The final chapter of Part 2. Sorry about the delay in posting but real life took priority for a while.
Will there be a Part 3 you ask? Well, the ending will leave that possibility open, although it works perfectly well as an ending in its own right. So…maybe, one day.
Max scrubbed at her eyes, trying and failing to wipe away the fog of fatigue that had settled over her during the last few days. Even shark DNA didn't keep her going forever. The situation wasn't good. White's private army of familiars had joined forces with local militia and Terminal City was surrounded, frozen once more in an uneasy state of siege. Tensions were high, not helped by the rantings of the circus media camped outside the gates. If shots were exchanged, who knew where it could lead.
"It's never gonna end, is it? They're never gonna leave us alone."
The note of despair was unfamiliar in the feisty transgenic's voice and Logan's head came up, his attention torn away from the flickering screen of the old laptop. He pushed his lips out, chewing at the inside of his cheek as he slowly removed his glasses and began to polish them with small, decisive movements.
"We have some support growing within Government, Max." When he finally spoke, Logan chose his words carefully, understanding and respecting the pressure bearing down the on the shoulders of the leader of Terminal City.
Max turned to him with a dark scowl. "They're not a lotta use if they won't take sides."
"They can't be seen to take sides with us, not now. You know that. The media is running wild with this story and they're not going to let it go."
Max sighed, hitched one hip up to rest the cheek of her ass on the table. "Ben." It wasn't a question.
"Yes. Ben." Logan slipped his glasses back onto his face and settled them in place. His eyes, magnified a little by the lenses, were earnest. "Public opinion is starting to lean towards acceptance of transgenics. There are even support groups forming for those affected by what are viewed as illegal trials with human DNA. But Joe Public isn't going to accept a situation where Terminal City is harboring a serial killer."
Max sighed again, a weary acknowledgement full of sorrow and stress. "You're right. Thing is, we send him away, where is he gonna go?"
It was a question that had been rattling around in Sam's head for some time. Not to imply that Sam's head was the empty kind of skull where a thought could collide with blank walls of bone and bounce freely across to the opposite wall. More that it was a thought with sharp edges, a question with a shape that didn't fit with any answer his considerable brain capacity could produce. Fortunately, sometimes when the conscious mind cannot provide a solution, the unconscious mind comes forward with the very answer you are seeking. In Sam's case it used the medium of a dream.
He awoke to the startling view of Joshua's furry features at close quarters.
"Sam is dreaming. About Ben."
"Uh…" Sam pushed stray hair out of his eyes, unglued his tongue from the roof of his mouth and hoped his breath wasn't as bad as the dog-scented wafts coming from the face hovering over him. "Yeah."
Mercifully, Joshua sat upright, slapping the palm of his hands down onto his own thighs with a pleased expression. "Joshua has been dreaming too." He squinted at Sam with a wistful gaze. "Can Sam do this thing?"
Sam swung his legs off the narrow cot and ran his fingers through his hair in a distracted way, pushing away the weird thought that Joshua had shared his dream. That weirdness could wait until later. "Honestly, I don't know. Guess I'm gonna have to try though."
Joshua nodded, the movement firm. "Yesss," he said. "Yes."
"Is it somewhere…quiet?"
Joshua nodded again. "Big fella has it in the perfect place."
"Sam! Hey Sammy!"
Sam's stride broke and he halted, his boots planted firmly on the uneven surface of the broken sidewalk. Turning his face upwards towards the sound of the familiar voice, he saw Dean's head leaning out of a broken second floor window. His brother frowned down at him.
"Where you goin'?"
"Gonna give Joshua a hand." Sam didn't elaborate, hoping Dean wouldn't question him further, but it seemed Dean had other things on his mind. His brother leaned a little further out of the window, resting his elbows on the shattered frame.
"Seen the news this morning?" He didn't wait for an answer. "Media is goin' crazy, stirring up some heavy hitters in the Seattle law department. They're demanding we hand over the serial killer. That ain't gonna happen, Sammy. We gotta get Ben outta here, before some loose cannon starts somethin' we can't stop."
Sam nodded. "I've got an idea…I'll be a few minutes, okay?" I hope, he thought fervently, sending an easy grin in Dean's direction. He stuck his hands in his pockets and turned away quickly, before the ever-present Dean-radar detected some anomaly in what was essentially a truthful statement.
The sound of the Winchester's voices had travelled easily upwards to another broken window, set a floor higher and a little to the right of the one recently occupied by Dean's head and elbows. A pigeon fluttered in through the broken panes, seeking a dry nesting ground. It settled on a bare shelf and regarded the X5 sitting on the dusty floor with a beady eye.
A steady pair of green eyes were turned in the same direction. Their owner shuffled slightly on the upturned crate on which he was resting, waiting for Ben's reaction.
Ben kept him waiting a little longer, drawing the tip of his finger slowly through the brick dust and minute shards of glass that coated the floorboards beside his outstretched leg. Even the miraculous healing in the van had only gone so far to mending his leg and sometimes it was easier to just sit on the floor and stretch it out. Eventually he looked up and met Alec's stare. He shrugged, raising his palms upwards in a gesture of resignation.
"I'm coming with you," said Alec firmly.
Ben tilted his head back, letting it rest against the cobwebbed plaster behind him. His eyes were green slits in his pale face as he met his twin's gaze.
"By all means," he drawled. "Come along, get yourself strung up by a mob when some asswipe thinks you're me."
"There won't be any stringing up," snapped Alec. He rose swiftly, jaw muscle flickering. "Seems to me that you can't wait to leave us all behind. But here's the thing, you didn't do so well without us, so mebbe you better hang around, least 'til we come up with a plan."
Ben scowled at him. "Why do I get the feeling that you're going to be hard to shake off?
Alec smirked. "My bad, guess I'm just naturally persistent by nature." He stepped forwards and bent down, taking a firm grip of Ben's upper arm. "C'mon, don't freak out on me yet. We'll all get outta here, together."
In the dim light of the warehouse the metal surface had a dusty sheen. Sam thought its bulky presence held within it all of his hopes. It might also be the death of him.
"Where'd you find it?"
"Mole was finding it outside the walls. Maybe White wasn't needing it again. The engine is broken."
"So Mole brought it in here." Sam smiled, dragging his cuff along the streamlined curve of metal closest to him. "Guess he thought Dean would fix it up." If they were going to stay, if things had been different, then he could see his brother out here, up to his armpits under the hood, bringing life back to the dusty shell of the duplicate Impala.
Sam took a deep breath, trying to steady the nervous trip-hammer of his pulse.
"Okay," he said quietly to himself; he opened the door and put one long leg inside the foot well before looking back at Joshua. "If this doesn't work…"
"It is working," said Joshua firmly. "Big fella and Sam have both seen it already."
Sam nodded. "You better stand back." He dropped into the seat, placed a large palm over one of the vents and closed his eyes as he reached inside himself with his mind, seeking and finding the dark strand of power that coiled at the center of his being. It hummed beneath the touch of his thoughts, unfurled and stretched like a sun-warmed snake before sliding down his veins and out through the skin of his fingers, reaching for a block of lego that lay a universe away, nestled inside the vent of an Impala parked in a scrapyard in South Dakota.
"Are you friggin' KIDDIN' me!"
Dean's voice hit a deep resonant note that clearly indicated his fury. Sam winced under the onslaught of the combination of scowl and shout.
"Dean, stop. It worked."
"You could've been KILLED!"
Dean's fingers curled into a fist and Sam tensed, sure his brother was about to let fly.
"What if you'd got lost? Sonofabitch!"
Dean spun on his heel and slammed his fist into the wall. A shower of old plaster fell down to land in white chunks around his boots and the noise brought the twins running into the room. Alec came to a halt and raised an eyebrow.
"Something we should know about?"
"Why don't you ask smartass here?" Dean wiped debris down the side of his jeans, anger visible in the tight lines of his face and the angle of his shoulders.
"A way out of here," said Sam hurriedly. "For all of us. Back home."
"Your home." Ben's voice was mild.
"Yes, our home. And yours, if you want it to be." Sam, used to reading Dean's expressions, saw the minute change pass across Ben's face, the more obvious conflict on Alec's.
"We can't just leave them to face this shit alone."
"Yeah, Alec, you can." Max was in the doorway, chin up and determination on her features. "What we have here is an army of trained super soldiers. More than that, we're close to finding the answer to the runes." She gestured to herself with an impatient wave. "If they're what we think they are, we got a chance to save the world."
"White has other plans." Alec glared at her. "Maybe you could use a little help."
"You could help, yeah. But what we need is public opinion on our side and we're not gonna get that while Ben is here." She waved off the protest before it was audible. "Do ya think the ordinaries care if it's you or Ben or Dean they get hold of? 'Cause I'm tellin' ya, it's not gonna make a bit of difference to those morons."
"You want rid of us that bad, Max?" The sneer failed to hide the underlying hurt in Alec's eyes.
Max stepped up close, staring up at him with defiance. "No, I don't want rid of any of ya. But you gotta do the right thing here, for you and for everyone else. And you're gonna do it or I'm gonna slap your bitch head!"
Alec stared at her, his face suddenly shuttered. "Well," he murmured. "You got me shakin' in my boots here, Maxie."
"Look," said Sam desperately. "It's not that we want to go, but if we're seen leaving then maybe things will cool down. Let's give Terminal City a chance."
"How can it have a chance with White at the gates?" Ben eyed him, giving nothing away of his feelings.
Max spoke up. "White wanted me, 'cause of the secret hidden in the runes. But it's too late for that now, and he knows it. There's copies, being worked on at the highest levels. Any day now, we'll have a solution and it's gonna be something White and his familiars can't handle. That's why they're waiting outside; it's not me they want any more, it's the Winchesters and you twins. They get you, they got a ticket to another world, one where no-one can stop 'em. You all have to leave, now!"
"Doesn't sit right," said Dean. "Leavin' you all to deal with those asshats."
Mole slipped through the doorway, Joshua at his heels. "Way I hear it, you got some trouble back in your own world you need to take care of. Ain't like y'going on some vacation. You Winchesters ain't meant to be here anyhow, and Ben ain't even meant to be alive." He jabbed a finger at Alec's chest. "You didn't do so good last time you got left behind." His gaze softened. "You remember though, what can travel one way can travel back, and you got family here too."
Alec swallowed, hard, his eyes shunting from Mole to Max and on to Joshua.
In the end there was no arguing with the logic of any of it. All that remained were the finer details. It was decided they would attach themselves to each other, to avoid anyone drifting off to another place or time. Sam would stand outside the Impala and reach in to the vent. That way they should arrive in the same position, not all piled up on the seat.
"You've been a pain in the ass," Mole told Dean, dropping a scaly wink.
"Right back atcha." Dean grinned at him, gripped his hand and added in a serious tone, "I'll look after him."
"Know y'will," Mole acknowledged gravely. "Or I wouldn't be lettin' him go."
Alec missed the exchange, barely escaping with unbroken ribs from Joshua's hug. "Big fella…" he said helplessly, unable to find words to meet the occasion.
"Medium fella, be free." Joshua slapped him heartily on the back, wiped away a trickle of moisture from his own cheek and gave equally hearty back slaps to the Winchesters and Ben. By the time Alec got control of his features enough to turn around, Joshua had gone.
"Alec…" Max was in front of him, her familiar and annoying pout aimed in his direction. Alec didn't want to tell her it was endearing but he guessed from the way her eyes softened that she knew anyway. He wanted to say something smart and all Alec, but couldn't get anything past the lump in his throat.
"I know," she said simply, her fingers playing with his cuff. "Been through some stuff, huh?"
"So you're gonna save the world, Maxie?"
She laughed. "Looks like you got one of your own to save."
Alec hugged her, felt the brush of her lips against his own before she slipped away to fold Ben in a hug. She whispered something in Ben's ear and he nodded, eyes big and dark in his pale face as she stroked his hair.
"You betta blaze." Max stepped away. "OC and Normal are out there doin' their thing. By the time they're finished there ain't gonna be a news channel in the country doesn't know the fugitives have been seen leaving the state."
Then it was a flurry of thanks and good-byes and suddenly they were standing, linked together, outside the dusty Impala.
"Yeah, Dean. I know."
Sam reached out, his fingers fastening over the cool vent. He closed his eyes…
"Stop right there, y'son of a bitch, 'fore I blast y'all full of buckshot!"
It'd be a shame, Bobby thought. If those asshats made a move, the Impala was going to get a load of shot too.
The low chuckle was warm and unmistakable.
"What's eatin' at ya old man."
Bobby hit the light switch and the yard was flooded with light. Sam, Dean, Alec and…
If you've reached this point, you've stuck with me and this fic for a long time. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate your support. Seeing those reader numbers, getting encouraging feedback…it all means so much to a nervous writer! I'll miss the boys and I hope to rejoin them some day. In the meantime, life of the real variety must come first for a while. I'll be leaving my fics online and checking in on them from time to time so I'll answer any comments you leave.
To my regular reviewers, I know I've said it before, but you really do make writing worthwhile and enjoyable. Round of applause to you all.
Hope you enjoyed this chapter and it tied up a few loose ends.
With thanks and warm wishes to you all. : )