Dean had failed. Once again, in the course of his and Leah's rather perplexing relationship, he'd managed to let her slip away from him. This time, however, had been a little different. He'd been physically holding onto her, had her wrapped within his arms where she should have been safe. Instead, she could be lost to him forever. Flashes of the past bombarded him - his mother, his father, Pastor Jim. People he'd cared for who were there one minute and gone the next. Dean cringed at the painful reminder of how fragile life really was; of just how easily someone could be torn away from you.
Well, not this time. He was not going to let that happen again. He'd found his way in there and he was going to find his way back out with Leah at his side. He scanned the room, prowled its perimeters even though he knew there would be no door, no window, but he had to keep moving. His body was tense, muscles drawn tight as he continued to pace, his mind methodically sorting through memories. He had to fill in the blanks because he was certain that he had the answer to helping Leah. It was just a matter of remembering.
He replayed the car ride from hell, when Manning had possessed Nigel and shot Leah, but he forced himself to push past the guilt of that mess before it could distract him. Moving forward in time, he thought about the hospital, finding out that Leah had slipped into a coma and the endless hours sitting beside her bed hoping (and yeah, even saying a random prayer or two just in case there was someone up there listening) for her recovery. There were so many people shuffling in and out. Doctors, nurses, the cop, Sam and Amy, Ed and Kate.
Whoa! Back up.
The cop, Falk. He wasn't sure how, but he knew that guy was important. Dean stopped pacing and rubbed at the back of his neck as he pictured the annoying detective who had been hanging around the hospital. Falk had been asking lots of questions and constantly watching him and Sam. The man had been as relentless as a frigging hell hound. He'd even shown up at the library the night Dean had felt Leah's touch and talked about comas and...
The sound of the soft, feminine voice sent tingles along his spine. Shit! Speak of the devil, or in this case, think of the reaper. He tried to keep his breathing as steady as possible, his thoughts neutral, but he doubted that he'd be able to fool his visitor. The damned thing seemed to be one hell of a mind reader.
Slowly, Dean turned around. "Mom." He mustered up a smile as he took a step forward. "You look..."
In a flash, she was standing directly in front of him. The word 'scary' would pretty much finish his sentence. From a distance, it had looked like his mother, but up close he could see that the skin was translucent, the eyes dull and vacant. It placed a cold hand on his face and lightly stroked his cheek. Dean shuddered at its touch. Feeling that response, the reaper angled it's head to the side and studied him.
"It is a shame you had to go and remember all of that, Dean. I was hoping it would be easier this time. You hunters have been quite a handful lately, sneaking in here and trying to steal back what should be mine."
Dean smirked as he took a step back, removing himself from its clammy touch. "Sorry to be such a killjoy. Then again, it will be a joy to kill your sorry ass."
The reaper laughed. "As if you could kill me! I am disappointed Dean. I would have thought you could come up with something better than empty threats in order to save the life of the woman you love."
So maybe it was willing to deal with him. That would make things a whole helluva lot easier. "How about an even trade then? My life for hers."
The reaper took a moment to consider the offer before speaking. "Interesting. It says something about you, Dean. Something that I would not have expected."
Dean felt a surge of hope. He could get Leah out of this. Send her back to her family. And then, once she was safe, he'd figure out a way to destroy this evil sonofabitch. No way in hell he was gonna stay here in this vacant hellhole. Leah had been willing to give him that second chance to make things right and he planned on getting back to her and taking it.
"So we have a deal."
"Sorry, Dean. I do not make deals. That is not how this works."
"Damn it!" Dean yelled, rushing forward. "What the fuck does that mean, it's not how this works? You aren't even playing by the goddamned rules! You talk about sneaking around and stealing souls? That's exactly what you're doing. You play these fucked up games with people who are weak by pretending to be someone they loved and lost, then you lure them into wanting to die." He stared hard into dull eyes, his own glittering with anger. "All you want are souls, right? Doesn't matter whose. Let Leah go and you can have me instead."
The image of his mother dissipated, transforming into the large, billowy form of the reaper. It hovered above him, emanating a heavy presence of darkness and death. Dean held his ground, glaring up at the creature as it tried to intimidate him, letting it know that there would be no backing down on his part. He was going to get Leah home, no matter what it took.
"No, Dean. You do not understand. You can not send her home. This is not up to you. It is up to Leah. It always has been."
With that, the reaper disappeared, leaving Dean both furious and confused as he struggled to make sense of its parting words.
Sam's long stride, combined with an abundance of anger and frustration, carried him down the narrow hospital corridor in record time. He clutched the keys to the Impala in his left hand while his right was curled into a tight fist. One that he was prepared to use on his lying, manipulative, pig-headed brother.
"The vial's in the glove box, my ass!" he fumed under his breath. How could he be so damned stupid as to fall for that? He should have known, should have seen it coming for Christ's sake! Like Dean was actually going to wait for him to check out Falk's story? Right!
A young nurse saw him and started to smile, apparently used to his easy going manner, but Sam didn't have time for any idle conversation. He was probably already too late as it was. The pissed off look on his face must have been enough to warn her off because the smile quickly faded and she hurried on to the nearby nurse's station without a backward glance. He was pricked by a twinge of guilt, but it was better this way. He needed as much uninterrupted time as possible. Or rather, Dean did.
Four more rooms and he was there, standing in Leah's doorway, and even though it was what he'd expected he was still unprepared for the sight that greeted him. A twisted knot of fear settled in his stomach and his legs felt unsteady, forcing him to grab onto the door frame to maintain his balance. Dean was sitting in a chair that was pulled up next to the bed, his hand entwined with Leah's, his head resting on her stomach. It was a sight he'd seen repeatedly over the past several days and to a passerby it would merely look as if Dean was taking a short nap. But Sam knew better. Sam knew that his brother was in a deep coma.
"God damn it, Dean!" he swore, his voice low and harsh as he struggled with the overwhelming fear coursing through him.
"He'll be okay, Sam."
Though they were spoken quietly, Sam's body jerked at the words, his eyes scrambling to find the source. Blake Kendall. The hunter had been sitting in the far corner of the room. He stood now and walked toward Sam. Sam had been so upset when he hadn't found the vial that he'd forgotten all about the call he'd made to Blake. The one where he'd informed the man of the potion Dean had planned to take; the one where he'd asked Blake to keep it from happening.
"Blake." He stormed forward, meeting the man halfway. The two of them stood near the foot of Leah's bed as they faced off. "What the hell happened? I told you what Dean was gonna do and I asked you to stop him. Why didn't you do something to hold him off until I got here?"
The other hunter shrugged as he shoved a hand through his tousled raven locks. He could hardly believe that Sam was so upset. He knew what Dean was planning; he should have also known that his brother would make it happen. With or without the younger Winchester's assistance or approval.
"Seriously, Sam, what the hell did you want me to do? Fight him? Shoot him?" That last option was rather appealing and brought a slight smile to his lips, despite the situation. "As much as I would have loved to, your brother did the right thing. The only thing he could to save Leah. I'd have done it, too, if I was him."
Sam's jaw clenched as he clamped his teeth together, biting down hard to control the urge to slam the fist he'd reserved for Dean into Blake's face instead. Knowing an ass kicking wouldn't change things, he settled for grabbing a fistful of the guy's shirt and dragging him close, putting them practically nose-to-nose.
"Then you're as dumb as Dean!" He jabbed at Blake with his other hand, not even caring if the keys he held were making contact with the hunter's chest. "I needed some time to check that shit out for myself, but thanks to you, all I can do now is hope Falk was being straight with Dean." His eyes darted toward the bed, lingering on the still form of his brother. "I need to know how long ago he took it and if anything's happened since."
Brushing Sam's hands away, Blake tugged on his wrinkled denim shirt, smoothing it down before answering. "He gave Leah some, then took the rest. Nothing's happened. He hasn't even moved, Sam. I mean, he only downed that shit about ten minutes ago. What the hell do you think could happen in ten minutes?"
Leah blinked, her mind desperately trying to register what had happened. Her arms were still outstretched, wrapped around what was now an empty space. A space that only seconds before had been filled with the strong, hard body of Dean Winchester. Or had she simply imagined him? Had her distraught mind conjured up the man she loved out of the desperation she felt to see him, touch him, one more time?
With a forlorn moan, she let her arms drop to her side and then her body slid limply to the floor. She was never going to escape this hellish prison. It was impossible to tell what was real and was only the product of her imagination. She'd been certain that Dean had really been there with her. He'd felt so good. So alive. She'd felt alive for the first time since waking up in this lonely, sterile room. But now she was beginning to doubt her sanity.
She'd always considered herself a strong woman, capable of taking care of herself as well as others, but this place had eaten away every ounce of strength she'd had. When that door had appeared and she'd seen Dean on the other side, there'd been a glimmer of hope. He'd actually found her and in his arms she'd felt whole again. But when he'd mentioned Amy and her family, the reality of what she'd been through had slammed into her. The truth was that she was dying. She wasn't actually in this little white prison, she was lying in a hospital bed and her body was dying. How could Dean be there with her? His existence in this empty world, in this limbo that she'd been thrust into, was impossible.
It was at that exact moment that she was hit with so much grief she could barely stand it. She wasn't standing there in Dean's arms, she was completely alone. She was never going to see Dean again. She was never going to see Amy or Sam or her parents. Her life as she'd known it was over and this was how she was going to spend eternity.
A deep, bone-chilling desperation swept through her; one so profound it caused her heart to quiver rapidly. Leah gasped, struggling to pull in oxygen, but she couldn't draw in a single breath. She clutched at her chest, pounded on it in an attempt to breathe, but she couldn't. And that's when she realized that there was no movement beneeath her hand. Her heart had stopped beating.
Author's Note: First off, I'd like to thank everyone reading this! I've tried hard to stay true to the incredible characters and show that Mr. Kripke has blessed us with; hopefully I've done that.
SexySadie88 - I love the way your mind works, cool theory! :) This chapter should hopefully answered your question, though. Thanks so much for reviewing!!
Nehasupnfan - Thank you so much for the review!! That part with Dean admitting the strength of his love was a little hard to write. I just hope it came through believable.
Ziggy Mo - Thanks!! I got caught up in another full length story, it's really difficult to keep two going... :0 I definitely plan to finish this one though. After two stories with Dean and Leah, I can't just leave it hanging.
mssammydean - Haha!! Evil white room, huh?! ;) Thank you for always reviewing!!! I really appreciate it.
Sammyluvr83 - So glad you liked the chapter! Thanks for always taking the time to review! :)
Metallikirk - Hey Hey Sarah!! It means the world to me that you are following along and reviewing the story on here! Thanks, hon!! HUGS!!! :)
Mrs Cullen-Ackles - I'm thrilled that you have read and enjoyed both of my stories! Thank you so much for the wonderful reviews!!