Author's Note: Takes place sometime after The Benders…way before the mind-blowing start of season two. Also takes place about three weeks after the events in my little tale- Dude, Where's My Car? I've tried my best to include as much of the plot from Dude as I could, so hopefully you can follow along if you haven't read it. But if you have the time and the desire, I'd recommend giving at least the last two chapters a quick glance. )
The Last Mile
One foot in front of the other. Right. Left. Right. Left. Sam could almost hear his father's words in his muddled brain as he kept his eyes focused on his brother's back. Hold on; was his dad here, too? Sam stopped short, wobbling a little as the earth seemed to roll under his feet. Turning his aching head slowly around, he was somewhat disappointed to see only Dean. Wait, make that two Deans. And here comes a third. Sam pushed his fingertips hard into his forehead, trying to transfer the pain from the back of his skull if only for a moment. Screwing his eyes shut he could only hope that when he opened them he'd be back to having just one brother. He didn't know if the world could handle more than one Dean Winchester.
Sam breathed a sigh of relief as he opened his eyes. The three Deans slowly merged back into one. One problem solved. Now, where was his dad?
"Dad's gone." he remembered, mildly surprised at how hoarse his voice sounded. He and Dean had been searching for their missing father for over six months. Sam gasped as a sharp pain hit him, although it was hard to tell which hurt worse; the pain in his skull or his broken heart.
Sam lifted his head out of his hands to see Dean limping towards him. Raising himself to his full height, Sam tried to pull himself back together. Dean seemed to be hurt just as bad, or perhaps even worse. Sam had to be strong for the both of them.
"I'm good, Dean. Just taking a breather." Sam tried to force a smile, not quite meeting his brother's eyes.
Sam blinked as he took in Dean's disheveled appearance. Blood covered the left side of his face from the gash on his forehead. His blue shirt was torn in two places, blood from the wound on his head mingling with the blood from his shoulder injury. Sam tried to remember exactly what had caused all the damage. He vaguely recalled an airborne Dean hitting the wall then sliding to the floor. Of course, Dean being tossed around like a ragdoll was as common as the sun rising and setting. Sam had another flash; Dean hung by his wrists in a dark cave like a slab of meat. The wendigo! Were they still in danger?
Sam looked around at the surrounding trees, raw fear beginning to build. "Dean, we've gotta get out of here!" he exclaimed, grabbing Dean's good arm.
Dean stumbled back as he tried to keep Sam steady. "Easy! Sam, calm down. Everything's ok."
Dean took a swipe at the blood that continued to trickle down his face. The light from the three quarter moon made the blood appear black, as if Dean had been in a tar pit. Maybe that was what happened. Sam's head hurt so badly he found it hard to form any rational thought.
Sam blinked as a hand appeared before his face. "What?"
"I said, do you think you can make it? The car's only about fifty yards away." Dean leaned on his shotgun as he spoke.
Sam looked down, surprised to see a shotgun in his own hand. They were armed. That was potentially a good thing. While it meant that they could protect themselves, it also meant that they were hunting something. Judging from Dean's calm demeanor, they must have been successful. Sam couldn't put it off any longer. Although he knew it would push mild-mannered Dean into Super Overprotective Brotherman, he had to ask.
Dean's features seemed to darken in the bright moonlight. "What do you remember?"
"Obviously not a lot, if I'm asking." Sam retorted.
Dean gave his little brother a good once over. Although Sam's face was hidden in shadows, he was willing to bet unfocused, unequal hazel eyes were looking down at him right now. He seemed to be oblivious to the wound in his upper thigh. Sam would be pissed when he did notice; those were his favorite pair of jeans. Dean tried not to think of what other injuries Sam might have. His only concern was getting them back to the motel room where he could fully assess their injuries. With any luck a trip to the emergency room wouldn't be needed.
"Tell you what. You just concentrate on getting back to the car, and I'll tell you the whole thing as your bedtime story tonight." Dean's weak attempt at humor could not mask the worry in his voice.
Sam nodded once, wincing as the little men who seemed to have burrowed their way into his head switched from hammers to grenades. "Ow."
Dean winced sympathetically. "Come on. Only a little bit further."
Dean waited until Sam was a few steps ahead of him to drop his guard. Bending at the waist, he rested his forehead on the butt of the shotgun and blew out a deep breath. Not only was there a gaping hole in his shoulder, he seemed to have dislocated it as well. He could take some comfort that while his knee twinged with every step, he didn't think it had suffered any permanent damage.
Sam was several feet ahead of Dean, moving slowly towards the road. Weaving slightly he grabbed the nearest tree and leaned his lanky body against the trunk.
"Sam?" Dean called out.
Dean's voice seemed to kick start the injured man as Sam instantly pushed away from the tree and continued forward. Dean followed suit and trudged through the trees. He worked to keep his exhaustion in check, repeating the same mantra his little brother was reciting in his head. Right. Left.
Dean's head shot up as a dull thump broke the silence. In his dark blue jacket and jeans, Dean could barely make out the form of his brother as he lay on the cold ground. "Dammit, Sam."
In his haste to get to his fallen brother, Dean caught his foot on a root and fell forward, landing in a heap next to a semiconscious Sam. Dean cried out as he landed on his injured shoulder. Resting his forehead against the earth he slammed his left fist on the ground as he breathed through the pain. As the flame in his shoulder went from high to medium Dean used his good arm to push himself into a sitting position. A glance to his left showed Sam had done the same.
"You ok?" Sam asked shakily.
"Just peachy." Dean answered through gritted teeth. Face to face, Dean was finally able to see the glassy look in Sam's eyes. Whatever doubt he might have had was erased when he saw the unequal pupils staring back at him. Definitely a concussion. Dean wanted nothing more than to get under the warm covers and sleep for two days straight. Instead he would have to pay vigil to his concussed brother. That is, if they even managed to get to the motel in the first place.
"Come on, Sam. We can't stay out here forever." Using his shotgun and a nearby tree Dean pulled himself to his feet. Sam shook off Dean's helping hand and got to his feet using the same method. Side by side they slowly made their way out of the forest.
Even Sam had to admit Dean's dirty old Chevy never looked so good. The soft leather seats and the heater would soon be warming his chilled skin. Sam pulled out his set of keys, surprised to see Dean doing the same.
"What are you doing? You can't drive?" Sam said incredulously.
"You can barely walk, you've got a head injury, and from the looks of it you've dislocated your shoulder." Sam said, motioned to Dean's slumped shoulder.
"I don't need to walk to push the pedals. And this," Dean said pointing to his forehead, "is just a scratch."
"And," Dean continued, effectively cutting Sam off, "I can drive with one arm. Remember that cemetery in Pineville?"
Dean held up three fingers. "How many fingers?"
Sam blinked a few times before giving a defeated sigh. "Which one of you?"
Dean nodded his head. "Uh huh. Get in." he said as he headed over to the driver's side of the Impala.
Dean groaned as he maneuvered his sore body behind the wheel. Dean was just about to start the car when he heard the familiar ring of his cell phone. A moan not totally associated from his aches and pains escaped his lips as he flipped it open. At three in the morning it could only be one person. While Dean would normally be thrilled at a phone call from his father, he had a feeling he knew what lay in store.
His suspicions were confirmed as he saw the coordinates on the screen. They'd just barely escaped with their lives, and now they were being thrown into another potentially deadly situation. Perfect.
"Dad?" Sam asked.
Dean had almost reached the ignition when a sharp pain hit his shoulder. Dangling the keys, he beckoned to Sam for assistance. "Give me a hand, here."
Sam just sat there, staring straight ahead. Dean had to say his name twice to get his attention. Finally Sam looked over at Dean.
"Skin walker." He said simply.
"What?" Dean was confused.
"Skin walker." Sam repeated. "That's what we were hunting."
"I guess you still have a few marbles rolling around up there after all." Dean flashed Sam a grin.
Sam didn't smile back. "Did we get it?"
Dean was starting to get worried. "Sam, what day is it?"
Sam sighed. "Dean, do we really have to do this? I'm tired, and I have a headache."
"Humor me. Hey!" he exclaimed as Sam's had began to droop. "Don't start that crap on me. Stay awake, Sam. You've gotta help me navigate."
Sam pinched the bridge of his nose, his eyes shut as he tried to focus. "I'm ok. And it's Tuesday."
"Good. Now, start the car." Dean jingled the car keys to get Sam's attention.
Wearily Sam leaned over and did what he was told. Leaning his aching head against the cool glass of the side window he began to protest as cold air assaulted him from the air vents.
"Sorry, kid. It'll help keep you awake. The motel's only about seven minutes away. See if you can find the coordinates Dad sent us." Dean clumsily flipped Sam his cell phone.
Awkwardly balancing a flashlight, Dean's phone and a map, Sam searched for their next destination. The cold air flapping the map around coupled with Sam's hazy brain made the task a frustrating one. Finally he was able to find where their dad wanted them to go. "Danbury, New York."
Danbury. That name rang a bell for some reason. "Where is Danbury?" Dean racked his brain, trying to remember where he'd heard that before.
"I don't know. Middle of New York I think." Sam's speech was slightly slurred as he leaned his head back against the window.
Dean's eyes widened as the events of a month ago hit him. "The Mustang."
Dean couldn't use his right arm to slap his brother awake, so he resorted to shouting his name until Sam finally sat upright.
"What, already?" Sam glared over at the driver.
"Danbury. That's where we ran into the ghost car. Remember? The Mustang that tried to run us down?"
"Do you think something else has happened? We didn't really look into it after we left." Sam's worry was evident.
"Nah. He probably found a few old articles about it and wants us to check it out. He has no way of knowing we already dusted that wimpy car." Dean wasn't sure who he was trying to convince; Sam or himself.
"But what if there's something more? What if we didn't vanquish it?"
Dean pulled the car into the motel parking lot. "Let's get cleaned up and we'll check it out in the morning. I'm sure it's nothing, Sam."
Helping a wobbly Sam into their motel room, Dean hoped that his predictions would be accurate. But given their track record, he and Sam were in for one bumpy ride.