The match was struck, and flames devoured Sheridon's remains with a sudden whoosh. Sam stepped back from the tomb, wiping the dirt from his clothes as he watched the walls inside ignite by the heat of the fire; surfaces turning black and charred from the smoke – cobwebs singing in its wake. With a sigh, he bent down, and picked up the bag full of the 'salt and burn 'em' essentials, tossing it across his shoulder to leave. But he couldn't seem to move, his gaze transfixed, unblinking.
He should've felt triumph, or even a bit of satisfaction after the deed was done. Yet, there was nothing but anxiety settling in the pit of his stomach, as if he hadn't made it in time. The vision came to mind, and he chewed on his nail, worried, with the sudden realization that perhaps he was the cause of what happened in the vision.
Shaking his head, he stepped away from the tomb – his hand resting on the handle of the sawed-off shotgun inside the small duffle over his shoulder. He turned his head to the side, eyeing the Sheriff leaning against the trunk of a willow tree, the branches gently swaying in the morning breeze. Sam resisted the urge to point the gun at Addison, and only stared, watching as the sun slowly ascended behind.
"You don't waste time," Addison commented impassively. "I knew where to find you without thinking twice."
Sam frowned. "Are you going to arrest me again?"
The Sheriff pushed off the tree and slowly filled the distance between them, hands in his pockets. "Arresting you wouldn't do any good."
"That's nice to know," Sam said bitterly, gripping the handle tighter on the shotgun. He wasn't taking any chances – he'd shoot the man if he tried anything to keep Sam from going after his brother.
"Did it actually work?" Addison tipped his chin toward the tomb, the fire still licking at the walls inside, though it had died down considerably. "Do you think she's gone for good?"
"Yes. Where is my brother, Sheriff?"
"What makes you so sure… that she's gone?" The unbridled hope shining in Addison's eyes and dripping from his voice made Sam want to pity him – if only a little. It reminded him of the expectations his own family had while they continued hunting for the demon that had killed their mother and his girlfriend. Bringing up those bitter moments didn't help matters much.
Sam pursed his lips, releasing the shotgun and lowered his hand to his side. "Just trust me, Sheriff."
"Would she really take him?"
Blinking hard, Sam was caught off guard by the question. How do you reassure the man that had condemned your brother as a sacrifice? As empathetic as he was, he couldn't find it in him to give sympathy where it wasn't deserved. He almost wished the spirit had killed Addison. "Sometimes spirits do. It all depends on the emotional state when they died. It's only happened once or twice, that I know of," he said, shrugging. And God, he hoped Dean wasn't the third or he might actually kill Addison himself. "What gave you the idea to go ahead with it? What made you think my brother's life could help you?"
"It's all the ghost would talk about: her husband. Sometimes we could hear her whispers in the dark, or even in our homes. She haunted our families for so many years, moving things or even people – throwing them around like rag dolls, telling us that she wanted him back. When I saw your brother, I couldn't think of anything else…"
"Desperation can blind a man very easily," Sam said, nodding, but not the least bit forgiving. It was a factor he undoubtedly witnessed on more than one occasion with his own father, adding another reason to the very long list of things which caused Sam to leave for college. He sighed, shaking his head.
"For what it's worth, I'm sorry," Addison finally said, softly, almost hesitant in admitting to his faults.
It's a little late for that, Sam wanted to say, but instead replied with, "Just tell me where is, Sheriff." He tried to stay calm by counting to ten, resisting the temptation to actually shake the man by his shoulders until he confessed. Patience was not on Sam's good side since they arrived in this town. He was turning into Dean more and more each day, it seemed.
Addison suddenly looked away from Sam; regret deepening the lines of his face. "Take I230 until you reach Foley Drive on your right side. Stay on that road – you can't miss the village at the edge of it. It's a grouping of old, wooden homes."
Sam only nodded, stepping around Addison to retrace his steps up the path toward the Impala. He stopped, turned around and nibbled on his bottom lip, contemplating. Then he said the Sheriff's name aloud, almost in question. When Addison spun on his heel, Sam rammed his fist into the older man's face; hard enough to knock him to the ground with a split lip and bleeding nose. Sam's knuckles throbbed from the impact, but he felt lighter, finally satisfied from the impulsive action. He shook his fist to relieve some of the needle-like pain shooting up his arm, not in the least surprised that he had just pulled a 'Dean' by punching the Sheriff. Looking down at the fallen man, he said, "For what it's worth… I'm not sorry."
He found the place with no problem; surrounded by a cloud of settling dust. There was no abandoned village however; it was as if it had vanished, and Sam clearly remembered the Sheriff telling him there would be something here. Yet, nothing; not even a stray piece of wood or stone – just land that looked like it had been recently cleared for new development to come through.
Slowing the car down, he scanned the area, almost overlooking a mound of dirt until he realized that the pile was wearing Dean's navy shirt. Sam did a double take, slamming on the brakes and jumped out of the car seconds after. Running forward, he gasped out, "Oh, God… Dean!"
He skidded to a stop on his knees next to Dean's body, rolling him over onto his back. Sam's breath hitched in his throat when he took everything in – the cuts, bruises and blood, new and old caking his brother's face; barely recognizable under the grime. Handcuffs encased his wrists and ankles, chaffed and red from struggling. Dean didn't stir in his arms, his mouth slack and head lolling back over Sam's arm. For fear of anything broken, he cradled his brother's body with care, mindful not to jostle him around. He ran his hand down the side of Dean's face, brushing away dust and blood, and rubbing against a deep cut across his cheekbone.
"Dean? Wake up, man! Come on…"
Then he coughed once, twice as he jackknifed out of Sam's arms, rolling to the side with a painful grunt. He lay face down in the dirt, obviously dazed or out cold again, and Sam helped him on his back. Dean blinked, squinting up at Sam, his eyes vague with possible signs of a concussion. "What the…?"
"Jesus, Dean… you scared the shit out of me," Sam said, laughing breathlessly and relieved. "Are you okay? Anything broken?"
Dean looked around them, blinking back tears. His brows furrowed, ashe was clearly confused, disoriented. Shifting in Sam's arms, he croaked, "Did you do this?"
"Do what?" Sam followed Dean's gaze, looking out at a vacant field.
"Where's the village?"
Sam's vision came to mind and he finally realized that burning Sheridon's remains was the cause of the collapse. Her spirit was attached to her home, the village, thus taking it with her to hell. At least it wasn't Dean – anything but him. "Sorry," he mumbled with a half smile. "I guess I did."
"You're a jerk," Dean said before going limp, losing consciousness.
Dean woke to the hum of an air conditioner; blinking up at a cream-colored ceiling, and figured they were in another run-down motel on the outskirts of a city that seemed like a distant memory to him. He started questioning what the hell had happened when he felt the aches and pain. He blinked again, his vision blurry, and that damn air conditioner wasn't helping with his headache.
Groaning, he tried to prop up on his elbows to get a better view of the room, but quickly decided against it when the walls started to spin in dizzying angles. He lay back, breathless and cradling his head in his hands, closing his eyes to ease some of the discomfort. Then events started to come back to him – Sheridon's spirit molesting him, the house collapsing on top of him only to vanish seconds later. He also remembered Sammy, but everything else beyond that was a blur. He sighed, a little relieved considering that he felt like he had gotten into the worst bar fight and lost. The muscles in his legs were stiff, sore like he had run a hundred miles nonstop – but at least they weren't broken, just heavily bruised.
"Sammy?" he wheezed, cringing at the sound of his voice, and he swallowed thick against the sand paper sensation at the back of his throat. It only made it worse and he suddenly craved water. He looked around, searching for a bedside table, thinking he was still in a motel room, where he usually kept a plastic cup of water handy, but only found medical equipment – an X-ray machine towering over with him on the table. This surprised him, and he could only blink up in confusion. Granted, whoever put him there was kind enough to make sure the metal surface was as comfortable as possible with numerous layers of blankets underneath him, including two pillows.
He turned his head toward the door, so damn relieved to see Sam walking in with not a hair out of place, or a scratch on his body; just a cup of steaming coffee in his hand. A small smile spread across Dean's lips, but he asked just for good measure, "Are you okay?" Sam actually gave him a look, and Dean's eyebrows shot up. "What?"
"I'm fine, Dean. I don't think the same can be said for you, though."
"Ah, I've had worse," he said, shrugging his shoulders awkwardly. There was no way in hell he was going to move from the table now. Sam didn't need to see how much pain he really was in, and to top it off his hearing was muted as if a bunch of cotton had been stuffed down his ears. His vision still wouldn't focus, either. "Hospital run out of beds?"
"Clinic," Sam corrected. "And it was the most comfortable spot in the place. A woman named Lynn actually offered to make a bed for you in her house, but the doc wanted to keep a close eye on you."
"Lynn? I'll be damned…"
Sam nodded, and pulled up a chair to sit beside the table. "Do you know her?"
"Yeah. Sheriff's wife," Dean mumbled, smacking his lips together and swallowing. He needed water. Sam noticed, and stood, grabbing a paper cup from a nearby counter, filling it from the faucet. Gracious for the reprieve, Dean rolled to his side and emptied the cup in two gulps. He crushed the paper in his hand, tossing it from listless fingers as he shifted on his back again. Too much and he'd throw it back up, yet, he wanted more; his parched throat still not satisfied.
"What did you do? Hit on her?"
"No, the woman simply had sympathy for a helpless man strung up in her basement. I can't help it that I'm better looking than you, too. Added bonus."
"Man, in your dreams," Sam rebutted, nudging Dean's arm playfully.
"What about Addison? And Larry?"
Sam shook his head in disappointment. "Sorry, the Sheriff skipped town. The last I saw of him was the in the cemetery after I punched him."
Dean gaped like a fish out of water. "You punched him?" Sam nodded, smiling. "Ah, that's my boy."
"Larry was arrested for assault – Lynn pressed charges against him."
"That was nice," Dean said wistfully. "What about the charges for you breaking into the library?"
"You heard about that?" His brother actually looked embarrassed, a faint blush dotting his cheeks.
"Dude, this is a small town. Even word passes to the hostages."
Sam laughed, clearly avoiding the subject. "The doc said once you're good enough to stand on your feet, we're good to go."
"Ah hell." Decision suddenly made, Dean sat up, only for Sam to press a hand to his chest to settle him down onto the blankets again. "What are you doing? I'm ready to go."
"Just cool it for a bit. You have a concussion after numerous blows to the head, and nearly broke both of your legs."
Dean sighed, draping an arm across his eyes. "That bitch… did you know she actually tried to seduce me?"
"And did it work?"
"No. Well… damn it, yes."
"Why am I not surprised?" Sam mused, and took a casual sip of his coffee.
To not have a good comeback, Dean knew his consciousness was fading, and he vaguely wondered if Sam had drugged him. He was suddenly too tired to think further, his eyes drooping heavily, but he couldn't forget one important thing.
"Hey Sammy?" he mumbled, eyelids fluttering open until he found the blurred outline of Sam sitting beside him. A lazy grin spread across his mouth as he gave a consoling pat upon Sam's arm, threatening, "If there's one dent in my car, I'll kick your ass, dude.
This is it, guys. Thanks so much for reading and supporting me. I really appreciated each and every review given. Obviously, this was just a test run to get into the characters, etc. Next story will be much darker and lengthy. I'm not used to five pages a chapter -- more like twenty. OO So look forward to my next story coming soon!
I want to give a big thanks to Carrie and Ami for being my second and third eye on this -- you girls are the best!