Clean up
An obligatory tag to 'Heart'
By Gumnut
7 Apr 2007

He found her by the window, her figure sketched out by the morning sun as she looked out at the world below. One hand played with a curtain, but for that tiny movement, she was still.

He blinked as her outline blurred repeatedly and his own fingers twitched. But there was no soft fabric to play against his palm. The grip of the gun was still warm from her touch.

An indrawn breath struggled down his throat and she heard him. She turned.

The small part of his mind that was not caught with grief pondered at her resolution. There were no tears on her face. She stared up at him, determination and a remarkable gratitude in her eyes. She said nothing.

And his throat was broken.

His face was wet and he didn't care as he raised the gun. Her shoulders set and she straightened, meeting the cold barrel from across the room.

The gun trembled and he had to take a step closer.

She forced a small smile.

His heart broke.

Please, I'm asking you to save me.

If you're not careful you will have to waste me one day, Dean.

He wanted to close his eyes, but he couldn't.

I'm asking you to save me.

His finger pulled the trigger.

-o-o-o-

Dean jumped at the gunshot, the bark cutting like a knife. But it was the silence that followed that drained the life out of him. He stood there, wanting to give, wanting to fix, and unsure how to do either. Awkward and hurting for moments that seemed like hours, he stood in a werewolf's kitchen caught between his own need to check on his brother and the respect of much needed privacy for what the man had had to do.

He had been there himself, but unlike his brother, he had failed.

His eyes closed a moment as he fought for reason. He had to-

"Dean."

The voice was soft, muffled by the kitchen wall. He rubbed a rough hand across his face and moved, striding into the living room, knowing what he would find in part and fearing the rest.

His brother was kneeling beside her, draping a torn curtain over her face.

"Sam?"

Sam didn't answer immediately, his gaze caught by the body beside him. Fabric fluttered into place.

A clogged throat cleared the silence as Sam stood, turning slowly. "W-we need to clean up."

Dean blinked, the moment snapping. "Yeah..." His own throat caught and he forced it clear before moving automatically.

They had to clean up. Clear away their presence. Break their trail. Attempt to remove the blame from the police record that would one day catch them up and burn them in hell.

Particularly Sammy.

Dean shook himself, pulling the mandatory cloth from his pocket and wiping down surfaces, the corners of his eyes never leaving the stooped figure of his brother as he did the same.

Stowing away the gun.

He reached out a hand for the weapon. "I've got it." Sammy.

Sam's eyes caught his for the briefest moment, his wet face glistening in the overhead lighting.

Dean dropped the hand.

They worked in silence, the old familiar tricks hiding the pain of the moment. There was no time for talk. The gunshot would have been heard and the police tape decorating the house next door made sure response times were at their best.

Furniture moved back into its original position, rope disappeared along with any trace of the brothers.

Scratches and the torn up room remained.

Madison remained.

Memories remained.

Sirens in the distance had Dean pulling Sam through the door and down the steps, their clattering footsteps echoing in his ears.

The Impala welcomed them, but Dean wasn't listening.

-o-o-o-

It took a hundred miles of asphalt for another word to be spoken. The speed of the car wavered in time to Dean's thoughts, the steering wheel heating under his palms as the day burnt into his knuckles.

There was no music, only the deep thrum of engine and rubber on blacktop. The wind whistled through worn seals, the Impala haunting them as much as they.

"Where are we going?" Sam's voice was quiet, but heartbreakingly normal.

"Reno."

"Why?"

"Wanna go somewhere else?"

Sam didn't answer.

"Reno it is."

Silence is a tyrannic ruler.

-o-o-o-

Reno it wasn't. Halfway there, Dean hit an exit and found himself an empty road eating another direction and took it. The bright lights of any city were too bright.

They headed north, out of California, into Oregon, not really caring where they ended up. The first night was spent in the car in the middle of nowhere, lying low just in case. The radio blurted the news of a killer in San Francisco and the police fabricated ideas of who had done it and the story behind it. It could have been considered amusing, knowing what had actually happened and listening to the explanations and wild guesses, but Dean, as much as his brother, was not in the mood.

The road took them away.

The road always took them away.

"I'm sorry."

Sam had been so quiet so long, Dean jumped when he spoke. "What?"

"I said, I'm sorry."

The windscreen frowned a moment before Dean shot a look at his brother. "For what?"

" I don't want you to have to do that."

Another 'what' leapt to his lips, but didn't escape. A glance in Sam's direction and he knew exactly what he was talking about. He bit his lip, staring at the road as if it offered him some kind of salvation. The Impala ate white lines. "We've already discussed this."

"Things have changed."

The Chevy hit the side of the road much too fast for a controlled exit, the tyres sliding on the gravel as the driver hit the brakes hard. In the corner of his eye, he saw his brother reach for the dash to steady himself and Dean's lips thinned as his teeth grit. A signpost kissed the front bumper as the car finally stopped.

The engine rumbled into idle a moment before the deserted road swallowed the sound. Dean's keys jangled in the ignition slot.

"Don't."

It was the only word he could force past his lips. It didn't say enough. There weren't any words that could.

"Dean, I can understand-"

"No, Sam." He held up a hand. "Don't."

"Dean-"

No. He couldn't. The door creaked and he clambered out into the afternoon sun.

He wasn't surprised to hear the other door echo his own. He jammed his hands into his pockets.

"It is the same situation, Dean, and you know it."

No, it isn't. He walked away from the car, his worn sneakers catching in the grass.

"Damnit, Dean! I killed her! I know!"

He refused to listen to the grief in that voice. Where had this come from? Why were they here? And why the hell couldn't Sammy shut up?

A hand on his shoulder.

He shrugged it off, spinning. Sam blocked out the sun. "Dad should never have asked you."

A flash of anger and Dean stepped towards his brother. "And who should he have asked? The tooth fairy? He knew he wasn't going to be here, Sam." He looked away. "And it won't come to that."

"What if it does?"

"Damnit, Sam-"

That hand reached out again and brushed his shoulder. He flinched it off again.

"I can't expect you to do it, Dean. I know...how it feels...you...you don't have to worry. I can take care of myself."

Dean looked up sharply, catching his brother's eyes, and suddenly found his fists knotted in shirtfront. He flung the taller man hard up against the Impala, the studs of his jeans clinking on the paintwork. "Don't even think about it! By god, you do that, and I'll follow you. You hear me? You shoot your ass, and you're shooting mine." He pushed off, rocking Sam backwards. "Hell! You stupid bastard."

He turned and walked off, not wanting to look fate in the eye any longer.

-o-o-o-

He didn't know why he had brought it up. The mess that was his head just spun around inside, the eyes of the woman he had loved staring at him as he pulled the trigger, followed by those same eyes vacantly staring at nothing as the curtain dropped.

He had been at the other end of that gun. He had stared at his brother's eyes as the demon had attempted to taunt him into doing the deed. That haunted look, the death behind grey-green irises and the refusal that ate him up inside.

He didn't want to hurt anyone anymore than Madison had. But how could he ask his brother to do that? How could he trust him to follow through when the man could barely speak about it?

The thought burned.

He swallowed the hitch in his throat, and stared at his brother's back.

Everyone he loved suffered. Everyone died.

Except Dean.

Especially Dean.

Perhaps there was only one person left to save.

-o-o-o-