The wards were set, dinner was eaten. All that was left was the waiting. Dean hated to wait—Sam watched in amusement as his big brother paced around the hotel room. Finally he took pity on him and pointed out there was a King Arthur movie on TV . . .
Midway through the movie, Sam mentioned the inconsistencies in the climate. Dean just smirked and said, "Who cares if there's ice all over the place, Keira Knightley's hot."
The movie finished, Sam rose from his bed and manually turned the TV off, then returned to sit on his bed, legs over the side. "Dean, we need to talk."
"Sam, now's not the time to say you screwed up your ward locations," Dean said from where he lay on his bed.
Dean deflected, "Or to tell me you've got cold feet."
"Dean." Sam gritted his teeth. "I'm driving tonight."
"Oh, good one, Sammy!" Dean chortled.
"Hey, I'm serious. You're not driving tonight."
Dean quit laughing and his face hardened. "Oh yes I am."
"Your right arm's wrapped in an ace bandage! You're not driving."
"Sam." Dean practically growled his brother's name as he sat up in the same pose as Sam.
They faced each other across the gap between the two beds. "You don't want me driving with the bandage, fine, I'll remove it. I don't need it; my arm's not broken, anyway."
"You're right; the wrist isn't broken, but it's probably sprained, and certainly bruised all to hell—not to mention painful. You can't even hold a pizza slice in that hand."
"Dean." Sam took a deep breath, and then looked his brother straight in the eye. "Hey, I know you don't trust me with your car, but you've gotta make an exception tonight."
"Sam—" Dean cut himself off. "Wait a minute, I don't trust you—? Where'd you get a crazy idea like that?"
"I haven't driven the Impala since Red Lodge."
"And a few days after that, that zombie-chick broke your arm and put it in a cast. Stayed that way for almost two months. I got used to doing all the driving, then. Guess we never broke the pattern after that. Besides, it's my car." Dean paused. "But that doesn't mean I don't trust you with her, dude."
"Why? How? I've run out on you twice, now, Dean. How can you still trust me," Sam's gaze flicked away and he lowered his tone, "when I don't trust myself?"
"Sammy. I don't think we're talking about the Impala anymore," Dean said softly. "What's going on in that freaky head of yours?"
"Nightmares," Sam admitted reluctantly.
"Duluth. I'm with Jo—and you. I see, hear and feel everything with crystal clarity. What I said to Jo, and telling you you were gonna die." Sam swallowed and his gaze returned to Dean's face. "Shooting you, and watching you fall into the water—the whole nine yards."
"Sammy, it wasn't you."
"And the feelings are—inescapable. I'm watching you fall into the water, and all I feel is happy." He shook his head and his tone sharpened in self-disgust. "What kind of monster shoots his own brother and feels nothing but gleeful satisfaction? Huh?"
"It wasn't you, Sam," Dean repeated, firmly.
"But it felt so real."
Dean heard the plaintive, scared tone in Sam's voice, loud and clear. "That bitch probably kept you in the dark in Duluth knowing that you'd start to remember things in your dreams. Sammy, listen to me. You're not a monster. You're not going to bea monster." Dean stared deeply into his brother's eyes, then continued, "You're a Winchester—and that makes you the hero of the story." He reached over and tousled Sam's hair with his left hand. "Or at least the hero's trusty geek sidekick."
Sam eyed Dean's retreating uninjured hand, then glanced pointedly at his wrapped one. He nodded his head in the direction of Dean's bandaged arm. It was a silent 'Dean, please' maneuver that he'd used since childhood.
"We should go." Dean rose to his feet. "You're driving, Mario." Then, lest Sam think he was a push-over for caving, he added menacingly, "But if you put one new scratch on my baby . . ."
They were almost four miles down Pershing Road, rapidly approaching the start of the poltergeist's zone of interest. Other than the Impala, the road was devoid of traffic, and Sam hoped that it would stay that way. The radio played an old Queen song, lending raucous encouragement with, "Another one bites the dust, another one bites the dust." Sam flicked the radio off, not wanting the distraction or noise.
The moonless night only added to the sense of deserted isolation that permeated the area. A streak of fluorescent orange paint suddenly appeared on the ground on both sides of the road. Sam turned his attention briefly from driving. "You ready?"
"Dude, I was born ready," Dean answered, fingering the two wards stuck in the left-side pocket of his leather jacket.
Sam left the engine running, as they had agreed that they needed to save every second they could between placing the wards. Dean put his faith in the anti-possession charm secured in the glove box, and Sam figured that the poltergeist wouldn't be deterred by something as mundane as the lack of a key if it really wanted to get its clutches on the Impala.
Sam braked on the road, putting the Impala in park and flipping the hazard lights on. "Okay, now," Sam said as they threw open the doors and sprang from the car. After a hurried glance up the road, Sam sprinted across the street. Reaching the pre-dug hole, he dropped to his knees, grabbing the first black pouch from his coat pocket. He set the ward in the hole and pushed the small mound of dirt that he'd dug up that afternoon back over the hole, filling it in and patting it down quickly. Then he leaped to his feet and darted back across the road to the waiting Impala.
"Dean?" Sam jammed himself back into the car, slammed the door and released the brake. He shifted out of park and into drive as Dean jumped in and slammed his door closed.
"Go!" Dean ordered unnecessarily.
Sam floored the gas pedal. They flew by the Junction 129 sign and both boys scanned the intersection they were closing in on. The beam of distant headlights could be seen on Highway 129. Sam calculated that the car was too far away, and they would cross through the intersection easily before the other vehicle drove through it.
Sam gave a relieved sigh, and then gasped as the other vehicle was suddenly much, much closer to the intersection. Damn! The poltergeist couldn't get to the Impala, so it's latched onto another vehicle instead.
"Sammy! Look out!" Dean warned uselessly.
Out of the corner of his eye, Sam saw Dean's left hand reaching forward, and he knew Dean was itching to take control of the wheel. Instead, Dean braced against the dashboard, holding on tight.
The other car was too close to avoid by braking, and the Impala was going too fast for a sharp turn onto the shoulder to be a good option. Oh, God, he wasn't going to be able to outrun the possessed car, Sam thought. His grip on the steering wheel tightened and he pushed the pedal flat with the floor. He focused on driving, and poured everything into one thought: Faster, faster, FASTER!
Whoosh! Sam drove like a bat out of hell through the intersection, practically flying. The Impala crossed the Cavalier's path with only inches of separation, somehow avoiding what had seemed like an imminent collision only seconds before. Sam caught an impression of the terrified face of the Cavalier's driver as they blew on past.
Once past the intersection, Sam slammed on the brake. STOP! The Impala skidded to a halt about five feet past the second set of orange paint streaks and he and Dean both tumbled out of the car.
Sam raced across the street to the opposite shoulder, making a beeline for the empty hole. He grabbed the last pouch from his pocket, and went down on his knees. He crammed the ward into the waiting hole and then shoved the loose dirt over it. Patting the dirt down, he heard Dean yell, "Cover your eyes!"
Sam stayed low, squinting over the crook of his right elbow.
Two blinding flares of white light formed along both sides of the road, like horizontal lightning. In the blink of an eye, the two streaks of light moved toward each other, merging in the center of the road. A sharp crack, and the surroundings were immersed in a white mist that dissipated seconds after being formed.
"You okay, Sammy?"
"Yeah." Sam rose to his feet. Now, he understood Dean's earlier comment about the ward's power.
The air felt different somehow: cleaner, fresher. Sam checked both sides of the road. It was deserted and he crossed back to the Impala. He sank into the driver's seat and watched as Dean plopped down on the passenger's side.
They exchanged glances and spoke simultaneously. "Wow."
Sam removed the parking brake and shifted into drive. "I think we've seen the last of our poltergeist." He carefully drove onto the shoulder, checked the still empty road, and executed a leisurely left turn onto it. Seconds later, they silently passed through the intersection with Highway 129.
Sam turned his head toward his brother.
"Dude." Dean's green eyes met Sam's squarely. "That was awesome." He grinned. "You're almost as good a driver as I am."
"Almost—?" Sam challenged lightly, feeling giddy with relief.
Dean ignored him and turned the radio back on, apparently in the midst of a Queen retrospective. "We are the champions, my friends. And we'll keep on fighting till the end . . ."
Sam dropped the room keys off and closed the Dew Drop Inn's office door behind him, crossing the parking lot back toward their room. As he approached, he saw Dean leaning against the Impala, his brother's arms crossed loosely over his chest.
He stopped a few feet away from Dean. "Okay, we're good to go. Should reach Bobby's in time for supper." Sam knew that Dean was looking forward to some hands-on time with his baby, in Bobby's yard. Bobby had already found a replacement for the headlight, and Dean would have the Impala back to pristine condition in next to no time. Sam glanced at Dean's wrapped right hand. Well, maybe a little longer. Wonder if he'll let me help, this time? Won't know unless I ask.
He opened his mouth to speak when Dean suddenly straightened from his slouch and circled Sam, then stepped over to the passenger door.
"Heads up!" Dean threw something to Sam, who automatically caught it. Sam stared at the car keys uncomprehendingly and heard the passenger door creak open.
"You'd better get moving; it's a long drive to South Dakota," Dean said
casually over the Impala's roof.
Sam shook himself and headed for the driver's side. Opening the door, he settled into the driver's seat, pushing the seat back for maximum legroom.
Dean yawned. "Wake me up for lunch," he ordered as Sam drove out of the parking lot.
A/N: Well, that's it. Thanks for sticking to the story through the end, hope you enjoyed the ride! Please let me know what you think, reviews keep the Impala primed and ready for more road trips.