Sam and Dean run into two factions who aren't really pleased with them...violence ensues.
"I swear, if you even think the word 'Midol' I will end you."
The force of the impact was powerful enough that the Impala completed a full revolution, and Dean and Sam were forced to brace themselves against the interior of the car.
Glass exploded inward from all directions, and Dean clenched his eyes shut, gritting his teeth. He heard the sound of the roof skidding along the pavement, and felt a jarring sensation when the vehicle came to a shuddering, upright stop.
There was a beat of silence, broken only by the sounds of glass spilling from the windows and the suspension creaking in protest. Dean was thankful that the Impala was from the pre-airbag era in that he at least wasn't trapped in his seat. Still, the amount of bruising and the possible concussion that would come from this latest accident wouldn't be a joking matter.
"Sammy?" he croaked, his first reaction in any situation. He opened his eyes and gingerly moved his head to one side to examine his brother.
"M'okay," Sam managed, wincing in pain as he tugged his arm free of the badly dented metal that was once the passenger door. "Don't think anything's broken – just really bruised."
"Story of our lives," Dean grunted to cover up his relief. A passenger-side collision could be deadly or at least seriously injurious and he'd already lost Sam once this week.
As he struggled to get the door open, he noticed that Bela was conveniently missing from the backseat. Probably she had disappeared back to Hell after giving her crappy information and her ill-timed warning. He cursed her name under his breath as he finally managed to get out of the driver's seat, wincing at every new exposed piece of abused metal that he saw.
He moved aside, allowing Sam a chance to get out of the car after him; his brother was cradling his right arm, and when he straightened up Dean saw that he was favoring his left leg as well. Once he was satisfied that Sam was more or less alright, he took in the damage to the Impala.
He held back an unmanly whimper at the unsightly dents and bulges in the body, and the ugly skid marks against the roof. The smell of burnt rubber, fluid and oil mingled in the damp night air. The damage was still better than the time an eighteen-wheeler had careened into her, but his baby looked a lot rougher than he had seen her of late. The crash had hit the side with the gas tank, and Dean could hear the sound of liquid spilling onto the pavement. They were lucky it hadn't gone up in flames
Movement caught his eye, and his awareness of their situation rushed back to him.
They had ended up on the opposite side of the road, just in front of one of the rarer forested areas you sometimes found in Minnesota. Across the street was the car which had swerved up unexpectedly on the shoulder of the road and careened into them; a battered four-by-four before the accident, its front grill was punched inward, despite the protective bar on the front, and smoke rose from beneath the hood.
It wasn't what made Dean tense up.
At least three other similarly tricked out vehicles had pulled off behind the first car, and in the time it had taken the Winchesters to climb out of the Impala, their passengers had lined the deserted stretch of highway. At least half of them were aiming firearms at them, while the rest carried other weapons – crossbows, knives – one of them held an old, medieval looking mace flail.
"I'm going to go out on a limb and say this isn't highway patrol," Sam murmured under his breath, and Dean inclined his head only slightly.
There were more than a dozen of them; Dean even recognized some of the faces.
The foremost hunter had a brush of mousy brown beard that fell halfway down his chest and was thick-featured under matted hair. His face was heavily scarred, as though he had been too close to a blast of rock-sat, and his nose was round like a tomato. Along with his potato-shaped body, Dale Houston was probably the most unfortunate looking hunter Dean had ever come in contact with, but looks didn't mean anything to a man who had killed more wendigos than anyone else on the west coast. Considering the expert way he was holding the blood encrusted machete in his hand, Dean doubted his physical appearance would impede his ability to kill if he had to.
In his shadow stood "Trigger" Luther, whose father Skip had been a well-known hunter and had also worked with John Winchester on a few of his cases where he'd deigned to accept help. Trigger was probably one of the youngest ones there. He was fresh-faced and smaller than the others, carrying a compound hunting crossbow with an arrow on the string and six more in a quiver clipped to the side of the weapon.
Beside him, Dean made out Spencer Case – a tall, bulky man who had enough tattoos up and down his arms to suggest he had spent more than one term in prison. He had a bowie-knife in his belt and was levelling his shotgun purposefully at the Winchesters, while beside him, Lonnie Thomas, a middle-aged black man with weathered skin and squint lines around his eyes, did the same.
There were others that he might have seen at the Roadhouse once or twice several years before, but no one else whose name he knew.
What he did know, however, was that he and Sam were in a particular sort of trouble.
He moved surreptitiously so that he was adding his bulk to the barrier provided by the Impala, hoping he was providing at least a little extra protection for Sam. Not likely, considering Sam's Sasquatch frame, but it was the best he could manage.
Attempting to stall, Dean pasted a grin on his face and prayed to whoever was listening that no one would try to shoot him in the face.
"There a problem here, guys?"
"You've got a lot of nerve, Winchester," Lonnie said quietly as the group of hunters began to cross the road toward them.
"Way I see it, you were the ones to run us off the road," Dean replied with false ease. "Kinda scratchin' my head as to why."
"You shouldn't be," Spencer growled. "You shoulda figured we'd be lookin' for you boys. You got a lot to answer for."
"Came in over alligator radio that a real beaut' of a car was drivin' up the highway," Dale interrupted, his tone also elaborately casual. "Thought we'd look into that."
Realization took hold, and Dean inwardly kicked himself for not thinking about it earlier. He was talking about the CB radio system that truckers used.
Hunters got a lot of their information from truckers; when you spend your life on the road, it stood to reason you needed as many contacts as possible. And the folk who made their living driving cross country were more aware of the things that went bump in the night. In fact, a large proportion of hunters had started their lives as back road truckers.
"She don't look like much now, though, does she?" a nameless hunter piped up.
"Keep talkin', buddy," Dean growled, flexing his fingers, itching wrap them around the other man's throat.
"Dean," Sam warned him quietly, in that tight tone that told Dean his brother was trying to think out the various angles of a plan.
'Hope he's doing better than I am right now,' he thought tightly, considering their odds.
Outwardly, he tried to make himself look as non-threatening as possible. As it was, it was a miracle they hadn't been shot yet, but Dean put that down to the unspoken courtesy that existed among hunters – you go to put one of your people down, make sure you tell them why you're doing it. It somehow helped justify the act, he supposed.
"Haven't you guys heard?" he asked lightly. "End of the world's over. Time to go back to your day jobs."
"Mebbe so, Winchester," Lonnie responded quietly. "But lots of people died. Lotta men here lost friends…family…all because of you boys, if the story's true."
"Depends where you're reading your stories, man," Dean remarked. "If you're talking National Enquirer, I've got a bridge to sell you."
Sam kicked him.
"Hull and Janklow are good hunters," Spencer defended coolly. "Never lied to me in all the years I've known 'em. And the way I heard, Roy and Walt took you boys out – yet here you are. So I'm willin' to go on a little faith."
'Not good,' Dean thought desperately at the name of the men who had killed him and Sam a few months before. His movements masked by the Impala, he began to dig into his coat pockets for something that could be of use. All of the weapons were still in the trunk, except for the demon killing knife he still had stuck in his belt – but he knew if he made a move, they'd shoot him.
"There's a lot you guys don't know," Sam tried, his voice causing some of the other hunters to take notice and refocus their aim on him. "It's really not as simple as – "
"Don't much figure you've got a right to talk right now, Sam," Dale interrupted, cocking his rifle. "It don't right matter about the whys and wherefores – fact is, you're the reason this whole mess got started. What makes you think you get to just go back to normal?"
Dean barely heard the injured noise his brother made and knew that Dale had hit a nerve. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw the strained expression on his brother's face that told him Sam had just realized the gravity of his resurrection.
'Cas, you son of a bitch, if you're not dead, now would be a really good time for you to beam down,' Dean thought anxiously, still searching his pockets as whispers of discontent broke out amongst the other hunters.
" –Ain't right – "
" – Just as bad as the sons of bitches we hunt –"
" –Walkin' around, like nothin' happened –"
" – There's a price to pay, boys, step up and take it like men – "
Urgency ignited in his brain as his eyes flicked around the site of the collision for anything that might help. He and Sam had seen worse odds before, but that was usually a bar fight where none of their opponents were schooled in decent fighting or carrying firearms. There wasn't much they were going to be able to do in this position, but if he could manage some kind of distraction, get a hold of a shotgun –
There was a bright explosion of light that temporarily whited out the entire strip of the road, before the brightness diminished into something smaller, and more concentrated. The arcs of lightening rippled into the shape of wings and Dean felt the bottom drop out of his stomach as the glass on every vehicle's window suddenly shattered. The electricity from the massive wings sparked violently, igniting the gas that soaked the pavement.
Dean made a sound of dismay as flames roared to life beneath the Impala and followed a trail of fluid to the vehicle that had hit them. Several of the hunters ducked reflexively, but none of them let go of their weapons. Instead, some of the hunters shifted their attention from the Winchesters to the tall, well-built figure that stood in the flames without being burned.
"Shit," Dean muttered.
"I warned you and my brother not to leave me in that hovel, Dean Winchester," the archangel Raphael intoned coldly, either unaware or unconcerned that about half of the hunters had firearms pointed at his back. "You should have listened to me."
"I don't listen to anyone, what makes you special?" Dean returned, pretending his heart wasn't beating about twice as fast as usual.
The archangel ignored him. "Your bravado does not amuse me, and you no longer have a failed angel to guard you. I would suggest you show me some respect."
Dean tensed at the mention of his friend. "You know what happened to Cas?"
"Castiel's grace no longer perverts the Host," Raphael smiled unpleasantly. "The first in a long line of improvements to Heaven, I am sure."
"Who's the douche angel?" Sam asked out of the corner of his mouth.
"That's Raphael," Dean muttered back.
"What, not Donatello?"
Dean snorted in amusement, while Raphael levelled a gaze at Sam. "Your return to this plane is unexpected, abomination. But it is not unwelcome. You may have halted the smooth execution of the Apocalypse before, but it was only a delay. One I intend to rectify immediately."
Dean tensed in response to that, while beside him Sam gave a quick, violent jerk.
"Hold on there, partner," Spencer stepped forward, raising his shotgun. "Me and the boys might have a problem with that plan of yours."
Raphael's expression didn't change, although he did incline his head slightly over his shoulder in order to be heard.
"Depart, all of you," the archangel ordered in a bored tone. "Heaven will pass judgement on these men, not you."
To Dean's surprise, this pronouncement didn't cause any of the other hunters to budge; they continued to point their weapons at the angel, although some of them looked a little nervous. Dean would have put money on the fact that none of them had ever actually interacted with an angel before.
Lonnie stepped forward, raising his rifle. "You'll have to forgive us, friend, but we're not so keen on Heaven bein' involved. Not after the shitstorm of the last few mo – augh!"
Lonnie's warning dissolved into a howl of pain as the weapon in his hand – in fact, in all of the hunter's hands – suddenly seemed to glow red. Steam rose from the twisted, scorched tools that the men were forced to drop when the pain of holding them became too strong.
Sam hissed a curse under his breath, but whether it was in sympathy or alarm, Dean couldn't tell.
"I will not tell you twice," Raphael told the hunters simply, returning his attention to Sam and Dean. A sinister smile appeared on his face. "We have work to do. However, before that, I will enjoy taking out the proper retribution on your feeble, mortal bodies. Many times over."
He raised his hand in a familiar gesture that usually meant a bout of stomach cancer or broken bones was on its way. Dean tried to mentally prepare himself for that.
"I don't think so," Sam interjected, moving suddenly.
He brought his hand up, and in the firelight Dean saw that it was glistening red. Raphael's eyes widened in realization a second before Sam pressed his palm against his left side, but there wasn't time for him to react. There was a violent pulse of energy that propelled Sam to the ground, and a yell of rage, and the archangel was gone.
Dean was immediately on his knees, crouched beside Sam, who was clutching his left side and trying to stifle a curse. "Sam?"
"I'm fine – just, I think I might have rearranged all my internal organs," his brother said, offering a grin. He turned to one side and removed his hand, showing Dean the roughly drawn banishing sigil that was carved into the flesh of his hip. It wasn't a deep cut, but still bled profusely, and there were pieces of fabric stuck in the cuts; obviously his brother had carved it through his jacked with one hand when the angel appeared. "Took a page out of Cas's book."
"You two aren't allowed to play together anymore," he told Sam, keeping his eyes on where the hunters were recovering themselves. Dean helped his brother to his feet and studiously avoided looking at the still burning Impala. "Come on, we gotta bail."
He figured that if the hunters had been holding a grudge for the Apocalypse before, it was nothing to how they would be feeling now that they knew an archangel was once again going to try to use Sam and Dean to restart the end of days.
'Just can't win,' Dean thought in annoyance.
They headed for the trees in the distance. If they could get far enough away, they could regroup and take the hunters out one at a time. It was their only shot right now.
They hadn't gone thirty yards when gunfire erupted; evidently some of the guns were still working, or the hunters had retrieved their spares. Dean tried to keep them running in a zigzag, which would make them a harder target, but it was hard to do while also trying to shield Sam from any of the blasts.
Bullets whistled past Dean's ears, and he felt two graze his right shoulder and left thigh. The pain served as an incentive to keep running. The one thing that Sam and Dean had going for them right now was the fact that on foot, they were a hell of a lot faster than the other hunters. He just hoped that their pursuers decided to run after them instead of coming in their cars.
"Dean, look!" Sam cried, and he glanced up.
About a football field's length away, an abandoned looking two-storey farm-style cottage was nestled within the broadleaf trees. Dean felt a note of triumph.
'That could work.'
By the time they made it to the cottage, Dean felt like he had been kicked in the ribs by a horse and then had his windpipe frozen with liquid nitrogen. Sam vaulted forward kicking in the front door, while Dean rushed in after him.
Dean pushed the door shut and dragged the first piece of furniture he could grab – a chair – over to barricade it. Sam started to go to each window, closing the shutters and drawing the drapes; the move was perfunctory, but might at least stop anyone getting a clear shot off through the windows.
The cottage itself had obviously been unused for a long time. The small foyer was empty and quiet and the hardwood floor was covered in about an inch of dust
The room where Sam and Dean found themselves looked more like a storage area than a place that had ever served any kind of function. Cobwebs lined the corners and dangled from the lamp hanging from the ceiling, and the large fireplace was filled with years' worth of ashes. A mounted trophy of a deer with antlers looked like the mildew had gotten to it before the place was abandoned, and the shelf rack in the corner had two broken shelves. There was furniture piled up in random places – a cot in the corner, an old termite-damaged desk near the wall and an end table with drawers that Dean went to rifle through right away.
"Anything useful?" Sam asked, navigating gingerly around an old couch in the middle of the room.
"What do you think?" Dean wheezed, examining the broken telephone on the end table with a look of disgust. He went to the other entrance to the room and barricaded that as well, and then tried to get a glimpse out the window.
"They out there?" Sam asked.
"No, Sam, they just up and decided that after going through the trouble of chasing us here they'd take a coffee break," Dean snapped, jerking his head toward the window. "See that?"
Sam shifted to the side near the window, peeking through the closed curtain so as not to present a target. The hunters were surrounding the house, armed but without the cars after all. "Crap. I'd say there's still at least seven out there."
"No shortage of ugly," Dean agreed. "Any ideas yet?"
"Considering this is usually the point in time where we haul out the salt or draw a banishing sigil, not so much," Sam replied. "Take 'em out one at a time?"
"That's as far as I got too –"
There was a blast of sound as someone came crashing through the nearest window, tearing the blinds as he knocked into Sam, who made a pained noise as the solid body collided with his injured arm, and slumped to one side.
The hunter – Spencer – tried to knock Dean's skull in with the butt of his shotgun, but Dean grabbed out, stopping the blow, at the cost of sacrificing his footing. Spencer threw his whole weight against him, heaving Dean backward; he landed on the table which broke beneath him, sending a cloud of dust in the air while the shotgun flew from his hands.
Spencer recovered himself and pulled out his bowie-knife; he tried to take a swipe, but Dean managed to avoid it at the last second by rolling off of the ruined table.
Sam, now on his feet again as well, attempted to tackle the hunter from behind. But Spencer sensed him coming and turned to catch Sam by the throat, then pulled back his free arm - knife glinting in the dusky light.
With the gun out of reach and a walking Alp about to gut his brother, Dean seized the closest thing at hand – the stuffed deer head from the wall – and charged Spencer, scoring him slightly in the side with one of the antlers. Spencer roared in pain, dropping a now gasping Sam, and whirled around to slash at Dean.
The deer head provided a decent barrier for now, blocking the knife the first time, but Dean knew he couldn't keep fighting with the taxidermy monstrosity forever. He shoved it forward, using it to maneuver Spencer aside as Sam, wheezing for breath, inched toward where the shotgun was still lying.
There was a crunching noise, and Dean realized another hunter was trying to come in; he had punched through the back door and was reaching around, trying to find the knob to unlock it.
The momentary distraction cost Dean.
A searing arc of pain throbbed across his senses; Spencer had managed to knick him in the arm. It would have been a lot worse if Dean hadn't shifted at the last second, but that move lost him his balance. He fell back onto the hard floor.
By now, Sam had managed to get the shotgun in hand and was aiming for Spencer, but before he could pull the trigger, the door was kicked in and Dale glided into the room.
He came at Sam with a machete, which Sam blocked using the butt of the gun; he snapped it forward, dislodging the machete, and then tried to land a knock-out blow. The gun connected with Dale's cheekbone, but it didn't do anything to slow him down.
Dale jutted his head forward over the handle of the rifle, head-butting Sam hard enough that he staggered back and loosened his hold on the gun. Before he could correct his grip, Dale threw him roughly away from him, slamming him into the shelf rack. As the gun dropped again, Dale came at Sam with a right cross to the face and an uppercut to the solar plexus.
Sam doubled over, almost on the ground; as Dale leaned over him, no doubt to bring down the final blow, Sam caught sight of the machete at his feet. Snatching it, he thrust upward and plunged it into Dale's chest.
Dale choked, eyes widening at the fatal blow.
Across the room, Spencer was closing in on Dean, who was still weaponless. Sam darted forward, machete in hand, but Dean was already moving, stooping forward to grab the end of the throw rug beneath his assailant's feet. As he yanked it out from under him, Sam crouched down and grabbed the shotgun once again.
Spencer stumbled backward, not falling, and Sam took a shot – and missed.
"Any time now, Samantha!" Dean snarled as Spencer took another lunging swing forward. Dean avoided it, grabbing onto the hanging lamp above him and using it as support to deliver a hard kick to the hunter's face.
Spencer went flying backward into the desk by the wall and fell back, only to get up again with an angry yell and rush forward.
Sam pulled the trigger. This time, the hunter went down.
Something flew in through the broken window, and Dean jumped back.
Glass and flames exploded outward as the Molotov cocktail hit the floor, igniting the cobwebs and old furniture.
"Son of a bitch!" he growled, just as Lonnie and Trigger burst in through the front door. Trigger let loose an arrow, which caught Dean in the upper thigh, and he went down, narrowly avoiding a patch of burning alcohol.
"Dean!" Sam yelled. He took a shot at the new intruders, but missed. Lonnie grabbed the gun, trying to jerk it out of his hands. As Sam fought to keep hold of the weapon, he stepped down roughly on the instep of his assailant's foot, making the man curse and let go reflexively. While Lonnie recovered, Trigger shoved Sam back into the sitting room with a well-placed front-kick, sending him flying over the back of the now flaming couch.
Smoke was beginning to fill the air, making it more difficult to breathe or see.
Ignoring the pain from the arrow shaft in his leg, Dean seized the bowie knife from Spencer's cold grasp and hurled it at Lonnie, pinning his hand to the wall behind him. As the man yelped in pain and anger, Trigger was moving forward, crossbow raised and aimed at Sam, who was still struggling to his feet.
Dean moved as fast as he could, sneaking around behind Trigger and bringing the bookcase down on top of him.
As the dust settled, Trigger struggled and tried to push the new weight off of him. Sam crept forward and used the butt of the shotgun to knock him out.
There was no time to celebrate the minor victory as several other objects flew in through the window, and as the smoke dispersed a little, Dean saw what they were.
"You've got to be kidding me," he growled as he realized that some kind of grenade had been launched in beside them. "Come on, Sam!"
He hauled his brother away from the timed explosive, knowing they could have anywhere from five to ten seconds to get clear of the blast. He pushed Sam through the sitting room and up the rickety stairwell, stumbling when something caught him around the ankles.
Lonnie, it seemed, had pulled free of the knife, and was now grasping at Dean with blood-soaked hands.
"Dean?" Sam cried.
"Just go!" Dean snarled, snapping his leg around and kicking Lonnie in the face. He told himself didn't care that he felt and heard the snap of the other man's neck as they ran up the stairs. Heading into the nearest room, Dean seized an old lamp from beside the bed and flung it through the window. Once the glass had shattered, he and Sam both hurried through the empty pane and down onto the gabled roof, jumping off of it without a pause.
They landed painfully – even as he rolled to his feet, Dean was pretty sure he had twisted, if not sprained, his left foot – but didn't hesitate for a second. They were running as fast as they could from the decrepit cottage, trying to get as far away before –
A huge fireball enveloped the lower level cottage and sent whatever hunters remained nearby to the ground, downed by debris and glass. Sam and Dean didn't wait to see if anyone got up again, instead taking off deeper into the trees.
They ran until Dean couldn't any more, his injured thigh and foot throbbing too painfully; Sam had to help him sit down for a spell.
Panting, the brothers exchanged appraising glances.
Dean offered a pained grin. "If I were Buffy, I'd totally be punning right now."
"You are such a child," Sam wheezed disdainfully.
He led them back to the site of the collision and headed for one of the hunter's tricked out jeeps; one which still had most of the glass in the windows.
Dean slowed his gait as they passed the Impala, a tortured feeling rising up inside at the sight of the flames. Everything they owned was in that car –
"Dean – not the time!" Sam cried, though he too was glancing at the car with a pained expression.
"I can't just leave her –"
"Would you rather stick around and get lynched?" Sam demanded desperately, looking beyond Dean. "It won't be long before they come after us again."
Dean squared his shoulders, making up his mind to leave the car that had been his and Sam's home for their entire lives – but not before he darted toward the trunk and removed the bag that held some of their belongings, a good proportion of weapons and Dad's journal.
Knowing it was all he could do at the moment, he ducked into the passenger's seat of the jeep. Whoever owned it had left the keys behind, obviously not expecting Sam and Dean to return. The roar of the engine as they drove off was so far from the comforting purr of the Impala that if Dean had been a lesser man he might have cried. He watched the flaming ruin that was his car disappear in their rear-view mirror.
"Anyone coming after us?" Sam asked.
"That was way too close."
"You think?" Dean grumbled, trying to sit comfortably in the car despite the crossbow bolt. Once they got far enough away he’d tend to it. "I thought we were hidden from all the dickless wonders."
Sam massaged his ribs, where Cas had once branded him with protective sigils. Dean had a matching set. "I'm pretty sure we are. He probably knew the other hunters were looking for us and followed them to us."
"Damn it," Dean said again.
"Call Bobby," Sam told him once they were a decent distance away. Dean blinked at him uncomprehendingly for a second, and Sam added, "He needs to know about this – besides, he can send someone to pick up…you know."
Dean nodded, woodenly, feeling around in his jacket for his phone. He pulled it out, noting that at some point during the night, the screen had cracked.
Bobby answered on the first ring.
"Don't come here."
Dean blinked. "Uh, okay."
"Couple of hunters come by here just now, lookin' for you boys," Bobby told him. "Somehow, they knew you two idjits are still up and about, and they ain't too forgiving about the whole Apocalypse thing."
"No shit," Dean growled. "Sam and I were just run off the road by a group of them – the Impala's trashed. Had to leave her behind – and a few of the bastards are dead. Sam and I hightailed it –"
"Good. Keep hightailin' it. And not here, either. The guys that came in here seem real intent on me givin' you boys up. You and Sam need to lay low for a while."
"Thanks for stating the obvious, Bobby – that'd be helpful if the people hunting us weren't, I don't know, hunters?!"
"Don't take that tone with me, boy, I know exactly what kind of trouble you're in," Bobby groused. "You gimme a chance to get a word in between your bellyachin', I can point you in the direction of help."
"I got an old friend who owes me a favor. Doesn't like hunters, so she won't likely give you up to 'em if they come lookin'."
"Just as long as it's not a demon or a witch."
"You like breathin', you probably won't compare her with either of those things within her hearing."
"Jesus, Bobby, where are you sending us?"
"I won't lie, boy, you ain't gonna like it. And that's all I'm gonna say on the matter," the older hunter told him. "It won't work if you're not willing, and she can explain it better than I can."
There was a pause, and Dean finally sighed. "Alright. You got an address for me?"
"Remember that haunted painting job you told me about? The one where the little girl was doing the killin'?"
'New Paltz, New York,' Dean's memory supplied after a moment's lapse. "Yeah?"
"Head that way. I'll give you more when I can."
"Right," Dean exhaled. He forced his voice to remain steady. "Bobby – the Impala's on the side of the I-90 just outside of Albert Lea. I don't know if those bastards will leave much of her, but can you – ?"
"I'll make a call," Bobby assured him. "You boys just try to keep outta trouble."
Dean stared at his phone for several seconds, fighting down the overwhelming desire to beat the dash of the battered jeep and curse to the high heavens. He didn't, though, because losing control in front of Sam was something he had long since schooled himself not to do.
"Head for New York," Dean told his brother heavily. "Bobby's sending us to someone who can help."
Sam snorted. "Help? Who's going to help us? We have ticked-off hunters on our tails, renegade demons trying to track us – "
"Probably angels too, seeing as how Raphael probably has supporters."
"Great," Sam groused. He took a few aggravated breaths, visibly calmed himself down and then asked, "So what now? Assuming this friend of Bobby's helps us – what then? We keep running into more and more problems."
"We take 'em one at a time. And in the meantime, we figure out how to spring Adam and find Cas."
Sam full on stared at him this time, ignoring the road.
"Dean…are you sure? It's not going to be easy..."
"It never is. Obviously it's gonna be a bitch to find Cas, considering we've got no leads on him, other than…what Raphael said," Dean reasoned, only just managing to speak around the sudden lump in his throat. "But we do know where Adam is now."
"Just because some two-faced demon – who was already a two-faced sociopath when she was alive, might I add – says he's down there, doesn't mean he is," Sam argued. "Demons lie."
"Except when they know the truth will hurt," Dean reminded him. "You remember how hard it was, knowing that Dad was down there – that I was down there?"
A shadow passed over Sam's face at the reminder. He turned his eyes back to the road.
"If Cas found a way to open that door and get you out, it means there's another way," Dean was adamant. "And we're going to find it – I don't care how many people are after us or how hard it is."
Sam was hesitant. "Dean…I was serious before, when I said it's too dangerous to try to open the Cage. After all we went through, do you really want to risk letting Lucifer and Michael out? This whole thing will just start all over again."
"With Raphael on our ass, it's going to start all over again anyway," Dean said. "We might as well have as many people on our side as we can get – even if it means going to Hell for them."
"Dean…" There was silence, and then Sam slowly nodded in acceptance. "Okay."
"Good. We're clear," Dean said decisively. "He's family, he's innocent, and we're getting him out. Same goes for Cas, wherever he is."
"Alright," Sam nodded. After a beat, he sighed, "But before we even consider doing that, we're going to have to go off the grid. If you think staying out of trouble is hard now, it's going to be worse when we try to jailbreak Hell."
"Which is why we're going to New York," Dean said. "Bobby's got a friend or something there, and as sketchy as all this sounds, I guess we can't be too picky this time…"