A/N Hello all! This is one of the quickest stories that I have ever written, so I'm sorry in advance for any and all mistakes. :)
Also, I have been working on a different, longer story and that should be up sometime in the next few weeks and perhaps that can be something to look forward too. :) But I was/am avoiding packing up all my belongings, and the result is this, whatever this is.
Hopefully, you enjoy and if you would be so kind as to leave a review on the way out, I would greatly appreciate it.
"Oh, great. This is just fantastic." Dean muttered as he stopped lightly tapping out the beat of the music as the Impala rounded the corner. Sam looked up from where he was shoving bullets into the clip of his gun.
"What? Oh…" He grimaced, sitting up straighter as he caught sight of the old, rusted pickup parked just outside of the equally old and rusted gate that led into a long-abandoned factory. "Larry's back."
"Didn't Bobby tell him off?" Dean snapped, his grip tightening on the wheel. "I mean, I'll give it to him. The man has guts. No brains, but guts. If Bobby had laid into me like that, man, I wouldn't be found in a thousand miles of him for fear of my life."
"Yeah, well, as you said. He's got guts." Sam shook his head as he thrust the clip into his gun. "He's young, naïve, but—"
"So, in other words, stupid."
Sam rolled his eyes. "I was gonna use something more like 'dedicated'. Or maybe 'stubborn'." He sighed, watching as Larry clambered out of his pickup and waved cheerfully at them, a gun held loosely in his hand. Dean put the Impala in park, his jaw clenched tight.
"Do you have to have a soft spot for everyone we meet with a sob story? Oh, don't look at me like that, not my fault your heart's so soft."
"Has anyone ever told you that you just have this amazing way with words?"
"Well…" Dean turned in his seat, leering suggestively, and Sam held up both hands.
"No, no, no, I do not want to know." Sam's smile faltered as he looked back out at Larry. A Black Dog was nothing to mess around with, and certainly wasn't something that the average civilian was used to hunting.
Behind them, there was the crunch of gravel under tires as Bobby pulled in just behind them.
Dean suddenly sat up straight with a grin that would have sent even the Black Dog running for cover. "Oh, hurry up and pass me my gun, Sammy. Bobby is gonna raise hell and I want a front-row seat."
"What did the poor man ever do to you?" Sam called over but Dean was already out of the car and leaning against the Impala. Rolling his eyes, Sam clambered out and passed Dean his gun as he watched Bobby slam his car door.
"Hey, guys—!" Larry called over happily but he didn't have a chance for anything else before Bobby was marching towards him. Sam turned, leaning against the Impala as well in an effort to steer clear of Bobby.
The man could tear you a new one and then some when he wanted too.
"What the HELL are you doing here?" Bobby demanded and Sam had to give it to Larry, he stood his ground.
"Sir, with all due respect, we take care of our own. I found the bodies, I want a piece of that wolf and the FBI ain't gonna stop me. It's a free country."
"I don't care." Bobby spat, thrusting his face into Larry's. "I don't care if you found Forrest Fenn's treasure. This is our case and we told you to clear out."
"I thought that you might need my aid."
"With a wolf?" Bobby all but snarled and Dean leaned forward appreciatively. "I think we got it covered, kid."
Larry's smile dropped some but he took a deep breath and plowed on. "Then I don't see why I can't be a part of it. If it really is just a wolf, why aren't you calling animal control? I know Ned, he'd let me help so why are the Feds so concerned. This is more of a job for us then it is for you. It wasn't your kids who ended up dead, it was ours."
"Four people are dead already and your calling that the government's responsibility?"
"No, that's not what I was saying—"
"Well, don't. Get your ass back in that old rust bucket of yours and DRIVE AWAY!" Bobby gestured emphatically towards the pickup with each word but Larry just shook his head.
"I'm stayin'," he repeated, crossing his arms over his chest. He and Bobby glared at each other for a long moment before Larry dropped his gaze. Sam and Dean had to lean forward when he spoke again, his voice quiet. "It's just…It's just that I was the one to find that kid. I owe it to him to be here, I promised him as the lay in—lay in my arms…" he looked away from Bobby and took several deep breaths before he could continue. "I just need to be here, to kill that creature. If it's just a wolf, then you shouldn't have a problem with having another pair of hands as backup."
Bobby was wavering, Sam could see it, and he shared a surprised look with Dean. Dean's face was drawn into a frown, clearly unhappy with the situation which Sam only understood too well. Having a citizen on-hand was just going to make their job that much harder, that much more complicated.
At the same time, however, they had all been in Larry's shoes before, had all made those promises.
Sam shrugged, giving a helpless little smile as Bobby grumbled something under his breath, stuck his index finger into the air, and marched back over to where Sam and Dean were waiting.
"Well, what are we gonna do with ol' Jed Clampett over there?" he asked, jabbing a thumb behind him with exasperation.
"Tell him that we'll arrest him if he stays, he's only gonna be in the way," Dean said instantly, leaning across the car and smacking the roof to make his point.
Sam hesitated. "I don't know, we can't hold up that gig if he tries to push us on it."
"Well, I got handcuffs in the car. That's pretty convincing if you ask me."
"Yeah, where are you gonna lock him up after we are done with the hunt, huh? In the motel bathroom?"
"Stow the crap, boys," Bobby interjected, looking resigned. "Dean, as much as I hate to admit it, Sam may be right about this. I checked the kid out after he kept badgering us earlier. Kid's smart, if he pushes about why the FBI are chasing a wolf, he's likely to have our badge numbers ran and while you two numbskulls don't mind being on the FBI's radar, I would rather not." Bobby shook his head, giving them both exasperated, but fond, looks.
All three of them glanced back at Larry who was shifting side to side apprehensively.
"We might be able to find the Black Dog, kill it, and burn it's body before he sees it. It could pass as a wolf then. Less hassle all around," Sam suggested tentatively.
Dean pulled a skeptical face as he straightened, all business now that the show was over. "Good luck with that. How are we going to keep him distracted? I mean, we could all break off, cover different directions, but that leaves him wide open if we do come across it. Buddy system?"
"Buddy system," Sam and Bobby said at the same time. Bobby turned, grinning a little as he looked over at Sam.
"Looks like you got yourself a new friend now, Sam."
"What? Why do I…" Sam trailed off, glowering at his brother. "You just don't know how to play nice unless it involves a woman."
Dean smirked, nodding in complete agreement. "And, however much fun it might be to see the poor kid crap his pants, Bobby's already scared the living daylights out of him so let's look around and see who's left…"
Sam heaved a sigh, wiping a hand down his face. "Okay, fine. We'll take the north side of the building. That's the opposite end of where the majority of the attacks happened and it'll give you two a chance to kill it in peace."
"Well, glad that's all been decided. Maybe now we'll actually get some work done," Bobby grumbled under his breath as they turned back to face Larry. Dean tucked his gun into the back of his jeans, crossing around the car to join the rest of them.
"Larry, you're going to be with Sam, okay?" Bobby announced as they joined the other man and Sam raised a hand, trying his hardest not to look disappointed. Larry's head shot up, his eyes going wide.
"Oh, thank you, Agent Smith. You won't regret this, I promise."
"I already do." Bobby jerked his head towards the factory. "Listen, you two are going to start up on the northside and work your way down. Dean and I'll take the south and we'll meet in the middle. That wolf is as good as dead."
Larry frowned. "But all the attacks but one happened on the south side, shouldn't we all—"
"Did I mumble?" Bobby asked pointedly and Larry shook his head quickly. "Good. Go with Sam, he'll explain everything else. Sam, call-in every hour."
Sam nodded, helping Dean to heave the heavy gates open. "That goes for you two as well. You be careful, okay, don't get yourself into trouble." They braced the gates open, allowing Bobby and Larry to slip through.
"Trouble is my middle name, Sammy." Dean grinned, letting the gate fall shut with a clang behind them.
"I know," Sam said dryly, and Dean frowned.
Bobby just rolled his eyes "You're both idjits. C'mon, let's get moving before this thing finds something else to snack on."
Everyone pulled out their flashlights before they entered the crumbling building. Dean and Bobby broke off to the right and with a happy grin, Larry followed Sam to the left.
"So, you guys really think that a wolf moved in here?" Larry asked, falling in step just behind Sam as they began to wind their way to the back of the old building.
"Yeah, I mean what else is gonna chew up its prey like that." Sam really hoped that Larry didn't think too hard about that or ask any further questions about the matter. "It probably just decided to hunker down here, and when those teens wandered in, it was free meat."
Larry sighed next to him and Sam cast a glance back in his direction. "What?"
"It's nothing," he replied quickly, forcing his grin back into place. Sam gestured for him to continue and Larry sighed again. "It's just that, well, I don't know wolves' claws could be that large. I saw firsthand the way that that kid was ripped open."
Sam cast his gaze upwards, trying very hard to keep his face straight. That little fact right there was what had drawn their attention in the first place. "I dunno. It could be that it's disfigured somehow."
They reached a large gap in the middle of the passageway where half the wall had tumbled in, bathing the room in the warm afternoon light. Black dogs didn't typically like light and Sam grimaced as they continued down the hallway. The whole northside was run down, there was a reason the majority of attacks had happened on the other side.
Sam's frustration only continued to grow as they cleared room after room with no sign of the Black Dog.
He was literally playing babysitter when he could have been helping Dean and Bobby.
As the hours began to tick by with no sign of any wild animals, Larry's frustration also grew. His cheery smile dropped and he was clearing rooms with only annoyed glances, and more than once made offhand remarks about how "they were in more danger of the floor caving in then being attacked by that wolf."
Maybe Larry's dying sense of caution lured Sam into a false sense of security. Maybe they both fell prey to the idea that they were wasting their time, that the Black dog was nowhere near them.
All the same, Sam wasn't entirely prepared for what greeted him when he turned into a new hallway and came face to face with the Black Dog.
It was massive, bigger than any Sam had seen before.
With unnerving calm, it raised its fiery red eyes to lock on him, dropping the dead coyote that had been dangling from its jaws.
They stared at each other for just a second, both shocked by the other's sudden appearance, before Sam jerked his gun up. Training it on the creature, he fired, but it was too late. The dog was already moving.
Leaping around the coyote, it hurtled towards him, and the bullet just skimmed an ear, electing an unearthly howl. It wasn't stopping, however, and Sam hurriedly backed up, trying to put a little distance between them. With a single bound the Black dog was upon him and its paws slammed into his chest, sending him flying back.
Sam hit the ground with an audible thud, the dog's full weight on his chest, and all his breath left him in a whoosh. Gasping, he dully registered that the dog had shifted, pinning his right leg painfully with its claws, and then the dark head was lowering and its jaws opening.
It was going for the soft skin of his exposed neck and Sam flung his hands up, snapping the snout shut. It growled, trying to dislodge him, and Sam tucked his chin down to his chest in an attempt to become a smaller target. Globs of saliva were dripping down from in-between its fangs, coating Sam's hands and making it difficult to hold on.
"Larry!" Sam tried to yell but the dog bore down, and Sam clenched tighter, fighting to keep its head in his grasp but the gunshot must have been enough of a warning. There was a pounding of feet just behind him and then Larry's horrified gasp.
The creature snapped it's head to the side, taking in a new threat. In an instant, it was off Sam and hurtling towards Larry, who was standing there in shock. Sam rolled over, wheezing in an attempt to refill his lungs, and brought his gun up.
Aiming towards the rafters to avoid hitting Larry, he fired off two rounds.
The dog jerked to the side at the noise, growling low in its throat. Making the connection that it was outnumbered, it dashed past Larry and away from them, its tongue lolling out in between its fangs.
Larry stared after it with horror, his eyes wide and face pale, before finding his feet and lunging back out after it
"Larry, no, wait for me!" Sam rasped, but Larry was already gone. Cursing silently, Sam staggered to his feet and forced his lungs to fill to full capacity.
What the hell was that thing doing up here anyway? Though, if the dead coyote indicated anything, the lack of human food had pushed it to move, to search for other sources of meat.
Ahead of him, a door banged shut and Sam started off in that direction.
It didn't take long for Sam's steps to become smoother, his lungs function like lungs again instead of vacuums, and he charged on, listening intently for sounds of Larry or the Black dog. A gunshot cracked nearby and Sam abruptly veered left at a speed that almost sent him to the ground. A long corridor stretched before him, splashes of light from a broken window illuminating his path.
Larry didn't know what he was up against, not really.
"Damnit." Grasping his gun tighter, Sam poured on a little more speed as another gunshot rang out. Just ahead of him, there was a tight corner that led to a stairwell and he rounded it with caution, trying to decide if the fight had moved upstairs.
Sam froze as old wood creaked above his head. Readying his gun, he ascended the stairs with stealth ingrained from years of training and stopped on the landing, listening.
Off to the right, there was a soft groan of wood and Sam moved that direction, flinching as a board creaked under his weight. There was a corner just ahead, one that would presumably lead to more offices, and Sam held his gun at the ready, his finger already pressed lightly against the trigger.
Flinging himself sharply around the bend, Sam was prepared for anything.
Larry flinched violently at the sudden movement and spun around from where he had been creeping down the hallway. His own gun rose, his face screwed up with fear and determination and automatically aimed at the source of the noise.
The sharp crack of the bullet leaving the chamber was ear-piercing in the old building.
The punch of the bullet knocked Sam off his feet, sending the gun flying from his hands, and suddenly he was staring up at the old, cobwebbed covered rafters. They blurred together sickeningly as Sam fought to take a deep breath, fought to regain control of his body, tried to figure out what had happened.
Had Larry…had he just been shot?
It was only then that the pain hit and Sam wheezed a soft grunt, trying to give voice to the sudden agony that was spreading out from his chest.
"Sam?" Larry was bending over him, his face right in his, but Sam couldn't shove him away, couldn't even get his arms to move. Larry looked horrified, and his hands were trembling as he reached for the buttons on Sam's shirt. "I'm so sorry, I just—I was going after that wolf, or whatever the hell it was, and I just…You came bursting out of nowhere and I freaked and I shot and I didn't look. I didn't even know that you had followed and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, but you were wearing your vest, right? That's standard procedure…right?"
"Vest?" Sam's lips felt funny and the word came out all wrong, but Sam was more focused on the vest part. Dean would laugh his head off if he ever caught him in a vest. Hell, Sam didn't think that he had ever worn one. Larry's eyes were bugging out of his head as he pulled open Sam's flannel, revealing the grey—now red—t-shirt beneath.
"No, no, no, no, no…" Larry had pulled a knife from somewhere and was ripping the shirt open as well, revealing bare skin, his tattoo, and a whole lot of blood. "Bullet-proof vests are standard for the FBI, that's—I shot you. I—"
Larry swallowed thickly as he continued to cut off a portion of Sam's shirt. Bunching it up, he pressed it against the wound, hard. Sam groaned loudly, the pain pushing him closer to the edge of unconsciousness as everything started to swirl and Larry's face became a mass of bland colors.
"Shh, sorry, I'm—" Larry sounded petrified and Sam closed his eyes, willing everything to focus when he opened them. He still had a job to do, that…that thing was still out there. The wolf? No, no, the Black Dog. And Dean and Bobby were…
"Dean," he heard himself mumble. Larry stopped his panicked ramblings and Sam forced his eyes open. Larry's face wavered in and out of focus and Sam fought his own arm, raising it just enough to grip Larry's shirt tightly.
"Black. Dog," he finally managed to spit out.
"What? No, don't talk. I'm gonna go call this in, I'm gonna make this right." Larry was already scrambling for his phone, but Sam yanked him closer.
"Dean. Get to Dean." Each breath sent a sharp punch of pain to his chest but he couldn't stop gasping, couldn't stop the pain.
If it was possible, Larry went even whiter, his hand trembling worse. Not that Sam blamed him. If he thought Bobby had been scary before then Dean was going too—
There was a low growl from further down the hallway and Larry went still. Sam couldn't see much, but he could hear the click of nails against the wood, could hear it's harsh panting breaths. Could even smell its putrid breath.
The Black Dog was back.
"What is it? That's not a dog or a wolf…"
Sam had to agree with Larry. It wasn't a normal dog, and it certainly wasn't a wolf.
It came closer, it's growls increasing, a clear warning. Or maybe it was hunger, it could probably smell all the blood.
Taking a gasping breath, Sam forced an elbow under himself, shoving his body up. Agony sparked like a firework and Sam collapsed back down, crying out which only made the pain worse. But he had seen it had made eye contact.
Its red eyes had locked on him, its nostrils flaring.
Larry's boots began to move and Sam twitched a handout, flapping against Larry's ankle.
"Headshot," he rasped. His own gun was gone, not that it would have done him much good. His whole body felt numb, except for his chest, and he didn't think he could move his gun arm if he had wanted too. Forcing his head up once more, he could only watch as Larry brought raised a trembling gun.
Saliva was dripping from its teeth as it continued to edge forward.
"Shoot it," Sam insisted and Larry seemed to steady, finding his stance. Taking aim, he fired. Sam flinched, even though he had been expecting it, but a howl came from the monster and it jumped back, snarling.
Baring its teeth, it began to advance in earnest, blood dripping from its shoulder. That bullet had only made it angry. Sam tried to gasp out an instruction, to tell him to shoot again, but the words wouldn't come. Larry was talking, his voice coming and going in random spots of noise, but the growling was louder and Sam couldn't understand why Larry wasn't shooting.
Larry bent down, his face right in Sam's once more and Sam willed his ears to work.
"—out of bullets, I'm out." Larry sounded apologetic but he was gripping Sam's shoulder hard. "I'm gonna lead it off, try and find some help, just stay still."
Without another word, Larry was rising, facing the Black Dog head-on. Sam wasn't entirely sure what happened next. He could feel the floor vibrating underneath him, a door banged, what sounded like a yowl, and then there was only silence.
"Larry?" Sam raised his head, his stomach-churning. Larry couldn't…Larry shouldn't have…
Swallowing thickly and panting around the pain, Sam rolled over onto his side. The pain flared but Sam ignored it as he dug his fingers into the rotting wood, pulling himself forward. Gasping harshly, he continued to yank his body along, ignoring the probably critical signals that his mind was sending him.
The makeshift bandage that Larry had been using fluttered to the ground and blood began to drip down, marking his path. Reaching the staircase, Sam pulled in another weak breath as he stretched out his arm, looking for something else to hold onto.
His fingers draped over the edge of the stairs, but he had to stop, had to catch his breath.
He would get up in a moment. He swore he would.
Sam's head tilted forward, his eyes sliding shut as his whole body went limp.
Dean eased a door open and Bobby darted in, gun and flashlight out. He shone it steadily in each corner and then shook his head.
"That damn thing was here," he growled over his shoulder and Dean flashed his own light through. The signs of the animal were clear. A half-eaten owl was mostly under a broken machine and a pile of turds was in a corner. Multiple splashes of blood and a scattering of bones littered the rest of the room, lingering with a foul odor that made both of them wrinkle their noses.
"Huh," Dean pulled back, letting the door swing shut on the carnage. "Where do you think it is right now? That looks like its nest."
"Could be out hunting," Bobby said, clearly less than thrilled. He let his gun droop, pushing his baseball cap up far enough to scratch at the back of his head. "You wanna wait here? It will probably be back sooner rather than later."
"Yeah, probably a good idea." Dean sighed, leaning back against the wall. Flipping over his wrist he checked his watch. It read four minutes past three and he sighed again. "Besides, time does fly when your hunting monsters, and Sam's probably waiting for us to check-in. You know he gets his panties all in a twist if we don't." Dean grinned, pulling out his phone and holding it up to check for service.
"Yeah, and he's not the only one," Bobby muttered with a very pointed look in Dean's direction but he ignored it. So what? It wasn't like Bobby hadn't ever torn them a new one for the same reasons. It was all just part of being a hunter.
One bar flashed weakly in the corner of his phone and Dean punched in on Sam's name. Putting it up against his ear, Dean waited impatiently as the phone rang. And rang. And rang. And then flipped over to voicemail. Frowning, Dean dialed the number again, only for the whole process to be repeated.
"No answer?" Bobby asked lightly and Dean nodded as he ended the call, staring down at the screen.
"Should we…?" Something uneasy was churning in Dean's stomach and he turned to stare back the way that they had come. Bobby was looking around uneasily as well.
"Might as well. That dog isn't here, anyway. Sam and Larry could have stumbled upon it," he pointed out.
Dean was already nodding. "Sam's going to blow a gasket, you know?" he said as they began to move back the way they had come. "Ever since he was two, he has been Mr. Independent and I-can-do-this-myself, and yet here we are, crashing his party. In front of his 'friend' and everything."
Bobby snorted. "I seem to recall a few temper tantrums involving pouring his own juice myself. Besides, it's his own fault for not answering."
"I'll be sure to let you be the one to tell him that," Dean said hastily.
Bobby chewed on something for a moment, before finally saying, "Dean, I'm sure he's fine. Your brother knows how to look after himself."
"Yeah, I know. It's not him I'm worried about," Dean replied tightly.
It took them a fraction of the time to retrace their steps and it was hardly twenty minutes later that they were moving past the front doors and in the direction that Sam and Larry had taken.
It was eerily silent in the old factory as Dean once again tried calling Sam. When he received no answer, he turned to the older man, struggling to hide the worry that was sure to be on his face.
Bobby was looking more concerned as well, his eyes darkening and his mouth turning down.
Sam was a professional, and he had been hunting since the time that most kids were still playing with action figures. Something was wrong.
"Where was Sam the last time you checked in?" Bobby asked lightly as they moved into the first section.
"He said that they were about half-way through." Dean was making a beeline for the area, searching for any signs that would help them in their search. The factory was a maze of old hallways and corridors and Dean was almost to the point of suggesting that they split up when Bobby's arm snapped up against his chest.
"Do you hear that?" he asked in a whisper and Dean froze, straining his ears as well. He glanced quizzically over at Bobby, but the older man's face was screwed up in concentration.
"There's something over there," Bobby finally said, pointing further down the passageway and together they crept down, guns out and at the ready. Off to the right was another doorway and, with Bobby's confident nod, Dean ducked around the corner with his gun at the ready.
The only thing that was there was a rickety old staircase that led up to the second floor. Bobby made a face.
"I swear I heard something. Try Sam's phone again," he ordered and Dean obliged. Tucking the flashlight under his arm, he had just brought the phone up to his ear when a scream rang out.
It was faint and far away, but the terror and desperation were real.
Bobby was already gone and Dean was lunging for the door as well when a familiar ringtone jerked him to a stop.
Spinning around, he pinpointed the noise. It was coming from above him.
"Sammy?" he called hesitantly, ending the call and pocketing his phone in exchange for his flashlight. Aiming the beam of the light up the stairs, Dean froze as icy fingers clutched at his heart.
Someone's, presumably Sam's, arm was draped unmoving over the edge of the stairwell
"Sam?" Dean bolted up the stairs, taking them three at a time and dropping down onto his knees. A broken window down the hallway allowed the bright afternoon light to pour in and illuminate his brother and Dean let his gun and flashlight topple to the ground with a clatter as horror engulfed him.
Sam was laying on his side, his head resting on an outstretched arm, and in a rapidly growing puddle of blood.
"Hey!" Dean snapped, rolling Sam gently onto his back and reaching for his throat. A rapidly weakening pulse thumped against his fingers and Dean moved his hand down to Sam's chest. The fabric was saturated in blood and it squelched under the weight of his hand.
"HEY!" Dean repeated louder, shaking Sam urgently.
Sam gasped out a groan, his eyes flashing open as he reflexively jerked upwards, and Dean felt like he could breathe again. Tightening his grip to keep Sam stabilized and still, he pushed his sodden shirt aside, trying to see where all the blood was coming from.
"Dean?" Sam rasped out the word and Dean smiled down at him, shifting so that he was directly in his line of sight.
"Hey, there you are, dude. Just hold on, okay? Give me just a second." Dean glanced around them, keeping an eye out for the Black Dog, before returning his attention to Sam. By now, he had Sam's shirt half off his shoulder and was preparing himself for the deep claw marks he was sure to find.
Dean's hands faltered, his own heart beginning to beat uncomfortably tight.
Someone had shot Sam, shot him right in the chest.
Swallowing back the bile that was rising in his throat, Dean began to dab at the blood continuing to flow out of Sam. At least the bullet hadn't penetrated his heart, that much was clear, but if it had ripped through a lung…
"Gonna roll you, okay?" Dean glanced back up at Sam, who was watching him with little more than hazy awareness, his eyes threatening to slip shut again. Grimacing, Dean shuffled into a better position and tucked a hand under Sam's shoulder and quickly rolled him further onto his side. Sam made a strangled sound, his hand jumping up to flail at Dean's arm.
Leaning over him, Dean noted with mixed feelings the lack of additional blood or holes. The bullet was still in Sam, still in his chest somewhere, but that also meant the bullet hadn't gone straight through a lung. Guiding Sam to rest on his back, Dean's mind whirled as he continued to triage.
There was no way in hell that he was going to be the one removing that bullet, for all he knew it was resting right next to Sam's heart, or partially in a lung. Expertly ripping off a section of Sam's already ruined flannel, he folded it and pressed down hard. They were going to have to go to a hospital, but first, they had to get out of here and the Black Dog wasn't the only threat anymore.
He had to warn Bobby, had to get Larry out of here too before they all wound up with bullets in them.
Keeping steady pressure on the wound, he used his free hand to pull Sam's mouth open, checking for any additional blood. There was none.
Huh, maybe they had gotten off lucky just this once.
"How you holdin' up?" Dean asked lightly, smoothing Sam's hair back. He kept his hand there, pressed against his forehead, but Sam only blinked lethargically, grunting with each breath he took.
Breathing had to hurt like a bitch.
"'m ok'y…" Sam finally mumbled on a strangled exhale. He rolled his head to the side, gritting his teeth and Dean began to trace light circles on his temple with his thumb.
"Yeah, you're gonna be okay, just keep holdin' on for me." Dean hesitated before asking his next question. Sam wasn't in a good way, at all, but he needed to know. "Sam, hey, you paying attention? Sammy, who shot you?"
Sam seemed to struggle with the question, his eyes closing repeatedly. "Acci'en'," he finally managed before groaning harshly.
"Ashen?" Dean repeated hesitantly, his brain racing through all possibilities but Sam jerked his head to the side.
"No. Acciden'," he said again, attempting to enunciate the word clearly.
"Accident! Wait. What do you mean—"
The realization hit Dean with all the subtly of a train and his hand clenched tight as anger surged through him with a ferocity that had him seeing red. "I'm gonna kill Larry. I'm gonna—" he couldn't even speak, the words catching in his throat.
Sam groaned harshly and Dean closed his eyes, forcing himself to count backward from ten as the anger threatened to multiply.
Sam's eyes had sunk to half-mast when Dean felt like he wasn't about to snap, and something softened inside his heart. Not towards Larry, no, that was still burning bright, but the need to get his brother some help trumped it.
The amount of time before Sam was going to lose consciousness wasn't long, and Dean planned to take full advantage of what time he had.
Quickly pocketing his gun and flashlight, Dean took a deep breath, preparing himself for what was coming.
"Listen, we are going to get you to a hospital with all of their fancy drugs and actual doctors, 'cause somehow I don't think that Dr. Winchester is gonna cut it this time. But we've got to get you out of this factory first. Sammy, you listenin'?" Dean paused, shaking Sam's shoulder again. Sam's eyes popped open, tracking wearily until they met Dean's. "C'mon, get your arm up, put it around my shoulder, yeah that's it. Now we just got to get you up on those stilts you call legs. On three, ready?"
Bunching his own muscle's in preparation, Dean waited for Sam to get his bearings before pushing off. Dragging Sam up, he ignored the soft cry of pain and steadied as he tried to find legs that were threatening to collapse.
"Good," Dean praised lightly, his hand coming up to fist tightly in the back of Sam's shirt and turning him around to face the stairs. "Step down," he ordered, holding Sam up with his own body. Sam numbly followed his commands, grunting with each step he took as they struggled their way down.
By the time they reached the bottom, Sam was sweating bullets and moaning around increasingly shallow breaths. Dean could only pull his arm further across his shoulder, attempting to take the strain off Sam.
In response, Sam bent over, coughing up a mouthful of blood. Something in Dean's heart lurched even as he fought against Sam's weight, trying to keep him from face planting into the concrete. A broken nose would just top everything off splendidly, after all.
Sam spat once more before hanging limply against Dean. Dean braced a hand against Sam's chest, just over where the bullet had entered his brother's body, and gently forced him to straighten.
"Sam, focus for a second, this is super important, did anything…shift while we were coming down?" Dean waited on tenterhooks, his own heart doubling its pace as Sam let his head loll back to rest against Dean's cheek. He processed the question for the longest moment of Dean's life before he shook his head.
"Bi'e m'…bite my 'ongue. Way down…s'airs."
Relief surged through Dean and he tilted his head down against Sam's. "Damnit, Sam, don't' scare me like that! I just lost ten years off my life."
Sam chuckled softly, his breath wet against Dean's neck. "Sorry," he mumbled as Dean tightened his grip, angling them towards the long hallway.
They had barely made it four steps when the sharp crack of a bullet cut through the air. Sam flinched hard against Dean, his head shooting up as he tried to look around but Dean kept them doggedly moving in the same direction.
Bobby could take care of the Black Dog.
The first shot was followed in quick secession by three more before everything went silent.
"It's just Bobby going after that dog," Dean reassured Sam.
"'t wen' after La'ry," Sam slurred, his head rolling off Dean's shoulder and against his own chest before he jerked it back up. "Af'er."
"After he shot you?" Dean asked bitterly and Sam nodded.
Dean was going to rip Larry's arms from his sockets…
A few minutes later, Dean's phone began to chirp in his pocket and Dean swore softly. His hands were full of the giant that Sam had become, Bobby would just have to wait. Sam wilted a little against him and Dean swore louder, trying to shove Sam back up and onto his feet.
"You don't get to pass out, not yet, you hear? You stay with me, Sammy."
Sam moaned in response and Dean took it for what it was.
Peeking a look down, he cringed at the sight of his makeshift bandage that was already soaked through with scarlet.
They continued to struggle along, moving at a pace that resembled a turtle more than anything but at least they were moving. Dean had just bodily shoved his way through a door and was forcing Sam to shuffle through to the front entrance when the sound of pounding feet sounded behind them.
Twisting his head, Dean broke out in a relieved grin when he saw Bobby charging towards them. He couldn't say that he was quite as glad to see Larry, who was limping along just behind and clutching his arm close to his chest. It was wrapped in what looked like a shirt, but the original color was not discernable through all the blood.
"Dean!" Bobby skidded to a stop next to them, easily keeping pace with the slow shuffle that Sam was working on. He leaned in, quickly peeling back the bandage to see for himself. Bobby's face went white, and he shared a concerned look with Dean, silently asking what he wanted him to do.
"Just get the car, keys are in my pocket," Dean grunted. Bobby nodded, sliding a hand between Sam and Dean to rummage for the keys. Finding them, he took off running once more just as Larry came panting up next to Dean.
His already pale face blanched further as he took a good look at Sam. All the same, he moved towards Sam's other side. Letting go of his own bad arm, he reached for Sam's, but Dean jerked back, stumbling to a halt.
"Don't." he growled low in his throat and Larry stepped back, his eyes wide.
"I'm sorry," he said softly, but Dean continued to glower at him until Larry hurriedly moved away.
"Dean…why'd we stop?" Sam's weak voice brought his head back around.
Sam seemed to have lost another shade, his eyelids fluttering dangerously and Dean began to move again, urgency pushing them forward. Larry stayed a good ten feet in front of them until they reached the door, which he held open for them.
Dean refused to look at him, choosing instead to watch with relief as Bobby ducked into the Impala's front seat. A moment later, his baby was going into a wide circle and making a beeline straight for them.
Larry hesitated, looking unsure about what to do next. He stopped, waiting for the Impala to come closer.
The Impala slid to a graceful halt just a few feet away from them and Bobby jumped out, hurrying to help Dean with Sam.
"Get in, don't touch anything," he ordered Larry over his shoulder who nodded meekly, moving awkwardly around to open the passenger side door.
The thought of him riding in Sam's seat made something writhe in Dean's chest and he felt the snarl building even as Bobby pulled open the back door.
"He shot Sam," Dean hissed in barely constrained rage.
"Not now," Bobby shot right back even as he ducked carefully under Sam's arm. "There'll be plenty of time to point fingers later, right now you've got to worry about your brother."
Dean shook his head, his grip tightening around Sam. "He just up and shot him—"
"I know, he told me the whole story." Bobby jerked his head towards the car and Dean reluctantly let go of Sam. Sam's eyes flashed open at the sudden lack of support and he swayed dangerously, arms flailing as he tried to find something to hold onto but Bobby easily braced him.
"I've gotcha, Sam, hold still," he grunted as Dean ducked into the backseat.
Shifting over into the middle, Dean reached out to grab Sam's arm.
Together, he and Bobby wrestled Sam into the Impala as gently as they could. Dean ended up pressed against the far window with Sam's upper body in his lap. His head was cushioned by Dean's arm and he draped his other across Sam's chest, keeping pressure over the wound. Bobby carefully curled Sam's legs up onto the seat, trying to keep them as elevated as was possible given their cramped conditions.
Sam pressed his forehead against Dean's arm, mumbling something unintelligibly as Bobby slammed the door behind them and hurried to the front seat.
"What? Say it again?" Dean asked, leaning down until his ear was close to his brother's mouth.
Sam sighed heavily, his fingers clenching and unclenching against Dean's arm. "Gonna…gonna…pas'…'
"Oh," Dean nodded in understanding, sitting back up. "Yeah, you've earned a rest." As if he had been waiting for permission, Sam went lax.
"He finally out?" Bobby asked over his shoulder and Dean nodded.
"Stubbornness is the only thing that has kept him going this long. I thought I was gonna lose him way back when we were goin' down those stairs," Dean admitted, unable to hide the hint of pride that underlined the words.
"Wonder where he learned that from," Bobby growled lightly, his foot pressing down harder against the gas. Dust flew up around them as the tires fought to find purchase against the loose dirt.
Larry let out a low hiss from the front and Dean's gut clenched.
"Don't get blood on anything," he snapped. Larry nodded hurriedly, his eyes wide and scared.
Bobby sent a disapproving stare through the mirror in Dean's direction, but Dean looked away.
"Sam still bleedin'?" Bobby asked tightly and this time Dean did meet his gaze.
"Yes," he answered shortly.
"What is the quickest route back to town?" Bobby asked Larry and the man sat up straighter, biting back another hiss. He started giving Bobby directions, but Dean didn't pay him any heed as he turned his attention back to Sam.
Sam's heart was galloping away just under the palm that was holding the bandage in place, so that was something at least. Shifting forward, Dean rested the back of his hand against Sam's cheek, trying to gauge his temperature. Too cool, but not horribly so, he finally decided.
He didn't need a blood pressure cuff to know that Sam's was currently too low.
"How much longer?" Dean asked tightly, pulling Sam further into his lap.
"Fifteen minutes," Larry replied quickly, "unless traffic is bad, then—"
"I hope for your sake that it isn't, 'cause let me tell you that if Sam dies because we got stuck in freakin' traffic, then I'm not going to be the one paying the price," Dean stated as calmly as he could. Larry hurriedly twisted back around, facing the front.
Beneath his hand, Sam stirred, his eyes fluttering open. Dean bent over him, working on a smile, but Sam only looked around with confusion before slipping back under with a soft moan.
The Impala turned onto a paved road, her tires quickly eating up the distance back into town. Sam continued to drift in and out of consciousness as they roared into town.
It was almost five o'clock and Dean felt his heart starting to beat faster at the thought of getting stuck in traffic. Sam was bleeding out with a bullet in his chest, they didn't have time—
The Impala began to slow down and Dean pulled Sam a little closer as Bobby began to mutter under his breath words the would have made a sailor blush. They rocked to a complete halt a moment later as the cars in front of them stopped for a red light and Dean's jaw twitched. Before he could start yelling however Bobby took over.
"Back roads?" he demanded. Larry's eyes narrowed as he thought frantically before nodding. "We can take Salisbury, that road right up there," he said, pointing to a road a block or two away. Bobby nodded and checked once in the rearview mirror before laying on the horn and maneuvering into a tight space.
Sam jerked at the noise and Dean hushed him, petting a hand lightly through his hair.
The light finally turned green and the cars around them began to pick up speed, but the Impala swung off onto the side road, once again reaching unreasonable speeds in a matter of seconds. Dean braced himself against the front seat, trying to keep Sam from being jerked around, as they went around a sharp bend.
Bobby laid on the horn again, blasting through multiple four-way stop signs.
They were halfway through town when a siren went off behind them, the flashing red and blue lights reflecting in the mirrors.
"Balls," Bobby grumbled, before jerking the wheel to the side and coming to a screeching halt. Dean opened his mouth to protest but Bobby had got there first. "We can get an escort to the hospital, have someone ready for Sam. No more traffic. That is if the cop will move his ass." The last part was growled under his breath, his fingers clenching against the steering wheel.
Rolling down his window, Bobby stuck his head out.
Sam stirred again, a hand drifting towards his chest as he grimaced in clear discomfort. Dean snagged his hand, pushing it back down and away from the bloody mess.
In front, Bobby was shouting at the officer and Dean couldn't be more grateful that the other man had taken control. A moment later the back door was flung open and Dean stared evenly up into the officer's face.
The woman glanced down at Sam and her face paled a little and she slammed the door shut again. A moment later, and with sirens wailing, the police car peeled out in front, and Bobby followed in her wake.
"You go to fas' a'ain, Dean?" Sam murmured and Dean snorted.
"Excuse you, I don't get caught."
Sam frowned a little before his head tipped forward once more and Dean's chest tightened in response. They cut through traffic, the officer clearing the path ahead of them like Moses and the Red Sea.
There was even a team of doctors and nurses waiting with a stretcher when they rolled into the hospital.
"We really need to get a siren on Baby, Sammy," Dean said with a fond little smile and Bobby snorted in derision.
"Wouldn't that be a sight," he said dryly as he flung the door open, moving around to make room for the doctors.
Within seconds, they had Sam loaded on the stretcher and rolling towards an exam room. Dean kept pace easily with them, one hand keeping firm pressure against the wound until they came to a set of swinging doors. His gut churned uneasily, but he knew what was about to happen.
"I'll be right here, buddy. I'll be right here, waiting for you, okay?" Dean gripped Sam's shoulder tightly and, as if he could somehow sense the pending separation, Sam's hand drifted upwards, knocking against Dean's arm.
And then Dean was being pushed aside, a medical professional sliding into his place and Sam was gone.
Dean stared at the doors for a long second, before someone ushered him away to begin the paperwork.
Bobby trailed after him, his hand firm on Dean's shoulder. He easily fielded the questions from the officers and only left Dean's side once, returning with a steaming cup of coffee.
Still, they waited.
"So the Black Dog is dead, right?" Dean asked at one point as he paced nervously back and forth, glancing at the clock. It had been close to four hours now, and they still hadn't heard anything. He snorted, passing the cup of coffee between his hands.
"Dead as a doornail. After we're sure that Sam's gonna be okay, I'm gonna have to run back to get my car, so I'll salt and burn the body then." Bobby sighed, making a face. "Took a good chunk out of Larry's arm before I got there but, according to the doctor, with some physical therapy and a pint or two of blood, he should be fine."
Dean braced a hand against the wall. "So that's where you went an hour ago, to check up on that idiot? I swear if Sam's not okay…" he trailed off, swallowing hard.
"Yeah, I did, Dean. The kid made an honest mistake. Does it mean that I'm gonna trust him or stick a loaded gun in his hand, hell no! But, I talked to him. It was an honest mistake, and he feels terrible. He was almost in tears when he told me about what had happened and I don't think you know the whole story yet."
"I can guess," Dean said sourly, sipping at the coffee as he determinedly stared at the opposite wall.
Bobby raised an eyebrow but continued. "The kid was freaked out of his mind because this thing that he thought was a wolf wasn't, wasn't even anything he had ever seen before, and Sam came around the corner and he just reacted. Besides, he's paying for his mistake. That dog was gonna eat your brother, but he led it away, kept it running after his sorry ass and away from Sam."
Dean blinked, emotions warring across his face before he finally shook his head. "I can't, Bobby, I can't just up and brush this off."
Bobby's face softened. "I ain't asking you too, boy. That's why I'm here."
Dean nodded shakily and went back to waiting, stubbornly focused on his coffee and not the way that his hands were shaking.
It was another hour before the doctor reappeared, looking tired but happy. Dean had relaxed slightly at that alone, but he still soaked in every word the doctor said. The bullet had lodged itself into one of Sam's ribs, breaking it, but preventing worse damage. Another inch and Sam would have been drowning in his own blood.
Hearing and seeing were two different things, and Dean didn't fully relax until he was sinking down into the chair next to Sam's bed, ready to begin a whole new round of waiting. This time it was bearable, however. Sam was right before him, breathing steadily with only a nasal cannula to aid while the heart monitor beeped comfortingly in the background.
They sat together in comfortable silence until mid-morning rolled around.
"So, food?" Dean asked lightly as he leaned forward and propped his chin in his hands. "I'm starving."
"I ain't making no food run," Bobby grunted, idly turning the page of his magazine that he wasn't really reading. "It's your car, you can go."
Dean pulled a face. "Damn it. I'm going to have to scrub the upholstery. I bet there is blood everywhere, front and back. Why do we always gotta take the Impala? We could have taken Larry's, it might have helped him learn to be more careful if he spent hours scrubbing blood out of his seats."
Bobby raised an eyebrow. "Stop whining and let me remind you what Larry was driving. We would have needed a crane to get your brother into that pickup and doesn't that just sound like fun. And, before you mention it, it would have been even harder to get Sam into the back of my car. We could have rolled him across the front seats, I guess, but that just sounds so ideal for someone whose been shot. So unless you have figured out how to fly, it was the Impala or nothing."
Dean snorted a weak laugh, sitting up straighter and rubbing a hand across his face. "Point taken," he admitted as his stomach growled again.
Bobby heaved a sigh, tossing aside his magazine with a flourish. "I'm not gonna get peace till that bottomless pit you call your stomach is satisfied and that stubborn streak of yours won't let you leave Sam anytime soon. I'll be back."
Dean relaxed a little, a warmth nothing short of love shooting through his chest for this old, cranky man. He grinned. "I want a roast, with like a pound of mashed potatoes and maybe a side of pie."
"Try crackers from the vending machine down the hallway."
Dean grinned again as Bobby left, still grumbling, and turned his attention back to Sam.
"You gonna wake up and join the party? Bobby's fun to get all twisted up." To his surprise Sam's head turned in his direction, his eyelids fluttering. His heart leaping in his chest, Dean lurched forward.
"Sammy, you back with me?" he asked, squeezing Sam's good shoulder. Sam grunted a little, his eyes fighting to open before they finally managed to split into slits. Dean couldn't have stopped smiling if he had wanted too.
"Hey, you're going to be okay. Doc's prognosis was promising, so you just relax and take it easy."
Sam's face contorted, trying to think through the thick layer of drugs. "You get the short end," he slurred, his tongue having trouble forming the right letters. It took Dean a long minute to work through it, and then he could only frown in confusion.
"What do you mean, I get the short end? Are you calling me short? Or are you agreeing that it's hard for me to have to look at your face every day? I mean, you have my incredibly handsome face to—"
Sam snorted thickly, his eyes threatening to close once more. He had barely been awake for a minute and he was already threatening to fade out. "Nah. With Bobby. He always wins."
Dean straightened, arching an eyebrow.
"Boy ain't wrong," Bobby said from the doorway, tossing Dean a couple of granola bars. Dean shook his head, pushing the food aside for the moment.
"You've just had a bullet removed, Sam, I think you are delirious." Dean smiled as Sam hmphed. Reaching out, he squeezed his forearm lightly, drawing his attention. "Before you leave me alone with this old man, do you need anything?"
Sam was silent for a long moment, long enough that Dean was afraid that he had fallen asleep again.
"Larry okay?" he mumbled and Dean rolled his eyes. The surge of anger at the other man's name, while there, wasn't as vicious as before.
"Yeah. The idiot's fine for the most part."
"Good." Sam sighed heavily, his fingers creeping up to rub at his chest and the thick bandages there. The IV in the back of his hand tugged and he winced, letting it drop back before he fought to open his eyes again.
"Sam," Bobby said from the other side. "Give it up and go back to sleep."
"Yeah, we'll be here when you wake up." Dean smiled as Sam's eyes opened once more, giving them each a long look, before shutting. The same thing had happened in the car during that hectic race to the hospital, but this time the action didn't bring the gut-churning fear like before. "Yeah, everything's gonna be just fine, Sam, so just get some rest, and then we'll be out of here before Bobby can get his hands on all the copies of Better Home and Garden.
Bobby glowered at Dean over the bed. "You really wanna go there?"
"Bring it, I could use the entertainment."
Bobby snorted under his breath, turning back to his magazine that most definitely wasn't Better Home and Garden and Dean tore open one of the packages, digging mindlessly into the food.