Whoops, going away for a few days over the weekend has thrown me all out of kilter on this ... sorry for the delay in updating!
It was actually quite unnerving.
Sam just couldn't quite recognise this bookish stranger that was sitting across the table from him, searching through the Letters' endless database with an almost religious fervour. This stranger who would beaver away for hours writing pages and pages of colour-coded notes without so much as a sigh, and who would sit contentedly tippy-tapping away on their laptop without once ever getting distracted by porn. (Sam knew his brother's 'I'm secretly surfing porn' expression far too well – and he would be perfectly happy never to see that look again).
The mysterious doppelganger looked like Dean; he sounded like Dean; he smelled like Dean – even after last night's onion and double jalopeno taco with extra garlic – but Sam still had to fight the urge to ask 'who are you and what have you done with my brother?'
Every night, this new, purpose-driven Dean would disappear for a couple of hours and Sam knew where he'd gone. He had taken a pile of folders and his coffee down to the garage to sit with his girl as he continued his work so that she wouldn't be alone all day.
If they didn't find the solution to this riddle, Sam thought, it sure wouldn't be for the want of trying.
Gradually, however, everything the brothers could find began to come together in a logical order and some answers began to emerge from the confusion.
Sam mused that this project must have been one of the last that the Men of Letters undertook before their sudden termination. The records were uncharacteristically scant, and poorly filed. That fitted in with the haphazard way the enchanted mechanical parts that Dean had originally found had been hastily packed and unsorted in random store cupboards down in the garage.
But finally, after ten days of backbreaking work, the Winchesters could finally believe they had an answer.
"Okay, so it looks like there are two parts to this ritual," Dean stated, reading from some of the notes he'd made; "it doesn't matter what bits and pieces we enchant, what matters is how we do the ritual."
Sam nodded in agreement; "yeah, the incantation all revolves around symbols of life," he began; "so first we have to draw out the ankh …"
"That's the ancient Egyptian key of life," Dean interrupted.
"… yeah the Egyptian key of life," Sam repeated; "we have to draw it out in charcoal from an Elder tree, then …"
"Why an Elder tree?" Dean asked, scanning his notes with a furrowed brow in case he'd missed anything.
"Because in Celtic lore, the Elder tree symbolises birth, renewal and regeneration," Sam replied; "the circle of life."
Dean nodded thoughtfully; "Elder tree it is then, we got any?"
"In the vaults," Sam replied; "Elder bark is used in a whole load of white magic, so the Men of Letters kept quite a lot of it."
"Cool," grinned Dean; "okay, so then we have to place the inanimate object that we want to enchant in the loop of the ankh that we've drawn and that's when we recite the incantation over it."
"Yep," Sam agreed; "accipere vita accipitis cogitatione accipere animam," he read; "it means 'receive life, receive thought, receive soul."
Dean nodded, and gnawed his lip in thought for a moment; "so that's it then?"
"Not quite," Sam replied absently, reading down his own notes; "as we read the incantation, we have to sprinkle the inanimate object with, uh, blood."
"Uh-huh," Sam nodded; "blood is synonymous with life, an animal can't live without it."
"Yeah, well I don't know what synonymous means," Dean snorted; "but I get your meaning."
"Oh, and it has to be human blood."
"Okay," sighed Dean, "it's for my baby, so no big deal."
"The object will take on the characteristics of the creature that gave its blood for the incantation, so if we used a dog's blood for instance," Sam explained cautiously, seeing Dean's eyes narrowing more and more dangerously with every word he said; "she'd take on the characteristics of a …"
"Don't even go there," growled Dean; "you turn my baby into a dog an' I'll turn you into someone with a broken nose."
"I never said I was turning her into a dog, asshat," Sam retorted; "I'm just illustrating a point – the point that it has to be human blood if we want her to talk again."
"Okay," snorted Dean impatiently as he rolled up his sleeve; "feel free to bleed me!"
"Not yet," shrugged Sam; "you've got to take the parts that we want to enchant out of her first."
"Oh yeah," Dean grinned, rolling his sleeve back down as he leapt up out of his chair; "I'll get onto that right now."
The incantation appeared to go without a hitch, and while Sam retired to the bathroom to shower away an accumulation of charcoal and bloodstains, Dean had gleefully walked away with a fistful of enchanted nuts, bolts and rivets to heal Baby with.
He was still absent when Sam emerged from the bathroom almost an hour later and headed for the coffee maker. Pouring himself a drink, he retired to the main hall, with the latest newspaper under his arm and pulled out a chair at one of the big tables in the middle of the room.
It was going to be nice, he thought, to read up on something other than long-lost life incantations for a change.
He'd been sat only a moment and hadn't even opened his newspaper when a cut-glass English accent rang out from underneath him.
"Hello Sam, nice to meet you at last; it's a pleasure to be accommodating your arse tonight!"
Coffee. chair and newspaper went flying as he leapt out of the chair with a yelp, and stumbled sideways in shock. Losing his footing, he toppled over and ended up in an undignified sprawl beside the table.
As he looked up, he saw Dean walking toward him, a broad grin splitting his face in two, "hey Sammy," he exclaimed; "it worked, I can fix Baby up now!"
"Wha … uh?" Sam mumbled as he looked up at Dean.
Dean shrugged; "well, you didn't think I was gonna put any old magic crap in Baby without testing it first, did you?"