If Only Chapter 34: Finally...yes it's been a really long time and yes I am alive. I've never given up on the story life just took me away from it for a while. Thanks as always to Carocali, the great beta and even better friend who continues to check up on me and make sure that I'm still breathing!! Thank you to everyone who had read and enjoyed the story so far.

I'm sorry that it's been so long since I updated that many of you may not even remember where I left off but eventually I hope you enjoy the newest installment.


Dean moved cautiously towards his car. He hadn't been stopped by anyone since his final words with Tom. He was curious and heartsick with the thought of the damage done to his baby but was more aware that with every passing tick on the clock, it meant he was one second closer to losing Sam forever.

The Impala was parked at the end of the lot closest to the gate leading back to the main road. Dean knew the damage was on the passenger side - he could vaguely remember the feeling of the car skidding out of his control and the sound of metal against wood as the car had finally come to a halt.

He noticed that someone had replaced the back tire that had blown out. He also realized it wasn't with the spare in his trunk.

Need to thank Tom for that one.

Dean was surprised and impressed that the man had been able to keep the garage staff and any of the other officers away from the cache of weapons they'd stored in the trunk. Had someone like Deputy Michaels seen the contents of the Impala, Dean was sure there'd be no way that Tom would be able to continue to convince his men that Dean really was one of the good guys.

Walking around the front of the car, he got his first look at the damage. Groaning inwardly, Dean gingerly ran a hand lovingly down the mangled front quarter panel. What was once glossy and smooth metal was now rippled like an ocean wave. In several places, long scratches went through the paint and he could see where the door had actually taken the brunt of the damage. While Dean was distraught over the damage to his car, he was thankful that the crash hadn't rendered the car un-drivable; it had merely marred its normally pristine appearance.

"As soon as we find Sammy, I'll get you fixed up, I promise," he whispered to the car, patting it gently.

When he stood up from his crouch, Dean held tight to the side of his baby as the world slid in and out of focus for a moment. He could feel his heart rate pick up and his forehead break out in a cold sweat.

You're not passing out.

Dean leaned his weight against the frame and took a few deep breaths; the extra oxygen and lack of movement helping his body to calm. He moved to the driver's side and carefully slid behind the wheel. Checking his watch, he found that he still had to give Tom almost another 5 minutes to appear. The hunter could feel the pounding in his temples growing again and his eyes started to slip closed. Looking down at his watch again, Dean let his head rest gently against the wheel, wishing the pain away. The cool feeling of the wheel on his forehead had his eyes closing reflexively in relief. Before he could stop himself, he drifted into the waiting dark.

-o-o-o-o-o-

Tom hurried down the hallway, continuing to issue orders as he moved toward the impound yard; trying to make the most of the ten minutes allotted to him. Michaels kept doggedly on his heels, making notes as they went.

"You have any last questions?"

"What about Winchester?"

"What about him?"

"I'm not stupid, Tom, I know who he is and he should be in a holding cell along with that thug that tried to kill his brother," Michaels said, questioning the motives of his superior, wanting to know more. "What're you doing? I know you want to catch these guys but…?"

Tom turned and leveled his gaze on the younger officer. Michaels started to take a step back at the look in those eyes, but then held his ground. He needed to understand what was going on.

"What exactly are you planning on doing with your information?"

"Nothing at the moment, Sir. I guess it really depends on you. I just need to know why you've disregarded the information you have on the man," he answered, hoping that he hadn't stepped too far. "I mean, from the date on the file, I saw you've known the whole time and you haven't said one thing to anyone about it. I know that this is about his brother and all but we are supposed to be upholding the law not aiding and abetting fugitives from justice?"

"You're right, I've known since just after Sam Winchester was brought into the hospital. In fact, I went and looked up Dean Winchester as soon as I finished speaking with him."

Tom stopped walking and faced the man directly, part of him wanted to brush the man aside but understanding that if he did not tread carefully with his explanation, then the whole plan to rescue Sam Winchester would fall apart at the seams. Everything he'd risked would've been for naught.

"Look, I can't tell you what to believe, but I know that those charges against Dean Winchester can not be for the same man I've been dealing with, regardless of the picture on the file. None of it fits what he's shown all of us since his brother's kidnapping." Tom scrubbed a hand over his face, hoping that he'd be able to convince his protégé "He had to know when he showed up to check on Sam that walking into that hospital could get him arrested on the spot. He could've hung back and waited for Sam to recover and be released, but he didn't. He walked in there and talked to me. When they tried to kidnap Sam, Dean's only concern after being shot was that he not be separated from his brother. That he be kept safe. Does that sound like a man wanted for rape and murder? "

"I don't know?" the younger man hesitated, "I'd have to agree he's cooperated completely with us and helped break this case open, but it doesn't change that we are bound to follow up on the warrant."

"When this is over, if you want to bring me up on charges for dereliction of duty because I didn't serve the warrant, then you are welcome to, but please, I'm asking that you trust me on this. We don't need to bring any more trouble to these boys." Tom sighed, knowing he was short on time, and Dean was short on patience. "Wait until you've had a chance to see everything that I have about these two. There is more going on here than you can understand - hell I'm not sure that Iunderstand all of it myself. The one thing that I do know, is that they're the only way we're going to be able to stop Cranson and his thugs. I'm not asking you to trust him or Sam; I'm asking you to trust me to know what I'm doing."

Tom watched Michaels warily as he saw different emotions cross the officer's face. He knew that the man dealt best with black and white and had difficulty accepting that shades of gray not only existed, but were a necessary part of what they did on a daily basis. Michaels needed to follow the rules of wrong versus right, but Tom was a good man, even if he was taking him outside of his comfort zone It only took a few moments but Michaels finally nodded "When this is over, I want you to explain it to me. Show me what it is about them that makes them different and we'll see where it goes. Until then, I'll follow your lead, Sir."

Tom relaxed visibly, "Thank you."


Taking a deep breath of relief as he watched Michaels head back into the station, Tom turned made his way across the garage, a sense of foreboding nagging his every step.

Tom went over all of the directions he'd just given out looking for some small detail he'd overlooked or missed. He'd called in all the markers he had with various agencies in the area and they were standing by to help if it became necessary. The only agency he'd requested come now was the Search and Rescue dog teams. Both several hours out, but Tom had a feeling when all was said and done that they'd need their assistance to find all the victims this gang had collected during their tyranny. Tom had no illusions that this was going to get messy. As much as he dreaded to think about it, the loss of part of their team was not only possible, but more than likely.

As the Impala came in sight, Tom was surprised that he couldn't hear the big motor growling, waiting impatiently for his arrival. Looking down at his watch, he noted he was just running out of time and he half expected to watch Dean pull out without giving him a second look. Tom looked through the glass of the windshield and his heart stuttered in his chest.

No, no no not again, Carrie will kill me if something's happened to you.

Tom moved swiftly over to the driver's door seeing Dean had passed out with his head on the wheel of his beloved car. Relieved to find the door unlocked, he pulled the door open alarmed when the creaking groan did nothing to stir the eldest Winchester from his slumber.

He reached in and pulled Dean gently away from the wheel, leaning him back against the seat. Tom could feel the heat radiating off of the man like a furnace and knew that Dean's tired body was slowly succumbing to its many injuries.

"Dean, can you hear me?" Tom asked, patting his cheek lightly to stimulate a response. A low groan greeted his action and Tom was fixed with feverish green eyes a moment later.

"'om? How lon?"

"Not sure, man, just got here. What's the last thing you remember?"

"Waiting for you. Had five minutes left before.." Dean's head shot up as full awareness returned. "Jesus, Sam!! We need to go NOW!" he finished, lurching forward to start the big engine.

Tom held out a restraining hand in an attempt to slow Dean down. "Take a minute, Dean. Can you even see well enough to drive?"

Dean waved off the other man's concerns, "Doesn't matter. Have to get to Sam - we're running out of time. Either get in or get out of the way," he said, trying to push Tom out of the door frame so he could close the door."

"Not going to happen, Dean," Tom said as he held his place one arm securely on the door the other resting on the back of the seat behind Dean's head. "I'm not going to stop you from going, I know I can't do that, but let me drive. At least I can get you there in one piece."

"No."

"Dean, look at me. Tell me you seriously believe you can get the Impala out of this garage and out to the farmhouse, without killing yourself or some innocent person on the road, and I'll leave it be. But if you really want to work on trying to save Sam, then be honest with yourself - and me - and slide over. I'll get you there, you have my word," Tom said, forcing Dean to look him in the eye.

Dean stared at the older man defiantly for several seconds before nodding mostly to himself and sliding across the bench seat to the passenger side.

"Don't think this means I trust you with my baby, it's a one time deal, understood?"

Tom slid behind the wheel of the big muscle car and turned over the engine. "Understood," he answered quietly, as he put the car in gear and pulled out onto the highway.

-o-o-o-oo-

Cranson had felt Dean's slide into unconsciousness and was tempted to try and break through the young man's defenses again but held back when he realized soon enough Dean would be his to play with for as long as he wished. Cranson knew that the pictures of Sam had done their intended job.

His children had already reported the location of the two "undercover" units sitting just outside the limits of the farm, watching and waiting for further orders. They had wanted to collect the officers as appetizers for the upcoming ritual but he'd held them back. The disappearance of any more policemen would make the main course hesitate in coming close enough for him to grab. Nothing would stop him from getting his hands on that pesky cop and what would be the crowning achievement of his collection - the other Winchester soul. That was the prize that he was really after.

While he coveted Sam's body for his new home, the breaking and owning of Dean Winchester had become his ultimate goal. It was no longer enough for him to beat this adversary, he wanted to see him on his knees begging for his life when he took his brother's body for his own.

He allowed the joy and mirth he felt at that thought rumble through the old farmhouse and out into the waning day. He felt the anger and the impatience of the officers parked out of sight but below that, the fear that they all had at the possibility of being captured like their comrade. He fed briefly on that sweet taste before turning back to watch the set up for the ritual. Seeing that everything was in place, he threw out a wave of pleasure to his children letting them know he was happy with their work as they basked in the heady feeling.

"It's almost time to for me and my new body to become one. Prepare Sam to be brought down, but be gentle with him; I don't want any more marks on my new body." He chuckled as he watched his children move around the house making ready for what was to come.

"Make sure he's as comfortable as he can be before we get him back on the altar. I wouldn't want our guests to think we are being cruel to the poor boy, and I would hate to have anyone see him in pain."

As his children scurried to do his bidding, Cranson let his laugh ring through the farm; his plans would be completed. He'd already renegotiated the contract he had pending to include the Winchester brother's souls, and he had been promised a handsome bonus should he succeed in having the youngest Winchester displace his soul willingly. It seemed that a higher-up had use for the young one's soul and was already setting up negotiations to purchase it after collection. In payment for the intact and undamaged soul, the demon was more than happy to give him an extended corporeal life in Sam's body as payment for a job well done. His bonus was almost as sweet; he got to keep the elder Winchester's soul for torment for as long as he wanted.

-o-o-o-o-oo-

Sam shifted in his drugged slumber; the feeling of safety and protection that normally surrounded him having left abruptly. Something was wrong, as Sam floated in and out of awareness. Voices continued to call him, pulling his fractured thoughts like taffy, making any coherency impossible for the young man.

They'd been in the car, heading to see Carrie, Dean suddenly anxious to have his brother back in the hands of the hospital he'd been so adamant they stay away from. Part of Sam was scared by this drastic change. He was afraid that his earlier dream was coming true and that when they arrived Dean would leave him there and never come back for him. If he struggled, he could remember being in the car listening to Dean and Tom, but then everything was confusing. There were flashes but he wasn't sure what was real or a dream: the squeal of tires, Dean yelling, the smell of burning rubber and then a bone crunching stop before everything went black.

Sam also remembered his brother had come to him begging, pleading. Dean was afraid he would hurt Sam again, against his will. He couldn't bear to let Cranson win, so he'd made Sam promise to stop him, leaving him with a weapon to protect himself; from Dean.

Since then, Sam had drifted closer to waking, wanting to know why Dean wasn't with him. But everything hurt so much and his eyes just wouldn't open. He could feel the bite of the knife handle in his grip, and what should've been a reassuring feeling of having a weapon in his hand still felt wrong. The handle wasn't right and Sam instinctively knew that the blade did not belong to either of them.

Why would Dean give me a stranger's knife?

Sam tried to follow the train of thought but lost it moments later as another wave of pain made itself known. It was then that he sensed another presence in the room. He wanted to call out but his lips, like his eyes, wouldn't work with him to form the words and before he could try again to pry open his bleary eyes he was floating back into the dark.

-o-o-o-o-

Dean managed to stay conscious through the entire ride out to the farm. Despite Tom's offer to let him sleep until they arrived, Dean knew that the man's best interests for him would make him want to let Dean sleep through the rescue attempt and that was something that was not going to happen.

Dean was going to be the one to pull Sam from that house. He'd lost his brother once to this cult and hadn't been good enough to find him, but it wasn't going to happen this time.

Dean looked over in shock as Tom continued past the entrance for the farm but held his tongue when he saw the unmarked cars sitting several hundred feet down the road, obviously waiting on their arrival.

Tom parked the car on the shoulder of the road and waited while an officer moved out of each vehicle and slid into the back seat of the big car. Both men turned to face the newest occupants of the vehicle.

"Status report," Tom stated bluntly not wanting to waste any more time.

"We've been on site for a little over three hours now; my unit pulled in just as they were unloading Winchester," the first officer began. "As far as we can tell, he is currently being held in one of the rooms on the upper floor. Since then, there has been no movement in or out of the farmhouse. Although we have noted lights coming on in different areas and the smoke coming from the chimney only started about an hour ago."

"What makes you think Sam is upstairs?"

"We followed the trail of lights as they came on," the man explained. "The room farthest to the right from our location on the upper floor had the curtains open prior to the movement into the house. A few minutes after arrival those were pulled closed and interior lights came on. It's our best guess at this point."

"Anything else?" Tom asked looking toward the other passenger.

"Yes, Sir, our unit beat the arrival of the group by about fifteen minutes and was able to complete a circuit of the home undetected…"

Tom's face mottled in restrained anger, "That was not part of your assignment. You were supposed to be here to observe only! No one was to set foot on the property until we had the warrants in place, not to mention it was a stupid stunt on your part. What if you'd been captured like Paul, and then you'd be another thing for us to focus on?"

"I'd apologize, Sir but I'm not sorry," the second man stated, defiantly. "We needed more to go on then the blueprints that were on file. We got in and out fast. And we did come up with something useful."

"What?"

"The cellar doors listed on the blueprints aren't useable anymore. They've been booby-trapped. We found another entrance on the North facing wall that leads into a garage bay/cellar entrance. That's where they'll be coming in and out of when we make our move. Had we followed the blueprints, there's no telling how many men we would've lost."

"What about access to the upper floors? How many people are guarding the front?" Dean asked, wanting to know the fastest way to his brother.

The two men exchanged glances with each other before continuing. "It appears that no one is watching the front door, but we're pretty sure that it's a trap - a lure to make a head-on assault seem like the best idea," the first man theorized, receiving a nod from the other officer. "Like the cellar doors, we're guessing they have some sort of trap set on them. Although they did use that entrance when they brought Winchester inside, but again that may have been for our benefit."

"They know we're here," added the other man. "They can see our cars from the upper windows. They've made damn sure there is no tree line for any cars to hide behind for over half a mile, but just like we said, all has been quiet.

"Our reconnoiter did show us that there is a back stair off an East facing room that's against the wall. It appears to lead directly to the upper floor and has the best concealment," said the first officer, getting back to his original line of thought. "If we wanted to make a rescue attempt, but in turn they could be hiding in ambush. There's no way to tell until we get in there."

Tom thought over the information, formulating a plan. He began laying out the information to the others when he was startled from his planning by Dean suddenly pulling the keys from the ignition and opening the passenger door.

Tom and the other officers had only just moved outside the vehicle as Dean opened the trunk and pulled out a small duffle and began to fill it.

Tom stood in awe for a moment at the cache of weapons in the trunk, watching as holy water, lighter fluid, knives, a sawed off shot gun, a couple of smaller bags that were tied closed and several different types of rounds went into the bag. The ever-present container of salt joined the mix as well before Dean tucked a 9mm into his pants and another into a holster he wrapped around his ankle. Before Tom could consider moving, Dean had closed the trunk, swinging the bag on to his uninjured shoulder and started back up the road toward the farm. The slam of the lid brought Tom out of his stupor.

"Where the hell are you going?"

"To get Sam," Dean stated still moving forward. "I told you before I wasn't waiting around for you guys to get him killed. I'm doing this my way."

"What do you plan on doing? Walking up to the front door and knocking? What? You think they're going to give you Sam back just 'cause you show up?"

Dean stopped and looked at Tom. "No, I expect them to take me to my brother and then to Cranson. Then, I expectthat one of us is going to die, with any luck it'll be Cranson. That's what all of this is about. Cranson wants me to watch as he breaks Sam, steals his body and then collects his soul. Cranson is betting that I will do anything to get us both out alive. But here's the thing, Cranson's wrong. The only thing I care about is getting Sam out. Everything after that is gravy. If I have to die killing this fucker, then I will, but he is not getting Sam's body or his soul."

"That's suicide."

"Never said it wasn't, I only told you that there may not be anyone left for you to arrest when this is done, and that includes me," Dean finished and started walking again.

The two other officers slid out from the Impala and made a move to grab Dean when he pulled the gun from his waist band, holding it on them.

"Tom, officers, I appreciate everything you've all done in helping with Sam but I've got to do this and I really can't let any of you stop me."

Tom held his hands up to his men waving them back. "It's alright, don't stop him. You know what the plan is. Michaels is in charge once he arrives on scene. Let him know that Dean and I have gone to try and extricate Sam Winchester."

"But, Sir…"

"You're not coming…"

Tom talked over all the voices, his tone of voice making it clear that he was in charge of the situation and arguing was pointless. Dean had stopped walking backward and rolled his eyes at Tom, waiting to see what the older man had to say.

"You have your orders. I'm counting on all of you to make sure that we come out on top. Make sure that someone calls in EMS before the final breach so we have adequate transport to Parish County. I have a feeling we're going to need it."

Tom moved forward and Dean raised his gun again, stopping the older man in his tracks.

"You are not coming with me."

"Yes, I am, and there's not a damn thing you can do to stop me, Dean."

"I could shoot you," Dean said cocking the weapon to make his point.

It was Tom's turn to roll his eyes and call Dean's bluff. "You could do that, and then my men would shoot you, and there would be no one left to be in charge of rescuing your brother until Lt. Michaels gets here. Are you sure you want to waste that much time just to keep me from coming with you?"

"You have no idea what you are walking into. I can't worry about you, too, while I'm trying to get Sam out of there."

"Dean, you're going to need an extra set of hands to get Sam out of there no matter what you think. They've taken him upstairs. Do you really think he's in any better shape than this morning when he almost face-planted off the porch? And you think in your condition you can carry him by yourself? I know the risks, now let's get in the car, we're wasting time," Tom finished, pushing Dean's gun aside and heading back for the driver's seat.

Dean looked at Tom warily as he climbed back into the Impala, tempted to remain where he was and see what would happen, but when Tom fired up the engine and put the big car into gear, Dean jumped into the passenger seat before it could pull away.

"Where the hell are we going? They've already seen us it's not like we can sneak up on them at this point."

Tom just chuckled as he turned the car back the way they came, passing by the entrance of the farm again without even slowing.

"I'm trying to draw some of them out. Cranson has to know you're here. From everything you've told me, he's got some kind of homing signal or fix on the two of you, so he's expecting you. Now he can tell you're leaving, and if he's still reading you, he's got no idea where you are going cause neither do you. Hopefully it'll make him sloppy and send some of his members out to collect you. Besides, there's another way to approach the house on foot, it might give us an element of surprise."

The two drove for another ten minutes before Tom turned down a dirt lane, filled with twists and turns, and far too many potholes for Dean's liking. He spent most of his time cringing as his baby bottomed out on one rut after another, but Tom never hesitated, following the snake trial to where it dead-ended at an old barn. Tom carefully slid the big car through the dilapidated doors and turned off the motor.

The two men exited the vehicle and Tom motioned for Dean to follow him. Silently, the pair peered out the far end of the barn. Dean could see the dirt road they'd followed had actually brought them back up to the Eastern side of the house where Sam was being held.

Dean moved quietly back to the car and retrieved a pair of field glasses so he could get a better look at the house and the room that held the staircase. Even from this distance, Dean could see several trip wires gleaming in the late afternoon sun.

The whole place is probably rigged

Dean used the glasses to sweep the rest of the house, making note of any possible ambush sites before handing them over to the older man for his assessment. Dean watched, impressed, as the older man made a similar assessment of the property. Tom spoke aloud about the different trip wires he saw and Dean confirmed each of them.

"So, what do we do now? I know the distance is shorter, but it's not like there are more trees to help us here than out front."

"Now, we give the signal and go in while our back up units give us some cover and a nice diversion."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, the two units you saw sitting out front should have been joined by most of the department with one goal in mind: make sure that everyone's eyes are focused on what's going on out in front and not what we might be doing in the back of the house. Hopefully, we'll make it across the yard and to Sam before they ever think to check the rear for reinforcements."

Dean looked at the older man for a moment as if he were insane and then shrugged his shoulders. "Better than anything I've got. Let's do it."

Dean shouldered his duffle making sure to keep his 9mm in hand. He watched as Tom pulled a hand-held radio from his jacket speaking softly into it for a moment. Dean's head whipped around when he heard the sounds of not only sirens but a bull horn in the distance.

"That's our signal, let's move."

Tom took the lead out of the old barn with Dean at his side. Between the two men, they made their way across the field, deftly avoiding the traps and early warnings set out by Cranson and his followers.

The closer they got to the house, the better Dean could hear the interaction between the occupants of the house and what sounded like Lt. Michaels on the bull horn. Dean couldn't help but crack a brief smile at the amount of utter chaos that seemed to be taking place. He strained to hear more but as he drew close to their entry window, Dean turned all of his focus to the task at hand.

Dean tried to open the window using his knife to turn the inside lock to open. He pulled up only to see it move an inch. Dean could see the bottom of several nails wedged into the frame of the window holding it closed. Making a frustrated grunt, he turned to Tom.

"They've got it nailed from the inside. If I force the window, there is no way they are not going to hear us."

Tom laid a hand on Dean's shoulder stopping the younger man from banging his head against the wall in frustration. Tom pulled out his two way radio again and sent out a series of tones, holding up a finger obviously waiting for a response. Moments later, a responding series of tones came back and Tom nodded his head -- a small smile playing across his face.

"Wait about thirty seconds and we should have all the distraction we need."

Dean looked at him in vague disbelief as he counted to himself. True to his word, thirty seconds later there was a loud explosion from the front part of the house. Dean forced his curiosity down and turned back to the window using his strength to force the window open.

He cringed as the window finally tore free of the ledge and slammed into the top window sill, the glass rattling ominously. Dean was through an instant later, rolling through the open space to a crouch. Facing the closed door, he swept the room with his eyes. Confirming that the room was empty, he turned to the stairwell and pointed his 9mm up to see if anyone lay in wait for them.

Tom watched Dean barrel through the window, hearing the quick clear as he boosted himself through as well. He and Dean conversed in silent gestures as they briefly argued as to who was heading up the stairwell first. Looking aggravated, Dean relinquished his spot at the head of the stairs and followed the deputy.

The pair paused on the first landing to allow their eyes to adjust. The light that had flooded the lower room didn't carry up into the gloomy stairwell and the two strained their senses to hear if anyone was above them. They stood quietly for several minutes, hearing the muffled sounds from the front of the house, but could not make out anything coming from their immediate area. Tom made another hand signal and the two finished the climb to the doorway that, according to the blueprints, would open into the hallway next to the room where they thought Sam was being held.

The two held position again at the closed door listening for any movement. Tom used his free hand to gently turn the door handle. Using the small opening in the door, he scanned the area around him before pulling the door fully open and moving silently into the hall.

Dean couldn't believe their luck as they moved out of the stairwell and into the hallway that ran the length of the second floor. He wanted to race to the door that they suspected Sam was in, but he could hear his father's words in echoing in his mind: secure the area first before moving forward. Wary of trip wires or traps, the two carefully moved to their next objective.

Twisting the knob, Tom found the door locked. He moved to the side to cover Dean as he went to work on the lock. Moments later, Tom heard the telltale click of the tumblers sliding into place and from his crouched position, Dean cracked open the door to see if Sam was inside.

Caution was thrown to the wind when Dean's eyes caught sight of his brother shivering on the pile of dirty bedding. Even from the distance he was at, he could see the fevered sweat standing out on his brother's forehead.

Sam was caught up in another nightmare; Dean's earlier words continuing to haunt him. Sam didn't want to hurt Dean but he had given his promise to protect himself even if it was from the one person he knew could never hurt him. For the first time in hours, Sam could feel himself rising to the surface and he desperately held onto consciousness as he heard others enter the room with him.

Tom closed the door behind them as he, too, moved closer to the figure huddled on the bed. He was overwhelmed with happiness to see the younger Winchester still breathing but was worried from just his cursory visual assessment that getting Sam out of here quickly and quietly was going to be a miracle.

"Who's there?"

"Sam? You awake?" Dean whispered urgently in response.

"Dean?"

"Yeah, bro, it's me. We gotta get you out of here," Dean said, resting gently on the edge of the bed. "You think you can stand?"

"I'm not sure…why are we leaving? Did they find us again?"

"Where do you think we are, Sam?" Dean asked as he turned to look back over his shoulder at Tom, fear and concern clear in his eyes.

Sam struggled to gather his strength; he knew this is what Dean had warned him about earlier. Dean…hisDean would never want to abandon the safe house without a good reason. Obviously, Cranson was still in control of his older brother and Sam knew he needed to get away from him if only to find a way to save his older brother from the cult leader's clutches.

He waited for an opening to strike, and when his brother turned to look at the other man in the room, Sam acted. Gripping the knife tighter in his right hand, he thrust his arm out of the blankets and towards his brother's shoulder, hoping to hit high enough to injure Dean but not kill him.

I just need to slow him down…just enough to get away.

Dean caught a glint of reflected light off the blade and he twisted his body away from Sam, trying to miss his brother's attack. However, it was too late. Sam's momentum couldn't be slowed. The knife caught him just under the collar bone before grating across the bone and then burying itself deep into the back of Dean's shoulder. The burn of the blade sinking through clothing and into his muscle caused Dean to cry out as Sam's forward motion carried the two to the floor.

Tom quickly jumped in to help Dean as they did their best to subdue Sam without causing him any further injury but the fever and hallucinations were making Sam vicious and nearly impervious to their attempts. Dean finally managed to disarm his brother, throwing the knife angrily to the side as he managed to pin the younger man by the shoulders. Dean's body shook as it thrummed with rage and pain.

"What the hell are you doing, Sam?"

"You made me promise…You made me…" Sam repeated his voice barely able to be heard. The shock of what he'd tried to do settled in and pushed Sam further into his own fevered mind. "Hate me for it…gonna leave…should've died like Jess…"

Dean could feel his fingers cramping up trying to keep Sam pinned to the floor. Dean felt his brother go limp under him as Sam withdrew again from reality; his fevered state showing him things that only he could see. The pain in Dean's shoulder throbbed mercilessly, but it was worth ever ache to have his brother next to him again.

Tom crouched down next to the two, having released Sam's legs when he passed out, trying to evaluate the situation.

As the room quieted down, except for the harsh panting of the three exhausted men, Tom heard something far more disturbing – noise on the stairs moving toward them. Obviously, the crash from the bed and the resulting struggle had not gone unnoticed.

"Dean," Tom said urgently, getting him to turn his focus away from Sam and onto him. "How bad are you hurt?"

"Wha?

"Your shoulder how bad is it?"

"It's fine"

"I somehow doubt that," Tom muttered.

Dean was still holding his unconscious brother, checking his pulse as his eyes remained closed.

The sudden commotion echoing in the hall was enough to snap the elder Winchester out of his stupor. Pulling himself up from the floor, he and Tom made their way quickly to the door. Tom had just pulled the door open only to slam it shut immediately when he realized the hallway outside was quickly filling with members of Cranson's "family."

"Not going back out that way"

They pushed the dresser in front of the door as they then turned back toward the window to assess their escape options.

The two looked bleakly out the window knowing there was no way they'd make the jump without serious injury.

"So much for making a quick getaway, looks like we're back to plan A," Dean said mirthlessly. "I told you, you shouldn't have come with me."

With a quick glance back at the door, Dean moved away from the window. Picking up his discarded duffle, he yanked it open and started pulling items out of it to perform the ritual that Bobby promised would work. He spared a moment to glance at Tom before continuing to rummage through the bag, muttering to himself. Tom watched speechless as Dean began to cut pieces of cord and twine them together. Dean leaned over his brother's prone form and used the same knife he cut the cord with to slice a small gash on Sam's finger.

Sam twitched at the small pain but did not regain consciousness. Dean reached with his good arm to pull over the flask that he'd also removed from the duffle. Holding Sam's finger over the open container, he watched as several thick drops of blood fell into the bottle. Dean then held the flask against his shoulder and collected several drops of his own blood from the rivulet flowing down his chest.

A fine wisp of smoke emanated from the top of the open flask before Dean tightly capped it, shaking the contents. Satisfied with the results, Dean uncapped it and poured the contents over the two braided cords. Tom watched in amazement as they seemed to absorb all of the liquid, leaving no trace of the substance on the floor.

"What're you doing?"

"There isn't time to explain. Just keep them from getting in until I can get this finished," Dean stated flatly as he turned back to his brother. As Tom put his back to the dresser to try and keep it in place, he watched Dean tie one of the cords around Sam's ankle under a bandage that still loosely clung to the abused flesh. Dean quickly pulled off his own boot and secured the matching cord to his own ankle, speaking in a low cadence that Tom could just barely make out.

By air and earth,
By water and fire,
So be you bound,
As I desire.

Tom could feel the energy in the room start to rise and instinct told him Cranson's family knew something was going on. Shouts from the other side of the door got more frantic and the pounding was starting to splinter the door.


By three and nine,
Your soul I bind.
By moon and sun,
My will be done.
Sky and sea
Keep harm from thee.

Tom locked his knees and continued to push back with all the force he could muster as the door continued to break apart behind him. The race was on to see if Dean would finish before Cranson made it into the room.

"Come on, hurry up, hurry up," Tom quietly chanted through gritted teeth.


Cord go round,
Soul be bound,
Light revealed,
Now be sealed.

Called by Blood

And held by thee

The air in the room felt electric with the energy that seemed to crackle in the air and Tom felt like he was standing on the edge of a cliff looking down. He was pushed forward a few inches as the cultists were finally getting enough leverage to push their way in.

"Dean, we're running out of time," he yelled, not surprised when Dean didn't acknowledge the exclamation.

Joined in mind, soul,

Action and deed

As I will so mote it be.

As Dean uttered the last word, Tom saw a flash of light and then he was forced across the room by the incoming flow of cultists. He felt a searing pain on the back of his head that drove him to the ground, blackness starting to eat up his vision. As the world swam in and out of focus, he saw Dean struggle against the tide of bodies when a vicious strike to the head left him limp, disappearing under bodies of the cultists holding him down. Then the darkness took Tom and he knew nothing.