Bobby's a hunter first and foremost, no matter what else he might be. So when Sam shoots down the stairs in a panic he just throws him a set of keys, his duffle bag, which he never really unpacked, and a chilled bag of sandwiches. Even as frantic as he is Sam can't help pausing and snorting at the last thing. "Really?"

"Boy Scout. Green jeep at the front left off the driveway," Bobby replies and grips Sam's shoulder. "Go get him and get back here."

Sam grins weakly and sprints out the door.

SPN SPN SPN

The sun streams in through a rip in one of the curtains and by the time Dean is thoroughly sick of the few fuzzy channels available, it's started to take on the heavy yellow color of late afternoon. Dean tidies up the room as much as he ever does when they check out of a place and haven't done anything strange in it like shoot something or exorcise demons. He double checks the bathroom, not because he's ever left anything there but because of a leftover habit from when they were young and he always made a point of really obviously looking back over every place he already checked so Sam would learn to do the same without having to be told. That was back when Sammy was both old enough to start taking care of his own shit and old enough to get cranky and automatically rebellious whenever anyone told him what to do. Dean did a lot of 'teaching by doing' with Sam.

Sam soaked it all up like a sponge, too, and without ever really noticing, but Dean only took advantage of that once. Twice. Okay, maybe a few times. But Sam made it so easy, always looking to Dean before doing anything new, either out of a misplaced hero worship or because to Sam Dean was basically dad, mom, and brother rolled into one. Dad made him stop after he trained his baby brother to say a line from Batman every time he saw a gun.

Dean peers under the bed for lost socks, checks under the pillows and mattress and inside the nightstand for guns and knives, makes sure he grabbed everything from the fridge, and swipes the tiny shampoo bottles and plastic cups next to the sink. He zips up his bags, kicks the door shut behind him, and drops the key in the manager's slot before he goes to the car. The weapons bag and his duffle go in the trunk. The food bag normally goes in the back seat, but he hesitates. Sam's not there to reach back and grab him snacks and water out of the bag and it's been annoying him since they split, having to pull over every time he wants something. It would really make more sense to have it up front. And that empty passenger seat's been…not right. The air on that side of the car feels too heavy and thin at the same time.

Dean reaches out and opens the passenger door. Slowly, gingerly, he sets the bag on the seat. He pauses, but nothing happens, no little Sam slamming into the back of his legs and wailing about Dean stealing his spot, no moody teenage Sam "accidentally" getting his shoulder in Dean's ribs and muttering sullenly about Dean letting some stupid over-perfumed high school girl sit in his seat. No full-grown moose-sized Sam flying out of nowhere to crush him to the ground with a yell, wrestling him into the dirt and moaning about how he already has to deal with that disgusting jalapeño-cheese-barbeque jerky sticks and he is not gonna put up with his seat smelling like them too, no, Dean! And he'd keep moaning like a girl as he ground Dean's face into the dust and Dean laughed so hard he almost snorted up gravel.

But none of that happens so Dean shuts the door and goes around to the other side. Five miles later, he gives up and throws the bag over his shoulder into the back seat.

SPN SPN SPN

Sam knows Dean's phone is off, but that doesn't stop him calling every few miles and leaving voicemails and texts until both mailboxes are full. When he finally tosses his phone in to the passenger seat he white-knuckles the steering wheel instead to occupy his hands, irrational rescue plans spinning through his head so he won't have to think about what he's going to find when he gets there. If only he were more like Dean, he thinks wildly. Then he could've gotten a waitress' phone number at that incongruous café, and then he could be calling her right now, telling her to go find Dean and stop him before he gets to the bridge, because Sam's cutting it close, so close, and that's even assuming Dean decides to wait for dusk to go run off the Dullahan, and he must have, he must have, because otherwise Sam has no chance and he's going to run crashing onto the bridge too late, and Dean won't be there, just the empty car and blood staining the floorboards and the Dullahan holding Dean's spine in it's hands-

SPN SPN SPN

Dean pulls off the road at the end of the bridge, where there's a dusty little turn-around spot probably made by decades of people trying to get somewhere else and only realizing their directions are off when they find themselves crossing a river that shouldn't be there. Rivers are about the only feature you can notice like that in this swathe of flat Midwestern farmland.

The sun's still only halfway down behind the horizon and he'd rather not have anybody be able to wander by to see him standing in the bridge, waving a shiny rock and talking to thin air like a crazy guy, so he decides to wait a little while longer, maybe watch the bridge with the windows down to see if he can catch another hint of this death carriage thing. He kicks his boots off so he won't get mud on the leather seats, leans back against the driver door, and munches his cold leftover pizza as he waits for dark.

It's kind of nice having such an easy hunt now and again. He wouldn't want them too often, though. Dean's been a fighter since he was four years old, and he knows he's getting older and achier, but he wouldn't know what to do without a good fight every so often.

So long as Sam's not around anymore to get in the crosshairs, he thinks maybe he might just still be able to do this for the rest of his life. 'Course, given that he's already well exceeded the average hunter's life span that's probably not too long to go. But Dean's tough. He knows from experience that he can put up with just about anything for a little while so long as he's got a good reason and he knows Sam's okay. Even Hell. Even an empty passenger seat.

He eats his pizza quietly and watches the bridge as the sun goes down.

SPN SPN SPN

Sam drives with the accelerator as flat as he can keep it and swears in furious bursts of energy. The sun sets behind distant rolling hills and he knows he's too late, knows what he's going to find, because he knows Dean's already stepped on that bridge with just a lump of metal in his hand instead of a gun to protect himself because Sam is so fucking stupid and he won't stand a chance, he'll just be standing there staring like Sam should've known to tell him not to, staring and holding onto that goddamn chunk of gold instead of a gun while the Dullahan showers him in blood until he's spluttering for air, reaches down and tears out his wide green eyes for daring to look, tears out his backbone for a new whip because Dean's always had the strongest back Sam's ever seen.

The sun is almost fully set now and Sam knows it's too late, but he keeps racing toward Dean as fast as he can because he's never known how to do anything else.

SPN SPN SPN

The sun finally dips below the horizon and Dean wipes his greasy fingers on his jeans as he stuffs his feet back into his boots. He needs new socks, he thinks idly. The heels are wearing thin in all the pairs he has and it won't help him any to get a blister on a hunt because his socks get holes. Sam keeps nagging at him to get high-tech athletic wool socks like he does- and what the hell is high tech wool, anyway? How high tech can a sheep get? But Sam, fucking naturally-tanned Sam, doesn't know that along with his paler skin's tendency to freckles and sunburns he also gets itchy from wool. Sam's not ever going to know that, if Dean can help it.

He twists in his seat to ease his legs out of the low car and shifts to his feet, groaning. His back's stiff after sitting like that for so long. Sam would be laughing at him right now if he were here, making some stupid dig about being the older one and the wonders of yoga and shit, but he'd also be able to work out the knots with a couple presses of those stupidly big hands.

Dean sighs and stomps to the trunk to get the gold.

He wavers over the weapons, then decides to stick his gun in the back of his jeans and slings a rock salt shotgun over his shoulder just to be on the safe side. He knows he won't need them, but old habits die hard. Like glancing to the side to make sure Sam's got everything he needs and has his fingers out of the way before Dean slams the trunk lid closed.

Dean sighs again and trudges off towards the bridge. "Hey, Duuuh-...whatever your name is. Death coach guy," he calls, swinging the shotgun loosely at his side. "You gonna come out and play anytime soon? 'Cause there's a fuck-ton of mosquitoes out here, man, and I don't wanna hang around all night."

Everything is quiet until Dean takes his first step onto the worn wooden floorboards of the bridge. Then he hears horse hooves at the other end, clip-clopping closer.