Title: Quid Pro Quo
Rating: PG-13 for language, slight violence and mild sexual content
Category: AU Short Story
X-Posted: Delphi Forums Supernatural Board
Disclaimer: The following characters and situations are used without permission of the creators, owners, and further affiliates of the Warner Bros television show, Supernatural, to whom they rightly belong. I claim only what is mine, and I make no money off what is theirs.
"I am sworn brother, sweet, to grim necessity, and he and I will keep a league till death." — William Shakespeare
"What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" —Matthew 16:26
Except for the steady dripping of the water from the bathroom faucet and the faint snoring that crept through the paper thin walls, the building was completely silent. Sam and Dean's faded motel room was no exception to this. Dean lay sprawled across the bed, belly down and face shoved amongst pillows so that it was a miracle he was still breathing. A half empty beer bottle sat on the rickety nightstand next to his bed, remnant of a—rare—good night. Across the small room, Sam, by way of being the younger brother, was sleeping on the pull-out bed. His feet dangled off the small frame, and if he had stretched to his full height, he would have discovered that his knees would have hit the end of the mattress.
It had been a nice, perhaps even fun, night for both of them. Although if later asked, Sam would have denied anything "fun" about it, and Dean probably could not have remembered. For the first time in a long while, the two brothers were able to simply go to a bar without a hunting reason propelling them through the doorway. Sam, as was his reclusive and passive nature, was reluctant to go inside, and he had remained seated at a small table in the corner while Dean flirted and gyrated with every supple female who came his way. There were even a few moments when Sam saw Dean out on the dance floor with a big grin stretched across his face, pointing in Sam's direction. Bitterly, Sam pulled out his laptop and focused his attention onto the glowing screen, pretending not to feel the slow burn of anger beginning. He didn't need to be the butt of Dean's jokes just because he refused to dry hump all the girls on the dance floor, while chugging down the alcohol at the same time.
Sam had sighed heavily, letting his fingers rest upon the black keyboard, and he looked out the window next to his table. In the darkened pane of the window, a man stared back at Sam with calm concentration, as if he had been watching Sam for some time. The shadowy face, pleased with Sam's notice of him, smiled maliciously. Disorientated, Sam closed his eyes and shook his head quickly. Upon opening his eyes, he saw that the window appeared normal, framing the night sky and nothing more. He reassured himself that the man was most likely some crazed drunk who was taking a leak outside the window. Ghosts were not always following him, as Dean liked to believe. With this comfort, Sam returned to working on some possible ideas as to where their father could be.
He had just finished loading a rather large webpage when a familiar voice came from the blaring speakers: "And this one goes out to my little brother, Sammy." Out of nowhere, a spotlight illuminated a table not far from Sam's. There was an exasperated sigh from Dean, sending prickles of static through the speakers, "No, no, over in the corner there…the other corner." And then the spotlight was right on Sam, and Dean was in the middle of the makeshift dance floor, holding the microphone to his lips and more happily drunk than Sam had ever seen him. A bottle Sam didn't recognize as mere cheap beer was cradled lazily in between his fingers. Dean was hitting the hard stuff.
Like a bad dream Sam couldn't escape, the music started, and Dean clutched the microphone closely, singing off key, "Did I ever tell you…you're my hero? You're everything I wish I could be…" Sam felt his face smolder with embarrassment under the blinding light, and slowly he rose to his feet, sliding the laptop under the seat. With the spotlight trailing him, he worked his way through the smoky crowd while small feminine hands touched him. By the time Sam reached Dean, alcohol sloshing in a bottle in one hand and microphone in the other, he was already onto the main chorus: "Because you are the wind beneath my wings!"
Despite all of his brother's asinine ways and moments to be strangled later on for, his annoying way of getting in a person's space and not leaving, and his desperate—almost pathetic—need for attention, Sam couldn't back down now. Telling Dean to shut it would only be further encouragement for his perverse, twisted ways, so Sam did the only thing he could do: Joined in.
They had left the bar, carefree and so close to the point of happiness that Sam was in disbelief that he could feel that good after Jessica's death and, more importantly, in the constant companionship of his older—pain in the ass—brother. Following the time at the bar, Dean was completely and utterly inebriated, so much to the point that Sam had to pull the car over once on the drive back to the motel room and wait for Dean to release his last meal into the tall weeds of a ditch. As Dean retched, Sam stepped out of the vehicle and stretched his legs. Leaning against the door, he gazed out over the open fields where the pale crisp grass swayed in the cool breeze. There, standing in the middle of the field was a dark figure. Although Sam was too far away to see the facial features of the man, he had a strong feeling that they were the same of the man who had watched him through the window earlier that evening. He faced the dark silhouette, swallowing his rising apprehension, while Dean coughed and spat on the opposite side of the car. Then, with one blink of his eyes to remove some dust, the shape was gone. The speed of the disappearance forced Sam to wonder if he wasn't just seeing things as a result of his low alcohol tolerance.
As Dean loaded himself back into the car, Sam wrinkled his nose, but knew that if he complained, he'd hear about it when Dean was sober. Instead, he rolled down the window, passed Dean the box of tissues, and continued driving. Dean and his alcohol. Yet another one of Dean's less than endearing qualities.
Fortunately, they made it back to the motel without too much of a hassle from either driver or passenger. There, back in their small room, Dean staggered to his bed and collapsed like a bag of sand, never moving for the rest of the night. On no account, Sam would admit to the worry he felt until he heard Dean's low and even breathing. After reassuring himself that Dean wouldn't enter an alcohol induced coma, he took a shower, changed into a pair of faded pajamas and double checked all the locks through their room. Everything was secure enough to keep out any human predator, but Sam knew that physical locks would not limit a ghost's arrival. With that in mind, using equipment found in Dean's bag, he created spiritual barriers around Dean's bed and his own, hoping to deter any spiritual being from visiting them in the middle of the night. Sighing heavily, Sam clambered into the rollaway cot, which squeaked in protest as he applied his full weight. Soon, he was asleep, one of the few times of the day that he could feel completely at peace.
Sam's time for peace that night was short lived as the dreams came and went without real warning or cause. After a generally easygoing night at the bar, the last thing he would have expected was more nightmares. But, they came nonetheless. Soon, he was twitching and muttering in his sleep. Dean, of course, did not notice.
However, when Sam shot straight up in bed with a strangled scream, causing Dean to jerk up, fall out of his own bed and hit his head on the nightstand on the way down, he did notice. He cursed a string of angry expletives under his breath, and he tried to climb to his feet. This act took a moment or two, as he was disorientated from the horrid combination of just waking up, hitting himself in the head, and the amount of alcohol he had earlier consumed. Eventually, though, he got to a standing position and staggered over to the screaming Sam. Although Sam was up and sitting, he still had his eyes closed while he clawed fervently at something in the air. Swiftly, Dean smacked him across the face as hard as he could manage. Silence so loud that Sam's ears hurt immediately followed, but there was a momentary pause before he opened his eyes, looked up at Dean standing over him, and raised his hand to the burning on his face.
"What the hell was that for?" Sam snapped, realizing that there would probably be a bruise on his face the next morning.
"You're waking up the whole goddamn place with your screaming. Woke me up, dammit it all…" Dean growled as he returned back to his bed. "God…"
Sam furrowed his brow, confused, and watched as Dean wrestled with the sheets and pillows. In his fall out of bed, the blankets were twisted into knots, and the pillows were scattered on the floor. Tired and irritated, Dean was none too appreciative on having to rearrange himself back into a comfortable sleeping position again.
Remaining quiet, Sam mentally reviewed the dream, feeling the frigid grip of a powerful creature bearing a macabre similarity to the man who had visited him throughout that night. The entire nightmare had been one of the most intoxicating Sam had ever experienced. Even awake in the palely lit motel room, he was unable to discern the dream from reality. He knew how controlling and confusing dreams could be for others, but ever since he was young, he had the ability to awake from his dreams and ease himself back to sleep with the knowledge that the dream was "just a dream."
Now he could not.
There was a malevolence tugging on him that this dream—this event he had been witness to—would not dissipate into the crevices of his brain as easily as he would have preferred.
There was a faint grunt of acknowledgement from the lump of blankets across the room.
"Dean, I had a dream…and there's this man..."
Still lying down, Dean raised a hand in the air and spun his index finger in a circular manner. Sam knew he wanted to sleep, but Dean needed to hear about this one.
"No, Dean, really. I've got to talk to you about it. I…I think it's important."
This time, hand still raised, Dean flashed Sam a proper middle finger salute and verbally told Sam where he could put his dreams for the time being. Dean flopped over onto his stomach again, slapped the pillows over his head and was soon heard breathing smoothly, lulled back into an easy sleep.
Alert and aggravated, Sam padded to the bathroom, where he ran the faucet until the water was cold. He cupped the cool liquid in his hands and splashed it onto his face, running his fingers over his shaggy brown hair. Gripping the edge of the chipped porcelain sink, he stared at his reflection in the mirror, forcing himself back to reality. The side of his face where Dean had hit him was a bright red and beginning to swell. As Sam lifted his fingers to the hot, tender flesh, he saw the man with shadows for a face standing behind him, whispering words from the darkness.
Sam whipped around, chest heaving and nerves twisting. There was nothing in the room with him. Nothing besides his own terror. He reminded himself not to be afraid in front of Dean because it was an emotion that, quite frankly, did not exist in Dean's world. Dean's primary emotions ranged between hungry, drunk, horny and angry. Other than that, he might as well be sleeping or dead. Fear was not something comprehended in either himself or anyone else that Dean knew. Now, though, alone in the bathroom, Sam watched his hands tremble with fright, and he wondered how long he could hide this from his older brother.
To calm his demanding nerves, Sam returned to the sleeping area and pulled out his laptop from underneath the bed. The gentle glow of the flat screen relaxed him slightly, as did the soft whirring of the internal fan. As the bottom of the laptop grew warm against his legs, he began to record as much of the dream as he could remember. At first, his fingers shook and trembled over the keys, and the words came out strange and foreign. He continued typing, though, until his fingers were able to restore the familiar motions of the keyboard that he had perfected through thousands of college essays. He wrote of the man in the bar's window, in the field, in the bathroom, and most importantly in his dreams. He wrote all the details of the man, how strange he seemed, how human, but most importantly, how ghostly. Sam wrote until his fingers were sore and cramping.
The sun was beginning to rise in the distance, a faint blush on the horizon peeking through the parted blinds. Sam yawned and carefully reread what he had written. Swallowing the large lump that rose in the back of his throat, he prayed that what he had just recorded was only a figment of the night and nothing more. If not, and if this dream—and this man—burst out into the real world and sabotaged the life the two brothers were building, Sam knew it would destroy both Dean and him.