Title: Cry in the Night
Chapter 11: The Hunt Part 2: The Perception of Reality
Disclaimer: Welcome to the world thru my eyes. Don't own 'em. Only get pleasure, no money.
A/N: Well, here it is. The rest of THE HUNT. You wanted a long one. Just be careful what you wish for. BTW, this was my original ending. Sam wakes up from a bad head injury, sees Dean come out of the shower and realizes it was all a dream.
Someone told me (wisely, I think) that that didn't cut it, so I changed it. I've been working on this for 15 hours, I hope it shows. You've all been so great and patient, you deserve a worthwhile end as thank you for your wonderful support and encouragement. There is no me without you. I also think we all agreed that Dean, even battered, bloody, bandaged and unconscious is indeed beautiful.
The new season of the VS starts soon so I won't be over here as a writer so much, maybe a one shot now and again. I'll be reading though, so let me see your names real often. Hope to see you on the VS site. It's gonna be a goodie!
To those of you who speculated on the ending of this, hope you won't be disappointed. This is the gory part. (calmness, people, calmness) Some of you figured out part of it. Good for you, but hopefully not all. This is the part of the story where I stumble, fall, and slide along on my face. Enjoy the show.
Oh yeah, and a big wet kiss for Tree, she knows why, or she should anyway.
Oh, to be a drunkard….(drops face in hands)
Sam got up and padded to the ICU door, squinting through the small pane of glass. He couldn't keep listening to this and sit still. He gripped the phone so tightly he was losing feeling in his fingers and the press of it against his ear hurt. This was all his fault, every God damned bit of it…
"Sam?" Caleb questioned, pausing in his recitation. "You okay?"
Sam turned away from the door, nodding, walking slowly back down the hallway dragging his shoulder against the wall as if he couldn't hold his own weight up any longer. "Yeah," he said, clearing his throat. "I'm fine, go on."
"It's bad, Sam, I don't know if you really-"
"I want to know, Caleb! I have to understand!" Sam hit the wall with his fist. "Hell, Caleb. Dean, lived it. I can at least stand to hear about it." His voice dropped to a hoarse whisper.
Caleb sighed. "Have it your way, Sam.' He took a deep breath and a long pull on the second beer he had drunk since starting this. "I don't know what happened to Dean after we split up until we…found him later. So I can't help you there."
"I don't think that part matters, Caleb. Tell me what you do know."
It didn't take long to pick up the trail of the werewolf they were hunting. He was a daring son of a bitch. The markers were so obvious it was almost deliberate. The sporadic, sloppy downpour wasn't helping, neither were the crackles of lightning or the ear blasting crashes of thunder.
Caleb finally sought refuge from the rain under a wide ledge and snapped open his phone. John answered instantly.
"I got it," Caleb replied. "It's gettin' so friggin muddy, I'm afraid-"
John cut him off. "You got it? Caleb I been following the damn thing for ten minutes, I was about to call you and give you my location."
Caleb reached out and pulled a tuft of coarse brown fur from the bark of the tree in front of him. It wasn't even wet yet. Shit!
"John, where's Dean? We got a problem!"
John and Caleb had managed to hook up after a few fumbling moments in the dying rain, but neither had been able to raise Dean on his phone.
"Caleb. We gotta find him. There's two of these damned things out there!" John yelled over a final roar of thunder. "How could we miss that?"
"They're heading for the clearing," Caleb stated, studying the soggy print John had found.
Caleb's head jerked up suddenly, listening.
John's hearing was nothing akin to Caleb's but even he heard the muffled sound of a gunshot. Caleb jumped to his feet, John stiffening beside him. Then distant yells. Their names.
"C'mon!" John shouted, running toward the sounds, Caleb hot on his heels.
By the time they made it through the dripping underbrush to the edge of the clearing they were soaked and mud covered. The air was filled with hoarse barking growls and the sound of Dean screaming for help.
They burst into the clearing, dazzling with moonlight as the rain clouds parted, their view unrestricted and brightly lighted, in time to see Dean lifted from the ground by the huge female, her claws vanishing into his belly like fingers into jello. He screamed again, still managing to strike out with a flashing blade he buried in the creatures chest. Another beast, an even larger male, sprang forward and swiped at Dean's swinging legs as the female pulled him around.
John's blood ran cold as he helplessly watched Dean be the toy in a horrific game of tug 'o war between the two monsters. There was no time, they were too far away. Beside him Caleb's gun blasted twice, echoing the sound of John's as the two weapons discharged. The larger werewolf shrieked and stumbled to the side, clawing at it's own chest.
The female wheeled around, still clutching Dean, his limbs falling about loosely, to fix John and Caleb with a look of fury. She screamed, clasping Dean to her, effectively blocking their ability to get a clear shot.
John's rifle sprang back to his shoulder as those jaws dipped toward Dean's chest.
"John!" Caleb yelled, reaching out, "What are you doing?! You'll hit Dean!!"
"I can't let him die like that!" John roared.
"Holy Christ…" Sam groaned, covering his eyes with one large hand. He sat on the floor, back against the wall, elbows on his knees. He got the odd look from the rare passerby but no one bothered him.
"Dad shot him." Sam whispered it, afraid he might overhear himself if he said it out loud.
"No," Caleb sighed, rubbing his own eyes. "John didn't shoot him, Sam."
Sam frowned at the phone. "Then…"
"I did. I shot him. I couldn't let John live with that. I'm not sure he could have." Caleb sounded to weary to go on.
"My God, Caleb…" Sam choked, relieved and horrified at the same time. "How...why didn't anyone tell-"
"I wasn't kidding when I said I couldn't believe Dean remembered anything at all about any of that night. Sam, that thing damn near gutted him. Hell, I put two bullets in him. I guess one of them went straight through to that hairy bitch that had him. She dropped him like he was on fire."
Caleb laughed ruefully, " Hell, John was over there and emptied the rest of a clip into her before I covered ten feet." Caleb slowly shook his head, closing his eyes and tilting his head back to face the ceiling. "Jesus, Sam. Dean was…the thing hadn't bit him, but…"
John dropped to the ground next to Dean, wanting to touch him, grab him. "Dean! Dean, can you hear me?"
Caleb ran up to John, falling next to him on the cold muddy ground, gasping. "Is he…?"
Dean coughed, blood frothing on his lips. John's noise of relief was a hoarse cry. He gripped Dean's arm in one hand and made a hesitant movement toward his face, still loathe to bring him more pain with a touch meant to solace.
"Jesus, son…I'm sorry…"
Dean coughed again, his hands flopping impotently as he struggled to draw air.
"Turn him on his side, John. He's choking!"
John grabbed Dean's body and turned him as gently as he could. Dean was shaking and blood soaked. His coughing eased as blood ran from his mouth, clearing his throat to allow the passage of air, although his every breath was a wheeze.
Caleb stripped off his jacket and wadded it up, pressing it down on Dean's torn belly, holding it there, despite Dean's cry of pain and the feeble attempts he made to brush Caleb's hands away.
"Lay still, Dean! Christ, Caleb…" John was searching through Dean's jacket. Not finding what he was looking for. "Where's the inhaler?" he demanded, listening to the whistle as Dean breathed.
Caleb held fast to the pressure of his jacket against Dean. "He threw it away!" Caleb said quickly, pressing down harder.
"He what? Why?"
"Jesus…God! Stop it!" Dean gasped, trying again to push Caleb away again.
"Can't do it, kid, you're bleedin' all over the place." Caleb caught Dean's wandering attention and smiled. Caleb's sleeves were blood soaked halfway up the forearms and it wasn't stopping. Dean's writhing however, was. He hissed in a low voice to John, "We gotta get him outta here, stop this bleeding!"
John nodded. He and Caleb slipped their arms under Dean and lifted him with as much care as they could. "Hang on, Dean," John said softly.
Dean couldn't stop the cry as he was raised from the ground, not sure if the resultant agony of movement was worth the sensation of John's arm's around him, the warmth of John's body against his increasingly cold one.
John pressed his lips to Dean's ear. "It'll be okay, son," he murmured brokenly. "It'll be okay."
He spared a glance at Caleb. "What about-"
"I'm on it!" Caleb snapped. "Then I'm right behind you. Get him to the truck!"
John strode off without another word, back in the direction of the truck.
As fast as he could Caleb dragged the two, now transformed bodies into the low brush at the edge of the clearing and piled more undergrowth over them. He didn't waste time lamenting these victims, it wouldn't help them now. He would come back, salt and burn them as soon as he could.
Sweeping up the weapons he ran after John, catching up swiftly. John moved as fast as he could but every jostle jarred Dean. Awful as it sounded, he found himself wishing Dean would just pass out and be spared the continuous shock to his system that every slight misstep brought him.
"Trucks not far, how's he doin?" Caleb realized Dean was still conscious. "Hey, kiddo. We'll get you some help. Just hang in there."
Dean's eyes rolled to Caleb, his face against John's shoulder, one hand twisted in John's jacket. His mouth moved slightly, then his eyes fluttered closed again.
"You want me to take him?" Caleb offered.
"No," John said, striding on, "I've got him."
"We were out in the fuckin' middle of nowhere," Caleb said after a moment. He dropped the third beer on the floor, getting up to walk stiffly across the room and stare out into the night. His ass was numb from sitting and his voice was getting hoarse.
"So what did you do?" Sam sounded calm, controlled, more curious than anything. He flicked a glance at the unmoving ICU doors.
Caleb hesitated. "Dean wasn't gonna make it to a hospital, even if we could have found one." He dug a finger in his ear. "There was this guy I knew, lived around there. Closest place we could get to. We took him there." Caleb rested his head against the cold glass. "We didn't have any choice."
Caleb pounded on the worn oak door as hard as he could. "Stony!" he yelled. "Open up, God dammit! I know you're in there!" Very aware of John crowding him from behind, his tension a physical element, he waited approximately four seconds and then kicked the door in.
Harsh light from naked bulbs spilled onto the porch, blocked briefly as John shouldered past Caleb with Dean. He glanced around for someplace to lay him.
"What the hell?" a rough voice shouted from across the room.
Caleb, swept the articles off the wide square table next to a ramshackle kitchen, onto the floor. "Put him there!" He snatched a horrible purple pillow from a nearby chair and gently lifted Dean's head, sliding it underneath. John took up a position at Dean's head, one hand on his shoulder. Dean had mercifully passed out in the car but hadn't remained that way long.
Caleb brought his gun up as the large, outraged man by the fireplace charged at them. "Who the hell are you—" he stopped dead, squinting into the garish light. "Caleb?" His face was covered with dirty beard and his clothes were equally unkempt and dirty.
"Stony, I don't have time to screw around here. This kid is hurt bad and we need your help!"
Stony laughed, barely glancing at Dean as he moved weakly, his blood already staining the tabletop. "Are you nuts?" he gestured at Dean. "I don't do that shit anymore!"
John brushed his hand through Dean's ragged hair, allowing it to rest briefly on the Dean's cheek, feeling Dean lean into his touch, wetness on Dean's face burning his fingers.
"Dad…" Dean murmured, rolling his head weakly toward where he thought John was. For the touch that was withdrawn to soon.
"I wasn't asking, Stony. You're doing it now." Caleb's voice was cold, determined.
"Fuck you, Caleb." Stony shot a look at the dark haired man, obviously guarding the boy bleeding to death on the table where he ate his meals. It wasn't a reassuring sight.
"NOW!" Caleb bellowed, grabbing Stony and yanking him over.
Dean gasped, crying out as the pressure on his abdomen was suddenly withdrawn and rough hands pulled his torn clothing away.
Stony surveyed the wreckage that was Dean's belly and made a sound of disgust and shock. "Christ on a cross, Caleb, what the fuck happened to this kid?". Stony stepped back, glaring at Caleb "Holy shit, what do you think I am? A miracle worker? I can't deal with this! " He leaned closed drawing his finger through the blood over the hole below Dean's ribcage, which experience told him had nothing to do with the torn flesh further down.
"This kid's been shot on top of everything else-"
"I don't know who the fuck you are, but Caleb says you can help." John voice was a low growl and carried a level of menace that made even Caleb stand back. "This is my son, and he's not gonna die without a fight." John cocked his pistol one handed and aimed it at Stony, finger just teasing the hammer.
Stony pulled back, a look of complete disbelief on his face at Johns action.
"No!" Caleb barked, stepping between John and Stony, holding up his hand. He reached out and dragged the sweating, heavy set man back over to the table.
"Nobody's asking for a miracle, Stony." Caleb shot a look at John, talking fast. "But you better at least try or this boy isn't the only one who's gonna need a miracle to stay alive."
Stony wasn't a coward, nor was he stupid. Fifteen years before he had been a Doctor. Bad luck and bad decisions had cost his license, made him a murderer, lost five years of his life behind bars and left him with no interest in anything other not getting involved in anything or with anyone. Caleb wasn't a friend but he was someone Stony trusted.
Staring into John's eyes was like staring into the gates of hell and more frightening than the levelly held barrel that pointed unwaveringly at his head.
Dean choked suddenly, coughing blood that trickled from his mouth.
Stony ground his teeth. "Fine," he spat. "I'm gonna need some help. I got nothing here and I'm telling you," he pointed a finger at John. "You'd be doing him a bigger favor if you used that gun on him right now!"
Eyes to Caleb, who nodded grimly, John released the hammer on the pistol and set it on the table next to Dean's head with a soft thud.
Having committed himself to the situation, Stony became a different man. In a shockingly short amount of time he had assembled a collection of instruments and other various medical paraphernalia. It wasn't much and it was old, but he supplemented his meager income by acting as 'horse doctor' for the scattered families and their animals who preferred to keep the police out of such incidentals as gunshot wounds and the occasional knifing.
He set Caleb to boiling water on the ancient stove and made it clear they had to stop the bleeding or this was all waste of time. Sterile wasn't even an option, they were gonna be doing good to make it to fairly clean.
Stony couldn't think of anything worse they could do than pour whiskey into Dean but like sterile, there were no options regarding pain killers. The damned kid was gonna die anyway, may as well die wasted and not see it coming. Dean choked and coughed, spraying them all with blood and liquor as he tried to obey John's command to drink.
Stony had cleaned up the bloody mess enough to see where he was working and forced his hands to stop shaking as he set about cauterizing the bleeding vessels. Caleb stood by to act as assistant or whatever was required.
"Hold him." Stony growled, reaching out. "This is gonna hurt."
"Dad…?" Dean rolled his head, tried to see him.
"Lie still, Dean!" John's voice was a choked whisper rasped into his ear. His arms stretched along Dean's, holding him. His head against Dean's.
Dean jerked, a guttural noise ripped from him, eyes snapping open as he felt rough movements pull across his torn belly. John bore down on him with his greater weight.
"Lie still, son…I'm sorry….lie still."
Dean arched up suddenly, screaming as blunt fingers dug into him producing an agonizing and nauseous sensation of something crawling through his insides. His boots thudded against the table top, strong hands gripping his ankles as he writhed helplessly against the invasive hands groping inside him.
"Hold him, for Chrissakes!"
The air became rank with the smell of burning flesh.
And still Dean screamed.
Sam hung over the sink, fairly sure he was through being sick. His hands shook but the pressure behind his eyes had lessened. He splashed water on his face, straightening slowly to grab some hand towels to dry off. He swallowed uneasily, clearing his throat. he twisted his head to the side, then slowly lifted the phone back to his ear.
"Caleb?" His voice was raw.
"Sam? You okay? I'm sorry, I guess I shouldn't have told you all that-"
Shaking his head, Sam wandered slowly back out of the men's room. "No," he said. "No, I'm glad you did. I wanted to know." He dropped back down on the couch, a hand covering his eyes. "No one said I had to like it."
"You want to know any more?" Caleb asked reluctantly.
Sam shook his head again. "No. I think I heard everything I need to. I…" Sam closed his eyes. "I can't believe he survived that. That he had to go through it. If I'd been there…"
Caleb made an angry noise. "Don't start that, Sam. It wasn't your fault. It wasn't anyone's fault. Shit happens. It wasn't your fault because you weren't there, anymore than it's your fault if Dean cuts himself shaving and you weren't there to stop him."
The words made sense but Sam couldn't feel them making sense.
"Dean won't believe me if I tell him all this," he said, pinching the bridge of his nose. It was true, he would assume Sam was trying to make it seem like Dean had made a mistake. Understandable, but a mistake. And he would say it was bullshit and nothing would change.
"Well…" Caleb snorted. "I could prove it, but I don't know how you'd get the evidence."
Sam stared at the phone. "Huh? What are you talking about?" He heard the elevators whoosh open at the end of the hall.
"One of the bullets went straight through, killed that hairy bitch that had him, the other one…" Caleb paused.
Sam slowly sat up, realization dawning. "You didn't find it. My God. Dean doesn't know, does he?"."
Caleb shook his head. "Stony knew it was still in there, Dean was too weak to keep looking for it, he had to get out of him. John and I both kinda hoped that'd be then end of it. Hell, he lived. Took a while but he lived. People walking around with shrapnel in 'em all the time-"
Sam was once again engulfed in anger, guilt, awe. "A bullet's a bullet," he finally ground out after getting himself back under control. "What's that gonna prove?"
Caleb sank back into this broken down chair, enjoying its welcoming embrace. Dawn was starting to glow in the east and it had been a long. hard fucking night. "You remember how your daddy used to poke fun at my rounds? The ones I mark?"
Sam drew in a sudden breath. He could see the half moon cross design in his head. Had thought they were cool in younger years. Remembered how John had sneered at them as foolish and time wasting. Un-professional, had been his judgment and he wouldn't have been caught dead with one in his gun.
Sam jerked up as a hand tapped his shoulder. Dr. Mercer smiled down at him.
"Hang on," Sam said into the phone. He pushed to his feet, watching as Mercer reached into a pocket and held out a small clear plastic container.
Mercer shook it, the rattle from the contents loud in the hushed hallway. He popped the lid off and held it out to Sam, who hesitantly took it and emptied the object inside into the palm of his hand.
"I think we need to talk." Mercer said with a cocked eyebrow. "We found that inside your brother. It caused a rupture. I'd say it's been in there for years. I'm surprised he hasn't complained of pain before now."
Sam glanced at him, rolling the little misshapen object between his fingers. It was deformed, but even so, the half moon cross was still identifiable, marking it as Caleb's. "Caleb, can I call you back? Thanks." Sam closed the phone and put it in his pocket. He couldn't quite stop the smile that pulled at the corner of his mouth.
"I tell you we found a spent bullet in your brother's guts and you look relieved." Mercer frowned. "What am I missing here?"
Sam laughed shortly. "The whole point," he replied.
Mercer and Sam both turned. The nurse from the ICU stood beckoning in the door. "Dean's awake, sweetie. I don't know for how long, he's still pretty groggy-"
Sam bolted through the door, not quite running her down, but close. As he passed the older couple, he was stunned to notice that the old man's eyes were open and his wife was holding his hand, speaking in hushed tones. His smile grew as he pushed through to Dean's bed, followed by Mercer, who immediately put a stethoscope to Dean's chest.
"Dean!" Sam breathed, clasping his brother's hand and reseating himself by the bed. "God, you're awake!"
Dean swallowed, grimacing, one hand drifting up to his face. His eyes opened and closed slowly as he looked at Sam. "What…"
"They had to do surgery, Dean. But everything's okay. You're gonna be fine. You just lost a lot blood." Sam kneaded Dean's hand, desperate with relief. "How you feel?"
Dean's voice was rough but Sam managed to make out, "Train wreck." And couldn't help laughing. "I'll bet."
Mercer straightened, patting Dean's arm. "Everything looks good, right now. Couple of days and I think we can move you to a regular room. All considered I'm amazed." He smiled, patted Dean again. "Get some rest, you need it. Sam, not too long. You need some rest to. We'll talk tomorrow." Mercer brushed through the curtains, leaving them alone.
Sam nodded. "Thanks, Dr. Mercer. We will."
Dean frowned, not quite with the program. "Talk about what?" he murmured. There were so many wires and tubes hooked up to him, moving didn't seem worth the effort.
Sam glanced down at the warped silver ball in his hand and reaching out, carefully placed it in Dean's.
Dean's hand closed over it but he couldn't summon the strength to lift his arm for a closer look. He could feel himself drifting back into sleep and had no real desire to fight it.
"Doesn't matter right now," Sam replied, settling himself more comfortably in his chair. "We'll talk about it tomorrow when you're more awake. " He laced his fingers through Dean's. Dean didn't pull away. As his eyes slid shut once again, Sam felt Dean's fngers tighten slightly in his.
"We'll talk about a lot of things tomorrow," Sam promised.
Caleb turned as he heard the clatter of ammunition hitting the floor, the silver slugs scattering like BB's on the uneven wod, disappearing into the dark crevices and falling through the many gaps to the dirt foundation below.
"Son of a bitch!" John exclaimed. "Shit, I don't have time for this!"
"Gettin' shaky in your old age?" Caleb laughed.
"Not funny, Caleb!" John snarled. "We need to get outta here and that was my last box of loads."
"Well here!" Caleb said. He shoved a small box of shells at John who eyed them with distaste. Caleb smirked, knowing how John felt about Caleb's special rounds.
"Don't use 'em if you don't want to. Maybe you can kill 'em with a dirty look."
Caleb should have died twitching from the look John shot him as he angrily loaded his weapons with the detested bullets.
"Let's go!" John barked, grabbing his rifle and storming out to the truck where Dean waited.
Caleb, closed his phone and wearily rubbed his face, letting his breath out in a deep sigh.
There was a fourth beer in the fridge and as he popped the cap off the bottle and sucked down as much as he could on one swallow, he couldn't help but wonder how many years in hell that phone call had just added to his tally.
As the curtain falls...