Title: Just Another Night

Spoilers: coda to 5.20

Just Another Night

Ninety minutes of silence on Interstate 80. Dean thinks he should say something but a) he has no idea what and b) he's in definite pain from the ass-kicking he took from Brady. He owes Crowley something for that, when this is all over if they ever get Lucifer back in the pen.

He doesn't realize he's grunted until Sam finally speaks.

"You okay?"

Truth? Not really. But is there any point in telling Sam that right now?

Oh. Yeah. The whole 'being honest' thing they're trying.

"No. Brady did a number on me while Crowley …" Dean feels the tension from Sam as soon as he says the sonuvabitch's name.

"Forget it. 'M fine."

"Bullshit." But Sam says it without heat. "You wanna tell me what happened back there?"

No, not really.

"Nothin' to tell, Sam. Went up to the twelfth floor, did the whole 'let's make a deal' thing, got emphatically turned down and then Crowley bagged the fucker."

"Where was Crowley" Sam managed to make a curse word out of the name, "while you were getting 'turned down?'"

"Waitin' to take his shot – I dunno, Sam, want me to say he played me? Okay, he did. He's a demon, couldn't play it straight if his life depended on it." So that didn't make a whole lot of sense. He waited for Sam to call him on it.

It told Dean a lot about Sam's state of mind that he let it pass.

"Trusting Crowley is a bad idea, Dean."

"Look, I get it. You're right. It's the second worst idea I've ever had. But you kept me from following up on the worst one …" And Dean is tired and he hurts and please Sammy don't fight with me

"I get that you're angry. At Crowley. At Brady. At me. And I'm sorry if you thought for one minute I was choosing Crowley over you. I wasn't. I was pretty sure he was playing me. Us." Dean flashes to the innocent bastards that Crowley took out in the lobby. All the blood from their slit throats … what's a few more on his conscience? "But I had to play along 'cause I wasn't seeing any other options, Sam."

Silence.

Another stabbing throb down his side as Dean shifted his grip on the Impala's steering wheel to take a curve triggered a matching lance in his head. Fuck this.

"Sam, if I pull over, you wanna drive?"

Shit. Dean must be hurt if he's relinquishing the driver's seat. Sam looked at his brother's profile in the dim light. The clenched jaw and tight creases at the corner of his eye … Sam should have noticed them sooner.

"Yeah, sure, I can drive. You want some Tylenol?" Sam opened the glove box as the car slowed down.

"That'd be good."

And Dean saying that is so not good. With the tiniest bit of guilt Sam realizes that he'd been so caught up in seeing Brady tied to that chair he'd barely glanced at Dean.

"Smackdown with another demon … Do I need to check you over? Ribs, cuts – you need any stitches?"

"Naw, just bruises … and the mother of all headaches …"

With the car stopped, Sam flipped on the dome light and reached over to Dean's jaw. "Let me see." Dean squinted his eyes from the brightness and Sam could see speckles of dried blood Dean had missed.

"Bastard." Brady's taunts crashed back in on him. He'd put Jess on that ceiling … He could've killed Dean too …

"Easy, Sam."

He dropped his hand from Dean's face. "You missed some spots."

"I'll get 'em when we stop somewhere." Dean must have seen something in Sam's face. "Sam, look, I know seeing Brady … finding out about him … and Jess …I'm … I'm sorry."

"Not your fault, Dean." Breath. "I'm pissed about Crowley, but I can kinda understand why you did it. I'm not happy about it but I get it. So just take your Tylenol and I'll drive until I get tired and then I'll find a place for us to sleep, okay?"

"Sounds good, Sam."

The routine of switching places took only a moment, and then Sam was pulling back onto the highway.

Not your fault, Dean. But for the first time ever Sam was sorry that Dean had shot the yellow-eyed demon. Azazel should have been his to kill. Azazel who'd given Brady his orders, Azazel who'd created the demon-children army, who'd poisoned him when he was a helpless baby … Azazel who'd backed their mother into making the deal. Azazel was dead.

But his plans, his orders, had come from further down, hadn't they.

And whatever it takes to get Lucifer back in his cage … Sam would do it.