A/N: I had long intended to post a full "Bits and Bobs"-style collection of these side stories for the Gwaith i Innas Lain AU, but the longer I wait to get back to the ones that aren't finished, the less likely it is that any of them will ever get posted. So here's this one, set during the year-long gap between the Prelude and Chapter 1 of "Quenta Ambarmetto." (I still hope to finish at least one more, but I can't promise.)
by San Antonio Rose
It was a little unnerving, seeing Bobby so still and pale on the hospital bed in Pittsburgh and listening to the doctor say he couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. It had to be something supernatural, but beyond that, Dean had no ideas. There wasn't a scratch on him, apparently, so it couldn't be a Morgul blade.
But thinking of that incident made Dean realize what he needed to do. So he thanked the doctor, and once they were alone again, he turned to Sam. "We got any chocolate?"
Sam frowned. "You think you can get Bobby to wake up for chocolate?"
Dean rolled his eyes.
"Miracle pill? What?"
"The chocolate is for me, stupid."
"Why? What's..." Sam trailed off, and his eyes went wide. "You're gonna..."
"You got a better idea?"
"I called you back, didn't I?"
"Yeah, once. You don't know what's goin' on in there."
"And we don't know how much time he has, either."
Sam swallowed hard and nodded. "Okay. Okay, I'll... I'll run get you some M&Ms from the vending machine."
Dean nodded back. "I'll wait. Promise."
Sam hurried off, and Dean pulled a chair up beside Bobby's bed. From that angle, he thought he could see Bobby's eyes moving as if he were dreaming. Dean couldn't be sure if his... gift, for lack of a better term, included the ability to enter people's dreams, but it couldn't hurt to try.
"Okay," Sam said as he bustled back into the room. "I've got M&Ms, peanut butter crackers, and a Mountain Dew."
"Thanks, Sammy. Put 'em on the tray, wouldja?"
Sam set everything on the bedside table, then closed the door and came to stand beside Dean.
Dean sighed. "If... if this goes sideways, call Maglor."
Dean took a deep breath, let it out again, and took Bobby's hand. Nothing happened. So he laid his free hand across Bobby's forehead and closed his eyes. Still nothing, but he sensed that he was getting close... if he just... focused... focused... pushed...
... and then he was standing in Bobby's kitchen, and a woman was screaming from the hallway and banging on what sounded like the door of the hall closet.
Bobby?! Dean called.
HELP! Bobby cried. Someone help me!
Acting purely on instinct, Dean drew Maeglach and charged into the hall. Sure enough, a woman in a blood-spattered white dress was pounding on the closet door.
CHRISTO! yelled Dean, and she rounded on him, eyes going demon-black. He fired, and she... vanished.
And Bobby gasped and sat up, staring around the hospital room in shock.
"Dean?" Sam asked, a supportive hand landing on Dean's shoulder as he slumped back in the chair.
"Soda," said Dean, and Sam handed him the Mountain Dew with the cap already off. Dean nodded and drank gratefully. He wasn't feeling as drained as he had after pulling Sam back from the brink of death, but his hands were already starting to shake.
"Dean?" Bobby asked quietly. "What... what in the hell did you do, son?"
Dean sighed. "'S my gift, Bobby. What was that you were dreamin' about?"
Bobby's face fell. "My wife. She was possessed, and I... I killed her."
"Don't be sorry. If it weren't for you, I'd still be lost in there, or dead. Thank you."
Sam sat down on the edge of the bed. "What happened, Bobby? Why couldn't you wake up?"
Bobby leaned back on the bed. "Neurologist here in town was doin' some off-the-books studies with African Dream Root. A little of it allows you to enter someone else's dream, but with practice, you can do more than just dreamwalk. Kid named Jeremy Frost got hooked on the stuff. He's a full-on genius, 160 IQ—which is sayin' something, considering his dad took a baseball bat to his head. Injury left him with Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome, which means he can't dream."
"'Til he started dosing the dream drug," Dean nodded and motioned to Sam for food.
"Yep. Doc tried to pull the plug on the study; Frost killed him."
Sam handed Dean the M&Ms and looked back at Bobby. "How's the stuff work? I mean, how was he able to get into your head?"
Bobby looked embarrassed. "Need the person's DNA. 'Fore I knew it was him, he offered me a beer. I drank it."
"Coulda happened to anybody," Dean sighed and poured a third of the M&Ms into his mouth.
Bobby watched him in concern. "You all right, son?"
Dean nodded, chewed, and swallowed. "Yeah. It's not as bad as last time, I don't think, but we drove straight through. Just need to let the sugar kick in, and I'll be fine."
Bobby sighed and pressed the call button.
By the time the doctor got over his astonishment and discharged Bobby, Dean had recovered well enough that Bobby had both Winchesters suit up and go with him to confront Jeremy Frost. But they arrived at the boy's dorm just as a covered gurney was being loaded into a coroner's van.
"Can I help you gentlemen?" asked the uniformed officer who was standing on the sidewalk.
Bobby flashed a badge. "Need to speak with Jeremy Frost. He's a person of interest in an investigation my colleagues and I are working on."
The cop shook his head. "Sorry, sir, you're too late. He's dead."
"Dead?" all three hunters echoed.
"Yeah. Coroner says he fell asleep and just... never woke up."
Dean just managed not to reach for Maeglach in his shock.
"Huh," was all Bobby said. "Well, thanks. C'mon, boys. Guess we're done here."
Dean handed Sam the keys on the way back to the car and got in on the passenger's side.
"Dean?" Sam asked as soon as the doors were safely closed.
"Maeglach," Dean replied, fighting to keep his voice level. "I had Maeglach in the dream, and I shot... well, I thought it was a demon."
Bobby reached forward and patted Dean's shoulder. "Probably the only way you could have killed him unless you shot him in person, which would be... problematic."
Dean sighed. "I know. I just... I don't remember Aragorn doing that in Lord of the Rings."
"Dude," said Sam, "he was fighting the Black Breath, not dreamwalkers. You saved Bobby's life, probably other people, too. That's what matters."
Dean shook his head. "I don't want this power, Sam."
"Dean, you've used it twice."
"And this time I killed somebody."
"Woulda had to kill him anyway, son," Bobby noted. "He killed once, tried to kill me. If we'd let him live, he might have gone serial." When Dean didn't respond, he added, "You're part Elf, Dean, and from what Maglor says, you're part angel, too. But you're human in the ways that matter most. You ain't a monster, any more than Sam is."
Dean instinctively started to object that of course Sam wasn't a monster when he realized Bobby's point. Sam had the same history and the same bloodline. Azazel had exploited it with the spell, sure, but if Sam, powers and all, wasn't a monster... well, then neither was Dean. And the look on Sam's face made it clear that he wasn't about to let Dean become a monster, either.
"Thanks, Bobby," he whispered.
Bobby squeezed his shoulder and sat back.
Dean took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "So, uh... how 'bout gettin' some pie?"
Sam huffed in amusement and started the engine.