Just a short one. Because I wish they'd showed the bits in between when Castiel disappeared and when they were back at Bobby's...
When Castiel vanished, Dean was caught off guard. His mind had been frantically trying to keep up with the situation unfolding around him, but now there was a sudden, deathly silence, and it was just him, Sam and Bobby frozen like three stunned rabbits in the debris of the blood-spattered room.
For a moment, time stood still. Dean's breaths hitched as they jumped in and out of his lungs. He blinked at Bobby, but the older man's rattled expression offered no answers. In fact, Dean guessed, it probably mirrored his own.
Castiel's final words echoed like a sickening promise. I hope for your sake this is the last you see me. Cold, heartless; no remnants of the angel Dean had thought of as a friend for so long. Castiel was now supposedly God. The seriousness of what had just happened was well beyond anything Dean felt capable of dealing with right now.
He blinked rapidly, desperate to get a grip on himself. He needed to take control of his emotions. He was running on adrenaline and any moment he was going to come crashing down. He had no idea what the hell they were supposed to do with the cards they had just been dealt. The realisation that they may have been backed into a very tight corner threatened to overwhelm him, and he frantically batted it away. He had more urgent things to think about right now.
His gaze shot to Sam.
Dean had been beside himself with worry for his little brother since Castiel had brought down the wall in Sam's mind. Sam had been unconscious for over twenty-four hours, and Dean still couldn't work out how on earth he'd made it here – and was still upright for that matter. Sam had a well of strength within him that surprised Dean from time to time. It was admirable. However now Sam's demeanour and near transparent complexion had Dean's concern kicking into overdrive. "Sam, you okay?"
The youngest Winchester swayed where he stood. He turned to face Dean, and Dean's eyes snagged on the trickle of blood snaking its way from Sam's nose to his top lip, catching the dim light. Sam's expression hinted that he was about to say something in reply and he opened his mouth briefly, but his knees defied him, buckling and sending him to the ground.
Dean was fast, but not fast enough to prevent Sam from landing on his hands and knees in the mess of splintered glass peppered across the floor. He grabbed his brother around the shoulders and tried to support him. "Sam-!"
Sam's eyes were wild and unseeing as he turned over his left palm to reveal an angry gash from a large shard of glass. He gulped in jerky breaths as blood welled and spilled onto the floor, and Dean cursed as he watched the crimson course down Sam's wrist, disappearing into the dark sleeve of his jacket.
"Sam-!" Dean sought his brother's gaze, but Sam's eyes were rolling now, frightened and unseeing. He fought against Dean's grip.
Bobby was there, grabbing Sam's injured palm and wrapping it in his jacket, helping Dean keep him steady. "Come on now, son," he said gently but firmly to the youngest of the three, his face etched with obvious concern.
Sam let out a sudden cry as if in intense pain, and leaned heavily against his supports, his legs barely carrying any of his own weight as he was lifted from the ground and away from the dangerous glass.
Dean's stomach twisted in knots, his own legs threatening to fold, but he swallowed jaggedly and pushed his fear away. They'd overstayed their welcome in this forsaken building. Sam was unravelling from the inside out. "It's time to go," he grunted shortly, the words heavy and thick in his throat.
Evidently Bobby felt the same. He began to pull the three of them towards the stairs that led to the exit.
"Sammy?" Dean offered in his brother's ear as they hurried along. "You with us buddy?"
But Sam didn't reply. His head lolled lifelessly. Dean's heart skipped a beat and frantically he reached for Sam's neck, feeling for a pulse.
Bobby stopped as he felt Dean's momentum halt. He took most of Sam's weight as the older brother's fingers searched.
A stinging, tense silence engulfed them.
There. Dean felt a faint beat. The breath he'd been holding rushed through his clenched teeth. Whatever was going on with his little brother, Dean wasn't about to let it take Sam away from them. Not now; not any time soon. He nodded to Bobby and they began moving again. Awkwardly they hit the stairs and hauled Sam as gently as possible up towards the exit.
Once outside, the cold night air bit into Dean's cheeks and stung his eyes. They hurried into the darkness, as if trying to put more than the building behind them. Sam was a dead-weight between them, and Dean found himself struggling with sudden fatigue. However it was short-lived as he remembered his car, and as the wreck of the Impala came into sight he felt his heart threaten to plummet through his stomach.
He slowed his steps.
How the hell were they supposed to get out of here? Things were going from bad to worse. It felt like lately they just couldn't catch a break. And it was useless sending any sort of prayers for help because Cas had gone off the rails, and Cas was now God, and the whole situation was just one freakin huge mess.
Bobby's voice plucked Dean from his spiralling thoughts. "Sam has to have got here somehow. It'll be faster if you wait here and I'll see if I can find us a way home."
There was a sense of calm control in the older man's voice that reminded Dean of John. The words were spoken as a gentle order, and Dean was too spent to argue. Obediently he lowered himself to the ground and allowed his brother to be propped against him. He felt awkward wrapping his arms around his much larger sibling, but was secretly grateful for the warmth. In any other situation he would have made a joke, and Sam probably would have protested, but now wasn't the time or place and Sam was much too still and quiet for his liking.
Bobby fished through Sam's jacket pockets. Within a handful of seconds, his search produced a key.
Dean couldn't believe their luck. Something had actually gone right.
Bobby flashed a splinter of a smile. "At least he had the sense to take my truck instead of trying to hot-wire something."
Once again, Dean wondered at his little brother. All Hell spilling loose in Sam's mind yet he'd still managed to get himself here and set them up with a way out.
"Keep him warm." Bobby barely waited for a nod from Dean before jogging off into the darkness, an air of determination about him.
Dean didn't need to be told. He'd never needed to be told to take care of Sam. It was part of his job description, and despite all the ups and downs he'd been through with his brother, that part had never changed.
Dean wouldn't remember how long he sat there on the cold earth in the dark with Sam. Time became irrelevant as he sunk within his thoughts, hugging his brother and staring towards the bulky wreck of the Impala. He could barely see it through the inky black of the night, but he knew it was there.
His baby. The second thing he'd ever been in charge of looking after.
The first was Sam.
Now they were both broken, inside and out, and all Dean could think about was how the hell was he supposed to put them back together. At least with the Impala, the damage was reasonably obvious. With Sam… well, Dean was worried that the majority of Sam's pain wasn't something anyone could fix.
Dean knew what it was like to go to Hell, and what it was like to come back. He knew what kinds of darkness could stow away in a man's mind after that sort of experience. It had nearly broken him. It still haunted him. He hadn't had a full night's sleep in years.
And Sam had been trapped in Hell for a lot longer, with Lucifer himself as a roommate.
Dean shuddered. The cold of the night was seeping through his clothes, through his skin and into his bones. Awkwardly he adjusted his grip on his brother, letting Sam sink further back into his chest. With one arm left around Sam's waist he placed the other on Sam's forehead. It was damp with sweat, slightly warm. Sam's breaths were jagged.
"I wish I knew what was going on in there Sammy," he whispered. Though he doubted he'd last a minute watching a slide show of what was in Sam's mind. For a moment, anger swelled within him. Cas had deliberately broken the dam in Sam's head, and heartlessly left it destroyed.
Dean pulled in sharp, deliberate breaths, steadying himself. Getting angry with his old friend wouldn't help. Enough damage had been done for one night.
His eyes lifted to the stars.
There were no stars. Dull, cloudy sky loomed above. The night was heavy. There was no sound. Not even a breeze stirred the grass or the trees. Everything felt empty. It was like the earth knew that something major had just happened that threatened the existence of mankind. Dean was so far from knowing what to do, or even how to process what had happened; focusing on the empty night, his brother's shaky breaths, and his wrecked Impala seemed like all he was capable of doing right now.
He wanted Sam to wake up. Sam was the smart one. Sam always had optimism when Dean's hope ran out. Sam would knock some sense into him and figure out their game plan…
Sam didn't move.
Dean felt a lump swell threateningly within his throat. Defiantly he tried to swallow it down. They'd been through worse than this. Sticky situations weren't unfamiliar to them.
Dean felt his eyes sting. Thankfully no one was there to notice his shoulders start trembling. The fact that they always ended up against walls like this was the problem. How many lives did they have? How long before they ran out of lucky breaks? This time, Dean worried they'd reached the end of the road.
When life gives you lemons, you give it a sharp and deliberate kick in the jewels.
Dean's lip twitched into a not-quite-smile. His father had been full of harsh words of wisdom that he'd offered from time to time. Dean imagined what John would say now, if he knew that Dean was on the verge of giving up.
He'd probably give me a sharp kick in the jewels, Dean thought.
His lip twitched again, and he ran a hand through Sam's hair. He thought about what strength Sam must have had to draw upon just to get here tonight. The kid had been out cold, yet had somehow he'd managed to make it here in time to help them out.
Not that stabbing Cas had helped… But Sam wasn't to know that. Dean had caught sight of a fierce strength in his brother's eyes that, for a moment, had given him strength too; even if it was short-lived.
Dean took a moment to reflect upon the strength Sam had managed to find within himself. He took a moment to think over their situation. His gaze went to the shadowy mass of the wrecked Impala, and eventually settled upon his brother's unmoving form.
It wasn't complicated. When Dean focused upon the cards dealt to him, it was actually really simple.
Sam needed him.
Even if Dean didn't know exactly how to help, he was sure as hell going to do everything he could to try to put his brother back together again. Just as he would put his car back together, piece by piece, slowly if need be. Sam hadn't given up on him and Bobby when they'd needed help earlier in the night, despite the obstacles he had faced, and so Dean wouldn't give up either.
There was the faint rumble of an engine, gradually growing louder as it approached. Dean grew tense for a moment, but relaxed as Bobby's truck came into view. Its headlights lit the ground like a path to where Dean sat.
Bobby didn't cut the engine, just flung open his door and hopped down from the cab. Dean noticed how the shadows played across the older man's face, accentuating the lines and dark shadows around his eyes. He came over and crouched beside the two brothers, placing a worried hand on Sam's forehead before moving it to squeeze Dean's shoulder.
"Sorry I took a while," Bobby said. "Sam did a pretty good job of parking the truck somewhere inconspicuous." There was light humour in his tone, but it was stretched. "Let's get him up."
Despite the relief Dean felt as Bobby took some of Sam's weight off him, the cold air that rushed in to replace it wasn't so welcome, and Dean found himself reluctant to let go of his brother. He stood shakily, stretching cramped muscles before getting a shoulder under one of Sam's sagging arms.
"We'll get Sam back and taken care of, and then I have someone I can call to help with the Impala." Bobby took Sam's weight as Dean climbed into the truck, gently guiding Sam towards Dean's arms and up onto the back seat.
Dean once again wrapped his arms around his brother's shoulders, to keep him from slipping off the seat. He nodded. Sam was first priority, then the car.
Bobby lingered for a moment. "You okay?"
Dean didn't miss the concern. He steeled his shoulders and pushed as much conviction into his expression as his body would allow. He would be okay; when Sam was better, when his car was fixed. There was a long road paved with uncertainty between now and where he wanted to be, but it was possible, and he trusted somehow he'd find a way. Jerkily he nodded a reply.
Bobby hesitated, but accepted the gesture. "Let's go home then." The door creaked and slammed as he pushed it closed.
Dean wondered when Bobby's place had become such a thing. He watched the older man hop into the driver's seat and glance protectively back towards them in the rear view mirror.
A home, and the closest thing he and Sam had had to a father.
Perhaps things weren't all bad.
As tires crunched over gravel, Dean glanced out the window towards his wrecked car.
One broken car.
One broken Sam.
Again Bobby's concerned gaze met his in the mirror. Dean cleared his throat, shaking his thoughts into order. There wasn't time to get caught on the scary things. His tasks were simple.
He had work to do.