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Apocalyptic Love Songs 10

Thirty miles up the highway they turned off into a gravel road, despite the sign warning them that the road was closed until June, and took it slowly and carefully. Snow and gravel crunched beneath the tires. Dean’s grip was white-knuckle tight on the steering wheel.

“Dude, you’re humming Metallica again,” Sam murmured.

“Just trying to ease the tension, dude.” He stopped humming for a few minutes, and then started again.

The gravel road ended at a ranger station and visitors’ center, two ordinary wood cabins with a notice board that said the park was closed until summer. There were directions on the notice board as well, how to walk up to the medicine wheel and how to show the site proper respect once they got there. The boys shouldered their duffel bag — briefcase, tools and weapons stowed inside — and zipped up their jackets and looked at each other grimly.

“Can you manage the walk?” Sam said.

“It’s a cakewalk,” Dean answered. “It’s just a pleasant stroll. Come on.”

It was not just a pleasant stroll, of course — it was a rocky, snowy, steep hike, and Dean was limping by the time they reached the ridge. Below, in the faint light of the rising sun, they could see the medicine wheel itself — cairns and spokes made from pale stones, arranged like a wagon wheel and grey against the snow. A fence had been built around the wheel, and brightly-colored pieces of cloth were tied to the wires strung between the posts.

Dean leaned against a post and looked at the wheel, regaining his breath. “How’re you holding up?” Sam asked him, and Dean managed to smile reassuringly.

“Just fine.”

“Have some water,” Sam said and took the duffel from his shoulder to get out a water bottle.

Dean nodded and drank, put the bottle away and got out the briefcase. “I think, if there’s anything here to find, the other objects will let us know.”

“Like a dowsing rod,” Sam said, and took out the sword. In the Hanging Man it had looked enormous and rich, shining silver and studded with gems; here, it looked like something old and well-used, its blade blunted, its pommel plain and worn. The cup looked ordinary as well, no longer the rich vessel it had been on the Other Side — it was just the plain clay cup again. Only the dish looked the same, silver and gleaming, though Dean thought the picture on it had subtly changed. Instead of the Green Knight holding his head, it now showed the hanging man in the forefront and women weeping behind him.

“Try dowsing,” Dean said, so Sam nodded and climbed over the fence. He went to the center of the wheel and held the sword in both hands, point facing outward, and slowly turned in a circle. “Dean, it’s shaking,” he said with excitement as he faced the northeast spoke. “Dean! Come here!”

Dean climbed over the fence and went to join him, his feet slipping a little on the snowy rocks, and joined Sam at the center of the wheel. The cup got warmer in his hand the closer he got to Sam, and even the dish seemed to ring, just faintly, in anticipation of reunion.

“That cairn,” Sam said, pointing in the same direction as the sword and carefully balancing the sword in his other hand. “Try that one.”

“Try it?”

“Look and see what’s inside. We’ll put it back together,” Sam said. “No one will know we were here.”

“Right, right,” Dean muttered and followed the spoke out to the northernmost cairn. He put the dish and the cup carefully in the snow and brushed more snow off the stones. He started dismantling them, hoping this wasn’t sacrilege.

The cup began to glow.

Sam made his way down the spoke to help, and stuck the sword into the ground. He started removing stones, a look on his face like he was about to get the best toy in the cereal box.

Deep within the pile they saw a gleam. Sam shone his flashlight on it and Dean moved aside the last few stones so he could pull out the shining point. It was not the entire spear, only the tip, but it was sharp and lethal-looking nonetheless.

“The last object,” Dean whispered. “Separated centuries ago and together at last.” He looked at Sam and smiled, and then put the spear point in the snow beside the cup, dish and sword. The rising sun hit all four, making them shine.

***

“What now?” Sam said as they hiked back down to the ranger station, all four objects safe in the briefcase. “There’s no one to ask where to go next.”

“Maybe I’ll get another vision,” Dean said.

“Let’s hope,” Sam said. “Otherwise we’ll carry this stuff around with us for the rest of our lives, and I don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound like any fun to me.”

“Hey, my baby would make a great Grail castle,” Dean began, and then saw the ranger station. “Shit.”

There were two more Jeeps in front of the wood building, and two police officers stood outside, gunbelts at their waists. Sam and Dean looked at each other — they couldn’t walk the thirty-plus miles in the snow back to Lovell.

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