Title: The Untimely Demise of Singer Salvage
Author: morkhan
Warnings: Ummm… cursing? Less darkness?
Characters: Bobby, Adam, Dean. Brief Pamela Barnes, Castiel. :D
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 12,172
Summary: Bobby should've known better than to bury the damn kid so close to his house. Continuation of the 'Bump in the Night' series. Follows 'Capstone.'
Disclaimer: The shattered fragments of people in this story can be reassembled into roughly the shapes of Winchesters. I own neither the fragments, nor the Winchesters.

Author's Notes: This 'verse just keeps growing and growing. Wait, does it qualify as a verse? I think it does. Anyway, this follows from Capstone and will not make much sense without it. It's my first Bobby POV, so I hope I got him right. These things just keep getting longer and longer—this installment alone is almost as long as the first two stories combined. Fortunately for us all, this is not an all-out assault of darkness and despair. Hell, I might even call this hopeful. XP As always, I hope you enjoy it, and crave your feedback.

When Bobby gets back to his house after the umpteen-thousandth exorcism he's done this month, his first thoughts when he sees the place are, in order: who tried to kill me, and why'd they miss? The trees around his house and yard are knocked over—all of them, like a bomb went off over his backyard. Dust and debris are kicked up all over the scrap yard and there is not a single intact window in any of his cars, or his house for that matter. It doesn't take him long to decide that whatever did this is going to die nice and slow, because this shit is expensive and if Bobby knows one thing besides how to hunt for monsters, it's the value of a dollar. His dogs are silent, which either means the beastie is gone, or they're no longer in barking shape. As he gets out of his car, he looks around the yard and, not for the first time, curses his own stupid ass for surrounding his house with so many good hiding places. Seemed like a good idea at the time of course—iron repels all manner of nasties, so surround your house with iron and sleep easy at night. Of course, that was back when they actually used iron in cars—with everybody worried about gas mileage and environmental friendliness, all the stuff they use to make the new models is lightweight, cheap, and completely useless. That's why he's always favored the classics—even their corpses are more useful than these tin can, namby-pamby matchboxes people call cars nowadays.

He carries a colt revolver, loaded with iron rounds, with a silver knife in a sheath and a flask of Holy Saltwater in his jacket (he was surprised to find out that adding salt didn't make Holy Water any less so, and figured anything that could repel ghosts and demons would be good to have handy). He approaches the house as carefully as he can—it's not easy stepping quietly when there's broken glass every-fuckin'-where you put your foot. A noise from the kitchen alerts him to a presence. Whatever's in there apparently didn't hear him pull up, which is just dandy as far as he's concerned. Stepping carefully on the carpet, he keeps his gun raised and ready as he turns the corner. He sees it at the refrigerator, a human-shaped whatever; a zombie, just from the looks of it, covered in grave dirt and torn clothes. Except… well, zombies don't exactly get thirsty, and whatever this is, its chugging a down a jug of water like it hasn't had a drink in years. The Whatever at least has the good manners to put it back in the refrigerator when it's done. When it turns around, that heart attack that Bobby warned Sam about very nearly comes calling.

He vows then that if this is a What, and not a Who, he might well go to Hell for the things he plans on doing before he offs it, because it picked the wrong meatsuit. "Freeze," he says, not even a hint of fear in his voice.

It turns towards him. "Bobby?" it says, and Christ. It's got his voice and everything. It starts to come at him, but Bobby just cocks the gun.

"I said Freeze, dimwit." Well, that might be a point in its favor. Damn Winchesters always did suck at following directions.

It looks a little hurt for a second, but it gets the gist pretty quickly. No extra points for that, though—lots of unsavory critters can read minds. "Oh, right. Gotta be sure," it says, giving Bobby the saddest smile he's ever seen on a living thing. It's a damn good actor, he'll give it that. If it's really him…

"Alright," he says, letting just a little hope slide into his tone. "Let's see if you remember what I taught you. Name a monster you could be right now, and then prove that's what you ain't."

It nods, and its eyes go half-closed in thought. "Uhhh… demon?" it says.

"Crossed that one off already. That's my Holy Water Jug you just drained."

"Oh," he says. Thinks a little more. "Shapeshifter."

"And?" Bobby prods.

"Shapeshifters… they're poisoned by silver," he says, nodding to himself like he's confirming it.

Bobby nods to the Whatever's right. "That drawer beside the sink's where I keep the silverware, all genuine silver. Keep your hands up, walk over there real slow, and get one of the knives. A little cut on the arm should do the trick. You try anything funny, and I'll plug you where you stand. Might not kill you, but it'll stop you long enough for me to follow up with whatever does."

Years of experience keep his hands steady and his eyes trained as he watches it move, slow and sure, like he asked. It opens the drawer, takes out a knife, and then… stops.

Not a good sign, he thinks, and gets ready to shoot.

It's just staring at the knife—one of the larger ones in his collection—like its reflection in the silver is looking back at it funny. Its eyes are miles away.

"Well?" Bobby says, quirking an eyebrow as it jumps like something zapped it.

"Sorry," it says, and pulls up the sleeve on its mud-crusted hoodie, dragging the knife across the width of its forearm and drawing a little blood. No purple veins popping up, no bad reaction besides the bleeding. Shapeshifter is off the list, Revenant too, and Bobby feels the little sliver of hope wedge itself deeper into the cracks in his armor.

"That's another one down. Now, think. What else is there?" Bobby says, his voice sounding less accusing and confrontational, and more like a patient teacher testing a student.

It thinks a little more, but it's faster this time. "Ghoul."

"Good," Bobby nods.

"But… how do we test for that?" it asks.

Bobby answers, still in Teacher Mode. "Don't need to. Ghouls gotta eat fresh corpses to take on somebody's appearance, and there wasn't a corpse to eat. I made sure of that."

It looks a little thrown by that, but it recovers fast, and goes right on. "Spirit," it says, and without even waiting for Bobby to instruct it, it grabs a salt shaker off the counter and pours itself a handful, and does not vanish.

"Good," Bobby says, "but a little advice: when somebody's pointing a gun at you, you don't do anything unless you say Mother-May-I first. You got that?"

It smiles, and looks just a little less like a kicked puppy. "Got it."

And then Bobby realizes that he can't think of anything else that this could be. He's covered all the major bases—salt, holy water, silver, and the house is loaded with iron. But that means that he can't think of anything that would explain his busted windows or his surprise deforestation, least of all the sight in front of him right now. He's operating completely outside his experience… which means… just maybe

"Adam," he says, his throat a little drier than he'd like. "'s that you, son?"

Adam nods. "Yeah. I think so."

The uncertainty is the clincher—kid put up a good front when his brothers were around, but half the time Bobby knew him, he acted like he wasn't 100% sure of his own name. It's not uncommon for new hunters to act like that for a while; having your whole view of reality turned upside-down and inside-out 'll do that to you.

Bobby moves forward, lowering the gun, but still not quite able to believe what he's seeing here. He's been in this game for decades, and shit like this just doesn't happen. His years of experience work against him as he raises a trembling hand to grab the boy's shoulder. He's filthy. He's solid. He's real. "Good God," he says, pulling the kid into a hug that was probably a little too rough for somebody fresh out of the grave, but he's allowed to be a little sentimental once a decade or so. Adam hugs him back with no shame and all the strength he can muster, so at least Bobby's not the only sap in the room. There are a hundred things he wants to say to this kid, and a hundred questions he wants answers for, but there'll (hopefully) be time for that later. For now, he settles on just saying, "It's good to see you, boy."

"You too, Bobby," Adam replies from his shoulder.

They stay like that for a few more seconds. Then, something Bobby's been ignoring so far grabs his attention in a powerful way. "You smell awful."

Adam laughs, real and honest, and the sound is like music to his ears. He hadn't heard it in a long, long time. After Dean… did what he did, the kid was all big, sad eyes and half-hearted chuckles. After Sam came back, he laughed a little more, but it sounded forced, almost manic, like he wasn't sure if he would ever get another chance to do it. God, he's missed this boy.

He breaks the hug and gives the kid a pat on the shoulders. "Go wash up. Assuming I've still got a working bathroom here," he says, remembering the sorry state of the joint. "I'll see if I can't rustle up some clean clothes for you." He fully intends to ask his questions- not all of which are about how and why he came back- but first, the boy needs to take a second to rest and clean himself up.

Adam nods, "Okay." He looks like he doesn't want to go, and truth be told, Bobby's half afraid that the kid will evaporate the second he walks out, but while there are many things he'd do for the Winchesters that he wouldn't normally, watching them bathe is just not one of them.

A couple of minutes later, however, when Adam shouts "Bobby!" from upstairs and he practically breaks down his own door trying to get to the kid, he's starting to wonder if maybe Winchesters need constant supervision to survive.

"What? What's wrong?" Bobby says, bursting into the bathroom, still armed.

The room's only other occupant is Adam, standing at the sink with his shirt off, and looking at the mirror like there's a stranger staring back. "Look," he says, turning around, and that's when Bobby sees it. He'd have yelled too if he saw that on his body—a handprint seared onto his right shoulder, clear as day, looking for the world like a brand. Like someone set their hand on fire and just latched onto him.

"Son of a salamander," Bobby says. "What in the Hell is that?"

Adam is scared and lost, which is pretty much what he's used to from the kid, but what he isn't expecting is the bone-deep weariness in Adam's voice when he replies. "…I don't know."

Bobby insists on a more thorough examination, which Adam resists, until he asks the boy who he thought dressed his wounds and patched him up after that poltergeist in Alabama knocked his ass out cold. No shame in being all precious about body image: there shouldn't be anything there Bobby hasn't already seen. As it turns out, however, what's not on Adam is every bit as disturbing as what is. His body is brand spankin' new, practically straight off the assembly line. All of his scars—scars Bobby watched him get, scars Dean gave him, scars from long before grudge-bearing ghouls ate his life—are gone, like they were never there at all. Adam's nose, formerly slightly crooked from several breaks, is now straight as an arrow, and the fingers on his left hand, which healed wrong after Dean slammed them in the door of the Impala, bend right and work perfectly. It's not just injuries, either—the sunken-eyed, hollowed out look Adam wore the last time Bobby saw him (alive) is gone. No bags underneath his eyes from way too little sleep and even less rest, no moon-tan from spending all his time stalking things at night and never catching any sunlight. Hell, Bobby will never say this to his face, because there's no way to do it that won't make him sound like a crusty old pervert, but even the kid's skin feels like new, soft as a baby's. Adam is the literal picture of health, brimming, practically humming with life.

After a shower (which still works, thank God), Adam dresses in some of Dean's old clothes that were left at the house (though Bobby doesn't tell him whose they were) and the two of them clean off the furniture in Bobby's ruined living room for a little chat. "So," Bobby starts. "Let's start big and work our way down; how in the Hell are you here?"

Adam shakes his head. "I don't know."

"Well, what do you remember?"

"I was just…" He trails off, swallows, continues. He's hiding something, but Bobby'll let it slide for now. "I woke up underground. I tried calling for help, but my throat was... like, desert dry. Couldn't figure out where I was or why, so I pretty much went into blind-panic mode and somehow dug myself out. Saw your house, and came in."

"D'you know what happened to the trees? Or my windows?" Bobby asks.

Adam thinks for a second. "…I don't know exactly, but I know something. When I popped out of the ground, the trees were already down. It looked like something exploded. The windows… that happened a little later. I was there for that part, and I still don't know what the Hell happened."

Bobby shrugs. "Well, let's see if we can figure it out. Describe it for me."

Adam looks out the window. "First, the dogs went crazy. Started barking like lunatics, then bolted as fast as they could." He then looks around the living room until he spots the TV, and nods at it. "Then, the TV came on as soon as I walked in. Tried to turn it off, but it just came right back on. Pretty much everything else in the house turned on, too. Radio, computers. There was this… noise, like some kind of really high-pitched whine. It started off quiet, but it got louder and louder. Hurt like Hell to listen to; I had my ears covered and I still thought my head was gonna pop. That's what happened to the windows, and pretty much anything else with glass in it; it just kind of… burst." Adam makes a little 'blown-apart' motion with his hands. "And then it just… stopped. When I was pretty sure it was over, I got up, went into the kitchen, and that's where you found me."

Bobby has been racking his brain for anything that behaves like this the whole time Adam's been speaking, but he's come up dry. "Well, I'm drawing a blank here. That doesn't sound like anything I've ever seen or heard of. Something that brings people back from the dead, knocks down forests, likes to play with electronics and break your china… it all seems so damn random. There's gotta be something to tie it all together…"

Adam's eyes are downcast. "Why would anything want to bring me back?"

Bobby doesn't miss the emphasis on me, but he lets that slide as well. They need to stay on track. Anything that can wreak this kind of destruction, let alone bring dead people back to life… it's something to be reckoned with, and Bobby Singer tries his damnedest not to reckon with anything without learning as much as he can about it first. It's how he's lived this long. "Do you think…" he says, thinking out loud, but suddenly realizing he doesn't quite know how to approach this subject. "…you think maybe Sam did something?"

Adam snaps to attention immediately, and for the first time, Bobby can't quite tell what's going on behind the boy's eyes when he looks at him. "Sam? Do you think he would… is he… I mean… was he okay after… after…" Bobby leans forward. No sense in beating around the bush.

"After you killed yourself, you mean?" he says simply. Adam looks at Bobby, horrified, and quickly looks back down at glass-covered carpet. "Did you think I didn't know? I buried you, son. Came and got your body, brought you here, burned you and put you in the ground out back. A point-blank gunshot wound to the head's not something you miss." Adam hangs his head even lower, like he's trying to curl up into a ball and just disappear. "Adam?" Adam doesn't move. Bobby keeps his voice gentle, but firm. "Boy, look at me when I'm talking to you." His head comes back up at this, probably some small part of him still used to following Bobby's orders. "It's okay, son. We don't have to talk about it right now. We will, you mark my words on that, but not now."

Adam looks just a little reassured, though the haunted, thousand-yard stare still hasn't left his eyes completely. "Okay," he nods.

Bobby goes right on. "To answer your question, I don't really know. Last time we talked was him calling me on some Fed's phone and telling me where to find your body. He said he'd be out of my hair forever after that, and so far, he's held to it. No calls, no nothing. Hell, for a while, I thought he'd gone and followed you out. Finally visited a psychic a few weeks ago just to figure out whether or not he was still alive. He was, she said, but she couldn't get a bead on him long enough to tell me where. That's all I know." Well, not exactly all. There are rumors starting to circulate among the various hunter groups… but they're nothing but garbage, which Bobby will not dignify by repeating. Besides, he's just gotten a half-decent idea. "Actually, she might be the one to help us."

"The psychic?" Adam asks, clearly skeptical.

Bobby shrugs. "Worth a shot. It's either her, or you and me sit in this house and read every one of these books," Bobby indicates the books on the bookcases, on the TV, on the counters, on the couch, on the floor, "back-to-front until we find something useful."

Adam gives a visible gulp. "Psychic it is, then."

Bobby gets up. "Alright then. It's a road trip. I'll send her a message, let her know we're…" Bobby's eyes land on his computer, and he realizes for the first time that the monitor's blown out. "…coming." He looks at Adam. "Son, believe me, I am thrilled to death that you're back, but fair warning; if you croak again, I'm burying you in Canada."

This earns him another genuine laugh, and Bobby decides then and there that he when he finds out what brought this boy back, he's going to find it and personally thank it.

Even if he has to kill it right afterwards.

The drive to Illinois is long, and saying Adam acts a little weird during the trip is like saying Hell is a little hot. Bobby tries to get him to talk, but the kid just gives him one-word answers and stares out the window with that look that seems to pop up on his face more and more. The far-off gaze that he wears… Bobby is surprised that it's taken so long for him to recognize it. He's definitely seen it before: on the faces of Vietnam Vets who watched their buddies get blown to pieces, on civilians who were held hostage by some evil creature, on kids who've seen their parents burned alive. It's the look of a person who's seen horror he can't put into words. A person who, no matter how far or how long they run, can never seem to leave that place, that moment. No matter what they do, their mind always goes back there, and that look is what they wear when they go. Adam is stuck somewhere deep inside his own brain, and Bobby is powerless to dig him out. No kid as young as Adam should wear that look. Hell, no one, of any age, should have to look like that.

Bobby is about to try to breach the boy's walls again, when suddenly, Adam speaks all by himself. "Did we ever find Dean's body?"

"No," Bobby says. Where in the blue blazes did THAT come from? "Why?"

Adam just shrugs. Before Bobby can inquire further, Adam suddenly reaches over and rolls down his window, sticking his hand out into air. His face changes, and while it's not exactly a happy face, it's definitely an improvement over that look. There is something almost like wonder in the boy's eyes as he flexes his fingers in breeze and feels the wind on his face that tells Bobby it would be wrong to interrupt him.

It's not until they arrive at Pamela's place that Bobby notices the change in the way Adam carries himself. His hands are in his jacket pockets, and he's folded over and defensive, like he's got a full-body bruise and he's trying to hide it, and if Bobby hadn't checked him for injuries already, he'd be doing it now. Every part of his posture screams prey, which is definitely bad, seeing as they're about to walk into the house of a very predatory woman.

"You are a cutie," Pam says when she first rakes eyes over the boy. "Adam Winchester, I presume?" She's already giving him her Hungry Like the Wolf stare. Oh Lord.

Adam looks like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming freight train. Which, if Bobby has to use a metaphor, would just about describe Pam perfectly. "Uhhh, yeah," he finally says, sticking out his hand for her to shake. "Nice to meet you. And you are?"

She looks slightly impressed. "Well, well! A Hunter with manners… don't get to see too many of those. Pamela Barnes," she says, taking his hand. "You can call me Pam."

"Pam here is the best damn psychic in the state," Bobby says, feeling the need to jump between them, figuratively if not physically.

Pam nods. "Damn straight, I am. And you," she says, poking Adam in the chest, "are quite the rare individual. Back from the dead is one thing. Back from the dead, good as new, after three months? That's a whole new ball game. Come on in." Bobby thinks he hears a little gasp from the boy at three months, but he can't be sure.

As they head inside, Adam looks around like he half-expects there to be a trap hidden somewhere. "So, ah, how exactly are we gonna do this? I don't really know how this stuff works… I mean, it's my first time." Oh, Christ. Pam picks up on that instantly and Bobby can only shake his head. Kid walked right into this.

"Well, did you bring protection?" she asks with a smirk.

She is devouring him with her eyes and Adam is in so far over his head that he probably can't even see daylight. "What?" he says, looking like he blew a fuse in his brain.

"Oh, you poor thing. Well, I keep a few spares in the drawer just in case. Pam'll take good care of you, sweetheart, don't you worry." She gives him a wink and heads over to a small side table, pulling out a drawer.

Bobby considers telling Adam his eyes'll fall out if he lets them bulge any wider, but Pam beats him to the punch and pulls a small bracelet from the drawer, tossing it at him. He catches it easily, and looks at it like it's a talking alien skull.

"Protection charm. It'll keep you from getting possessed during the ritual," she smiles at him. When the look on his face doesn't change, she adds. "What'd you think I was talking about?"

The kid's head twists around to look at her so fast that Bobby's half-afraid he pulled something. "I… ummm… I wasn't… I didn't…"

She doesn't wait for him to finish, heading downstairs with a shit-eating grin that tells Bobby she is having way too much fun with this. "Come on; let's get this show on the road."

Adam watches her go, his gaze lingering on certain parts of her, and Bobby has had enough. "Don't even think about it," he says. "You're seventeen. It's not happening, son."

Adam changes colors suddenly. "I ahhh… what? What? No. No-oo…" he shakes his head, giving an exaggerated laugh. "I was… is that what you think? That I thought? You're crazy. You crazy… Bobby, you, I… no. I'm… no. No." He coughs. "No."

Bobby just rolls his eyes and heads downstairs. He should've taken the kid to Missouri. Even her overzealous Mother Hen act would've been less of a headache than this…

Two hours later, and Bobby's headache is about a hundred times bigger. That was a Kentucky-fried disaster. They're no closer to figuring out what the Hell they are dealing with than before, and now they're down one psychic (who herself is down two working eyeballs), and Adam hasn't spoken a single goddamn word since it happened. Kid was at Pam's side in a second when it all went downhill, but they wouldn't let him ride in the ambulance with her, and the second she was out of sight, Adam went into thousand-yard stare mode and hadn't even peeked out since. The two of them are sitting in the Waiting Room, doing what the sign says and waiting for news.

"Adam?" Bobby tries one more time to get the kid's attention.

Adam just shakes his head slowly, staring at a point on the ground in front of him. Bobby is about to try and poke him when his ears just barely catch him muttering something. "…stop hurting peopleI can't…"

"What was that?" Bobby asks, and Adam's eyes finally bounce up to meet him.

"Huh?" he asks. Bobby quirks an eyebrow.

"You said something, son. What was it?" He watches Adam carefully.

The boy shakes his head, brows furrowed. "No, I didn't." He seems honestly confused. Did he not even know he was talking?

"Adam, you said—"

"Family of Pamela Barnes?" a nurse says, and Adam shoots up from the chair instantly, the conversation forgotten. Bobby just sighs and files the conversation away for later. Unfortunately, his 'later' list is getting longer by the minute, and he's afraid he's going to have to tie the kid to a chair to force him to talk before it's over with.

Yeah, that'll go over real well.

Pamela will be fine, but she has absolutely no desire to see (or, you know, hear) them. Bobby can't really blame her, but he wishes he could've at least gotten her to convince Adam that it wasn't his fault that this Castiel or whatever burned her eyes out. Bobby himself is certainly making no progress on that front. The two of them are on their way to the car, and Bobby is talking to Adam. By which he means he's talking to himself. "I mean it, son. There's no way we could've known that would happen. Hell, the damn thing itself tried to warn her off."

"Yeah," Adam nods, in that special I'm not really listening way that all teenagers somehow know how to do, and Bobby has had just about enough.

"She had a great rack, though. Perky nipples and big, soft mounds, perfect for squeezin'. Sometimes when we were rollin' around in the sack, I'd smack'em just to watch 'em jiggle."

"Yeah," he nods again.

Oh, the Hell with it. He's been tip-toeing around the boy, afraid to push him too hard for fear of breaking him, but sometimes being too soft is just as bad. He makes sure to carefully measure out the force beforehand, and then, with just the right amount of loving gentleness… smacks Adam in the back of the head.

"Ow!" the kid says, successfully startled out of zombie mode. "What was that for?"

"Just making sure you're still alive," Bobby shrugs. "Brain hasn't started to rot or anything, has it?"

"No," Adam says, looking a little surly.

"Good. Now pay attention to me when I'm talking to you. You know: reassure an old man that you're not decomposing right in front of him or anything."

Adam doesn't quite laugh, but he manages an honest grin and Bobby calls it progress. "Sorry. Guess I have been zoning out, huh?"

Bobby sees an opportunity and jumps on it. "Want to tell me where you go when you're gone?"

Adam closes his eyes, shakes his head. "Not yet."

'Yet' is good. The kid might not mean it, but it's an implicit promise he can bring up later, if necessary. "That's fine. It's been a long-ass day for both of us. I'm sure coming back from the dead takes a lot out of a guy, so what do you say we find a decent hotel and settle down for the night?"

Adam gives a sardonic laugh at a joke Bobby does not yet understand. "Right about now… that sounds like Heaven."

Hunters are light sleepers by necessity. You sleep too deep, you sleep forever. The things they hunt are not known for playing fair; in fact, most of them prefer the exact opposite. So you learn to keep a knife under your pillow, a shotgun under your mattress, and one part of your brain always on the lookout for things that go bump in the night. That's why Bobby stirs and awakens at 3AM before he even knows what's wrong. His lookout is poking him in the back of the skull, and even if nothing seems wrong at first glance, Bobby trusts his instincts.

And, of course, his instincts are spot-on. The TV in their dinky, faded red hotel room switches on all of a sudden. A quick glance over to Adam's bed confirms that it wasn't the kid, because the kid isn't there. "Adam?" Bobby says, his voice a little scratchy from sleep.

"Yeah?" Adam says, emerging from the bathroom.

Bobby nods at the TV. "Did you do that?"

Even in the low light coming from the bathroom, Bobby can see Adam's color drop right off of him. "No." The TV's signal is fuzzy and mostly static. "Maybe you rolled over on the remote?" Adam asks.

The clock radio on the bedside table starts spitting out its own flavor of fuzz. "Ain't no remote for that," Bobby says, getting out of bed. "This what happened last time?"

"Oh yeah," Adam says emphatically as he tosses the few things he has into his own knapsack. A low-volume screech is starting to barge its way in through the rest of the noise, and the glass is already rattling. Their room is one of the outer ones, with a great view of the city outside through giant windows. Oh, and mirrors over the beds, too. Goddamn it, who designs this shit?

"Think we can get out before it gets bad?" Bobby asks, already done packing and pulling on his boots.

Adam is gazing in pained awe up at the ceiling. "No," he says, almost too quiet to hear over the rapidly growing volume of the whine. Right on cue, the bathroom mirror blows itself apart with a loud crash. Well, shit.

"Get down!" Bobby shouts, grabbing his mattress and pulling it off his bed. When he sees the Adam isn't following orders (still staring at the ceiling), he runs over and grabs him, pulling him down onto the floor and covering both of them with the mattress. Then he shoves his hand over his ears and tries his damnedest to block out that godawful noise that—well, Adam said it best—makes his head feel like it's gonna bust right open. He can see out of the corner of his eye that the rest of the glass in the room is bursting and shards are flying all over the place, a regular indoor hailstorm as they clatter and clash and fall to the carpet. A quick glance at Adam shows the kid's face clenched in pain as he tries to fold his head into his shirt, using whatever he can to block out more of the racket.

And just like that, the whole damn thing just stops. Well, except the ringing in his ears. That'll probably hang around for days. "You alright?" he says to Adam, or at least, he thinks he says it. Can't quite hear his own voice yet.

Fortunately, Adam is looking at Bobby when he says it, and gets the right idea. "Yeah," he mouths, or maybe says, and yep, they're both pretty much deaf for the time being. The kid starts to look around, but Bobby grabs his shoulder to keep his attention.

"Let's get out of here," Bobby says when Adam's eyes are on him again, and Adam nods. Their bags are covered in glass, but the shit inside is protected, so it doesn't take long for them to shake it off and head to the car. Fortunately, the phenomenon seems mostly contained to the hotel. There's only a small crack in the windshield of Bobby's Chevelle, which he can live with right now. As Bobby tosses their packs into the backseat, he notices Adam staring at the hotel, and resolves to try and get the kid's head back in the game; all this staring off into space will get him killed sooner or later. He's about to call him over again when Adam turns, quick as lightning, and walks to the car on his own.

"Bobby," he says with purpose as he closes his door (oh, good, the ears are working again). "You remember the name of that town where Dean left all his stuff?"

Dean again? Bobby tries to remember. "Think it was… Oak Park, Illinois."

Adam's eyes widen just a touch. "That's not too far from here, is it? Can we go?"

Bobby is baffled. "Well, yeah, we can, I just can't think of why we would."

"Please," Adam says, using those big eyes of his as a weapon of mass guilt-tripping. Damn Sam for helping him perfect that little trick. "I just… I want to see something."

Bobby sighs. "Son, you're hiding things from me, I know you are. Now, I want to help you, but I can't do it if you're not gonna be straight with me."

The guilt bounces right off Bobby and lands on Adam. "I will, I promise, just… do this one thing for me. After this, I'll tell you…" He takes an awkward breath. "…whatever you want to know."

Bobby gives him a long, hard look. "Alright, but I'm holding you to that, by force if necessary." With that, he puts the car in gear, and they ride off into the early morning darkness.

They arrive in Oak Park, pulling into Oak Acres Motel parking lot. Bobby intends to get a room, but the second the car stops, Adam is out and way ahead of him. By the time Bobby catches up, Adam is in the Motel's front office, reading a copy of the Park Purview, the local paper. His eyes go wide, and the paper falls from his hands. "I knew it," he says, backing away from the paper like it bit him and gave him rabies.

Bobby just bends down to pick it up and… nearly falls on his side. There on the front page is a black and white photo of what used to be a stretch of forest. The trees are knocked down. All of them, and they are all facing outwards from a central point. The headline reads LOCAL FOREST LEVELED BY COMET. The article says something about a comet exploding in the upper atmosphere, but Bobby knows that's a load of horse shit. And so does Adam.

The fear in his eyes is plain, but there's pain, maybe even sorrow in his voice when he stammers out, "It's Dean. He's… he's alive."

They don't even bother to check into the motel. Tracking down Dean is now Bobby's number one priority—even after the damn fool sank to just about the lowest point a man can sink, Bobby still had a soft spot for him. He never closed the door on that boy, not completely; no way in Hell would Bobby let him near Adam until Adam was ready, but Bobby told him that if he got clean and sober, enrolled in AA and sent him proof that he was sticking with the program, he might try and talk to the boy on Dean's behalf. But your average Winchester is about as patient as a Jack Russell terrier, so Dean went and sold himself to Hell to bring Sam back before Bobby ever got a chance to make up with him. As damned impossible and miserable as they were, the Winchester boys were the closest thing to sons he'd ever had. He loves that boy, and he is going to track him down and beat that truth into his skull if he needs to.

First, however, there are a few things he needs to get straight with Adam. He waits until the boy gets into the car to spring the trap. Adam is already talking as they pull out of the parking lot. "So, I figure if… Castiel or whatever brought Dean back too, the same stuff should be happening to him. We just need to follow the trail of broken windows to—"

"Son, it's time," Bobby says. "I've kept my mouth shut, but I've had my fill of secrets for the day. You knew to look here, didn't you? You knew Dean came back the same way."

Adam looks slightly betrayed, but he surrenders quickly, closing his eyes and bowing his head. "I didn't… know, not for sure. I just… I thought he might…"

"How? What made you think Dean would be here?" Bobby presses on.

Adam gulps. "I was…" He shrinks, right before Bobby's eyes. "I was with him. He was the last thing I saw before… before I came back."

It takes a second to sink in. Adam just dropped a whole truckload of revelations into Bobby's lap with barely a sentence. He feels bile rising in his throat. "Adam… Dean sold his soul. Dean was in Hell." He hopes against hope that this boy is not saying what Bobby thinks he's saying.

But his hope is for nothing. Adam nods, still unable to look Bobby in the eye. "So was I."

Bobby fights to keep the car on the road. It was a fucking terrible idea to do this in the car. He can't believe he was so concerned with Adam trying to bail on him. "But that doesn't make any damn sense!" Bobby shouts, unable to contain his anger at… well, the world at large, really. "You didn't—"

"I killed myself," Adam says flatly, "like a coward." He shrugs, like none of this matters. Like he doesn't matter. "Cowards go to Hell."

That tears it.

Bobby pulls the car off to the side so fast and hard that the tires squeal. Tracks go on for yards, and there is a thick cloud of dust behind them when they stop. Bobby's knuckles are white from trying to choke out the steering wheel, and Adam looks like he is about to shit a schoolhouse worth of bricks. Bobby lets silence reign for a few seconds. "You watch your mouth," he says as he turns to Adam, his voice that special kind of deadly calm. "That's my boy you're talking about."

"What?" Adam is completely off-balance, which is exactly what Bobby was going for. Score one for the old man.

"You Winchesters beat yourselves up and knock yourselves out and toss yourselves into Hell, and you think none of it matters, just 'cause you do it to yourself! Well, son, let me tell you something. I hurt for what you went through, I do, but when you put that gun to your head and pulled the trigger, you killed somebody I love. Somebody who was like a son to me. When that thing came by my house and broke all my glass, I don't guess you smelled all the liquor that spilled on my carpet, did you? I've been drinking myself into an early grave grieving for you and your damn brothers, and now that you're back topside, you want to sit there and tell me that I spent all that time toasting a coward? I don't train cowards, son. Believe me; I've seen plenty, and I can spot 'em at a glance. You are not a coward," Bobby says, his voice powerful and unyielding like a hundred year old redwood. "Say it," he orders.

Adam is looking down. "'m not a coward."

Bobby reaches over and gently squeezes the boy's shoulder. "Look me in the eye and say it like you mean it," he insists.

Adam takes a breath and looks up at Bobby. There are just a few tear tracks on his face, but he sounds surer when he repeats, "I'm not a coward."

Bobby nods. "Good. Now, you tell me when you're hurting, and why. You tell me if you're afraid, or pissed, or tired, or whatever, and I'll do my damnedest to help. But don't you ever let me hear you badmouthing yourself again. I mean it. Nobody talks about my family like that and gets away with it, you hear?"

Adam maintains eye contact. "Yes, sir."

"Alright then," Bobby says, nodding as he puts the car in gear and pulls slowly back onto the road. "So," he continues. "They got you on a technicality. Tough break, but you're out now. And you're not gonna make that mistake again, are you?"

Adam shakes his head, his eyes on the road now. "No, sir."

"Good," Bobby nods, letting a little smile leak onto his face. "Now, let's track down your idjit brother and figure out what's been going around plucking you boys out of the ground like daisies."

Adam snorts out a laugh. "I'm no daisy. I'm totally a dandelion; cut me down, I just pop right up again."

"Heh," Bobby chuckles. The kid's got a point. Winchesters are like weeds—they grow on you.

Turns out, Adam's got the right idea. Bobby weasels the police in Oak Park into giving him a stolen car report from the day before, and sure enough, a couple of towns to the South, there's a news story on some kind of high frequency burst or some shit that broke damn near every glass window in the downtown area. Bobby's got a picture of Dean in his wallet, one of the few he ever willingly posed for (it helped that he was a little drunk at the time). Their description of the car combined with the mugshot points them West, and after about an hour's drive, Adam spots the stolen car next to an old barn. Dean is inside, asleep on a pile of hay, and Bobby just about breaks down when he sees him, looking dirty (though not as bad as Adam) and healthy and alive. Bobby starts to walk in, but Adam hangs back by the door, shaking his head.

"I can't," he says, ashamed, and Bobby has no choice but to remember the bruised, bleeding, beaten-down shadow of a boy he saved from Dean not so long ago. Damn it… it's easy to defend your family against outsiders, but nobody ever tells you how to save your family from each other. Why does this have to be so damn complicated?

"It's okay, son," he says, giving a light squeeze to Adam's shoulder. "You don't have to come in with me. You don't even have to talk to him if you don't want to, but I'm gonna warn you now: he's probably coming back with us. We've got to figure this out and we need all the help we can get to do it. Okay?"

Adam gives an unsteady nod.

Bobby walks in, and suddenly, he's at a loss for just how the Hell he's supposed to approach this. It's been a long time, and they didn't really part on the best of terms. Hell, he and Dean basically parted ways the same he and John did—at opposite ends of a shotgun. But there's no use overthinking things; with Dean, the direct approach is usually best. He grabs an old broom handle from a corner of the room, walks right up to Dean and starts poking him in the ribs with it. "Alright, Sleeping Beauty, naptime's over. Time to get up and go to work."

Dean makes a drowsy attempt to bat the broom handle away. "Five more minutes," he groans, and rolls over. Bobby notices when his breathing transitions from sleep mode to fully awake, and as soon as it does, Dean goes from horizontal to vertical in world-record time. Bobby's actually kind of impressed. Dean has his hands out towards Bobby, and even though he's unarmed, Bobby knows for a fact that the list of situations where Dean Winchester is not dangerous is very short and unarmed is not on it.

"This is a dream," is the first thing he says.

Bobby shrugs and whacks him in the ankle with the broom handle.


"Your dreams usually hurt?" Bobby asks.

"Not like that," Dean says, shaking out his foot. "Okay, fine, you're a-"

"Shapeshifter, demon, spirit, ghoul. No, no, no, and no," Bobby says, pulling out each of his sidearms. "Holy Saltwater," he says, splashing a bit on his face, "Silver knife," he says, nicking his finger on it, "Iron rounds," he says, pulling an iron round from his gun, popping it in his mouth, swishing it around and spitting it out. "Satisfied?"

"Thatithfied?" Dean mocks. "No," he says, "because you can't be Bobby."

"And why is that?"

"Because Bobby hates my guts, and would've been poking me much harder with something a lot sharper than that," Dean spits. Bobby sighs, shaking his head. Sam may have been the only one who really tried acting, but Dean could be a real drama queen when he felt like it.

"Is that really what you think, son? I don't hate you. I never did. I hated what you did, to that boy, and to yourself, but I never hated you. I told you what you needed to do to get back in my door. You're the one who decided you'd go to Hell before you went to an AA meeting. Literally," Bobby adds, and wonders if it's in poor taste. Then again, jokes in poor taste are pretty much Dean's modus operandi, so he hopefully won't take too much offense.

Dean's posture eases up just a little bit, but Bobby can tell he's still in combat mode. "Alright, fine. So you can read minds, big deal. You're forgetting one thing… even if Bobby did forgive me, he's got no reason to be here. Bobby's not exactly the type to go joyriding on a Friday afternoon, looking for dashing young layabouts in barns."

Bobby gives a little chuckle. "Son, you might've noticed when you came back from the dead; whatever brought you up wasn't exactly quiet about it."

Dean huffs a little, but doesn't smile. "Understatement. Of. The Year." He gives a rapid shake of his head, like he's still trying to clear the noise out of his ears, but recovers quickly, a challenge in his eyes. "Oh, you're good. I'll give you that. But you're forgetting the most important, basic thing of all," Dean says, holding up a finger. "The real Bobby would never trust his eyes like this. He'd be making me take every test in the book. I'd be soaking in Holy Water, wrapped in iron chains, wearing silver earrings and sucking on salt cubes before he'd even think about talking to me like this."

Bobby raises his eyebrows and shrugs. "Well, when you've got a point, you've got a point. Truth be told, the reason I'm talking to you like this is standing right over there," he gestures towards the barn doors, "and probably thinks that I don't know he's eavesdropping on us." Bobby hears a thud from the door and allows himself a drop of sadistic satisfaction. Did Adam think he was being subtle? He'd need to try a lot harder than that to listen in on Bobby Singer without giving himself away.

Dean made sure to keep Bobby in his line of sight as he moves to look out the slightly open doors. Bobby catches his face the moment the recognition dawns on it, and jumps in before Dean can say anything. "He's not ready to talk yet," Bobby warns him, "but it was his idea to look for you. Me and him, we already did the human-monster shuffle, so I figured we'd skip out on a repeat performance."

Dean isn't even looking at him. He's staring out the doors at the spot where Adam is undoubtedly no longer standing. He looks half-nervous, half-nauseous, half-sad, and half-scared. Amazing how he pulls that off. "…it was his idea?" Dean says, like out of everything they've been through in the past couple of days, that's the most unbelievable.

"Yup. I wouldn't have even known to look if it wasn't for him," Bobby says. "But like I said—he's not ready yet, so no talking until he says otherwise, you got it?"

"Yeah," Dean replies, finally turning back to Bobby. "Tell the truth, I don't think I'm ready, either," he says, and damn it. Dean goes into thousand-yard stare mode and Bobby is almost literally floored by how alike Adam and Dean look. Dean and Sam share a lot of features if you look hard enough, but nobody could see Adam and Dean and not think brothers.

Bobby can tell that Dean is now fully out of fight-or-flight mode. He drops the broom handle and moves towards him, and Dean snaps back to attention. "It's really you," Dean says, barely above a whisper, like he's honestly afraid he'll wake up if he speaks too loud.

"It is," Bobby replies, doing his best to reassure his surrogate son, his lost boy.

"It's really him," Dean says, nodding towards the door where his broken brother waits for them.

"That too," Bobby nods.

"I'm really out," Dean breathes, looking on the verge of tears. He got the same new-meat treatment as Adam—the dirt on his face makes it a little harder to see, but years of hard living and getting his ass kicked have been washed off of Dean like mud off his car. Bobby knows that Dean usually objects to this kind of stuff, and truth be told, Bobby is still just a little pissed at the boy for doing what he did… but Dean looks so much like a little boy at that moment that Bobby can't help but reach out and pull him into a hug.

"Welcome back, son," Bobby says.

Deans closed fists embed themselves into his back (it's how men hug, according to him). "Good to be back, Bobby."

Dean and Adam do not look at each other. Ever. Adam is already in the passenger's seat when Bobby comes out, steadfastly admiring the Chevelle's leather interior. Dean slides into the backseat in the opposite corner of the car, and the two practically fall out of the doors from trying to inch away from each other. Bobby can't make sense of it—he figured Adam would react like this to Dean, but he never would've guessed that Dean would be trying to escape from Adam. If anything, he'd expected the opposite—begging, pleading, apologizing— and this was weirding him right out.

The silence during the trip is so damn thick that Bobby feels like he needs an oxygen mask to help him breathe through it. He breaks the silence by tossing his cell to Dean. "Hit redial. It'll connect you to the police station in Oak Park. You might wanna tell 'em where they can find that car you stole."

Dean has the good sense to look chastised. "Oh, yeah. Thanks for reminding me."

More silence, while Dean has a short conversation with the police.

Then, more of more silence.

"We've been trying to figure out exactly what the Hell brought you boys back, and why," Bobby says, sick of the tension in the air. This was a dumb idea. Why didn't he make Dean take his own car?

Oh, right, because that car was stolen, and somebody was probably having fits trying to find it.

"Any luck on that front?" Dean asks, still looking out the window with his face practically pressed against the glass.

"Nope," Bobby says, and Dean hmms in thought.

"You think maybe Sammy did something?" Dean asks. Adam's posture folds in a little more.

"Wouldn't know. Me and Sam haven't talked since Adam… well, you know. Lord knows I've tried, but I can't find him," Bobby recaps for Dean, again deciding to leave out the unsavory rumors that people have been forwarding him. Dean has nothing else to say after that, and the cloud of silence settles over them again.

Bobby is thinking about starting a sing-a-long when Adam surprises them all by joining the non-conversation. "Well, we did learn one thing."

Dean glances over at Adam for just a second. Adam still isn't looking at Dean. "Yeah? What'd you find out?"

"Whatever brought us back, it has a name," Adam says. "Castiel."

"Castiel?" Dean says. "Huh. Sounds like a car. A hybrid," he adds in disgust. Out of the corner of his eye, Bobby catches Adam starting to grin against his will. "How'd you figure that out?" Dean continues, and the smile vanishes instantly.

Adam gulps. "Psychic helped us. Got her eyes burned out for her trouble."

Dean winces. "Damn."

Adam nods. "Yeah."

Bobby is as stoic as a stone slab, but underneath, he's thrilled to see them talking to each other. He's worried that the conversation will end here, but Dean keeps it going. He looks pensive for a second. "So, uhh… you ever felt like the world is going to pieces around you? Like, literally?"

"Oh yeah," Adam nods emphatically, catching Dean's meaning.

"You boys are helping me put the windows back in my house, by the way," Bobby feels compelled to add. "Fair warning."

Adam's hesitant grin makes its second appearance. "It leave its mark on you, too?" he asks Dean, looking back at his older brother for the first time.

Dean doesn't say anything, just shrugs out of his jacket and rolls up the sleeve on his left arm. Bobby can see through the rearview mirror that there is a clear handprint there.

Adam does the same for his right arm. "This is so weird," he says. "What the Hell does this mean?"

Dean shrugs. "That we can't wear tank-tops in public, or everyone'll assume we're a gay couple?"

Adam rolls his eyes. "Besides the obvious."

"No idea," Dean shrugs, putting his jacket back on.

Watching them suddenly makes Bobby realize something. "That's the only difference," he says.

"What?" they say in unison, and okay, that was a little strange. Bobby's used to those freaky sibling ESP moments from Sam and Dean, but Dean and Adam were about as far out of sync as people could be, last time he checked.

Bobby continues, shrugging it off. "All the other signs are the same. The leveled trees, that godawful racket, the windows blowing out… that handprint's the only thing that you don't have in common."

"But we both have it," Dean says, not quite getting it.

"On different arms," Bobby clarifies.

"Huh," Adam says, rubbing his arm, feeling the handprint through his sleeve. "So… again; what the Hell does this mean?"

Bobby thinks a bit longer. "…yeah, I've still got nothing."

They fall back into silence again. Adam keeps on running his hand over his sleeve at the brand, lost in thought. Bobby focuses on the road.

Dean goes back to staring out the window. The next time the silence is broken, he is the one who does it. "Names have power, don't they? If we have its name, we can summon it."

Bobby wishes Dean wasn't sitting behind him so he could smack him upside the head. "Are you out of your mind? The last time we tried to draw a bead on this thing, some poor woman's eyes flamed out of her skull."

"Maybe so, but we've gotta figure this out," Dean insists. "I'm guessing this thing is what's causing all the blowouts, and I'm sure the local glass companies appreciate the business, but my ears don't."

"That sounds like a damn good reason not to summon it," Bobby reasons.

Adam shakes his head. "No, I think Dean's right. This thing is coming after us, and it doesn't look like it's giving up. So let's go after it. Do this on our terms."

"High noon, baby," Dean says. Bobby can't believe these two.

"We have no idea what the Hell we're dealing with. It could be a demon—it could be anything."

"Only one way to find out," Dean grins, and it's been so long since Bobby's seen sly, smug little smile of his that he momentarily forgets what a spectacularly shitty idea this is.

Bobby sighs. "I guess we could try it."

"We need to figure it out somehow. I don't anybody else to get hurt because of me." Adam says, looking Bobby in the eye. "Besides," he reasons. "It probably won't hurt us. I mean, why would it bring us back to life just to kill us again?"

Bobby meets Dean's gaze through the mirror. Most of the monsters he knows of would have no qualms about doing just that if they had that kind of power. Not everything needs a reason to fuck with you. Kid's still got a lot to learn…

They have most of what they need for the summoning ritual in Bobby's trunk, and it doesn't take them long to gather the rest. There's a lot of advice that'll help you as a Hunter, but when in doubt, always default to Rule Number One: be prepared, at all times, for anything. Bobby prides himself on following that rule to the T. They find another abandoned barn (and he thinks it's sad that there are so many in such poor shape; back in his day, farmers were proud, and they'd never let their shit fall into such a sorry state) and it is designated Ground Zero. They get to work preparing the place for what's ahead.

Since they don't exactly know what they are dealing with, Dean suggests they cover every base they can think of. So they spend hours painting every sigil, symbol, sign, and sequence of runes they can list for every faith on the globe. Most of them are binding symbols—if you can't kill something, keeping it in one place for as long as possible is usually the best alternative. Dean and Adam work on opposite sides of the barn, having fallen again into uneasily avoiding each other, and Bobby feels a familiar tension headache starting to build between his eyes.

Then, he gets an idea. Maybe not the best idea, but today seems to be a good time for bad ones to get their moment in the sun. Bobby's people instincts might not be as good as his hunting ones, but he is getting the strangest feeling that there are things that need to happen between these two that he is only getting in the way of. And you don't survive as a hunter by not following your instincts…

"Alright, I think you two can handle this," he says, stepping back and putting his paint cans on a work bench. "You got the book if you need a reminder on any of the symbols. I'm gonna start mixing things up for the ritual. You come and get me when you're done here." With that, he walks out of the barn, heads towards the car… and promptly takes a left to sit on a stump and listen to what's happening inside the barn.

What? You didn't really think he would leave them alone together, did you? Bobby's got good instincts, but he never forgets Rule Number One. Be prepared, at all times, for anything. He's hoping for something good, but if he needs to step between them, he wants to be ready to do it as fast as possible. For now, all there is to do is wait.

For a long, long time, there's no sound besides the clanking of spray paint being shaken, and the hiss of the spray on the walls. But Bobby keeps listening, and soon he notices that they're breathing strangely, like they keep opening their mouths to speak, but can't think of anything to say. It's Dean's voice that finally breaks the silence.

"Man…" Dean breathes. "There just… there aren't even words, are there?" Dean sounds so strange here. Bobby can't quite put his finger on it.

"No, there aren't," is Adam's reply, and again, Bobby is unable to make heads or tails of what's going on here. Why does Adam sound like he's ashamed?

"I mean, I'm trying not to think about it, but it's like every time I look at you… the things you did to me…" Dean continues, his voice thick, and Bobby realizes what's wrong here. This is all backwards. It's like the two of them got their lines mixed up. What in the Hell…?

"I know," and now Adam sounds like he's damn-near crying. Bobby almost barges through the wall right then and there to stop this before it gets worse, but he holds back. There is something he is missing here, there has to be. "I'm sorry," Adam says to Dean.

"No, you're not," Dean says simply, his tone not accusatory in the slightest.

"No, Dean, I swear—" Adam tries, but Dean cuts him off.

"You're not. You thought I deserved it. That's why you agreed to take up the knife to begin with. No sense in lying about it; I thought the same thing, I just… I never thought it'd be you who…" he trails off, and Bobby wishes people would finish their goddamn sentences, because he's missing a world of information here and he needs all the help he can get.

"I know," Adam says, his voice still thick, but at least he isn't crying now. "I'm worse than you ever were. Worse than you, worse than Sam… I'm a fuckin' monster." Bobby's heart stutters; he wants an explanation for that so badly it hurts. How could Adam think that about himself? What happened between these two? Adam's voice is quiet, so quiet, when he continues… "Do you… I mean… if you want to even up the score… we could… go back to the way it was. You know. After Sam." A breath. "I wouldn't mind… it's only fair." A sniff. "I deserve it." No. No fuckin' way Bobby just heard this boy say that.

Dean shares Bobby's disbelief. "NO. God, no, kid. Never, ever again. Don't say that. Don't even think that."

Adam sniffs. Dean sighs.

"Adam, I just… this is fucked, you know? And I wish I could blame you for it. Years, and years of things I can't even describe…" Dean trails off, taking a shuddering breath before continuing. "But I can't. I can't do it. I did the same thing to you."

Adam's voice is miserable; the sound of a person utterly defeated. "No, you didn't. It's not the same, Dean. You said it yourself: I had you for years."

"So? God only knows how long I would've let that shit go on if Bobby hadn't stopped me." Dean sounds resolute.

"But you were helpless!" Adam insists. "You were stuck, and there was nothing you could do to get out."

"And you weren't?" Dean asks, unwavering. "You just hung around because you liked getting kicked in the teeth?"

Adam sounds like he's fighting a losing battle to hold everything in. "No. It's not the same."

Dean's voice is gentle. "Looks the same from where I'm standing."

And then, Adam explodes. "It's NOT! You weren't the one who gave up to save your own skin! You didn't become some demon's prized pupil!" Bobby clenches his fists. Every part of his logical and emotional mind tells him to stop this, but his damn instincts keep him rooted to the spot. What's happening here is between Adam and Dean, and Bobby cannot take part in it.

Dean doesn't waver. His voice is purely explanatory, like everything he's saying is simple fact. "No, but I was the one who decided to beat the shit out of a fuckin' 16-year-old every day for kicks. I did that. And I didn't do it to save anyone, not you, not me; I did it because I fucking felt like it. So I guess you're right. It's not the same. You got last licks, but I drew first blood. You were just following big brother's example. If you became any kind of monster, it's because I made you one."

Silence, but for the sound of heavy breathing.

Adam is much calmer when he speaks again. "You can't take the blame for this, Dean. Not all of it. No matter what you did, in the end, it was my hand on that razor. And I have to live with that."

Bobby hears footsteps—Dean is walking towards Adam. He stops next to him. "Maybe. But you don't have to do it alone."

More silence.

"Adam… listen, I know I've said this before. But I'm saying it again; this time, with nobody playing amateur surgeon with my insides or pointing a gun at me… I'm sorry. You didn't deserve that shit. Any of it."

A pause. "Thanks. I am, too, you know." A beat. "Sorry, I mean. I really am. I mean, I thought you deserved it… but, I don't know. Things look different up here." A sigh. "Nobody deserves what I did to people."

Dean sounds like he wants to disagree, but he can't. "Meg was right, I guess. Hell is Hell for everybody. But we're out now. That's all that matters."

"Why us?" Adam asks. "Why did we get brought back?"

"Ten million dollar question, kid. That's what we're here to find out." A slight pause. "Well, that, and why everything around us keeps exploding."

Adam snorts at that comment, and Bobby breathes a sigh of relief. Leave it to Dean to lighten up a dark moment. The boys return to working silently, but Bobby can tell from the clicking and hissing that they're side-by-side now. He is going to have one Hell (har-dee-har-har) of a time trying to piece that conversation together in a way that makes any sense, but it seems to have ended well, and you know what they say about what ends well.

Of course, this is an end, not the end, not yet…

Heading out to the trunk, Bobby fetches the ingredients he said he would, and decides to go mix them inside. The skies overhead are starting to look a little unfriendly. No doubt about it—a storm's coming, and wouldn't you know it, they're gonna be right smack dab in the middle of it…

Adam leans against the weapons table, idly twirling one of the larger iron knives in his hand. "They tell you about the action, the monsters, and the guns… but nobody ever mentions the waiting," he says.

Bobby scoffs. "Well, I am so sorry that we're boring you with all our ancient magic and hunting evil. Would you like us to fetch you a Game Boy to help you pass the time, Your Highness?"

Adam gives Bobby a low-level death glare and opens his mouth to retort, when Dean jumps in.

"You sure you did the ritual right?" he asks.

Bobby gives that dumbass question more of an answer than it merits by glaring at him.

"Sorry," Dean says. "Touchy, touchy…"

And almost like it was waiting for them to finish, the roof starts shaking like a heroin junkie. The three of them grab guns—Bobby and Adam with the rock salt shotguns, Dean with the iron round pistol—and prepare for whatever comes calling.

"Wishful thinking, but maybe it's just the wind," Dean says.

Adam shoots a disbelieving glare at Dean. "You'd rather die in a tornado?"

Dean shrugs. "Hey, at least I'd get to fly first."

The light fixtures overhead explode right on cue, spraying sparks all over the room. The walls seem to groan, and the door buckles inwards before bursting open of its own accord, revealing…

A person. A man in a trenchcoat. Why does everything have to look like people?

It breaches the salt line effortlessly, doesn't even flinch at the devil's trap or any of the other symbols, simply walking towards them with an implacable stride and a glare that Bobby would call anything but friendly. The light fixtures continue to spark violently as it approaches, seeming to burst in time with its steps.

Dean gives the order. "Shoot it!"

Adam hesitates. "It's not doing anything!"

Dean raises his handgun. "Trust me; you don't want to wait until it does!" He fires, and Bobby follows suit. After just a moment of hesitation, Adam shoots as well. It's all pretty much moot, as the thing doesn't stop, doesn't even flinch. Shit. The thing is almost on top of them; the brothers break off to one side, and Bobby goes to the other, readying a crowbar. The thing's attention is focused entirely on its resurrectees, putting Bobby in the perfect position for a surprise attack.

"Who are you?" Dean demands.

The thing speaks with a deep, earthy voice that carries ancient authority even within a human tone. "I'm the one who gripped you tight, and raised you from perdition." Adam stares at the creature in awe.

Dean, on the other hand, just looks pissed. "Yeah?" he says. "Well, thanks for that." With that, Dean jams a hidden silver knife into its shoulder. Or rather, tries to—the blade clangs against the thing like it's made of steel, and the blade bends backwards. Shit. It doesn't look happy about that. With little recourse, Dean tries to punch the thing, but it catches his arm easily and does not let go.

"Dean!" Adam shouts, bringing a machete down on the thing's arm to precisely zero effect.

It drops Dean anyway, however, momentarily pushing him aside to stare at Adam strangely. Its eyes are… well, less hostile. "Be unafraid," it says in what could almost pass for a reassurance. Adam does not follow its orders, and Bobby has just about had enough of this. He swings for the thing's head, aiming to kill, hoping the element of surprise will somehow make it less invincible. But there's no surprise to be had; the thing preternaturally predicts his move and intercepts with zero effort. Its strength is uncanny, and Bobby can't even budge the crowbar once it has a hand on it. The thing looks at Bobby like Bobby might look at a particularly annoying mosquito, and Bobby realizes that even if Adam seems to be right in thinking the thing won't hurt the ones it brought back, that doesn't apply to Bobby.

Well, he's pretty much screwed. Fingers press against his forehead and a strange voice echoes inside his skull. But instead of focusing on the monster that might finally be the end of him, Bobby's eyes wander over to Dean and Adam. He sees them standing side by side, afraid but unflinching in the face of the most powerful thing Bobby has seen in his entire hunting career, armed to the teeth and ready to fight together, flee together, die together. They don't look like teacher and student, they don't look like tormentor and victim… they look like hunters. Like brothers. And if that's the last thing Bobby sees, he can damn well go in peace, because of all the ruined, busted, broken-down wrecks that have come to him over the years, the two of them were one of the few Bobby wasn't sure could be salvaged. And if he helped, even a little, to fix them up and get them back in working order… well, he can chalk up his life as a success and take a rest.

Which is a damn good thing, because suddenly resting sounds like the best damn idea anyone has had in about a hundred years.

"Why? Why us?"

"Because God commanded it. Because we have work for you."