Author's Note: This story was written for the LiveJournal community spnsummergen. The author I wrote for was kaethe. The prompts I used for this story are found at the bottom.
Stheno in Idaho
Sam takes his brother's death amazingly well.
He finishes the hunt almost effortlessly, cleans his weapon, returns to where Dean is. He stares for a moment at Dean's twisted face, frozen mid-yell, pupils wide from the adrenaline. Sam's a little numb, and there are several sets of puncture wounds all up his right forearm, but he's okay.
Dean's not okay.
Still, it's not until Sam tries to figure out how to get Dean back to the motel that he panics.
(That's how long it takes to sink in.)
Dean crammed the other half of a cinnamon biscuit into his mouth, chewing only a few times before washing it down with a swig of iced chai tea. Digging a banana puff out of a bag, he grinned, "You know, for organic no-preservatives-added eco-friendly crap, this stuff's not bad."
Funny, considering Dean had been the one bitching about coming to the farmers' market in the first place. A psychic they'd saved from a poltergeist a few towns over had gotten "evil vibes" from this place last time she'd visited, so the Winchesters decided to check it out. So far, the only thing that was evil (as far as they had been able to tell) was the selling price for heirloom tomatoes.
He wants to take the Impala, but the keys are in Dean's pocket and there's no retrieving them. Sam tries to hotwire the ignition, but something feels very wrong now with his arm. There's a tingling sensation, like it's falling asleep, and it feels so heavy.
Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Dean's face, and it still doesn't feel quite real.
Sam had stopped to chat with a young mother selling brooms when Dean called, "Dude, come here," from a few booths down. The older brother was staring at the life-size statue of a woman caught in the act of falling backwards, one hand thrown out as if grasping for a hold. "Look," he said, "she's got eyelashes. And a mole."
Sam jogged over. Sure enough, the statue had incredible detail. As did the one of the grinning little boy with the missing front tooth standing a few feet away, the screaming man further under the tent, the hissing cat on the ground, and the pair of adolescents huddling half-naked together under the table.
He drags his feet over the gravel of the tree-covered driveway, intent on reaching the main thoroughfare. The leaden feeling seems to be spreading. It's so hard to catch his breath. He trips suddenly on the soft asphalt shoulder of the county road and tumbles forward. He doesn't exactly feel the impact, but his arm burns.
Sam's panting now and the only sound he can hear is his own rapid pulse roaring in his ears. He knows something's wrong, he just can't remember what, and sleep sounds so good right now…
"You like Catherine?" a smooth voice asked, and an olive-skinned woman suddenly appeared next to Dean, tying a bandana around her dreadlocks. "Getting the balance right was the hardest part. I can't tell you how many shattered before I finally achieved the right effect."
"You made these?" Sam asked, noting that Dean looked a little wigged.
"Every one," the woman smiled, the crinkles around her eyes disappearing into the black lenses of her sunglasses. "They're my passion."
"There's so much detail in each one," Sam added.
Dean leaned closer to the statue and murmured, "She has a hangnail."
His head feels like it's filled with sand, so it takes a long time and a lot of will power to make his eyes open. When he does, it's not Dean sitting next to him in the hospital room.
"Bobby," he manages. "What happened?"
The older man sniffs indignantly. "Should be asking you the same question. I get a call at two in the morning sayin' some boy was picked up off some county road, mostly unconscious, and I was the first contact in his cell phone. Took four doses of antivenin to keep you this side of death, Sam Winchester, and one hell of a Good Samaritan who brought you in not half an hour too soon. What'd you do, wrestle a pack of rattlesnakes?"
Sam looks down at his right arm, which is completely covered in gauze, and doesn't answer.
"Look, while we're here, you're Josh Karr and I'm your uncle, all right?" Bobby whispers quickly before a nurse comes in.
"Mr. Karr, you're awake!" she beams, a little too perky for Sam's tastes right now. Both he and Bobby are quiet as she checks his bandages and replaces his IV. He has to answer some questions soon (What had happened? Accidentally stuck his hand in a snake den. What had he been doing out by that abandoned house? Friend dared him he couldn't spend the night there without chickening out. Was the black Chevy found down the driveway his? It was.), but finally he and Bobby are alone again. Bobby shifts uncomfortably in his seat for a moment, then looks Sam straight in the eye and asks the question he's been putting off.
"It's her, I know it," Dean said, tossing his chalupa wrapper into the Taco Bell bag. "She just radiates creepy."
Sam picked at his nachos. "You think?"
They were sitting in the Impala, overlooking the farmer's market. They could monitor the statue-maker's tent from there. Dean hadn't stopped surveillance since their encounter three hours earlier, which meant Sam had been the one to leave the premises to get lunch.
"Those were people," Dean growled, and Sam noted that his brother's eyes were trained on 'Catherine.' He raised an eyebrow and Dean elaborated, "She did something to them. They were people, and she turned them into…whatever. Statues."
Suddenly Dean turned the engine over and pulled out of the lot and away from the market.
"Holy mother of God," Bobby breathes the next day, after Sam is released from the hospital. He's parked the truck in the same spot the Impala had been, and he's staring at Dean.
Dean is still wide-eyed, still yelling, still exactly the way he was the last time Sam saw him. It's enough to bring a wave of despair down on him, and Sam feels the sharp burn in his sinuses that means he's gonna cry if he doesn't do something fast.
Bobby walks slowly up to Dean and gingerly touches the smooth stone of his jacket. "We're gonna have to be careful moving him," Bobby says quietly. "He might crack or something if he falls."
Sam nods in agreement, letting his hair shield his face as he spreads egg carton cushions and blankets in the bed of the truck. He'll sit back here with Dean, make sure nothing jostles him too much.
"Sam," Bobby calls thickly, "what are you going to do with him?"
The young man looks up sharply, then his brows knits as he replies miserably, "I don't know."
"Look, Sammy," Dean whispered loudly, turning the library's computer monitor toward his younger brother. On the screen was a newspaper article detailing the disappearance of one Catherine Edwards, a schoolteacher from several states away.
Sam showed Dean his screen, which was displaying the suspected kidnappings of Michael Gribbs and Diane Lowery, both sixteen and from distant Maine. They were immediately recognizable as the surprised kids that had been under the table. "She's getting them from all over the place," he said. "One here, two there. Never enough for people to notice."
Dean rubbed his hand over the lower half of his face and grimaced. "Well, got any ideas about what we're dealing with here?"
Sam opened another window and showed Dean the screeching face of a woman with large, slit-pupiled eyes and thick, serpentine hair. "Gorgon," Sam explained. "Greek monster with the ability to turn men to stone just by looking in their eyes. They usually have pretty thick hides, but they can be decapitated."
"Shit," Dean sighed. "We're gonna need to figure out where she lives."
Figuring out what to do with Dean is indeed difficult. Bobby helps Sam move him into a motel room; they stand him up in the corner. It's the most horrific thing Sam's ever seen, because that's his brother and now he looks like some modern-day Laocoön, just howling silently there.
Bobby pulls Sam into a hug before he leaves, thumping the taller man on the back and swearing that he'll do his damnedest to find out some cure. Sam smiles wanly and doesn't mention that he and Dean already checked (because Dean had been dead set on fixing Catherine and the others), and there just wasn't one.
Later, Sam is sitting cross-legged on the bed, all of his books spread out around him, but he can't concentrate. Dean's watching him. And yeah, of course he's not, but Sam can't stand looking at Dean, and his brother's presence is just crushing.
"Here's the deal," Dean said, staring out the window at the shaded driveway. "I heard from one of the other people at the market that she's been squatting in a house back there. So, I say we come back tonight and behead the bitch."
"We're gonna need some blades, maybe some shields. Mirrored ones, you think?" Sam asked.
"Where the hell are we gonna get mirror shields, Sam?" Dead grumbled, "Especially around here?"
Sam held up his hands. "Hey, just a precaution."
He can't take it anymore, so Sam throws a blanket over Dean to get a little relief. He makes it back to his bed before the guilt becomes overwhelming. He leaps over, rips the blanket off, and that's all it takes. Because there's no cure for the gorgon's gaze, and what the hell do you do when you're brother's a hunk of granite? Doesn't feel right to bury him, can't just donate him to a museum.
So Sam sobs until someone thuds on the motel wall and yells at him to shut up. He does.
It's three days later, and Sam's lying on his bed facing Dean and he thinks he might just lay here 'til he dies. He's gone through every book, every internet resource, and there's nothing. He thinks Dean might kick his ass for acting like this, but Dean's not about to tell him to pull himself together.
His phone begins to ring, so Sam props himself up with a sigh and reaches for it. It's Bobby.
"I've got it."
A couple hours later Dean and Sam were creeping through shrubs outside the house, sans mirror shields. Dean had an axe in one hand and a machete attached to his waist; Sam had his hand-sickle and a long hunting knife. So far there'd been no sign of their Medusa-wannabe.
Suddenly Dean hissed sharply. Sam whirled to see his brother hopping a bit, having tripped over a stone rabbit. Dean shrugged and Sam rolled his eyes. Dean's expression changed suddenly, however, and he bellowed, "Look out, Sa—" before a matte grey tone froze his features in place.
Sam instinctively threw an arm over his eyes and swung out viciously with his sickle. It wasn't a clean cut, however, and he felt a dozen sharp fangs pierce the sleeve of his jacket before he wrenched away and managed a killing blow.
He stood panting above the gorgon, her hair still writhing and hissing at him even in death. Avoiding looking directly at her eyes, he rolled the head back towards the body and retrieved some gasoline from the trunk of the Impala.
Some small part of him believed that if he destroyed the gorgon, Dean would snap back to flesh and bone.
It wasn't so.
"Jesus, you look like shit," Bobby says upon seeing Sam.
"Yeah, well..." the younger man trails off. "What've you got?"
Bobby shoves aside a stack of books on the bed and sets down a bag. "Macedonian mythology, right? Lost chapter from Curtius's Historiae Alexandri Magni tells of a young Alexander the Great encountering a gorgon which petrified his companion Hephaestion." Sam stares at him blankly. Bobby sighs. "Anyways, Curtius says that blood from the right half of a gorgon's body has such amazing restorative powers it'll even bring the dead back to life."
"No good," Sam grinds out. "There's no way to get him to ingest it."
Bobby grins. "No need. Curtius goes on to mention that Alexander dipped the points of golden needles into the blood and he was able to revive Hephaestion that way." He unrolls a sheet of velvet, revealing dozens of long golden pins. Shaking a small vial of deep red liquid, Bobby says, "Called in a couple hundred favors from some friends of mine, few of which ain't even in this hemisphere." Sam feels a lump form at the back of his throat.
Soon he's pinching a needle in his fingers and pressing it against the grey stone of Dean's throat. For a moment he's terrified it'll just bend under the pressure, but to his surprise it slips deep into the hard material and lodges there. He sucks in a breath and stands back, but nothing happens. He glances desperately at Bobby, but the other hunter just hands him a second blood-dipped needle.
Soon Dean's got two score of golden tips sticking out all over him and Bobby's run out of needles. Bobby grabs Sam's arm and moves him away from Dean. For several long moments there's no change and the despair creeps back into Sam's eyes.
Then a slight wheezing sound becomes apparent, and Bobby's grip tightens on Sam's arm.
Motion comes back to Dean before color does, and it's creepy as hell to watch a stone chest rise and fall with each short pant. Then Dean's shuffling forward, a mass of grey and gold, and Sam springs over and catches him as he falls. Dean stares up at his brother with eyes that are now green, and the difference between flesh and freckle is now apparent on his pale face.
"Dean...?" Sam ventures, still a little scared.
For a second Dean's still, then he blinks slowly and groans, "That hurt like a bitch. Next time we find some damn mirror shields, okay?"
"You're the one who said we didn't need them," Sam can't help but sass, relief in every syllable.
"And I'm man enough to admit I was wrong," Dean counters, then looks around. "Bobby, hey. By the way, why am I stuck up like some freakin' pincushion?"
So they explain the whole thing while pulling all of the needles out of Dean, and he's miffed that Sam nearly got himself killed by snakebites but forgives him after he forces Sammy to drink a few drops of gorgon's blood to heal the scarring. He's also miffed that they had his baby hauled to Bobby's junkyard again, but after learning it's still in pristine condition he lightens up.
Sam's thrilled to have his brother back.
Dean's glad to have a cure for the gorgon's other victims. And, um, to be alive, of course.
And Bobby just chalks the whole incident up to another time he's saved the Winchesters' respective asses. John's tally included, this makes seventeen times.
…One of these days he's gonna call in those favors.
I wrote this story using two of kaethe's six prompts. They were: 1) Either Sam or Dean thinks the other is dead, but finds out otherwise at some point in the story and 3) A monster from Greek mythology has survived in the modern world and is wreaking some form of havoc. Sam and Dean have to neutralize it somehow. I chose the gorgon as my mythological creature, obviously. :D Yay petrification!
Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed! Thanks for reading!