Dean drives, his fingers so tight on the steering wheel that he wonders if he's created a permanent imprint on the outer ring. He unclenches his jaw, which has been stuck for nearly an hour. He glances down at the clock and sees that he's been driving even longer.

Sam sleeps in the passenger seat, his face partially cloaked by his mane of dark hair that illuminates every now and then from passing cars. Asleep, he looks peaceful in comparison to the pained expression he'd been wearing on his face for the past few weeks. He thinks Dean can't see, but Dean is always watching.

Resting in the corner of his lips is a small speck of dried blood.

Dean turns his gaze to the road, aware that he's been staring at his sleeping brother for too long, and stares into the blinding headlights of a passing station wagon.

Before that, there was his hand, warm and more gentle, cupping his left cheek.

Before that, he had been blinded by the light, the light was that Cas.

Before that, the pleas and whimpers tumbled effortlessly from his lips without a second thought. The words he whispered to himself at night as he slept alone on his memory foam mattress, which only remembered one imprint, when it was meant to remember two.

"I need you."

"We need you."

"We're family."

"'s me."

"I know you can hear me."

Before that, he stared at the tip of Cas' blade, glinting in the fragments of light that seeped into the crypt.

"I know you're in there."

Before that, the hilt of Cas' angel sword bashed repeatedly against his head, over and over again. He kept his left hand dangling uselessly by his side; the other he couldn't feel after Cas had broken his wrist.

Before that, he begged. He asked for his Cas to return to him, who he hadn't seen in so long. The Cas who consoled strippers and never understood his references. That was his Cas. The one with the clear, earnest baby blues that crinkled a little at the corners when he said he wanted to be a hunter.

Before that, it was just Team Free Will (with the addition of one demon), traveling together.