A vaguely familiar voice summoned him from the clutches of a deep, dark, sleep, and he struggled to rise up through the murky layers of his consciousness, like a drowning man struggling to resurface amidst black water. He thought he knew the voice and latched onto it, like a life preserver pulling him safely from the sea.
As he slowly pried his eyes open, he blinked at his surroundings, which swirled in his field of vision, like a kaleidoscope of dark colors and shapes. It seemed to him that it must be night and that they were moving. Driving, he thought. In the Impala, his baby.
Dean heard himself groan as he straightened from an awkward lean, his back creaking painfully, neck muscles sore and stiff, like he'd been stuck in the same position too long.
"Where..." he muttered, his tongue wrapping thickly around the single word, his mind slow and sluggish. He rubbed two fingers against the throbbing ache in his temple, too long without a drink or not long enough. It didn't matter which.
"About fifty miles outside of Portland," the voice replied. A man's voice. One Dean thought he should know.
He rubbed the sleep from his eyes, his vision slowly clearing, and looked over at the tall figure who was behind the steering wheel beside him, realization dawning, hitting him like a ton of bricks. Sam. Dean felt his chest constrict at the sight of his brother. A sight for sore eyes.
"Feel like Rip Van Winkle," Dean muttered, searching his pockets for Bobby's flask, more out of habit than need.
Sam frowned, and Dean wondered if his brother ever smiled anymore. "We burned it, remember?" Sam asked, in reference to Bobby's flask, which they had only recently salted and burned to dispel Bobby's ghost.
Dean felt like he'd just been hit with a two-by-four, memories flooding back with such violence he thought he might be sick. Sam must have noticed because he was suddenly pulling the Impala over to the side of the road.
"Dean..." Sam called again, reaching over to curl his fingers into his brother's leather jacket. "You okay? You don't look so good."
"Yeah, I..." Dean swallowed hard, his throat constricting tightly to try and hold onto the contents of his stomach. "Son of a bitch..." he muttered, pushing open the car door and stumbling out, doubling over as his stomach violently rejected whatever meal he'd eaten last. Memories flooded him with tidal wave force.
He remembered Bobby dying of a bullet wound to the head, and later his ghost slowly turning vengeful, jeopardizing his own soul. But all that was over now. Bobby was dead, his soul put to rest, Castiel was toys in the attic crazy, and Sam and Dean were on their way to Portland to kill the leader of the Leviathan, who was masquerading as Dick Roman, CEO of SucroCorp.
He remembered a girl - young and pretty, with long brown hair, but he couldn't for the life of him remember her name. She wasn't the kind of girl he was normally attracted to, but she had a pretty face and a sweet smile, and he thought she had meant something to him. But was it real or just a dream? He wasn't sure.
He heard Sam's voice again, calling him back from the brink of madness, and felt his brother's hand on his back, as if to remind him he wasn't alone. Dean wiped a sleeve across his face and straightened, pale and shaking but composed.
"I'm okay," Dean insisted, though he clearly was not, not wanting to worry his brother, who had enough on his mind already. "I just... I had this weird dream and..." He broke off, unable to find the words to explain what had happened, how real it had been. It was almost as if he'd lived another life somewhere, if only for a little while. Somehow, he knew he'd been happy there. That thought alone hit him, like a punch to the gut, leaving him feeling empty and bereft.
"Like how weird?" Sam asked, a tall, dark silhouette against the moonlit night sky. Weird was a relative term when it came to their lives.
"I don't know," Dean replied grimly, taking a deep breath of the cool night air, clinging to the dream or whatever it was, as if it was all the only shred of hope he had left to get him through the night. Just a dream, nothing more. "I don't wanna talk about it," he said, knowing Sam would never understand.
"Okay," Sam relented, shuffling his feet and shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans, frowning worriedly at his brother, knowing better than to push him when he didn't feel like talking. "We're only about an hour out of Portland. Let's stop and get some coffee and go over the plan again."
Dean shoved a hand through his short, cropped hair, for some reason dreading the showdown with Roman even more than he had with Lucifer. He felt tired, worn out. Didn't they ever get a break? Bobby was just the latest in a long list of loved ones they'd lost along the way. He was tired of grieving. He didn't think he could grieve anymore. "I just wanna get there and get it over with. I want this son of a bitch dead."
"Yeah, okay," Sam relented. "But remember what Bobby said. It's just another hunt. That's all it is."
"Yeah, right," Dean replied, sarcastically. It wasn't just another hunt; it was personal this time. Maybe it had always been personal, at least, for him, ever since Mom had died. "When this is over, I swear to God, I'm taking a vacation. One week of sipping margaritas and ogling girls on the beach." Like that was gonna happen.
Sam chuckled. "Okay, you're on. Spring break Winchester style."
"Damn straight," Dean agreed. "Two studs on the prowl for girls gone wild." He drew another breath of cool, night air and found himself shivering for no reason at all. "Keys," he demanded, catching as Sam tossed them his way.
"You sure you're okay to drive?" Sam asked, giving his brother a hard look.
"I'm more than okay," Dean replied, needing to get back in the saddle and get his head back in the game. "Let's go. I wanna see the look on Dick Roman's face when I shove Sister Mary's femur up his a$$."
Sam chuckled at his brother's blunt way of phrasing things. "That makes two of us," he agreed, climbing into the passenger seat as Dean took the wheel. The sooner they got it over with the better. Or so they both thought.
Neither had any idea how killing Dick Roman would throw each of their lives into chaos once again.
((Just some clarification: This scene takes place after Dean is sent back to Earth from Rhydin and before he is sent to the alternate universe. Just a scene that was rolling around in my head. That's all.))