Title: Memories of Me
Author: Gillian Middleton
Total word count: 25 600
Authors notes: Amnesia story - which by its very nature could be construed as containing a character unable to give informed consent to sex. Not non-con, perhaps dubious-con? (Also I totally made up the town this is set in.)
Summary: While investigating a routine curse in a small California town Dean loses his memory. With only his brother to lean on feelings begin to develop that aren't exactly brotherly. How's Sam going to cope with that?
Memories of Me
Part 1 of 4
"Remember that scene in Mission Impossible?"
Sam rolled his eyes, knowing exactly what scene his brother was talking about. "No."
"You know," Dean prompted with a wicked grin, fingers smoothing over the museum plan's creased surface. "Where Tom Cruise is dangling over that floor with the sensors."
"Dean, this is a family owned museum in a town with a population of 25 000 people. They're not gonna have sensors in the floor."
Dean's grimace was a half-serious half-teasing expression of disappointment. "Would have been cool though."
"As if I was gonna dangle your heavy ass from the ceiling anyway."
Dean grinned and ran a hand down one lean thigh. "This is pure muscle, Sammy."
"Yeah yeah," Sam muttered, the plans absorbing his attention again. "Wait till a lifetime of scarfing down the fried fat that passes for food in your world catches up with you."
"Haven't exactly noticed you enjoying wheat germ and plankton for breakfast lately," Dean pointed out.
Sam dismissed the comment with a wave, mostly because it was true. A lifetime of diners and cold Big Macs on the backseat of the Impala had warped his stomach for good. He made a mental resolution to order a side of salad with his fried chicken for dinner, and moved the conversation on.
"Okay, looks like all we have to worry about is a bog standard alarm on the windows and doors."
All business when it was at hand, Dean focused on the building's plans, long practiced skills at memorizing fine details kicking in. "What about the case itself?"
"Simple wire in the glass, it'll cut out with the rest of the system. And the leather gloves should protect us from the Curse when we handle the pendant."
"Are we sure it's the Blood Ruby doing the killing? I mean the collection has been together a hundred years. It could be one of the other pieces."
Sam produced a fading khaki knapsack. "That's why I figure we should just take the entire collection. Smash the stones and melt the metal down. That should end the curse before it takes its share of this generation of Brackett family members."
"Sounds good," Dean agreed, straightening and double checking the roll of precision tools in his jacket pocket. "A museum heist, huh? Should look good on our resume."
"Yeah, Bonnie and Clyde look out," Sam said sarcastically, stowing the plans in his knapsack and shouldering it.
"You're Bonnie," Dean snickered.
"Right," Sam agreed complacently. "The brains and the good looks of this outfit. That fits."
"Huh," Dean scoffed, leading the way out of the motel room into the gathering twilight. "You wish, smart boy."
The museum closed at six PM sharp and the Winchesters watched the routine that had been unchanged in the last two nights of casing the place. A guard saw out the last of the visitors, swung the OPEN sign to CLOSED and locked the front doors against the world. Inside Sam knew he'd be arming the rather archaic old alarm system before wandering to his cushy little billet by the side doors. There he would stay until 8 PM when he did his first rounds.
"In theory," Dean pointed out as they slipped around the side of the heritage listed old building to the rear entrance. "In reality you just know the old boy is settling down with a mug of cocoa to watch Desperate Housewives."
"Let's hope he has something a little stronger than cocoa," Sam murmured back quietly as he jimmied the lock on the power box and set to work with a small pair of pliers. "I really don't feel like tackling an old man tonight." The outdated alarm system ran off the phone line, and it was a simple matter to hook up a bypass without disrupting the line and sending a warning signal to the alarm company.
Dad had taught him that one when Sam had been thirteen.
With a quick twist the bypass was in place and Sam held his breath for a moment as he cut the alarm wire. Then he slanted a triumphant grin at his brother. "Brains of the outfit," he murmured, eyebrows dancing ala Groucho Marx.
Dean slapped him on the shoulder and set to work on the back door. In moments he had it open but when he swung his own triumphant look on his brother Sam made it a point to look bored and stalk by him. "About time," he hissed in Dean's ear as he brushed by, then had to skip a step to avoid another harder slap on the back of his head.
"Glory hog," Dean whispered, but he was already shining the pencil-slim flashlight through the kitchen to the pitch black hall. They were all business again as they trod carefully and quietly down the worn carpeting of the long hallway, long-practiced footsteps testing each floorboard for noisy squeaks common in these old wooden houses. In near silence they made their way down the memorized route to the exhibit hall that had hosted the Brackett Collection since 1906.
"There it is," Sam pointed out as the thin beam caught the old glass case they'd innocently viewed the day before with a half dozen other bored looking visitors. It looked different in the flickering light, darker, more sinister, the old gold and silver estate jewelry gleaming dully as the light played over it.
One final check that they hadn't missed anything and they were at opposite ends of the case, lifting the heavy old glass in perfect unison and laying it as quietly as possible on the polished wooden floor beside its stand.
Dean flicked Sam at glance and his brother nodded back at him. Then flexing his gloved fingers Dean reached for the pendant that held the teardrop shaped Blood Ruby. That's when it happened.
There should have been a flash of light, Sam thought later. A noise, a warning, some kind of sign that something had happened. It shouldn't have been just Dean, freezing for a moment as if a shock had shivered through him, and then dropping like a stone onto the wooden floor, the pendant falling back into the case, his torch clattering away across the highly polished floor.
"Dean!" Sam whispered, dropping his own torch as he swiftly bent to try and catch his brother to halt his fall. He managed to keep Dean's head from colliding with the floor, but Dean was out like a light, completely lax and unconscious in Sam's urgent hold.
"Dean?" he hissed, shaking his brother but it was obvious Dean was not waking up any time soon. With a glance flickering around the room and the scattered flashlights shining their thin beams at crazy angles on the walls, Sam summed the situation up in a moment. He took a deep breath and hefted his brother up onto his shoulder, aborting the mission in a heartbeat. Dean hadn't even touched the ruby, just lifted it gingerly by the chain.
Clearly they had more research to do before he even attempted to destroy the damn thing.
Time seemed stretched out, but less than a minute after Dean had reached for the pendant Sam was striding down the dark hall, easily carrying his brother's dead weight over his shoulder. Without incident he was out and treading the damp grass to the car. A tricky moment when he groped for his set of keys and unlocked the Chevy, before dumping Dean as swiftly as he could into the passenger seat and sprinting around the car.
He didn't breathe easily until they were miles away and only minutes from the motel, then he was easing the car onto the verge and reaching for his brother again.
"Dean? Wake up, man! Talk to me!"
With a rush of relief he saw Dean's brow twitch and his eyelashes flutter.
"Thank god," Sam breathed. "Dean? What the hell happened?"
With a shuddering snort Dean's eyes flew open and he jerked upright, looking around the car as if spooked.
"Dean, it's okay," Sam said, reaching out for Dean's leather clad arm and squeezing it comfortingly. Dean jerked back, pulling his arm out of the loose grip and backing against the car door. His elbow hit the window with a smart bang and Sam winced sympathetically.
"What the hell?" Dean swore, nursing his elbow and staring at Sam with wild eyes. "What the hell is going on here?"
"Don't you remember? You picked up the Blood Ruby and you went down, man. Like a sack of potatoes. Guess there's no doubt it's the pendant that's cursed."
"Say what?" Dean tore his eyes away from Sam's face and rapidly tracked the inside of the car and Sam's gaze automatically followed, taking in the gleaming old interior, the hastily stowed shoebox of ragged tapes, the shimmer of rain drops gathering and sliding sluggishly down the dark windows. "Where am I anyway?"
Sam frowned. "Near the motel. I aborted the job and booked out of there, Dean. I didn't have any choice."
"Okay, okay," Dean said, lifting his hands and making a time-out gesture. "Slow down, dude, let's start at the beginning. Why are you calling me that? Who the hell are you?"
Sam gaped at him, not sure whether he'd missed the beginning of some joke and this was the punch line. A tingle of panic was zinging down his spine as Dean looked around again, frowning even harder.
"Where am I anyway?" An arrested look came over Dean's face and he looked down at himself, his brown leather jacket, his hands still encased in the worn leather gloves, his dark jeans and boots "Who am I?" he whispered.
And Sam's tingle of dread became a full fledged burst of panic.
"Dean?" he croaked, nursing one last desperate hope that this was all some stupid prank. But the look his brother turned on him banished that notion, Dean's eyes had widened until they seemed all pupil and his chest was rising and falling raggedly.
"What's wrong with me?" he whispered.
Sam reached out again and this time Dean didn't pull away, just looked blankly down at Sam's hand gripping his forearm reassuringly.
"I don't know," Sam said, wincing at the quaver in his own voice. "But don't worry, we'll figure it out."
"Don't worry?" Dean repeated. He shook the hand off violently. "Don't worry? Don't you get it, man? I don't remember. Anything. My mind is a total blank!"
"I get it," Sam said soothingly. "Okay, I get it. But having a panic attack isn't gonna fix it. We need to get back to the motel and get back into research mode. There's obviously a lot more to this Curse than we thought."
"Curse?" Dean repeated incredulously. "What motel? No, scratch that. I mean, forget motels, man. I need a hospital. Get me to an emergency room."
Sam was shaking his head. "No, Dean, seriously. I know you don't understand but this is not something a doctor can help you with."
"I've lost my memory," Dean said slowly, as if speaking to an idiot. "My memory, genius. If you don't go and see a doctor about that, what do you do?"
"This isn't something that was caused by a medical condition," Sam said in frustration. How the hell was he going to explain this without sounding like a complete nut job?
"Oh no," Dean said sarcastically. "I forgot. It was a curse. How silly of me."
"I know this doesn't make sense," Sam began but Dean cut him off with a sharp gesture.
"No, you know what doesn't make sense? Me, sitting here next to the insane person who probably did this to me in the first place. Screw you, I'm getting out of here."
"Dean!" Sam shoved the car door open as Dean groped for a door handle and sprang out into the road. The rain was coming down in buckets now and within moments he could feel the drag as his outer layers of clothing were saturated. Dean was already stumbling away down the grassy verge, cursing under his breath as his boot landed in a puddle all but invisible in the darkness.
"Dean, for god's sake stop," Sam shouted, grabbing his brother's arm and dragging him to a halt. He was ready when Dean twisted from his grasp and brought a fist up to punch, he blocked it easily and side stepped the next swing, twisting until his brother lost his footing and ended up stumbling against Sam's taller form.
"Dammit," Dean cursed, gritting his jaw and staring up at the taller man in frustration. "Dammit, what the hell is going on here?"
Sam's heart wrung at the pleading tone in his brother's voice. He couldn't remember Dean ever being so vulnerable before, so frightened. Sam was almost ashamed to admit to himself that it frightened him a little to see his brother this way. Dean was the one he relied on to get through crap like this. Sam did his part but it was Dean's strength he leaned on.
The heavy rain was colder than the summer night had any right to be, it ran in uncomfortable rivulets into his collar and down his face, half blinding him. Dean's head was bent against its drive, water zigzagging down his cheeks and dripping dully onto the leather of his jacket.
With a twist of resolve Sam straightened, supporting his brother's defeated form, feeling his determination harden within him. He didn't have Dean to lean against now. Dean was the one who needed him. And Sam would not let him down.
"I know you don't have any reason to," Sam said quietly, feeling Dean's hands grip his forearms convulsively. "But you have to trust me, Dean. I promise you, we will fix this. Please. Trust me."
Dean sniffed, lifting a gloved hand and wiping at the raindrops running over his cheeks and dripping off his chin. He straightened, pulling away from Sam, deliberately letting him go and standing on his own two feet. With one last glance down the dark grassy verge and then back at the Impala, headlights still cutting through the driving rain, he finally looked over at Sam. The panic and fear were gone, replaced by a kind of blank mask.
"I don't think I have much choice. Do I?"
"I'm sorry," Sam said helplessly.
"And I'm wet," Dean threw back. He turned and trod carefully back towards the car. "You got a towel or something in the trunk?" he threw back over his shoulder. "Don't want to ruin the upholstery."
Sam gaped after him for a moment before huffing a laugh and shaking his head. "At least you remember the important things."
"Tell me this isn't where I live?" Dean said as he followed Sam into the motel room.
"No, we're just renting the room for the week." Sam dumped the knapsack onto the table, pushing aside the greasy old pizza boxes and empty beer bottles.
"Thank god," Dean sighed in relief. "To quote Oscar Wilde, man, either that wallpaper goes or I do."
Sam paused in mid step. "To quote Oscar Wilde?" he repeated incredulously, but Dean's attention had already wandered.
"Are those flying ducks?" he said in amazement, studying the porcelain treasures gracing the afore mentioned wallpaper. "Is this for real?" He turned to Sam and smirked. "Seriously, dude. Am I on Candid Camera?"
Sam shook his head as he flopped down onto the hard wooden chair by the table. "I don't get this," he said blankly. "You remember Oscar Wilde and Alan Funt, but you don't remember me? And by the way, Oscar Wilde?" he repeated in amazement.
"I don't know what to tell you," Dean said rubbing one finger over a flock-covered lamp and shuddering. He paused and then turned back to Sam with a curious expression. "And what do you mean, we're renting it for the week." He frowned at Sam and then at the two double beds flanking a side table and dreadful lamp. "You mean you and me?"
"Yeah, we're only in town for a week."
"It's not the week part I'm asking about here," Dean said carefully. He looked again at the tumbled beds and then back at Sam. "It's the us part. You and me."
Sam followed his gaze to the bed and then looked back at Dean, noticing with horror the speculative nature of that gaze, the ambient heat stirring in his eyes.
"We're brothers!" he blurted out. "You and me," he continued lamely as Dean's eyes widened. "We're brothers."
Dean snorted disbelievingly. "Yeah, right," he scoffed. "Pull the other one, buddy. Brothers."
Oddly hurt by the quick dismissal Sam continued defensively. "Don't call me buddy," he said stiffly, thinking that even the hated 'Sammy' nickname would be welcome now. "My name is Sam. And we are brothers."
Dean surveyed him dubiously for a few uncomfortable moments and then shook his head, water droplets scattering the nearby wall. "Whatever, dude. Any chance of some dry clothes?"
Sam pointed out his duffel bag and Dean lifted it onto the nearest bed and unzipped it. "Only the best for me," he drawled sarcastically as he dragged out a wrinkled black t-shirt and jeans.
"We're about due a laundry visit," Sam muttered. "Did you hear me before? We are brothers, Dean."
"Look, buddy," Dean began, then paused deliberately. "I mean Sam. You obviously have some serious issues and some weird-ass story to tell me. And, believe me, as a man with a big empty space where his memory should be, I'm just dying to hear it. But don't start off with the brother story, 'kay? Because I may not know my last name or what freakin' state I'm in, but I know you and I are not related." Another flickering glance at the beds. "Not by blood anyway," he smirked. "I'll try not to use all the hot water."
Then he was inside the bathroom and Sam could clearly hear the lock twist closed behind him.
"Damn arrogant jerk," Sam cursed under his breath. It figured that even without his memory Dean was a smartass. And what the hell was up with that brother crap? What made amnesiac Dean so sure he and Sam weren't related? Sam glanced over at the beds and felt his cheeks reddening at Dean's smirking insinuations. It was tiresome enough taking those kinds of innuendos from motel clerks, gas station attendants, waitresses in diners and bartenders in seedy dives, without hearing it from his only brother!
Realizing time was passing and the shower was now pelting fiercely behind the closed and locked bathroom door, Sam began to strip off his own sodden clothes, tossing them in a crumpled heap on the small square of vinyl that housed the tiny chipped bar fridge and kettle. Deciding against a shower he quickly toweled down and pulled on warm sweatpants. He was bending over his duffel bag to rummage through for a clean T when behind him the bathroom door opened and Dean emerged in a cloud of steam. He was still toweling off his short hair, even though he had pulled on the soft old jeans and t-shirt.
He stopped and stared as Sam turned to look at him and Sam straightened, wondering if something else had happened while his brother was in the bathroom.
"Are you okay?" he asked in concern, instantly forgetting his irritation.
Dean stared at him fixedly for a moment longer before blinking and focusing on his face. "What? Yeah, I'm fine. Don't you want to shower?" His voice was husky and Sam gripped the t-shirt he'd selected and stepped around the bed.
"You sure, man?"
Dean frowned. "Yeah, what do you want, a doctor's note? Actually that might not be a bad idea."
Sam shook his head at him. "I told you-"
"No doctors, I know." Dean rubbed the towel over his head one last time before tossing it on the heap of Sam's clothes. "Uh, aren't you getting cold, man?"
Sam tilted his head blankly and then looked down at his own bare chest. "Oh, yeah, right." He pulled the t-shirt over his head and brushed his hair out of his eyes, watching his brother surreptitiously. Dean had taken a seat on the end of the bed and was pointedly staring at the floor between his bare feet. Sam gingerly sat down on the other bed, spreading his thighs and linking his hands loosely between his knees. He really wanted to reach out and comfort his brother right now, Dean looked so lost sitting there, so alone. But being brother and son to men who would rather get ripped apart by wild dogs than admit emotions had taught Sam some simple lessons.
Besides, Dean didn't need a hug right now. He needed his brother to be strong for him.
"I don't know where to start," Sam said, the enormity of trying to explain this to Dean almost overwhelming him.
"The beginning?" Dean suggested, still staring down as if his own feet fascinated him.
"The beginning," Sam repeated. "Right. Might be better if I tell you what's obviously on your mind. Your name is Winchester. Dean Winchester. No middle name."
"Winchester," Dean repeated. He looked up at Sam. "And you're Sam."
"Sam Winchester," Sam said firmly, although without heat. This was not the time to let Dean annoy him, practiced though his brother was at it. He had to keep in mind that this was the way Dean dealt with things, even the hardest things. A wisecrack, a joke, a smirk to cover whatever the hell he was really feeling.
"Whatever." Dean shrugged.
"And we're in California. A little beachside town called San Marco. Population 25 000," he said sadly, remembering how he'd pointed that fact out to his brother just a few hours earlier.
"Okay, so now I know who and where. How about the why? Why are we here?"
"We're here because our father sent us a text message asking us to come here."
Dean blinked in surprise. "Our father?"
"Yeah. John Winchester."
"Wow," Dean said, making an impressed face. "I don't know why it didn't occur to me to ask about family before. It seems kind of obvious when you think about it."
"Could be because we don't have any other family," Sam said gently. "It's just you, me and Dad."
Dean pondered this. "No mom?"
Sam shook his head. "She, uh, she died when I was six months old."
"Bummer," Dean said sympathetically. "So, where's this Dad then?" He looked around the room as if Sam was going to pull John Winchester from his duffel bag at any moment.
"Um, I don't actually know at the moment," Sam confessed. "He's kind of traveling alone right now. It's a long story."
Dean surveyed him skeptically, crossing his arms and leaning back a little. "I see," he said quietly. "How convenient. No Dad around to back up your story. Convenient for you, anyway."
The irritation was back, and with it a fair smattering of impatience. "Look, Dean, I understand that you might be having a hard time trusting right now," Sam said tightly. "I really do. I can't imagine how scary it must be to wake up and not remember anything. But I don't know what to tell you, man. You either trust me right now or walk out that door. I'm not keeping you here."
Dean glanced over at the door and then back at him. "Nice," he said bitterly. "Where the hell am I supposed to go?"
"Exactly," Sam said hard-heartedly. "This is a crap situation but we are in it together, all right? You have no choice but to trust me right now and all I can do is promise not to lie to you. Okay?"
Dean stood up and paced to the door and for a heart-stopping minute Sam thought he was going to wrench it open and walk out into the wild night. But Dean merely paced to the door then swung around and paced back.
"I hate this!" he exclaimed in frustration. "I hate not being in control of this!"
"I know," Sam sympathized, releasing a breath he hadn't even realized he'd been holding. "For what it's worth, Dean, your memory might be temporarily misplaced but your personality sure hasn't. And I know you well enough to understand how frustrating this must be for you." Sam stood up, leaning forward to convey his sincerity. "Please, Dean. Let me explain this to you. So we can start to figure out how the hell we can fix it."
Their faces were only inches away from each other and Dean was frowning fiercely up at him, glaring into his eyes as if he could reach in and rip the truth out of him. Finally the fierce expression faded and Dean shook his head and huffed out a sigh. "Well I'm up for that," he agreed, edging around Sam and resuming his seat on the bed. "So, your Dad sent you a text."
"Our Dad sent us a text," Sam corrected, making himself comfortable on the edge of the bed.
"He told us that the Brackett family Curse was starting back up again."
"There's that word again," Dean muttered. "Curse."
Sam plowed on. "Every 25 years or so the women in the Brackett family start dying. Usually after they've produced heirs for the continuation of the family line. We figured Dad must have stumbled over it while researching... something else. He probably made a note of when it would roll around again, and that's why he sent us here now."
Dean studied his face closely. "Researching what?" he asked shrewdly.
Sam suppressed an inner groan. Trust Dean to put his finger right on it. The man might not be book smart, but his intelligence was every bit as fierce as his college educated brother. Especially when focused on a hunt. And Dean Winchester had been hunting a very long time.
"Researching our mother's death," he admitted reluctantly.
Dean's brow rose in surprise but he didn't rush into the kinds of questions Sam would have in his place. "And is that what our father does? Try to find out about our mother's death?"
Sam nodded. "That's how it started. It was a demon, apparently. That killed her." Might as well be in for a penny as a pound, Sam thought.
Dean nodded thoughtfully. "Makes sense."
"It does?" Sam asked, taken aback.
"Yeah, well, he sends us here to investigate a curse, for god's sake. I assume he didn't do that out of the blue. So is this what we do? Break curses, look for demons?"
"Well that's part of it," Sam said dazedly. "I can't believe how well you're taking this."
"I don't see why," Dean said reasonably. "I mean, you said it before. I remember Candid Camera, and how to work a shower and how to talk, for god's sake."
"And Oscar Wilde," Sam pointed out. "Still reeling from that one."
"I saw it in a movie," Dean dismissed. "My point is that I remember stuff. Just not stuff about me. Nothing whatsoever about me."
Sam considered this. "I guess so."
"So it stands to reason this stuff shouldn't be too hard to swallow. I mean, yeah, a curse sounds crazy. But not impossible. And not really that surprising, when I think about it. I mean how often do you wake up with your memory wiped?"
"Then you know this stuff?" Sam said hopefully. "You know that it's real?"
Dean grimaced. "I guess I do."
"Well that makes my life a lot easier."
"And mine a lot harder," Dean muttered. "I mean, amnesia, fine, interesting, glamorous even. Make a great story next time I want to impress some looker in a bar. But a curse? How the hell am I supposed to brag about that?"
And he sounded so much like the old Dean that Sam had to grin. "Tell you what, we fix this thing and we'll just pretend you got it bumping your head, okay? In some cool and glamorous way."
"You better back me up," Dean smirked. "So okay, back to the Twilight Zone. Dad sends us a text about a curse. How does that end with me minus my memory?"
Sam settled back to explain how they'd stumbled on the legend of the cursed Blood Ruby pendant straight away. How the Bracketts had founded this town 200 years ago and how the pendant had been housed in the family museum for most of the last century.
And how it was time the damn thing was destroyed.
"And all I did was touch it?"
"All you did was touch the chain," Sam clarified worriedly. "Wearing gloves that had been treated with holy water. Damn thing shouldn't have been able to touch you."
"Any evidence that it's cursed anybody other than Brackett family women?"
"No, but that doesn't mean anything. Most of the dead Bracketts died of natural causes. Just that so many of them dying in such a short space of time started up the legend. It's possible other people died or suffered and that it was never reported."
"But I'm not dead," Dean pointed out. "Where the hell does the memory thing come in?"
"I've been thinking about that." Sam leaned over and pulled his laptop out of his leather rucksack, flicking the top and opening up the most recent document. "Here's the stuff I dug up on the family jewels."
"Family jewels," Dean snickered, standing up and looking over his shoulder.
"Dude, you did all the family jewel jokes within ten minutes of us hitting this burg," Sam informed him with a grin.
"Yeah, but it's family jewels," Dean chuckled. "A timeless classic that bears repeating."
"Whatever." Sam scrolled down the page. "Look, read this."
"Alma Brackett," Dean read, glancing at the accompanying photo of a formidable old woman. "Ooh, she's pretty. Alma Brackett, who died on May 13th at the age of 93, has bequeathed the Brackett Family Collection to the Founding Father's Museum. Mrs. Brackett's granddaughter, Sarah Lester-Brackett, is planning on challenging the will. Mrs. Lester-Brackett was quoted as saying today that her grandmother was not in her right mind because by the end of her life she was suffering with the effects of old age. Her memory was almost completely gone..."
Dean trailed off and sat back on the bed. "Her memory was gone."
Sam rubbed his chin. "I don't know if it means anything."
"And this was 1906?"
"So the every 25 years timetable started with her death. And her female heir who challenged the old lady's will?"
"Was the first to die, 25 years later. Although it was decades before family archivists made note of that when speculating about this Curse."
"So it sounds like it started with the old lady. And ended with the jewels."
"That's what we figured," Sam agreed. "But this memory thing is right out of left field."
"You're telling me. So what's the solution?"
"Maybe the same as before?" Sam said thoughtfully. "We still have to destroy the Blood Ruby."
"But what if this damn Curse is fighting back?" Dean speculated. "It knows that we're here to put it down, and that's why it's done this to me."
"It's jewelry, Dean," Sam pointed out. "Cursed objects don't usually think."
"Yeah, but unless this is something else I've forgotten, we don't know exactly how cursed objects work, do we? How all that evil and malevolence gets sucked into one thing that then becomes the focus for pain and suffering for years to come?" Dean nodded at the picture on the laptop screen, the proud and haughty old lady glaring out at them, lace frill at her neck, the Blood Ruby pendant encircling her throat. "That old gal lost her memory. And now I have too. That's not a co-incidence."
"No, it's not." Sam closed the laptop with a decisive click. "Okay then, we destroy the pendant. But we do it on-site, we don't risk even touching the damn thing, let alone transporting it. Dammit, if I'd had a sledge hammer with me last night I could have done it as soon as the thing put you down."
"So, when do we do it? Now?"
Sam glanced at his watch. "No, the guard will have realized he had an intruder tonight by now. Best we can do is go back tomorrow to scope the place out and hope they don't beef the security up too much in the meantime."
"And you really think we can end this?"
Sam blew out a worried breath, shrugging. "I hope so."
"Phew." Dean leaned back on his hands and let his gaze drift around the motel room. "You sure know how to show a fella a good time."
Sam quirked a brow at him. "Well, for what it's worth, I couldn't have picked anybody who would have taken this thing better."
"Yeah, I'm an all round good sport," Dean muttered. He flicked Sam a glance and rubbed the nape of his neck ruefully. "Listen, sorry about that whole brother thing back there. You know, calling you a liar and everything. I guess it's not something you'd bother lying about."
Sam frowned. "What was that about anyway? Just why was it so hard to believe we could be brothers?"
"Well, uh, we don't look much alike," Dean pointed out.
"Lot's of brothers don't look alike."
"Hm, good point. Listen, have we eaten yet? Cos I'm kind of starved."
"We ate early." Sam frowned, studying Dean's discomfiture curiously. "Dude, is there a problem?"
"I'm hungry, that's all. Let's go get something to eat. Okay?"
"It's still raining," Sam said reluctantly. He didn't feel like getting dressed and going out. "We could order in, there's a ribs place down the road."
Dean shrugged and scooted back on the bed. "Yeah, okay," he said.
"There's a menu in the dresser drawer, pass it over, will you?" Sam reached over and Dean grabbed the stiff cardboard menu and handed it over, sinking back on the bed and avoiding Sam's eyes. Worriedly Sam sank down opposite and tried to catch his eye.
"Dean, I know this has been a lot for you to handle."
Dean held up a hand in a familiar gesture. "Don't," he said quietly. "I just need to process all this, okay?"
Another thing Sam had learnt was when to back off.
The ribs were good and hot and there was still a six pack in the bar fridge from the night before. Over the spicy BBQ sauce and cold brew Dean relaxed a little, the tense set leaving his shoulders.
"So, the rooms might be crappy but the beer's cold and we eat like kings, right?" Dean said, licking sticky lips appreciatively and leaning back in his chair with his second beer in his hand.
"Only you would think getting sticky from ear to ear is how kings eat," Sam grinned.
"Look who's talking," Dean chuckled. "Dude, you have BBQ sauce on your eyebrow. How the hell does someone do that?"
"I do?" Sam tried to peer at his own eyebrow, a move that had Dean cracking up. Sam picked up one of the wet naps and scrubbed his brow.
"You missed," Dean pointed out.
Sam tried again.
"You missed again." Dean grabbed the moist cloth and leaned forward. "Here." He brushed Sam's brow and removed the offending sauce with a flick. Sam blinked his eyes back open and grinned over at him, enjoying the moment. It almost felt as if the old Dean was back.
And then the smile on Dean's face faded and his eyes dropped from Sam's gaze to Sam's lips and in just those few horrifying moments Sam saw something he'd seen more times than he could remember, but always from the sidelines, as an observer, usually an amused or mocking one.
It was desire, and it wasn't directed at some babe in a bar or some unfortunate waitress with a spectacular cleavage.
It was directed at him, Sam. And there was no mistaking it.
Without realizing what he was going to do Sam was on his feet, chair pushed away from the table with a clatter, hand up as if shielding himself from a blow. He only realized how ridiculous he must look as the desire faded from Dean's eyes and his lips twisted in self-derision.
"Well," Dean said carefully, crumpling up the wet nap and dropping it on his plate. "I guess that answers your question of why I didn't believe you were my brother."
Sam dropped his hand, wishing he could figure out some casual way to sit back down. Some casual thing to say.
"Damn," he whispered instead.
"Yeah." Dean didn't meet his eyes.
"I mean..." Sam blinked, shrugged, searched for words. "Damn, Dean."
Now Dean shrugged, getting to his feet and moving back to his bed. "What do you want me to say?" he said evenly. "Sorry? Is that appropriate?"
Carefully Sam back down at the table, twisting in the the chair to face his brother on the bed. He was more shaken up than he would have believed, more dismayed than the situation probably called for. After all, Dean didn't even remember him. To him they were strangers who'd met only hours before. Strangers sharing a secret no one else could possibly understand or believe. It must all seem pretty intimate to a man with no other memory in the world but of him.
"You don't have to apologize," Sam said, cursing the shake in his voice. "I'm the one that should be doing that. I guess I over reacted."
"No, over reaction would have been hauling off and punching me," Dean said reasonably. "I think horrified girly shock is kinda mild in comparison."
Despite himself Sam had to chuckle. "Was that girly shock?" he appealed, appreciating his brother's attempt at lightening the mood.
...his brother, whose eyes had dropped to his lips and darkened, smoldered. Who had licked his own lips, his breath shortening, his skin flushing...
The attempt at lightening the mood died stillborn as Sam gripped his hands together to stop them shaking. How the hell could this have happened?
"You're not gay," Sam said abruptly. "I mean, I've known you my whole life. I've seen you flirt with hundreds of women. You are not gay."
Dean looked intrigued. "Hundreds?" he said curiously. "How do I do?"
Sam snorted. "Better than you deserve."
Dean looked flattered. "But no guys, huh?"
"No," Sam said firmly.
"Well, like I said, I don't know what to tell you. Maybe I've been discreet, maybe I've been in denial. But when I walked in on you changing a while back, dude, I had no doubts whatsoever. I... You..." He flicked Sam a quick glance and then looked away. "Well let's just say, I wasn't feeling brotherly and leave it at that."
Sam remembered standing shirtless with just his sweat pants riding low on his hips when Dean had emerged from the shower and actually had to resist the urge to cross his hands over his chest.
"Dude, you're looking at me like I'm about to ravish you," Dean said derisively. "Calm down."
"Calm down?" Sam repeated disbelievingly. "My own brother just looked at me like he wanted to eat me up! You try taking that calmly!"
"Actually I think I've been pretty calm about the whole thing!" Dean threw back angrily. "This isn't exactly a cake walk for me you know. I mean, I wake up, no memory, you tell me to trust you and then you take your shirt off."
"Dude," Sam said wretchedly "You have got to get past that."
"And then you tell me you're my brother. You try to deal with that!"
"Actually I believe I told you we were brothers before I took my shirt off."
"Whatever, man! It's not like I believed you!"
"Well, maybe you should have tried a little harder to believe me!" Sam shot back hotly. "Then you wouldn't have been leering at me when I was quite innocently walking around without my shirt."
"Innocent?" Dean snorted. "There is nothing innocent about that body, Sam."
"Stop talking about my body! Jesus Christ, Dean! This is so like you! Can't you just once see past the sex to what might be underneath?"
Dean's eyes widened in surprise, his mouth half open, doubtless ready to shout something back. Instead he gaped for a moment and then closed it with an audible click.
Sam ducked his head, feeling the flush of anger and embarrassment burning on his cheeks.
Dean was rubbing at the back of his neck. "Do I do that?" he asked ruefully. "What am I, sex mad or something?"
Sam thought about lying but then remembered he'd promised not to. Besides he was still on edge about this whole conversation and not in the mood to spare his brother's feelings. "Do the words 'dog on heat' mean anything to you?" he said bluntly.
"Ouch," Dean said, but he was half smiling, his eyes apologetic as he shot Sam a quick glance.
"It can be embarrassing," Sam admitted, somewhat mollified by Dean's air of contrition.
"I bet," Dean acknowledged. "So, um, what do you think is underneath? That I'm not seeing?"
"Well, how about love, man?" Sam asked in honest exasperation. "And before you make any cracks I'm talking about the fact that you're my brother and you love me. You might not remember it right now, but maybe some part of you does."
"Uh, at the risk of getting yelled at and called a dog again," Dean said tentatively. "The part of me we're talking about is so not the part you mean."
Sam covered his face with one hand. "How did I know we were gonna end up talking about your prick? I meant your heart, you jerk. But you being you, that comes across as sleaze."
"So now I'm a dog and sleazy?" Dean said indignantly.
"Kinda makes you proud, doesn't it?" Sam threw back sarcastically.
Dean frowned and opened his mouth, then the frown melted away and he was grinning sheepishly. "Yeah, it kinda does," he agreed.
"That's cos you're... kinda slutty," Sam teased and Dean nodded thoughtfully.
"I sensed that about myself."
Sam shook his head. "And now I find out you're not just a slut, you're a bisexual slut." He couldn't help the grin that flashed in and out then.
"I'm just picturing, you know, your face. When we get your memory back and you remember this conversation. It is gonna be so sweet."
"Jerk," Dean mumbled. He rubbed the back of his neck again, his face growing serious. "You really that sure? That I'm gonna get my memory back?"
"Course I am," Sam said confidently. "It's what we do."
Dean was frowning, shaking his head and squinting and Sam leaned over in sudden concern.
"You okay, man?"
"I can smell something," Dean said thickly, and then his body went rigid, as if he was undergoing electro-shock treatment and Sam could only stare in stunned horror as Dean dropped like a stone between the two beds and arched in silent agony.
"God, Dean!" Sam shoved the bed back and dropped to his knees beside his brother, shock immobilizing him as his hands hovered over Dean's spasming limbs. Old First Aid training came back to him, the dog eared Red Cross manual he'd memorized with his brother during long hours poking and shoving each other in the back seat on one of their endless drives in the Impala. Their Dad in the front seat, listening to them learn their answers by rote and then questioning them, asking for their opinions, making them think. It had always seemed ironic to Sam that his Dad had resented his love of education when he himself had helped sharpen Sam's mind like another weapon in his arsenal.
Move objects out of the way. Don't try to impede the movement of the limbs during the seizure. Don't try to insert objects into the mouth. Patients will not swallow their own tongue.
He carefully turned Dean on his side, another instruction dragged from the memory bank of this mind. The rest of the advice seemed to consist of 'leave them alone to get on with it', but that had to be the hardest advice of all to follow, because that was his brother on the worn brick colored carpet. His brother's jaw grinding, his brother's hands and arms and legs twitching as at last the seizures stopped, leaving Dean limp and wrung out in their wake.
"Dean," Sam said thickly, only just becoming aware of the tears in his mouth and running down his face. Finally he could touch and he cupped Dean's face in one hand, feeling the clammy sweat of his skin, the lingering tremors as his body shook with the effort and stress the seizures had placed upon it.
Sam reached for a comforter and dragged it off the bed, tucking it around Dean and lifting him with a grunt to lay him back down on the nearest mattress.
"It's okay, Dean," he murmured, wishing his voice would stop shaking, wishing his hands would stop shaking. This had come out of nowhere! One minute arguing, next minute smirking, then Dean was on his back fighting this battle with his own body, his own brain, a battle his little brother could take no part in. "I'm gonna get you to the hospital, okay? Buddy?" He cupped Dean's cheek again and shook him gently, needing to feel the reassuring rasp of his brother's breath, nearly dying to see those long lashes flutter open.
"Don't call me buddy," Dean rasped and Sam's breath escaped him in a huge sigh.
"God," he breathed, grasping Dean's shoulder and holding it tight. "Are you all right?"
Dean opened his eyes and squinted. That one look told Sam everything he needed to know. That Dean's brain might still be lacking memory but it was still capable of mocking his brother for asking the dumb questions. That he was in pain, but okay, he was alive and ready to ouch and try to sit up and complain.
That he understood and forgave the dumb question, just this once.
"No I'm not okay," Dean grouched, rolling his head and ouching as his muscles stung. "What the hell happened?"
Sam shook his head. "Some kind of seizure. A bad one."
Dean squinted at him again and Sam realized the light was hurting his eyes. He twisted the ugly lamp until its brightness was shining away from the bed.
"Thanks," Dean muttered. "I gather from your face that I'm not usually prone to seizures. Right?"
"I think it's the Curse," Sam said bleakly. "It did something to your brain."
"It might have been something else?" Dean said hopefully, trying to sit up. Sam laid a hand on his chest and gently pushed him back.
"Don't try to get up," he ordered briskly. "I'm gonna get my shoes on and then take you to the Emergency Room."
"I thought you said a hospital couldn't help?"
"At this point they can't hurt," Sam muttered, digging out a dry pair of runners and jamming his feet into them. His keys were still in his wet jacket and he spent a frustrating minute pawing through damp pockets until he found them. He didn't say what he was thinking, that some seizures could damage the brain. That sometimes people died from seizures, but it seemed he didn't have to because Dean wasn't arguing with him, just watching as he moved around the room, his eyes heavy lidded and bruised.
"Don't worry," Sam promised. "I'm gonna take care of you."
End of Part One
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