A/N: So here it is. Finally the end. Boy this took me longer than I planned. But I can only go over it so many times. If not, I'll drive myself mad trying to perfect it. It's a little long!
Many thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read this. And a special BIG thanks to all the reviewers. You guys rock and made this much more fun! (But don't forget to leave a review for this one too. Gotta know what you thought!)
Until next time!...
Sam was surprised at the amount of strength his brother showed. Dean had effectively grabbed Sam's shirt and threw him backwards. It caused Sam to fall, but to fall directly behind Dean. Which he was sure was his brother's plan all along. But Sam didn't intend to stay down long. As another gun shot echoed Sam was digging in the bag for the second gun. Once he found it, he didn't hesitate to get back to Dean's side.
They each fired their guns at the approaching spirits. Thankfully both hit their mark. The spirits hissed as they were loaded full of rock salt and disappeared.
"Don't know how long they'll stay gone. They're more powerful than we thought." Sam said.
"Then we better get moving." Dean said, chocking back a cough. The smoke had already began to filter into the tunnel.
Sam could easily see that Dean wouldn't be able to be on his feet much longer. His brother was breathing hard, and Sam was sure Dean didn't even realize how bad he was swaying. Not to mention his clothes were still soaked through and freezing, and now sticking to him. Sam wasn't feeling all that great himself, but he was in far better shape than his brother. He grabbed the duffel and grabbed Dean's arm.
"Let's move." Sam was happy that for once Dean didn't argue.
They really weren't sure which way to go. The only thing they knew for sure is that as they headed in, they headed down. So on Dean's order they followed the path that felt like they were climbing back up. Not surprisingly the fire they had started had spread through the room quickly. The smoke was bellowing out into the tunnel. There wasn't a lot of ammunition for it, but both knew it wouldn't stay confined in that one room forever.
"So Sam." Dean started. They weren't even running but he was still out of breath.
"What Dean?" Sam asked, his eyes darting side to side, keeping watch for their pursuers.
"What exactly is it that you're keeping from me?" Dean asked, pausing shortly between words.
"What are you talking about?" Sam asked. Usually he was all for talking. But right now, they needed to concentrate. And Dean didn't sound like he could spare the extra breath. They couldn't exactly run, but they were moving as fast as they could and his brother needed to be able to keep it up.
"Back there. You were keeping something from me. What...what was it?"
"You don't..."Dean paused to take a big breath, "you don't lie well Sammy."
"Can we discuss this later? I'm thinking we need to focus on getting out of here. You can't even talk. Save your breath."
Dean laughed. "You putting me off...that only makes me want to push more." Dean laughed again. "Wow, talk about role reversal."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Fine I'll tell you okay! Then you get to tell me what happened to you back in that room that's made you shake like a leaf and weak as a kitten." Dean snorted but stayed silent, waiting for Sam to continue.
"They were gonna do to me what they did to the other kids. Take my ability some how then kill me. But when they started..."
Dean interrupted. "Started? What'd they do?"
Sam shook his head. "I don't know man. All I know is it hurt. Like hell." At Dean's look of concern Sam said, "I'm fine Dean. Just a little sore. Anyway, they stopped all of a sudden. They said they couldn't take my ability."
Sam hesitated. He took a deep breath and then just spit it out. "They said I was already marked. By the demon and so they couldn't take me. Didn't want to piss him off. They were going to call him here."
At this Dean stopped short. He felt panic rise up inside for a moment, but quickly squashed it, making sure Sam didn't see anything but confidence. "Did they?"
"I don't think they got the chance." Sam said. Sam tugged on Dean's arm to get him moving again.
"Good, cause I gotta tell ya Sammy, that would of sucked." Dean said, trying to ease the tension.
"Yeah, I'll second that. Your turn." Sam instructed.
"Ah hell Sam. What part of torture don't you understand."
Sam glared at his brother. "I understand it fine. But when we get out of here, I need to know. Do I take you to a hospital or can I take care of you myself?"
Dean sighed. "I'll be fine Sam."
"You didn't answer my question."
Dean really wished he had the energy to raise his hand and cuff the back of Sam's head. But he just didn't. His body was beyond aching, his muscles were twitching, his eyesight was still blurred to hell, and his head was throbbing. He was barley standing. He'd have to smack Sam later just for the principle of it.
"I don't know what it was Sam. They sent some kind of electrical jolt through me. Kinda felt like that time I got electrocuted in the basement." Dean finished the last of that sentence quietly.
"What! We are definitely going to the hospital." Sam said.
"No Sam. We can't and you know it. Look, it's not like last time. Just find me a bed I can crash in for a few days and I'll be good." Dean watched as emotions played across his brother's face. He didn't have to be a mind reader to know what Sam was thinking. "My heart is fine Sam. I promise."
Sam was about to come back with an effective argument when Dean stopped. Sam whipped his head forward to see what stopped them. "Crap!"
Dean nodded his head as he looked at the dead end in front of them. "You know, just once it would be nice to catch a little break."
Five minutes later Dean and Sam had doubled back and found another tunnel. The tunnels were filling up with heavier smoke now. Sam found himself holding Dean up more often and he was tiring now too. The thought of being trapped underground with the fire made a shiver run through him.
"This is ridiculous." Dean said. "This isn't a damn labyrinth. Why can't we find our way out?"
"Guess if we would have been conscious on the way down it wouldn't be a problem." Sam snapped.
"Wow, you're a real smart ass you know that?" Dean said. Truth be told he was pretty sure his body was going to refuse to listen to him any minute now. And the thought of him collapsing down there, leaving Sam to try and escape alone, tore his heart out. Dean Winchester was not a praying man. But at that moment, as he felt his own body betraying him, as he worried for his little brother's life, he wasn't above sending a quick one out to whoever would listen.
And for once it seemed someone was listening when Sam said, "This way looks familiar. I think we're close to the opening now."
"But not close enough." The voice boomed behind them.
Dean and Sam turned to face the spirit. Sam was already raising his gun as he turned but he didn't have a chance to fire. Within a second the boys were torn apart from each other by an invisible force, each being flung to opposite sides of the tunnel.
Dean let out a grunt as he forcefully hit the wall. His eyes darted to Sam to see if he was okay. As he watched, Sam flew into the wall, his head slamming back with a dull thud as it hit. Dean watched in horror as his brother's eyes closed and his head fell forward. Then his body slumped down to the ground.
"Sam!" Dean tried to go to him but the spirit was already in his face.
"You aren't going anywhere." The spirit told him.
Dean struggled against the force keeping him pinned. He had a terrible sense of deajavu. "Don't you demons know any other tricks than pinning someone against a wall." He spat out.
The spirit smiled. "You have a sharp tongue. Maybe I should remove it."
Dean laughed. "You're just pissed cause we won." As he spoke he was slowly pushing against the force with his right hand. Trying to get it to his back pocket where his small knife was. It wasn't big enough to kill the thing, but it was pure iron. It would sure get rid of it for a while.
"You haven't won anything boy. It doesn't matter that you've released the others. We have your brother. And soon, we are going to deliver him to the one who has marked him. We will be rewarded greatly."
Dean could feel his blood boiling over with anger. "You're not laying a hand on him you bastard! I'll burn this place to the ground with us in it before I let any of you have him!"
Dean was working frantically to get to the knife. The pressure on his arm only continued to increase as he tried to move. It felt as if his bone was going to snap any minute. But he pushed forward. Finally, his fingers brushed the top of his pocket.
"You're going to burn all right boy." The spirit said, oblivious to the fact that Dean was now pushing his arm forward, knife in hand.
Just as the spirit raised it's hand towards Dean's chest, the electricity already pouring forward, Dean sucked in a deep breath, and on the exhale he pushed with all his might. With a yell he shoved his arm forward, the knife hitting it's target. The spirit hissed at Dean before vanishing. Dean immediately fell to his knees.
Dean's head snapped up to see Sam coming around. Sam reached up and rubbed the back of his head, wincing. Dean crawled to him.
"You okay?" He asked Sam as he ran his hand behind Sam's head.
"Yeah. Any blood?"
Dean showed Sam his hand. "No."
"Good, I hate getting stitches." Sam said. "Where'd it go?"
"It's gone for the moment. Let's go, we're almost there." Dean said forcing himself up. Once he was standing he reached a hand down to Sam.
Sam laughed. "Dude, I can get up. You try and help we'll just both fall down again."
"Fine. Next time I'll just leave your ass here." Dean snapped and turned to start walking.
Sam sighed and heaved himself off the ground. Everything spun for a minute, but then he was able to move. "I didn't mean it like that Dean." He called out to his brother. Why was it Dean could refuse help but he couldn't?
"Come on man, I'm sorry." Sam said. "I just didn't want to put any strain on you."
Dean stopped. He hadn't really gotten that far. "Hurry up Sam. We need to get moving before the smoke gets any thicker." That was as close to an apology that he was going to give.
Sam nodded. He knew his brother's secret code. Sam looked behind him. The smoke was really starting to billow out now. He only hoped that the fire would extinguish itself before it got too out of hand. Who knew how much they were going to destroy by lighting it.
Sam caught up with Dean in a few steps. They were both moving too slowly. "Dean, you think we're going to grow old?" Sam asked.
Dean gave him a surprised look. "Where did that come from?"
Sam sighed. "It's just...look at our lives. It seems like everyday we're almost dying. And everyday it just gets closer and closer. I just wonder sometimes if I'm going to live to be an old man."
"Don't worry Sam. You're going to live to be a decrepid old man. Me on the other hand, no matter how old I get, I'll still good looking." Dean said smiling.
"Ha ha Dean."
They rounded another corner and both stopped, releasing a sigh of relief. They had made it. The gate was right in front of them.
"It's about time." Dean said. They walked to the gate. Dean knew he didn't have the strength to try and pry it open. "Uh Sam?"
Sam got what he was trying to say. "Yeah, I got it." He stepped ahead of his brother and began pulling at the gate. "It won't move!"
Dean was leaning back against the wall. "Then load the gun with real bullets and blow it open." He said.
"I think I like your suggestion of burning down here." The spirit hissed at Dean as it appeared before him.
Without warning it shot it's hands out at him and hit him with the full force of it's electric jolt. Dean couldn't stop the cry of pain that escaped him.
"Dean!" Sam shouted. "Get away from him!" As Sam scrambled for the gun, he watched in horror as his brother slumped to the ground unconscious. "No!" Sam fired the gun and the spirit was gone.
He made a move to get to Dean, but the second spirit appeared. "You're going to meet your new master Sam." It said.
"Go to hell!" Sam shouted. He was about to pull the trigger when the first spirit reappeared. They stood in front of him, showing no fear of his gun or the rounds of rock salt within it.
Sam felt a moment of dread. Something in the back of his mind told him there was no getting out of this one. Dean was wrong. They weren't going to live to be old men. But he sure as hell was going to go out without a fight. He owed that to Dean and to his Father. He was a Winchester after all.
Just as Sam was about to make his stand the spirits began to flicker. With horrified looks on their faces they shouted in pain. Sam watched as they began to dissipate. After a few seconds they finally tore apart and nothing but ashes fell the floor.
"Looks like the fire finally found their bones." Dean said weakly.
Sam's attention snapped to Dean. His brother was still lying on his back on the ground, but his head was turned toward Sam.
"Dean." Sam breathed.
"You okay?" Dean rasped.
"I'm good." They both looked to the gate as they heard a click and then it swung open with a shrill squeak. Sam turned back to Dean. "Better now."
Dean smiled and nodded, then closed his eyes.
Dean found himself walking through the grass in the cemetery, the sun shining warmly on his back. The day was beautiful. It was warm with a gentle breeze. The birds were chirping in the trees. It was completely peaceful.
He walked toward the short brick wall that bordered the area. He smiled warmly at the little boy who was already sitting there and took a seat next to him.
"Hey kid." Dean greeted.
Little Sam turned his face toward Dean. But this time, instead of sad haunted eyes Dean saw happiness. Sam smiled brightly, his eyes lighting up.
"Thank you." He said to Dean.
"I'm free to go home now." Sam said. "We all are."
Dean nodded. He couldn't help the curiosity that over took him. "So where is it that you are going?"
Little Sam smiled. "I'm not supposed to tell you. You can't know because you can't come yet."
Dean smiled back. "I guess I didn't expect any other kind of answer." He said mostly to himself.
"I'm supposed to tell you that you are doing a good job. And that you and your brother have a hard fight ahead of you, but you can win. And if you stick together you will win." Little Sam's brow furrowed as he spoke, trying to remember exactly what he was supposed to say. He smiled. "I'm also supposed to tell you that they are very proud of both you and your brother."
Dean blinked. "Who told you this?"
Little Sam smiled and bounced down from the wall. He turned to Dean and said, "Thank you." Then he turned and walked started walking away.
Dean jumped down from the wall and followed. "Wait! Who told you to tell me that!" But as soon as he caught up with the little boy he simply smiled and disappeared. "Wait!"
"Wait!" Dean shouted and he reached forward.
"Dean? Dean wake up!" Sam grabbed Dean's shoulders holding him still until he knew Dean realized what was happening.
Dean opened his eyes only to see Sam's face inches from his. "Dude, back off." Sam moved back a little and Dean looked around. "What are we doing in the Impala?" He asked Sam.
Sam rubbed a hand through his hair. "The fire finally got the bones of the cultists. But you were out man. Have been for about an hour. I had to drag you back here."
Dean looked hard at his brother. Sam looked exhausted and the way his face was pinched Dean could see that he was in pain. He looked around and noticed the car was pulled over on the side of the road. "Why aren't we moving? What's wrong Sam?"
"Nothing. I just kinda needed a break."
Dean wasn't buying it. They were both hurt. Sam would never just sit on the side of the road if he had a choice. He would have had them at a hotel some where patching both of them up. If he could.
"What's wrong with you?" Dean asked.
"I'm fine Dean. You're the one who's been out cold. You're the one who got electrocuted twice. You're the one I'm worried about."
"Yeah, I feel like shit. So what's wrong with you?"
"Fine." Sam sighed. "I got a little dizzy and the road was blurry. I figured I'd pull over a minute so I didn't crash."
"Damn it Sam. You've got a concussion." Dean said, forcing himself to sit up more. "Get out and come around here. I'll drive."
Sam laughed. "Number one, yeah, I have a concussion. Number two, if you think you're in any better shape to drive, then I think you hit your head harder."
"We can't sit here all night." Dean said.
"Didn't plan on it. Now that you're awake you can help me drive. The motel isn't that far."
Sam started up the engine and pulled out. His head was throbbing painfully, but thankfully the dizziness had finally passed. The double vision was also gone, but everything was still a bit blurry.
Dean stared straight ahead, keeping an eye for any obstacle. His mind kept going back to the dream. Or whatever it was. What had the kid meant, they are proud of you?
"Penny for your thoughts." Sam said as he pulled into the motel parking lot. Dean didn't reply. "What were you dreaming about Dean? Or did you have another vision?" Sam asked cautiously.
Dean turned his head to his brother. "Ah...the kid came back to say thanks...and to say..." He paused. "Ah hell Sam. It was just a dream."
But Sam pushed on. "What did he say Dean? Is it over?"
"Yeah Sam, don't worry it's over." Dean said.
Sam didn't have to be psychic to know that Dean was holding something back. "What did he say Dean?"
Dean gave a slight laugh. "Man this has been a weird case. I don't know how you deal with your visions Sam. How do you make sense out of anything?"
"I'm just happy I don't get them that often." Sam said. He knew if he was patient enough Dean would eventually tell him what happened.
"He had a message. He said he was supposed to tell me that you and me have to stick together and we can win. And that...that someone was proud of us."
Sam's eyebrows raised. "Like a message from beyond? From who?"
"I don't know Sam. But it was almost like...I don't know it felt like..."
"Like it was from Dad." Sam finished, tears already welling up in his eyes.
Dean swallowed hard. "We don't know that Sam. I mean, the demon at the crossroads said that Dad was in..."
"Demons lie." Sam interrupted. "Come on." Sam opened the door and got out, swiping at his tears as he walked to their room.
Once inside both boys simply collapsed on their beds with loud sighs.
"Demons lie Dean. They just like to hurt people."
"I know that Sam."
"But the little boy, he was good. He wasn't a demon. Do you think...I mean...maybe"
"I don't know Sam." Dean said.
They were both very quiet for a long time. Dean thought Sam had finally fell asleep when he heard.
"Maybe Dad is with Mom. Maybe they are watching us and they are proud. Maybe it was them that sent the message through the boy." Sam said.
Dean could hear the hope and longing in his brother's voice. He had no idea what any of it meant. Ever since his Dad died he was finding that all of his beliefs were being challenged. Now, he had no idea what was possible. But he didn't want to dash Sam's hopes.
So he said, "Maybe Sam. Maybe."