A/N: Thanks so much to everyone who has taken time to review. I have been overwhelmed by the response and I just hope after all that this chapter isn't a disappointment.
A Guy walks into a Bar…
Part 2 (of 2)
Just as Sheldon was drawing back his fist for his first punch, Mac caught a glimpse of movement off to one side and heard a darkly angry voice warn: "Get the fuck away from my brother!"
Moments later Dean slammed into Sheldon, knocking him out of the way before he could throw the punch. Pushing back from Sheldon, he then grabbed Lew and wrenched him away from Sam, using the same momentum to slam him once, then a second time, face first into the steel surface of the bar. Dean released him and Lew slumped to the floor. Martinelli backed away, his eyes betraying his nervousness, releasing Sam who stumbled a few paces towards the support of his brother. He in turn braced to take the weight, never once shifting his gaze from his brother's assailants.
Mac could hear the concentrated weight of anger and concern in that single word.
"S'okay. I'm okay," he managed to reply. Mac grimaced: the kid's claim would have been a hell of a lot more convincing had Sam not winced in pain even as he said the words, a wince that from his expression of disbelief Dean had somehow noted despite his not looking at his brother.
Sheldon used those seconds to haul himself back to his feet with some assistance from Martinelli, while Lew, his face spattered with his own blood, stumbled to join his friends. Even with Dean's arrival, Mac could tell they figured the odds were still in their favour and were more than angry enough to want to finish things. The air was thick with tension as they faced off against each other. The dozen or so people in the bar could sense the approaching danger. The situation was shaping up to be messier and bloodier than a straight out barroom brawl. Mac's silent plea for the sounds of approaching police sirens to put an end to things before they kicked off in earnest still went unanswered. The bar was not exactly a high priority call out for the local cops.
"I don't know what the problem is here," said Dean, "and you know, right now, I don't really care, but you mess with my little brother – you mess with me."
Dean's words were coldly matter-of-fact, a clear warning to anyone bright enough to get it that you either backed off or faced the consequences. Mac snorted: Eddie Sheldon could be fairly accused of many things - being bright wasn't one of them. There might have been a flicker of concern on Martinelli's face, but while Sheldon was still conscious he knew better than to bail on him in a fight where it would be remembered and acted upon.
A sullen frown crossed Sheldon's face at Dean's words. Even at odds of three to two, Mac couldn't say for sure which way the fight would go. Sheldon might have had all the finesse and subtlety of General Sherman on a Georgia plantation, but he made up for it with brute strength and sheer mule-headed tenacity. He was backed into a corner and everyone knew it, but his pride wouldn't allow him to back down. Lew would side him whichever way Sheldon decided, but it was Martinelli that worried Mac. The rumour mill had it he'd knifed someone back in Chicago before he turned up in Jersey a couple of years back.
On a good day, he decided, the two brothers would likely have been able to handle their end of any fight – of that, Mac was certain – but right now Sam looked barely able to stand up without leaning against his brother. Dean appeared sober enough, but he could not help but remember that he had put away a fair amount of tequila before his brother had arrived and called him on it.
Mac turned to put in another call to 911 and somehow that movement was all it took for the face-off to explode into the inevitable fight. He didn't see who threw the first punch but guessed it had been Dean if the sight of Lew hitting the floor was anything to go by. Then Dean took a very deliberate step in front of Sam and, with the phone forgotten in his hand, Mac could only watch as Dean all but dared anyone to get past him to his brother.
It was a challenge he knew Sheldon wasn't going to let go by and from the corner of his eye he saw money change hands as bets were laid on the outcome. Eddie Sheldon might have been 6'' taller than Dean and a lot heavier, but within seconds everyone could see his size wasn't helping him one bit. The shorter man's blows, whether with fist, forearm, knee, or elbow were quick, accurate and brutally efficient. If the tequila the man had drunk had had any effect on his ability to fight, no one could see it. To everyone watching it was obvious that only Lew tag-teaming him that had stopped Dean taking Sheldon down in less than thirty seconds.
With Dean's attention occupied by Sheldon and Lew, Martinelli went for Sam. To his dismay, despite his frequent glances to keep an eye on how his brother was doing against Lew and Sheldon as well as all his previous injuries, Sam seemed far too capable of holding his own. Mac figured Martinelli might have been hoping that Sam would be an easier opponent to take on than Dean, but if so, it sure wasn't working out quite as he'd planned. For all that he was unsteady on his feet and favouring one arm, Sam was able to block most of Martinelli's attacks, and land a few of his own. But anyone who watched him could see in his ashen complexion and the set of his jaw how much effort staying in the fight was costing him.
Caught between Sheldon and Lew, however skilled he was, Dean was a long way from having the fight all his own way. Each one of them was carrying the marks from punches that hadn't been blocked or dodged. Mac saw that the gauze he had spotted on Dean's neck had been torn away revealing an ugly, ragged edged wound that was seeping blood between burst stitches, soaking the collar of his grey shirt a dull red.
Then, with all of them beginning to slow with exhaustion and injury wearing them down, Lew missed his footing trying to dodge a punch from Dean. Without missing a beat, in a move looking so smooth that it looked like he'd planned it all out in advance, Dean took immediate advantage of the slip. He dragged Lew into the line of another haymaker from Sheldon that he wasn't quick enough to pull. The punch snapped his head back and Lew went down like a poleaxed steer.
Sheldon's face contorted in anger at the way he'd been played and he charged at Dean, any forethought he might have bothered with forgotten in the blind fury that had overtaken him. Dean, caught flatfooted by Sheldon's reckless attack while he had risked a glance to check on his brother, was unable to get out of the way as Sheldon slammed into him. The force of the impact sent both of them crashing to the floor where Sheldon's extra weight more than cancelled out the only too obvious difference in skill.
"Dean!" Sam cried out as he saw his brother go down. Anguish crossed his face as with Martinelli in the way, he was unable to intervene while Sheldon pinned his brother to the floor and started to pile punch after punch into his trapped but still struggling opponent.
From somewhere Sam found a reserve of strength and a rapid combination of kicks and punches sent Martinelli staggering back into a table which broke under his weight. Its handful of occupants scrabbled to salvage their drinks before rapidly backpedalling to get out of the way. Empty bottles and spent cans tumbled onto the floor. Rolling up into a crouch and wiping away the blood from features twisted with anger with the back of his hand, Martinelli reached into a back pocket and pulled out a switchblade that he flicked open with the ease of long practice.
A low, ugly murmur arose from the spectators around the bar the sight of the knife. A straight out, if initially one-sided, brawl was commonplace and nothing to get too wound up over, but as soon as Martinelli pulled the knife, it had become something far messier – the kind of messy that the cops would get involved in, and that was never a good thing. As the same thought crossed everyone's minds, the sound of distant sirens was just about audible over the noise from the fight. Mac caught a glimpse of a couple of people slipping out the back door, but if anyone in the fight heard the sound, they gave no sign. He glanced down at his watch – barely ten minutes had passed since he called 911. It felt like it had been an hour.
Looking back at Dean and Sheldon, he saw Sheldon had gotten his hands around Dean's throat and despite the shorter man's efforts, was slowly strangling him. His free hand was frantically scrabbling for a weapon, any weapon, but the only thing nearby – an empty beer bottle – was just out of reach. Mac's hand tightened around the grip on the baseball bat, but did nothing as once more the instinct for self-preservation proved too strong. He watched as a few others left the bar. They could see the way things were going and whichever way things worked out, they clearly didn't want to be witness to it.
But there was no place for Mac to go, and he realised perhaps too late that he didn't want to stand by and be witness to murder. "For chrissake Eddie, stop!" he yelled, hearing and ignoring the fear that was only too clearly colouring his own voice. "You're going to fucking kill him!"
"Dean!" At the same time came Sam's appalled shout, louder even than Mac's. The undiluted fear in it could have woken the dead.
Sheldon looked up, startled by the tone more than the words and for an instant a faint glimmer of sanity was visible in features twisted with rage. Dean took advantage of the sudden lessening of pressure around his neck to grab for the neck of the beer bottle. With desperate strength he slammed it into the side of Sheldon's head. The heavy brown glass bottle cracked and fragmented, raining shards of glass over Dean but Sheldon's grip loosened and he slumped sideways and Dean was able to wriggle out from under Sheldon's massive dead weight.
A harsh gasp of pain drew Mac's attention back to Sam and Martinelli. The kid had been doing an impressive job of fending off Martinelli's attacks and had Martinelli been less proficient or Sam less hurt it would have been more than enough. But it was obvious that whatever strength or just sheer determination that had been keeping Sam on his feet to that point was not going to be enough. Mac guessed that the sight of Sheldon strangling his brother had distracted him from watching his opponent long enough that Martinelli had seized his opportunity and cut Sam a long, shallow furrow across the ribs that he had been too slow and too hurt to avoid.
The noise from the sirens was louder, the cops not more than a couple of minutes away, but from the grimace on Dean's face as he looked towards the door, Mac concluded that cops were not his favourite people. Somehow Mac wasn't too surprised now he'd seen the way Dean fought. The guy was good; scary good. Those kind of brutally effective moves owed nothing to some fancy martial arts dojo with a juice bar concession, coloured belts and membership dues. The way Dean, and to some extent Sam too, fought it was like knowing how to fight was a matter of survival and always had been. It was an attitude that most law abiding people just didn't have.
As he watched him struggle to his feet, Mac had to admit he was impressed Dean was able to stand, even if his balance apparently needed work. Between them, Lew and Sheldon had really done a number on the guy. He looked like day old roadkill: his face was bruised and battered, spattered by the blood that seeped from nose and mouth as well as the ugly wound on his throat and his shirt that had once been grey was dark and sodden with blood. From the way he was clutching his side Mac figured he must have busted a couple of ribs at least. Even so he was still doing one hell of a lot better than Lew and Sheldon who both lay unmoving on the floor.
Mac saw the moment Dean became aware of the danger his brother was in as he pushed himself to his feet with a ruthless disregard for any pain from his own injuries. He stepped over towards Martinelli who was between him and his brother, his back to him. Mac winced: from the expression on Dean's face it was going to be a mistake Martinelli would regret. Without a word of warning Dean grabbed Martinelli's knife arm in both hands and with the man's shoulder as a pivot, twisted it with a single, brutal move. The knife fell from suddenly nerveless fingers and the dull 'crunch' of breaking bone and tearing ligament was lost beneath Martinelli's scream of agony as he crumbled to the floor, the screams fading quickly to whimpers as he rocked backward and forward, clutched his arm to him.
The wail of the sirens abruptly cut off and the sound of a car pulling up outside warned that the cops had finally arrived.
Dean took another step towards Sam, reaching out to steady his swaying brother who was quickly losing the battle to stay upright. "Sam?" His voice was soft, worried.
"Yeah, I know. I heard them." Sam said as he glanced at the door. "We need to get out of here. I'll be okay."
Mac almost smiled: he'd read them right, no question. They definitely wanted to stay off the cops' radar. "Door out back," Mac gestured. "It's unlocked - leads to the alley. There're no cameras and no-one here is gonna say anything about anything, right?" Mac looked around, sure of the handful of people who were still there.
Terse nods and scattered murmurs of agreement met his words.
Dean met Mac's gaze for a moment as if gauging his intent and offered a muttered, "thanks." Then, easing Sam's good arm over his shoulder for support, the tense set of his jaw the only clue of the pain the extra weight had to have been causing his battered ribs, he headed for the back door without faltering, all but carrying his brother out of the bar.
About thirty seconds later a pair of cops from the local precinct wandered in and stopped short of where Mac stood behind the bar, wiping a beer glass with a rag. They saw Lew, Sheldon and Martinelli, each one looking like they had tussled with a grizzly and come off second best.
"What the hell happened here?" one asked, his partner already on the radio asking for the EMTs to be sent to the scene.
Mac slowly put down the beer glass and looked around at the aftermath of the fight. "No idea," he shrugged. "I didn't see anything."