Solitary Man – chpt 13
Aim for that big wide open spot right there…the wiser part of her brain instructed as the hand of the man who'd been possessed pointed to a clear channel amongst many parked cars. "Oh goody…" she sighed upon seeing a yellow wall on her right. She heard more than felt the impact or the scraping of her faithful Hunny's passenger side along the wall, "I should be doing something right now…" she thought.
"Uh brakes! Brakes!" her passenger shouted as her foot finally moved.
"Oh goody we're baaaa aack… now I get to see how your oreo filling's doing…" the slice of demon said from the back seat and made to get out of the car.
"Oh no you don't…" Laura slurred immune to any physical sensation for the time being as she turned in her seat and grabbed the apparition by the throat only to find her hand closing on thin air… "Oh you're gonna pay for that…"
"Don't you let him underestimate you girl… now get your ass out the car and go help that boy… look…" he pointed to the emergency exit that stood open just popped out of his latch, "See… God's good to you… ya hit the wall 'n popped the door open… see…" he encouraged.
Laura took a deep breath and nodded. She actually felt better, well it wasn't so much better as it was… without pain. She slid from the car and shivered in the cool evening air.
"Better take a jacket lil'miss… you don't wanna give 'em too big a fright now do ya?" the slice of human asked pointing to her abdomen where it looked like a large silver coin had been sewn to her shirt.
She held up her finger, Good point! and slowly pulled her jacket on then zipped it well above the wound. Okay? she thought looking inquisitively at her passenger who nodded and gave her the thumbs up.
Oohlrighty then…she half smiled clinging to the car until she could reach the wall and use that as her main support to the door.
"Laura?" Dean called getting out of the car and looking both up and down the street but unsure of much thanks to the multitudes of faces meandering the downtown streets. There were so many people, so many possibilities he couldn't… his eyes fell on a woman in the same color clothes walking with a lean black man. Looks more like she's being dragged… whether its her or not I gotta help… he sighed and took off at an easy lope Eastward on Harrison toward the lake. He kept his eyes on the odd looking pair and sped up when they made a quick right turn, the woman definitely showing signs of being dragged or coerced.
He sped up and to his surprise none of the faces on the street really paid him much attention, a few pedestrians side stepped to allow him passage but he was already accustomed to this from the people in this city. The prevailing attitude seemed to be, 'let him go around me', except when it came to the drivers.
He turned the corner, headed South now and scanned the crowd, Don't these people ever go inside any of these buildings! he wondered angrily and caught sight of them once more. This time the wiry man turned and looked back meeting his eyes and he froze for a moment. I know that face…I've seen him before... Yeah dumbass that's the guy that pulled a knife on her from the backseat… no I mean other than that I've seen him before… Yeah and speaking of which… uhm… hello… Dean! Say it with me now… D-mon… Big 'D' little 'mon'… demon… he just tried to slash her throat! he shook his head, her seat was covered in blood, like swimming in it… what the hell's going on here? Could she have been right? Is this all just some sick mind game? some…nightmare? And if so… how do I get out? he wondered and realized the demon that was dragging Laura away from him seemed to be waiting for something. Maybe even for him to make up his mind.
First things first…he decided and poured on the speed giving full chase to the son of a bitch that was taunting him. If nothing else and he's just a regular old fashioned bad guy, I'll get to kick some ass, if he's a demon… oh he is soooo gonna pay…. He promised and saw the man smile just before disappearing down an alley with the girl in tow.
His eyes flicked to the silver streak on his left, almost before it appeared. He wasn't sure at first if it was just a reflection of the sun on some chrome or something but he knew it couldn't be. It was larger than any chrome flash he'd ever seen and now that he seemed to have even some small evidence that its appearance was connected to his emotions he could almost predict it. Yeah great, professor Peabody'd love to puzzle this out… God Sam…I miss you…I let you…no, she said it's a nightmare… yeah well I knew that… No dude, seriously… who're you gonna believe? The reality around you or the reality she tells you to? I mean are you that whipped by someone you won't even say…She knows… freakin' cheat man…hello can we get back to the issue at hand? We're about to confront a demon and we don't even have a damned gun on us… do we? he couldn't remember and patted himself down as he pressed his back to the building and risked a quick glance down the alley. Oooh… a stroke of luck…he thought happily feeling the familiar shape of his .9mm in his jacket pocket and drawing it out comfortably into his hand. She'd say you just created a reality…Yeah, she says a lot of stuff I don't quite get… okay, let's get down to business here… lots of hiding places and they're not in the open… it's going to try and draw me out…maybe this is my time? Maybe this is where it finally comes for me and I get to be back with Dad and Sam…Dude you've got issues y'know that? he huffed and shook his head, I got more issues than National freakin' Geographic…now let's go kill this son of a bitch… He turned and moved stealthily into the alley.
Sam turned back from the window, "I don't see anything, it was probably down the street or something," he shrugged and worked on slowing his heartbeat, both he and John had been so focused on Dean that when the sounds of crunching metal and plastic seemed to vibrate through the ground it startled them both and they realized there'd been an accident.
They were hoping he was fighting his way up from whatever hell Sam had glimpsed, the images were jumbled in his brain and the feelings behind them so intense it was like eating powdered sugar out of the box, in the same way that was too sweet, these images and feelings were too real and yet because they weren't Sam's they were unreal as well. He shook his head, there was no doubt he was confused but he was also certain he'd managed once again to touch his brother's mind.
For a moment Dean had mumbled, he'd tossed his head and he even seemed as if his heart beat and breathing were speeding up and deepening. Like he was preparing to come awake, but that had been almost half an hour ago and he'd settled back down much to their heartbreak.
Something thumped hard against the door startling both men to their feet. John drew his gun as Sam approached it sidelong. He peered through the peephole and John watched the color drain from his face as he threw the flimsy thing open.
"Di'I miss anything?" Laura breathed leaning heavily against the doorframe.
"Oh my god…" Sam breathed checking the hallway and offering his arm to her. She looked like hell. "What happened?" he asked taking in the somehow still functioning mess that used to be a woman.
"Holy crap…" John breathed sliding a chair quickly toward her while Sam guided her toward it.
She shook her head, her long hair moving in one solid mass of knots, dirt and dried blood. Her lips were split, her nose seemed broken and her face was smeared with blood. One of her eyes was swollen nearly closed and she was moving as if something vital was broken. "Can't sit…" she breathed headed straight for Dean's bedside where she used Sam as if he was a pull up bar, and lowered herself to her knees.
"Dean…" she sniffed, her arms reaching for him while her tears washed her face a little cleaner. She looked behind her and snarled, "Don't you touch him! Just shut up!" as Sam and John exchanged worried looks. She shook her head, "No… no, no, no… I will, just please… try to keep him quiet…" she pleaded into the mattress while her hands rested on Dean's arm.
Haltingly she explained to them about the demon that left a piece of itself twisted in their boys' brain doing everything in its power to create a virtually flawless reality in which everyone he cared about was violently removed from existence.
John leaned back in the chair and Sam sat on the bed trying to get a gauge on just how badly she was hurt. It might just be that after whatever she'd been after, then fighting a demon, then rushing to get here, that she hadn't recovered because she hadn't had an opportunity to rest yet. Half his mouth cocked, I hope… yeah…
"So if this is interwoven in his psyche how do we get it out without killing him?" John asked almost combatively.
She tilted her head up, careful not to move anything else and met Sam's eyes, "Two options…" she smiled weakly.
"Exorcise it or shoot him with one of Red Bird's bullets?" Sam double checked.
"Yeah…" she acknowledged and bowed her head against the side of the mattress again one of her hands intertwined with Dean's, the other stroking his hair absently. "I don't have the energy to get back in there Sam…" she nearly whimpered and he understood.
"You've got a slice of it in you, that's how come you know what it planned. You dipped into it just like you did with Dean that night at the hospital," Sam filled in and noticed John looking at him as if he'd just flipped his lid. "Can I help?" he asked.
"I don't know… I've never tried to use someone else as a… battery…" she muttered realizing that her chances of staying coherent were sliding through her fingers like so much sand.
Dean couldn't move. His whole body was frozen in place, he couldn't even move his mouth or blink. He could feel his heart beating and his lungs breathing but other than that there was no physical movement he could make. Watch my nose itch now…he tried to crack his fear with a little humor as the demon stepped out from beneath a fire escape stairwell, its arm wrapped around Laura's neck, fingers placed strategically at killing points in case he tried to do something heroic, i.e. stupid. In its other hand was that same blade from the car angled from the side to be easily thrust beneath the sternum and between the ribs, right into the heart.
Dean met her eyes, his heart wrenching almost to the point where he thought he'd finally just pass out. Yesterday he'd lost his brother, today he'd lost his father and right now he was verging on losing the one other person on this planet who, even though they shared no blood, had given him whatever he needed, never asking for anything in return.
He watched her lip twitch and fold halfway up into a smirk he was more than familiar with. I can't risk it…It's not real, she told me it's not real… but what if she's wrong? Dean, what do YOU believe? he heard a different voice ask from within. It was rich and full and had just a bare hint of the kind of '…iiinnnng…' a fine blade will have when it's thrown and squares perfectly into its target, and it was his.
He pulled the gun and shot.
Laura spun from the demon's grasp and stood to the side watching as demon killing lightning coursed through its being.
At her side, with his arm around her shoulders watching the demon die Dean didn't bother looking for that slash of silver. Inside him something that had been caked and encrusted, mottled with pain and helplessness began to gleam.
"Time for you to wake up and kill this son of a bitch for real sweetie," she smiled, turning in his embrace and diving into his almost glowing eyes. She raised her hand to his cheek and drew him down to her height. He smiled against her mouth and felt her do the same as their lips came together.
Dean's body gave a wrenching heave as Sam spoke the incantation to drive the demon piece out. They had no fear of using the ritual, John was there with the Colt and the Red Bird bullets if it tried to get away and Laura, though she still looked terrible seemed to have rallied a bit and refused to be budged from Dean's side.
Sam and John had both argued that the ritual would probably draw the slice of demon out of her as well and in her state they weren't sure what kind of effect that would have. She'd waved off their concerns resigning herself to whatever might happen. Still, what did happen probably could not have been predicted.
His hand squeezed hers as the demon screamed its way out of him and swirled within the salt ring they'd made on the floor. Laura felt several small snaps in her hand and wondered if she'd live to feel it later. For the time being she was enthralled by the sight of the living dark dust that erupted from Dean. As Sam continued to read from outside the circle and John remained poised to shoot she began to feel her own little slice of the demon start to scream in her head, and then it was screaming its way out of her as well.
Dean felt his hand squeeze hers and he felt the bones break in his grip as his eyes finally slid open and his awareness quickly measured the situation. She was right…Dad… Sammy…he thought as the words came out of his mouth through his brothers rich chanting. He's really getting good with Latin…he rolled onto his side as Laura threw her head back and unleashed her chunk 'o demon into the room where it joined with his. Kinky but appropriate, he nodded within himself as he simply took the information in. He'd make sense of it later. Someone would make sense of it later. Baby you look like hell, he thought realizing just what a terrible state she was in. Above the bed, in a column of black the Winchester boys saw the full power of the Ritual Romano as it had originally been intended to be worked. The column of living dark dust gained cohesion, each particle joining with another until they formed a being as solid as any of the other four in the room. Solid and weighted, it became subject to the same laws of physics as any other corporeal entity, and it knew it.
The face it wore was that of the telepath, which might have been from the slice of him that was in Laura's head too. It's lips curled back over its teeth. It's eyes swam hypnotically with full blackness as it stood at the foot of the bed and took in the scene. All five beings froze and for a moment time refused to budge. Dean's hand was reaching for the nightstand, John had the Colt raised to his eye, Sam had his gun raised and ready in his good left hand and the journal in his right and Laura was looking into those black and soulless eyes.
Maybe I have enough for you…she smiled and rose to her feet, her left hand unzipped her jacket then moved to her back while the fingers of her right hand slid around the fat end of her silver spike.
The embodied demon saw its death in her eyes and lurched toward her weakness, hoping to kill the boy or at least poison him, hurt him enough so he could escape.
Real-time came back in the blink of an eye as she pulled the spike out of her body, flipped it and re-extended the last few couples in one fluid motion before turning in toward the demon with her arm extended, the point of the spike backward as he dove toward Dean and found himself impailed through the throat on her weapon of choice.
"He belongs to me bitch!" she scowled then looked from one Winchester to the next, their mouths each dropped in just a little bit of surprise with Dean's beginning to tilt up at the corner. She looked at him as he rose to his knees toward her, "I'll work on the banter…" she smiled and looked down watching the sheet turn red with a torrent of blood that flowed from her now open wound in a river.
"Laura…" she heard Dean call, his voice coming to her through sponge that stuffed her head. At last… just a little rest.
Dean arrived with the ambulance and hopped down, walking along side the gurney and the EMT's into the ER at Cook County Hospital, his whole body was shaking and he was on the verge of doubting whether or not he'd really woken up. Slowly certainty began to build as he scratched at the scruff on his face and carefully examined the faces of the staff that went to work tending Laura. He didn't recognize any of them and that made him feel, literally worlds better.
"Dean…" Sam called jogging through the doorway to him. He stood at his brothers side with his arm around his shoulders watching silently, his eyes darting from the Medical personnel to the look of complete concentration on his older brothers face. He was barely breathing and his body was ram rod tense, all his energy was focused on those people in that room. I hope to God you're right Laura…I hope all that manifestation of reality through an act of will isn't just blowing smoke sweetheart, cause if I have anything to say about it, you're gonna be fine, you're gonna be fine… you're strong and healthy… uh, usually… and you're gonna be fine…you better be fine… he seemed to breathe for a moment and felt that voice again, that rich one that was slowly becoming more of him, filling him in a way he hadn't known he'd been lacking, She's the favored emissary of Cernunnos, he won't let anything happen to her… the Horned God… fertility and renewal…good things…
Sam looked back at the staff for a moment then his brows furrowed as he looked around the trauma room. It was yellow painted cinder block, and the shelves were positioned almost identically to what he'd seen in Dean's mind, Uhm… we've been here before remember? After the Daeva's tore us up? he breathed a sigh of relief and squeezed Dean's shoulders, Okay then… that makes sense.
"Where's dad?" Dean asked, "He take off again?"
He felt Sam shake his head, his eyes never leaving the ribbons of blood flowing onto the floor from the gurney, "He's parking the truck,"
One of the nurses tried to usher them out of the room but Dean wouldn't be budged and where Dean was, Sam was. It was that simple.
"Sam?" Dean said softly, his focus still sharp on the activity in the room which seemed to have toned its urgency down a bit.
"What did I tell you last time you went missing?" he asked.
Sam smiled and huffed a chuckle, "You said you wouldn't go looking for me,"
"Dude you were getting shot at and you hung up on me…" Sam countered.
"Stray bullet… and I was upset," he shrugged.
"You had me scared silly Dean…"
"You're silly most of the time anyway…" he jibed reflexively then added, "…sorry."
"Me too," Sam nodded.
"Can I get in on this?" John asked softly from behind the boys.
"Three cheers for feeling sorry for ourselves?" Sam asked smiling tightly.
"Yeah alright Spongebob…" Dean nodded as the Medical team began disconnecting tubes and hoses and hung the I.V. bags from a stand that was part of the cart.
One of the doctors approached the three men. Dean stepped forward and shook his hand. The doctor noticed he was pretty well covered in blood and nodded, "We're taking Miss Finnegan to emergency surgery, her injuries are extensive but she's stable enough to risk it… if we wait much longer we might lose that edge…"
Dean nodded, "What do you think?" he asked softly and took comfort in the hands of his father and brother, each on one of his shoulders, lending whatever they could.
"She's young and strong… but the damage is severe…if she survives the next few days, she'll most likely make a complete recovery… most likely, and that's with lots of therapy…"
She'll survive and she'll recover completely, a helluva lot faster than you'll believe possible, Dean thought and nodded.
"There's a waiting room on 3 that has some nice couches, or, I'd suggest you get yourself a hotel room and we'll have one of the nurses call you when…" he offered.
Dean shook his head, "I'm not going anywhere,"
"I told you I'm not leaving you alone…" Sam nodded at his side.
John flushed with pride and nodded, "…I'm staying…"
The sun was rising over the lake when the surgeon entered the waiting room and met Dean's eyes. He rose and as if on cue Sam and John both woke and rose in fluid motions to join them in the semi-private consultation room.
"The surgery was textbook… Miss Finnegan did a fine job of cooperating, with luck she may be up on her feet as early as this evening…"
"Are you kidding?" Dean asked clearly astounded.
"I said on her feet Mr…." he stopped.
"Mr. Dean… she'll probably only be able to make it to the bathroom and back… but if she keeps on cooperating she might be able to go home in just a few days…"
All the rest was a buzz of information that would make no sense to him until Sam or John would explain it later. All he knew was that she might be able to go home soon and she was going to survive.
"Can I see her?" he asked.
When he arrived at her door she was already sitting up in bed, her eyes were glassy and her smile was very loose. He knew she was probably very heavily sedated. Still she was awake, not bleeding and not dead… all three very important factors.
"Heya haaansome," she slurred and patted the bed.
"Hey yourself…" he smiled and wrapped her fingers in his while looking at the cast on her left hand, "Sorry bout that…"
"Prfftt… after getting spiked with my own spike… twernt nuthin…" she squinted her eyes and tried to focus on him while her right hand came over and stroked his beard, "I kinda like it…"
"Mmm," she nodded, "How're you doin' sweetie? You back in your right head now?"
He nodded, "Thank you…" then watched her lips turn up as her eyes closed and she scooted down against the pillows. Dean stood up, tucked the blankets around her and pressed his lips to her temple, "I'll be here for you when you wake up."
"Mmmm love you Dean," she murmured.
He held his breath and bit his tongue then nodded and stroked her cheek, "I know," while he thought, Yeah… me too.
Please let me know if you liked or hated – oh yeah I think its TWoP for the National Geographic homage…and of course Spongebob...
Thanks for coming along for the ride,