RECOIL - a sudden and violent backward movement, especially that of a firearm when it is fired
Dean sat on the edge of the hotel room bed, weapons spread before him as he laid out the various items needed for cleaning. Sam was engrossed as usual in something on the computer, but since they had just finished a hunt, Dean doubted that it was research. Sams fingers moved frenetically across the keyboard and for a moment, Dean assumed he might be chatting with some of his Stanford friends. But no, Sam hadn't done that in a while, his ties to his former college life were fraying little by little every day, just like his relationship with Dean.
It was early in the evening, a tease of sunlight still peeking through the nearly closed curtains of the dinky hotel room. Dinnertime between the two had been quiet, as usual. Small talk about the hunt, a casual debriefing that occurred after every action, followed by the customary 'Where do we go from here?' When the conversation rapidly deteriorated, which it nearly always did anymore, the brothers would retreat into their personal silence, Sam afraid of broaching that familiar question 'Are you all right?' only to hear Dean respond with an irritated, 'I'm okay, Sam' once again. Not that the elder Winchester had ever been one for initiating or maintaining a conversation, but recently, he could barely stand to look at his younger brother, much less talk to him about some seemingly trivial topic.
'How am I supposed to just sit here and act like everything is okay, knowing what I know/'
Stealing a glance over at Sam, careful to avoid the eye contact that would most certainly betray him, Dean wondered how much longer he could suppress his feelings, his frustration and his fears. It had been relatively easy when their dad's death had been so recent, so raw, to let Sam think his emotional retreat was due to the pain of losing John. But that had been months ago now and even Sam been able to see through that particular charade. How many times had Dean come so close to lowering the drawbridge and letting the hordes of suspicions, doubts, and uncertainties sweep in and lay bare his soul to his brother. Each time he saw the worry in Sam's eyes when his brother looked at him, each word of concern that Sam directed toward him, each moment that passed that he couldn't find any answers only more questions; Dean found himself even more resolute in his self-imposed silence.
So he continued going through the motions. Go on a hunt, kill a creature, get up the next day and pretend like everything was normal. Except it wasn't, and maybe wouldn't ever be again. Not unless he could figure it all out. If he could find some answers; some explanation to those whispers that hung in his ear just as clearly as the day John had originally spoke them. Then, maybe then, things would look better.
Sitting there now, Dean retreated once more into the embattled fortress of his mind, letting his hands work unconsciously on the weapons before him. As he reached for the shotgun, a twinge in his right bicep startled him back from his tormented introspection. Laying the gun back down, he pushed up the sleeve on his shirt to see a fresh bruise appearing on his upper arm.
Having fired more weapons and spent more rounds than Al Pacino in Scarface, Dean knew immediately what had caused the bruise. Inwardly, he smiled just a little, somewhat amused by the significance of the purpling skin. Recoil! A beginner's mistake, one he had not made in years. He hadn't held the sawed-off shotgun tightly enough, firing as he was running for cover. When the loads fired, the combination of the short barrel length and the salt loaded shells sent the weapon launching backward with a thrust equally opposite to the force that propelled the slug forward. The minor injury had barely registered at the time, so caught up in hunt he had pushed the physical discomfort aside. Now, it was there, vivid, discolored, and making its presence known every time he flexed that muscle.
Touching the bruise, mesmerized by the color and the almost hypnotizing effect of the pain, he realized that this wasn't the first time that the recoil of a weapon had caught him off-guard.
The First Time
"I'm going shooting with Daaaaddd! I'm going shooting with Daaaadd!" Eight year old Dean Winchester couldn't help but taunt his baby brother just a little. For his part, Sammy merely stuck his tongue out as his older sibling bounced excitedly about the room.
The two boys watched as their father removed two shotguns from their cases and carefully checked each. Thumbing off the safety on the Mossberg first and then pumping the forend, John checked the ejector port to be sure that it was empty before handing the weapon to his eldest son. The smile on Dean's face beamed from ear to ear and for a moment any thought of teasing Sammy was lost as his hand gently caressed the stock of the heavy weapon.
Dean had watched his dad intently over the past few years as he painstakingly cleaned and oiled the weapon often before and certainly after every hunt. In fact, preparing the weapon had become a pre-hunt ritual and signaled John's imminent departure as sure as the whistle on a train as it departed the station. It was always bittersweet time for Dean. On one hand, Dad often let him help clean and prepare the gun, a task that he took great joy in assisting. On the other hand, it also meant that their dad was off again, leaving the young brothers with whoever was most handy to await his return. In truth, Dean waited patiently by the door each time that his father packed to leave, fervently hoping that this time would be the time that his father would ask him to come along. He wanted to help dad fight and kill the evil things out there. He wanted to be big enough and strong enough in his father's eyes. But time after time, the door slipped closed with a 'Take care of your brother, Dean!' and his father would be gone once more.
None of that mattered at this moment though. The sheer anticipation of finally being able to fire that glorious weapon was enough to banish away the hurt of being left behind. John Winchester finished with the second shotgun and reached over to grab a box of shells laying on the table.
"Okay Dean. You ready to go?" he asked standing.
"Yes Sir!' he promptly replied as he pulled on his jacket.
"I wanna' go too!" Sam insisted, rushing up, his coat in hand. "I wanna' shoot!"
Kneeling down to his youngest son's level, John smiled. "Okay Sammy. You can come with us, but no shooting for you yet!"
Dejected, his brown head down, Sam donned the coat and trudged out the door behind his father and brother.
Once outside, they moved to the edge of the woods where John had placed cardboard targets against bales of hay. On top of each bale, he had set several empty pop cans, a plastic milk jug and a dented aluminum bucket. They walked toward the makeshift targets, Dean's heart beating wildly in eagerness, his hands slick with perspiration.
John reached out placing a firm hand on the shoulder of his eldest, a silent command to stop here. Turning, he looked down at the crestfallen face of his youngest. Tousling Sam's hair with his free hand, he winked slyly.
"You sit there buddy and when we're done we'll go get some ice cream, Okay?"
Sam's face mimicked his older brother's in delight. He wasn't all that concerned with shooting, just more the fact that he wanted to do whatever Dean was doing.
"Okay now son," John Winchester began, handing his eldest a shell, "Let's just start with you shooting standing up. Once you get that, we work on shooting from other positions. Now, you remember what I told you?"
"Yessir!" Dean promptly replied placing the round into the port then pumping it into the chamber.
"Stock snug against my shoulder, sight the target, safety off, exhale, then squeeze the trigger." He repeated back the indoctrinated checklist.
"Okay then, have at it!" his father said moving behind the young boy.
Taking a deep breath, his heart pounding with excitement, Dean peered down the sight aligning the tip of the muzzle on the nearest target. He had reached this point so many times before, only to pull the trigger on an empty weapon. This was the first time he was going to fire a live round and his mind raced in anticipation.
'Okay, gotta do this right! Don't want to disappoint Dad. Aim! Breathe! Let it out slow and squeeze …'
The report of the 12 gauge echoed across the landscape as it reverberated throughout every bone in Dean's body. Exhilarated and momentarily deafened, he lowered the weapon and looked intently out to the target line.
The first cardboard target was peppered with holes just outside the hand-drawn bulls-eye. Looking up at his father, Dean couldn't help but smile.
"That's good son! Very good! But next time, keep your eyes open when you pull the trigger! Okay, let's do it again!" John said handing his son two more shells.
Dean fired the weapon several more times; taking aim on the appropriate targets and relishing the look of praise from his dad each time he found his mark. Within the hour, he and John had managed to spend nearly the entire box of shells. The muzzle on his shotgun was hot from the rapid succession of firing and the air around them was thick with the residual smell of gunpowder.
Alright' Dean. That's enough for today! We'll come back out again another time" his father directed.
"Aw Dad! Please, just a little more! There's still a few shells left!" he begged.
"Dean!" The single word was both a name and command when coming from the mouth of John Winchester.
Disappointed, Dean lowered the shotgun as his father began picking up their things. Glancing down, the young boy saw that a single shell remained unfired in the magazine. Looking over at his distracted dad, then his brother who sat patiently behind them, and then back to his father again, Dean sneakily slipped off the safety to the gun.
Swinging it up to eye level casting one more quick glance to see if his father had noticed, he sighted the last of the empty pop cans atop the hay bale. 'Sight the target, safety off, exhale, then squeeze the trigger' he quickly ran through the familiar litany.
John Winchester spun around instantly alert for a threat, not expecting the sound of a weapon firing. Taking stock of the situation, Sam was by his side and Dean was …
Where was Dean? A split second of panic filled the worried parent as he looked out toward the target range.
A stifled groan rose from the ground pulling John's attention downward to see Dean slowly moving from the dirt.
"Dean! Are you all right, son?"
The shotgun lay on the soil as the older boy sat up rubbing his right shoulder. Concerned for his son, John knelt down beside him immediately taking a physical inventory as his hand quickly moved over Dean's body. Pushing aside the small arm that was guarding his shoulder, John pulled open the boy's outer jacket and shirt underneath to expose an already discolored, but unbloodied, arm. Satisfied that his eldest was essentially in one piece, he stood purposefully, arms crossed about his chest, his displeasure evident by the stern look on his face.
"Dean, what the hell were you thinking?" he shouted, worry now replaced by irritation.
When the young boy did not answer but maintained his downcast gaze as he continued to nurse his bruised appendage, John softened. Reaching a hand down to his seated son, he spoke.
" Forgot the part about snugging the butt up against your shoulder huh?"
Dean nodded sullenly, tears threatening from the pain.
"Recoil!" John said matter-of-factly as he pulled Dean to his feet. "Lesson learned?"
The Second Time
"I told you I looked everywhere; I didn't find any hidden room!' Sam stated, irritation in his voice.
"Well, that's why they're called hidden" Dean casually replied as he scanned the space with his flashlight.
The small chamber was musty and dark from the years of abandonment, walls discolored by water and mold. Even in its heyday, clean and shiny in its hospital-like antiseptic glory, Dean figured that it always held an ominous quality.
Stopping his search, Dean became silent as the sound of escaping wind whistling through the room caught his attention. Turning, he looked about the edges of the floor, a brief glint of light shown through a miniscule gap. Extending his hand, he could feel the air escaping from underneath. Had he turned at that moment, Dean would have seen the look of fury that filled his brother's face as he continued his search for the hidden room. Instead, he heard the unmistakable click of the break action shotgun barrel snapping into place against the chamber.
"Dean!" his brother called him.
Turning around, the older hunter was point blank with the business end of the weapon. Looking up into Sam's face, a small trickle of blood seeped from his brother's nostril.
"Step away from the door!" Sam ordered as he swiped at the blood.
Standing, Dean was filled with disbelief. What the hell was wrong with Sam? Why was his brother drawing down on him?
"Sammy, put the gun down!" he attempted. Was this some sort of poorly timed joke?
"Is that an order?" Sam challenged, his eyes glaring with anger.
Sammy, what's wrong with you? "Nah, more like a friendly request!" Dean answered, hoping his attempt at humor hid the sudden fear that was creeping up his spine.
"… cause I'm getting pretty tired of taking you orders!" his brother continued, the shotgun rising and aimed directly at Dean's chest.
'What the hell is happening here?' Dean thought to himself, his eyes flicking back and forth between the weapon and his brother's face. If it weren't for the blood oozing from Sam's nose or the tenseness to his jaw, Dean would have thought that his brother had lost his mind.
No, it was this place and the demented Dr. Ellicott that had to be messing with Sam's head. He knew that it was Ellicott's spirit that was causing the problems in the deserted mental hospital, the doctor's delusional belief that he could cure his patients by bringing their anger to the surface had done nothing more than turn them into homicidal maniacs. The dead doctor had continued plying his trade on unsuspecting trespassers that were also overcome by the anger and hate that permeated every square foot of the asylum.
"I knew it … Ellicott did something to you!" Dean then offered, hoping to break through whatever hold the doctor's crazed spirit had on his brother.
But Sam never wavered, if anything, his eyes became wilder as he shouted at Dean to shut up. Tempting fate and fervently believing that his brother would never knowingly harm him, Dean taunted his sibling further.
"What are you gonna do Sam? The gun is full of rock salt. It's not gonna kill me!"
Dean saw the gun recoil in his brother's right hand as the blast of white salt and smoke cascaded towards him. He was vaguely aware of the report echoing through the chamber as his body was launched backward through the secret door, shattering it as he flew through it to land hard on the concrete floor. His last conscious thought was concern for Sam; concern and the strangest thought of the forces at work that transferred the energy of the ignited gunpowder into his chest.
"Recoil was a bitch even if the shells were loaded with rock salt. Lesson learned!"
The Third Time
They were on the run! Demon possessed civilians were all about and likely to close in on them soon. Helping his father drop from the last rung of the fire escape, Dean slung one of John's limp arms over his shoulder in an effort to bear some of his father's weight. Above him, he could see the black eyes of the possessed firefighter glaring out at the trio from the open apartment window. Unable to pass over the salt line they left on the sill, Dean felt they were safe at the moment from the demonic threat.
Staggering forward, unable to move as fast as he would have preferred, encumbered by his father's injured body, Dean saw Sam move past them towards the empty alley. In a blur, Sam was tackled to the ground by a short haired young man that charged from behind the parked truck.
Caught off guard, Sam could not react as the young man began pummeling him with a series of punches to his head. Right, left, right, left, again and again, black eyes shining in an otherwise emotionless face, the punches rained down on Sam as the blood began to flow.
Dean saw the imminent peril for his younger brother. Lowering his weakened father to the ground, he ran forward. Coming to a skidding halt just above his brother's nearly unconscious form, Dean kicked out putting every ounce of energy into the blow.
Connecting with the young man's jaw, Dean was shocked as the demon possessed man casually looked up at him, a slight smile creasing his face. Without a word, the young man tilted his head to the left and Dean felt his body hurled through the air weightlessly.
His back and head collided with the windshield of a nearby parked car, glass shattering as every muscle fiber and bone in his body screamed out in unison. Dazed, but not unconscious, the air traumatically forced from his lungs, Dean could do nothing more than lay against the cold metal willing himself to breath. The clouds overhead spun in concentric circles as he stared upward, unable to focus his eyes or his thoughts at the moment. His ears continued to work however and despite the ringing he could hear the gasps of air escaping Sam's lips with the delivery of each blow from the possessed man's fists.
"Sammy!" That unspoken name as much a cry as a call to action. Dean knew the threat, knew that his brother had not been able to defend himself against the demonic strength of his attacker.
"Get up now!" he yelled to himself. Calling upon whatever reserves of adrenalin that were available to his body, Dean struggled off the hood of the car and rose shakily to his feet.
Reaching to the back waistband of his jeans, the rigid metal of the weapon greeted him. His hand grasped the well-oiled grip of the pistol as he drew it from its hiding place. Dean had felt a little underhanded about bringing the Colt with him to the apartment complex, especially after promising his brother that it would be secured in the back of the Impala. Sam hadn't seen his older brother offhandedly reach back into the trunk and snatch out the weapon just as he closed black hood. His brother would have thought the move reckless and unwise, but to Dean, it was preparation for whatever might come.
Facing Sam's attacker, Dean watched as the man landed blow after blow on his baby brother's face. Right, left, right, left, swinging back and forth, Sam's blood splattered across white knuckles.
Dean raised the Colt, training it on the young man's head.
"Dean, you gotta be careful with her! Don't hurt her! She really is a girl!" Bobby's words about Meg rang in Dean's ears as he stared at the man beating his brother into the ground. Meg had died, devoid of the demonic possession, her broken, abused body succumbed to the injuries she had sustained in Chicago, leaving a once innocent young woman to know a brief moment of relief before she took her last breath.
Demon possessed attacker?
Aim! Breathe! Let it out slow and squeeze …'
And in a quicker moment than it took him to form the thought, he pulled the trigger on the ancient weapon.
Dean watched the young man's head snap sideways as a little puff of blood and brain splattered onto the pavement. The man's body went rigid, his hands still poised to throw another punch when he finally lurched sideways onto the concrete.
The older sibling stood silently for a moment, his forearm stinging from the recoil shock of the old weapon that he still held at arms length, smoke curling from the barrel. Sam lay dazed on the ground, blood flowing, his right eye already swelling nearly shut. By his feet lay his attacker, blood still oozing from the large exit wound in his skull, eyes open and glazed, but no longer black.
Dean lowered the old Colt finally, feeling the burn in his forearm lessen slightly.
Recoil! He wanted to run in disgust for what he had just done! A groan from nearby Sam spurred him out of his internal self-loathing.
"… the things I'm willing to do or kill for you or dad …" confessed words coming back to taunt him now. Sam groaned again.
Sammy alive – lesson learned!
The Final Time?
"Sam! Sammy! Please – don't do this!' begging, pleading as he stares into the maniacal eyes of his brother.
"t's too late Dean!" his brother replies as he pushes the knife harder against his older sibling's throat.
"It's not too late Sammy! We can fight this together! I'll help you! Please don't give in to it. Don't give up! Please!" desperation and fear lacing his words.
But the younger Winchester merely shakes his head, shaggy hair that Dean had tousled in jest as a child now plastered to his scalp by sweat and blood.
Around them are bodies, bloody lifeless bodies that once were innocent humans. People in general were blissfully unaware of the battle that had been waged for their very lives and souls. Unaware that this battle was about to be dumped on their doorstep, their pitiful facades of reality about to crumble as the demon troops run rampant across the land destroying everything in their path.
Dean had been looking for Sam for weeks, trailing him across the Midwest until he finally caught up with him outside Dubuque. He'd seen the changes coming over his brother for weeks before he found Sam standing over the beaten and bloodied body of the hotel clerk. Even then, he knew it was the beginning of the end, although at the time he hadn't wanted, couldn't bear to admit it.
Deep inside though, he knew. Hadn't it been that way with Max, and then Anson, Scott, and eventually Andy and Ava too. All innocent young men and women until they were pushed too far. Until the demon's voice was simply too strong to ignore any longer and they succumbed to taunts and temptations. Sam had fought valiantly too, but in the end, the visions, the countless battles, the sheer will to resist was simply more than he could combat.
Dean had tried so hard to be his brother's strength, his protector, but as he knelt there now, knife biting into his throat, he realized that there was only one function that he was ever really destined to perform for Sam. His killer!
The road had been long as the two had traveled, battled and slain the supernatural foes they had encountered. Years had passed since John's fateful words had been whispered into Dean's ears. Years since he had told Sam about those words and years since his brother in a drunken stupor had forced him to make a promise to carry out that final duty.
For a long while, Dean had thought they were in the clear. There hadn't been the vaguest hint of the yellow-eyed demon and even Sam's vision had been fewer and far between. But a few short months ago, the visions returned with a vengeance and each time the brothers were always too late to change the outcome of whatever Sam had seen.
His brother had fallen into a deep depression, distraught over not being able to save those he had seen, angry that his so-called powers had been ineffective in preventing the deaths of innocents. Dean had tried everything to bolster his brother's mood, but to no avail. Eventually, depression turned into withdrawal and withdrawal into a silent fury that threatened to boil over with any look or word of concern from Dean.
Then, just four weeks ago in a fit of rage, Sam had beaten the hotel clerk simply because the young man had laughed about the false name that younger hunter had supplied while checking in. Suspicious about the delay, Dean had walked into the office just as his brother landed the final blow. After checking to see that the young man was still alive, he grabbed Sam by the jacket and pulled him from the building, all concern focused on avoiding the police. It was the last time that he had seen his brother as later that evening Sam had fled from a truck stop restroom, vanishing into the night eerily like the black fog that seeped away at the dispelling of demonic infestation.
"Sammy- please, I'm begging you. Please don't do this. This isn't your fault! You didn't do this!"
"No Dean. I did this just as surely as if I'd have pulled the trigger myself. You see, it was never about what I would do, it was all about what I couldn't prevent. Acts of omission Dean!"
"Sam, you're not God, you aren't responsible for everything that demonic sonofabitch does in this world."
Laughing now, Sam briefly loosened the pressure on the blade.
"God! Dean! You've never believed in God. Why would you start now? Good, evil, it doesn't matter Dean! We're all just pawns in some cosmic soap opera, playing our parts, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. But guess what Dean, the roles we play, we have no choices and there aren't any revisions to the script."
Dean stared up into his brother's eyes, searching for some reflection of the confident, optimistic sibling that he had seen stand by his side through countless battles. He wanted desperately to see some glimmer of hope that Sam would choose to fight this final battle rather than submit to the demon's prediction of death and doom. But it wasn't there. Only lifelessness, submission and hopelessness reflected back. Sam pupils so large in the darkness of the place that they nearly reminded Dean of the black filled eyes of a person possessed.
"Sammy … please!" One final plea, hopelessness engulfing Dean as he felt his brother's resolve reflected in the increasing pressure against his neck.
When there was no response from his brother and the warm trickle of blood began creeping down his throat, Dean silently gripped the .45 behind him, thumbing off the safety.
"Goodbye Dean, I'm sorry!"
"Sammy…" prayer and farewell in that word.
The recoil of the handgun jerked his forearm and reverberated through the bones in his wrist and hand echoing up to his shoulder and sweeping through his chest. Funny, he had shot that gun a million times before and had never noticed how much of a kick the pistol had.
As his brother's lifeless body slid silently to the floor, Dean looked at the .45 still in his hand, smoke curling from the muzzle, the barrel still emitting warmth from the expired round. Lifting it slowly to eye level, Dean looked the weapon over like a man gazing over the sensuous curves of a beautiful woman.
Lifting the gun to his temple, he anticipated the recoil. The .45 would kick like a bitch and if he wasn't careful it might jerk away at the last moment. Pressing it tightly against his skull, the memories of an eight year old filled his head.
'Okay, gotta do this right! Don't want to disappoint Dad. Aim! Breathe! Let it out slow and squeeze ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
"Dean! DEAN! What the hell are you doing?" Sam's voice broke through the fog of his strange introspection.
Startled, Dean looked up and noticed that he had raised the stainless steel .45 and was unconsciously staring down the blackness of the muzzle. Glancing across the room to the panicked look on his brother's face, he wondered how long he had been sitting there like that. Shaking his head, he struggled to clear the spider webs of that last visualization from behind his eyes. 'Is this what Sammy feels like when he has one of his visions?'
"Dude, are you all right?" Sam's worry ever present.
"Yeah man! I'm okay!" Dean replied pushing the last tidbit of those all too vivid memories or was it premonition, into the recesses of his mind, willing his pounding heart to slow and return to a pre-nightmare rate.
"Well, you ought to pay better attention to what you're doing when you're cleaning your guns before I got to explain why my brother's got a self-inflicted gunshot wound to some yahoo doctor" Sam replied, nervous laughter betraying the uncertainty just below the surface.
"Dude, you wont get rid of me that easy!" Dean answered. "There's not a bullet out there with my name on it!"
Dean determination, Dean defiance, Dean strength.
"That's good to know Dean. I'm holding you to that!" Sam insisted, a bright smile flashing across his handsome face.
Sam optimism, Sam reliance, Sam confidence in Dean!
Dean smiled in return, forcefully banishing every semblance of the previous thoughts that still tickled at the edges of his consciousness. Whatever happened, whatever heaven or hell had in store for them, he would be by his brother's side, no time to fear what might be, no energy wasted on the what-if's.