Dean couldn't be sure but the night seemed darker, and the darkness seemed deeper, than it ever had before. As though all that light bursting out of hell had come at the expense of the night sky. That light had engulfed them, blinded them, sped past them out of the chapel and the convent and into an unsuspecting world.
Maybe that's why the world seemed darker now, because they'd been staring into a bright light.
And not because eternal darkness had just been unleashed on the earth.
They were in an ugly little car, hauling ass for Bobby's place. Sam hadn't wanted to take the car, parked there just outside the convent, but there was no other option this far away from anywhere.
"Dean – not this car." Sam had said, standing away from it like it was about to explode. "Please not this car."
"Sam – we don't have a lot of choices. In fact, we got no choices. There's not another car around here." Dean knew – somehow when Castiel sent him to the convent he fitted him out with the knowledge of the nurse and the car - and Dean knew what he'd see if he looked in the trunk, but they'd deal with that later. Right now they had no choice. "Sammy I promise – we'll take the next car we see, okay? But we've gotta move now."
"Please – you don't know." He sounded like he was days past his breaking point, and if Dean could've made another car magically appear, he would have just to make Sam lose that desperately hopeless look.
"I know we have to move, Sam. We have to get out of here. C'mon."
He'd pushed Sam in the car, with Sam resisting like he was a kid going to get a shot and Dean wasn't all that sure Sam wouldn't jump out of the car as soon as he stepped away from it. But he stayed in the front seat, eyes pressed shut, until Dean got in the car and hotwired it and they took off down the dark road.
Sam kept his eyes closed and Dean wondered if he was praying. He hated to admit it, but they sure could use it right now. But after some sniffles and wiping his eyes and balling his hands into fists on his knees, he turned to Dean.
"So – um – so – how – um – how're we gonna take care of this?"
Grab a pencil and start making a list, Dean thought. We need to think fast, hard, and now. But because there was no telling where Sam's mind was at he asked,
"Take care of what?"
"Of – um – um – ."
Just spit it out Sammy. We both know what's going on. Don't be afraid to say it out loud. We gotta take care of Heaven's little 'domestic drama.'
"Um – you know – um – killing me."
"EXCUSE ME?" Dean took his eyes off the dark road to stare at his brother. He hadn't heard right. He couldn't have heard right.
"Could we – do you think – I'd like to see Bobby first. If that's okay. I want to tell him – I want to tell him I'm sorry and thank him for – for – trying." He looked at Dean. He had to see the disbelief in Dean's face, but he took it for something else. "Or – if not – would you tell him? For me? I know he tried." He looked down at his hands then and uncurled them from fists and rubbed them up and down his legs a few times.
"I know you both tried Dean. I know you did. I know – you tried as long and as hard as you could. Longer than anybody else would have tried." His voice broke and he sniffled again. "I know you tried."
"I'M NOT KILLING YOU." Was finally all Dean could say. "Where would you get such a stupid idea?"
"But – but – you said ."
" I never – NEVER – said I was going to kill you." Dean was angry. "What was that – something else Ruby lied to you about?"
"No – no – the voice message you left me." Sam pulled his phone out and showed it to Dean like just by looking at it Dean could see what he was talking about.
"I told you I owed you a beat down, I didn't say anything about killing you."
"But – no – you said – it's – it's on here."
If it wasn't for the circumstances, Dean would laugh at how confused Sam was.
"I never said it Sam."
"But it's on here." Sam insisted, pushing the phone at Dean, and just to have it done with, Dean took the phone and punched the buttons to bring up the message. What he heard turned his stomach and made him want to put his fist through a wall.
'Listen to me, you bloodsucking freak. Dad always said I'd either have to save you or kill you. Well, I'm giving you fair warning. I'm done trying to save you. You're a monster, Sam - a vampire. You're not you anymore. And there's no going back.'
Zachariah – that's all Dean could think. Zachariah had to have changed the message. The nudge that Sam needed that he talked about.
"Those stupid, freaking sons of bitches!" Dean exploded. He threw the phone out the car window and turned to Sam to explain again that he didn't leave that message.
"That's my phone." Sam said, staring at Dean, sounding like Dean had just ripped a page from his high school essay to write a girl's phone number on. Like Dean had to give it back or Sam's all-important GPA would be ruined forever.
Could this night get any more bizarre? Dean thought. He pulled off to the side of the road, got out and started the hike back to look for the phone. Sam got out too and walked beside him, hands in his pockets, head down, following Dean's lead and flashlight down the dark shoulder of the empty road.
The phone was easy to find, and intact, and Dean picked it up and handed it over.
"Thanks." Sam said. He didn't look up, he brushed at the phone like he was wiping dirt off of it.
"Sam – I didn't leave that message."
Sam shrugged, a one shoulder shrug, like it didn't matter anyway.
"It was your voice." He said, like Dean was lying to him and thought Sam was stupid enough to believe it, and Dean wanted to snap,
'Fine. You don't believe me? FINE.' and storm away back to the ugly little car and the road that would get them to Bobby's only not fast enough. It was late, Dean was tired, honestly he was just this much on the wrong side of freaking out and maybe now wasn't the time for Sam to be throwing around accusations, how about that?
But – but - maybe Sam had a lot to explain for, Sammy never would.
"I promise Sammy. I didn't leave you that message."
"Then who did? Why?"
"The angels. Zachariah. The angels wanted Lilith dead. They wanted Lucifer free and they knew if we were together on this, nothing would get through us. They had to keep us apart."
Sam nodded and kind of shrugged again and wiped at his phone again.
"You should still – you know – you should still -."
"I'm not killing you Sam."
"There's a devil's trap in the trunk of the car if – if – if you think – you know – if you think it'd be easier."
"SAM!" Dean shouted because really it felt like the only way he'd get Sam's attention. Either that or at this point whack him with the flashlight. "I'm not going to kill you. We're going to Bobby's and we're going to figure this all out. Okay? End of story."
Sam tucked his phone into his pocket and closed his hands into fists a few times like he was cold. The day's warmth rose off the blacktop into the damp night air around them.
"I want you to kill me."
"Oh? And when was the last time I did something just because you wanted me to?"
"Um -." Sam looked from Dean to the car and back again and for just that minute he sounded like himself again. "You just walked a quarter mile in the dark to find my phone for me."
Dean couldn't think of a comeback. He tried. He really did, but no snappy comeback presented itself. All he had was,
"And you think your phone is worth more to me than you are because why? Sam? Don't you dare -." But Dean couldn't say it. "Don't you dare."
"You know what I am." Sam said.
"Yeah. You're my brother."
"Dean – you know – you know what I had to do to kill Lilith. You know what I am, what I became. You know – you of all people know how far into the darkness I've gone."
"And you know how far into the darkness I'll go to save you. I went to hell for you Sammy, I'm not about to give up now just 'cause you say so." He didn't give Sam a chance to answer. "C'mon. Let's get back in the car. We're burning gas letting it sit there."
"You know what I am." Sam tried again. Dean turned away and started walking.
"You're the guy who's gonna be wearing my fist if he doesn't get his ass in gear."
Sam gave in with a huff, but he gave in. He scuffed back to the car beside Dean, dragging his feet like he did when they were younger and going someplace Sam didn't want to be going. They dropped themselves into the front seat and got back on the road. The sun was just looking over the horizon when Sam asked,
"So – what was the message you left me? On my phone?"
"That no matter how bad things get, we're family. We're brothers."
"Dean -." He sounded like he was going to dispute it.
"What else is there Sam? What else has there ever been? And you know what – I'd say we've got to be pretty freaking amazing together that they had to go to all that trouble to mess that message up. That alone has got to tell you something about us."
"Yeah. Yeah all right." Sam finally agreed. He sounded tired but he smiled. Dean waited a minute then muttered,
"And I still owe you a beat down."
And Sam laughed.