Another one shot. Kind of an alternate 'Benders' storyline, if you stretch your imagination. It is written in a bit of a different style than I usually do and please do not criticize my use of tenses in this story - it works. You'll see why when you read :)
The boy was hurting. He had no idea what they did to him but he knew he was in bad shape. He had lost all idea of where he was – he just knew they were still nearby because he could hear them moving somewhere around him. Teasing him, tormenting him. They knew they could finish him at any time.
He hated being toyed with – terrified actually.
He was a hunter and they'd made him their prey…
The boy dragged his body through the cold dirt and leaves. Hardly remembering even how he got out there. Someone had come to the room…
No time to think. He can hear them getting closer again – he can hear them beating their sticks on the ground – moments later he can feel them again and thankfully he loses consciousness this time.
The next time he wakes up, it is near morning and he is so cold and numb he can't feel the pain anymore. He decides it is a good thing and tries to force his leaden limbs to move. It's hard but he's determined. He had to be or else he'd be dead.
He doesn't know where they are anymore. He can't hear them and he's not sure if that is a good thing or bad.
Pushing himself, he can finally move, mere inches but each inch is closer to somewhere else. And right now, he needs to be anywhere else.
He continues forever, until he can't move anymore and slowly lowers his aching head to press his battered cheek against the cold earth. It's too hard. He's done. He can't go any further. He knows what his father and brother would say to him if they could see him now but it doesn't help because they can't.
The boy didn't know where either man was. His father was still missing and his brother – he scrunched up his eyes, trying to think… to remember. But it was so hard….
Suddenly a sound nearby stirred a memory. It was a low guttural growl and for a moment the boy was afraid he was about to be feasted on by some animal. But then the sound died off and he heard something else – something being slammed.
Someone was nearby!
Raising his head – the boy tried to cry out but the sound he managed to make was pathetic at best. There was no way, he'd be heard.
Disheartened, he felt hot tears burn his cheek and he pressed his face into the ground again. He would die here.
'No,' he suddenly surged, 'not like this. I can't die like this-' he was a hunter. A predator. Not prey. Not some animal left to die on the forest floor. And not today.
Forcing strength into his limbs, the boy pressed forward again, dragging his body slowly over the unforgiving terrain.
When his fingers finally felt gravel he looked up again, blinking in shock at the mirage in front of him.
It couldn't be, could it?
Blinking quickly, he let out a gasp. It was. It was his brother's car.
Black, chic and shiny, the 1967 testosterone inspired Chevy Impala sat in the middle of an otherwise empty parking lot. Nothing could touch that car. It was tuff.
"Oh God—" the boy gasped, "help me-"
In the woods behind him, he heard them again.
Dean Winchester was worried. His brother had been missing for two days now, taken from their motel room while Dean had been out buying grub. When he came back, the room was empty.
At first he had thought the younger boy had left of his own accord – though that made no sense. But when he saw the single twined talisman that Sam normally wore around his wrist, in the middle of the floor, he knew something had happened.
Something or someone had taken his brother from their room. And now forty-eight hours later Dean was at his wits end. The police had no leads, he had no answers... and with every passing moment the twenty-six year old knew his brother got further away. Got harder to find.
"Damnit," he whispered, "where are you Sammy?"
Pulling into the empty gravel parking lot of a Seven-Eleven, the young man wearily walked inside to get his hundredth cup of coffee since this whole thing began.
"Please-" the boy gasped begging the last ounce of strength from his body, "please-" He was close enough now that he could almost touch the car and still he heard them coming again. Gravel crunched under their booted feet. They were in no particular hurry, confident in their ability to reacquire him.
His hand strained forward and hope ignited cold in his heart when he touched the smooth metal of the car. Panting from the exertion, the boy reached up, using the car to pull himself to his knees.
Oh God the pain…
Head spinning dizzily, lungs straining for air that he just couldn't seem to breathe, his fingers somehow managed to close around the handle of the car.
They are so close now he can almost feel their breath on his back.
Summoning hidden strength, he yanked, praying it would be unlocked.
Oh God. It is.
Tumbling. Falling. Somehow long limbs and aching body sprawl across the seat, the door closing heavily behind him; although he doesn't remember being the one who closed it.
Closing his eyes, he trembles.
This car is the closest thing he has to home. He wants his brother.
Where is Dean?
They are at the door now and the young hunter lets out a sob. He has made it all this way for nothing.
They will kill him now. The hunt had been fun but it was time for the boy to die. And what could be a better coffin than this black car.
Eagerly they reach for the door and tug.
Nothing happens. The door won't open.
Now they are angry. They can see their quarry – they can smell him.
But although they are angry, there is someone else who is even more so.
Dean glanced out the window and scowled. What the fuck?
Three shabbily dressed men – hillbillies by his guess – are crowding around his car. Mauling his precious baby.
Without thought to the numbers… three against one… Dean is hurrying from the store. "HEY!" he yells, his hand reaching for the gun in his waistband when he sees they are armed.
Sticks? Hillbillies with pointed sticks. Oh wonderful.
"Get away from my car," he growls, the gun held out steadily in front of him.
The oldest of the three doesn't move. The two younger ones watch to see what the older is going to do.
"I said," Dean restates with emphasis, "Get. Away. From. My. Car."
"Yer car has sum'ting in it 'longs to us," one of the younger ones says and the hunter scowls at him – Pigeon English. Fucking wonderful.
"Yeah. And we wants it back," the other younger one adds.
The oldest of the hillbillies is carrying a shotgun and eyeing Dean warily. Dean has no trouble holding his gaze. He's still wired about his brother's disappearance and these good ole boys are starting to look like a damn good outlet for some of this pent up frustration.
"Well tough titty," Dean spat. "You know what they say about possession and all-" he sighed and rolled his eyes when three faces turned quizzical. "It's nine-tenths of the law."
"We don't do math," one of the younger hicks said so seriously the demon hunter had to laugh.
"Pity," was all Dean said. He motioned with the gun. "Step away from the car. I ain't going to be asking again."
The old man scratched an itch on his arm. "You a hunter?" he asked catching the younger man off guard.
"Are you a hunter?" the man repeated, more slowly this time. And it irritated Dean to no end – he was not the slow one here.
"Fuck yeah," he replied with vehemence. He sighted on the old man's chest.
"So am I," the old man said swiftly bringing up his shotgun and firing. But he was a hair to slow as Dean squeezed the trigger first, catching him dead center in the skull. Soundlessly the man dropped.
Immediately the two younger men screamed and charged. Two more shots and the parking lot had two more bodies.
Dean heard someone moving behind him and whirled around, scaring the shit out of the young Seven-Eleven employee. The kid watched him with large, scared eyes. They traveled from Dean to the three dead man and then, to the hunter's shock, the employee relaxed and offered him a congratulatory smile.
"Oh thank God. It's about time someone killed those sons'abitches." The kid moved to the older dead man and kicked him in the side. Hard. "They've been hunting people around here for years."
"What?" Dean was shocked. What was wrong with the people in this town?
"You heard me," the employee offered. "They grab loners and then hunt them down." He lowered his voice as if anyone was around to overhear what he was about to say. "Rumor has it that they ate what they killed."
Dean suppressed a shudder. He looked at the kid. "Is this going to be a problem?" he indicated the three dead men but the employee laughed and shook his head.
"Nah." He assured him, "Take your car and go. I'll call the sheriff after you leave. He'll be relieved someone finally took care of this family – hell he'll probably want to give you a medal."
"I don't want a medal," Dean said softly. He sighed, his shoulders slumping wearily, "I just want my brother back."
The employee said nothing.
Sighing again, the exhausted hunter moved towards his car, reaching out absently to unlock the door when he froze.
No. It couldn't be.
He blinked, his heart starting to race in his chest. No… No…
Yes! It was his brother.
It was Sam.
Grabbing the door and whipping it open, Dean never even noticed that it was now unlocked. Little details like that were forgotten in his anxiousness to get to his brother.
Sam looked like crap and for one horrifying moment, the older Winchester thought he was dead. Pressing trembling fingers against a cold and bloodied throat, Dean let out a heavy sigh when he felt the steady thump, thump beneath his touch. His brother was alive.
"Sammy?" he shook the younger boy gently, mindful of the abuse the kid had taken as he quickly triaged the obvious injuries. Thank god nothing life threatening so far…
A flash of anger made him glance back at the three men and suddenly wish his aim hadn't been so true. They should not have died that easily – not for what they had done to his brother.
Bile rose into the back of his throat and Dean swallowed hard the bitter realization of what had happened. Those men had hunted his brother –
"Fucking assholes," he hissed angrily, taking off his jacket and carefully wrapping it around the unconscious younger boy.
He started to move away when a tentative hand grasped his wrist.
"Dean?" the word was barely audible.
"Yeah. Sammy. " He swallowed again. "It's me."
Eyes too old for his young face opened and peered up miserably at Dean. A weak smile graced the dirty and bruised face. "I love this car." And then the eyes slid shut again.
Blinking back the sudden stinging in his eyes, Dean eased his brother over and sat down in the driver's seat. The Impala roared to life and slowly pulled away from the parking lot.
Periodically he glanced at the younger boy as he drove, relieved beyond words to find him. He had been seriously starting to think he'd never see Sam again.
Dean shivered. That thought hit a little too close to home; to the almost all encompassing fear that he'd held at bay during the last two days. He refused to lose it now. Not after he had gotten his brother back.
He smiled ruefully and patted the car's dash affectionately; after his baby had gotten Sam back, he amended.
They'd need a room and soon, so he could take care of his brother, but Dean was hesitant to stop just yet. He wanted to put as much distance between them and this fucking hellhole of a town as possible.
I love this car… his brother's odd statement came back to him and so did the oddity of a number of things. Dean had locked the doors before he went into the store. He always did. With a weapons cache in the trunk, he would never leave it unlocked. Yet, somehow Sam had gotten inside.
And then the car doors were locked to the hillbillies but open for Dean, although he didn't remember unlocking them…
Shaking his head, too tired to properly try and process that, he decided that he must have left them unlocked when he went inside – he had been up for over forty-hours straight at the time – and then unlocked them afterwards, without realizing it.
Satisfied with his reasoning, Dean saw just what he was looking for and pulled in; a nice cozy little motel. Inside he'd find clean sheets and well looked after rooms.
Quickly paying for the room, he pulled up outside it and then roused his brother; pleased that the younger boy was responsive and made a show of trying to help as Dean eased him out of the car and moved them into the room.
He'd come back for the first aid kit and their duffle bags once he got Sam settled. And when he did, he'd eye his car just a little differently.
It was nothing he could place his finger on but whatever it was, he was grateful, knowing without a shadow of a doubt that if the Impala's doors had been locked, Sam would have died…
"Thank you," he whispered to the car and then went inside. He had something very important to take care of – his brother.
As the motel door closed, sheltering the hunters for the night, the 1967 black Chevy Impala kept vigil – once again her doors were locked.