"Hey, what were those empanada things again?" is the first thing Dean says to Sam, once he realizes Sam's awake.
"Encantados. They're dolphins. They're irrelevant."
"Too bad. I could go for an empanada."
"You're in a good mood," Sam observes. His head is killing him.
"Nah, you're just hungover."
"My god--" Sam screws his eyes shut again.
Dean turns the lights out and takes a seat on the possum bed.
Then Sam remembers why he's not in a good mood--why nobody should be in a good mood.
"We are so fucked."
"These really aren't that bad," Dean says. He's eating one of the flat pastries Sam left for him yesterday. It's the first thing Sam's seen him eat in three days.
"Oh, also, the credit card company called this morning," Dean continues. "They're not gonna bail us out. Apparently 'I' already have an account with them. So I guess Dad dipped in before we did."
They have one more night, and that's it. For real this time.
For someone who'd flipped his shit about this only days before, Dean sounds calm. Not in control, exactly; because Sam feels like that would entail exuding some measure of reassurance. It's more like they've passed this point of no return, and Dean just can't care anymore.
"So what was last night about?" Sam asks woodenly.
Dean chokes on his pastry. For a split second, he looks deeply guilty. "I guess that depends on how much you remember."
"Was that some kind of suicide run? Like, 'We're never going to have enough money, anyway, so fuck it'?"
Relief isn't what Sam had expected that to elicit, but that's what he sees in Dean, in the morning shadows, in the dark of their room. He's back to not caring, or at least acting like it.
"I just needed to have some fun," Dean replies, which is a stupid answer. A stupid, irresponsible answer that spits in the face of their situation right now. But Sam knows it's the only one Dean has.
Sam's not angry. He's not even sure if he's afraid. Between the two of them, they should be capable of putting up enough to get through this. But if they run out of gas in the wrong place, or it gets colder, that's it. He sweeps his body across Dean's side of the bed until his legs find the edge. He sits up, feet cold on the ground, even through his socks.
Mentally, Sam's already there. And yeah, it's calm out there.
Then something wiggles against his foot. It's Dean's foot.
"What are you doing?" he rasp. God, his head hurts.
"Messing with you."
Yes, Dean is, but no, Dean's not. Never in the history of the world has footsie been Dean's go to for anything.
The stupid thing is, it feels kind of nice--the way it makes Sam's breath in his throat as he waits for one more fleeting microsecond of contact, wondering if there will be a next--and a next--
Sam's really hungover. That's what it is.
But at the back of his mind, he thinks, Dean's not, though.
"Here," Dean says, kicking Sam's foot more forcefully. Then he stops, and the feel of him changes completely. He tosses a phone into Sam's lap.
"The battery was fried, so I switched mine in. Thought you might want to give the sister a call. I'm sorry about getting you so drunk. That was fucked up," he adds. "I promise not to hold any of the dumb shit you did last night against you."
Sam doesn't feel all that pressed to ask for details. If Dean's willing to spare him the mortifying play-by-play, he's all for that. The phone is a guilt gift; that's what matters.
"Aren't you going to need your phone?" Sam asks.
"In the next twelve minutes?" Dean asks, incredulously. "Who's gonna call me? Dad?"
"Well, yeah," says Sam. Ever since John's last call, which Dean had missed, he's paid more attention to his phone than a nanny with a newborn. If John were to call in the next twelve minutes, that might be the last chance Dean gets. They've fought about this.
"He can wait," says Dean.
Sam stares at the phone. Lying in bed, hangover stupid, in the dark in the cold with a case still over their heads and Dean swallowing his half-pill with another flat pastry and empty empty pockets and what Sam fears are their increasingly threadbare sanities, this feels like a culmination.
This might be the end of the line for them, and the best thing Sam will have done with their eleventh hour is tell a woman that her brother died.
He's so tired of living B roll.
Sam just wants to kill a monster--something bulbous and menacing and ideally not covered in turtles--and prove that any of this is worth anything. That he's worth something.
“This is, bar none, the worst case we've ever worked,” Sam mutters into the sheets.
"It does put the bog cow in perspective," Dean agrees. But as far as Sam's concerned they're still in that river.
Dean gives his knee a prod and reacts maybe more than he means to. "Pisses me off, though. I wasn't even doing anything. I was just trying to get out of the way."
They're still in that river, and they may never leave.
Dean opts for another shower. Why he thinks Sam needs privacy for this call, Sam's not sure, but they do both smell like cheap beer and smoke.
Sara isn't on Mackie's list of recent callers, but she's nestled toward the bottom of his address book.
Sam wonders if she'll be at work.
Maybe she'll be in bed with her husband, or getting her kids ready for school.
Sam lets a minute go by and wonders if he's spared her one more minute of grief.
He wonders how long Jess's body had been waiting on the ceiling. When they'd stopped for gas outside of Jericho, Dean hadn't let them leave until Sam downed an entire cup of hot whiskey--the standard cure for nearly getting your heart ripped out by a dead woman.
Had Jess's heart been beating then?
Sam wonders if he could have survived a whole month of Dean dying, if they'd never left that hospital.
After five minutes, Sam imagines Sara having packed her kids off to school. She's waiting at a red light now, in traffic, worried she'll be late for the lunch shift. It's a normal day.
Maybe if Sam's lucky it will go to voicemail.
All of his delicate phrasings fly from his mind when she says her name. But whatever he says instead, Sara replies, "Thank you for letting me know. Do you need anything else?"
Sam's not sure what to do with his tongue. He'd been prepared to answer questions--a lot of them. Just not that one.
"I mean, I guess not," he says.
"How are you holding up?" Sara asks. She sounds genuinely concerned, which is difficult to reconcile with her perfunctory grieflessness. Sam can't say he hadn't been warned, but this isn't what he had expected.
"My brother and I were really close," Sara explains, which solves no mysteries. "And I know he was good at making friends, no matter where he ended up. So I just wanted to make sure you were doing okay, too."
"Are you?" Sam asks. He can't help it.
"I'm gonna miss him," she says. "I need to call our mother now. You get some rest, okay? Take care of yourself, Sam."
Sam throws out the Polaroid.
There's no closure. It feels like tying up a loose end by cutting off its head. He can't stop his brain from compensating--from making Sara Sutherland into things she isn't. He doesn't know her; he doesn't have her story. Pretending like he knows anything about anything about her life, or Mackie's, is bullshit. But he even imagines the phone tree, Sara calling her mother and then watching Mackie's life span out from there, cable to cable, kitchen to kitchen, because he can't force himself to stop. Sam needs narrative; he needs this to make sense. He needs it to matter.
There's a note in the trash, which muzzily Sam recognizes as the lewd doodle Dean had found and dropped on top of him the night before--the one from the possum room's previous occupant. No ink, just the pressure indentation.
It's stupid, but Sam picks it out. He wants a puzzle he can solve, and it seems novice enough to satisfy easily.
He tries to make out the message.
At the top of the page, there appears to be--a pigeon? A duck? No, definitely a duck. A flock of them.
The rest isn't immediately discernible, though there's some text at the bottom. He opts to tackle that first.
Then Sam jolts upright.
His nails go white and the paper crumples in his grip.
"What the hell is this?" Sam shouts as he bursts into the bathroom and yanks the shower curtain back. It's dissonantly, pleasingly warm in the small space, but the wet thickness of the air suffocates. Sam takes a deep breath.
"Seriously, Sam?" Dean has his dick in his hand. He lets it drop, looking only a little uncomfortable.
Dean had only barely gotten started, so as far as Sam's concerned, it's perfect timing. And anyway, Sam really doesn't care right now.
"The paper from last night. The one you thought was so funny!"
Unwilling to rise to Sam's alarm, Dean sedately shuts the water off and catches the towel Sam lobs at him.
"Did you draw this?" Sam's still shouting. He's not sure why.
"I'm obviously a better artist than that," Dean retorts. "I already told you, it's probably from Joe Possum. Also, you're standing on my clothes."
Sam offers Dean an arm as he maneuvers out of the shower. Dean glares, but he takes it, and Sam takes the moment to regroup.
"It definitely wasn't Joe Possum," Sam says, with studied composure. "Because this is me and Jess."
Dean drops onto the toilet seat and pulls the note from Sam's hand. He squints. "How can you tell?"
"I had that dream," Sam explains tersely. "I dreamed this."
Dean looks harder. "Well, appreciating this now feels 300 times dirtier than it used to."
Sam snatches it back. "You're missing the point. Do I have to spell this out for you?"
"If it makes you feel better."
Dean bends forward and tugs at the Ace wrap until Sam steps off it. He figure-eights it around his knee so swift and sure it's like that's what he does for a living.
Sam kicks Dean's boxers to the base of the toilet.
"So there's this thing-- A serendipity--"
"Japanese spirit. Idaho. Lots of fish. I remember--we've been talking about his all week. I'm not brain-dead, Sam."
"Just shut up and listen, will you? I am so fucking hungover."
"I said I was sorry."
"Put your shirt on. Do you remember me saying that serendipities can get inside your head? They absorb your thoughts so they know what kind of luck you need. They zero in on your dreams. I mean, luck's only remarkable if it feels personal, right?"
"And it's getting its murder on because…?"
"Does it matter? I mean, clearly something went wrong. I dunno if it went rogue, or Dark Side, or what. But we need to find this thing now. I dunno if you missed the part where this is me and Jess. From my dream. On a piece of fucking motel paper. Drawn by a crazy fairy," Sam hisses.
"Are you having second thoughts about having ducks that close to your--"
"Do you have that spell you mentioned?" Dean asks. He gives Sam a look like, Calm down, I get it. I know what this means. God.
It means there's a wish-granting fairy on the loose, and it's bad at its job. And now it's in Sam's dreams.
It sounds like a joke, but if there's one thing that's definitely true about the world, it's this: Dumb shit kills.
Also, Sam's next.