Sam watched with a heavy heart as Dean dropped the amulet into the trash can, than left the motel room without a backward glance.
Castiel’s despair, Dean’s hopelessness; things were headed downhill, and fast. Sam wondered if they really would make it through to the other side unscathed and intact.
With a sigh, Sam retrieved the shaving kit he'd tossed across the bed. He heard Dean start the car and the sounds of Led Zeppelin came wafting through the still open door. Moving towards the door, Sam paused just out of Dean’s view before reaching down into the trash and fishing out the amulet. He eyed it closely for a moment before stuffing it unceremoniously into his shaving kit. He had a feeling someday Dean might regret throwing it out.
Giving the room one last look, Sam joined Dean in the Impala.
The Impala went under a tarp almost immediately. Dean's leather jacket, his Colt M1911 pistol, and Dad's journal all went into a lockbox. Sam's things stayed in the trunk of the car, though; with the half-empty flasks of holy water; with the blood-stained wood stakes; with the shotguns ready, salt rounds loaded; with the old gas cans full of rock salt; with everything else that was from those days.
It was the night of the Fourth of July fireworks. He had once again drunk too much and passed out, while Ben and Lisa had watched the town's fireworks display from the backyard. Dean couldn't join them, and he couldn't explain to them why. Everything still hurt and there were simply too many memories of he and Sam as kids on that day; lighting off bottle rockets and driving their dad crazy with their obsession with fireworks.
That night, like every night since he’d arrived on Lisa’s doorstep, wrecked, Dean woke suddenly in a cold sweat. He turned and saw Lisa, asleep beside him. She’d stopped being startled awake by his nightmares months ago, and Dean was glad. He didn’t want comfort. Staring up at the ceiling for several long minutes Dean, instead of taking a sip from the flask he kept on the nightstand as he usually did after waking from the nightmares, slipped silently from between the sheets and padded barefoot down the stairs and out to the detached garage where the Impala sat silent as a corpse beneath her shroud.
His feet grew cold on the bare concrete, but he barely noticed as he pulled out the lockbox that held his coat, his gun, and the journal. Dean fished into the pocket of the coat and grasped the familiar, slim keychain. An overwhelming feeling of sadness grew as Dean fought the urge to just yank the tarp from the car, get in, and take off to parts unknown.
The road. He longed for it. Holding the keys that would give him that freedom made the hunger for it all the stronger.
Standing slowly, Dean fingered the keys subconsciously; as he used to do. He shuffled to the rear of the car and with a long exhale of breath flipped up the portion of tarp covering the trunk.
He breathed in sharply as he glimpsed the Impala, gleaming in the moonlight filtering in the windows of the garage. This was the first time he’d seen her since he’d put her to bed, and it hurt as much as he expected it would.
Unlocking the trunk, Dean paused to take a deep breath before raising the lid and exposing the army green duffel sitting atop the compartment of weapons; the duffel that held the remaining vestiges of Sam.
A deep ache settled heavily in Dean’s chest, and a wave of loss came over him, so big it nearly knocked him to his knees. Eyes burning with threatening tears, Dean reached in and slowly pulled Sam’s bag towards him. The zipper was only partially closed and a blue and green plaid shirt was sticking out.
Dean felt a tear slip from his eye as he slowly unzipped the bag. On top was Sam’s shaving kit; Dean could smell traces of his aftershave. He dug through the bag, amused but not surprised that Sam attempted to fold his clothes. Shaking his head, a half-smile on his face, Dean’s hand reached the bottom of the duffel and he quickly pulled it out as if a snake had bitten him.
“Dammit Sammy,” Dean murmured as he quickly zipped up the bag and slammed the trunk closed. Dean could almost sense the car calling to him, begging him not to leave her alone again.
“Sorry Baby,” Dean whispered as he allowed his hands one last, loving caress of her sleek, black body.
Letting the tarp fall back into place, another tear fell, tracing a parallel track down his stubbly cheek.
He hated himself for lying to Dean, and that feeling only grew stronger when Dean found out he had been lying; that he’d known for almost a year that Sam was alive. Bobby couldn’t blame him for feeling that way; but it wasn’t Sam - at least not the Sam that Bobby remembered and certainly not the Sam that Dean would remember.
He’d noticed right away that Sam was different, and when he’d suggested to Bobby that they shouldn’t tell Dean about his return, Bobby had reluctantly agreed.
He tried not to dwell on Dean’s disappointment. He’d done what he’d thought best at the time, and given the circumstances he’d likely do it all again the same. The things Bobby wanted most were for Sam and Dean to quit hunting and to live their lives. He got half his wish for almost a year but of course he knew, as soon Dean learned Sam was alive, that it was only a matter of time before Dean was back in it too.
When they’d pulled up together in the Impala instead of that plastic piece of crap Sam had been driving Bobby knew it was over for Dean. He’d never go back to Lisa and Ben; not really. Not while Sam was here. He wanted desperately to smack them both upside the head, especially Dean. He was so damned codependent on Sam and it worried Bobby. He was certain that Dean wouldn’t survive losing his brother again, so of course that meant he was back with an even stronger desire to protect his little brother.
Dean and Sam stayed at Bobby’s for a few days after their reteaming and few days after they’d departed together on a job Bobby found a green duffel bag in one of the upstairs rooms that he didn’t recognize.
Opening it up and dumping it out on the bed he immediately recognized Sam’s clothes; but Sam from before. It would seem this new Sam was uninterested in keeping these years-old clothes and shaving kit that Dean had apparently saved all this time.
Curious if anything in the shaving kit was still useful, Bobby started to unzip the pouch when the phones downstairs started ringing. With a sigh, he hastily stuffed everything back into the bag then kicked it under the bed, making a mental note to dig through it later.
He promptly forgot about it.
Nearly one year later there was an explosion. All of Bobby’s things, and the contents of the green duffel bag that had once belonged to Sam Winchester, burned.
All save one thing.
Told by Frank to sideline the Impala until the Leviathan “problem” was taken care of, Sam and Dean then returned to the burned out husk of Bobby’s place to nestle her amongst the ruins and wrecks already there. After the fire had destroyed the house, the property had been promptly gated off, the salvage yard closed down for business. For Dean it was a perfect hiding spot for his baby. She would be safe, hiding very nearly in plain sight.
Sam had tried to argue with him, certain the Leviathan would still be there, lying in wait. But Dean was insistent and when they’d arrived at Bobby’s without incident, Sam had to grudgingly agree that his idea was a good one.
Together they spent the day moving cars and situating the Impala in the most obscure location, virtually hidden from sight by large, wrecked trucks and stacks of smashed vehicles.
Dean’s mood as they left his baby behind was bitter and resentful and Sam feared how long it’d be that Dean would be grouchy over the perceived slight to his beloved car.
It turned out they would be Impala-less for months. Sam handled it okay, for him a car was a car and a means to getting to a destination. He did love and miss the Impala, but she wasn’t an extension of his person like she was for Dean.
Dean on the other hand, missed the Impala so much that every time they changed vehicles he’d spend the first several hours bitching about all the things wrong with it, and condemning the owner for being lazy and not taking care of their car.
It got worse after they lost Bobby. Sam began to miss the Impala almost as much as Dean, and together they would commiserate about the pieces of crap they were forced to drive in the meantime.
As time passed and they seemed to be no closer to figuring out how to stop the Leviathans, Dean finally decided that he’d had enough. He wanted his Baby back, no matter what the consequences. Sam didn’t really try to reason with him. They were both so worn and tired they were reaching the point of breakdown. Either they would defeat the Leviathans, or the Leviathans would defeat them. Neither of them could reason why it mattered what vehicle they were driving any more.
Arriving at Singer Salvage, Dean rejoiced to see his baby was still where he’d left her, and the boys worked together to get to her while unbeknownst to them, Bobby was along with them for the ride, as he’d been since Dean took over possession of his flask.
Bobby, unknown and unseen by the guys, took the opportunity to walk the ashes of his former home while the boys worked to get to the Impala. His frustration over being invisible to Sam and Dean while being dragged along with them was wearing on him and even though he vehemently disagreed with their decision to retrieve the Impala, being home, even though it was destroyed, gave him the chance to get some distance and reflect on his new role as “ghost”. Suddenly his attention was drawn to a shining gold spot amidst the blackened ash all around him.
Crouching, Bobby concentrated and managed to grasp it. He knew what it was right away, and his excitement over seeing it again after almost three years was palpable. He was curious how it had ended up back in his house, unless Sam or maybe Dean had left it on purpose. He opened his mouth to yell out to the boys before he remembered they wouldn’t hear him if he did. Fingering the amulet, Bobby smiled and with a *whoosh* was disappeared.
“Put your back into it, Sammy,” Dean hollered, smirking, as he leaned up against the smashed front end of a late-model Dodge Charger. He held Bobby’s flask in his hand, having taken a long draw of the hunter’s helper he kept in it.
Sam was tossing aside bumpers, mirrors, and other odds and ends that had fallen off the cars they’d moved to get the Impala. The skeletal remains of Bobby’s house formed a backdrop, several hundred feet in the distance.
“You could help,” Sam snapped back as he bent over to pick up a large shard of glass.
“Nah,” Dean replied. Looking around, he took another pull from the flask. He felt closer to Bobby being here amongst the ruins of his salvage yard. He missed the old bastard like crazy, but being back here was as much like returning home as getting back into the Impala would be.
“Uh, Dean,” Sam called out, his tone suddenly serious.
Sam stood at the hood of the Impala, looking into the front of the car as Dean approached, pocketing the flask.
“What?” Dean followed Sam’s eyes and examined the windshield closely, “is there a crack or something? I’m gonna be pissed if-,” Dean started but when Sam grabbed his forearm he stopped.
“What!” He said, exasperated and shaking off Sam’s hand.
“Look,” Sam pointed and that’s when Dean saw it.
“Son of a bitch,” he said softly and with unexpected joy.
Dean walked around to the driver’s side door while Sam mirrored his actions on the passenger side. Opening the door and sliding into the driver’s seat, Dean barely registered the familiar creak of the door hinge, or the sound of his jeans on the vinyl, or the welcoming feel of the Impala’s bench seat because there it was, hanging from the rearview mirror.
The car rocked as Sam also got in. Seeing the amulet again, he suddenly recalled the day he had retrieved it from the trash, all those years ago. But where it went afterwards and how it got here Sam had no idea. They were both wide-eyed and incredulous and the look on Dean’s face made it clear he had never expected to see the necklace again.
“How?” Sam questioned as he looked to his brother.
“I dunno,” Dean shrugged, reaching out to touch it. As his fingers grasped the familiar shape of the amulet and removed it from the mirror he didn’t feel quite so desperate anymore. Upon placing the slightly charred leather cord around his neck, suddenly he felt a glimmer of hope. The comforting weight of the token against his sternum filled him with new optimism.
Dean turned to Sam and they both smiled, seeming to sense the change in one another; the renewed hope they both felt.
In the backseat of the Impala, Bobby watched them, grinning. The boys were back, and they would be okay.