The entire evening they heard nothing about haunted libraries, mysterious deaths, impossible sightings or anything remotely resembling a spook, specter, shape-shifting monster. An entire evening without mention of anything resembling a hunt.
By the time they got back to their motel for the night, Sam was actually relaxed and thinking this whole project was going to be smooth and good for them both.