Author's Note: Hey guys, sorry about the little pause, it's been a little over a week I believe since I last updated this and I know it can be annoying but these are actually fast updates. I've just finished summer school so they may come a bit faster but I'm still working at the video store so I'll find time between. As always thank you so much for the reviews. I'm glad people are enjoying this story and if you haven't already check out my newest one Crash Course, lol, gotta pimp all my fanfics. Any that one will be updated shortly, I've already written four pages on the third chapter. Anyway, thank you for the reviews and enjoy!
Disclaimer: What, I don't own Supernatural? Since when! Oh always, that's right. Lol.
Note: There will be some potty language(lol potty) in this chapter and a very long dream sequence. I apologize if people don't like these flashbacks, I've had no complaints so far but if you feel that they are taking away from the story let me now and I'll try to refrain from using so many. As it is right now I have a reasoning behind them which will come into play further on in the story, I just know a lot of flashbacks can get annoying. So, any comments on this subject would be appreciated. Also, I hope the one I've included does not confuse anyone, if so let me know. Thanks!
Refuse to feel,
Anything at all
Refuse to slip,
Refuse to Fall
Can't be weak,
Can't stand still
watch your back,
'Cause no one will
You don't know why they had to go this far
Traded your worth for these scars
For your only Company
believe the lies that they told to you
Not one word was true
alright, You're alright,
----Simon By: Lifehouse
None of them talked about the shower incident again. It was obvious that Dean didn't want another 'Dr. Phil Moment' and Alex didn't think he could handle one. Up until the day they'd left the motel everything had been just, well, normal. The three of them had taken their short leave of absence from the Supernatural world and turned it into a three day pass to Hicksville USA, population, redneck, and then perused the local taverns. Sam wasn't all to keen on Alex and Dean going out almost every night, but he also hadn't bothered to stop either of them. Once or twice the youngest Winchester had decided to come along for the ride, but mostly, he just hauled up in their room and watched The People's Court and Googled some possible gigs.
Dean was all for hitting the road again after three days in the same town. The others didn't oppose the decision, so, early Thursday morning, just after seven, the boys climbed into the Impala and took off towards their next job. Little did his brothers know, everything hadn't been quite so normal. Not for Alex anyway. He'd done his best to push through the days, that Winchester grin plastered with false sincerity across his face. In all truth he hadn't slept well since Sam found him naked on his ass in the stained porcelain tub. They were mostly memories that haunted him while unconsciousness took hold his body. Memories that he'd sooner like to forget. Growing up around guns and demons, learning that you had to fight through the broken bones in order to save your brothers, those were the lessons he'd been taught as a child. Those were the things that had helped to trigger the tormented sleep all those years ago and now, it was as though the damn had finally broken and here they were, haunting him again.
Alex slumped against the backseat window, feeling the pull of sleep on his eye lids. Lack of rest could be damaging to a person's system. He knew from experience how awful it could get. It had been days since he'd last slept for more than two hours at a time and sitting in the impala, listening to the engine purr and the tape deck play only made this realization all the more clear.
Dean was taunting Sam from the driver's side. Alex wasn't sure what his older brother was saying, the voice just came out as a loud, rough sound that barely registered in his mind at all. There was a light ringing sound in the boy's right ear that slowly wound its way to the left. Dean's laughter rose in pitch, while a frustrated sigh rose from the seat where Sam sat. Alex messaged sore temples, going roughly against the taut flesh in a counterclockwise motion. The conversation continued. The ache in his head grew. Vaguely the young hunter wondered if this was how Sam felt when he had his visions. If it hurt nearly as bad as this. Even with all these questions filtering through the agony behind his eyes, Alex knew that he wasn't having a vision. Sam had the visions. Not him. Missouri had never mentioned anything about visions or that all knowingness when they'd stopped in Lawrence all those months ago. She was psychic of course and if he did have anything remotely close to what Sam had, then she would have picked it up. Right?
Alex clenched his jaw and slid in the seat until his right side connected with the bottom. He lay there, catching his breath, the sweat leaving cellophane tracks along his cheeks. His eyes remained open, wide and alert and he scanned in detail the black seat nearly suffocating his face. Another pain shot through his head, enveloping his body in a struggle to keep consciousness and not seizure off the seat. Fire filed into his abdomen, lighting a trail all the way to his chest. He couldn't breath. If he sucked in a shaky breath of stale air it only filled his lungs with a hot, sulfurous taste that only created more of a struggle for his body. White light exploded behind open eyes. Alex gave out a rough, haggard cough that went unnoticed by both Sam and Dean.
"What do you mean you slept with Kim Carlson back in Portland?" Sam's voice broke through the pain. Alex struggled to find his way back to the voice. If he could concentrate hard enough, than maybe he'd be able to find the words buried deep by the agony he was in and let his brothers know what was going on.
"Sammy, you know Kim was three years older than you bro. Besides, she was way out of your lanky ass league. She was into guys with muscles and brains."
"Then why did she decide to sleep with you?"
Alex gave out another cough. Why was everything shifting in and out of focus? He tried to turn around, so that he could at least have the reassuring view of the back of the two front seats, but as it was he couldn't see them at all. His body wouldn't cooperate the way he wanted and he couldn't turn onto his other side for the life of him. Which Alex began thinking, would be almost up if the pain didn't stop soon.
"Oh, that hurts Sam. It does. You know Kim had a little sister."
"Becky Brace Face Carlson? I wouldn't have touched that with a ten foot pole."
"What! Becky was all over you. Or was it your yearbook photo she was all over. Anyway the point is Sammy…"
"Uh, huh. Anyway, like I was saying. The point is…"
Alex shuddered and clawed at the upholstery, clinging to it for dear life. He could feel his heart racing much faster than it should have been. The first rule in one of these situations was not to panic, it had engraved in his head as a child because if he panicked then things would only get worse. This time he couldn't help himself. His breathing quickened and became shallower. How was he supposed to keep calm when he couldn't even breathe properly without biting back a scream?
A chill circulated through the back of the impala. Alex trembled violently in his loose jeans and Dean's black hooded sweater. He thought that it was something supernatural, only that could explain the sudden drop in temperature but when Dean and Sam continued their conversation as if nothing had change, he realized it was him. He could feel his hands shake as they clung to the seat and his teeth no longer stayed silent but chattered loudly. The sound mingle with the rest of the noise in the Chevy and created a dark fog of disordered and confusion inside his head.
Eyes still very much open began to loose sight of the familiar black seat. A new image was coming into view. A quick snapshot if you will. It wasn't a hallmark picture or anything, but a memory. A shadowed memory that had been buried long ago within the vaults of Alex's head now resurfaced. The fire; it burned red hot and rose more than ten feet tall, was now spreading out like a wave across the open space before him. Alex tried to shout but no sound came out. There was only darkness and the slow crawl of the fire. Through the ebony Alex heard a voice calling out to him.
"Daddy's never around when you need him. Is he?"
The fire disappeared and the seat came back into focus. He'd never closed his eyes and yet for a few minutes it had felt as if he'd fallen asleep. The breaths he took in were shaky to say the least. Had someone spoken to him?
Alex tried to move from his awkward position once again. Another jolt passed through him, almost like an electrical shock. It stole his breath and left him shaken up, eyes shut and slowly falling unconscious. Series of sharp pains ciphered through the hunter's entire body. From his toes to his head and he writhed about in the seat as if somehow the movement would exorcise the torture out of him. All it did was make it worse. With every turn of his head, with every raised arm or kicking leg the agony grew until finally Alex couldn't feel any new oxygen circulating through his system. No humid air brushed past his lips or along the back of his throat. He was no longer breathing. The cold nearly burnt his flesh and soon all he felt was the reassuring darkness coming to claim his tired soul.
Alex shivered against the late august winds. The deserted highway stretched out before him and on and on it went, over the far hill, seeming endless from his seat on the highway shoulder. Two weeks had past since Sam had left his family behind at a rundown motel in Arkansas. No phone call, no email, no contact from the youngest Winchester in two weeks and although neither Dean nor John mentioned that night, Alex new they were worried. Not that Sam couldn't handle himself, but that he'd be able to handle himself well enough to not find the need to come back home. Wherever home was that month.
Searching through his brown duffle bag, Alex pulled out a silver flask. It was Dean's flask that he brought along with him on hunts. Most days the small container held holy water, tonight it held Whiskey. Nothing else but the strong bitter taste of Whiskey would rid Alex of the worry he felt.
Three days ago he'd been hunting with both Dean and John. They'd gone their separate ways through the abandoned farmland. It was all a lot of nothing really, just a crumbling house and an old barn ravaged by bad weather. The property wasn't selling quite the way the realtor wanted due to reports of children wandering onto the farm and turning up in pieces about the property. There weren't any suspects. Some of the locals believed a drifter had been squatting in the house and that he'd been the cause of the two young bodies that had turned up dead. The only problem was when police searched the area no drifter was found and there hadn't been any evidence at all, of anyone ever living in the house during the recent months. That was where the Winchesters came in. John had done some digging into the history of the old farm, turned up some crazy story about a farmer and a few local murders, connected it to a dangerous spirit and away they went. To fight evil and banish ghosts and all that Sci-Fi hero shit.
Alex had volunteered to check out the barn. It was a one man search because the area to be covered wasn't much and the house was more on its last legs and more of a liability when it came to the hunter's safety. Truth was, Alex hadn't felt like being around his dad or Dean on this hunt. It was the first one since Sammy had left and it just didn't seem right. When his younger brother had fled he'd been the only one to say something, to try and mend the fight. Dean had stayed silent, camouflaged into the cheap motel wallpaper, while John didn't stop for breath. Sam's eyes had welled with tears but they never fell and Alex was proud of him, to see his younger brother stand up for what he believed, for what he wanted. Then out of nowhere Sam just picked up his things and left, and that had been it. No one tried to stop him, not even Alex himself, but at least he'd tried to calm his dad and Sam down, at least he'd done something instead of nothing.
The fight replayed like a slow colourless film in Alex's head. A shotgun of rocksalt held tightly in his hands. He thought of the moment that Sam broke down and confessed about the application to Stanford. He remembered the unforgiving look that John had shot his youngest son when Sam said he couldn't live the way they did. He cringed when he recalled his dad's last words about Sam staying gone and then that's when Alex dropped out of consciousness.
Darkness faded fast and the one flickering sodium bulb, hanging from a single chain in the middle of the barn illuminated the room. Shadowed lofts surrounded the upper level while down where Alex found himself, hands bound behind his back, the area was completely in view. No where to run, no where to hide was the basic idea. A few corners where hidden in grey but they wouldn't hide his awkward form. He was tall, just as his baby brother would one day be, probably surpassing him in height as he knew he would in knowledge.
"Your anguish drenches you in mixed emotions."
Alex rolled about on the rough flooring of the barn. Another rough struggle and he was sitting upright, facing the decayed soul of Elmer Fudd. The ropes cut sharply into the unprotected skin of Alex's wrists while he did his best to ease out of their hold. It wasn't getting him anywhere, but he knew better than to give in so easily. He wasn't a quitter; he was a Winchester after all.
"What the hell are you going on about?" If he could stall the spirit long enough maybe he could locate the shotgun, or perhaps even his dad would realize he'd been gone too long and kick down the barn door and save the day.
"I think you know what I'm taking about. I can taste it in the air. Your pain, it leaks from every pore on your body. You hide it well, but it was that which allowed me the advantage. Sam? Is that the person you fear for? Is he your lover?"
Alex drew in a sharp breath. How would the ghost of some farmer know all of this?
"Look here Sally Jessie Raphael; I don't need this fuckin' Girl Guide moment, okay? So how bout you drag your corporeal ass on over here, untie these ropes and fight me like a real fuckin spirit would."
"You think fighting me will rid you of the pain?"
"Nawe, I know it won't, but it'll make me feel a hell of a lot better."
A grisly smile washed over farmer's grey leather skinned face. Alex blinked and the man now stood just in front of him. The hunter steadied himself on the floor, trying his best to bring himself to his feet but it was proving a bit more difficult than he'd of liked. The farmer caught on quickly to what the boy was trying to accomplish and the smile grew deep with malicious intent.
"I know how to make you feel better child. Now just relax."
The rough voice of death purred through the still barn. Alex wondered briefly to what the man meant when a brush of cool air passed overhead. A pitchfork rested in callused hands. The farmer frowned and took another step forward.
"How about a cookie instead?" Alex joked but no one answered him. He fell quiet once again wondering where the hell his family was and why they hadn't come looking in the barn yet. Didn't they notice he'd been gone far too long?
A top of a metal toed boot shot through the air and connected with the base of Alex's jaw. The young man fell back sprawled in pain on the floor. Blood activated the taste buds on his tongue with a metal bitter taste. He wasn't able to piece together the sudden shock because within a moment the farmer was hovering above his prone body. Pitchfork raised above his chest; Alex didn't even process the rusted metal object until it was hurtling in downward motion toward his body. With a quick jerk to the right, the hunter's reflex skills kicked in almost automatically. The pitchfork made a swishing sound as it tore violently through the air and into the wooden flooring where Alex had been only a moment earlier. A growl echoed through the barn and the pitchfork pulled itself from the floor and shot towards Alex once more. It stood over Alex and dropped down with lightning speed at his unprotected flesh. Alex rolled, but not fast enough. The last metal prong of the weapon cut through the edge of his thigh forcing him to roll over onto his back.
The word cried out through the humid air. Alex's teeth chattered from the shock of pain. Blood didn't hesitate to pool over the metal object or his favourite pair of jeans. A low sadistic snicker caught his attention and Alex soon was met with the wild eyes of a dead man. The farmer bent down to the injured boy's level and let the hidden smile come alive on his face.
Alex spat a gruesome pile of bile from the back of his throat at the aged man. It rolled off his chin in thick dark yellow rivers.
Alex struggled to breathe evenly. He'd just managed to calm himself down enough to think of his next move when the pitchfork was jerked roughly from his body. The metal scrapped sharply inside him before it was pulled out completely. Now the pain returned, full force this time leaving not a single moment for Alex to catch his breath.
"I must say, now I feel a bit better as well."
The former of the dead farmer disappeared from view. Alex struggled against the ropes but once again nothing happened. Clenching his teeth against the pain, he rolled onto his left side and quickly lifted himself off the floor. Once on his feet, he tested his sore leg and found that the pain only increased with the slight movement which was only to be expected. The fact was it didn't matter if it hurt like a bitch at the moment, if he didn't get out of the barn he'd end up like one of those dead children in the town's obituary page.
Alex limped and whimpered and was covered in sweat by the time he'd walked ten feet. He was getting a hold on the pain and had started to pick up the pace into a light jog when the floor whined somewhere behind him. Alex hadn't seen any movement out of his peripherals but spirits were sneaking sons of bitches. Facing the back, Alex had only half a second to process the arm hurtling towards him. It stood about a foot from his neck when something slid over his head and inches above his collarbone. It was rope! The farmer grunted and pulled against the noose around Alex's neck. Breath vanished as did the floor beneath his feet.
"We're gonna have some fun now boy."
Alex felt like a dog on a leash as the farmer dragged his body by the other end of the rope across the barn. A single wooden rafter was making itself know as the two of them came to stop beneath it. Alex struggled against the ropes, chocking and wheezing when it bit into his neck. He wanted to gag. The cruel man smirked and forced Alex to his feet. The loose end of the rope was flung over the rafter until it dropped a few inches on the other side. The farmer took hold of the rope and with one rough pull, began to ease Alex off the ground.
The hunter kicked wildly at the air no longer caring how much the pain in his thigh was. He struggled to bring his hands in front of him, struggled to breathe. God, where was the oxygen? Alex could only see dark spots as the rope wrapped tighter and tighter around his neck. He figured another five seconds and he'd be dead and then before he knew it the ground was rushing up to meet him.
Floor slammed painfully into the boy's side and face but it was better than being hung. Air was slowly entering his lungs but Alex had to struggle against the pain and the noose to get in any at all.
"Come to join the fun?"
A gun cocked some feet away. "I'm not in the mood." A shot rang out. Alex trembled in spite of the loud sound.
Alex knew that voice.
"Dean?" the sound barely came out through the rope and swollen throat.
Dean was next to him, leaning the younger Winchester against his chest and pulling the rope from around his brother's neck. It fell away and left behind dark purpled bruises that circled painfully around his tanned flesh. Dean grimaced and worked on the bonds that had kept Alex's hands behind his back. When he was finished, Dean let him ease back into him, trying his best to filter out the harsh ragged breathing.
"Al? Al are you okay?"
"I will be. Where's dad?"
"He found the bones in the root cellar. I knew you would have shown up by then but when you didn't I figured you'd gotten yourself in over your head, as usual."
"So he's burning them? The bones?"
"Good, I was getting sick of playing hangman with Miss Mary Sunshine in here."
Alex brought the flask once again to his lips as the memory faded away into the depths of his mind, just as all those forgotten moments in time had. Now there he was, twenty- one years old, sitting on the state highway drinking whiskey, wanting nothing more than to disappear completely. He never got this way. Alex was a happy go lucky guy, smile on his face and a always a witty comeback in his back pocket, but ever since Sam had left he found himself awake at night, rethinking his life. It had barely started and yet he felt helpless about it. That the future ahead would only be a slight variation of what he did already. He never expected anything more out of life than hunting with his family, but the reality was there was so much more. He regretted never finishing his entire grade twelve year only because maybe he could have gone on to better things. Maybe then he could have that semi normal life that Sam always fantasized about. But years ago Alex and Dean had come to the conclusion that they weren't meant for that life. It wasn't in their cards, they weren't lucky enough to have that destiny. That harsh fact didn't taste good when swallowed. That's why Alex took another drink of Whiskey.
An hour passed, Alex drank the Whiskey and hummed a familiar tune while cars rolled on by. Dean showed up when the flask was nearly empty. He took a seat next to Alex and took the container from his brother's grip.
"Wanna talk about it?"
Dean sighed. "You keep all this anger bottled up and you're bound to crack one day."
"Well that day seems light-years away from now. So, lets not and say we did."
Silence. Alex wrapped his arms about his waist to try and keep out the cold.
"Sammy chose his path and decided our fate" Dean said cryptically from his side.
Suddenly this familiar conversation had turned into something deadly. Alex looked to his right and caught Dean staring off into space.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Alex nearly snapped. Dean smirked evilly and faced his brother. Yellow eyes reflected through the night and stealing the hunter's breath. He remembered those eyes anywhere. They weren't Deans that was for damn sure.
"Your daddy won't be there for you Alex. Not when you need him the most. Just like Sam you'll be tossed to the curb the day you betray your family."
Alex struggled to remain calm. "Where's Dean?"
"No! No, you're not him."
"Don't call me that!"
Dean's hand shot out and wrapped thick, callused fingers about his neck. There wasn't any pressure being applied at the moment, but the grip was fierce and to know it was Dean on the other end of it, hurt more than anything.
"You listen to me Winchester and you listen good. Your time is running out. Your dad, he doesn't care about you or your brothers. Your brothers, they don't care about you. Your better off letting them finish this last hunt alone. You'll just get in the way."
Dean let go of Alex and the younger boy backed away in fear.
"I'm not leaving anybody. Your mind warping bullshit isn't going to work on me."
"Oh, is that what you think it is? I've watched you Alex. I've watched your family and I've noticed that when push comes to shove, it's them who always come through, who pull together at the last second, while you watch from the sidelines making your little quips. Even Dean knows when to shut his mouth, but you; you're just always on aren't you?"
"Truth hurts, doesn't it? How about the blood of your family on your hands? Hmmm, how do you think that will feel? How would you like to be the reason your family fails to finish what they've been hell bent on doing all these years and you're the one who brings it all down?"
"It's not going to be like that." Alex grounded out.
"Sure it's not. You've seen the way your dad looks at you now that Sammy isn't there you're the one to take all that slack. He has as much respect for you as he does for a titmouse. Face it Alex. You're not destined to be a great Winchester. Dean, he's a fighter, a hero, people worship men like him. Sam, even as that rebellious youth, your father will always admire that. But you. All you have going for you is a barrel full of sarcasm and a list of bad memories. Like this one. When you were too weak to handle the issue at home and instead wandered off in the middle of the night to drink on the highway. Dean never showed up until early the next morning and even then you were past out from all the whiskey. Remember now Alex?"
"Yeah, I remember but none of that means anything. I'll never leave my family behind, not now or ever, no matter what the circumstance."
A bitter laugh escaped from the thing sporting Dean's flesh. "That's not the point. It's not where your priorities lie Alex; I don't doubt that you'd give an arm or a leg to save one of the Winchester men. What it all boils down to is that if you stay you're putting the lives of your family in jeopardy. Don't make more of a mess than you already have, boy. Either chose to walk away or you'll find your family leaving you in pine boxes. It's your choice."
Alex jostled awake in the back of the Impala. Boston pooled out from the cars old speakers and Dean was humming along with the song. Sam was still very much awake, typing on his laptop, the clicking of keys mingling with steady drum beat and guitar riffs. Alex struggled and found that the pain he'd been in earlier had lessened but still remained dormant in his chest and limbs.
"Dean." Alex knew it would be impossible not to notice the shakiness of his voice. It sound frail and broken and Alex felt that at any moment he would break like some delicate china doll.
"What's up Al? You been quiet back there for a while."
Dean looked up to the rearview mirror and as Alex raised his bloodshot eyes and pale, sweaty face to meet his gaze he knew something was wrong. Quiet was never good when it came to Alex. The younger man looked sick, not just a cough and cold sick, but deathly ill.
"Hold on Al, I'll pull over just up here." Dean's foot pressed further onto the gas. "Sammy. Sam, would you quite typin' and check on our brother."
Sam closed the laptop and placed it next to his feet. "What, did Alex have a bad dream?" The comment was meant to loosen up whatever object Dean had up his tight ass but when no one laughed Sam looked into the back seat.
Alex's head barely stayed up, as if the weight was too much for the younger man to handle. No wonder Dean was so worried.
"Sammy…"Alex whispered and smiled through the wave of nausea coursing through his stomach. "I'm gonna be sick."
"Not in my car your not. Hold it!"
"Sammy be quiet!"
The car veered onto the side of the road, spraying gravel carelessly in the direction of passing cars. Alex felt the vehicle pull to a stop and had his hand on the door before either of his brothers had taken off their seatbelts.
Alex hit the ground and dry heaved a couple of times before releasing the contents of his stomach all other the state line. Sam was behind him, holding him tightly by the shoulders incase his brothers strength failed him and he sunk into the pile of undigested food. Dean was in front of his younger brothers, arms crossed and pacing back and fourth, looking from the mess his brother had just made to his shaking hands and bloodshot eyes.
"What's wrong Alex?"
Alex hadn't realized how violently his hands had been trembling. He quickly wiped away the remaining vomit from his mouth and chin and pocketed his hands into his coat.
"Nothing. I'm fine now. Just a bit of car sickness."
"Al, your shaking" Sam whispered behind him. Alex shook his head and stumbled to his feet.
"I said I'm fine you guys. Now can we go? This isn't the freshest air."
"Alex if there was something going on, you'd tell us about it right?" Sam questioned in that concerned, younger brother voice he often used to manipulate witnesses. Alex nodded.
"Of course I would Sam. No secrets, remember? All we have is each other and I wouldn't keep anything from my brothers. Now, can we please get back into the car? It's cold as hell out here."
"No its not" Dean replied. Alex looked to his brother.
"Well I'm cold."
Alex climbed back into the impala and shut his door with a resounding thud. He waited a moment for his brothers to collect their thoughts and climb in after him. The sickness was gone, but now Alex felt even worse with the fresh lie still burning his lips. How could he not have told them? He knew why. The dream hadn't been just a memory, that entire conversation with Dean had never happened and it scared him because if that had never happened then why had he dreamt it? Why had he been painfully pulled from the land of the waking to find himself in some nightmare where a demon wearing Dean's skin was telling him that his brothers would be better off without him.
"Either chose to walk away or you'll find your family leaving you in pine boxes. It's your choice."
Alex shuddered against the voice that once again cutting through his thoughts. That couldn't be right. Without him his brothers would be more vulnerable. They'd need all the help they could get to take down the demon that had killed their mother.
Alex curled back into the seat and stared aimlessly out the window, knowing that it was probably just some dream. Just another checkmark on how screwed up the life of a Winchester really was. He wouldn't bother either of his brothers with the nightmare because as far as he was concerned it was nothing and he wanted to keep it that way. Recounting it out loud would make it seem almost real and that was the last thing he wanted. He'd be a good Winchester and bottle up the memory and nightmare and store it at the back of his mind and hopefully forgetting about it would make everything better.