OK, guys, this is it. The final chapter. I know I'm a bit late, but I wanted to finalize this in this chapter and I've been out of town. I hope you all enjoy. Hopefully it will suit everyone's wantes and desires. Anad I can't thank you all enough for sticking with me through the entire story. It's been a LONG time coming and writers block has not been kind to me. Love you all!
Sam anxiously paced the sidewalk in front of the motel they were staying at as he chewed on his lower lip, hands stuffed into the pockets of his jeans. As he passed room number 7 he glanced through the crack in the curtain where Dean and Bobby were getting ready for the meeting with Cassie. He felt a shiver run down his spine at the prospect of what was to come, still unsure about this 'brilliant' plan of Deans.
Truth be told, Sam had been beyond shocked that Dean was even willing to go in the direction he'd chosen. It was so un-Dean-like. But as his older brother had put it, what better way to get back at a schemer than with a better scheme.
This would work, Sam was certain. It wasn't that the plan was foolproof. No, not by a longshot. But there was just no other option. They needed to get back to their lives, needed to stop being made to feel like fugitives simply because no one was willing to believe in what the Winchester's protected the world from.
So Sam paced the sidewalk. Up and down, up and down, waiting for Cassie to show up in her fancy little car with her snobby little attitude so that they could teach her a lesson she wouldn't soon forget. Nobody messed with the Winchester brothers and got away with it.
Another ten minutes passed in agitated silence in which Sam continued to wear a track in the concrete before he looked up to see Cassie's blue BMW pull into the motel parking lot. She had the top down and her hair blew wildly in the wind.
Scowling, eyes hidden behind large sunglasses, Cassie screeched to a stop in the parking space right in front of where Sam stood. She killed the engine and climbed from the car with a clear purpose, loudly directing her greeting to Sam. "I should have know he would be too chicken shit to come see me himself."
Sam flinched, renewing his sense of hatred for her insincerity and disingenuousness. She still had no clue about what had actually broken up her night with Dean. The fact that she had been so rash to sick the cops on them without even looking into why Dean collapsed in the first time made his blood boil. Not that it was any of Cassie's business, but if she was going to go through the trouble of looking into their past she might have made an effort to look into the current situation as well.
Making a conscious decision not to let Cassie goad him Sam ignored her question. "Do you have any idea what your little stunt caused?" He crossed his arms against his chest, flexing his muscles and drawing himself up to his full height, making a valiant effort to make himself appear menacing.
But Cassie wasn't easily deterred. "I'm sorry," she replied, drawling in an innocent voice as she batted her eyelashes at Sam. "I think I missed the memo where I wracked up a rap sheet a mile long with your and your brother's name on it. That's all you, buddy."
"You don't know what you're talking about. There's a lot to that that you don't have a clue about."
"I call it like I see it, Sam. And what I saw is two brothers who are wanted for insurance fraud, credit card theft, murder," her eyes widened as she counted off the list of charges.
"We're not murderers," Sam insisted, dropping his arms to his sides and stalking off down the sidewalk. He paused in front of their room, debating on whether to blow the top on the whole thing. Suddenly Sam wasn't in the mood to play this out, and he was getting more and more nervous the longer he was in Cassie's presence. There was something about her that just screamed one card short of a full deck.
"Not murderers, huh?" she cooed, slowly advancing on Sam, never breaking eye contact. "That's really interesting."
"Your confession. I noticed you didn't deny any of the other charges. You saying those are real?"
Sam winced, and backed away another step. "There were extenuating circumstances, Cassie. It's not as black and white as it seems. And you putting the cops on our trail simply because of a tryst gone wrong was totally unnecessary." He knew he was being far too polite and underspoken, but he also knew that getting angry would only succeed in him making mistakes. Sam had to stay calm.
"It wasn't just a tryst gone wrong. We had something. Your brother and I, there was something good!"
"So you thought you would destroy that by calling the police?"
"He left me!" Cassie screamed. Fury raged in her eyes, a psychotic fire that scared the shit out of Sam.
She lunged forward, closing the gap between the two of them, and grabbed Sam by the collar of his shirt. Both hands fisted material as her hot breath blew over Sam's face. "He promised we would go away from here...and then he went and left me."
"You think he did that on purpose?" Sam shot back, trying to hold back the tremble in his voice.
"I know men. I know what they're like, what they will do. They will say anything to get what they want. I thought Dean was different."
"This is ridiculous, Cassie. Dean is a lot of things, but even he has his limits. That would have been an incredible fabrication he came up with if he was truly trying to break a promise he'd made. It's hardly his style." Sam swallowed hard against the lump in his throat, completely unsure what to make of her comment. On the one hand he loved his brother and knew he was a perfect gentleman with every woman he'd ever encountered. But on the other hand, as much as Sam hated to admit it, his brother was a dog. He couldn't very well assure her that Dean had every intention of taking her with them on their family roadtrip - because that would be a lie. There was no way in hell Cassie would have ever been allowed to come.
"Well maybe you need to get to know your brother better. Because he sure as hell did everything he could to get away from me."
Shoulda been sooner, maybe we wouldn't be having this conversation. "Look, lady, I think I know my brother just a little bit more than one little half hour conversation in the middle of a crowded bar could possibly tell you. It was a real emergency that night, and you've only succeeded in making things a whole hell of a lot worse."
Sam glanced at the door to their room from the corner of his eye, biting his lower lip in the process. The circular reasoning of this conversation was getting him nowhere and Cassie had a way of making him feel edgy and ready to lash out. It was Bobby's turn to play his part and Sam was anxious for him to appear.
As if on cue their room door cracked open and the older hunter peeked his head out the door, glaring sternly at Sam, then Cassie, then back to Sam. "Boy, will you keep it down out here?" he grit out through a facade of anger. "You're brother's getting agitated. He don't need that today."
Picking up on the cue, Sam shot back with his prepared response. "I'm sorry Bobby. I thought we'd be done with this by now. 'S he okay?" He crossed the distance between himself and Bobby, pushing himself into the crack Bobby had left open, purposefully ignoring the curious stares Cassie was sending in their direction.
Sticking his head through the door, Sam mumbled to the interior of the room. He took great care not to say anything discernable while assessing his brother for his readiness in the next step. Dean gave a slight nod, his face expressionless and not giving away any of the annoyance or disgust Sam was certain he was feeling at both Cassie's attitude and the acting job he was about to undertake.
When Sam pulled away and faced Cassie once again he could see that she was dying with curiosity and he had to work to suppress his enthusiasm, glad to know their plan had a chance of working.
She slapped her hands against her waist and glared. "What the hell is going on, Sam? What was that all about? And if you're brother is here then why the hell doesn't he have the guts to come face me himself?"
"It's nothing," Sam snapped, purposefully attempting to deflect her attention away from the conversation she had just witnessed, in effect doing the reverse and drawing the spotlight directly back to the interruption. "You don't need to worry about that. Right now I just want to try and work something out with you on the issue of the cops. How can we fix this?"
The longer Sam continued to steer the conversation away from his brother the more desperate Cassie became on the topic. He was steering her right where they wanted her.
"What makes you think I want to fix this?" Cassie demanded, stalking closer to Sam once again. He didn't miss the fact that she slowed down near the window, clearly trying to catch a glimpse through the crack in the curtain. But she soon turned her attention back to Sam and the issue at hand. "I didn't do anything wrong, Sam. It's not my fault that you and your brother are regular criminals. You did this all to yourself. How dare you try and lay any of this on me."
Sam stormed forward, seeing her flinch as his immense height finally seemed to have a desired effect when he combined it with genuine anger. "I told you before, there's a lot to us that you don't know. You could never even begin to understand, Cassie."
"What's there to understand, Sam? You two are criminals. Plain and simple. And to top that off, your brother is a weasely little con artist who couldn't be bothered to tell me the truth when he got too caught up in his lies."
"They weren't lies!" Sam finally burst out, sick to death of hearing his brother being accused of something he wasn't. "Lines, maybe, but not lies. If things had worked out the way he'd planned for the evening you two would have spent another hour or two at that bar and then headed off somewhere - a hotel or your place, who knows - and you can only imagine what would have happened from there."
"Oh yeah?" Cassie demanded. "Then what made him change his mind? What happened that turned a perfectly normal conversation into a circus act? I've never in my life been so embarrassed!"
"He had a goddamn stroke!" Sam finally screamed, charging towards Cassie and grabbing her by the shoulders. He squeezed tight, barely able to keep himself from picking her up and throwing her as far into the parking lot as he possibly could. He had never encountered someone so shallow and self-obsessed in his life.
But he held back, and Cassie took half a minute to allow herself to be shaken by Sam's violence, only to realize that he had no intention of causing her harm. She chuckled evilly at him before looking pointedly down at the bloodless fingers squeezing tightly to her arms. A pointed look - get your hands the hell off me - had Sam releasing her as though he'd just been burned and he stepped back, unsure what the next step would be.
Another chuckle, an amused smile, and Cassie crossed her arms against her chest. "You have got to be kidding me. What kind of fool do you take me for?"
Sam flinched, knowing what he had to do next and truly dreading it. "You don't believe me? Look for yourself." He reached into his pocket and pulled out the room key, slid it into the lock and pushed the door open.
Letting himself into the room, Sam began to speak. "He'd gotten hit in the head a week or so earlier. Didn't bother to tell me his head was still hurting him. And then the night you two met a blood vessel burst in his brain and it caused a stroke." Sam's voice had gotten lower as he explained the circumstances, no longer needing to yell as he sensed Cassie's entire demeanor change. He looked behind him to see Cassie standing nervously in the doorway, mouth agape, and for once speechless.
Beside Sam, Dean played his part perfectly. He sat slumped to the side in the wheelchair, strapped in at the chest for good measure. His right hand was curled into the most grotesque fist Dean could muster and sat limply on his lap while the other hand lay beside it loosely. Dean's eyes were open wide, darting frantically back and forth between Sam and Cassie. A thin line of drool ran from the corner of his mouth and Sam hesitated only a second before he bunched up a corner of his shirt to wipe it away, winking inconspicuously at his brother as he did so.
He wanted to do more. Part of him wanted to burst out laughing at the detail Dean was putting into making this look real. And the other part of him wanted to burst out in tears at just how close to being real the situation had been. Sam had to remind himself forcibly that Dean was fine, that he was able to walk and talk and shoot a gun, that given another month there would be no signs remaining that Dean had ever experienced such a traumatic brain trauma. But for the time being he had to be strong and carry out the rest of the plan without giving anything away.
"Sam, what the hell are you doing bringing her in here?" Bobby demanded, deciding to give the youngest Winchester the push he needed to get him back on track.
Clearing his head, Sam straightened and looked back at Cassie. "She had to see for herself the trouble she caused," he answered the older man while locking gazes with the girl who had yet to move from her post in the doorway.
When Cassie finally spoke her voice was weak, lacking the strength it had held only minutes before. But she still couldn't hold in the accusation and defense she was so accustomed to spewing out. "I still don't see how anything I did could have caused this." She couldn't tear her eyes away from Dean, gawking as though she had come upon the scene of a horrible accident.
Sam took a deep breath, gearing up for his part in the lie. "Not the first one, no. But the second one..."
Cassie's eyes widened and her hand began to tremble as she finally took a small step into the room. He staggered her way drunkenly over to the first bed, Dean's bed, and Sam glared at her.
"I don't recall inviting you to have a seat," Sam spat out icily.
She jumped back up, yelping a bit at the coldness in Sam's voice and scanned around the room. The older man - a caretaker or friend, she assumed - didn't look any more forgiving than Sam did. And even Dean seemed to be shooting daggers at her through his gaze. He had yet to say anything, and he certainly did look worse off than he had when she had barged into his hospital room all those weeks ago. But still...
"He– he had a... second stroke?" Cassie asked weakly, backing up so that she could at least lean against a wall if they wouldn't allow her to sit.
Sam nodded as he placed a hand on Dean's shoulder. Dean rolled his head toward Sam's touch, resting his cheek against the back of his little brothers hand, silently reveling in the normally taboo exchange. He was 'acting' after all.
"He was getting better," Sam explained sadly. They had him taking a few steps. He was making sound, saying a few syllables. He was getting better, and by all accounts he was going to make a full recovery. And then you had to go and get the cops involved - all because you thought Dean had made something up to get away from you- and we had to take off."
Sam's expression softened as he worked to make this real. It wasn't hard. Most of what he was telling Cassie was the truth. But he'd been involved in enough cons throughout his life to know that it wasn't so much what you said so much as how you told it. If he was going to make this work he had to be convincing enough to melt the heart of the ice queen herself.
"We're good people, Cassie," he explained, branching off on a necessary tangent. "Yeah, he and I both have records, but it's only because we don't make any money doing what we do. Our line of work, it's a pretty thankless job. The only way we can stay afloat is with credit card scams and stolen insurance."
"What do you do?" Cassie asked, teetering on the edge of skepticism and belief.
You're getting there. Can't lose it now, Sam. He glanced at Dean for a second, squeezed his brothers shoulder, and then flashed a meek half smile at Cassie. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you. Just know that what we do saves a lot of lives. We're the good guys."
And then, before she could press any further, Sam swung the conversation right back the where it needed to be, effectively ending the line of questions on their job. If Sam had looked at his brother right then he would have seen a sparkle of pride in the older hunter's eyes. Sam would have made a damn fine lawyer.
"Thing is, Cassie, we left the hospital too soon. They were giving him a ton of medications that we couldn't take with us. Pain killers, muscle relaxants, blood thinners..."
Sam heard a hitch in Cassie's throat as she went to take a breath and he smiled inwardly, knowing she was putting two and two together. Not as dumb as she looks.
He grinned wryly as he nodded his head, confirming what she was figuring out. The blood thinners were keeping him from having more problems. Stopping them as abruptly as we did...well, it didn't take long for more complications to arise. The next one struck just a day and a half out. We were on our way to safety, planning to hold up in a cabin that belongs to a friend of Bobby's, and Dean just went rigid. Right there in the middle of the car. And I couldn't do anything about it."
He saw Cassie stiffen, and gulp. Watched her eyes stray from their locked position on his eyes back over to Dean again, and a hint of sadness washed over her expression.
"The cops were after us," Sam continued. "Your cops. I had no choice but to keep driving until we met up with Bobby. Got him to a small clinic where they wouldn't be likely to recognize us from the five o'clock news, but it was too late to do anything. They don't think he'll recover this time."
Sam dropped his eyes, a master story weaver spinning an incredible story. Forget being a lawyer, Sam would have made a killing in Hollywood. He stayed in that position, waiting, hoping. Take the bait, Cassie. Take it. Bite!
She finally did. "All this is my...he, he would have gotten better if I hadn't–"
"Exactly." Sam confirmed, refusing to allow her to wallow in pity. He brought his gaze back up to meet hers and stared her down. "So now, not only can't we do our job. But we've got the cops on our tail to boot. What do you think of Daddy's money now, Cassie?"
For a long time she was silent, soaking up the situation, gaping at Dean and the wreck she had created in his life, making a decision. It wasn't until after Sam interrupted her thoughts with a none-to-gentle reminder that "We're still waiting, Cassie. What are you going to do about this situation?" that Cassie finally sprang into action.
She didn't speak directly to the three men in the room, instead pulling out her cell phone and hitting a number on speed dial. They could hear the rings echoing through the receiver end of the phone and then heard a gruff man's voice come on the line.
"Patrick, I need you to do me a favor," Cassie began, dismissing any pleasantries. "Those two boys I had you investigate a few weeks back, I need you to call off the manhunt." She paused, listening to the other side of the conversation, and then replied. "Yeah, turns out I got the wrong guys."
The lies rolled off her tongue easily, scarily easily, as Cassie spoke to her father's Private Investigator and convinced him that he had found records of two different brothers and that the two she had wanted investigated were completely innocent of the crimes listed in the dossier. After nearly ten minutes she finally said her goodbyes and clicked the phone shut before looking back to the Winchester brothers.
"Give it a day and you shouldn't have any more trouble with the cops. Are you going to be okay here for a day?"
Sam nodded, biting his tongue on the 'thank you' that wanted to escape. Sometimes he was too nice. She didn't deserve gratitude; and she didn't seem to be expecting it either.
Standing up, Cassie met Dean's eyes. "I guess sometimes I just don't think," she offered as an apology. It was about as sincere as they were going to get. "I didn't mean to cause you any trouble. I really didn't."
It was all Dean could do to maintain his facade. He had never been one for silence, never had much success in keeping his opinions to himself. Diarrhea of the mouth Sam called it.
He was thrilled when Sam spoke for him, offering his annoyance at the problems Cassie had caused and keeping Dean from having to voice them himself. "It's much too little and far too late," Sam snapped. "He could have been recovering in a hospital, could have totally avoided ever relapsing. He'd been walking right now if he'd never met you, Cassie. You're poison."
She blinked at that, but didn't say a word. She seemed to have learned her lesson, and clearly had decided that she wouldn't put up any more of a fight towards the Winchester brothers.
"I'm sorry, Dean. Sam." Eyes sparkling with moisture, Cassie grabbed for the handle of the motel door and let herself out. She didn't look back, but pulled the door shut with a soft click.
Inside, the three me held their breath. Minutes passed and nobody moved, no one breathed. Time seemed to stand still. It was long after the roar of Cassie's engine disappeared that Sam finally broke from his tableau and hesitantly crossed to the window.
He half expected to find Cassie standing on the other side, waiting to call them on their scheme, ready to put the cops back on their tail. But outside all he saw was normality; there were three other cars in the parking lot, all belonging to other tenants of the motel. Trees lined the far edge of the pavement, but there was no place for a car to hide out in. Nobody was outside. It was deserted.
"It's safe, Dean" Sam announced in a hushed whisper. "She's gone."
Dean didn't have to be told twice, and he quickly pushed himself out of the wheelchair and began pacing the room, almost as though to make clearly visible the fact that he could indeed walk on his own. He reached up with his still mildly weak right hand and brushed the remaining saliva off of his chin, grimacing at the symbolism.
"So you think that's it? You think the cops are going to be off of our tails now?" Dean asked hopefully.
Sam shrugged noncommitally. "I think we're not going to be any worse than we were before this whole mess started. We've still got to be careful, but maybe our descriptions won't be plastered around convenience stores from California all the way to Maine. We'll give it our best shot.
"You boys hide out in here for another day or two and I'll keep an eye on the posters for you before I head on back home," Bobby interrupted, finally speaking. "I'll stick around until its safe for you two to be out on your own again."
"Thanks, Bobby," the two brothers chimed in unison.
Finally, with a major weight off their shoulders, the two boys were able to relax and just enjoy their time together. Dean settled onto his bed and aimed the remote at the TV, immediately settling into a rhythm of channel surfing as Sam flopped down beside him. Together they enjoyed the monotony of the television as Bobby laid out on the other bed, book in one hand and beer in the other.
"Hey Dean?" Sam broke in, finally interrupting the silence.
Dean laughed, punching Sam lightly in the arm as he cried out his defense. "Hey, I was trying to make it realistic. You're the idiot who decided to wipe it up with his shirt. What, you just wanted to save a piece of me for later?"
"In your dreams, bro."
"I'm just making an observation, Sam. Don't blame me if it's true."
Sam huffed and rolled his eyes, but chose not to offer a rebuttal. He knew when he was beaten and he could bow out gracefully.
In the end all that really mattered was that they had their health, their freedom, and each other. Nothing else stood a chance at chipping away at their happiness.
Stay tuned from my next story, Retribution. It's mostly finished and I'm not posting until I'm totally done this time (I've learned my lesson on WIP's - as much as I enjoy the immediate feedback it's just too hard trying to write on a schedule.) With any luck I will post the first chapter of Retribution by the end of the month. Hope to see you there!