Dean sat up on his elbows, bruised and ears ringing. A helicopter droned nearby.
"Sam, are you okay..." he said, his fingers glowing pink when he touched Sam's hand, the way some jellyfish do.
Time had solidified around Sam, a hundred semi-transparent Sams trailing from where he had stood before the blast to where he sat now, all his moments trapped in amber. Or maybe Dean was just seeing the world from the Dreamer's perspective.
Dean wrapped his arms around his shoulders, fingers twined in his hair, but multiple Sams continued to blur the air like a camera shutter left open.
"Can you hear me?" asked Dean, as an Army helicopter swung overhead.
“Yeah,” Sam said, reaching up to grab Dean’s shoulders, swaying on his knees.
"Ezeerf!" said a soldier with a white megaphone, "Meht ees nac I erehw sdnah ruoy esiar!"
Dean shut his eyes, trying to blink away Sam's reality. "We gotta move," he said, standing them both up, "The car shouldn't be far---"
Bullets strafed the sand a few feet away. Dean grabbed Sam’s wrist, wondering where they could run and hide with Sam's timeline tailing behind them. The car keys bit into his leg through the pocket.
He drew a line in the sand. "This is a dream," said Dean, told himself, barely sane this close to Sam, "We are sleeping, so we can go anywhere..."
All his training, that little voice that reminded Dean that the human body was allergic to bullets and they should run like frightened piggies, was deep underwater. Another line, another curve, a square for a window, and under that a door handle. He jammed the key in the sand.
"Okay Sam," he said, helicopter fanning his hair as Dean lifted a door to the Impala interior, "Climb on in."
Sam tumbled in. Once Dean climbed in half on top of him and closed the door, the whole world shifted ninety degrees. Sam rocked with it, still disoriented from the last huge expenditure of energy.
It was an intense relief for Sam to be with Dean in the Impala, moving down blacktop shining with the recent rain. What little was left of both of their clothing was in tatters, and Dean was scuffed up and bruised, with raised welts where the tentacles had grabbed him… and Sam had no idea what kind of condition he himself was in; he felt a deep buzzing, churning in his chest and in his groin, skin electrified, power lashing at him from the inside.
But the priestess was gone.
Dean was alive.
Sam had to reach over and touch him, touch the skin of his bare waist, run a finger along a purpling bruise. It was hard to take his eyes off of Dean, but he finally looked out to survey Arkham. It was wrecked, buildings sagging, windows broken everywhere he looked, and Dean had to swerve occasionally to avoid fish-man corpses. A few straggling townsfolk walked the streets, looking around in a daze.
“Are you okay?” he asked, but it came out in that other language, echoing through the car and setting the windows to shaking. The radio crackled then switched itself on, Blue Oyster Cult setting up a monstrous, dizzying feedback in his head before it switched itself off again.
Dean swerved, a truck honking as he swung back into his lane, then watched as he and the truck driver drove in reverse and replayed the same swerve with Dean braking right sooner the second time around.
Dean pulled off into a field facing a concrete wall, nearly falling out the door. He couldn't drive. He could barely move through time in the right direction.
"I had a strawberry lamp," said Dean, on his knees searching the ground for a rock, "It poured champagne all over the basement."
Finding one, he began a pale line drawing of the Men of Letters garage on the side of the building, columns and cars inside a square big enough for the Impala to fit. Would the Bunker let them through?
Dean leaned into the passenger seat window. "Is the Men of Letters Bunker spell-proofed against Cthonic magic?" he asked, though it came out as, "Can you grow roses by candlelight?"
Sam heard both questions. He opened his mouth to answer, but he tasted the oil slick of the wrong language on the back of his tongue. He climbed out of the car.
The tattooed skin between Dean’s shoulder blades felt soft and humid under Sam’s hand. He looked away from Dean’s inquisitive, frustrated face and around to the drawing on the wall. If he couldn’t speak without making things worse for Dean, then he could point, and nod yes. He motioned to the car with another nod, then back to the drawing.
Even if it was warded, Sam had a feeling he could force them through.
"My house is full of friendly trees," said Dean, smacking the tape player, "Where's my chainsaw parade?"
He pulled out Blue Oyster Cult, flipped it, and gently bopped his head to a backwards rendition of ELO's Can't Get It Out of My Head. He smiled at Sam. "Fossil your teeth silt."
With Sam’s magic, the Impala oozed through a concrete tunnel, the journey taking somewhere between three and ten hours depending on how slowly Dean drove, but when they arrived the same song was still playing.
Dean pulled into a parking space. Staggered out of the car. His body was exhausted but his brain was still going a hundred miles an hour, strange shapes pixelating behind his eyelids whenever he closed his eyes, and he feared he might never sleep.
He opened the passenger door, a finger against Sam's lips. "Don't speak, there's no telling what you might trigger in this place," he said, which came out as, "Experts agree, black rainbows are very low in sodium."
The imperative was obvious, and Sam kept his mouth closed, but pressed it harder against Dean’s finger, looking up at his brother with his sea-blue eyes intense in his pale face. The touch of Dean’s skin, no matter how insignificant, warmed him inside, set up a hectic fire which crashed against the seething, lashing cold inside him.
He climbed out of the car. Dean was staggering away now, seemingly unable to get his feet under him, so Sam wrapped an arm around his waist and helped to steady him. Dean felt light as a child, but his skin was so hot and smooth, setting fire to Sam’s entire left side, and Sam just wanted to burrow inside him. He couldn’t help the way his fingers stroked Dean’s hip as they climbed the stairs to the main floor of the bunker.