Sam was crouched behind a tree next to his father in front of Marshall's house. They'd parked down the street and it had taken them, from the coroner's office to this exact spot, a grand total of ninety three minutes. Over an hour and a half. Sam had cycled through the panic stages, ranging from being on the verge of a full blown panic attack, to an uneasy jitteriness, and finally rounding out at a steeled determination that left Sam's entire body feeling cold. He was still scared out of his mind for his brother, but he had somehow convinced himself that there was still a possibility that Dean was still alive, and maybe even a possibility that he was still in one piece. Sam clung to that possibility with everything he had left in him and channeled it to set his mind on the task. They needed to get inside that house and they needed to get Dean the fuck out of there. If doing so required putting a bullet in Marshall's brain, then so be it. Sam would turn a blind eye to it, just this once.
"He knows we're here," John whispered and Sam snapped back to focus. He turned his head to glance at his father, who was watching the house intently, gaze fierce. John was in full blow Marine mode now. Reconnaissance. Dean was the prize. "The blinds are shut. The front door's open. He's waiting for us to walk in."
"What do we do?" Sam asked, giving John full lead of this. He would do whatever John said, no questions, just this once. As long as it meant finding Dean, Sam would do anything. Sam would find Dean. Period.
"We'll go around back," John whispered, leaning to the left a bit to try and get a better view of the back porch. He had no idea where Marshall was hiding from them, he just knew that he was, and he would be ready to strike the moment they came across him.
Sam looked at the front door again. "Should we split up?"
"No," John was quick to say and finally peeled his eyes away from the house to look at his son. "No matter what, you stay right next to me, understood?" That tone left no room for argument and Sam nodded his head. John looked back at the house, scanning all the windows again. "Marshall was a goddamn god when it came to this stuff. He's ready for us. Don't expect anything less." John waited for only a moment more before he motioned for Sam to follow. "Come on," he whispered and the two of them got as close to the house as possible, ducking beneath one of the windows. They stood there for a minute, listening.
They were doing it. They were going to get Dean back, finally, dead or alive. Either way, Sam would be damned if he was going to leave his brother with Marshall and his zombie family. If he was alive, they'd get him out of there and patch him up and make sure he was okay and would always be okay. If he was dead, as hard as it was to imagine, Sam would make sure his brother didn't just become another rotting body in that damn pit. An image of a gravestone passed through Sam's mind and he had to close his eyes and shake it away. Don't think like that. Don't start thinking why type of inscription would be under Dean's name. Don't start thinking about what type of flowers you'd bring to his grave on every anniversary of his death, and birthday, and any other important days when Sam would miss his brother. Don't think those things.
His father made a small noise with his mouth and Sam looked up at him. John jerked his head to the back and motioned for Sam to follow closely. Sam took a deep breath and did just that. John peeked cautiously around the corner before going on. Sam stayed near to his father as they both climbed the stairs of the back porch, staying crouched and out of the sight of the windows. The backdoor was wide open too and John paused before it, crouching low, back flat against the house. Sam watched tensely. He was getting anxious again. A part of him was now convinced that Dean was still alive. He didn't know where it was coming from, but he was sure of it. He was ready to get in there. Ready to rush into the action. Ready for it to be over. Ready for…
He was ready for anything but what actually happened. It took him half a second to realize there was someone behind him. It took him less time than that to call out to his father, only to feel himself whirled around to meet Marshall and then to promptly feel the sharp side of a blade run across his arm. Sam let out a yelp as he was harshly pushed out of the way by his father. It was one of those slow motion moments, except this wasn't in slow motion. Sam lay stunned on the ground for a moment, taking stock of the situation. When he realized what had happened, he turned to see his father and Marshall duking it out. John had lost his gun somewhere and in turn Marshall had lost his knife. It had become a hand to hand fight.
Sam gripped his gun and just as he was about to bring it up, John landed a punch to the side of Marshall's head and the man went down. John shouted to Sam, "Go find your brother!" Sam hesitated for just a second before John added a stern, "Now, Sam!"
Hoping his Dad could handle Marshall, Sam shot off inside the house, gun up and ready to shoot should a zombie, still unbelievable they were fighting zombies, rush at him. He looked all around the living room. Nothing there. He searched all the downstairs rooms, pausing in horror in the sunroom. But even as gross as it was, the fact that the blood was too old to be Dean's made Sam all the more convinced that his brother was still alive somewhere. But he needed to find him. Now.
Rushing back into the living room, he climbed the stairs that led to the second floor. The first door to his right was a bedroom. Peter's by the looks of it. There were still toys and clothes strewn about the room. It looked normal. The bed was made, the table had been dusted. It was clean, except for the toys and clothes. John had preserved the room. Sam fought down the shivers running through him as he ran to the next room. June's sewing room. The same as Peter's bedroom, preserved just the way it had been. Sam checked the rest of the rooms, growing more concerned with every dead end.
Too much observation, Sam, not enough finding Dean. He started running back towards the stairs when his eyes spotted one last room. He could see the faint glow of a monitor inside and he ran over and shoved the door open. He was surprised to see all of the equipment there. Cameras, speakers, sound systems, monitors. And Sam froze when his eyes landed on one monitor in particular. He took a quick step forward and sucked in a breath, panic suddenly spiking through his chest.
On the monitor labeled, "Basement," was his brother, hanging from his arms. But that's not what Sam noticed first. What he noticed was the way his brother was kicking feebly, weakly, at the two walking corpses that were trying to get at him. At first, all Sam could do was stand still and watch the scene in horror, paralyzed. But when June suddenly grabbed Dean's leg and bite down on his calf, the sight of his brother's head flying back in pain and his body bucking had Sam moving faster than he'd ever thought possible.
He took the stairs three at a time, jumping down the last six and landing with a harsh thud on the ground. He ran towards the back of the house and as he turned a corner to head towards the basement door, he ran into someone with a force that would have sent him crashing to the ground were it not for the hands that wrapped themselves tightly around his arms. Sam panicked for just a second before he saw the familiar, yet now bloody, face of his father staring back at him. Sam saw John's knuckles were bloody and bruised and skinned. He could only imagine his father bashing in Marshall's face. He hadn't heard a gunshot, so he assumed that's how Marshall met his demise.
"Sam, where's…" John didn't have time to finish his sentence as Sam broke out of his grip and ran towards the basement door. Sam tried to tell John what was going on, but his words were coming out jumbled and blank as he was quickly becoming overwhelmed with the fear for his brother. God, Dean, don't let that bitch chew through your leg.
Sam grabbed hold of the basement door handle and yanked. The only thing it accomplished was nearly yanking Sam's shoulder out of the socket. He gave a frustrated yell and tried again. He would have kept trying but John came over to him and pulled him back, aiming the gun at the lock. The door opened a bit and Sam pulled it the rest of the way and, ignoring his father's protests to be careful, rushed down the stairs quickly, ready to kick some zombie ass.
The sight that greeted him was one he would not soon forget. Dean was hanging limply, his labored breathing and soft sounds of discomfort the only thing telling Sam he was still alive. Peter had come over and was now lapping at the bloody wound on Dean's leg. June had a hand on either side of Dean's face, her mouth open, ready to bite. Sam wouldn't have it. No fucking way. "Dean!" he screamed and brought the gun up. June's head tilted towards Sam and he heard the bones in her neck crack and rub against each other. Sam didn't give her another thought as he pulled the trigger. June's head sprayed blood all over Dean.
Peter had sat up and was kneeling there, looking at them innocently. Sam aimed his gun but couldn't pull the trigger. It was a little boy. Sure, a dead little boy, but still just a kid. He felt his hand start to shake as Peter stood up. He couldn't do it…but he didn't have to as John did it for him. Sam lowered the gun shakily, giving Peter's small dead body one last glance before pushing the both of them out of his mind altogether and focusing on his brother.
John reached Dean first and as he laid a hand on Dean's arm, Sam painfully watched his brother flinch and cry out. "Easy," John assured him and started untying the rope holding him to the ceiling.
Sam came around and stood in front of his brother, surprised when he found Dean's eyes open and staring at him. Sam quickly reached out and pulled the tape from Dean's mouth. His brother sucked in a breath, shaky and nervous, but Sam was just too happy to hear him breathing to really care. "It's okay, Dean," he whispered, wrapping an arm around Dean's waist, waiting for the ropes to come undone so he could catch his brother and lower him to the ground. "It's over."
Dean coughed and Sam winced as he heard just how bad Dean's lung congestion had gotten. But when Dean regained himself, he glanced at Sam and smiled. It was the most beautiful thing Sam had ever seen. "So soon?" Dean rasped. "Fun was just starting."
Sam couldn't help the half laugh half sob that escaped him. He couldn't reply though as the ropes suddenly loosened and Dean's arms fell down. His brother cried out at the motion and Sam grabbed hold of him, along with their father, and they lowered him to the ground, leaning him against the wall. John leaned forward and cupped the side of Dean's face. "How you doing, Dean?" he asked, staring into Dean's eyes.
Dean smiled again, but closed his eyes as the effort of talking seemed to drain him. "Oh, you know, almost eaten by zombies, fondled nakedly by strange men…" Dean's eyes opened at that and he gave a laugh at that. John smiled back and then started to check out the wound on Dean's leg.
Moving around so he could see his brother's face, Sam started to wipe June's blood off of Dean's skin. "I'm sorry, Dean," he said. "We should have known. We should have gotten here sooner."
"Yeah," Dean said and Sam looked up at him worriedly. God, did Dean really blame them? "Because this one was such an easy one to figure out." Sam recognized the sarcasm there and he sighed and looked at Dean with sad eyes. But his brother went on. "Besides, you're right on time. That bitch was about to eat my face."
Sam chuckled and shook his head, feeling the tears start to leave his eyes. "You always said your face was irresistible."
Dean snorted and winced as it turned into a cough. "I meant it in the Brad Pitt sort of way. Not the Big Mac extra mayo way." Dean suddenly cried out as John pressed down onto the wound on his leg. Sam reached forward and grabbed Dean before he could double over. Then he turned to glare at his father.
John looked up solemnly. "Sammy, you're gonna have to hold him down," he said quietly.
"What?" Dean asked, earning a glance from his father. "What for?"
John took the canteen from his side and unscrewed the cap. He looked up at Dean, the canteen positioned right above his leg. "This is gonna hurt, bud," he said pointedly. "But it's gonna keep you alive. Tough it out for just a few seconds, all right?"
"I guess," Dean whispered and then abruptly let out a yell as John upturned the canteen. Sam wrapped his arms around Dean's shoulders, one hand on the back of his head to keep Dean from smashing it against the wall. Dean seemed to collect himself after the first yell and settled for simple clenching his teeth and squeezing his eyes shut. Sam still held him tightly, feeling Dean's entire body shaking and shivering.
When the canteen was empty, John threw it away and patted Dean's good leg. "I just have to wrap it Dean and then we can get out of here."
Dean didn't answer. The pain was still lingering so he just leaned back against the wall, eyes still closed. Sam held one of his arms close to him, worried to let him go now that they'd found him. "Where's Marshall?" Dean finally managed to get out while John was wrapping his leg.
"I killed him," John answered stonily. Dean's eyes opened at that and Sam saw that his brother was starting to get glossy eyed from the fever. He glanced at his Dad, who seemed to have noticed as well.
Sam took off his jacket finally and wrapped it around Dean's shoulders. Dean let out a soft chuckle. "Not exactly my style," he whispered, his voice faint and fading.
"Well, I could get your jacket, but it's currently under a mound of rotting flesh named Peter McAdams," Sam told him, to which Dean scrunched up his nose and shook his head. "I'll get you a new one."
"Work the wallet, Sammy," Dean whispered. When Sam frowned, Dean grinned and nodded his chin towards their father, who glanced up and shook his head, though he had a half smile. He finished wrapping Dean's leg and stood up, coming over to Dean's side. Together, they lifted him up and when it proved that Dean wouldn't be able to walk on his own, they both wrapped one of Dean's arms around their shoulders.
The three of them got out of there as fast as they could.
The next day, Sam sat on his bed in the same motel room they'd been staying at for the past two nights. He had his text books spread out in front of him and was working on his Civics essay. Dean was laying on his bed, asleep, or somewhere near there. John sat at the table, the phone to his ear. He thanked whoever was on the other end and hung up. Then he glanced at Sam, who looked nervous.
"Well," John began. "Your teacher is giving you a three day extension," John said with a small smile. Sam gave a very large sigh of relief. He smiled back at his Dad.
"Thanks," he whispered.
"Yeah, well," John said, waving his hand, acting just like Dean when it came to the mushy stuff. Sam couldn't help but grin. "I had to call and excuse you anyway." Then John stood up and glanced at Dean. "Don't let him get out of bed," he said, pointing a finger at Sam.
"Where are you going?" Sam asked.
John shrugged on his jacket and turned to look at him. "The bar," he answered simply.
"Do you think that's a good idea. I mean with Marshall and everything…"
"They're not looking for me," John answered, looking at Sam. "The coroner, surprisingly, declared Marshall's cause of death as a single blow to the head…like he had fallen down some stairs," John quoted in an impression of Nicolette's voice. "They're pinning everything on him. They don't even know we were there."
"But they could find out…" Sam started.
"We need money to pay for the motel, Sam," John said, his voice getting irritated. Sam nodded, not wanting to make his father mad. "And," John paused and looked at Dean again. "Dean needs a new jacket." With that, he left the motel room. Sam sat quietly for a minute before letting out a long sigh. He looked down at his textbooks and was about to start writing again when a voice broke his thoughts.
"Dad knows how to cover up." Sam turned to look at Dean, who was laying on his side, facing Sam. His eyes were half open and there was a smile on his face.
Sam sighed again as emphasis and pointed a finger at him. "You should be asleep," he pointed out.
"It's hard to sleep with your loud ass sighing every five minutes," he said with a grin.
Sam rolled his eyes. "I'll be quiet, go back to sleep," he said, looking back at his books.
Dean was quiet for a moment and Sam thought that his brother had actually listened before Dean spoke up with a soft, "The flu sucks."
"Not just for you," Sam snorted. "Think about how we have it trying to live with you when you're sick," he exaggerated a groan of frustration but smiled when Dean chuckled. He was glad his brother had kept up such a good sense of humor. When they'd first gotten back to the motel, Sam had been worried about him. Dean had gotten quiet, pensive almost. When he fell asleep, he'd jerk right back awake. Eventually, Sam had to come and sit with him until he was deeply asleep. Although Sam hardly got the chance to play the protective one for his brother, he didn't deny that it didn't feel natural to do so. It wasn't that he was used to it, or knew exactly how to do it, it was just that it felt right to do so.
Dean coughed and rolled onto his back, wincing as he stretched his leg, forgetting about the wound there. He looked at the ceiling before turning back to look at Sam. "You'd miss me if I were gone," he joked. Sam just looked back at him, seriously.
"Don't make me find out," he whispered back.
Sam watched as Dean rolled back over and looked at Sam with a cocky grin. "Don't you worry your pretty little self," he said and Sam rolled his eyes. Cheese up the moment, that's what Dean Winchester was good at. "It would take a hell of a lot more than this to take down a hero such as myself."
"Uh huh," Sam said, laughing a bit. "Well, the hero always gets the girl, right? So, this is all over, why don't you call Nicolette?"
Dean looked away and Sam bit his lip. The more he had thought about it, the more he realized what Dean had been talking about earlier when he turned down Nicolette's offer of a date. Dean licked his lips and rolled onto his back again, one hand hanging off the bed, the other resting on his stomach. He stared at the ceiling with such intensity Sam thought maybe he should hurry up and change the subject. But Dean finally said something.
"When this is all over," he whispered, repeating his earlier words.
Sam just stared at his brother. He wished there was something he could say, something he could do. Dean would never call Nicolette, they both knew that. Dean would never call any girl, not until they'd found the thing that killed their Mom. That's the way it had to be. Sam understood why, but that didn't mean he had to like it. He knew they'd never give up this hunt. There were too many bad memories to avenge. The hunt would go on until something was brought to justice. Sam just wished it could be different. He wished they could just stop. Would their Mom really have wanted them to do this? To spend their whole lives going after her killer? Or would she want them to have a normal life. Actually live. Sam wished he could have known her enough to guess what she would have wanted from them. He sighed at the thought that they may never have a normal life.
"There you go with the sighing again," Dean said. Sam turned to look at him and saw the smile back on his face. He smiled back. For now, he'd have to take pleasure in the normalcy that he did know. And one of them was laying in the bed opposite him. Although he was the farthest thing from normal, Sam couldn't think of anything that seemed more normal to him than his big brother flashing that stupid grin at him whenever he started to doubt why he was here.
"Shut up," Sam chided.
"You shut up."
Yup, Dean made things seem okay. He hoped that never changed.
Author's Notes: So I did not know that this story was going to end here. I rewrote this chapter about six times because I was never satisfied with it. This was the end product, so I hope you enjoyed it. I was having a lot of trouble with this chapter, actually this whole story minus like one or two chapters. But I want to thank everyone who reviewed and left me kind words. :) I really appreciate them. I hope you liked this story. It was fun to write, even if it was a pain in the butt. :)