Dean feels kind of stupid riding around with a blindfold on, but it's better than glancing over to the driver's seat and seeing only emptiness where Sam should be, or looking out the window and into a world devoid of people. Or even evidences of them, like doors opening and shutting or dogs being taken for a walk; the curse is pretty thorough, and the resulting stutter-step of everything touched by human hands had started to give him a headache.
"You doing okay?" Sam's voice asks, tinny through the speaker on Dean's cellphone.
"Not really," Dean admits to the seemingly-empty car. "This is messing with my head more than I expected." If he tried to reach out to touch where he knew Sam must be, he'd just wind up pressing his hand against the seat back or the steering wheel or something. He'd given up on it after only a few attempts, creeped out by the lack of control over his own body. It was worse, somehow, than when skeezeball Cuthbert or the Oz-witch had done it.More insidious.
"You want to eat? It's pushing one o'clock."
He's not really hungry, but the distraction would be welcome, and they probably have another seven hours or so before they reach the bunker with its supplies for Sam to un-whammy him. "Yeah, sure. Your turn to pick, anyway."
"Drive-through? Or do you want me to just run in and grab something?" What Dean wants is for them to just keep going and get home as quickly as possible, but that's not fair to Sam, who's already been driving for five hours on just about no sleep.
"You can just grab something, I guess." But then he imagines sitting alone in the parking lot, unable to see or hear if someone came along and knocked on his window-- "No, let's do drive-through."
A couple minutes later Sam pulls off into a parking lot that desperately needs to be repaved. "Hey, uh, maybe you should take the blindfold off while we're in here? Don't want anyone to think I'm kidnapping you or something."
There's a twinge of panic at the suggestion, but Dean grits his teeth and ignores it, forcing himself to pull the blindfold off in one quick jerk. Just like a band-aid, nothing to it.
Except that aside from Sam's voice over the phone, he's once again the only person left on earth.
"Wendy's? Still got a crush on those freckles and pigtails, I see," and it's a stupid big brother joke, the kind he doesn't make much anymore, but he has to say something to fill up the emptiness surrounding him. Maybe Sam can hear the desperation he's trying to cover, because he doesn't say anything in response, just pulls them around to the drive-through.
"Welcome to Wendy's, may I take your order?" And apparently a drive-through speaker can circumvent the curse just as well as a cellphone, which is enough to buoy Dean through another 10 minutes of silent, invisible people and items that move themselves when he blinks.
He leaves the blindfold off while he eats, and doesn't bother to put it back on after--Sam's going off on a rant about how Red Sonja deserves to be remembered for more than just the actress's outfit, and then they have a nice bicker over whether or not it deserves to be called the third Conan movie. And yeah, it's still weird having the seat empty beside him, but they're just about the only car on the road now and there's nothing but rolling hills on either side, so he's able to deal with it.
At least until his phone starts beeping at him. "What's up?" Sam asks, and Dean's good mood abruptly evaporates when he sees that he's down to 5% battery.
"Have to recharge it," he says. Which wouldn't normally be an issue since they have an adapter in the glove compartment, but the connecting cable's been buggy recently and they haven't gotten around to replacing it yet.
He's going to have to hang up.
"Hey," Sam says, "I'm not going anywhere, you know?"
"Yeah, I know," Dean says to his phone, because he does know--he's just being dumb. "I'll--just take a nap, I guess." He's been up just as long as Sam has, after all. Still, he finds himself hesitating, thumb hovering over the power button. Has to force himself to press it.
"Bye," he says to the now-empty car.
Sleep takes awhile, but eventually he's able to doze off into uneasy dreams--he stalks the darkened halls of the bunker, searching endlessly for Sam, intent pulling heavy on his arm; every time he reaches for Sam, his brother dissolves away into curling black smoke; he calls Sam's phone, and calls and calls and calls, and never gets anything more than his own mocking voice in response.
"--glazed donut?" Sam asks. "Sure, that sounds good."
Dean's neck and shoulder hurt, but that's okay--means he's probably awake again.
"It's dumb," Sam says. "You bitch about it every time, and then every time you drink the whole thing anyway and go back for your free refill."
"'Cause it's free," Dean mumbles back. "You don't turn down free coffee." When he opens his eyes, he's still alone in the car, but she's parked in front of a Gas-and-Go. He still can't see anyone, and it's still creepy, but there's a wad of tape wound around the charger cord that's hooked up to his phone, and the battery indicator's green and back up to 82%.
"Keep telling yourself that," Sam says, and then "Oh, hey--you're awake. What kind of snacks do you want?" Which leads to him reading off the contents of what must be nearly every shelf in the store, a comforting wash of words that keeps going even after Dean's placed his usual order for jerky and Doritos. He closes his eyes and listens to Sam making small talk with the person behind him in line and the cashier--and then muttered comments to himself about both as he must be walking back to the car. Through the phone, Dean can hear the Impala's door squeal open, and out of reflex he holds a hand out for his promised food--eyes still safely shut. "Careful," Sam says, but then there's a hot cup of coffee safely in Dean's hand and teriyaki jerky in his lap and almost all is well with the world.
The curse is stupid and witches are the worst, but Sam's still there, no matter how well he's currently hidden.