Have to say a huge thank you to Muffy & Lille for allowing me to bounce ideas off them and for helping me so much with this one. You rock.

This can be slotted anywhere towards the end of season three. And none of the characters are mine. Except the Cobra! (I wish ..)



Usually the post-hunt custom would be enough; he would fill himself with the numbing warmth of a 6-pack and find relief in his gently swimming mind. And after beer there was the scorching water of a shower and flicking through the delights of motel pay-per-view.

It was in these simple pleasures that he found comfort; the familiarity of ritual and the soothing simplicity of his surroundings. Even the most basic of motel rooms had their part to play; varied and garish in their decorations, they still contained the same little well-known details that he grown fond of over the years. And he found himself wondering when twin beds and a mini bar had almost become home in his crazy existence.

Home. The very essence of the word made his throat tighten and his chest ache. It had been sufficient to tell himself for so many years that living from the ragged old hold-all and whatever supplies he had strewn throughout the car was home enough. But for some reason the past few weeks had brought with them a deep weariness that left him longing for somewhere to settle. Somewhere safe to run to when everything seemed wrong.

For a brief moment the roadhouse had felt like a viable option. And it had been so easy to relax in the affectionate banter between mother and daughter, ignoring the threat of the world beyond the run-down wooden panelling. But it was a cold irony that meant even a meeting place for hunters was not a safe haven for the two of them and they had quickly moved on.

And now it seemed that they had not not stopped running. There were so many unknown variables now, so many questions. Gone were the days of finding clues, pursuing them and killing every supernatural being that crossed their path. Now there was uncertainty and second-guessing, an uneasy knowledge that they themselves were being hunted and heading for a future that neither of them understood.

Which was why they had once again travelled back to the isolated cabin nestled amid the endless piles of car parts, the muddy yard scattered with broken vehicles. Stepping out of his own car a few hours ago, he had been met with the familiar scents of spilled fuel and rusting metal carried on the gentle country wind. It was a place so ground into his history and such a large part of his childhood and yet even here did not feel like home.

There were too many memories here, too many reminders of all that was missing from his world. But Sam seemed content amid the untidy mess of books and manuscripts and so he was happy to stay another night as requested. Sure that they would have already found any potential answers amid Bobby's ancient collections, Sam was nevertheless keen to search again and Dean had not the heart to decline.

Still there was another reason to be here. There were a few things that he never spoke about with his little brother; the pre-dawn grief that found him crying into his pillow, the chilling fear that they were inevitably doomed to fail and the hollow uncertainty that had settled ever since he had put a torch to his father's grave. Here he knew he could pour out his heart - or not - and all he would receive was quiet understanding. And maybe the odd cuss or two.

The gentle creak of the screen door heralded the approach and the delivery of the beer that had been offered. Without turning, Dean muttered a greeting and felt the gentle thud of heavy footfalls. The warm scent of oily clothes and gently spiced soap preceded the arrival of an open bottle held out in front of his face. Dean smiled and took it with a grateful murmur.

Bobby sank down onto the porch steps beside Dean and held up his own drink by way of a toast before taking a long mouthful. It was more than a courtesy, or even old habit; it was the older man's simple way of saying 'glad you're here and you made it through another day'. It sent a warmth through Dean that he had long been missing.

The sun was sinking low on the horizon and with it the heat of the day was starting to fade. Dean pulled his jacket closer around his chest and shuddered briefly, taking another gulp of beer to warm through his insides. Aware of the comfort that lay in the silence between the two of them, Dean could feel a lump forming in his throat; he knew he could say whatever he needed to his old friend but also that he did not have to say anything. Bobby did not always have the answers or even complete understanding. But he knew. And that was enough.

"Got something to show you."

The statement was a surprise in the almost silence and Dean turned sharply. He saw a flicker of a smile and watched as Bobby clambered to his feet. Obeying the unspoken command to follow, Dean descended the steps and trailed after Bobby.

Between piles of parts and rusting shells of cars, a tarpaulin guarded what was evidently an exciting find for the old guy. There was a sudden bounce in his step and he glanced back in anticipation as he reached the shapely form that was strapped to a trailer.

"A friend found her abandoned a few towns over." Bobby explained animatedly, grabbing the corner of the dirty green tarp and untying the ropes securing it. "He thought it might be our kind of project."

Dean sucked in a gasp of surprise at the term, his vision misting. His reaction was lost on Bobby as he continued to unwrap his prize, his affection hanging for a moment in the air between them and then settling comfortingly on Dean's shoulders. Dean watched Bobby as he continued to grapple one-handed with the tarpaulin and glanced back with bright eyes as he started to pull the cover free.

One cracked headlight and then the muddy grill was revealed, the shape familiar to Dean but not immediately obvious. He stepped closer to help uncover the vehicle as Bobby hurried round to untie the rear straps and suddenly the cover slid clear.

Underneath the dust and years of neglect, a dark blue body glistened in the fading sunlight and Dean stepped back a little to take in all of her. His eyes moved over the dented doors and missing side windows, seeing the potential that had been ignored for far too long. As he backed away, he put the familiar aspects of her form together and peered at the badge nestled in the centre of the grill. "No …"

Bobby grinned and nodded quickly.

"Torino?" Dean mouthed in awe, tearing his eyes from the grimy badge to see Bobby's delight as he nodded once more. Shaking his head in disbelief, Dean strode around the trailer to inspect the whole of the car and covered his mouth as he noted the custom styling and accessories still clinging to her. "1970 Cobra …?" He murmured.

"The one and only." Bobby confirmed, almost hopping on the spot with childlike glee.

Dean turned to him and a smile danced on his mouth. "Does she run?"

Bobby shook his head slightly, "Well, not yet." He stepped towards Dean, taking a mouthful of beer and setting his bottle on the side of the trailer before delving into one of his pockets. "Hal gave me a few odds and ends that he thought might be useful." Bobby continued. He slid a key into the trunk lock and heaved the lid open, the rusted hinges screeching in protest.

Dean climbed up onto the tail of the trailer and peered inside the trunk to look at the various engine parts scattered within. Reaching in and touching some of the pieces of this most intricate of puzzles, he could feel potential and promise beneath his fingers.

"The rest I'm sure I can either salvage from my collection. Or call in some favors." Bobby offered quickly, "Well? What do you think?"

It was almost too much of a feat to gather all of his thoughts and emotions into one clear response. Jumping back down onto the muddy ground of the scrap-yard, Dean opted instead to simply offer Bobby a wide grin and lunged forward to clap one hand on his friend's shoulder.

"Great!" Bobby enthused, stretching up to close the trunk. "Hopefully the weather will hold and we can make a start tomorrow - "

"What?" Dean gasped, his smile growing. "Rig up a genny and get some lights on out here!"

Pausing for only the briefest of seconds, Bobby laughed in delight and finished his beer. "Right." He began, wiping his mouth with the back of his sleeve and heading back towards the house. As he reached the porch, he stopped and turned back.

Dean watched the emotion that filled Bobby's soft face beneath the torn peak of his cap and gave a quick nod of understanding. Without another word, Bobby hurried into the house and Dean moved back towards the shell of the car. He reached up and wiped dust from the trunk lid, his fingers tracing the design etched into the silver badge.

Tears gathered as he stood there for a moment and caressed the cold metal, aware of everything that the car was offering. And it was more than a welcome distraction from the chaos around them or the bleak future that awaited him.

For a start, she was something he knew without question that he could mend. She was also long hours spent in the company of a man who had become so much more than family. She was something he could be proud of, a legacy of his own that he could pour himself into and leave to Sam. This thought forced a sob through his clenched teeth and he closed his eyes.

But as much as his sorrow tugged at him, as he leaned into the body of the car and felt the strength beneath his palm he knew that what she represented was so much more powerful. She was hope.

- fin -