Dean stood in front of the demolished drywall and brickwork, studying the wires that climbed the bare support beams from floor to ceiling.
"Oh, this is too perfect," he mused.
"Fill me in," said Sam curiously, leaning against the wall next to him.
Dean took hold of one of the plastic-coated electrical wires and yanked it free of the staples securing it to the stud. With a twist and sawing motion against the floorboards, he managed to cut through the wire. He held it out to Sam triumphantly, showing him the multitude of exposed wires that peeked through the shorn edge of the plastic sheath. He did the same to a second length of wire, and brought the two exposed ends together. Bright sparks snapped excitedly between the two.
"Luck, Sam," Dean exclaimed. "This is what luck feels like. Somehow, this abandoned old shithole is still running power."
Sam huffed a humorless laugh. "Well enjoy it while you can, because it's not gonna last long around us."
"The luck? Or the electricity?"
"Probably whichever one you need more. What are we doing with the wires, exactly?"
Dean stepped back and eyed the path the wiring traveled into the ceiling. Then he looked past Sam into the hallway where the glass cases stood ominously, silently bearing witness to the gravity of their situation. He swallowed. His gaze came back to Sam, who was waiting expectantly to hear what Dean had in mind.
His eyes fell on the desk that had broken through the wall. "Help me move this," he said, setting his weight against the desk. He didn't need Sam's help, and part of him rebelled at the idea of letting Sam expend the effort, given the dark lines under his eyes and the way he swayed unsteadily when he stood. But he knew Sam needed this. More than being mothered, he needed to do something productive.
"We want to pull as much wire out of this room as we can get," Dean explained, as they shoved the desk into the center of the room. Dean stepped up on top of it and pushed the drop ceiling slats aside. He stood on his toes and reached an arm up inside the hollowed-out ceiling, grinning with satisfaction when he felt his fingers brush against a bundle of wires. He pulled them free, gathering the length toward him as it slithered up from beneath the floorboards, and handed the coil of wires down to Sam. "Careful with the live ends," he cautioned.
Sam nodded. "Where are we going with these?"
He pushed the next panel of ceiling aside, peering with interest at the industrial ductwork. "Daniel is obviously smarter than us. But, you know." Dean looked at Sam meaningfully. "No reason to get ex-ci-ted."
Sam might have been one step away from collapse, but he was by no means off his game. Dean had put an odd emphasis on the phrase for a reason. His eyes darted up to Dean's knowingly.
All Along the Watchtower by Hendrix. It was code. We're being watched.
He gave his brother an almost imperceptible nod. "I, uh. I get that," Sam said, playing along. "So what are we supposed to do, just give up?"
"No." Dean hopped down off the desk and leaned up against it with the side of his hip to nudge it further across the room. "We get on our knees and pray."
Dean could see the faint smile playing on Sam's lips as his brain couldn't help but fill in the next sequence of lyrics in the classic rock song, along with its accompanying flourish of drum beats guitar chords.
And Sam got it, of course. He just hoped the message wasn't too obvious.
We don't get fooled again.
Dean was standing in the center of the demolished office space holding a rudimentary trip switch, anxiously biting the inside of his cheek, which was making the muscles on the side of his face jump.
A trail of wires led from the small, metal box in his hands out into the hall, where they had rigged the wiring from the room to connect with each of the glass cases in the hall. It looked like a chain of firecrackers. One flip of the switch Dean was holding would send a surge of electricity through the entire collection.
"Come on," Dean muttered under his breath, finger playing on the trigger. "What are you waiting for?"
Maybe he'd been wrong. Maybe this wouldn't work. Maybe he'd underestimated the kid.
Time to call it, he decided.
"Sam?" He yelled into the hallway. "Count of three, we blow everything sky high. You with me?"
"On three!" Sam called back from his position behind the hole in the wall.
Dean looked back to see Daniel standing not three feet in front of him, his arms crossed petulantly over his chest. Dean took a step back in spite of himself, then quickly recovered and stood his ground.
"You won't do it," Daniel said smugly.
"Oh, really? All your little boxes here are about to be history, and you along with them. No more souls, no more you."
He smirked. "And no more you."
"You really think that matters to me anymore?"
"I think he matters to you." Daniel jerked his head in the direction of Sam.
"I'm done talking." Dean brought the box up made a show of sliding his thumb against the trigger switch.
"No, I'm warning you! Don't!" Daniel's voice vibrated with fear and rage, echoing off the walls.
Dean pushed the switch. A loud crackle erupted from the device as the wires connected and power surged through it.
Daniel shrieked and charged at Dean, fire-red sparks flying from his hands, his eyes red with hate and murderous intent.
Dean dropped the control box and threw his arms up in defense. "Sam, now!" he shouted.
At exactly that moment, the pipes connected to the sprinkler system overhead burst open and a stream of water poured down over Daniel just as he was unleashing a stream of deadly electricity. There was a hissing, popping, gurgling sound as the power he channeled was extinguished in a gush of charred black smoke.
Daniel dropped to his knees, crying out and his palms curling upward as smoke continued to rise from his burnt flesh. His eyes flashed red, and then black, and then they rolled back in his head, and Daniel fell unconscious to the ground at Dean's feet.
Dean started to call out for Sam, when suddenly the room around him wavered. He shook his head and blinked. He looked down at his hands. They were trembling. They were… fading.
He felt himself falling, but there was no way to catch himself. He let himself be swallowed by the nothingness.
Sam came to in a panic, his heart racing. He bolted upright, panting, one hand clutching his chest. He reached out blindly. Someone caught his hand.
"Hey." It was Dean. The panic quickly began ebbing away. "Careful."
"W's I dreaming?"
"Yeah, not quite. Watch out for the glass."
Sam looked around at where he was sitting with Dean crouched next to him. Shattered glass littered every inch of the ground. The glass cases were gone. The bodies were gone. People stood, knelt and huddled throughout the hall, rubbing their arms and blinking disorientedly.
Dean saw the look of utter amazement on Sam's face and grinned, patting his shoulder. "Saving people, man," he said. "It's what we do."
"They're not dead!"
"Yeah, and apparently neither are we. Welcome back!"
Sam looked down and smiled, shaking his head at the unexpectedly fortunate turn of events before taking Dean's hand and getting to his feet. The broken glass crunched noisily under his shoes. He stepped over the bundle of wires that was still looped in a lazy circle where the case holding him had stood. He nudged it with his toe. "Are these still hot?"
Dean shrugged. "Yeah, probably. Might want to stay away from the naughty ends or you could get yourself a nice zap."
Sam laughed. "You play a mean bluff, you know that."
"Just gotta know how to read people."
"Seriously, though." Sam looked at his brother evenly. "How did you know he would fall for it?"
"He was a kid, Sam. God or not, he was still a bratty little kid who thought he knew more than everybody else. So. Figured we could spank him with that."
"That's… pretty smart, actually."
"It was pretty smart." Dean shot him a cocky grin. "You forget, Sammy, I'm not just the good looks of this operation."
"But it was still a gamble. That he wouldn't know electricity couldn't blow up glass."
"Shit, Sam. For all we knew, water would have just given him a nice scrub behind the ears. It was a Hail Mary to end all Hail Maries, okay? But it worked, so I'm brilliant. End of story."
Sam rolled his eyes, turning his attention to helping the dozens of disoriented men, women and children who had just been given their lives back.
As they made their way out of the building, Sam caught Dean's arm. "Hey. I—I wanted to say… thanks."
Sam swallowed and looked down.
"Sam, don't. Okay? We're not going to do this."
He nodded. "It's just…"
"No." He pulled Sam's chin up to meet Sam's eyes. "Knock it off. It's okay. We're fine. Nobody died, and nobody's going to die. I'm not gonna let anything happen to you. If I have to spend my whole life saving you, then fine. I will. It's not like I've really got anything else going on. Okay?"
They locked eyes for a moment. Then Sam smiled. And shook his head. And Dean whacked the side of his head and called him a bitch.