Disclaimer: I don't own anything Supernatural related.
AN: Takes place immediately following "Devil's Trap". Spoilers aplenty.
His fingers finally grasped the coarse fabric he'd been struggling to reach, wrapping around the stiff cloth and following it until he felt the smooth skin he'd been searching for.
It was warm and slick and it only made Dean push harder against the pain. He let his fingers see for him and he finally moved them over the Adam's apple and to the spot where he could feel the familiar beating of his brother's heart.
"Sam," he said, his voice loud in his ears. He let his hand fall back against the collar of the shirt and shook him. "Sammy, please…"
If Sam couldn't wake up, if he couldn't get them out of here, then Dean was going to die here.
They'd all die here. Dean wouldn't be the one burying them, it would be Bobby or Cassie - the Winchester line would die here, with the Impala.
"Sam, wake up," Dean said again, leaning his head back against the crumpled seat as his last bit of strength waned.
But at least Sam was alive. He still had a pulse.
Dean couldn't reach his father. He didn't know how he'd even managed to reach Sam. His legs were pinned under the front passenger seat. He couldn't feel them, but he was in so much pain everywhere else that he wasn't going to let it freak him out yet.
He was barely hanging on as it was. Even when he was in the hospital with the heart condition, he couldn't actually feel himself dying.
And he knew he was dying.
He just hoped his adrenaline could hold out until he could get Sammy out of the car, at least.
The Impala was destroyed - the doors warped unnaturally, not opening at all due to the angle.
Dean used his good hand to search himself for injuries. Gaping wounds in chest from the demon aside, he was pretty fucked up.
He heard a snarl from outside.
Fuck. It couldn't be simple, it couldn't just be a random car accident with ambulances and police on the way.
"Where is it?" a voice demanded, thick fingers wrapping around his throat.
Dean groaned as the old man in the trucker's hat looked at him with familiar yellow eyes.
He choked, coughing blood on the man's hand as the man pulled, persistently.
"If I have to tear your legs off to get you out, I'll find that gun. You think this fight is over just because you got me out of your father? You have no idea what you're dealing with. I'm not giving up until I get that Colt."
"Fuck you," Dean choked, blood spraying with every syllable. His vision started to fade even more, the black around the edges spilling over into spots.
The demon was shaking him, he shoved the front seat forward without touching it and jerked Dean from the window by the throat.
Dean gritted his teeth in pain as he was dragged over to the Impala's trunk, bent and destroyed, but locked tight. The symbols Sammy had drawn on her were glowing and once again Dean thanked whatever God there was that his brother was so damned smart.
The man slammed Dean's face into the top of the trunk and everything went dark.
Sammy heard his brother's strained words but he didn't dare open his eyes. He'd been shoved forward into the steering wheel and the pain had brought him back to consciousness without a moment to recover.
It was here. The demon wasn't going to let them go until he got what he wanted, whether it be revenge or the Colt or Sam. It wasn't going away.
Dean was coughing and Sam didn't let himself think about how he was doing.
He had never seen his brother as hurt as he was tonight.
"I thought you could take more of a punch than that," the demon muttered and Sam heard the sound of a body falling to the ground. It crunched and Sam winced behind his closed eyes because he knew that Dean shouldn't sound like that.
He held his breath as the footsteps rounded the car. What was left of John's door was wrenched off and thrown into the forest.
"Damn, Johnny, I have to admit, I'm disappointed that you were so easy to kill," the man said, his yellow eyes glowing in the darkness.
Sam wanted to open his eyes and turn and yell that the monster was wrong, but when his dad didn't reply, he knew. He just hoped Dean was unconscious and didn't see it.
"It's a shame. I kind of liked wearing your face, torturing your boys in your body…oh well. Even though you're dead, doesn't mean I can't play with your a little longer…"
Sam felt the cold wind blow over him and managed to open his eyes long enough to see the trucker's body fall to the ground and his father pop his neck upright from it's bent position as his eyes opened, lined with blood. He lazily reached up with a broken wrist and wiped the blood out of his eyes as he straightened his broken body.
He didn't want to die here. Not like this. He needed Dean, he needed his dad, he needed this to be over.
Before he could think about what to do, his father crawled back into the car and leaned over, smiling grotesquely with the yellow eyes.
"Hi, Sammy. Did you think I didn't know you were awake? Watching me kill your brother and your father? Would you like me to burn them for you, so they'll get a little taste of where I'm sending them?"
Sam started to open his mouth to speak but heard the sound of the trunk screeching open.
"Don't go anywhere," John leered, backing up the way he'd come in and getting to his feet. Sam glimpsed a gaping wound in the back of his father's skull.
Then Sam heard a gun cock.
"You won't kill me…" John started, turning.
The gunshot startled Sam from his trance as his father's brains exploded across the ruined car. There was a feral howl and the familiar blue electricity as the demon lost its hold on their father's body.
But a warm feeling filled Sam all over and it was like the light came back on in his soul.
The demon was dead. He could feel it. The air was even different
He pulled himself out of the car and turned to where Dean was still standing unsteadily by the back, his bloody hand still holding the smoldering gun as he supported himself with his other twisted limb.
Dean didn't look at him or even register his presence. His eyes rolled back in his head and he slumped against the car before falling to the ground.
"I'm right here, Dean…"
He had so many questions and images running through his head. His pounding head.
He felt Sam's hand on his face. "Look at me, Dean…"
He knew that he should have a snappy reply to him, that he should tell him to get his hands off him. But he couldn't. He couldn't open his eyes.
Something was wrong. He shouldn't be this tired. "Hangover?"
But then it all came rushing back to him. Meg, Dad, being pierced by invisible barbs until his blood was puddling under him.
And he remembered blowing his father's head off.
Sam's hand was warm against his face.
"Hospital?" he asked, managing to open his eyes enough to glimpse Sam's bruised face beside him.
"Yeah. They want to take you up for surgery, Dean..."
"You okay?" he asked, trying to push himself up in bed but the rush of his injuries hit him full force and it was like he was made of jelly. Painful jelly.
"Yeah, Dean, there's nothing to worry about…just…just don't worry about anything, okay?"
Dean finally focused his vision on his brother with a frown. "Is it bad?"
Sam hesitated and it was all Dean needed to hear, the pregnant pause telling him the truth. "You're going to be fine," he said after a long moment.
"Yeah," Dean said, letting his eyes fall closed again.
"Don't go back to sleep, man, they want you awake…"
But Dean was too tired to stay awake any longer. Sammy was okay. It had always been his job to take care of Sammy and even though he'd had to kill his father, he had at least saved Sammy. Sammy hadn't had to be the one to pull the trigger.
Sammy could go back to school, fall in love with a nice girl and have nice well-adjusted children.
At least Dean had accomplished something.
Sam paced the hallway. He'd managed to salvage a few things from the Impala and had registered them under two of the last clean aliases they had.
He'd hidden his father's body and used Dean's battered cell phone to call Bobby so he could retrieve it.
His father's neck had been broken, from the crash, but he knew that wasn't going to console Dean. Sam had seen the bullet blow off his father's face
Dean's phone vibrated in his pocket and he pulled it out, raising it to his ear. The screen had been broken in the crash but it still worked on a basic level. "Hello?"
"He's going to be okay, Sam."
"Missouri. How do you…"
"I think you boys need a rest. You'll need time to mourn your father. But you both did this world a lot of good. The tide's already turning. You bring Dean back to Lawrence and we'll put your father to rest."
Sam sat down in one of the chairs, his exhaustion hitting him full force with Missouri's words.
"You both did good. Your father's proud of you."
"Mr. McCartney? The doctor would like to talk to you."
He closed the phone and followed the nurse into the hallway.
Dean's eyes adjusted to the lights slowly, clouded around the edges of his vision. His hand was heavy and was the only part of his body that wasn't cold.
Sam's shaggy head was laid against his hand, swollen and bruised. He was sleeping soundly, his face lined with exhaustion.
He slowly moved his hand and pushed himself up in bed, gritting his teeth from the pain as he checked his body to find out exactly why he felt so…hurt.
Dean hurt all over.
He pulled his flimsy gown down and recognized the slashes across his bruised torso.
The memories slammed into him again.
He'd killed his father. Shot him dead.
"Dean?" Sam called, sitting up and looking at him with concern.
"You look like hell," he said. Sam smiled.
"How do you feel?"
"Like somebody cut me apart from the inside," Dean replied.
The silence hung over them from Dean's unasked question about their father. Sammy would know that Dean remembered as soon as he asked. But he wasn't going to ask.
"The doctors say you're going to be fine," Sam said, rubbing his eyes.
"What about you? Stitches?" Dean asked, motioning to Sam's hairline.
"Yeah. Bobby towed the Impala back to his place. He took care of things for us," Sam said.
Dean didn't know what he meant and he looked at him, too sore to really make the effort to ask. He knew his voice would break if he actually had to say the words.
"He took Dad, too. Dean…Dad was dead when you shot him. He died in the car crash…not from the bullet," Sam said, holding Dean's gaze.
He didn't want to think about it. He felt his stomach rise in his throat.
"Dean? I'm sorry, let me call the nurse…"
"No, no. When can I get out of here?" he asked, shifting so he wasn't facing Sammy directly anymore. He wouldn't throw up, he wouldn't lose his shit in front of Sam. Not Sammy. Sam.
"It's going to be a few days. You lost a lot of blood…what do you remember?"
"Nothing that I particularly want to talk about right now," Dean replied.
It only took two nights in the hospital until Dean was trying to climb the walls of the room.
Sam knew that pain made him restless and that he hated the sluggishness of painkiller after a life spent constantly on alert for danger.
Dean wouldn't talk about their dad or anything that had happened. Sam was willing to let him have his time to digest everything…but he needed to know that his brother wasn't going to blame him for the whole fiasco.
This was all Sam's fault. It was him that the demon wanted.
Dean idolized his father. Sam should have ended it back at the cabin and took their father's blood on his hands. Not Dean's. Dean had killed too many people in this battle and Sam wasn't sure if he was going to be all right.
"That's it. I am not pissing in a bowl again," Dean announced, sitting up determinedly and swinging his legs over the edge of the bed.
"I want you to get me out of here. I don't care where, but I don't want to spend another minute in this room, I swear, Sammy. Where are my clothes?"
Sam recognized the glint in his brother's dull eyes and knew that he wasn't going to win this argument. The doctors had stopped the bleeding and the surgery was successful, according to the doctors. If Sam could keep Dean hydrated then he figured his brother would be okay. "If I take you out of here, are you going to do what I ask you to do?"
"What?" Dean asked, his face darkening.
"If I tell you to stay in bed and drink lots of fluid and take your antibiotics are you going to do it?"
"As long as you don't make me piss in a bowl, you can play nursemaid all damned day," Dean replied evenly. "Clothes?"
Somehow, Sam had managed to rent a car with and Dean felt a swell of pride knowing how well his baby brother could scam.
Then he remembered that the man that had taught them everything was currently a little pile of ashes in a box.
Dean straightened his screaming shoulders and forced himself to walk upright and steady through the waiting room and out of the hospital.
By the time he sat down in the car's seat, he was out of breath and felt like he was going to pass out.
"Dean? Dean, look at me…" Sam was saying.
"I am looking at you. What's the holdup?" Dean asked, blinking away his exertion and pain to meet his brother's piercing gaze.
"You can barely hold your eyes open…" Sam replied.
"Good thing you're driving," he answered, closing the door and letting himself relax against the seat.
After they hit the interstate, Dean had recovered enough to reach for the radio. Sam glanced at him and seemed to relax from the slight motion toward normalcy.
"Where are we going? You taking me to a swanky hotel?" Dean asked, finally taking in the Honda's smooth leather seats and sunroof.
"Bobby's," Sam replied, glancing at him again. "Are you sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, Sam. I'm okay. Why? Was I supposed to know that?" he asked after a beat.
"It's where…it's where Dad is," Sam said and Dean hoped he had good peripheral vision because he was looking at him more than he was watching the road.
Dean should have figured that Sam would want to make a big deal out of this. It's exactly what Dad wouldn't have wanted.
"Dean, please, it's been a hell of a week and I'm tired of dancing around stuff. Just say it."
"You told me they'd already cremated him, with lots of salt," Dean said, pushing himself up to meet the challenge. Fuck Sam for making him get all pissed off when he felt this bad.
"So we just don't do anything? Just keep on living out of hotels and forget about our father? God, Dean…"
"No, Sam, I don't want to just forget about him, hell, I don't think you have to worry about me ever forgetting our father…"Dean snapped, his anger flaring up before he could stop his mouth from opening. He put a hand on his eyes to clear his pounding head. "I just wanted to know where we were going and I've had a hell of a week, too and I'm sorry if I don't remember as much of it as you do," he added.
"Dean. I'm sorry. I just…I'm not used to being the one to have to make the decisions. I've kind of lost the plot here, man, and I don't know what we're supposed to do now," Sam admitted, his eyes glued to the road when Dean lowers his hand.
"I know the feeling," Dean replied.
His father was dead.
Ashes. Just like his mother.
Dean and Sam were the last standing.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
"Are you cold, Dean?" Sam asked distantly.
"Can you pull over?" he asked. He was cold. Sick. This was wrong, all wrong. It wasn't supposed to be like this.
He didn't manage to get his feet out of the car but he did manage to empty his stomach of the knot that had filled it.
Sam was rubbing his back and he was vaguely aware of how much it hurt but he didn't tell him to stop.
Sam was all he had left. Dean couldn't lose anyone else.
Sam couldn't get used to the new quieter, Dean. It was like something was wrong with the universe when Dean didn't even comment when Sam let a Britney Spears play all the way through without changing the station.
He pulled onto the dirt trail leading to Bobby's junkyard, glancing at his brother again.
Dean had his head leaned against the window, eyes closed but Sam knew he wasn't sleeping. His chest was rising and falling, shallow from pain.
He was surprised to see the cluster of cars and trucks lining Bobby's yard. He recognized the camouflage van and a fluorescent pickup that belonged to some of his dad's connections. Friends. He had a feeling that Dean would be able to name every car there.
"Dean," he called, letting the car roll to a stop in the back by Bobby's boat shed.
"We here?" Dean mumbled, and Sam reconsidered his thought that Dean hadn't been sleeping.
"Yeah. And it seems like some other people are here, too," Sam said, not moving.
Dean opened his eyes and glanced at him, grinding his jaw before looking out the window. "Damn…"
"You ready for this?" Sam asked.
Dean sighed softly and Sam felt a chill. It looked almost like his brother was going to cry and he couldn't take that.
"Walk it off," Dean said quietly. He took a deep breath and gave Sam a small smile, his green eyes dark. "That's what Dad would want us to do. These guys are our friends, some of the few we've got left. One foot in front of the other. Walk it off."
Sam nodded, taking a deep breath almost automatically. Dean hadn't let him down yet.
He'd gotten the bag out of the back before he realized that Dean hadn't gotten out of the car yet. His feet were out and his door was open, but he was still…sitting.
He walked over and held out his hand. Dean wrapped his fingers around his wrist and pulled himself to his feet, swaying slightly.
They both heard the sound of guns clicking and they froze.
Shit. Sam didn't have a weapon on him. They'd fucked up.
"Dean? That you?" Bobby's gruff voice barked.
"Most of me," Dean called back. "You going to shoot me?"
Sam relaxed when Bobby walked out from the shed, pulling his hat off and putting his gun down on a barrel as he hurried over to them. "Damn, boys, I didn't expect to see you today, you scared the hell out of me."
"Good to know we haven't lost our edge," Dean said, glancing at Sam. He put his arm loosely around Dean's back and let him lean some of his weight onto him as Bobby grabbed their bag.
"Some of your Daddy's friends showed up, to pay their respects. But I've got a room ready for you, looks like you both need some sleep."
"I'd be grateful for a chair and a shot of whiskey," Dean muttered, dragging his feet up the stairs.
Sam had known that his brother was weak and exhausted, but it was driven home by how he was unable to keep up his strong act in front of Bobby.
"Lord in heaven, what are you doing out of the hospital?" Missouri's voice was familiar and laced with surprise.
Dean seemed to pull himself together then, alert with her presence and aware of the brimming room. Sam recognized many of the faces he'd known growing up. These people had fought beside his father and sheltered them when they were on the road.
Missouri glared at him as she pushed between him and his brother to lower Dean onto the couch that two of the men had repositioned during their entrance to give them a seat as soon as possible.
Dean settled onto the cushion before swatting weakly at Missouri's attempt to feel his forehead. "Sammy, a little help?"
"What did the doctor say?" Missouri demanded, looking at him. But Sam was too busy looking at Dean's drawn face.
"I don't need a hospital. But I don't think Sam's been eating his vegetables," Dean said, recapturing the lady's attention by taking her hand gently before pulling her into a small hug. "It's really nice to see you," he said.
Jake, an old friend from Illinois that Sam recognized immediately as the man who'd taken a bullet for them when they were fighting zombie policemen. He limped over with a sad but genuine smile. "Damn, boy, you've sure grown up," he said, hugging him tightly and almost lifting him off the floor.
Releasing him, Sam was smiling, too.
"Your dad…he'd be real proud. You did the job he needed done," he said quietly. Sam recognized Josie, Jake's sister and Bobby's girlfriend, Sue fussing over Dean to Bobby's amusement.
He let Jake lead him through the room, reminding him of names and listening to the eclectic group of men tell him how much they admired John and how much good Sam and Dean had done in the past year.
They told him how killing the demon that had killed his mother was the epitome of winning in their business. They'd gotten vengeance.
But it didn't feel like it to Sam.
Dean's weak voice caught his attention immediately and he excused himself from Jake and the others quickly to go to Dean's side in the cluster of concerned women.
"Sammy, get me up," Dean mumbled, ignoring the women's questions flying their way.
Sam took his arm and pulled him off the couch. "What is it?" Dean's fingers were tight around his arm, digging in as his body tensed.
"I need something." Dean leaned his face close to his ear, his voice so faint that Sam could barely hear him
"Where's the room, Bobby? We need to get cleaned up," Sam added.
Dean's eyelids were drooping as he shuffled along beside him into the small room that had two twin beds. Bobby hovered in the doorway but Sam didn't scold him, lowering Dean to sit on the bed before leaving him long enough to search for the bag.
Bobby had closed the door and was crouched in front of Dean whose eyes were completely closed now, his body slumped forward.
"Get him some water," Bobby said and Sam pulled a bottle off the bed where he'd dumped their bag before sitting down on the bed and supporting Dean with an arm around here.
"Dean?" Sam called.
Bobby slapped his face lightly and his eyelids fluttered and he took a shallow breath.
"Sam?" Dean asked blankly.
Bobby nodded in his direction and Dean turned his head toward Sam, sluggish. "I need something, I can't sit up when it hurts like this," he slurred, his fingers digging into the bed despite his calm words.
Bobby's eyes were dark with worry as they worked together to put Dean on the bed. Sam unscrewed a bottle of pills and held two of them up to his mouth. Dean didn't even lift his hand to take the water, raising his head slightly with closed eyes to sip from the bottle.
Sam watched Bobby put his hand against Dean's forehead tenderly and was immediately glad that he'd brought them here. Bobby's kids had been killed by a stray werewolf back in the 60's and he'd always been kind and welcoming to them when they were growing up.
Sam slowly started to unbutton Dean's shirt to check his stitches and bandages. Bobby hissed when he saw the extent of the bruising and the spiderwebs of stitching.
"He's damned lucky," Sam said, satisfied that nothing was bleeding or out of place and closing the shirt back over his brother's chest.
"You gotta pay for the whole show," Dean murmured faintly, shifting as he turned his head into the pillow.
Sam turned to Bobby and patted him on the back. "Thanks, Bobby. For everything…"
Bobby shook his head, hugging him for a moment before releasing him and putting his hands on his shoulders. "You don't have to thank me. You boys are always welcome here. You should get some rest while he's out," he added. "Shower's back there, and we'll have food waiting. Call us if you need anything, Sammy." He glanced at Dean before he stepped out.
"I'll take care of him, Bobby," Sam said, not knowing why he needed to convince him.
But Bobby gave him a relieved grin and closed the door behind him.
"Missouri, these boys have been taking care of themselves a long time, I'm sure they wouldn't want you in their things…" Bobby's voice filtered into his consciousness.
He wished he could have that little cushion of forgetfulness that comes with waking up in a strange place.
His father was dead and he hurt, inside and out.
And Missouri was rummaging in their stuff.
"These boys are in no shape to do anything right now…" Missouri was saying.
"We're not boys," he grunted, forcing himself to open his eyes and sit up despite the sharp and driving pain.
"How're you feeling?" Bobby asked, pushing a pillow behind him to support him.
"I must look bad if you're asking," he said, rubbing his eyes.
"Stop with the act, we all know you feel like hell," Missouri said sternly.
Bobby shrugged his agreement.
"How about you guys give me a few minutes to get my game face back on and let my little brother get some sleep and then we'll come out and eat something," Dean said, giving Bobby a pleading look without losing his point.
Missouri opened her mouth to protest but Dean pushed himself to his feet in a single motion and managed not to fall over as he faced her down.
"I'm all right. I just need a shower and some coffee and I might even be 'upright' for a while. Okay?" Dean asked her.
She stepped aside and didn't stop him as he made his way slowly to the small bathroom.
"It's your own fault if you fall over in there," she called when he closed the door.
"I know," he muttered to himself.
He found his medicine on the counter beside the shaving items Sam must've bought while he was in the hospital. He swallowed the pills, the instructions blurred but understandable.
He wasn't planning on operating any machinery today.
The shower stall was tiny but the water was hot and the pain was worth the opportunity to wash off the days' collective film over his body.
The steam was thick and he wasn't really surprised to hear a soft knock at the door.
He turned off the taps and dried off, wrapping the towel around his waist before answering. "I'm all right, Sam."
"Okay. Don't use all the hot water."
Dean snorted, but it was nice to have that little bit of normalcy between them.
It took him longer to get dressed than it had taken for him to shower. He opened the door after he was fully-clothed. Sam was standing anxiously outside the door talking to Missouri.
Dean patted him on the back, leaving his hand there when he felt Sam lean into his touch. "You should get cleaned up, you smell like crap," he said.
Sam snorted but ducked into the bathroom.
"Dean, I swear, you are as stubborn as a mule, just like your father," Missouri said, guiding him back to the bed.
"I'm fine, I don't know why you're so worried," he grumbled. He didn't need her concern. He had never gotten used to a woman's caretaking. Never really had it.
"I'm worried because I can see all that you're not saying. Your brother sees it, too," she replied.
The drugs had dulled his senses, and he didn't protest when she covered him with the quilt.
"I've never seen a bunch of old codgers so worried about a pair of grown men before," she said softly, startling him with a gentle kiss on his forehead. "You boys are really special."
"Are you going soft on me, woman?" Dean asked.
She glared at him with no venom in her eyes. "Your daddy was real proud of you boys. But he always knew this day would come. He knew the price of the battle he was fighting, Dean. You knew, too," she added quietly.
Dean didn't look up, not wanting to talk about this. She reached over and put a carved box on his lap.
"Your dad left instructions for me to give this to you. I hoped I'd never have to do it…but a time comes for everything," she said.
Dean picked up the box, recognizing the carvings on the outside as protective symbols. He didn't want to do this now. He moved the box off his lap and moved to put his feet on the floor again.
"Where do you think you're going?" she asked.
Sam stepped out of the bathroom looking 100 better after his shower. His gaze immediately found Dean. "You all right?"
"Just getting ready to join you for breakfast," Dean replied before returning his attention to Missouri. "Thanks, for that."
"You aren't going to…" she started.
"Not right now. Got to make sure somebody feeds my brother here, I swear, his stomach growling kept waking me up," he lied, patting Sammy on the back as he got unsteadily to his feet.
"Dean, I think I can feed myself just fine," Sam muttered.
"Yeah, well, somebody's got to keep an eye on you," Dean replied, avoiding Missouri's steady gaze.