There are a million places Dean would rather be right now: in bed, shooting pool, scarfing down a bacon cheeseburger, enjoying the company of a lady who likes to live a little dangerously….
“Left!” Sam shouts, like Dean is friggin’ blind.
Seriously, a million places. Instead, he is chasing a fucking Pokemon through the stormy streets of Plattsmouth’s industrial sector.
“Left!” Sam shrieks again.
“I can see it, Sam,” Dean snarls over the squealing tires. “It’s a goddamn ball of electricity!”
“Don’t yell at me, jerk, pay attention to the — right!”
The Impala hydroplanes around the curb. Dean keeps the turn from ending badly thanks to many, many hours of reckless driving. The wipers are working overtime but visibility is still shit. Dean’s glad this corner of Plattsmouth is quiet this evening, as this overgrown lightning bug has been leading them on a wild goose chase for the last half hour. Not to mention they still don’t know what to do when they finally catch the damn thing.
A strong gust of wind rocks the Impala despite its girth. Dean tightens his grip on the wheel and vows to smack the shit out of this pocket monster thing when he gets his hands on it. Sam has one hand braced against the roof of the car, his eyes glued to the road. “Does this thing ever get tired?” he wonders.
As if it hears his brother, the yellow thing starts zig-zagging down the street, using the lampposts as springboards. It leaves a trail of scratched, burned poles in its wake. On the other hand, it does seem to be slowing down, and with each leap it climbs higher up.
“Dean,” Sam says, warily.
“I know,” he assures his brother, already easing up on the Impala’s accelerator. “What the hell is this thing up to?”
And then, because he just had to ask, he gets his answer. The ball of electricity leaps to the next post — a utility pole. Then it keeps climbing, heading straight for the transformers and slamming into them with a crackle of electricity.
“Shit!” Dean cries, slamming on the brakes. Sam shouts something — Dean doesn’t hear it over the roar of the blown transformer and the sound of cracking wood. The utility pole hits the asphalt, a crash loud even over the roar of the storm. More impressive is the lightning that strikes the fallen transformers, setting fire to the pole and sparking a wave of energy that rocks the Impala so forcefully that two of its wheels leave the pavement for a brief second.
Dean and Sam just sit in the car for a moment, stunned. Outside, the pole burns — but the fire is losing strength in the face of the powerful thunderstorm. There’s no sign of the flying electrical hellion.
“What just happened?” Dean asks, hands clenched around ten and two. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Sam says, staring at the dying fire. “Are you all right?”
“Yeah.” Dean shakes his head. “I thought we were far enough away,” he nods toward the fallen pole, “but did you feel that? Not just the car moving,” he clarifies when Sam raises an eyebrow at him. “I mean the — the wave.” He makes a face, unsure of how to describe the ripple he’d felt.
Sam considers it. “I think I know what you mean. I wonder if that creature did something, or tried to…” he runs a hand through his hair. “We’ll figure it out later. The fire department will probably be here real soon, and maybe it’s better if we aren’t.”
“Yeah,” Dean agrees, shifting into reverse so he can turn around. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Well,” Sam sighs as they turn into their motel’s parking lot, “it’s not what we were looking for, but it’s definitely something.”
Dean’s not sure if his brother sounds relieved or disappointed. Maybe a little of both; Dean knows he is. He wants Yellow-Eyes as much as Sammy does, but even he’s not really sure what they’re going to do when they finally find him — how they’re finally going to kill him. They’ve been chasing every freak electrical storm, all of which were dead ends. This time, Dean really thought they were on to something. It’s sort of a sick relief that they don’t have to throw down with Yellow-Eyes tonight. On the other hand, it’s made tangling with an electrical rat more annoying.
“Maybe it will show up again tomorrow night,” he says, pulling into their parking spot. “City's had rain like this for three solid days. Now we know it must be that thing. It seems to be having itself a good time.” He kills the engine and releases his seatbelt — tries to, anyway.
“There was a twenty-four hour place down the road,” Sam is saying, opening his door. “We could order in if you’re hungry?”
“Sure,” he agrees, still playing with the buckle. It won’t give.
“Problem?” Sam asks, lips quirking into an amused half-smile.
Dean rolls his eyes. “Something else I have to fix, I guess.” He struggles some more, not wanting to have to cut himself out. Sure, he can fix anything on his baby, but there were lines.
Sam lets him fight for a few seconds, then unbuckles himself and slides across the seat. “Let me try.”
His brother doesn’t have any better luck. Dean’s resigned himself to the fact that he’ll have to slice through the belt when suddenly, Sam’s door swings shut. The creaking slam is so sudden, it shocks them both still.
“Uh … wind?” Dean ventures, even though the wind is blowing the wrong way.
Sam opens his mouth, but the radio answers instead. “You were letting the rain in.” It’s a man’s voice — warm and suave and deep and why is a man inside Dean’s radio.
“What the hell?” Dean starts struggling anew with the seatbelt, shoving Sam’s hands away.
“Who are you?” Sam demands, scrutinizing the dash.
“Obvious, isn’t it? I’m the Impala.”
“Bullshit,” Dean spits reflexively. The fucking belt just will not give. “Whatever you are, cut this out right now.”
“It’s true,” the radio insists. “Here, I’ll show you.”
The engine turns over with a familiar rumble and Dean’s struggles cease as he stares. He can feel the color drain from his face as something releases the parking brake and starts backing out of the parking spot. “Hey!” he snaps, grabbing the wheel and wrestling for control. “What are you doing?”
“Just going for a spin around the block,” the radio assures him soothingly. “Just to prove I am who I say I am. Sammy,” it intones warningly, “I’m going to have to ask you to sit still.”
The passenger’s side seatbelt extends, and Sam lets go of the handbrake and presses backwards into Dean. “Whoa, okay,” he replies in a disarming voice, hands raised in surrender. “I’ll sit still, no problem. Just don’t buckle me in, alright?” The belt remains suspended in its outstretched position for a few moments. “Please?” Sam tries.
“He’ll be good,” Dean insists. “He’ll sit still.” They make a pretty pathetic tableau for a few seconds — warily eyeing a terrifying seatbelt, for god's sake — but it wouldn't do for both of them to be restrained.
Finally, the radio replies, “If you think so,” and the seatbelt retracts.
They are silent for one long minute. The rain pounds hard against the car as they are driven around the block nice and slow. At first, Dean keeps his hands on the wheel mostly out of habit. He puts them in his lap when it becomes obvious that whatever is in the radio really is driving the car.
“You’re pretty good,” Dean ventures awkwardly. Sam gives him a weird look and Dean shrugs helplessly. Well, what do you want me to do, here?
“Thank you,” the radio says. “Do you believe me yet?”
Dean exchanges glances with Sam. “Uh, what exactly are you doing in my car?”
“I told you,” this said with exaggerated patience, “I am your car. You want proof? Want to hear about all the repairs I’ve needed over the years? Or you want to know what kind of toys you little boys stuffed in me? How about the way Erica’s skin felt against my backseat?”
Sam’s eyes widen almost comically, and Dean shifts uncomfortably in his seat.
“Or Colleen’s?” the Impala goes on, dryly. “Or Jordan’s? Or—”
“Okay, okay!” Dean interjects with a wave. “Oh, don’t look so scandalized,” he quips to Sam, whose mouth is hanging open. “Car helped me get a lot of those dates.”
“TMI, dude,” Sam says, bantering both to keep calm and to give the illusion that they are at ease with their new talking car. “So, Impala,” he stumbles a little over the name, “how come you never talked to us before?”
“I don’t know. Never really had the urge, I suppose.”
Dean blinks at this. “Huh.”
They pull back into their parking spot, and the Impala shuts itself — himself? — off. Dean tries to unbuckle his seatbelt, but it still won’t give. “Hey,” he ventures, “uh—”
“Sam, would you excuse us, please?”
His brother’s door swings open with a creak. Sam looks out at the rain, then back at Dean.
“Don’t you dare leave me alone with this,” Dean hisses.
“I won’t,” Sam swears, reassuring. He slides closer, producing a box cutter and once again reaching for Dean’s seatbelt.
The car rocks suddenly, suspension groaning as it rears up on its back wheels before slamming back onto the pavement. The movement sends Sam tumbling awkwardly into the dashboard. Dean grabs the wheel to keep from smashing his face on it.
“I just want to talk,” the Impala says, sounding apologetic. “I won’t hurt you, Dean, I promise. But I’d really rather speak to you alone. I don’t want Sam to hear it.”
Sam is still working on surgically extricating his freakish limbs from between the seats and the dash. “You’ll have to forgive us if we aren’t exactly all over that plan,” he says.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. It’s just that what I’m going to say is very private. Would you please just go wait inside the room?”
Sam looks at him, asking with his eyes. Dean ends up shrugging one shoulder. At least Sam will be safe, and can maybe go for help if need be. “Okay,” his brother agrees. “Okay, I’m going to go inside. But you have to promise to let Dean go.”
“I will! Of course I will.”
“Fine.” Sam has a funny look on his face — that’s probably what the I’m Talking to a Car expression is — but he slides out into the storm. His door shuts behind him.
Dean watches his brother walk backwards to their door, hair slicked down with rainwater and clothes soaking through. Their eyes lock, and Dean knows Sam is going to be watching as discreetly as he can from the window.
Once Sam disappears inside, the Impala speaks up. “I know how easily embarrassed you are, so I thought you’d appreciate me bringing this up in private.”
“Bring what up?” Dean asks.
“No one has ever taken care of me the way you have,” the Impala purrs. “We grew up together, have been from one side of the country to another together — have slept together and lived together and…”
Dean has a bad feeling about this. “And?” he ventures with a wince.
“I love you,” the Impala finishes with confidence. Dean bites his tongue to avoid squeaking something unsavory. “I’ve wanted to tell you for so long.”
Dean fidgets in his seat. “Um, thank you. I’m real flattered.”
“Flattered?” The car sounds disappointed. “I love you more than anything. I’d do anything for you.”
He fidgets some more. “That’s, uh … look, I’ll be honest with you: this is kind of a lot to process. It’s late, I’m tired, I’ve had a long day — you know how it is around here, right?” he tries faintly.
“Of course, I apologize. Go to sleep, and we can talk more in the morning.”
“Okay,” Dean agrees readily, but still can’t get the seatbelt to unlatch. “Um, car?”
“You always call me ‘baby,’” the Impala reminds him.
“… Right. Baby, can you unbuckle me?”
“Aren’t you going to sleep here with me?”
Dean picks his words carefully. “We don’t sleep together when there’s a motel right there. I need to stretch out, use the bathroom, all that stuff. Remember?”
“Oh,” the car sighs in relief. “Right. You’ll come back tomorrow, though?”
“‘Course I will,” he waves the Impala’s concern away. “We’ll take off after breakfast, how’s that sound?”
“It sounds good.” Abruptly, the seatbelt comes off and the driver’s side door opens. “I can’t wait to see you again.”
Dean’s out of the car and halfway to the door before the car’s finished talking. Sam holds it open and locks it behind him.
“My car’s in love with me,” Dean gasps, wringing the ends of his soaked over-shirt.
And Sam, the jackass, just can’t resist. “Your dream come true,” he smirks.
Dean flips him off and sits down on his bed. “What happened to my baby?”
“The electricity had something to do with it, I’m sure,” Sam theorizes. “Whatever that thing did with the utility pole was unnatural. Maybe it brought the car to life, somehow?”
“That is such bullshit,” Dean grumbles, rubbing his face. “My baby is a lady. Maybe that electric rat is living in the Impala now, or something?”
Sam rolls his eyes. “How do you know the car is a woman?”
“I’ve poked around all the nooks and crannies under that hood, Sammy; I know.”
“And how do you posses a car?” Sam challenges him further. “Manipulate, sure. But posses?”
“I don’t know,” Dean moans into his hands. “I don’t know. But we can’t chase the Yellow-Eyed Demon with a car that wants to marry me.” He peeks through his fingers. “Bobby?”
“Bobby,” Sam agrees. “Just a couple hours away. We’ll head there tomorrow. We can tell him about that flying lightning thing while we’re at it.” His brother grabs a change of underwear and heads for the bathroom.
Dean flops back onto the mattress. “This is one of the strangest things that’s happened to us yet.”
“But not ever,” Sam says, shutting the door behind him.
“It’s good that we’re checking in with Bobby,” the Impala says at one point. “I need a lube job and an oil change.”
“Yeah,” Dean agrees weakly, ignoring Sam’s stifled snort. “Yeah, sure.”
Sammy, who has been carefully poring over the map, urges him off the highway just over the South Dakota border. “I wanna check something out,” he says. “For future reference.”
Dean raises an inquisitive eyebrow, but follows Sam’s directions. His brother leads them down an old country road and onto an abandoned old plot. Sam gets out and takes a look around.
“What are we doing here?” the Impala wants to know.
Dean gets it, though, and his stomach sinks. They’re on holy ground. Holy ground, and the Impala is still haunted. So what the fuck?
He finds his voice. “You know Sammy: always with the historical shit.”
Sam climbs back in, a look of confusion on his face. Dean shakes his head, not having an answer even if they were at liberty to talk right now. They pull back onto the country road and head back to the highway.
The rest of the drive is as silent as the first part.
“Hey,” Dean pipes up. “I know Bobby has a pretty sweet Jaguar around here. If you’re interested.”
There is a moment of tangible silence.
“She’s a little beat up,” he goes on. “Needs new upholstery, currently missing her transmission. But she’s gorgeous.”
More silence. Dean shifts his weight from one foot to another. Finally, the Impala ventures, “Are you breaking up with me?”
“No!” Dean assures it automatically. “No, I just thought, uh, now that you’re sentient, you’d maybe prefer … never mind. It’s cool.”
“I could never leave you, Dean.” How is it possible for a car radio to speak with such fervent passion?
“That’s great,” Dean replies, defeated. He pushes off the car. “Listen, I’m thirsty. I’m just gonna head in for a few minutes.” He doesn’t wait for an acknowledgement.
In the kitchen, he finds a cold beer with his name on it. Sam and Bobby are at the table, noses in their respective books. “Find anything?” he asks, taking a swig.
“Maybe,” Bobby replies, turning his book around so Dean can see it. “Judging from Sam’s description of the thing you saw, you’re looking at Raiju.”
“Raiju?” Dean parrots, with a noticeably poorer accent. He peers at the text. “Yeah, that looks like it,” he affirms, tapping the illustration. “But no way this little thing is powerful enough to cause the storms they’re having in Plattsmouth.”
“You’re right,” Bobby agrees, reaching over and taking Sam’s book. “But Raiju doesn’t travel alone. I’ve been watchin’ the weather, ever since you boys mentioned chasing ol’ Yellow-Eyes, and it’s looking like we’ve got ourselves some foreign guests.”
“Raijin and Fujin,” Dean guesses from the two-page spread.
“Sky gods from Japan,” Sam explains. “One controls the wind, the other thunder and lightning. Together, they can make one hell of a storm.”
“Okay.” Dean takes another sip of beer. “So how does this relate to the … other problem?”
“What other problem?” Bobby goads with a smirk. “The one where it’s okay for you to perv on your car, but once it starts perving back suddenly it’s not on?”
“My car is haunted, Bobby.” Dean reaches over and socks a snickering Sam in the shoulder. “You wanna explain that one? We stopped at holy ground on the way here and it didn’t even blink.” He falters. “If, uh. If cars could blink. You know what I mean!”
Bobby fidgets with the brim of his cap. “Could be it’s a ghost that got, uh, shocked into the Impala because of Raiju. Maybe it just happened to be hanging around at the time?”
Dean exchanges looks with Sam. “Then why does it think it is the Impala?” his brother wonders.
“Maybe it’s a very confused ghost,” Dean suggests wryly.
“That’s above my pay grade,” Bobby admits. “But I can tell you, if Raiju somehow caused this, you’ll need Raijin to reverse it. The god does love his little pet, so the best way to get Raijin’s attention to is snag Raiju.”
“Ugh,” Sam groans. “I was afraid we’d still have to catch that thing.”
“But now you know what it is,” Bobby points out. “And you know how to lure it.”
“Yeah,” Dean sighs, reading over the passage. “That’s what we do: saving people, hunting things, finding lost celestial pets.”
“I’d really like to drive,” he says for the second time, looking forlornly out the window. He sort of trusts the car, though. Sam has been watching the road like a hawk, body poised to dive for the wheel at any sign of trouble.
“You already drive so much,” the Impala argues. “Just relax and let me do it for you.”
Dean exhales very slowly, very pointedly, through his nose. He settles back against the seat and pulls at the seatbelt around his waist; it’s too snug. He doesn’t bother asking why the Impala buckled him in and not Sam. He’s kinda scared of the answer.
“We’ll make it in plenty of time,” the car tells them happily. “We can have dinner and trap Raiju before nightfall. The storm won’t be so harsh.”
“Yeah,” Sam mutters, staring at the steering column warily.
“This is fucking stupid,” he shouts over the rain.
“We’re rooting for you,” Sam calls back from the shelter of the Impala.
Dean glares at them over his shoulder, already soaked through to the bone. It took them a little while to find a quiet green area in Plattsmouth, and though Dean’s sure it’s a nice little place when it’s dry, right now it is not an appealing nap-taking site.
“You have the cutest little belly-button,” the Impala coos. “I’m sure Raiju will crawl right in.” Which, okay.
Dean waves them both off with a sigh. “Don’t go too far,” he reminds them, and then finds a tree to settle down under. The grass is wet, the ground is cold, and the leaves aren’t shielding him from all of the rain. “Fucking Pokemon,” he mumbles, hiking up his shirt and folding his arms behind his head. He closes his eyes, feigning sleep.
He’s not sure how long he waits, listening to the storm, feeling the occasional droplet of water hit his eyelids. Around him, the wind and rain wage war but there doesn’t seem to be any thunder or lightning. He’s about to declare the plan a wash when he hears the crackle of electricity. Dean forces himself to breathe deeply and evenly, even as his abdominal muscles jump under the sudden warmth.
When the heat curls against his navel, Dean reacts, rolling onto his stomach and pulling his shirt back down. Raiju struggles valiantly at first, while Dean fumbles for his phone to call Sam, but soon the creature settles — a slave to its own myth. It’s trapped now; only Dean can free it, by exposing his navel like before.
Still, it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. When the Impala returns, Dean walks over to it with both hands pressed against his belly. Raiju is … Dean’s not sure, actually. Judging from Sam’s probing stare, Dean doesn’t look any different. He can feel movement beneath his hands, though, and gets the occasional little tickling shock.
“So how do we do this?” he asks. “Call Raijin up and say we have your cat?”
Sam ignores him, already setting up candles and incense for a summoning ritual. Of course Sammy already researched how to drag Raijin out of hiding.
“Sam is always prepared,” the Impala approves. There’s a pause, and then it adds, “I’m glad you didn’t get hurt.”
Dean shrugs, leaning against the hood as he watches his brother. “It was nothing. Just a cuddly cat, basically.”
As soon as Sam finishes chanting, the summoning circle is struck with bold red lightning. Dean and Sam shield their eyes, and Dean salutes his brother’s massive balls for not flinching at the giant that emerges from the crimson smoke. Raijin is a red-skinned, muscle-bound ogre — oni, Bobby had called it — carrying a set of drums. Drums, Dean decides, should not be allowed to look that badass.
“WHO DARES TO COMMAND THE THUNDER?”
Raiju shivers beneath Dean’s hand. Dean doesn’t blame the little guy; Raijin does not seem like a coddling cat-lady.
“I needed to speak with you,” Sam says, all reverence and respect, arms spread wide and head bowed.
Raijin bends over to get a better look at his brother. “WHAT IS ITS NAME?”
Sam lifts his head. “Samuel Winchester.”
“AND OF WHAT DOES IT WISH TO SPEAK?”
Sam, to his credit, doesn’t skip a beat, getting straight to the point. “Why have you come here? This isn’t your land.”
Raijin cocks his head, considering, and evidently decides to humor his brother. “FUJIN. HE FLED OUR HEAVENS WITH SOMETHING OF OURS, AND WE DESIRE IT BACK.”
“Raiju,” Sam guesses.
“Seriously?” Dean quips quietly to the Impala. “This all started over a prank?” The car actually chuckles, and Dean grins, pleased. “Suppose it can happen to any kind of brothers and sisters. Practical jokes like that just keep pushin’ the envelope … before you know it, pets are catnapped and storms’re brewin’.”
Raijin paces around the summoning circle, remaining within its bounds even though he doesn’t appear either concerned or trapped. “WE ARE KNOWN TO HAVE … DIFFERENCES WITH FUJIN. THEY CLAIM THESE HEAVENS AS THEIR OWN WHILST SPIRITING AWAY OUR COMPANION. FUJIN WILL DO AS FUJIN PLEASES, BUT WHEN RAIJU DOES NOT COME WHEN WE CALL, FUJIN MUST ANSWER.”
“Feast your eyes on what your childish games have wrought,” Sam continues, articulate and eloquent and balls-y as fuck. “The people pay the price of this foolishness.” Raijin comes to a stop right in front of Sam, who barely flinches when the twelve feet of massive oni crouches down to meet his eyes. Still, Sam presses on. “Raijin and Fujin do not belong here.”
Dean is holding his breath, body wired and ready to shoot Raijin if he makes a move. Raiju is fluttering against his hands, restless.
But Raijin only snorts one precise chuckle, his breath fluffing Sam’s hair. “YOU ARE A BRAVE ONE, MORTAL. WE GROW FOND OF YOUR COURAGE.” He stands up straight; Sam tilts his head back to follow. “ACCEPT OUR APOLOGIES FOR ENCROACHING UPON YOUR HEAVENS. THERE ARE TIMES WHEN WE ARE … OVERZEALOUS.”
Sam bows from the waist. “We found Raiju, safe and sound.” That’s Dean’s cue, so he shuffles forward, hands petting the invisible electric creature trapped in his belly-button. “We return him as a show of good faith and an offer of friendship.” Sam gestures to Dean, who lifts up his shirt and sets the little bugger free.
The shock of Raiju springing off his stomach leaves Dean feeling chilled, goosebumps raised up and down his arms. He finally gets a good look at it, and yeah — it’s a cross between a cat and a weasel, a being composed of yellow-white lightning. It settles itself upon Raijin’s huge shoulder, and damn if it doesn’t nuzzle the sky god’s neck. Raijin, contrary to Dean’s expectations, cocks his head to return the affection.
Fuckin’ weird foreign gods, man.
He leaves them to their reunion, marching back to the Impala. “Hey,” he says, resting a hand atop the windshield. “You know you can’t stay, right? The way you are?”
Once he asks, it becomes strangely obvious to him. Of course the Impala already knows this, because it knows Dean and Dean’s world and what Dean does for a living. “I do know,” it affirms, its suave voice sounding wistful. “I enjoyed pretending, though. For a while.”
“You’re not,” Dean starts, then hesitates, because he isn’t sure how to phrase it. “I don’t know what you are right now,” he admits, “but I know it wasn’t meant to be this way.”
“We’ll still be together,” the Impala says, confident.
“Yeah,” Dean agrees, tapping his fingers against the glass.
“I’ll still love you.”
“Yeah,” Dean repeats, deciding to just go with it. “Love you, too, baby.”
“INTERESTING,” Raijin booms suddenly.
Dean turns around in time to get whammied with — something — as it rolls over him and rocks the Impala. The world tilts on its axis and Dean stumbles, falling backwards against the car with one hand braced against the hood.
“IT IS DONE, SAMUEL WINCHESTER,” Raijin declares, and Dean doesn’t need to ask what. “WE BID YOUR HEAVENS FAREWELL; OUR STORMS WILL TROUBLE YOU NO LONGER.”
Like his element, Raijin doesn’t stick around. His business done, the god takes off like — well, in a literal bolt of lightning. The summoning circle is left a singed mess and Sam kicks up ash when he rushes to check on Dean.
“I asked him to undo what Raiju did,” his brother fills him in, reaching out to help Dean stand.
Dean shoves Sammy’s hands away. “It worked,” he coughs, rubbing the hood. He doesn't expect the Impala to prove him wrong — doesn't expect it, and so isn't disappointed. Not really.
“He honestly looked perplexed,” Sam explains. “He seriously had no idea what Raiju had done to the car.”
“Maybe it’s better that way,” Dean says, moving around to the passenger side. “You drive.” He tells himself the ache unfurling in his stomach is Raiju's fault, and almost believes it.
He can feel Sammy's eyes on him, all puzzled and concerned and here-for-you, but his brother doesn't say anything.
The downpour has already abated to a light drizzle; Raijin and Fujin are gone.
“Dude,” Sam ventures, gently. “You had a talking car for less than a day.”
“Shut up!” Dean snaps from under the covers. “I’m mourning.”
He’s honestly not sure if he’s joking or not, what the twist in his gut is. Sam humors him anyway, though, heading back out and returning with beer, bacon cheeseburgers, and sweet potato fries. The smell coaxes Dean from his cocoon.
“It was a freak accident,” Sam offers around a mouthful of fries. “It wasn’t real. Not the way we would have wanted it to be real, anyway.” He reaches across the table, like he's going to ruffle Dean's hair or pat his cheek, but stops himself halfway. “It wasn't really the Impala, Dean. It had no soul to spark.”
“I know that,” Dean insists, looking down at his burger, trying to figure out how it went from fucked-up to maybe-sort-of-cool to gone so quickly. “I know,” he emphasizes again — and then he files the ache in his gut under Shit to Deal With Later, because he’s a fucking Winchester.