St Patrick's and St Benedict's were the closest Catholic churches to the psychiatric hospital and easily within jogging distance for the time they calculated Tori had had since her escape. Having decided to split up and cover the two possible sites more quickly, Dean pulled the Impala up behind the modern building on the corner of Main Street and shook his head in concern as he looked up at the simple, straight-lined design of St Patrick's.
"Dude, I've got a bad feeling about this …" He muttered.
"Sensing a disturbance in the force, huh?"
Turning to Andy, Dean grinned in delight, "Nah, that's your job, Master Yoda."
About to rise to the challenge, Andy laughed and then groaned as he watched Dean exit the car and the moment was gone.
Dean shook his head as he climbed from the car and met Andy at the trunk. Grabbing his phone from his pocket, he pressed the quick-dial code and held the handset to his ear. "You all set?"
"Yup." Came Sam's eager reply.
"I still think we should have stuck together." Dean sighed and tucked his .45 into the back of his jeans.
"I'll be fine." Sam countered softly, "She can't use any powers on me and you need Andy for protection."
Dean gave a derisive snort and watched the man in question looking through the selection of weapons before him and hesitating in uncertainty. "Which is just wrong in so many ways." He mumbled and grabbed a small 9mm, checking the clip and placing it into Andy's hand. "Listen. Sam? Be careful, okay?"
Dean ended the call and tucked the phone back into his jacket pocket. Closing the trunk, he watched Andy studying the sleek black gun in his grasp and Dean groaned in dismay. "Click this and squeeze that." He offered in annoyance, pointing to the various important parts of the gun. "And try not to shoot me."
"Sure. I got it." Andy assured hurriedly and slid the gun into the waist of his jeans. He smiled up at Dean and gave a small shrug. "At least there'll be an abundance of holy water." He offered lightly, "If she is possessed, I mean."
"Great." Dean husked and turned to head towards the rear entrance to the modern octagonal building that looked more like a gym than a place of worship.
The massive oak doors at the front of the ornate St Benedict's were old and misshapen. Through the gaps in the wood, he could clearly hear shouting and paused for a moment to listen. Peering through the large keyhole just below eye level, Sam could look along the aisle and saw the priest being held by her. Seizing the opportunity, he pushed on the smaller door that was inset within the large left door and smiled as it swung open easily.
She was distracted as she yelled orders at the elderly lady that emerged from beside the altar and Sam ducked down behind the last wooden pew, taking a moment to catch his breath. Taking his phone from his jacket pocket, he typed the simple code they had agreed on and sent the text to his brother.
Her words echoed loudly through the acoustic high ceiling of the ornate building and Sam closed his eyes, desperate to ignore her until his back-up arrived.
"I know you're there."
Muttering a silent curse and then quickly following it with an apology due to his surroundings, Sam remained still and out of sight.
"Come on out. I have a message for you."
Sam was suddenly lost and filled with fear. His mind raced as he pieced together the clues and again tried to fathom what exactly must have happened to this girl, suddenly not so convinced that it was not a demon speaking through her now.
"Fine. I guess I'll have to write it down."
Hearing a soft whimper and then a louder shout of panic, Sam flinched as a dull thud reverberated through the church and he was sure he heard something - or someone - land on the floor. Then the priest cried out in alarm and Sam got to his feet, decision made.
Tori looked up and smiled as she peered towards Sam. She stepped back from the slumped form of the elderly woman and lifted her hand, rubbing bright scarlet blood between her fingers.
"Wait!" Sam hurried around the pew and took a few steps up the aisle towards them. "Stop. I'm here. What do you need to tell me?"
Looking down at the heavy gold-plated candlestick in her grasp and then back at the glistening blood on her fingers, Tori gasped and staggered backwards. She dropped the candlestick and covered her ears as it crashed onto the stone floor with a loud clang. "Oh god! What have I done?"
"It's okay." Sam strode slowly along the aisle and held up his hands in reassurance. "It's all going to be okay, Tori."
Tori continued backwards and stumbled as her heels met the stone steps that led up to the altar and she sat down heavily, hanging her head with a quiet sob.
Reaching the end of the aisle, Sam crouched down beside the still form of the elderly woman and placed his fingers against her neck. Sighing in relief, he looked up at the priest and nodded slightly as he flipped open his fake ID. "Get her out of here and call an ambulance." He glanced at Tori and frowned in concern. "But tell them no sirens, okay?"
The terrified man quickly stood and stooped down to gather the woman in his arms.
"Tori ...?" Sam stepped towards the quietly crying girl who was slumped on the steps and his heart thudded loudly in his ears. Taking a small flask from his inside jacket pocket, he unscrewed the cap and flicked a small amount of the water onto her legs, watching the lack of effect and sighing inwardly in relief.
Lifting her head slowly, Tori stared at Sam through her tears and shook her head in confusion. "Who are you?" She then gasped and took in her surroundings, cowering further away from him. "Where am I?"
"You're safe." Sam answered calmly, pausing a short distance from her. "My name is Sam. I'm here to help you."
"Sam?" Tori echoed quietly, her green eyes full of fear. She was then suddenly on her feet and leapt back from him, sobbing in fright. "No! You're one of them! You're with him!"
"It's okay." Sam repeated softly, "I'm a friend."
"No!" She backed further away and gasped as she thudded into the altar. Her eyes darted around at her surroundings and her breathing was loud and fast as she continued to panic. "The voices! They tell me! They speak of you and the others."
"What?" Sam breathed.
"Eyes!" Tori continued, tuggling at handfuls of her hair and padding her fists against her head. "Eyes like fire. Eyes always watching. Burning! Yellow like the sun. Burning heat."
Sam watched her in concern and his hands were shaking from the adrenaline that rushed through him. "Easy …" He whispered as gently as he could, "You're okay."
"Stay back!" Tori shouted angrily, glancing behind her and grabbing the jewel-encrusted gold cross that stood in the center of the altar. She held it up before her and glared at him in fury. "In nomine patri et fili et spiritus sancti - "
"I'm not a demon." Sam urged carefully, "I'm a person … like you."
"Liar!" Tori spat back, "He told me about you! He told me you would come!"
"The yellow-eyed man?"
Tori paused in shock and regarded Sam in suspicion.
"I've seen him, too." Sam watched Tori as she absorbed his words and suddenly saw something in her face change. He realized his error too late and held up his arms to defend himself as she leapt forward and swung the heavy cross at him. The golden ornament slammed into the outer edge of the cast on his right wrist and he cried out in pain, clutching his arm to his chest. This left her an opening and he gasped as he watched her bring the cross up in a wide arc and the top corner caught his chin, slamming his teeth together and blackening his vision.
"No more!" Tori screamed in anger and jumped after Sam as he tumbled backwards and landed heavily on the stone floor. "Leave me alone!" She demanded, bringing the cross up above her head and grunting with the effort of swinging it down towards him.
Sam was dazed and blinked groggily, looking up just in time to see the golden ornament heading towards him. Instinctively, he rolled to the side and held up his arm to protect his head. The heavy cross smashed into the plaster that covered his wrist and the cast shattered, unable to withstand the impact. Sam yelped in pain and continued his roll forward, grasping at the broken plaster and pressing his face into the cold stone floor.
"He sent you!" Tori husked breathlessly, standing over Sam and glaring down at him. "He said you would come. It begins and ends with the first one."
Sam bit into his lip and choked on a sob, white-hot agony shooting up through his right arm and threatening to bring up his breakfast pancakes. He could taste bile in the back of his throat and blood on his tongue. Gasping noisily, he curled his body around the pain in his arm and his mind could focus on nothing more.
"He showed me the end of all things." Tori continued evenly, leaning over Sam and frowning in anger. "It starts with you."
"What?" Sam gasped suddenly as she caught his full attention and he turned his head, whimpering as he adjusted his position to look up at her. "What did you say?"
"Eyes always watching." Tori smiled coldly, "Eyes bright and burning like the sun. Burning like fire. Fire. Fire. They will all burn in the fire."
"Who?" Sam hiccuped on a sob and closed his eyes for a moment, fighting the nausea that was building. "Tori, what did he tell you?"
"Plans." She answered calmly.
"What plans?" Sam urged, his face tight with pain as he swallowed back more bile.
"Destruction." Tori replied, sudden sorrow filling her face and she closed her eyes, tears dripping down onto Sam's jacket. "I'm sorry." She whispered and looked back down at him, her expression suddenly calm and focused. "I cannot let you be." She groaned as she lifted the cross up high once more and shook her head in apology.
Sam spun onto his back, yelping as the movement jolted his arm. He saw the entrance doors hanging open and the figure who stood in the bright afternoon light that flooded into the church. "No! Dean - wait!" Sam shouted quickly, his heart slamming against his chest as he saw the powder flash and then heard the crack of the gun firing.
Turning to look back up at Tori, Sam saw the blood that sprayed out behind her and yelled in horror. He watched her recoil from the impact and moved away from the cross that tumbled from her grasp and clattered against the floor behind him. Forcing himself to sit upright, he reached out with his good arm and saw her sink slowly backwards to collapse beside him on the steps to the altar.
"No!" Sam forgot the pain in his arm for a moment and scrambled onto his knees. He hurried across to Tori and leaned over her, seeing the shock in her pale face.
The shot was perfect, a clean path straight through the center of her chest. Sam pressed his uninjured hand over the patch of blood that pooled under her cotton top and could feel the pulsing beneath his fingers as the warm, dark liquid washed over his skin.
Spinning his head towards his advancing brother, Sam blinked away tears and choked on a sob. "Call 911!"
Dean slowed his approach and looked down to where Sam was desperately applying pressure. "Fuck …" He grated under his breath. "I just meant to stop her …"
"Call an ambulance, goddamit!" Sam yelled in fury, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Nodding slowly, Dean took out his phone and made the call. Aware of Andy stepping up beside him, he turned and saw the horror on the man's face.
"Tori?" Sam urged quietly, nudging her shoulder with his elbow. "Stay with me, okay? I'm gonna help you. We'll get through this." He sniffed back further tears and leaned closer to her, using the shattered cast of his right hand to carefully turn her head to face him.
"Sam?" Tori whispered, the action making her cough noisily, fluid bubbling in her throat.
"Hey." Sam smiled warmly and nodded. "I'm here. I'm right here."
"Don't - " Tori coughed again, forcing more blood to pump from the chest wound and choking on the amount that gathered in her throat. "Don't let him win."
Sam frowned and lowered his head, his nose almost touching hers. "What did he tell you? I have to know."
"It was … too much." Tori replied in all but a whisper, her breathing shallow and noisy. "Too many voices … too much to … to take in."
"Try and tell me." Sam pleaded softly.
"Dark." Tori offered, her heavy eyes closing.
"No!" Sam gently tapped her cheek and blinked away the tears that blurred his vision. "Tori?"
Tori slowly responded and looked up at Sam with unfocusing eyes. "Dean," She continued quietly. "Not … not strong enough."
Tori suddenly smiled and let out a heavy sigh as she rolled her head back and gazed up at the intricately detailed ceiling of the church. "So clear … it's all so clear now …"
"What is?" Sam demanded urgently, "Tori? Please!"
"Find the others." Tori stated calmly, looking back at him and nodding gently. "Only … only you can … can find them … and to … together …" She paused suddenly and stared up at Sam, a gentle frown forming and then falling away from her face to leave her looking strangely calm.
Sam felt the pulsing beneath his fingers slow and then stop. He nudged Tori urgently and waited for a response, already knowing that he would get none. Lowering his head, he rested his forehead against her chest and listened to the sudden silence that descended.
And then the distant wail of sirens drew closer to the church. Dean glanced out through the open doors and could just see the flickering of blue lights emerging amid the downtown traffic. He frowned in concern and then turned back to look down at Andy. "Hey, man, you think - "
"Not a problem." Andy assured quietly, "I can explain a plausible situation to them."
Dean nodded gratefully and then moved his gaze to his brother who was now cradling the limp form of the woman in his good arm. "Sam …?"
"She was just about to tell me." Sam husked through clenched teeth and then turned his head to glare at his brother. "She knew, Dean! She knew it all!"
"And look what it did to her." Dean offered cautiously.
"But she could have told me!" Sam argued in fury. "Why? Why did you have to shoot her?"
"Aw, come on, Sammy! She was trying to kill you!"
Sam shook his head firmly. "She was confused. Afraid. I could have helped her."
"Dude!" Dean countered, stepping closer and glancing at the still form in his brother's partial grasp. "Nothing could have helped her, man … she was too damaged…"
"Says all the specialists back at the hospital who tried for months to help her!" Dean replied, feeling adrenaline surging through him and an uncomfortable knot of guilt forming in his stomach. "I was protecting you, Sammy … I had no choice …"
Sam looked away and closed his eyes, pulling Tori closer against him.
"Oh, god, Sam …" Dean threw up his hands and groaned in weary frustration. He headed to the nearest pew and perched on the edge, hanging his head and sighing loudly.
Andy watched the two of them in uncertainty and backed away, suddenly feeling awkward to witness their obvious pain. He retreated to the opposite side of the church and sat down on one of the benches. The sound of sirens was then intensely loud in the echoey church and he turned to see the ambulance skid to a halt at the bottom of the front steps.
The paramedics rushed up the aisle and hastily shot questions at the three of them, the police officers that quickly followed them also demanding to know what had happened. Andy stood and took a deep breath, explaining the situation minus a few details, he introduced the brothers as their current aliases and watched the police officers instantly back down and offer their support.
Sam gasped in protest as one of the paramedics tried to gently roll him back from the body he held and he shrugged her away from him, yelping as pain shot up his arm.
"Sam." Dean stood and hurried over to his brother, placing his hand on Sam's shoulder and pausing for a moment as Sam hung his head. "Come on, bud. You need to get looked at."
Sam lifted his head and looked up into his brother's earnest expression, seeing the tears that had gathered in Dean's eyes. He nodded reluctantly and slowly moved away from Tori, sliding his good arm out from under her. Cradling his injured arm close to his chest, he grunted in pain as he was helped to his feet between his brother and the female paramedic. Once standing up straight, the room began to spin and his knees buckled under him.
Dean gasped and quickly wrapped his arm around Sam's waist, pulling him against him and supporting him long enough for the second paramedic to slide a chair behind Sam. He could feel his brother tensing with each movement and heard the hisses that escaped Sam's clenched teeth as he was gently lowered onto the chair.
Dean climbed up into the ambulance beside his brother and smiled thinly, watching in concern as Sam breathed heavily through the face mask and sucked down lungfuls of nitrous oxide. The paramedic gently enfolded both Sam's arm and the shattered plaster in an plastic cast and inflated it just enough to provide a small amount of support.
Sam groaned into the mask as the woman finished attending to his arm and began to check his vitals. He pulled the mask away from his face and sighed wearily. "God, I was so close."
Dean watched his brother in uncertainty and glanced at the paramedic, seeing her attention taken as she worked through the routine checks of her patient.
"So close to some answers." Sam continued groggily, closing his eyes and shaking his head.
Dean nodded slightly and leaned forward to gently pat his brother's uninjured arm. "Maybe next time." He offered lightly.
"Yeah." Sam whispered, resting his head back against the pillows on the raised board of the gurney.
Dean watched in concern as Sam closed his eyes and then caught the quick smile of reassurance the paramedic shot him. He smiled back and settled into his seat as she stepped past him to close the back doors.
The ambulance pulled away from the church and Dean could imagine Andy following close behind in the Impala, perhaps unaware of just how precarious a position he was in behind the wheel of such a precious automobile. Smiling to himself, Dean then looked back at Sam and his merriment fell away.
What could Tori have possibly been told that would drive her insane? It was far beyond his comprehension and Dean wondered if he really wanted to know such horrors. A shiver ran up his spine and he watched his brother resting peacefully, his heart sinking as he added up their father's last ominous request and what little he so far knew of what Tori had been spouting. He had only caught a few words when he arrived at the church but it had been more than enough; she had wanted to kill Sam in order to stop him from becoming something and it was just too close to home for Dean's liking.
Dean gazed at Sam's pale, bruised face and found himself wondering just what horrors might yet lay ahead of them. He shuddered and clenched his fists, shaking his head to clear his thoughts and taking a deep breath as he reminded himself of all that they had thus far survived and how strong they were together.
The notion gave him comfort for a few minutes and he took the chance to enjoy for a moment what little peace it offered.