Feels Like Midnight

Dean's having a bad day and a worse night…

Disclaimer: Right, no one at Supernatural cares, but diplomacy demands… I'll be shamelessly using your creations for the next few chapters, but I promise to return them mostly unharmed directly afterward. Mostly.

Sam lowered his newspaper and eyed Dean over the top. "What are you looking at?"

"You couldn't have put the whammy on that thing?" Dean asked.

Sam just raised an eyebrow.

"Dude, it was trying to gnaw me in half and that's not enough to bring out the psychic smackdown?"

"I shot it," Sam answered, frowning. "Since when is that not good enough for you?"

"Look, all I'm saying," Dean replied, "is if you're going to be a psychic wonder we're going to have to work on your act."

"Great. Next time, I'll think first and shoot later. That work for you?" Sam sighed.

"That's the problem, too much thinking. Less thinking, more smiting," Dean nodded for emphasis.

They were both exhausted and Dean was indulging in his favorite pastime to let off some steam, Sam baiting. Sam was very kindly and patiently allowing it. It was a very useful trait in a younger brother.

They'd spent the better part of a week tracking an honest to goodness flesh eating zombie and had finally caught it only an hour earlier hiding in some old lady's shed. The pathetic thing was they'd saved the old biddy's life and she'd tried to have them picked up by the police for trespassing.

So they'd burnt down a small, useless shed in the process. They'd at least had the decency to pretend like they were trying to put it out. But she'd still called the cops. That was gratitude for you… Sometimes helping people just didn't have the perks he wished it did.

Sam went back to reading the newspaper while Dean stretched where he sat in the booth and looked around at the diner. It was one of those old 50's train car style diners. He could see the short order cook hard at work in the back, throwing plates up in the window. A single waitress was walking behind the counter that ran the length of the restaurant. It was late, but despite that there was a decent crowd sitting on the stools, a few old farmer types talking to the middle-aged waitress who was keeping their coffee cups full.

The sun was just setting though it was past nine. Sunset came late this time of year. Dean couldn't say that he minded. They were in the middle of nowhere as usual and it was too easy for things to hide in the dark. Things like zombies that ate mean old women who yelled at you for stepping on their prize Zinnias. Stinking flowers.

Dean pushed his plate away, the sandwich only half-eaten. He wasn't really hungry. His back and leg were killing him, he'd wrenched his shoulder and he needed a shower. Worst of all, he could still smell that thing. He'd thought morning breath was bad? Corpse breath… now that was evil.

"You about ready to go?" Dean asked. "I'm beat."

Sam dropped the newspaper again and really looked at him this time. "You ok?"

Dean didn't like the way his brother was looking at him, like he'd just said something strange. "Sure. Why?"

Sam cast a quick glance at his half-eaten food. "Not hungry?"

"I ate some," Dean said defensively.

"You need an aspirin? That thing slammed you into that post pretty hard."

Dean waved Sam's concern away. "Enough with the mother hen routine. You're hovering."

Sam sighed heavily and set the paper aside. "Yeah, I'm ready to go." He caught the waitress' eye and made a scribbling motion with his hand to signal he'd like the check.

Dean huffed impatiently and scooted out of the booth, already pulling his wallet from his pocket on the way to the counter. "How much?" he asked as the woman tore their ticket from her pad.

"Where's the fire?" Sam said coming up to stand beside him.

Dean only shrugged, not really sure himself. It was like he had an itch he couldn't quite reach… Something just a touch off… He was probably just tired. Or maybe it was the memory of the zombie breathing in his face, its rotting breath wafting toward him as its teeth snapped at him, wanting nothing better than to take a nice big chunk out of him. Whatever it was, he wanted to go. He wanted away from this place. He didn't need to get far. Just a little distance.

"How far to the next town?" Dean asked the waitress as he handed her a twenty.

Flo, as he affectionately thought of the many middle-aged waitresses they came across, pointed west. "Only a couple miles. It's not much though."

"It have a motel?" Please, please say yes, Dean begged, his back giving another twinge as he reached across the counter for his change.

"Sorry, sugar," Flo shook her head. "You'll have to go another 15 or so miles to find a motel. Up by the interstate."

"Right," Dean said. "Thanks."

"No problem, sugar. You come back now." Dean nodded absentmindedly, but the woman was already walking away, the ever-present coffeepot in hand, moving down the line of dwindling customers at the counter.

Sam held the door for him as he walked outside and he caught Sam looking at him worriedly. "Dude, stop looking at me like that, all right? I'm sore. Nothing a good night's sleep won't mend." He silently prayed it was the truth. Whenever he had to break down and go to a doctor, Sam started looking at him like Superman had just fallen out of the sky and plunked himself at his feet.

"You want me to drive?"

Dean fought down an angry retort. Sam would just brood if he did. Dean knew it was his own fault for ever teaching his brother to drive. It had made the boy uppity. "Nah, just grab the map, will ya? Find me the fastest way to the interstate."

The rumble of the car's engine as she came to life was better than a whole bottle of aspirin. That sound… music to soothe the savage zombie induced injuries, and Dean took a moment to lean back and enjoy the vibrations, an echo of his own beating heart.

"The waitress was right. It's a straight shot, 15 miles that way," Sam pointed, folding the map away.

"Thank you, trusty scout," Dean said, putting the car in gear and backing out onto the little two lane blacktop.

"You did not just call me Tonto." Sam raised an eyebrow. "That make you the Lone Ranger?"

"Why not? The Lone Ranger had the nice horse." Dean grinned as the engine roared, bringing the car up to full speed as she sailed down the road. "I've got the car. Makes me the Lone Ranger."

"Tonto had a good horse," Sam insisted.

"You know," Dean replied, "You're right. Tonto did have a good horse. And you don't even have a scooter. That makes you a wannabe Tonto. There," Dean smiled, "Feel better?"

Sam gave him a self-satisfied grin of his own. "You do know that roughly translated Kemosabe means 'horse's ass,' don't you?"

"Tonto would never…" Dean's voice trailed away as he heard a sudden clicking noise coming from the back seat.

"It's the EMF," Sam said reaching over the seat and fumbling around in one of the bags.

"You left it on? Batteries don't grow on trees, dude," Dean scolded, then caught himself. "I did not just say that. Sorry. I opened my mouth and Dad came out."

"I was gonna say," Sam laughed, clearly amused by the horrified look on his brother's face. He grabbed the EMF meter and settled back into his seat. "Pull over."

Dean did as he was asked, trying not to become angry as he watched the lights on the little thing dance like it was a Christmas tree. Crap. A motel, a shower, a good night's sleep. He wasn't asking for the moon here.

Sam leaned out his window and looked up. "No power lines," he said, half to himself. They both glanced around outside and Dean grimaced. It was a country road during high summer. There were no lights, no houses. There was just corn planted right up to the road on both sides of them forming a seemingly endless corridor stretching off into the darkness.

"You want to check it out?" Sam asked.

Crap. "No, not really," Dean said, already opening the car door.

Dean walked to the trunk and pulled Marigold out, checking to make sure she was still loaded with rock salt. Yes, he'd named his favorite shotgun Marigold. So what? Sidekicks got names. It was in the rules somewhere. Despite the Tonto remarks, Sam was a partner, not a sidekick. There was a definite difference. So he had Marigold. Most things they met were quite certain, however, that she was not a comic sidekick.

And no, Sam did not know. Like he needed Sam thinking he was any more off-base than he already did?

The gun was a reassuring weight in Dean's hand as he watched Sam move from one side of the road to the other with the EMF meter studying the readings. Dean looked toward the sky and noted the moon was almost full. It would give them some light, but he still pulled a pair of flashlights out of the trunk.

"That way," Sam pointed into the expanse of corn on their right.

Dean only nodded and waited for Sam to pull his own preferred handgun out of the trunk, then handed him one of the flashlights.

The moment they stepped into the corn, high enough even to be over Sam's head, it was like a hush fell over the world. The gentle shushing of the corn in the breeze was the only sound and even that made a shiver run up Dean's spine. They were idiots. They really should have waited for daylight, maybe done some research before charging to the rescue.

"High as an elephant's eye," Sam mumbled.

"Show tunes? You're quoting show tunes now?" Dean shook his head sadly. "I knew college was bad for you."

Dean heard a snicker come from Sam's direction and used his flashlight to blind him.

Sam batted the light away from his face. "Dean, I may have quoted it, but you recognized it. You fond of Oklahoma?"

"Shut up," he shone the light back toward the ground and began moving forward again. "I had a girlfriend who liked musicals."

"Suuuuuure," Sam said, falling into step again behind him.

They fell silent, moving forward, following the rows of corn, the only noises the corn surrounding them and the ever increasing, whining clicks of the EMF.

"Shut that thing off, Sam. We've got to be practically standing on top of it," Dean whispered. Almost as soon as the words were out of his mouth he took another step and fell flat on his face, his nose slamming into the dirt.

"Dean!" Sam knelt at his side. "Are you ok?"

Dean rolled over clumsily, almost crying out at the sudden pain radiating up from his ankle. He aimed his flashlight at the ground and swore. "Post hole," he grit his teeth. "Didn't see it."

"Yeah, I guessed that," Sam muttered. "It was kind of a clue when you tried to beat the dirt into submission with your face."

Dean gingerly touched his nose, his fingers coming away bloody. Just once he'd like to walk away from something without being permanently maimed. Why were there never any ghosts at the Ritz? Or in a nice health spa? Someplace tidy. No, they always had to find one that required dirt. He rubbed at his still stinging nose. Hard packed dirt. His lip was split too.

"Come on." Sam was still kneeling beside him, but held out his hand. "Let's get you out of here. We'll come back tomorr…."

Dean looked up at the suddenly arrested expression on Sam's face. One second, Sam was looking at him, the next his brother's feet were ripped out from under him and he was dragged backward, disappearing behind a curtain of corn.

"SAM!" Adrenaline poured into Dean's system and he surged to his feet, ignoring the shooting pain in his ankle.

"Sam, answer me!" He crashed through several rows of corn, shining his flashlight frantically in every direction. There was no sign of a trail and in only a few seconds he was completely turned around.

Dean ordered himself to calm his breathing. He needed to be able to listen and at the moment all he could hear was his own pounding heartbeat. To his left he heard a shot, quickly followed by two more. Shots from a handgun. Dean braced to run, favoring his bad ankle. "Come on, Sammy, tell me you got something."

Within seconds Dean broke into a small clearing and stopped dead, looking around. A tiny tract house sat in the center, surrounded on all sides by the tall corn, warm light coming from the windows. No more than ten feet from him, a small figure sat on the porch, a woman, gently backlit by the glow from inside the house.

"Ma'am, did you see…"

Dean had no time to react as she raised a shotgun and fired, point blank.

Time seemed to slow to a halt as he fell backward, landing hard on his back, his chest a mass of blood and gore. His head fell to the side and the growing pain in his chest became a raging agony as he saw Sam stretched out beside him. He looked into his brother's eyes, but Sam's were glossy, dead and staring. Dean barely noted the wounds, three shots to the chest, before his own vision began to fade.

Dean tried to raise his head to see the woman on the porch. She was closer now, coming down the steps toward them. Dean still had Marigold in hand and he ordered his arm into motion, fighting against the dying light as his eyesight failed. He distantly felt the crunch of his wrist as the woman who had shot him stepped on it, forcing him to release his grip on the gun.

"It's all your fault," the woman whispered. Or she might have screamed it for all Dean knew. He couldn't see, couldn't hear. "It's your fault he's dead."

Sam. Sam was dead. His fault. His fault. Dead.

Dean felt what he thought was the woman kneeling beside him. Heard the distant report of a shotgun, felt something spatter against him, almost like rain and then the thud of a body falling next to him. Another body.

Dad. Dad would never know. He'd never find them. No proper burial. Nothing. Dean had imagined his death many times. But not like this. His fault. All his fault. Sam.

"Sorry, Sammy," Dean mumbled, his last breath fading into the chilly night air.

Fear not, Gentle Reader, all shall be well tomorrow. That's code for don't get your undies in a bunch. I'll fix it. I like our boys too much to ever permanently kill them.

P.S. - If you've never met Marigold before you might try my other story, 'Smells Like Trouble'.