Tearing his eyes away from the Leshy for a fraction of a second, Sam looked up to see a massive shimmering black shape heading at speed toward them, the last amber rays of sunset glinting off her smooth angles as she bounced and rolled over the uneven ground, her headlamp beams cutting through the dusk like fiery beacons. As she hurtled toward the scene, swerving through the gaps in the trees, Baby's engine roared, filling the world around her with unspoken fury.
He recoiled as she thundered past him, rolling back to shield his eyes from the spray of leaf debris and soil that engulfed him in her wake.
His heart sank as he realised what she was going to do, and he watched in horrified silence, as she slammed into the Leshy, her weight and momentum forcibly driving it backwards until both she and the Leshy smashed headlong into the massive trunk of the ancient oak that Dean was hanging from.
The terrible squealing crunch of her hood and bodywork crumpling under the force of the crash was briefly punctuated by the gurgling screech of the Leshy; its body mortally crushed, virtually torn in half, between Baby's mangled front end and the unyielding column of oak behind it.
As the Leshy's life ebbed, the strength in its twitching limbs failed and the tendril circling Dean's neck uncoiled spasmodically, allowing him to drop to the ground. At that point Sam managed to shake off the bewildering shock that seemed to have temporarily paralysed him and gather his wits enough to run over to Dean, clutching his injured wrist to his chest as he dropped to his knees beside Dean's prone body.
Pressing two fingers into Dean's neck, he winced as he scanned the gruesome bruising that was blossoming there, and allowed himself a long sigh of relief on feeling a pulse; a pulse which, although racing, was encouragingly strong and steady, despite Dean's ordeal.
He felt Dean's shoulder bunch, as if he was pulling his arm beneath him in an effort to prop himself up, but Sam stilled him for the moment. "S'okay, dude," he reassured; "rest up, it's all over – Baby's saved the day."
Before Sam had a chance to bring his first aid training into play and prevent it, Dean turned his head, flinching as the motion hurt his neck, and looked through watering, unfocussed eyes at Sam. He opened his mouth to speak, but only the barest whisper of sound came out. Nevertheless, Sam clearly heard two words.
"Sam … Baby."
Glancing up, Sam bit his lip as he stared at the wreckage of Dean's Baby. She was little more than a grotesque tangle of sheared and twisted metal. Her one surviving headlamp flickered weakly through the gathering twilight as she listed drunkenly on a snapped axle beneath the hissing jet of steam which poured from her fractured radiator.
Sprawled over her crushed hood, as lifeless and boneless as a rag doll, was the great bulk of the Leshy; its shattered remains pinned to the tree trunk by her twisted frame. Sam's nose wrinkled as he noticed the stinking brown ichor dripping from its gaping mouth and running in a thick, muddy rivulet down the contours of her crumpled fender.
Metal forged in fire, he thought; that is what it would take to kill the Leshy. Baby was made of steel.
He felt his eyes begin to prickle.
Sam was feeling a completely irrational urge to rush over to her, to see for himself how catastrophic the damage to Baby actually was, but he knew what she would want him to do. So that's what he did; he stayed with Dean, carefully watching over him as the laborious and painful process of recovery slowly worked its magic on him.
After a short time when Dean started to become a little more lucid, and therefore more restless, Sam helped him up, enabling him to sit up straight. Taking a quick moment to assess what he saw, Sam noted that aside from the florid bruising around his neck, slightly bloodshot eyes and a general air of disorientation, Dean seemed as well as could be expected for someone who had just been throttled half to death. Whether that would last when he saw Baby, Sam mused, was another matter.
Dean's head was still spinning giddily; his neck hurt like nothing had ever hurt before, and his throat was on fire. Grimacing, he swallowed back a faint nausea from the giddiness, and groaned; he really and truly didn't know which way was up right now.
He had the faintest notion that Sam might have hurt himself. Not badly, he guessed; because Sam was still moving around and still seemed fairly calm and rational, but there was something weird about the way he was carrying himself; he seemed crooked, strained. However, Dean knew that right now his mind simply couldn't formulate the words to ask him if everything was okay.
Even if he could, he reflected, his stupid voice was so wrecked, the words would come out sounding like he was chewing razorblades anyway.
But right now Sam seemed okay; worried, but okay. He was sitting here with Dean, being all handsy – well, one-handsy anyway; pawing him about, checking him over for injuries, feeling his pulse, and looking him up and down, all concerned, with those stupid big, dewy puppy eyes of his.
It was only after a long few minutes that Dean realised those stupid big, dewy puppy eyes were looking over his shoulder, and focussing on something behind him.
Knowing that twisting his neck was a complete no-go right now, Dean moved to shuffle round in Sam's arms, slapping Sam's hand away when he tried to stop him.
Eventually, after much huffing and groaning, Dean had managed to turn a full 180 degrees. Eyes closed in exhausted relief, he leaned back into Sam's solid chest, silently breathing away the pain.
Then he opened his eyes.
"BABY!" He croaked, staring through the darkening gloom at the terrible sight before him, not caring how much it hurt to speak.
Standing shoulder to shoulder, in an effort to support each other both physically as well as emotionally, the Winchesters stared helplessly at Baby; Dean briefly chanced a glance at Sam, his eyes suspiciously shiny.
"Why," he whispered; "why'd she do this?"
"Because it was going to kill you," Sam stated matter-of-factly, fighting to steady his faltering voice; "it had broken my wrist taking my weapon away from me and had me pinned down, so I couldn't help you, and it was going to kill you," he explained with a heavy sigh; "she made herself our weapon. metal forged in fire."
Moving his flashlight across the grotesquely folded metal of her fender, Dean's nose wrinkled in disgust as he saw the spreading pool of viscous brown sap staining her hood.
Stiffly reaching round, he pulled off his jacket; "help me wipe this shit off her," he snarled, throwing his discarded coat over the stained metalwork and mopping the unwelcome liquid away.
"I'm gonna make this right;" he murmured huskily clutching Baby's fender as if it were the only thing keeping him upright, "I've done it before and I'll do it again now. I'll fix you up better than you've ever been, Baby," he whispered despairingly; "that's a promise, and I never break my promises to you."
The only response was a soft click as her flickering headlight failed.