A/N: Here's the last chapter, it's a bit longer than the others are, but I hope you all enjoy it just the same!
The area next to Whooper's spring was dark, yet the first light of morning was beginning to paint faint glimmers over the shadowy trees and the dark reflective water. In the centre of the clearing, Gray and Ron stood face to face. Ron had a hand holding tightly to the front of Gray's vest, while the other held a knife to his throat. Sam stood not two feet away, ready to jump in, because he knew that it would be needed if the Whooper had his way.
Sam cast his eyes over the ground and saw that the Whooper's gravesite indeed looked undisturbed, just as he knew that it was. The wooden marker pierced the early morning air and didn't even look charred. It was odd since he knew that he had tossed a match, the wood should've caught the flame. Wait, no it wouldn't. The burning was something the Whooper had placed in the mind. He knew that the spirit had extinguished the tiny fire before it even hit the ground.
Ron drew invisible patterns across Gray's neck with the glittering blade, and his face was a smiling mask of malice.
"Don't do this." Gray pleaded.
"I have to."
"No, you don't." Sam replied. Ron turned a stony face toward the young man.
Ron's eyes seemed to soften and Sam could see an internal struggle going on behind them. Ron was trying to fight back, but it didn't look as though he were succeeding. The knife wavered a bit and scratched the surface of Gray's skin, leaving a thin trail of blood behind. Gray winced, but locked eyes with Ron.
Ron's face quivered and for a split second the owner of the body gained control once again. His eyes widened as shock and he began to yank the knife back, but the Whooper regained control, hardened the face and replaced the blade to Gray's throat.
Footsteps pounded near and the three men in the clearing tossed their attention toward the newcomer. Dean skidded to a stop next to Sam, and in the faint light, a thin sheen of perspiration glistered on his brow. He held a hand firmly to his shoulder and his face wavered between pain and determination.
"What are you doing?" Sam asked urgently.
"We fight together, Sammy. I'm not about to let you get destroyed by forces beyond us." Dean's voice was strong and heavy with care for his younger brother.
"I can handle myself, Dean." Sam whispered, but he said nothing more. To be truthful, he was glad to have Dean beside him in the fight, no matter the outcome.
The blade was pressed further to Gray's neck and drew a bit more blood. Gray winced. Ron smiled.
"I want you to suffer a nice, slow death. A lot like mine." Ron's voice spoke.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Gray replied.
"Then let me remind you." Ron replied and Gray's face blanked, only to lose all colour.
"Holy shit." Gray whispered when his face returned to normal, yet his skin was still pale, and his eyes were wide and confused.
Sam knew what had happened. The Whooper had taken Gray into his mind and shown him the past, much like he had done with Dean, only Dean had been physically transported. Gray hadn't.
Through a psychic impression, the Whooper had shown Gray exactly what Sam had seen in his vision:
An old logging cabin far back in the forest, rickety and falling down, yet homey and intimate just the same. It had served as a home away from home for the loggers. The young cook, with bright green eyes and dark, curled hair stood next to the window looking out into the late afternoon sun. His arms were crossed protectively over his chest and a slight smile rested on his lips. He loved his job; he loved the friendships that came from his career He'd always loved the outside world, so in a sense, this was perfect. Sure, he was often trapped inside slaving over a hot stove, but that made no difference.
He was away from civilization, away from the worries of the world and he was in his own personal paradise. He made good pay and he felt at home. He had most of the day to himself, while the loggers were out doing their work, he only saw the boss occasionally, the man usually kept to himself, but he was pleasant enough all the same. He'd spoken to him on a few occasions, shared a few good jokes, and stayed up well into the night over a cup of tea. The boss was a man that he considered as a friend.
The door to the cabin banged open, rattling the windows and jostling the young cook out of his thoughts. He cast vibrant eyes on the newcomer and smiled a greeting.
"Good afternoon." The cook spoke.
The boss mumbled an inaudible reply and darted anxious eyes over the cabin to rest on the cook next to the window.
"Is there something wrong, sir?" The cook questioned, he'd never seen the older man so distraught before. He was used to seeing the man as easy going and laid back, with a stern face, but a friendly interior.
"No, nothing." The reply was short, gruff and clipped.
The cook shifted uncomfortably, the boss's eyes hadn't left him. They stared him down and pierced into his soul. His hand twitched at his side, reaching for something that couldn't be seen. The cook shifted uncomfortably in his spot.
The boss's eyes shadowed. His face turned stony and depicted nothing, but malice and hate. The boss drew a blade and lunged at the cook, who released a startled yell upon seeing the blade coming at him.
"What're you doing?" The cook shouted in fear.
"Where's your money?"
"My room! Why do you want to know?"
The boss shoved the blade into the cook's arm. The young man screamed a terrible, pained yell.
"Where in your room?"
"The drawer next to my bed." The cook replied through pain gritted teeth.
The blade was brought down again; the cook screamed the Whooper's song. The boss continued his bloody job and the young man continued to scream into the fading daylight. When the deed was done, the boss made his way quickly into the cook's room and returned with the man's entire savings. He ran outside and stopped to look back, his face depicted horror over what he had just done. The last light of day caught his form and he looked exactly like Gray.
Seconds later, the loggers came running, the boss had vanished. They burst into the door and cast shocked eyes to the young man lying on the wooden floor, surrounded by dark blood that seeped from open wounds. One of the men dropped next to the man and felt for a pulse, only to come away without one.
"Murdered, it looks like." Replied another man.
There were nods of agreement.
Sam pulled himself from the reflection back on the vision and saw Dean struggling to pull Ron off of a fallen Gray.
"We were friends!" Ron was shouting.
"It wasn't me! It might look like it, but I swear to you that it wasn't!" Gray pleaded.
"He's right. What happened is in the past. Not now." Sam replied.
"You saw it! He killed me! He killed me!" Ron was shouting, his voice was desperate.
"Yes, I saw it, but it wasn't Gray. It was someone else."
Dean continued to struggle and eventually pulled Ron from Gray and shoved him roughly to the ground. The fallen man twisted his mouth into an icy glare.
"Let me do this. He deserves it." Ron spoke calmly and evenly.
"He's innocent!" Dean yelled.
Sam's eyes darted to the untouched grave and he ran over to it and began to pull the dirt away with his bare hands. Rocks sliced through his skin, but he ignored them. This had to be done.
Ron screamed in the Whooper's wail and he struggled to reach Sam, Dean snatched the knife away and turned it on Ron, but did not thrust the blade into the man's skin. Ron was still in there and he was trying to fight the spirit off.
"Hurry it up, Sammy!" Dean yelled after five minutes of struggling to hold Ron back.
Clearly the Whooper couldn't leave Ron's body, or he would have done so, but Dean knew that the Whooper needed a physical body to commit murder, unlike many other spirits. The Whooper was different. He wasn't a true spirit, but more or less a presence left by the past, he couldn't kill in his original form, he could only cause pain, which he had done.
Finally Sam's bloodied and cut up hands scratched an old skull under the dirt of the shallow grave. He drew out the salt and sprinkled it over the visible bones. Ron was still screaming. Sam struck a match and tossed it onto the bones, which crackled and blackened in the flames.
Ron burst through Dean's grip by digging long fingers into the open wound on the eldest brother's shoulder. Dean immediately let go and his face contorted into a look of pain. Ron ran toward Sam, but stopped shy of reaching him.
In the morning light, Ron's eyes blazed green before dying away into their normal colour. The man went rigid and fell to the ground. His body began to convulse and his face was distorted with pain. Sam scrambled over to him and gently raised his head while the convulsions died away, leaving Ron pale and still. Sam's fingers searched the neck for a pulse that he found beating steadily under his touch.
Dean and Gray made their way to where Sam sat with Ron and dropped to their knees, all signs of pain and discomfort gone, but not forgotten. Dean's arm was streaked with blood that still flowed steadily from the cut, and Gray's neck was ringed with red stains.
"Now is it over?" Gray asked, his voice breathless and confused.
"I think so." Dean answered.
Ron's eyelids fluttered and opened slowly. The man drew in a sharp gasp as fiery pain lanced through his body and blossomed in his skull. His eyes were panicked and frightened, and his mouth moved without sound. Gray placed a finger to his lips.
"It's okay, it's over." Gray spoke softly, not like his usual gruff voice. His eyes glistened with concern and his face showed nothing, but worry.
Dean got to his feet, helping Ron along the way.
"We have to get back to Tyler." He said urgently, recalling the young man back at the river.
"I couldn't stop it. I didn't want to." Ron said, his words were whispered and his face was haunted.
"We know, and I'm sure he'll understand. Let's go." Gray replied.
The trek back to Tyler was slow and agonizing and was spent mainly in silence. Everyone was afraid to speak. Either that or they didn't know what to speak of.
Morning had nearly fallen by the time they reached the shore. All eyes drifted to the still form of Tyler, lying on the riverbank. The men ran to their friend's side and dropped around him. With a shaking hand, Ron reached out for a pulse. His face was anxious as he desperately searched the neck for a beat.
The sound of sirens blared into the moist, morning air, followed by the drone of an engine in the forest.
Ron was still searching for a pulse, and finally found one. He breathed a heavy sigh of relief and collapsed to sit next to the silent Tyler. The young man coughed and blue eyes slid opened slowly to gaze across the expressions of those gathered around.
"Is…" Tyler's words were cut off by a shaky breath, and the sight of Dean shaking his head.
"It's over, don't worry. How are you holding up?" Sam asked.
"Been better." Tyler replied. His eyes slid shut and he struggled to open them again.
"Hello?" Came a strong male voice from the opposite side of the river.
Dean looked up to see the man dressed in a paramedic uniform while fog drifted slowly over his feet.
"Yeah! We have a knife wound over here!" Dean called. The man called to his co-workers who brought a stretcher and splashed through the mirror-like river.
The paramedics dropped next to Tyler and immediately checked the injury.
Dean smiled tightly, and Tyler returned it with a slow blink of his eyes and a wavering smile that was trying to hide the pain. He was gently placed on the stretcher and taken across the river.
"He should be fine. Now, let me take a look at those." Came a man's voice from next to Dean.
Dean turned to face the voice and his breath caught in his throat. The young man casting a critical glance over Dean's shoulder and head injury had vivid green eyes and dark, curly hair, with a soft expression on his gently angled face. This man was nearly identical in appearance to the young cook who was murdered, and he looked about the same age.
"Are you okay?" The paramedic questioned, watching Dean through those sharp eyes that held a world of caring in their depths.
Dean nodded, but didn't speak and allowed the young man to check him over before bandaging up the injured arm and tending to the cut on the back of the eldest brother's head. He then nodded and crossed the river to vanish into the woods after the stretcher and the other two paramedics.
"That murderer looked a lot like my great grandfather." Gray replied and he fingered the white bandages on his neck. He got nothing, but silence and he cast a glance around at all those present. His gaze rested on Dean, who was staring transfixed at the spot where the stretcher had just vanished from; the younger man's face was pale and confused.
"Dean?" Gray asked.
The man in question turned his eyes to greet Gray's.
"Are you alright?" Gray questioned.
"Yeah, I'm fine." Dean stated, his eyes still lingering on the spot where the man had entered the tree line.
"Let's get back on the road." Dean replied, locking eyes with Sam.
"Right. Here's my cell number, give me a call when you hear about how Tyler's holding out, okay?" Sam asked, fishing in his pockets for a piece of paper. He pulled out an old receipt and a pen and wrote the number to hand over to Gray.
"I will. Thanks a lot. I guess we owe you one." Gray replied.
"Nah, we're even." Dean smiled and made his way back to where the Impala was parked, Sam following close behind.
Once in the woods Dean turned to Sam.
"Did that paramedic look familiar?" The eldest questioned.
"Yeah, he did." Was Sam's only answer.
A/N: Well that's it for this story. I hope you all enjoyed reading; I sure enjoyed writing it! Let me know your thoughts and thanks again!