AN: This one shot was based on the fan art I posted as the cover photo for the story. It's a piece by euclase called Fancy Dean. It caught my eye when it was shared in my facebook SPN fanfic group and inspired me to write. Thank you euclase for your amazing talent! Hope you enjoy!
"Hurry up, Sam!" Dean called from the car.
Sam slammed the trunk down and ran to the passenger side door with his bag. Hopping in, Dean slammed on the gas before he had his door closed all the way.
"You have everything you need?"
"Yeah, salt, lighter, yeah, yeah." Sam was double checking his bag as he spoke.
"Okay I'm going to drop you at the garage. You know where to look right?"
"Yeah, he's buried in one of two places out back. Once I find him, salt and burn."
"Just make sure you hurry, I'm worried about Josh."
Sam looked at Dean as he drove. Josh was a homeless kid, about 8 years old, that they stumbled across while investigating this case. Well, actually, he stumbled onto them.
A vengeful spirit had been wreaking havoc on a work site on the other side of town. Long story, short, when they had started tearing down an old factory out there, the spirit didn't take too kindly to it. The kid, Josh, made his 'home' in the empty warehouse next door. Sam had to admit, he was a cute kid and for some reason, Dean had taken a liking to him. Sam guessed it was a case of once a big brother, always a big brother.
The kid came upon them while they were fighting off the spirit, had seen Dean shoot it with rock salt, and the subsequent disappearance of it. Sam remembered it so clearly. Dean had been hunched over, his hands on his knees, catching his breath, when Josh seemed to appear out of no where and said "Are you seeing stars?"
When they turned, Dean had his shotgun raised, expecting another ghost. He almost dropped it when he saw Josh. The kid stood there with his hands on his hips, a dirty red satin cape hanging from his shoulders and a head band with two stars bouncing from it on his head. Dean had slowly lowered his weapon, chuckled and answered, "Yeah, kid, I guess I am."
As much as Dean had tried, he couldn't get Josh to relocate. He insisted that the warehouse was his home and he wasn't giving it up without a fight. Dean finally got him to agree to stay at the warehouse and to not wander into the construction site, but we both knew how kids were.
"Dean, if you don't slow down, we won't be alive to take care of this ghost or Josh."
"I know, I know, but it's almost sun down." Dean took the last corner before the garage. Since it was Sunday, no one was there. He slammed to a stop and Sammy grabbed his bag and a shovel he had had propped on his lap, and hopped out. "Get him, Sammy, and be quick about it!" Dean called as he peeled out of the lot.
Dean parked between the warehouse and the construction site. He grabbed his shotgun, double checked his colt in his back waist band, and loaded up with extra rock salt shots. Slamming the trunk down, he turned to the construction site, first, and listened. The factory was about two thirds of the way gone. Left was one end of the building, it's roof hanging down and covering the shell of a building that remained. Debris lay scattered all over the place. All was quiet.
He turned toward the warehouse, then, and called out, "Josh! Hey Josh, it's Dean!" He waited, listening. Nothing. Well, hopefully that meant Josh was out and about in town or maybe already down for the night. He turned, again, readied his shotgun, and headed toward the factory.
There were a few work lamps left on and scattered around what was left of the building, casting dim light, but enough to see without a flashlight. He estimated that he had dropped Sam off about ten minutes ago, so maybe another ten or so if he got lucky and found the bones in the first place he looked. Of course, Sammy didn't have him there to help, so maybe more like another twenty minutes.
He stepped around the hanging roof and into what was left of the factory, keeping his gun trained in front of him. Suddenly, a scream pierced the night. It sounded like it came from off to the left. Dean picked up his pace and zig zagged through piles of piping, metal sheeting, and unknown machinery. He was pissed at what he saw when he came around a corner.
There was an over turned desk and two stars bobbing in the air behind it. "Josh!" Dean said in a loud whisper.
Josh's head popped up and looked in his direction. "Dean! I think he's dead!" Josh's face was pale. He may be able to take care of himself on the streets, but death was something new to him and not something any eight year old kid should have to deal with. Any normal one, at least, Dean thought.
Dean hustled around the desk to find a security guard with his insides on his outsides. He checked for a pulse even though, he was pretty sure, it was unnecessary. No pulse, but still warm. This guy had been the scream he had heard. Dean instinctively stood and put his arm out, moving Josh behind him as he scanned the immediate area.
Seeing nothing, he turned his head to the side and spoke to Josh behind him. "I thought you were going to stay in your warehouse." He whispered. He snuck a glance at the kid. His eyes were huge with fear but he had put on his tough face. He hadn't been around this stuff long enough to learn how to wear many masks like himself.
"Yeah." Josh said.
"So...why are you over here, then?"
"I was following a dog. He looked hurt. I wanted to help him." God help him, this kid reminded him so much of a young Sammy. Josh's voice was faltering and Dean needed to keep him calm.
"Okay, that's okay, buddy. You know, my brother has a thing for dogs too." He patted Josh's arm. "Let's get you out of here, okay?" They started walking back the way they had come. Dean moved behind Josh, wanting to be able to keep him where he could see him.
They made it out into an open area and Dean spotted their ghost on the other side of the room. He grabbed Josh's shoulder and stopped him. Josh looked back at him. Dean held his finger up to his mouth and pointed at the ghost. When Josh looked back, Dean crouched down and pulled Josh with him and then motioned for him to keep going. Suddenly there was a crash as a crate of some kind exploded into the wall in front of them. Dean pulled his gun around and let off a shot, but the ghost vanished just in time.
"He knows we're here, now, so we may as well make a run for it." Dean said and grabbed Josh around his waist and carried him under his arm. Running while carrying him was tough, but he knew it would be slower if he let him go on his own. In any other circumstance, the stars on his head, bouncing around, would have been comical.
He rounded a bend and could see the gap in the hanging roof that he came in through. Just then the spirit appeared right in front of them. He held out his shotgun and just as he pulled the trigger a chunk of wood flew through the air and hit his arm, knocking the gun away. He set Josh down and scrambled to get a rock salt round out of his pocket. "Stay down!" he called to Josh. He got a hold of a round and struggled to get the end of it open.
When he looked up again the ghost was on them. He whipped his hand out, scattering the salt from the round at the ghost. It flew through it's middle and the ghost vanished. Dean looked down to Josh. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I think so." His voice sounded so small.
"Sit tight. I'm going to get my gun. He should stay gone for a little bit." Josh nodded his head, eyes huge. Dean went in the direction his gun flew, but it wasn't where he thought it should have been. There was a pile of junk on the floor and he worried it had gone into it. He turned to do a visual check on Josh just in time to see a metal filing cabinet flying through the air towards his back.
He yelled Josh's name, but was too late to stop it. The cabinet crashed into Josh, sending him sprawling onto the floor, the cabinet coming to rest on top of him. "Sammy! Hurry up!" Dean screamed into the night. He scrambled back over to Josh, heaving the metal cabinet off of him. Josh was out cold, had a gash on his head that was bleeding pretty good and his breathing was gurgling. Dean feared a punctured lung.
He started to pull more salt rounds out of his pocket, having failed to retrieve his weapon. Suddenly the ghost was right there and a steel bar came crashing down toward Josh.
"No!" Dean yelled as he lunged over Josh holding up his arm. The bar came down on his arm and Dean heard the crack of his bones as it broke. The bar raised up and readied to come down again. Dean tucked his broken arm between him and Josh and covered the kid as best he could. He felt the bar nail him on the back of the head and then he really did see stars.
When he came to, the ghost was gone. He checked his watch. It had only been about 15 minutes. He got off Josh, suddenly aware that he could be causing him more harm than good lying on top of him. He checked for a pulse and thankfully found one. Blood was dribbling out of his mouth and the gash on his head was still bleeding. Dean pulled off his outer shirt, only swearing a bit as it came down past his broken arm, and held it to Josh's head.
He realized he needed to call for help and probably call Sammy and tell him to catch a cab when his phone vibrated in his pocket. He looked at his broken arm and then down at Josh. He spun around on his butt and used his foot to hold the shirt to Josh's head, while he dug his phone out with his good hand.
"Dean, you okay? I got lucky, found him on the first try."
"Yeah, Sammy, I'm okay, but I'm busted up and Josh is hurt pretty bad. Call 911 for me and catch a cab will ya?"
"Sure thing, Dean." Sam hung right up without waiting for a goodbye.
When Dean set his phone down and looked back at Josh, his eyes were open and he was looking at him.
"Hey Josh...it's going to be okay. Alright? The medics are on their way."
"Your head...(wheeze)...s'bleeding..." Josh gurgled as he spoke.
"Shh. Don't talk, Josh, okay?" Dean hadn't even realized his head was bleeding. Must have been when the bar smacked him the second time.
Josh reached up and handed his star headband to Dean. Dean took it and looked at Josh, confused. "It's for...(wheeze)...good luck..."
At the hospital, Dean was extremely short with the staff and impatient. Sam apologized to them multiple times. "Dean, they are trying to help you. Show a little gratitude?"
"Screw my arm, Sammy. How's Josh? They won't tell me anything."
"Josh is stable. We aren't family, so they aren't going to tell us anything more than that."
"Sam, he doesn't have family!"
"Yes, Dean, I know, they know, but we are nobody to them, okay? Calm down. If you would cooperate a little more, then they could finish casting your arm and you'd be able to go see him, alright?"
Dean let out an aggravated huff and scowled at the poor nurse trying to cast his arm. Fifteen minutes later, they were walking into Josh's room. Dean looked around the room as if looking for something, scowled and walked out. A few minutes later, he returned, and hung Josh's red cape from his IV pole. He plunked himself down in a chair next to the bed and looked at him. Sam noticed he was playing with something in his hands.
"What have you got, there, Dean?"
"Huh? What? Oh, um, his stars. He gave them to me at the factory. He said they were good luck. I wanted to return them before we left."
"You're supposed to wear them." Came a small raspy voice from the bed. The brothers turned as one to Josh.
"Hey, buddy, how you doing?" Dean asked, putting on one of his many masks.
"You're supposed to wear them." He repeated, looking as stern as an eight year old boy in a hospital bed can look.
Dean looked down at the stars and then over at Sam. Sam just raised his eyebrows at him. Dean pressed his lips together in thought and then put them on. Sam knew he would. He couldn't even count the many times, growing up, that Dean had done similar things for him. He may come across as gruff and badass, but deep down, Sam knew that if you could flip that big brother switch, there's nothing he wouldn't do for his kid brother, or even a substitute kid brother as the case may warrant.
Dean looked back over to Josh to find his eyes closed and the kid having fallen back to sleep. Dean sat there for about an hour before finally setting the stars on the side table, squeezing Josh's small hand, and leaving.