An Old Haunt for a New Hunt
Summary: Sam and Dean take on a run of the mill haunting, but when Sam is injured Dean must cope with feelings of guilt, and help his recovering brother. As they take on the spirit, the brothers discover another hunter has already been here before.
Disclaimer: If they were mine, I'd be advertising the living daylights out of this show, rather than slowly, but surely converting my friends. I'm up to five so far, and I have yet to have anyone claim I owe them a virtual cookie for beating my record. bg
Thank you, Jubilea for the beta work! Good catch, BTW!
A drowning man will grab even the point of a sword Jewish Proverb
The hubbub of the bar drowned out the click-clack of the keys as Sam surfed the Internet. He was pleasantly surprised to find the Wi-Fi from the coffee shop two doors down reached all the way to Al's Friendly Tavern. He and Dean had enjoyed two beers before Dean left Sam to the research while he hustled pool.
A beer bottle slammed down on the table, rattling the two empty bottles on the table, and caught Sam's attention. Sam straightened, and stretched his back and shoulders, stiff from hunkering over the laptop for the past hour. "Are you done?" he asked shooting Dean a questioning look.
"Nah, but I'm up about one hundred and fifty bucks right now," Dean replied taking a swig of beer. "I'd like to make about forty or so more."
"Don't you think that's pushing your luck a little?" Sam asked.
"Maybe, but that last gig was hell on our clothes, and we need to replace some of them," Dean conceded with a grin. "Don't worry, Sam, I'm sure you've got my back if the locals get UN-friendly."
"Funny," Sam sniped. "Try to stay out of trouble…just this once."
"Sam, you wound me," Dean replied impishly clutching his palm to his chest, and staggering backwards dramatically. "Did you find anything yet? You haven't been surfing for porn all this time, have you?"
"What? No!" Sam protested indignantly. "I found a couple of interesting hits, but nothing that fit your exacting criteria."
"I'm not picky, any old job will do," Dean contradicted.
Sam raised his eyebrow and recited, "I want an uncomplicated, good old-fashioned, shoot, salt and burn it. No touchy-feely, morally complicated, demonic possessed, crazy people hunt this time. Think you can handle that, Sammy?"
Dean gave Sam a lop-sided grin and retorted, "Nice to know you listen to me sometimes, Sam." He spun on his heel, and walked back to the pool table.
"I listen to you all the time, Dean," Sam muttered hunching back over the laptop. "Most of the time, I even believe you."
An hour or so later, Sam closed the laptop, and rubbed his strained, smoke-reddened eyes. He had the beginnings of a headache, and he rubbed his temples. At last he had found something that would meet with Dean's approval. As if on cue, Dean appeared on Sam's right side, sporting a cocky grin. "You ready to hit the bricks?" Dean asked.
"Absooooolutely," Sam replied a huge yawn cracking his face. He stood up, and slid the laptop into its carrying bag.
"What's the matter, kiddo, am I keeping you up past your bedtime?" Dean asked heading for the door.
"I guess so," Sam responded good-naturedly falling into step beside Dean. "But, I found us a gig."
"Yeah?" Dean asked stepping outside.
Sam coughed several times, and bounced on his toes to keep warm as the sudden blast of cold air hit him. "Uh, yeah," Sam replied distractedly, looking around. "Where'd you park after you dropped me off?"
"I left the car at the motel," Dean answered turning left, and heading down the dimly lit street. "It's only a couple of blocks away, and I wanted to have a drink, and not have you drive."
"Dude, you have to get over that already," Sam insisted without humor. "Besides, I drive all the time."
"If that's what you call it," Dean sniggered turning into the alleyway. The truth was, there was not any parking to be had close to the tavern, but teasing Sam never got old; he could always get a rise out of him. If Sam ever figured out how much he really enjoyed baiting him it would destroy the whole thing. It was in moments like these that Dean did not have to remember the demon, their father's death, or what the hell either of their destinies had in the coming war. He did not even have to remember they were hunters. He and Sam were simply brothers.
"Guess which one of us is driving all the way to Minnesota while the other one sleeps?" Sam asked sarcastically.
"Dude, that was a given. You really are tired," Dean replied. He glanced over at Sam. He looked exhausted, and even a little pale. Dean wondered if maybe Sam was more than just tired, he looked sick. "Are you feeling okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, just a little run-down," Sam replied. "I'm going to sleep well tonight."
"You and me both," Dean agreed. He caught sight of a shadowy movement in his peripheral vision. He jutted his chin slightly at Sam, who nodded almost imperceptibly. Sam had seen it too.
The shadowed form stepped out from behind a dumpster, and headed towards the brothers. Sam slid the leather messenger bag off his shoulder, and tucked it behind a small stack of boxes against the alley wall. Dean used the opportunity to slip slightly ahead of him, between Sam and whoever or whatever was approaching.
Dean could sense movement behind him, but he knew Sam had his back. As the figure emerged into the dimly lit alleyway, Dean could see it was one of the men from the bar. "Harry, what's up?" Dean asked. "Feel like playing a little more pool? I can't man, I have to get going, but I'm sure one of your other little friends will still play with you."
"Dean," Sam chastised in a warning tone from behind him.
Dean ignored Sam's obvious warning to not antagonize Harry, and continued, "You're not sore about a lousy fifty bucks are you?"
Harry advanced towards Dean, and without further explanation took a wide arced swing at the seasoned hunter, who easily ducked, and offered a retaliatory jab in return. Harry staggered backwards, wind-milling his arms to regain his balance. Before the older, heavier man could fully recover, Dean was on him. One solid hit later Harry was down.
Dean looked around frantically for Sam, and spotted him kneeling on the ground, partially concealed by shadow. He was checking the pulse of a man he had quickly dispatched only moments before. He glanced over at Dean, and nodded slightly in acknowledgement of the unasked question. He was okay.
"Dean!" Sam shouted in warning.
Dean spun around, and was clipped on his chin by a sharp uppercut. The force of the punch snapped Dean's head backwards, and he was hit again, this time on the back of his head when it came into contact with a brick wall.
Dean shook his head to clear his disorientation, when he noticed two men advancing on Sam. "Sam!" he called out in warning. He tried to head towards Sam, but was cut short by his attacker.
"Going somewhere, kid?" the burly man asked. He was wearing a too small t-shirt that did not completely cover his ample girth, and a dirty feed store hat. Dean recognized him from the bar.
"As a matter of fact, DJ, I am going to help my brother," Dean stated mater-of-factly.
"Is that so?" DJ sneered. "I think you and I have unfinished business, boy."
"You lost, get over it," Dean replied. He saw Sam take down one of the men, and spin around quickly to strike the other man. 'Atta boy,' Dean thought. Deciding he'd had enough of DJ, and his tobacco stained shirt, Dean landed a solid blow to DJ's head. DJ fell like a chopped tree.
Before Dean could offer a warning shout to his brother, Sam was hit from behind by a bat-wielding man. Dean heard the muffled thud as the bat made solid contact with Sam's ribs. A loud whooshing sound escaped from Sam's lungs, as the bat hit him again. Sam kicked his attacker's knee, and he fell to the ground. Before the man could recover, Dean hit him squarely in the jaw, and the man stayed down.
Dean rushed over to Sam who was struggling to his feet. He grabbed Sam by the collar, and hoisted him the rest of the way to his feet. "Sam?" Dean asked concern flashing in his eyes.
"I'm fine," Sam forced out through gritted teeth. "Let's go." He tried to walk forward, but Dean was still firmly gripping his shirt.
"Sam," Dean scolded his eyes scanning Sam's face for any trace of deception. "Bruised or broken?"
"Not sure," Sam replied with a sigh. He stopped trying to break from Dean's grip, and took a mental inventory of his ribs. "Cracked?" He responded finally picking a middle ground.
"Was that a question?" Dean asked. "Never mind, it doesn't matter. We need to get you to a doctor." Dean put his arm around Sam's shoulders, and attempted to steer him out of the alley.
"No," Sam argued. "I'm not hurt that bad." He resisted Dean's gentle push, and bent over to grab the hidden laptop. He barely suppressed a moan of pain, when he stood back up, and shouldered the messenger bag.
"Broken ribs are nothing to mess with," Dean insisted not missing Sam's grimace of pain. He snagged the laptop from Sam. "You know that, let's go."
Sam huffed lightly in protest, but this time he did not pull against Dean's guiding push towards the end of the alley, and the waiting Impala.
Dean sat in the waiting room of the small emergency clinic one town over as a concession to Sam. He had listened to Sam's shallow labored breathing for nearly twenty-three miles before they reached the clinic. They had waited over an hour before the only doctor on duty finished examining an entire family with the flu, and one man who had been kicked by a cow.
Dean knew he should be looking at the information on the hunt Sam had transferred to Word at the bar, but there was something about sitting in a waiting room that caused his brain to misfire, and the worrying to begin. On a good day, Dean would feel guilty about anything bad that happened to Sam. However tonight, he felt directly responsible for Sam getting hurt. It was his choice to stay in the bar longer to play for more money. Sam had warned him, but he'd blown him off. There was also the fact he had left the car two blocks from the tavern knowing they may need a quick getaway.
Dean rubbed his right hand over his head, and down his face. He hunched over, and rested his elbows on his knees cradling his head in his hands. What the hell was taking so long? Dean stood up abruptly, and paced in a tight line garnering annoyed glances from a young mother holding her crying baby. Dean sat back down, and gave her a small apologetic smile. He sighed loudly, leaned back in the folding chair, and closed his eyes immediately losing himself in a memory.
"Will Sammy be okay?" Dean asked finally. He was sitting in the back seat of the Impala with Sammy who was 'sleeping' off the effects of the striga attack.
John made eye contact with Dean through the rear view mirror. "Sammy will be fine, son," John replied giving his oldest son a small hint of absolution before reinforcing the lesson, "I know you'll keep an eye on him at Pastor Jim's, and make sure he stays safe."
"Yes, sir," Dean replied breaking eye contact with his father. John nodded in approval, and turned his attention back to the road. A part of him hated pushing his son to be responsible for Sammy, for things well past his years of experience. But, the larger part of him knew it was necessary for him to ensure both his sons' safety. They needed to obey him immediately, to watch out for each other, and learn to take care of themselves. It could save their lives one day.
Dean watched the rise and fall of Sammy's chest, reassuring himself that Sammy was still alive. It had been so close this time, and his dad was right to call him on it. It was his fault. Dean pulled the blanket tighter around Sammy and vowed silently to himself that he would never again allow anything bad to happen to his little brother as long as he was around to stop it.
"Mr. Richards? Mr. Richards?" the nurse said tapping Dean lightly on the shoulder.
Dean's eyes snapped open and asked, "Sorry, what?"
The nurse smiled politely and replied, "Sam's getting dressed, but you're welcome to go back now." She gestured to one of the curtained areas. "He's in exam room two."
"Thanks," Dean replied. He stood up so quickly the folding chair collapsed onto itself, and fell to the ground with a clunking bang. "Sorry," he said to the young mother picking up the chair. The baby started crying again in earnest. "Sorry," he said again, and hustled off to find Sam.
Sam finished buttoning up his shirt, and gave Dean a sheepish look when he walked into the exam room. 'What are you hiding little brother?' Dean wondered. "Well?" he asked.
The doctor chose that exact moment to re-enter the exam room. He was a nearly bald, old man who looked as if he had been practicing medicine since leeches were standard practice. He looked up from the chart, and began, "Do you want your…"
"Brother," Sam supplied.
"Brother," the doctor continued. "To step out while we discuss your treatment?"
'Treatment?' Dean thought.
"No, it's fine," Sam said. He sat down and studiously avoided Dean's questioning gaze.
"Fine, fine," the doctor said nodding. "As you know, two of your ribs are broken, and one is cracked on the right side. The good news is, your bilateral lung sounds are as good as can be expected, so there is nothing to worry about there." At this point, the doctor looked Sam closely in the eye and continued, "As long as you take it easy, son, and no strenuous activity for at least two weeks."
"I really don't," Sam started.
"You'll need to rest," the doctor insisted. "Especially if the coughing worsens, or the pressure in your chest increases."
That got Dean's attention. "What do you mean, if the coughing worsens?" Dean asked.
The doctor turned his attention from Sam to Dean. "Sam has what in layman's terms is classified as walking pneumonia. I'm prescribing a round of erythromycin to combat the infection. Unfortunately, the pneumonia is an added complication to his injury, and may cause a secondary injury if the coughing is extreme. There is no evidence of internal bleeding or injury, which is very lucky considering how he was injured. Also, the pneumonia may mask the warning signs of such an injury. Alternate between cold packs for the first 48 hours to reduce swelling, and heat after the first two days to help speed the healing process. If he sleeps with his head slightly elevated it may help with the increased coughing at night."
"Thank you Doctor Evans," Dean replied looking at the doctor's nametag.
"One more thing," Dr. Evans added turning his attention back to Sam. "Normally, I'd prescribe Percocet or Lorcet for your pain, but they can both suppress breathing and lung function which may be counterproductive all things considered. I'm going to prescribe a low dosage, but you will have to be extremely diligent about your breathing and coughing exercises."
"Ah, actually, can you suggest something else?" Sam asked. "Percocet really knocks me out."
"That may be a good thing. You and your brother don't strike me as the take it easy type," Dr. Evans said with a smile. "But, in deference to you, I'll send you home with prescription strength ibuprofen. However, if it doesn't control the pain, and you aren't able to rest, come back for the Percocet."
"He will," Dean jumped in when Sam opened his mouth to protest. He snagged the two prescription scripts from Dr. Evans hand, and turned to Sam. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah," Sam replied tiredly. He stood up carefully, and walked towards the curtained partition.
"Boys?" Dr. Evans called causing both of the Winchesters to turn back towards him with a questioning look. "There's a 24 hour pharmacy at the Wal-Mart in Fargo. I suggest you get those prescriptions filled tonight. It's only about thirty minutes from here."
"Thanks," Dean replied ushering Sam out of the exam room.
Dean watched from the trunk as Sam carefully lowered himself into the passenger seat of the Impala. He rummaged through his duffle until he found the pain killers Jo had given him after she'd dug into his shoulder retrieving a bullet his, at the time, demon-possessed brother had put there.
Dean sat down beside Sam, and held out his hand with two of the painkillers in his palm. "Here you go, Sam," he said not making eye contact with his brother. He felt Sam grab the pills, but did not notice any movement on Sam's part to actually swallow them. He turned in his seat to face Sam and was met with a questioning gaze. He sighed loudly, and said honestly, "They'll probably knock you out for awhile, but we're only driving to the pharmacy." At Sam's stubborn, resolute gaze, he added glibly, "I promise to wake you before we start opening the Christmas presents."
That did get a response from Sam who snorted softly, and dry swallowed the pills. "Happy now?" he asked with a small edge of annoyance lacing his voice.
"I got my way, didn't I?" Dean responded with a smile. Dean turned the key, and the Impala roared to life. As Dean turned out of the parking lot and onto the highway, he did not have to look at Sam to know his comment had been met with an eye roll. He turned the radio on at half volume hoping the music, the road noise, and the steady rumble of the engine would lull his little brother to sleep like it did when they were kids.
The third time he glanced at Sam trying to gauge if he was resting comfortably or not, he found Sam staring at him, his hazel green eyes darkening to almost brown in the dim interior light of the Impala. He was busted, and he knew it. Turning his attention quickly back to the road, he hoped Sam would let it pass. He should have known better. "It's not your fault, you know," Sam said sleepily.
"Sam, don't - just…don't," Dean replied sharply, willing Sam to stop, to let it drop, to allow him to wallow in guilt for awhile. He did not need forgiveness for this particular sin. What he needed was for Sam to stay safe and happy for more than two seconds at a time. He really was not asking that much from the universe, so why did it always seem to plot against him?
"Dean," Sam countered with a large, halting yawn. Dean could feel the muscles in his jaw twitch involuntarily as he gritted his teeth. When Sam did not continue, Dean chanced another glance at his brother. Well, I'll be damned. Maybe the universe was not out to get him after all. Sam was asleep.
An hour and a half later, prescriptions filled, Dean struggled to get a nearly comatose Sam from the Impala to the hotel room. The small, thin, middle-aged motel clerk followed closely behind them with a pillow, sheets, and a blanket. He scooted around Dean to open the door, and Dean quickly took in the motel room.
There was a long, narrow kitchen directly through the door with a table, three chairs, a microwave, sink, refrigerator, and rows of cupboards. The bathroom was through the main walkway on his left, and the main room housed a large queen bed; one, large queen bed. "Ah, I thought I asked for a room with two beds?" Dean asked pulling back the covers, and helping Sam to the bed.
"Yeah, the other bed is a Murphy bed," the clerk reassured him.
"A who now?" Dean asked. He stepped in front of the fan which had long black hair stuck in the spokes that fluttered in the weak breeze. He opened the window in an attempt to circulate some fresh air into the room. The cold, early spring night air quickly chilled the room, and Dean closed the window.
"A Murphy bed," the clerk replied opening the closet door, and pulling a bed out of the closet.
"Ah hell no," Dean muttered under his breath. He watched as the clerk slowly started to make the bed. "Hey, uh, I can finish that, sir," Dean offered.
"Joe, Joe Sherman," the clerk corrected. "It's no trouble. It'll only take me a minute."
Dean rolled his eyes, and huffed impatiently. He was not about to leave Sam alone with Joe, Joe Sherman. The bags would have to wait until Joe finished. After what seemed like an eternity, Joe finished making the Murphy bed, and left the room.
Dean went out to the Impala to retrieve their bags and the medication. In a habit born from years of hunting, Dean made sure the room was secure, and laid salt lines around the windows and in front of the door. Dean removed Sam's shoes and jacket, and covered him with the blanket. Using three very lumpy pillows, Dean propped Sam up in bed. "Not your fault," Sam whispered.
"Let it go, Sammy," Dean replied. "Get some sleep."
"K," Sam responded softly falling back to sleep.
Dean paced the small room. Despite the lack of sleep, he was restless, and his mind was whirling. With a sigh, Dean flopped onto the Murphy bed, and was immediately folded up into the mattress like a taco. "Great, just great," Dean muttered and squirmed to lie diagonally on the bed to keep the mattress flat. "It's been one hell of a night."
Sam's light, congested snoring and the rhythmic whirring of the fan were the only response.
AN: My friend and I stayed in this room in Long Beach, CA when we traveled down to L.A. for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
It was my friend (a recent convert to Supernatural) who suggested the boys HAD to spend a night in that room. So, they did. (c: