Summary: Mel's gone and so is her killer. Time to ride off into the sunset… Or go back to the motel and sleep…
Hope you enjoyed this one. Many thanks to you kind souls who left reviews.
Dean shrugged off his jacket and threw it over the back of the motel chair. Dr. Sands and Harmony had been dropped off at the nearest hospital. It didn't matter what they told the police about their escape. Sam and Dean were already far away. A woozy Kinirsky had been walked into the VA hospital and left in the front waiting room. A quick call had ensured he would be located quickly after they were gone. Though Dean was no doctor, the guy's eyes looked good. Mel might have done him a service, made his eyes a real part of him. More importantly though, Dean's sunglasses were safe and sound back in the Impala.
Dean sighed and sat down at the table where Sam was already pulling burgers out of a fast food bag. He couldn't remember the last time he'd really slept. Ever since body parts had started making a run for it, he and Sam had been on the run too. Dean began counting backwards, trying to remember when this whole mess had started…
"Aren't you gonna eat?"
Dean jerked awake and realized he'd nodded off sitting in the chair.
"What? Sorry…" Dean ran a hand over his sandpaper tired eyes and looked at his brother who didn't appear much better. "Maybe I'll just get some sleep."
"Yeah," Sam said, pushing his own half-eaten meal aside. "Here take a look at this." He turned the laptop around so that Dean could see the screen. He didn't even remember Sam opening the computer.
Dean squinted tiredly trying to get the print to come into focus. "Woman… Crossroads-"
Dean sprang to his feet and stumbled back, tripping over the chair in his panic to get away. He fell awkwardly, banging his elbow on the bed frame, but still he scrambled away, moving until he hit the wall, then sat with his back to it, his knees drawn up and his eyes tightly shut.
He was gasping for breath and knew he was shaking, but couldn't seem to stop. He'd almost killed his brother. He could have killed Sam just by reading an article. At the crossroads, she'd said any attempt to try to weasel out of the deal and Sam dropped dead. One little article, one little bit of help with Sam's research and she could take it all back. The deal would be off.
"Dean?" Sam sounded close to panic himself.
Dean felt a hand on his shoulder and purposely worked to slow his breathing. "You close the laptop?"
"Yeah. You wanna open your eyes now?" Sam asked, sounding like he was talking to a frightened child. Maybe he was. Dean wished like anything that their dad was around to shoulder the burden, to tell him what to do. He didn't want to be in charge any more. He was a soldier. He followed orders.
Dean opened his eyes to see that Sam was kneeling beside him, watching him worriedly.
Dean tried to straighten, to brush it off. I could have killed you, Sammy. "Sorry. Thought you were trying to get me to read the latest in the Brangelina saga. Couldn't take any more."
"Dean, it was just an article about Melody's murder," Sam said solemnly. "Crossroads is the name of the hospital where she died."
"Oh." It was all Dean could manage.
Sam was silent just watching him.
"I thought… But you wouldn't…"
"Wouldn't what, Dean?" He was still using that cautious, Dean-might-break-if-I'm-not-careful voice.
"You wouldn't trick me into breaking the deal." Dean gave a huff, close to a half-laugh. Sam drew his hand away and Dean felt the loss of the contact keenly. "You wouldn't," he said again. Dean looked up at his brother and he suddenly saw the awful truth in Sam's eyes. He had thought of it. Maybe not just now, but he had and Dean felt fury spread through his whole system like fire. "Sam, that's suicide!"
Dean lurched to his feet using the wall behind him and Sam followed, anger blossoming to life to match Dean's.
"I've thought about it, Dean. That doesn't mean I'm gonna do it. Of course I've thought about it. It would break the deal!"
"Forget it!" Dean roared.
"I'm supposed to be dead," Sam shouted in return.
"Well, so am I! So what?"
"But not in pain, not torment, not because of me! I don't want that!"
"I don't want it either!" Dean bellowed, drawing Sam up short. "But I want you safe more, ok?"
"Dean," Sam said in that begging tone that made Dean want to do anything to make it better. "I can't…"
He felt the anger pour out of him to be replaced once again by exhaustion. Dean walked to his bed. He kicked off his shoes, pulled the covers back and sat down. "Just promise me, Sammy. Promise me you won't do anything like that."
Sam walked toward the other bed warily and sat down across from his brother. Dean didn't realize it, but it had taken several long minutes for Sam to get his attention while he'd been pressed against the wall with his eyes squeezed shut.
"You should get some rest, Dean," Sam said. Dean looked up at him and his eyes narrowed briefly. He'd noticed that Sam hadn't answered him. The problem was that Sam couldn't. He had no idea what he was going to do. His instinct for self-preservation, his desperate need to save Dean, his skewed moral compass where both of those were concerned, their on-going fight against everything they'd let through the Gate that night, his uncertainty about himself and any additives he might have brought back with him from… wherever... He just didn't know what he would do, what he could do, what Dean would allow him to do.
Mel had killed her way through several states to save her sister, but at least she had the dubious excuse of already being dead and therefore not quite herself. Ghosts didn't think like humans. Dr. Travis didn't have that excuse. He'd killed, kidnapped, threatened, coerced… all in the name of saving his sister whose expiration date was fast approaching. He'd made a conscious decision that his sister's life was more important than anything or anyone else. And then there was Dean, who'd simply given himself.
Yeah. Simple. It was all so simple.
"Get some sleep, man," he said. "We're both exhausted."
Dean was very still for several seconds and Sam was afraid his brother knew exactly what he'd been thinking. Finally, Dean gave him a half-smile. "Too tired to sleep."
Sam shook his head, though he felt a grin trying to form. "That makes no sense."
"Makes perfect sense," Dean countered, then looked up and their eyes met. "Sorry. About the article-nosedive thing…"
"S'ok," Sam said. "I just figured we were having tryouts for the Chair Olympics again."
"Dude, we haven't had Chair Olympics since you were what? Eight?"
"That was because Dad yelled at you when I split my head open during the diving event."
"Talk about shallow end of the gene pool," Dean snorted. "You dove right into the nightstand."
Sam raised an eyebrow. "Dean, we've got the same gene pool."
Dean grinned, though it quickly turned into a yawn. "I'm almost certain I was adopted. It would explain the lack of charm in the other males in the family."
"You should be so lucky."
"Hey, a guy can dream. I'm still holding out hope you're just growing your hair out to donate it to Locks of Love." Dean pulled his socks off and threw them across the room to land near his duffel bag. "One of these days you could have a decent haircut."
Sam rolled his eyes and kicked off his shoes. "Great, Dean. Let's talk about donating my hair to charity."
Dean stretched out and pulled the covers up, apparently not caring that he was still wearing his clothes. "Hair," he yawned, "can't explode. I think we're safe."
Safe? Not yet, Sam thought. He sat and watched as Dean dropped off to sleep, his breathing quickly evening out. They weren't safe yet. But they would be. He'd see to it.
That's all, folks. Been a pleasure. Now… There was something happening tomorrow… What was it? Can't quite remember… It was important. I'm pretty sure of that… I'm sure it'll come to me.