Roads – Chpt 10.
"Faster... you must move faster..." the whispering wind tickled his ear once more, the same one that had drawn him to his brother in the first place, the one that made it possible for him to find again the best part of his life.
"I'm trying..." he gasped feeling a familiarity with the whisper despite its urgency.
"They will kill you all..." it urged then fell away.
"Son of a bitch..." he groaned stopping and facing Sam, "... we got trouble little brother, something's wrong outside here..."
"Go... I'll rest... jus'slow'n y'down... weak..." Sam sniffed sadly, his eyes watering while his chin wobbled, and his body rocked on his feet as he shook his head back and forth, his despondence palpable.
"Would you knock it off with the 'weak' talk! You're one of the strongest people I know Sam! You're..." Dean gulped then took a deep breath to fight the crushing feeling in his chest, the one that came whenever Sam had a pain he couldn't fix, "...I am NOT leaving you behind! Now listen to me..." he grasped him under the chin, "I'm gonna pick you up... it's gonna hurt those ribs like hell but I need you to just hold on... we're not far from..." where we are... boy that sounds weird... "...where our bodies are..." yeah that sounds better, "I need you to just hang on for a little bit okay?" he watched Sam's eyes close and his head loll back loosely on his neck.
"Sam!" he grasped his chin again waking him up just enough, "Sam... just hold on..." he said softly, adjusting his position to get his gigantic little brother into a fireman's carry on his undamaged side.
"No... Dean... it says I'm weak... leave me here... I'll wait... you go... save th'day superman...used t'fly me so high... 'anks..." he sighed with a smile so sad it brought a sting of tears to Dean's eyes.
"Sammy! Listen to me!" he barked through the choking feeling in his throat, "We're gonna have a long ass, long overdue talk when this is over you little... jerk..." he shook his head, one hand on Sam's arm, the other between his legs as he ducked down, "just hang on tiger... I'll get us home..." he grunted straightening and shrugging his brother's weight more evenly over his shoulders. He moved as gently as he could knowing each movement was probably a screaming agony for Sam, especially with those broken ribs, the only good thing was that he seemed to have passed out just about the same time Dean draped him over his shoulders.
" 'IT says I'm weak...' he said...man I hope I brought the journal with... a quick exorcism to make sure you're not possessed and we're all good Sam... course that's after we stop whatever's going on up there... up there? Out there? I really hate this head-trip crap... and I am NEVER kissing a Dryad again!" he promised himself as the sound of a stream came to his ears.
Wind stirred strongly with the gathering energies through the Dryad's grotto, plants stood taller, flowers exploded into bloom, grasses shot into the air and the swaying whip-like branches of her willow reached toward the cone of power.
"NO! Emissary!" the pipe-like voice screeched, the opal eyes glowing scarlet with rage and fear. It turned, its mouth open in horror watching the leaves of its home nearly explode from the branches, lanceolate, serrate leaves of soft sage green strained to impossible size, crumbled and dropped off, replaced in a frenetic burst of new buds that followed the same course, generation after generation while the Dryad screamed her rage and flew toward the Emissary, her knobby wooden fingers little more than outstretched talons. Eddy's of wispy white static churned ceaselessly creating a white veined impenetrable wall, the summoned power proved too great for the woodland creature who was flung with a piercing shriek across the stream, deep into the woods on the far side.
Dean felt the weight of his body around him as his eyes blinked open searching for the first person that always came to mind.
Sam... come on Sam... get up in there dude... he thought noting his younger brother's inert form on the ground.
As Laura came into view he started pushing himself reluctantly upwards until he was sitting on the grass and the melee around them intruded on his awareness.
s'goin' on? he wondered watching his girl grasp his brother behind the head, raise his torso up and despite the oddly dark sky Dean could see Sam's eyes open, "That's my boy..." he grinned then frowned just as quickly as she tried to put a cup to his lips.
"What're you doing?" he croaked with a dry throat, his eyes saucer wide as Sam's hands closed on Laura's throat and his body rose to its full height, holding her an easy foot off the ground by her neck. "Sam!..." he barked pushing himself to his feet in a half stumble toward them.
"No..." he gasped drawing himself up short as black within black eyes glanced at him from his little brother's face. From this angle he could see Laura's mouth moving though he couldn't hear what was being said, and despite the darkness, shocks of lightning crackled all around them enabling him to make out things that had been drawn on his brother.
I know that symbol... and that one... that one's my symbol... well Enki's sign... those are all protection... but how the hell is he...? Did I bring that back? his thoughts moved with the swiftness of the strobing lightning all around them. He was mesmerized by the sight of Sam's body throwing his head back and howling. The symbols drawn on his skin, I'd venture to bet that's NOT edible body paint... in blood, shimmered a faint silver, then white as the thing inside his little brother bent his head forward, teeth bared with sinister savage intent. Laura's arm came up, she tilted the contents of the cup into her mouth then cast it aside, wrapped her legs around Sam's waist, broke his hold on her neck, grasped him by the head and pressed her mouth to his.
Dean felt his eyes widen in shock as she kept herself connected to Sam, the slightest hint of something dark and viscous drawing a line from the corner of his mouth, down his chin as whatever she'd put into hers was being transferred to him. He moved and bucked, enraged, his hands and arms trying to pry her off of him as at the outer edges of the silvery shimmering circle on the ground the winds were seeming to slow. The willow branches gave up their questing reach, sliding naked and leafless toward the blackening shriveling trunk. Across the stream a screech could be heard that made a lullaby of nails on a chalkboard.
Everything outside the circle, the gigantically grown grasses, the impossibly large and out of season flowers, crackled a dry rubbery sound as the limbs of the local flora curled blackening back on themselves, crumbling with a finality that had nothing to do with the sleep of winter. They're dying... all of it... he noticed looking around, watching his brother's body stumbling through its last throes, his girl still clinging to him unrelenting, her mouth against his, ...except what's inside the circle... she really did it... there hasn't been...oh God what did you do Laura? he breathed deep, once more feeling the sting of tears in his eyes.
Sam crumpled to his knees, losing consciousness once again as Laura lowered him onto his back on the patch of still lush grass. She drew her mouth from him, her lips pressed tightly together and turned toward the sound of a hitched breath behind her.
"What did you do?" he shook his head, his hand reaching toward her while the tears that filmed his eyes magnified them in the returning light of late afternoon. "Sam?" he sniffed moving toward them. His hands twined in her shirt and he pulled her onto her tip toes, "What did you do!" he demanded into her black within black eyes. Before he knew it she was gone.
Torn out of his grip by the powers of a furious Dryad finally able to penetrate the last remnants of the ancient spell still traveling the path of the protective line, Laura crashed into the trunk of a nearby tree.
The woods spirit stalked toward her, its eyes white with fury, Laura took to her feet, and cocked her head to the side smiling cruelly.
"You should have stayed on the far side of the stream..." she sneered.
Sam pushed himself up on his elbows, his face twisted with confusion and curiosity as Dean dashed back from the cover of the woods wrapping what looked like his t-shirt around a tree branch.
"Dean? S'goin' on?" he asked groggily.
"Aawha Sammy! S'at you? You alright now?" Dean asked gazing hard into Sam's puzzled eyes while he dug into the last embers of the fire Laura had, so he could make his torch.
"Yeah... feel like hell but... is that my shirt?!" he asked looking down then back at his big brother, his expression almost horrified, "Why am I covered in blood? and Why are you making a torch out of my shirt!" he half demanded pushing himself up to his knees now as Dean ran toward the head of the stream.
From behind he could see the forest creature bending forward, the color of its skin, or bark changing... glowing... turning to white ash at the edges. He caught sight of the genuinely evil smile on his girls' mouth and shuddered with the realization. The dryad was burning, from the inside, outward... and it was because of whatever evil she'd taken from Sam into herself. Yeah... this is gonna stop... pretty much right now...
"Hey Dryad!" he called sharply, drawing the sprite's attention as well as Laura's to him, while Sam's attention was drawn to them as he backed toward his brother.
"S'goin' on Dean?" he asked.
"Plenty," he muttered, "Laura... don't you do it! Don't you give it that kind of power!" he urged then shifted his focus to the woods spirit, "Can your tree come back if it's consumed in fire?!" he asked.
"Is she possessed?" Sam asked trying to get a good look at Laura from this distance, "And what the hell are those...oh no... Dean I see them..."
"Yeah she's possessed... I think I brought it back with us..."
The Dryad turned away from Laura, its hands outstretched toward the human who held killing fire at the husk of her home.
"Can you heal it?" he asked.
"Yes..." she piped slowly, straightening as the fire within her appeared to subside. Apparently as long as she was not threatening Laura, she seemed to be able to fight the call to kill the woods spirit.
"Sam start getting our stuff together..." he instructed.
"Dean we can't just leave..."
"That's exactly what we're going to do..."
"No... we have to find a way to stop those things!"
"What things?" Dean asked.
Sam waved his hand at the swirling darting shades in the sky, those creatures that poked their twisted angry little faces at him, at Dean, and even at Laura who'd descended to her knees, the evidence of her possession easily visible now that the ritual was done, and day's light returned to the sky with the completion of the magiks she'd wrought.
"Those things! They're Igigi Dean... can't you see them?" Sam asked, hoping he hadn't gone completely insane, everything felt topsy turvey enough right now when the last thing he remembered was pressing the muzzle of his gun into his chin, and he wasn't sure but he thought he could taste blood in his mouth again, and his body hurt as if he'd been beat to hell and back.
"Take your tree... heal your grotto here and we'll take our little demon over there and leave..." Dean offered.
The Dryad cocked its head to the side wondering if it should let them leave.
"It's the only deal you get besides us burning this whole place down," he added.
Slowly the tree-creature nodded and moved through the foot deep pile of generation's worth of leaves that littered the ground toward her grievously wounded home.
"I'm sorry..." Dean tossed the torch into the stream as she backed into the trunk of the tree, her eyes bright emerald green with a hint of orange glow in their depths.
When she was safely tucked into the bole of her tree Dean looked back toward his girl who lay on her back, her body rigid.
"Laura..." he sighed with Sam at his side as they darted to her and Dean grasped her to his chest.
Sam cast a glance at the sky, the Igigi were circling like vultures, they seemed to be waiting for something. It was almost as if Sam could feel something monumental about to happen, something was about to come to light but what purpose it could serve he didn't know.
"Come on honey... you gotta fight this bastard okay? Come on... I gotcha..." Dean stroked her hair from her face, her eyes were still wide, and still black on black. If it weren't for the heartbeat he could feel in her throat he might think she was dead.
A second later is when Sam saw it.
He wasn't sure at first, but when the first bit of dark dust emerged from her mouth followed quickly by a second he had to react. He shoved his big brother away, letting the woman's head down on the ground as easily as possible while keeping Dean back, away from the eruption of demon smoke that came next.
Both Winchester men watched the bilious column of smoke roll into the afternoon sky, but only one saw what happened next that sent shivers up his spine as the circling Igigi pounced, their mottled wretched faces twisted with glee as they fed on the demon in its purest form.
"What the hell..." Sam breathed watching the last motes of demon dust devoured by these creatures, unable to decide just what to make of it all.
"What the hell what?" Dean asked eyeing the sky, seeing only that the demon smoke was gone.
"She alive?..." he looked at his big brother who was checking his unconscious girls' pulse.
"Yeah..." Dean breathed obvious relief.
"Let's get the hell out of here Dean..."
"We gotta grab our stuff..." he and Sam gathered up the tools she'd brought, Sam's brows furrowed as he took in some of the tools and saw the remnants of the mold on the ground.
He checked the ground and felt in his pockets, his hand closing on a small square that hadn't been there when he'd put those sweats on the night before.
"Dean..." he stopped and held out his hand, looking with his big brother at the talisman in his hand, on one side was a tree of life, on the other a Celtic shield knot that matched the one drawn in blood on his chest, over his heart. "Dude... give me one of your shirts will ya?"
Dean shrugged out of his flannel, gazing at his little brother's curious expression, "What're you thinking?"
Sam sighed buttoning up the shirt, "Thanks...I'm thinking... what the hell went on here? I'm covered in protective symbols... and betting this ain't edible body paint it's drawn on me in...I have no idea how we got here... what we're doing here... the last thing I remember..." he flushed deep crimson, the feel of the cold steel against the soft underside of his chin, just behind his jaw, angled with perfection for a bullet to pierce through and shatter the midbrain, severing the beginnings of the bundle of nerves that eventually give rise to the spinal cord.
Dean spocked his eyebrow at Sam, wondering how much he would say, how much he would or wouldn't divulge just yet. He may not know what went down in there... in the Dryad's little realm of possibilities, but I do, and we ARE going to talk Sam...
When it was clear Sam wasn't going to say much more at the moment Dean shrugged motioning toward all the supplies she'd compiled, "She's been a busy girl..."
"Yeah..." Sam nodded, his brows furrowing. He followed a circle of blood on the edge of the dead grass, then caught sight of the second one and started to pat himself down. "Do you have any cuts or punctures or anything on you Dean?" he asked.
"Not that I've noticed..." he shook his head grimacing while he used a handful of grass to clean out the cup she'd cooked her concoction in. A glimmer caught his eye and he held it up to the waning sunlight. He wasn't sure but he thought it might be a flake of gold. Shaking his head with his stomach giving him twisty queasy sensations he stuffed the grass into the cup and shoved it into the bag, Whatever she did it was potent as hell... he admitted wondering just what effect channeling the kind of energy that could kill a hundred square yards of forest would have on a human being.
"Then it all came from her..." he motioned to Laura with his head.
"And bugs..." Dean pointed to the evidence of small animal slaughter within the smaller circle.
"Whatever she did... I can see them... and they eat demons."
Sam moaned, Dean's eye flicked away from the dimmed computer screen into the darkness where his brother's head twitched against his pillow. Next, they slid to his own bed where Laura lay in exactly the same position he'd placed her six hours ago.
His head swam with information, he hadn't been able to find much on line but the scanned text from some of Bobby's books, and some of Alex Bentley's confirmed many of his suspicions. I don't give a damn about any of it though if it hurts the only thing's I've got left in the world. It's not worth it! Let their armies take each other out... if I KNEW... she said she wasn't sure they're just demons... well... either way something big is coming soon. If the Igigi are the Marauders troops... but I SAW demons leave those dog-things... is THAT what Igigi are in another dimension? But Sam said he saw them EAT the demon she drew out of him... great deemonic cannibals... fan frikkin tastic... two warring demonic factions and us stuck in the middle... but why Sam? Why US?
He looked back at his brother, the corner of his mouth twitched and grew into a smile as he crossed his arms over his chest, closed his eyes and drew a deep breath, remembering it all again. MINE... God I'm a possessive bastard...yeah well... I don't have much to hold onto anymore so I have to hold what I've got...
"Dean..." Sam sighed rolling onto his stomach a second before his head snapped up and he bolted up wide awake.
"Sam?" Dean asked watching the lanky young man drag a chair to the table, his eyes already scanning the text on the screen.
"Mmm a genuine Cone of Power..." he yawned cracking open the half pint of Jack that sat next to a bag of Oreos in the middle of the table and swigging from it.
"Yeah... not that Occult Book shop Daily Wicca crap either..." Dean took his own swig then set the bottle down.
"Heavy stuff... think she'll recover?" Sam asked.
"Yeah... no telling how much it sucked out of her though... you missed most of it but..." Dean shook his head.
"I saw the aftermath..."
"You remember anything?" he asked softly.
"Yeah, not sure what it all means though... well, except for one thing..." Sam nodded stuffing a cookie into his mouth and washing it down with another swig of whiskey.
"What's that?" Dean asked already knowing Sam was gonna have a bellyache in the morning. Sugar and whiskey was never a good combo for his little healthy eating brother. He snatched the half pint out of Sam's hand and thrust a bottle of water into it instead, "There's milk in the fridge," he smiled.
"And a box of Lucky Charms..." he noticed sitting on the small refrigerator, "What gives?" he grinned.
"What's the one thing?" Dean asked leaning back and swigging from the bottle.
"Gonna sound crazy," he watched his big brother half shrug, "... I think yoga-you was right... it's less about the destiny but more about how we use it..."
"Y'know that's the second time you've mentioned yoga... it's getting a little disturbing... still... it was me sorta so being the big brother..."
"He's...you're... always right... I know I know..." Sam nodded smiling softly, his eyes either on the computer screen or on his hands. His chest hitched and he swallowed back half the water in his hands then reached for the whiskey once more. His big brother watched his every move, studying him as he drained the bottle then flicked his eyes at Dean who sat patiently waiting.
Long moments later he nodded and took another shaky breath, "No matter where I was, no matter what I was seeing... evil you, evil me, soulless Sarah... yoga you was good... we were both good and it was right, the way it's supposed to be... on the same side y'know?..." he sniffed, droplets plinked onto his clasped hands, "... everything good Dean... everything good that I can do, that I will do, every good fight WE fight... every bit of strength I ever had comes from you...everything you've ever done for me... the sacrifices..." he choked burying his chin against his chest.
"And yet you were gonna plaster the wall with all that... with everything you can and will be, last night... Don't you get it Sam? Even now? After EVERYTHING we've been through?" Dean asked leaning forward in his chair, knee to knee with his little brother. "We're all we've got... and hokey as hell that it sounds, there's nothing we can't handle, long as we walk the road together."
"I've tried so hard Dean... no... that's a lie..." he shook his head while tears continued to drip. "I've denied so hard..." he huffed a mirthless chuckle and shook his head to match his trembling breathing, "...everything... I'm so sorry..." he held his breath this time, dropping his forehead onto his clenched fists. He was a third faction in his own personal war, loyalty warred with regrets of the past creating scars no one could have predicted.
"Sam... look at me..." Dean urged, his voice thick and heavy though he smiled faintly as his little brother shook his head, his chin to his chest. So it's back to that is it Sam? I know you better than you do little brother, he grinned reaching out, twining his fingers into his hair and lifting his head up so they were eye to eye, "Listen to me closely, I'm only gonna say it once, hell I might even deny I ever said it at all...but... you're exactly the man you should be, s'all you need to be, it's all I need from you... well that and nice juicy steak once in a while is a good thing...and maybe if you did the laundry once in a while...and y'know it wouldn't hurt if you hustled a game once in a while too y'know?..." he grinned.
Sam chuckled daring to meet his brother's eyes, his shame and self reproach sliding at last, from his back with absolution from the only person in his life whose opinion of him ever really mattered. Finally that bright contagious smile Dean knew was in there somewhere, lit his brother up, all the way to the eyes and he could let himself begin to feel it was going to be alright, Sam was going to be alright.
"... so I've been thinking about the Igigi and them eating the demons..." Sam drew his hand down his face, wiping away the tracks of his tears with a grateful megawatt smile that would've had John and Mary both grinning from ear to ear, possibly contemplating how rich they would be if they could bottle and sell it, "... what if they're just a different..." he started as Dean reached behind the computer and tossed a small plastic bag into his lap. "What's this?"
"Leave the wolf out the door for the night Sammy... we'll think about war in the morning deal?" he smiled leaning back as Sam pulled from the bag 3 packs of microwave popcorn and a five dollar DVD of the Original version of The Blob.
"Dude! COOL!" Sam grinned hugely tearing into the cellophane wrapping around the movie while Dean started the popcorn going and pulled a six pack from the fridge.
In just a few minutes the brothers Winchester were leaning against a stack of pillows and blankets folded against the wall while they sat side by side on the bed, their bare feet dangling over the side and tossing the odd kernel of popcorn at each other.
"Dude, that was so totally a little plastic Polly Pocket or something!" Dean pointed at the screen.
"So what? Dean... it's not about the people! Look at that thing! It's about The Blob!" Sam tossed some corn at him, then stopped, "...and how the hell do YOU know what a Polly Pocket is?"
Dean's eyes grew wide as he slid his gaze out the corner of his eye to his baby brother, playing on the moment, "Nothing... not important..."
Sam played along, spocking his eyebrow and motioning to Dean who put his head back and dropped his jaw. Sam chucked a piece of corn expertly into Dean's mouth and laughed, "You got something you wanna tell me man?" he asked.
"I like cartoons..." Dean shrugged motioning to Sam who turned leaning back with his own 'goal' wide open.
Dean shot three rapid fire kernels into Sam's mouth and laughed as he snapped after them, reminding him of Shep's old dog Hannibal trying to bite away the horseflies in the summer heat.
"Cartoons AND Oprah? That's pretty eclectic... I'm impressed..." Sam nodded grinning.
"Yeah whatever... this is better than Svengoolie...any day..."
"Yeah it is," Sam grinned, shouldering him easily, "Thanks."
"I rock..." Dean smirked.
"Yeah y'do..." Sam nodded.
Dean grinned pegging him with some more popcorn.