Dean drove and drove, and Sam sat next to him, trying to stay out of Dean's way while sharing a bench seat. Dean's jaw was clenched, both hands were tight on the wheel, and he kept glancing in the rearview mirror like he could turn around and try to take it back. Sam's chest tightened every time Dean's eyes flicked to the mirror and then quickly away from it, but he didn't say anything.
Sam didn't know what happened after he and Dean had split up at the warehouse, not exactly. But Sam had joined up with them again to find Ben loaded down with Dean's weapons, and Lisa bleeding out all over his brother's clothes: he didn't exactly need to read between the lines to know things went wrong.
The entire time Sam hot-wired the ride, he'd worried he wasn't moving fast enough.
The entire trip to the hospital, with Dean trying not to moan in the backseat and the air thick with the scent of too much spilled blood, Sam kept one eye out his window for someone trying to t-bone them.
They weren't headed anywhere particular now. Dean had picked a road out of town and stayed in the left lane once he got on the highway, following it past exits and towns and finally a state line. They might wind up at Bobby's — they'd spent enough time there recently that some of Sam's more esoteric gear was spread throughout the house instead of across the car — but apparently they weren't heading there right away.
Sam wondered about the practicalities of wiping someone's mind. Lisa and Ben were going to notice eventually that there was no totaled car to go with the story of an accident — unless Cas had zapped their car into town, all smashed in on one side. He guessed angels were old hats at fucking with people's lives. They'd certainly done it to Sam and Dean often enough.
But what about the dead boyfriend on the floor, back at Lisa's house? What about the pieces of Dean's wardrobe Sam hadn't seen since he'd come back, the ones he'd assumed still hung in the back of Lisa's closet? Would her friends forget Dean, too? Was he neatly erased from all the family pictures? A hell of a lot of detail went into these things. Sam didn't trust Cas to do it the right way now, not after he'd hemmed and hawed about doing anything in the first place.
Sam felt like an idiot for all the times he'd said Castiel was like family. Family went to bat for each other, the way Dean had always done for Sam and the way Sam kept trying to do in return. Family didn't sit around and say their hands were tied, that they'd love to help except their friendly neighborhood demon had them on too short a leash. That was the way Samuel had treated them: it wasn't how you treated someone you loved.
Maybe he and Dean were awful judges of character not to have seen this coming. That was a given with Sam, considering his inspired partnerships of the past, but it must've been harder for Dean to deal with. Dean always took it bad when people turned their backs on him.
Sam watched the signs pass but couldn't guess where they were heading. He didn't think Dean knew, either. They were driving away, that was all. Sam shifted his legs as much as he could and watched the sunset bleed across the horizon as they went on.
He'd wondered if Dean was sober when they got in the car, but he'd kept them between the lines for the entire trip. If he hadn't been sober in the first place, he would have worked his way through the worst of it by this point. Sam thought there'd been a whiff of booze around Dean when he first told him what he'd asked from Cas, but Sam was too shocked to tell if it was the usual smell, the alcohol that had seeped deeply enough into Dean's clothes to stay there days on end, or if it had been fresh.
"Come on," Dean had said, clenching his jaw when he wasn't speaking and looking nowhere near Sam. Sam had tried to get his hands on Dean, to grab him by the arm or shoulder and keep him from talking himself in circles, but Dean had moved neatly out of reach. "You would've done it, too, for Jess, if — you would have eternal sunshined her, too, if it would've saved her."
So, yeah, Sam admitted to himself later, waiting in the car for Dean to drag himself away from something he loved, he would have. If it would have saved Jess, he would have walked off and never looked back. But it wouldn't have, no more than this would help Lisa and Ben. They might have forgotten Dean but he sure as hell remembered them, which was all the reason the next demon down the line would need. The two of them were still powerful leverage on Dean, a weak point maybe even more tender than Sam, because Sam at least knew enough to have a fighting chance on his own. Lisa and Ben had lost everything Dean taught them about protecting themselves when they forgot him. The next time something came for them, they wouldn't have the shotgun in the closet, or all of Dean's different numbers saved to their phones' favorites. They wouldn't have anything at all.
Dean might be too close to the situation to recognize the risk, but Sam wasn't. And Castiel wasn't. He'd helped Dean throw away another good part of his life; he'd helped Dean hurt himself again. Sam felt like an idiot for ever showing his back to Cas, for ever letting him within arm's reach of his brother. He clenched his jaw, matching Dean's expression, and tried to breath deeply enough to calm himself. They kept on down the road.