"Oh shit." Dean cursed at the sight of the large black car. He tried to determine if Marc was behind the wheel, but the Mustang's high beams made it impossible to tell. It didn't really matter; the car was going to make it's move either way. Judging from past experience, they only had a few minutes before the ghost car began it's deadly drive towards them.
Dean turned away from the bright lights of the Mustang, blinking away the dots that floated around his brother like a multicolored solar system. Sam stood still as a statue next to the blue Cavalier, his right arm outstretched . Great. They were mere moments away from another supernatural showdown, and his brother was doing his best imitation of a pigeon's toilet. Dean yelled out his brother's name, punctuating the act with a long beep of the horn.
Sam's head whipped around, the cold wind blowing his long hair in every direction. His arm slowly lowered as his wide eyes searched out his brother's face. Dean opened the door and put his left leg onto the pavement, keeping his right hand on the wheel. Taking in a deep breath, he yelled across the top of the car.
"Sam! Move your ass!"
That did it. The dazed look on Sam's face was replaced with one of grim determination as he gave Dean a terse nod. Dean got back inside and put the car in gear. They were on Marc's timetable now. He had to be ready to act when the ghost car did, whether he had the hood ornament or not.
Sam slammed his fist against the window of the blue car, startling it's passengers.
"George! We've gotta move now! Give me the hood ornament!" Sam shouted.
George stretched forward in the passenger seat and hung the hood ornament from the rear view mirror. The silver lightening bolt spun slowly as it dangled from the twine cord.
"You boys get me behind the wheel. Then Sam, I want you to get Sean the hell away from here." George said as he unbuckled his seatbelt. A golf club was gripped tightly in his hand, presumably to be used to hold the gas pedal down.
Sean shook his head empathically. "No way. I won't let you do this." The teenager turned to Sam. "Get him out of the car. I'll do it."
"The hell you will!" George exploded.
Unbelievable. They were seconds away from danger, and these two morons were wasting time arguing who would sacrifice themselves. Sam's patience went out the window as he embraced his inner Dean. Slamming his fist against the glass, he let loose. "If you don't open the goddamn door right now, we're all gonna die! Get out of the fucking car! Now!"
Sam heard the telltale click of the lock unlatching, and he ripped open the door. He reached in to get the hood ornament only to have his wrist grabbed by an incensed Sean.
"This is not your fight!" Sean growled as he tried to push Sam away. "I'm the only one who can do this! Uncle George can't do it!"
Sam risked a glance to his left. Dean popped his head over the top of the silver car, his eyes screaming at Sam to hurry. Sam looked over Dean's shoulder. The Mustang still sat in the same spot, the engine quietly idling. Sam was willing to bet it wouldn't begin the game until one of the opposing cars was in position. With their stolen car parked horizontally in front of Sean's car, there was no way either of them could participate in the ghost's game of chicken.
Sam yanked his arm free and took a step backwards. "Fine! Then get your ass out here and help me get your uncle out."
George made a grab for the younger man as he made his way out of the car. "Sean! Dammit, I won't let you do this!"
Dean was getting whiplash as his head frantically swiveled from the Mustang far off on his left to the verbal war on his right. The action on both fronts seemed to be at a stand still.
"How long does it take to get a friggin' piece of metal?" he muttered to himself as he watched Sam gesture wildly. Apparently whatever Sam had said hit home. After wrenching open the door, Sam dove headfirst into the car. A few seconds later he reemerged, his hands empty.
"That's it." Dean got back into the car to turn off the engine. If Sam was incapable of retrieving the hood ornament from a preppie teenager and his paralyzed uncle, Dean would have to do it for him.
Dean had just turned the key to the off position when a startled shout drew his attention. Feeling like a jack-in-the-box, Dean once again sprung up from the compact car. His jaw fell open as he watched Sean leap from the Cavalier and rush full force into Sam, taking them both to the pavement.
"Son of a bitch!" Dean shouted as he bolted from the car. The Mustang was temporarily forgotten as Dean ran to his brother's rescue. Dean darted around the Ford Focus, then skidded to a halt. Sam was kneeling over a struggling Sean, his arm upraised to deliver the knockout blow. Sam's fist smashed into Sean's cheek with a resounding crack. The younger boy's had whipped to the side and he fell limp instantly.
"And stay down!" Sam panted as he sat back on his haunches.
Dean shook his head in wonder. He was really going to have to stop underestimating his baby brother.
"Not bad." Dean began. Whatever else he might've said was drowned out by the sound of an engine springing to life. Dean spun around just in time to see the Cavalier jerk backwards.
"George, no!" Sam scrambled to his feet.
George was holding down the gas pedal using the golf club. His left hand gripped the steering wheel as he tried navigating the car from the passenger seat. After moving the blue car back from the silver one, he awkwardly used his left hand to put the car back into drive.
Up the road, the shiny black Mustang revved it's engine.
The Cavalier took off, weaving back and forth as George tried to keep it under control. Narrowly missing an unconscious Sean, the blue car moved past the Ford Focus and onto the road.
The Mustang began to creep forward.
Sam and Dean raced to their car, cuss words flying as fast as their heartbeats. Gravel shot in every direction as the little car turned from the shoulder onto the pavement.
The Mustang straddled the dotted white lines as it went full throttle, hurtling down the road towards the Cavalier.
Dean yearned for the Impala's powerful engine as he smashed the gas pedal to the floor.
An odd flickering of light lit up the interior of the Mustang. A young man with jet black hair and coal black eyes appeared behind the wheel, only to disappear a second later.
The Cavalier now maintained a straight course as it hurtled towards the ghost car. Less than fifty yards now separated the two cars. The Ford Focus trailed behind the Cavalier, trying desperately to catch up.
Another flash of light came from the Mustang as the ghostly driver reappeared, an unearthly howl streaming from it's shimmering lips.
George's own scream of terror mingled with the ghost's as he braced himself for the crash.
The impact of the two cars colliding seemed to shake the earth. The smaller Cavalier bounced backwards while the bulkier Mustang stood it's ground. Glass shards flew through the air as the metal twisted around it.
"Dean!" Sam screamed. He grabbed the dashboard and closed his eyes as he prepared for the deadly impact.
Dean frantically yanked the steering wheel to the left. He held his breath as the silver car scraped against the back end of the ruined Cavalier. Once they were clear of the wreckage, Dean slammed on the brakes. The car fishtailed wildly before coming to an abrupt stop.
Dean sat back in his seat, wincing from the impact of the seatbelt on his barely healed shoulder. Cradling his right arm, he turned his head towards the passenger seat.
"Sam? You ok?"
Sam's outstretched hand was still braced against the dashboard, his head lowered to his chest. He slowly raised his head at his brother's concerned voice, shaking the hair out of his eyes.
"Fine." Sam answered as he massaged the back of his neck. His hazel eyes widened. "Oh god. George!"
Terrified at what they might find, the brothers got out and ran towards the wreckage. There was no sign of the Mustang or it's driver; not even a piece of metal remained.
Sam's heart sank as he approached the Cavalier. The front end was mangled beyond recognition. A wisp of smoke floated lazily from somewhere beneath the distorted hood. The air bags had gone off, blocking Sam's view of the front seats. He jogged a few feet to the side, keeping a nervous eye on the snakelike tendrils of smoke that continued to seep through the twisted metal.
"Oh god." Sam gasped as George came into view. The old man's face was covered in a thick mask of blood, most likely coming from the deep gash on his forehead. His mouth was slightly agape, though Sam couldn't tell if any air was passing through his lips.
Sam followed his brother's gaze to the front of the Cavalier where a tiny orange flame was playing peek-a-boo from beneath the hood.
There was no time for discussion. A tense look passed between the brothers as both realized what they had to do. Racing forward, Dean got to the passenger door a split second before Sam. He yanked hard on the door only to let go with a cry of pain as his shoulder exploded in agony. Apparently the seatbelt had done more damage than he originally thought.
Sam brushed past his brother and grabbed the door handle. His muscles burned as he heaved with all his might. With a loud yell Sam was able to get the door open a few inches. He wrapped his long fingers into the small space and pulled on the door. Sam grunted as he felt the cold metal cut into his flesh. Gritting his teeth, he managed to get the door open enough for Dean to slip his left hand in. With Dean's strong hand pushing against the window frame, they were able to get the door open.
Blood dripped from Sam's hands as he fumbled with the seatbelt clasp. He still didn't know if the older man was alive, but there was no time to check. If the growing sea of orange and yellow flames was any indication, an explosion was only moments away.
Sam cursed as his blood-slicked fingers slid on the metal clasp. Dean's frantic voice urged him on as Sam struggled with the contraption. He gave a cry of victory as he felt it finally give. Sam grabbed George and tugged, getting his limp body halfway out of the car. Dean grabbed onto George's legs, doing his best to ignore the excruciating pain in his shoulder as he and Sam got George clear.
"Go, go, go!" Dean shouted as they ran as fast as they could away from the burning Cavalier. They had just gotten past the silver Focus when a loud explosion ripped through the air. The three men were thrown to the ground from the shockwave as burning pieces of metal shot through the air.
Dean tried making himself a smaller target for the flying shrapnel by bringing his knees up to his chest and covering his head with his hands. He winced every time he heard the horrible sound of the falling metal crash into the pavement, praying that one of those pieces wouldn't find it's way to his brother.
Dean cautiously raised his head. After what seemed like an eternity, the only sound he was aware of was the ringing in his ears. He was relieved to discover that he was relatively intact, despite the fire that continued to wreak havoc inside his shoulder. Peering over George's still body, he anxiously called over to Sam.
Sam brought his head up from his forearm and blinked dazedly. He began to rub his forehead, only to hiss at the stinging in his fingers. Carefully placing his palms on the road, he pushed himself onto his knees.
"I'm ok." Sam answered his brother, warily flexing his bloody digits. "Are you?"
Dean wasn't able to hide the pain he was in as he too made his way into a sitting position. "Yeah, I'll live." he answered through gritted teeth.
Sam crawled over to George and carefully pulled him onto his back. Sam bit his lip as he checked for a pulse. His relief was palpable as he looked over at Dean.
"He's alive." Sam said. But Dean's gaze was fixed at a point over Sam's shoulder.
The Mustang had reappeared and was parked a few feet behind the Winchesters, looking just as it had before the crash. The ghost of Marc Lawler sat behind the wheel, silently watching the proceedings before him.
"Yeah, I see him."
A low moan sounded as George's eyelids fluttered. His brown eyes blinked open and zeroed in on the apparition. Marc stared down at the gray haired man, his hands slowly rubbing the top of the steering wheel.
"Marc…" George's scratchy voice caught in his throat. He swallowed painfully and tried again to speak but failed.
Marc looked from the wounded man to the still smoldering Cavalier, then back again. Locking eyes with each of the three men before him, he gave George a forgiving nod before slowly fading from sight. The Mustang followed a moment later, the quivering air the only indication it was ever there.
George's eyes had slipped closed just after the Mustang vanished. After making sure he was still breathing, Sam pulled out a handkerchief to staunch the blood still flowing from the wound on George's forehead.
Dean made a quick call to 911. He winced at the sharp pain that shot through his shoulder as he placed the phone back in his pocket. "I think I screwed up my shoulder again."
"You can't blame me for that one. You were driving, not me." Sam was quick to defend himself before Dean could find a way to pin the injury on him.
George moaned as Sam adjusted the pressure on his head. Sam looked down at him worriedly. "I hope he'll be ok."
Dean nodded silently, then took another look at the destroyed Cavalier. A small smile played on the corners of his mouth. "I hope the cops bring their cameras."
Sam wrinkled his forehead in confusion. "What for?"
Dean grinned. "Can you imagine the look on Sean's face once he sees what's left of his car? I think I'll get it blown up to an 8x10 and mail it to him for Christmas." Dean's jaw dropped open as he did his finest Macaulay Culkin imitation.
Sam couldn't help but laugh at Dean's one-handed impression. "You are such an idiot."
Dean dropped his hand and chortled, making Sam laugh even harder. When the ambulance sirens came screaming up Blue Corner's Road, they were still laughing.
Several hours later Sam and Dean sat in George's hospital room waiting for the unconscious man to wake up. Dean wiggled his shoulders, trying to get comfortable in his sling.
"Dude, would you cut it out?" Sam had watched Dean fidget with his new accessory for the last fifteen minutes. "It's not the first time you've had to wear one of those."
"Yeah, well, that doesn't mean I'm going to add it to my daily wardrobe." Dean said as he continued to pull on the sling. He took comfort in the fact that he'd only reaggravated the previous injury. A few days of rest and his shoulder would be good as new.
Sam swallowed his retort as George stirred. Sam got out of his chair and walked over to the bed.
"Hey George. You with us?"
George slowly reached his hand up the thick white bandage on his forehead. "What happened?"
Sam looked over at Dean, who raised his eyebrows as if to say, Your call.
Sam cleared his throat nervously. "What do you remember?" he asked softly.
George closed his eyes. He was silent for so long Sam thought he'd fallen asleep. Suddenly his eyes shot open. "Oh god. Marc."
Sam put a bandaged hand on George's shoulder. "It's ok. He's gone."
"Gone? As in… 'gone?'"
"Uh huh." Dean answered. "You did it. Nearly got yourself killed, by the way, but yeah. Marc's gone."
George's eyes began to fill as he looked from one brother to the other. A large tear trickled down George's cheek as he shut his eyes again. "So it's over."
Taking a swipe at the tear, George looked around the room. "Where's Sean?"
"Your brother's here. He and Sean are finishing up with the doctor. You were damn lucky, George." Dean said seriously. "You walked away with a shattered left leg, a few broken ribs, and a concussion. But you'll live."
" 'Walked away?'" George teased with the hint of a smile.
Dean rolled his eyes. "You know what I mean."
Just then Sean walked into the room. Of the four men, he'd fared the best. Other than a darkening bruise on his chin, he looked like he'd just stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog. He took the time to glare at the Winchesters before smiling fondly at his uncle.
"Hey, Uncle George. How ya feeling?" Sean asked softly as he approached the hospital bed.
"Like I just played a game of chicken with a ghost car." George said wanly.
Sean's smile faded as he looked at Sam and Dean. "The cops want to talk to you. They have some questions about what happened."
Dean got up from his chair. "I think that's our cue to leave." he said to Sam.
"They're waiting in the lobby. If you take a left out of the room, there's a set of stairs you can use to avoid them." Sean sounded as if helping the Winchesters was causing him physical pain.
Sam raised a suspicious eyebrow. "Really?"
Sean sighed. "Look. You risked your lives to save my uncles, so I guess I owe you."
"You also owe me four new tires." Dean said.
"Yeah, well you owe me a whole new car!" Sean snapped back.
"We didn't blow up your car. You can thank your uncle for that!"
Sam stepped between the two men. "Guys, enough!" Turning to Dean, he continued. " We've got to get out of here before the cops come looking for us. The last thing we need is to be arrested for stealing a car." Sam said.
"Fine." Dean relented. He turned to George. "Take care of yourself, ok?"
"Thanks, boys. For everythin'." George said sincerely.
Dean began to leave, then stopped suddenly. He turned to Sean. "There's just one more thing before we go."
Dean reared back and launched a powerful left hook right onto Sean's cheek. The teenager flew backwards and landed in a heap on the floor. Dean shook his stinging hand and gave a satisfied grin. He looked from the semiconscious teen to his appalled uncle.
"Ok. Now we can go."
Sam gave George an apologetic smile as he followed him out into the hallway.
Dean glanced over at Sam. "So now I suppose you're going to yell at me for punching Sean."
Sam surprised Dean by laughing. "Actually, I think he got exactly what he deserved. If my hands weren't so messed up, I probably would've beaten you to it."
Dean laughed. "I knew eventually I could kick the do-gooder out of you. I'm glad to see I can still corrupt you, little brother."
They reached the stairs, and Sam carefully held open the door for his brother. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but Sean slashing the tires really pissed me off." He shook his head. "We need to find a tire place ASAP; get the Impala up and running."
Dean raised an eyebrow. "Oh, so suddenly you're all concerned about my car? Apparently you've forgotten all the crap you did to her."
"Dean, what happened with me was an accident. Sean slashed the tires on purpose. There's a huge difference."
"The only difference I see is how much time and money I'm going to have to waste bringing her back to her full glory. And I'm going to have a bitch of a time working on her with my shoulder all screwed up."
Sam sighed. Dean was determined to be the host of his pity party. Sam tried a new tactic.
"The Impala may have suffered a bit, but she saved the life of George's friend last night. She's a hero." Sam inwardly groaned at his use of pronouns. Apparently there was no limit to the things he'd do for his brother.
Dean smiled fondly. "True. You know, we didn't do too badly either. We saved George's life, and freed a spirit."
They'd reached the bottom floor, and this time it was Dean who held open the door. "Not too bad, huh." Sam smiled.
Dean turned around and clapped his brother on the shoulder. "Not bad, Sammy. Not bad at all."
All done! I wish I could come up with a fancy new way to thank everyone who has followed along, but nothing comes to mind. So I guess I'll just stick with the basic, but heartfelt Thank You!! Since I probably won't be posting anything until after Christmas (unless my muse gets restless), I wish all of you the Merriest Christmas, Happiest Hanukkah, or whatever else you might celebrate. Happy Holidays!