ENTITY (Chapter One)
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo"Oh, yeah," Dean Winchester sighed. He lay on his back, naked, silk sheets twisted beneath his tanned, muscular form. His eyes slid closed as a contented smile teased his lips. "Bit to the left, oh, oh… ooooh yeah." He shivered deliciously and his lips parted as wordless delirium consumed him.
With an effort, the hunter opened his eyes and his lust dazed vision settled on the brunette honey who presently straddled him. Her hips pinned his, her breasts naked and full, while her hands… oh, her hands. Dean's eyelids fluttered.
"Dean," she cooed. "Oh, Ddddddeeean. Ddddddddnnnn."
What the hell?
The yoga instructor's husky, sexy voice transformed to a guttural clunking that startled the elder hunter. Dean frantically shimmied back as the brunette transformed before his eyes. Moulded hips and shapely curves morphed into metal limbs with shining bolts, steel plates and a piston-like, pulsating head.
Dean cried out, starting as he felt a hand on his shoulder. He opened his eyes, breathing hard as twisted his head to the right. His eyes widened and he gaped at his younger brother.
Sam sat behind the steering wheel of the Chevy Impala. The younger boy quickly retracted his touch, though his blue-green eyes held concern. "That must have been some hell of a nightmare, Dean. You okay?"
"What? Yeah, I'm good." Dean licked his lips and straightened in the seat. He squeezed his eyes shut then opened them again. Robot chick did not reappear. He inhaled and scrubbed at his face. He looked out of the car window at the bland landscape as it flashed past. "Where are we?"
"About five miles out of Bridgeport, Nebraska."
"How long have I been out?"
"Three hours or so."
He surreptitiously considered his sibling, wondering just how much of his X-rated dream he had inadvertently shared. Fortunately Sam seemed preoccupied, studiously focused on driving.
"Big night last night," Dean said around a smirk. "Didn't get any sleep. Rochelle is a yoga instructor?"
Sam's shoulders tensed and his grip tightened on the wheel, but he did not respond.
"We need to improve our flexibility. Yoga class hold any interest for you, geek boy?"
Sam did not look at him but Dean could imagine the exaggerated roll of the eyes. He opened his mouth to continue but the sound of metallic stuttering wiped the smile from Dean's face.
"What is that?" He darted his gaze around, half expecting to see robo-chick leering at him from the back seat.
"Are you deaf? Can't you hear that?" Dean squinted at his brother and cocked his head to the side as the metallic stuttering came again. "It's coming from the engine."
"No it's not."
Dean pushed himself up in the seat and cast a suspicious glance toward his brother. The younger Winchester avoided eye contact and Dean swore he deliberately hid behind that scraggy, brown mop of his.
"You need a haircut, Sam," he growled, irritated. He scrubbed a hand across his face, jolted as another grating cough resounded from the engine. The car shuddered and Dean clutched at the seat. "What the hell is that?"
"Nothing. Go back to sleep."
"What have you done?"
"We're out of gas." He leaned across and ducked to see the gauge.
Sam blocked his view. "It's broken," he stated flatly. He scowled, a guilty, I've broken your car and I'm trying to hide it, scowl.
"No it's not. I fitted it myself. It works fine."
"So it's like that EMF walkman piece of crap that you made."
"Don't change the subject. We were down to half a tank when you took over driving. How many miles have we done?"
Sam huffed and shifted in his seat. Dean pinned him with a hard glare as the car shuddered, coughed and died. He rolled his eyes and threw a mock punch at this brother. "Fantastic, well, guess who's walking, Sammy boy."
"No dude, it's Sammy. Only a chubby 12 year old would forget to check the gas gauge." He hooked a thumb over his shoulder. "Can's in the trunk, Sammy. Shouldn't take you any more than a few hours to hike into town and back."
Sam glowered at him, but slid from the car, retrieved the can and hesitated by the passenger side door.
"What?" Dean asked as he looked up.
"I don't have any cash."
"What you do with it?"
"I paid for your huge breakfast, wise-ass."
Dean grumbled and withdrew a twenty from his wallet. He flicked it toward his brother. Sam ignored it, reached in and snagged a fifty before Dean could smack his hand away. "Dude."
"I'll pick up lunch as well. What do you want?"
"You know what I want. It's what I always want."
"Tofu burger with alfalfa and a bottle of prune juice."
"You're already skating on thin ice, little brother."
Sam laughed and tucked the fifty into the pocket of his jeans. He scuffed at the dirt with his toe and scanned the horizon.
"What you waiting for?"
"You're looking a little podgy there, Dean. You could use some exercise."
"Nuh uh, dude. You ran the car out of gas, and so you can wear out the shoe-leather. I've got research to do. You know, ghosties to find. There's got to be something around here worth killing."
To demonstrate his point, Dean leaned forward, snagged the newspaper he had lifted from the roadhouse where they had stopped for breakfast, and idly scanned the pages. He felt Sam's eyes on him, and knew his brother wore that patented puppy-dog look. He kept his attention on the paper. "Time's a-wastin'," he said dryly. "And if you move quick you might just beat those." He nodded toward the heavy clouds that slid in from the east.
"Yeah, yeah, start walking," Dean said. He smirked as Sam turned on his heel and stalked away. The younger man reached the front of the car and turned back. Dean ducked his head, keeping it down until he knew Sam was some distance away, then he flopped the paper to the side, lifted his shirt and carefully scrutinized his gut.
He poked, scowled and tensed his abdominal muscles, then lightly prodded for a second time. He met resistance, the hard wall of muscle. He let his shirt drop and smirked at the slowly disappearing figure of his kid brother. "Podgy, my ass. All muscle, Sammy. All muscle."
When Sam had finally disappeared from view, which took close on twenty minutes, Dean slid from the car.
He located the spare can of gas and the funnel and casually emptied the contents into the fuel tank. He shook his head, bemused that Sam had missed that. The stupid idiot had been the one who had last filled it, admittedly, that had been well over three months ago. They rarely ran out of fuel and if they did, there was a good reason. Sam did not have a good reason.
Running the car empty played havoc with the fuel system, it sucked muck into the lines and Dean knew his baby would be running rough for days.
He glanced back at the road, a sneaky smile curving his lips as the first drops of rain hit his face. Payback had its perks.
Dean dozed, his arms loosely hugged around his decidedly un-podgy middle and a small smile on his face. In the fitful moments between full awareness and true sleep, he recalled the sensuous lips of the yoga instructor that had kept him awake and most definitely passionately delirious the night before. Some of the things she had done just should not be legal.
He melted against the seat, moaning softly as he remembered. Though his body sought relief, he did not give in to the physical need, because Dean Winchester did not jack off in his car on the edge of a highway like some pimply faced nerd boy. No, there were motel room showers for that kind of thing.
He stretched languidly and opened one eye to peer at his watch. He had given Sam three hours, more than enough time for his brother's freakishly long legs to get him into town, to a gas station and maybe even enough to order the burgers and fries.
The unattractive prospect of cold fries outweighed the value he would gain from leaving Sam to trudge all the way back up the highway in the rain with a full gas can in one hand, congealing burgers and fries in the other.
Dean slid from the rear seat where he had been stretched out for the past three hours, popped his shoulder, then clambered behind the wheel and turned the ignition. The engine took a bit to kick over, and when it did catch, it idled roughly, with a throaty throb that sounded a little more tortured than usual.
He fingered his phone, considered calling his brother and telling him to find somewhere warm and dry to wait, and then dismissed the idea as the Chevy misfired.
He cruised into Bridgeport, found the first gas station and pulled in. He scanned the small office for his lanky kid brother, but only a fuzzy headed woman, a kid and the attendant, a weedy teenager, loitered around. No six foot four geek boy.
Dean pulled back into the light mid-afternoon traffic and continued further south. He spotted a burger joint two blocks from the gas station. He pulled in, parked and strolled inside. He expected to see Sam at the counter, or leaning against the wall as he waited for their order. Instead, he found his sibling seated at one of the booths, hunched forward, no doubt demolishing a meal.
"Hey, hang on." He strode over and planted himself beside Sam. He towered over the younger man. "At least play fair, Sam. You were going to leave me to eat cold fries," he started, then the rebuke froze in his throat as he took in his brother's pained expression and the distinct absence of half-eaten food.
He glanced toward the counter then sat heavily on the seat opposite his brother. "Hey," he said, "you don't look so good."
Sam noticed him then and frowned. "How'd you get here?"
"Sprouted wings and flew. What's wrong with you?"
Sam shrugged and stared blankly at the vinyl table top. "Twenty minutes, I guess."
"Why didn't you call me?"
"I ran the car out of gas."
"I knew you'd worry and try to thumb a ride."
"And if I had?"
"There's a lot of freaks out there, Dean."
"This is me we're talking about. I can take on anyone. You should have called me." He paused, licked his lips and glanced toward the window. "Anyway, I wouldn't have needed to hitch. We had a spare can of gas in the trunk. Which," he added, "you knew about."
He looked back at his brother, noting with distinct unease that Sam took the admission with barely a flinch. Worried, Dean touched the back of his hand to his brother's forehead. Sam's eyes slipped closed and Dean's concern grew. "You're not burning up. Is it just the headache?"
"Hmm." Sam opened his eyes, blinked and shifted back. He blushed, ducked his head and dug around in his jean's pocket. Dean scratched at an imaginary itch on his arm as Sam dumped several notes and some coins on the table. "I didn't order the burgers," he said apologetically. "And the gas can is by a tree outside."
Dean ignored the money, and he could not care less about the gas can. He frowned as Sam pinched at the bridge of his nose. "Are you going to be okay?"
Sam straightened, rubbed at the back of his neck and stretched. He looked around the small burger joint as though seeing it for the first time. "You gonna order?"
"It's gone two, you must be starved."
"Not hungry, Dean. You feeling okay?"
Dean ignored the question. "So, what did you see?"
"The vision. You had one, right? That's what's caused the headache."
Sam shrugged. He pursed his lips and exhaled. "Yeah," he finally said, "but it didn't make any sense. Just a few flashes, like a camera bulb going off in a dark room. Really fast. I couldn't make anything out." He rested one forearm on the table and started playing with the coins. "I don't think it's over though."
"The headache, it's intense. It's not letting up."
"Maybe it's a migraine, not a vision at all."
Sam glanced at him then shrugged. "Yeah, maybe."
"So how long were you going to sit here before you called me?"
"Wasn't going to call you."
"See that's a problem." Dean strummed his fingers on the table top. "If this kind of thing happens, you call me. Like it or not, Sam, you're vulnerable when you're like this."
Sam's features drew into a scowl and pushed up to stand.
Dean took a deep breath and scrubbed a hand across his face. "If we're not going to eat, we might as well get going. We can still make Belle Fourche by dark."
"You still want to look for that bear?"
"Maybe, there's nothing else to do, and I don't hear you coming up with any better suggestions."
Sam sighed, his expression guarded as he surveyed the restaurant before standing. He winced and kneaded at his forehead as he reached full height, and Dean lightly touched his shoulder. Sam shrugged off the offered assistance with a mumbled, "I'm not helpless."
"I know that. I never said you were."
"You insinuated it."
"No I didn't."
"It sounded like you did."
"Well I didn't. But I have to say, if some freaky vision split my head in two, I'd want you around to back me up."
"You're so full of it. Your head could be half hanging off, blood gushing in great spurts before you'd even consider letting me help you."
"Why, cause you can handle pain better than I can? Cause you're stronger. Cause—"
"Sam, calm down. I never said any of that and I sure as hell have never thought it." He held up a hand, forestalling Sam's retort. "But, c'mon, these visions of yours, they're… they're not something you can screw with. You've had two of them thanks to Max Miller, and I saw how they hurt you. We don't know how bad they could get, or what else could happen while you're getting over them. I'm just worried about what could happen to you."
"Don't what?" Dean exclaimed. "Don't worry about you? Sam, I'm going to worry about you till the day I die. Deal with it." He ignored the indignant scowl and lightly shoved his brother, directing him toward the exit and the car. "Next time this happens, you call me, or I'll give you pain that you'll never forget."
"Just try it, tough guy."
"Don't tempt me, I am older than you, remember."
"And I'm taller."
"You know, that's just wrong. On every level, dude, it's wrong." Dean scowled at the resultant chuckle. He nudged his brother out of the café door, located the gas can and met Sam at the car.
"It's unlocked," he said as he dumped the can in the trunk and moved to the driver's side door. "Sam?" He looked across the hood, suddenly aware that Sam had not moved, nor made any effort to get into the car. Even before he saw his kid brother's face, Dean knew something was wrong.
He rushed around the car and caught his brother as Sam's knees gave out. He tilted the younger boy's head up, wincing as he took in the wide vacant stare, the slack jaw and the thinly veiled mask of pain that had transformed his brother's features. "Ah, shit, Sam."
Sam trembled and his head fell forward onto Dean's shoulder. Dean held his brother, his own heart jack-hammering against his rib-cage as Sam struggled to draw breath. He scanned the car-park, growling as a few patrons from the fast-food restaurant stopped to stare.
"Nothing to see here," he ground out. He fisted his hands and drew his brother closer, shielding him. As the minutes dragged on, Dean's apprehension grew, as did the small crowd of curious onlookers.
Eventually, Sam moaned and a ripple shuddered through him, like an electric shock but without the charge. Dean drew back and hooked a finger under Sam's chin. He saw the first hint of recognition as the vision released his brother. He also saw the start of the pain in Sam's eyes as the resultant headache commenced. "Sammy, is it over?"
"I saw a girl, Dean. A child, she's going to die. We have to go to Perryton."
"And that's where, exactly?"
"Texas." Sam squirmed from Dean's hold and leaned heavily against the car. He slouched for a moment, then pulled open the passenger side door and slid in.
Dean crouched beside him. "You okay?"
Sam subtly shook his head. "We have to hurry. It just killed her parents."
"But it's a vision, a premonition. It hasn't happened yet, right?"
"I think it just happened. Now."
Sam fished for the map, found it and then shakily started to unfold it. Dean took it from him. "You got aspirin?"
"Take some, you don't look so hot." He closed the door, folded the map out on the front of the Chevy and cast a murderous glare at the few onlookers who still dared to loiter around. That moved them. He traced his finger across the map, found Perryton and tracked out a route. Even with back roads, it would take well over six hours. He informed Sam as he slipped back into the car. The younger man's expression hardened.
"She can't die, Dean. She's just a child."
"What do you think did it?"
"I didn't see."
Dean started the engine and eased the Chevy from the parking lot. "What did you see?"
"Knives suspended in mid air, like some freaky Jacky Chan movie. A man and a woman, the girl's parents I guess. Something sliced them up. God, it was horrible. They didn't have a chance, man. I can't stop it, I can't change it, so why make me witness it, Dean? Why do I have to see it?"
"I don't know."
"If the girl dies, will I have to see that too?"
Dean flinched at the rawness of his brother's voice. "We'll get there in time, Sam."
"It's six hours, man."
"I can cut that down a bit."
"What if it's not enough?"
Dean checked his brother again, not liking the paleness of his face or his weary defeated tone. "Have you taken the aspirin?"
"Hang in there, things will be better once the headache goes. You'll see."
Problem was, Sam's headache did not go. It got worse. Immeasurably worse.
Sam slouched in the passenger seat of the classic Chevy, his long legs folded at the knees, his head tilted back and eyes closed. He breathed raggedly, lips tight and jaw clenched. His hands, fingers white knuckled, balled into fists against his thighs.
"Would another couple of aspirin help?" Dean asked, knowing that the offer would bring Sam dangerously close to an overdose.
Dean tightened his grip on the steering wheel and sucked in a breath. "Sam, this isn't normal." He raised one eyebrow as the absurdity of that remark struck him. Since when was his kid brother having premonitory visions normal. He soldiered on. "You've been sick ever since we left Bridgeport, that's over five hours ago. You weren't this bad after Max. I think we should get you checked out, in case it's something else. Something, you know, medical."
"No?" Dean snorted as he raised one eyebrow. "Right, Doogie Houser, and you'd know that how?"
"It was a vision." Sam turned his head a little to the side, opening his eyes to stare numbly at the rain-grayed countryside. One hand repetitively kneaded at his thigh. "Can't you drive any faster?"
"I'm doing 100 and don't change the subject."
Sam's focus remained resolutely on the featureless landscape that flashed in a dizzying blur beyond the passenger window. Flat, boring plains stretched for miles on either side of the road. And the back-road that Dean had chosen as a short-cut did not even boast traffic, houses or any form of visual anomaly to break the monotony. Hardly fascinating stuff.
"You listening to me?"
"Good. Listen up, college boy. Your whole vision theory has one big hole in it. These Uri Gellar episodes have never crippled you like this. I know you're hurting, Sam, and unless you can give me some solid reason not to haul your ass to the nearest ER, that's exactly what's going to be happening. You're not having an aneurysm on my watch."
"Enough already," Sam said tiredly. "It's a headache. I'm fine."
"Bullshit. You look like crap."
"Aneurysms are bitches and you can't mess around with one, Sam. They can get pretty nasty."
"I'm not having an aneurysm."
"You have had a few knocks to the head recently."
"Head injuries don't cause aneurysms," Sam rasped. He shifted in his seat, pushed back then twisted side-wards. He stilled after a moment and exhaled loudly.
"You okay?" Dean asked. He frowned as Sam kneaded at his brow. Dean lifted his foot from the accelerator.
"Don't say you're fine, Sam. Don't you even try." He slowed the car and checked the rearview mirror. Grey nothingness gnawed at the back window, the open hollowness of the desolate highway stretching for miles before them and miles behind. His hand tightened reflexively on the wheel.
"If the address doesn't check out, I'll go the ER," Sam quietly conceded.
Dean bit his lip and checked the odometer. Stratford lay twenty miles behind them, Perryton sixty miles ahead. A whole heap of nothing lay in between. He cast another worried glance at his brother. Sam had tilted his head back, the dull light making his skin look sallow, the sockets of his eyes sunken. Sweat shone as tiny threaded beads against his pale face, and as Dean watched, a thin trickle of blood wove from Sam's left nostril and inched toward his lip.
"Shit," Dean exclaimed. He rode the brake to safely decelerate.
"You're bleeding." He leaned over and wiped a thumb across Sam's upper lip. He held the offending digit up for his brother to see. "I'm taking you back to Stratford."
"No longer up for discussion," he said tightly. He gunned the engine and spun the wheel, initiating a tight U-turn. The Chevy rocked to the side and Sam grunted as the shift in pressure forced his body side-wards.
Dean expertly cleaned the maneuver, pulled the car back to the blacktop and nosed it back the way they had just come. The hiss of tires against the scoured bitumen was the only sound for several miles. Dean flexed his arms and pressed back in the seat. He started as he felt a touch on his arm. "What?"
"No, Sam." He clenched his jaw as blood appeared at Sam's right nostril, hugged the contour of the young man's upper lip before dodging down with a darkly vicious shudder. Sam frowned, reached a shaky hand to his lip and touched at it. Dean's stomach turned. He resolutely turned forward, forcing the accelerator harder to the floor until the needle reached 100 then shuddered forward. He felt the vibration as the classic engine throbbed, clawing up the blacktop with a comforting ferocity.
"You're going to be fine, Sam. Just hang in there."
"No, no, Dean. You have to turn around."
"We'll call the local authorities, they can check on the kid. This is not our problem. It's not your problem." Dean checked the mirror again, releasing a tense breath as deserted road reflected back.
"You don't understand."
"Where the hell are the cops when you need them? Freakin' taxes at work, my ass." He patted at his jacket pocket, scowling as his brief search failed to locate his phone. "You got your phone?"
"Your phone, Sam?"
"Dammit, Dean, stop."
Dean's breath caught. He risked another look at his brother, his heart climbing halfway out of his chest as Sam curled forward, his blood smeared hands twisted in his hair. Tears stung Dean's eyes and he forced himself to breathe, to look away, to concentrate on keeping the car on the road.
Again he checked the mirror, a cold hopelessness settling deep in his gut at the isolation that reflected back. The short-cut had seemed like such a great idea twenty miles back. Hindsight was one big freakin' joke.
Dean started as Sam grabbed his wrist. He cursed and drew it back, succeeding only in jarring his shoulder as Sam's grip tightened. Dean felt the bones grind together and he clenched his jaw, cursing as he struggled. "Dammit, Sam, let me go."
The grip on his wrist squeezed, crushing and Dean grunted. He struggled to keep the speeding car on the road, forced to loosen the force on the accelerator as Sam's grip tightened impossibly further. "Son of a bitch," he ground out as the pain roiled his stomach. "When did you get so freakin' strong?"
"I'll say," Dean breathed. "Sam, c'mon, I'm taking you to the hospital, even if I have to knock you out in order to get you there." He jerked at his arm, then stilled. "Fine," he ground out, "if that helps, then I'll deal with it. But wouldn't biting down on a stick achieve the same effect?" He coughed as pain burned through his forearm. "Uh, yeah, the things I do for you."
"We have… to go... back."
Sam gasped, suddenly going rigid in his seat. His fingers snapped open and Dean wrenched his wrist away. Sam screamed, then made a gagging, choking sound as though he was asphyxiating on his own breath.
Dean flinched, curled both sets of fingers around the wheel and pushed the Chevy harder. The needle stuttered and moved beyond 105.
"Dean, you're... killing… me."
"I'm saving you, Sam."
"No. Dean, please… please."
Sam's raw plea and the inherent conviction beneath it shocked Dean. Sam did not beg. He demanded, he argued, he fought and occasionally he sulked, but he did not beg. Bile licked at the back of Dean's throat and an almost dizzying nausea forced him to ease off on the accelerator. Beside him, Sam continued to bleed.
Doubt struggled like a maddening beast within the elder hunter. He nudged the brake. The needle dipped below eighty and kept sinking.
Medical or supernatural? With Sam, it was probably the latter… but he could not ignore Sam's pain, and he could not ignore the bitter reality that if the cause was supernatural, then delivering Sam to Perryton would be delivering his brother up on a silver platter to something that no doubt meant him harm.
He glanced at his brother, his heart twisting as Sam began keening. Blood covered the younger man's chin and trickled down his neck.
"Jesus, Sam." He cupped a hand to the back of his brother's neck. The skin felt cold, clammy. Sam curled forward, the seatbelt taut against his chest. The speedometer needle sank lower as Dean struggled with uncertainty.
"I'm taking you to Stratford hospital," Dean said. He pulled away, clenched his hands around the wheel and pumped the accelerator. The needle nudged forty and began rising. "If you check out okay, then we'll go to Perryton. Not before."
Sam's hand flashed out, caught Dean's wrist at the joint and yanked. Dean didn't have time to release his grasp from the steering wheel and the sudden drag wrenched the wheel to the right.
Dean's jaw dropped and his heart leapt into his throat. In the very same sickening moment, the tires lost traction. The steering wheel burned out from beneath his left hand. Grunting, Dean tightened his fingers, gripping but not quite holding. The jet black Chevy slid into a sideways skid, lilted for a moment in a gloriously stomach-turning hiatus that widened Dean's eyes, then momentum roared back and they were airborne.
End Chapter One