Tastes Like Trophies

Here it is… the promised epilogue… Thanks to you all for taking the time to give this a read.

Chapter Seven

Sam drove out the large front gates just seconds before the fire department and an accompanying police cruiser arrived.

Driving in the opposite direction from where the emergency vehicles had come, Sam didn't spare the house another look. He saw Dean, however, gazing out the passenger side window toward the hotel. There wasn't really anything to see due to the high walls surrounding the grounds. Nevertheless, the night was ablaze with light and they both knew the wing where the collection had been kept was fully engulfed in fire.

"So that went well," Dean said tiredly.

"I feel much more relaxed," Sam responded.

Dean grunted, trying to change position in his seat. Sam knew there was no way for him to get comfortable. Between the knife wounds and the tiger chewing on it, Dean's leg was a disaster. The other cuts were only aggravating the situation. In truth, the longer Dean went without complaining about the mess he was making of the car, the more Sam was starting to worry.

"I didn't even get to enjoy the mint on my pillow," Dean lamented.

"I'm sorry, man," Sam said earnestly. "I know you wanted a break."

"Yeah, well, we burnt half the place down. That'll teach 'em not to mess up my vacation," his brother observed dryly.

"How's your leg?"

"I…" Dean's mouth twisted in pain, "it'll hold until you can look at it."

"Ok." Sam had come back from getting their things to see that Dean had taken off his belt and wrapped it around his leg to put pressure on the stab wound. It was stopgap at best though. If Dean thought Sam was going to patch him up in some dingy motel room and just hope he didn't die of infection, then he could think again. Sam was just waiting for his brother to pass out so he could take him to an emergency room without getting any grief.

Sam mentally went through the towns they had passed on the way in. They needed the closest hospital that was still far enough away there wouldn't be any questions. The police here knew who had found the dead valet. They wouldn't think a stabbing was a coincidence, not to mention the fire or the vandalized mausoleum.

The hotel fell away behind them and Dean finally turned his eyes to look out the front of the car. His gaze was hooded though and Sam could see something was troubling him.

"What is it?" Sam asked. Dean looked away and Sam waited and waited until finally he thought Dean just wasn't going to answer.

"Talk to me, man," Sam coaxed nervously. "What's wrong? Is it your leg?" He hadn't had a chance to really get a good look at Dean's injuries.

"No." Dean cleared his throat, still refusing to look at him. "You know… What the manager guy said…"

"He said a lot of things," Sam knit his brow in confusion.

Dean continued as if he hadn't heard. "If I ever… I mean, hunting… we're good at it… but… If I… If you see me…"

Sam suddenly remembered the look on Dean's face when the manager had called him a murderer, the look that said his brother almost believed it. He'd seen Dean's reaction to the Game Room and to Huntington.

"It's ok, Dean. I know you're not like that guy."

Dean's expression was still troubled and Sam could see the real worry underneath. "Yeah, but if… one day…" He shot Sam a sidelong glance.

"If I catch you saving ears or teeth or going all 'Heart of Darkness', I'll be sure to smack you," Sam said, trying for lightness.

"Heart of Darkness?" Dean frowned.

"'Apocalypse Now'," Sam replied. "You should read a book sometime."

"Cool movie," Dean smiled, though it faded quickly. "You'll do something if I go all psycho Marlon Brando?"

"Of course," Sam answered simply, and amazingly Dean relaxed as if that made it all better or somehow all right. Sam felt the burden of his brother's absolute trust settle more firmly around his shoulders. But as burdens went… it was an easy fit.

"You'll know I've lost it if I get one of those funny hats that Huntington guy was wearing," Dean said more evenly. He laid his head back against the seat and his eyes began to droop closed.

"A pith helmet."

Dean snorted, his eyes shutting. "You know, that's so easy, I'm not even going to bother with a joke."

They drove in silence for several minutes until Sam thought Dean had either fallen asleep or passed out. Sam nearly jumped when Dean coughed quietly.

"So we never did get dinner."

Sam shook his head in disbelief. "Dean, we've got to get you patched up first."

"Yeah, yeah," his brother waved it away, like he always did.

"You can't seriously be hungry."

"I could eat," Dean answered, though his words were heavy with sleep.

Sam rolled his eyes. Like anyone would let Dean in a restaurant in the state he was in. They would run screaming and call the police.

"What do you want?" Sam asked, humoring him. "Maybe we can find a drive through."

Dean sighed. "I was thinking chicken…" he shifted painfully in his seat, but then smiled drowsily, "Tastes like topiary."

Voila… Just in case you didn't notice the theme of the story titles so far, there is one more left to go… So stay tuned…