Sam's head swivelled between his frowning brother and the imposing black car beside him as he processed what Dean had just told him; "what, nothing?" He repeated; "she's said nothing at all?"
Dean shook his head, his frown deepening as Baby's faulty headlight flickered; "nothing," he sighed with a weary shrug; "nada. I tried so hard to do what I did before, I've turned this damn place upside down looking for the same components I used then but I guess there just weren't enough of those enchanted parts left."
As if to put the icing on a very crappy cake, Baby's headlight flickered again.
"And I've still got to fix that damn light;" he grunted miserably; "I don't know what's freakin' wrong with it."
Taking in the defeated slump of Dean's shoulders, Sam knew that his brother was going to take this loss hard. His delight at having his Baby interact with him, tease him and show him he was loved, had suddenly been snatched away almost as soon as it had begun. It was more unfair than Sam could find the words for.
"You know," Sam began cautiously; "she's still your Baby; she was always special to you – to us - before you put those magic parts in her, and she still will be."
Dean looked up at Sam from under knotted brows and nodded silently.
"Now we know for sure what she feels about us," Sam continued, glancing across at his despondent brother's reflection in her gleaming black paintwork; "we can still make sure she knows that you care about her; that we both care about her."
"Yeah," Dean replied absently, not making eye-contact and clearly preoccupied with Baby's flickering headlight.
"Why don't you start by having a go at fixing that?" Sam suggested with a hopeful shrug; "you'll figure it out, I know you will."
But Dean wasn't listening any more.
"Hold on, Sam," he muttered quietly, waving a hand in front of the headlamp as it continued to flicker, sending rapid bursts of light strobing around the cavernous interior of the bunker's garage; "say that thing you said a minute ago, you know – the thing about caring for her…" he prompted.
Sam thought for a moment; "what? D'y mean when I said about making sure she knows we both care about her?"
Dean's face split into a grin almost as bright as Baby's errant headlight as it momentarily stopped flickering, then blinked twice in quick succession.
"Baby," he gasped breathlessly, crouching down in front of her grille; "is that you? Are you talking to us?"
Once again, the headlight blinked twice.
Sam's jaw dropped as he realised what was happening, and crouched down beside his brother. "How is that even possible?" He gasped.
Dean shook his head; "I don't know," he replied; "I did find a couple of parts here, which I put in her, but maybe it wasn't enough, or they weren't enchanted enough or ... who knows!"
"She's communicating in a different way …" Sam grinned; "you said her light has been flickering all the time since you started fixing her. Dean, what if she's been trying to tell us something?"
As those words left his lips, Baby's headlight flew into a wild frenzy, flickering and flashing like July the fourth.
"That's it," Dean snapped, slapping himself on the forehead; "oh Baby, you've been trying to talk to me all the time and I haven't been listening," he glanced at Sam, the tight set of his jaw belying his anger at himself. "What've you been trying to say?"
Her headlamp stilled for a moment, and then, after a brief pause, flicked on and off twice in quick succession.
"Twice for yes, once for no?" Sam asked, nodding in understanding as Baby's lamp flickered twice.
"Okay," Dean replied; "let's play twenty questions … do you want us to do anything for you?"
The brothers glanced at each other, their excitement building.
Sam took a deep breath and continued; "Does Dean need to do some more work on you?"
Dean hesitated in thought for a moment; "will we be able to get you back to how you were before you killed the Leshy?"
His question was rewarded with two blinks.
Dean's face lit up like a supernova as he turned to Sam, then back to Baby. "How?" he asked in his excitement.
"Yes or no," Sam reminded him, with a nudge; "hey, are there any more enchanted parts lying around the bunker that Dean doesn't know about?"
"So … there aren't any more parts," he mused; "then how …"
"I've got it," Dean leapt to his feet, and clapped Sam on the shoulder hard enough to overbalance him.
"I need to work on her with the right sort of parts to get her back to how she was before," Dean explained; "there aren't any more of them … so we need to make our own!"
A broad smile of understanding spread across Sam's face as he picked himself up off the floor.
"The Men of Letters," he grinned, shaking his head as if he couldn't believe he hadn't thought of it already; "they worked out how to enchant all those components for their artificial intelligence experiments years ago; there'll be a record of how they did it somewhere."
Dean nodded enthusiastically.
"Exactly," he agreed, positively beaming with glee; "if we can't use the Letters' stockpile any more, then we'll just make our own magic parts!"
They both watched in awe as Baby affirmed their conclusion, her headlight blinking on and off almost continuously with an enthusiasm that was palpable.
Turning to Sam with a grin, Dean slapped him on the back; "well, Sammy, it looks like you've got a whole lot of awesome research to do."
Suddenly Baby's flickering headlight fell still before giving one very firm and prolonged blink, leaving Dean with the distinct feeling that he was being scolded.
Sam grinned in return; "yeah, and it looks like you're gonna be helping me, dude!"