A/N at long last the plot bunnies have given up the ghost, and the last segment of this story. Thank you for sticking with it and your patience. There will be a sequel, set during season 3. Please review. Have to keep those plot bunnies fed!
John Winchester paced outside examination room number 2, waiting for the doctor to tell him if his son would live or die. He had refused to go all the way to the waiting room. Initially he had refused to leave the room but it was a compromise between the waiting room and sedated and tossed into his own bed to get him out of the way. He looked at his watch yet again. Had it only been 2 minutes since he had last checked it? How could it only have been 2 minutes? It seemed as though he had been pacing for hours... for seconds... time didn't really seem to matter except when he looked at his watch.
The doctor came out. "Mr. Winchester? Your son is breathing on his own. But I have to ask what happened." He said, not saying this was an obvious case of assault and the police would most likely have to be called. "He has a severe concussion, he hasn't woken up yet. His kidneys are bruised. His ribs....he's got three intact ribs. Some might just be cracked, but others are broken. His trachea is bruised. What happened to your son?"
"I don't know." It wasn't entirely a lie. The ghost had never done anything like that before. He took a deep breath. "I'm the DI over at the military school. It was during football practice... one minute I'm running drills and the next I look over and Dean is collapsed against the goal post." He ran a hand through his hair. "His brother and best friend were running toward him... I got to him and headed for the infirmary with him... the three of us didn't see what happened and I didn't take the time to ask questions." He ran both hands through his hair. "Is my son going to be alright?" He asked.
"He should be fine." The doctor said. "Once he wakes up, we'll know more. You can go sit with him now if you'd like."
John entered his son's room and sat on the stool beside the bed. Dean looked so pale... except for the darkening bruises around his throat. "It's a long way to go to get out of singing in a musical, you know." He said, not sure what to say to his son but he had to say something or go insane. "Sam is okay. He is back at the school. I thought for a minute there we were going to have to squeeze him in the ambulance with us, but I guess your friend Halloran talked him into staying put." He said.
Dean opened his eyes just a little, the whites of his eyes streaked liberally with red from being choked and nodded slowly. "Good." He said raspily. Gave him time to figure it out. Much needed time.
John smiled in spite of himself. His boy was awake. That was a good sign. He pressed the call button while talking to his son. "You just worry about getting better. Let me worry about everything else." The hunt, his brother, everything else.
Dean coughed, and immediately regretted it. "I gotta get out of here." He said. "Gotta figure it out."
"You have to stay put. You almost died today, son. You stay put. I will figure it out." John said firmly. "I mean it. Stay put."
Dean groaned as he tried to sit up. Big mistake. "She said I have to put it right or she'll take Sam next." Dean said as the nurse came in. He immediately shut up as his blood pressure was taken and he was asked simple questions.
John waited, silently but impatiently while the nurse did her job. He needed to get what information he could from Dean then go and make sure that the ghost didn't make good on that promise. Damn it, when did things spiral so far out of control? He tried to steal a look at the notes she was making. He'd call Bobby. Once Dean was ready to be released he would send them home with Bobby. They would be safe there.
Once the nurse left, Dean slumped back against the pillow, clutching the pillow to his chest as he'd been told to so he could brace his ribs. "It has to be put right. Apparently whoever killed her is still alive and well. I think he might be at the school. Science nerd, drama freak, football coach. Dammit I'm missing something." He said, closing his eyes as he thought. The lights were dimmed, but they were still too bright. And it still hurt to breathe. The nurse warned him when he urinated it would most likely be pure blood for a bit. Could the day get any worse?
"Dean, don't worry about this. I will take care of it. Sam is safe right now. I'll call the school and have him brought out here if it will keep you in this bed and out of trouble." John said.
Dean nodded. He would feel better if he could see Sam. With Dad at the hospital with him, that left Sam undefended. "Yes." He said.
"Stay put." He said and stepped out into the hall to place the call to the school.
"We thought Sam was with you." Came the reply at the other end of the line.
"I'll be right there." He took a deep breath before going back into his son's room "I'm gonna go get him. No one is willing to leave the grounds to bring him out here. They are doing a search for the guy the beat you up." He rolled his eyes. "I won't be long. You stay put. You understand me, son?"
Dean nodded and feigned going back to sleep. Once his dad left, he opened them again and eased out of bed as carefully as he could. Luckily for him, the guy down the hall was coding. Everyone was busy. It was easy to cover and it bought him the time he needed.
Brad looked at Coach Winchester. "He said he was going to the ambulance." He said. "Then my brother came into the infirmary, someone shoved him down some stairs..." knowing what he knew now, he could guess who.
"It's alright, son. It's not your fault." He told Brad. He tried not to let the worry take over. He couldn't think clearly if the worry took over. Thank god Dean was safe in the hospital. He couldn't divide his attention right then either. "I'm going to go look for Sam. He's probably just out on campus somewhere... didn't get to the ambulance in time. "He didn't know Halloran knew the truth."You stay put with your brother. "
"Right." Brad said as he went back to where Jimmy was resting in the infirmary. He was just bruised, but once Brad found out that Sam was missing, that he wasn't with his family, he stayed put in the infirmary to wait for John. Who ended up being far more reasonable than Brad honestly expected. He was probably just distracted, which was fine with Brad. "Tell Dean I'll be in to see him tomorrow. He's not getting out of the play." He said with a grin over his shoulder.
"I'll let him know." John said as he headed out of the infirmary. He had been reasonable because this was a kid, and he was a rube. As far as John knew the kid had no reason to expect that there would be any danger between the front door and the ambulance. What sane person would? He stalked down the hall, almost letting himself believe his own lie, half expecting to find a sulking Sam step out from around the next corner, blaming himself or something equally emotional. But it didn't happen. He made it all the way to the
headmaster's office with no sign of Sam.
He opened the door and stepped inside, closing it behind him with the last bit of his self control. "What the hell have you been keeping from me?" He roared as he advanced on the man.
"I don't know what you're talking about." Steven said calmly. He was hardly cowed. He was a Marine just as much as John was. If not more, because he stayed in. He went for that extra tour in Nam. He did excursions the politicians didn't like to talk about.
"Cut the bullshit Steven. I have one boy in the hospital and one missing. Kids are dying around here. And the ghost tells Dean while she is trying to kill him that he has to make it right... make someone pay. Stop leaving me in the dark. I'll lay you out myself if I find that you know anything about this and my boys are the ones to pay for it."
"Can it, Winchester." Steven snapped. "If I knew what was going on, I'd tell you! You think I like having my students die around me? You think I like losing my teachers through accidents or they just get scared and leave? John, if I knew what this ghost was talking about, I'd tell you. Because I want this over with, I want it ended. That's why I called you!"
"There is something we aren't seeing. Something important somewhere. The girl... you are sure you don't know anything about her; she has to have been buried here. She was here at the ball the night she disappeared. She was buried here on the grounds otherwise she wouldn't be here. Where would they have had the easiest time hiding a body, Steven?"
"They installed the track that next month. Everyone knew it was going to happen, remember? They made a huge deal out of it. They laid down the plates and put the material over it, afraid digging would make the track seize in the winter." Steven said.
"Then you better come up with an excuse for your new coach to be digging up the track "John said. "Cause that's where I'm headed. There isn't any more time for doing this the quiet way."
When Sam became fully aware of himself, the first thing he noticed was that it was dark; the next was that he was cold. He felt around, long fingers finding cold jagged rock. "Oh this can't be good." He said, and winced at the sound of his own voice. This wasn't someone's cracked out basement, not given the acoustics. He was in a cave, and he was far from the entrance because it was pitch black.
How had he gotten there? Why there? Was this the ghost's latest form of suicide? Death by hypothermia? He had to keep moving and keep himself warm. Most of all he had to get out of there and get to Dean. It was that thought that made him move, keeping one hand on the wall as he walked. It didn't occur to him that in this pitch black cave he wouldn't know if he was going deeper into the cave system or out of it. All he thought about was getting to his brother. Not the cold, not the darkness, or how he got there, because those thoughts would drive him mad and he knew it.
Dean got out of the hospital. He was sucking air like he'd just run a marathon and had a new concept of pain now. But he made it to the payphone and called the dorm, asking to speak to Brad. The quartermaster transferred him to the right extension and then Dean waited as Brad came to the phone.
"Hey, it's me." Dean said.
"Dean? Man it is good to hear your voice. You weren't looking too good when you left here."
"Probably still ain't. Can you come pick me up?"
"From the hospital? You need to be in there."
"I need to find my brother."
"What? You know?"
"The look on Dad's face when he left. Just come get me or I'll walk." Dean said, at least his stubbornness was intact.
"I'm on my way." Brad said. "I'll get Lansing to stay in the infirmary with Jimmy. She pushed him down the stairs, Dean." He said with a sigh.
"We gotta get this Bitch and fast. Give me a few minutes to sneak out of here."
"Okay." Dean said. "I'm at the gas station right across from the ER." He said. He hoped Brad wouldn't take too long.
Brad made sure Jimmy was resting and that Corporal Lansing, Jimmy's best friend, was with him in the infirmary. He slipped past the provost's office catching not so much the words, as the volume of the conversation within. Coach Winchester might have been gentle with him, but he wasn't being so gentle with the provost. The man was pissed. He managed to find the spare set of keys to Dean's car and soon was on the way to the hospital. He would have to tell Dean not to hide them in so obvious a place next time.
Dean swung himself into the passenger seat with a groan. "You're lucky." Dean said. "I'm too sore to kick your ass. What's wrong with your car?" He said, cranky as the drugs started to wear off. "No word on Sam yet?"
"No gas and my allowance from Dad haven't come in yet. They don't let you take part time jobs either." Brad rolled his eyes. "And you hide your keys in the most obvious place." He sighed. "No word on Sam. I'm sorry I lost him. He was just headed to the ambulance to go with you guys, when Jimmy was pushed down the stairs. I thought he was with your Dad. You get to feeling better and I'll let you kick my ass for this one... not the car though." He said forcing a grin.
"Emergencies. Never know when we'll have to jet out of town." Dean said with a groan as he leaned against the seat. "It's not your fault, if everyone hadn't been fussing over me, Sam wouldn't have slipped through the cracks. He's always trying to slip away."
"It's not yours either," Brad said, knowing all too well where Dean was coming from. Ironically though it was usually him telling his brother who was stuck in a hospital bed that it wasn't his fault that Brad was missing another fill in the blank because Jimmy was sick. Brothers. "We'll find him. Your dad was in the provost's office, tearing him a new one when I slipped out. "
"She said something." Dean said. "I have to make this right, someone has to be punished, and she won't let me 'destroy' her until it's done. The headmaster, provost whatever, he was the one who called us here. He has to know something."
"True... he had to know it was a ghost of some sort and not just a lot of suicides. How would he know that? He isn't a hunter or he would take care of it himself. He had to have seen her or something." Brad said, eyes widening slightly.
"He started as headmaster last year, right?" Dean said as Brad drove. "He knows something. He's not telling us something. Ugh, I wish I weren't drugged. I can barely think clearly enough."
"Let's go find out what it is that he does know. "Brad said."Or what it is about him that we don't know. I can't think of anyone else that it could be. Something has her riled up in ways she never was before. It has to be him. "
"I don't think he'll answer our questions. I mean, you said Dad ripped him a new asshole. If he couldn't get it out of him, then we don't stand a chance." Dean said and thought. "Newspapers. The school archive. We should hit it; see if we can find coverage of the dance."
"Works for me. We'll find him; okay... we'll find him. She wouldn't kill him if she is using him as leverage. "Brad pointed out, hoping that he was right.
"I've been telling myself that." Dean said. "But I don't know what our time schedule is. It could be shorter than we think."
Brad parked the car exactly where he had taken it from. "Okay, we need to check out the Provost's quarters. He isn't going to keep personal information in his office. Hopefully your Dad will keep him occupied long enough for us to sort out how much he knows."
"Dad's with him?" Dean said with a chuckle as he eased out of the car. "We don't have long; we should just trash the place. We get caught, I'll take the fall, I don't mind. But I don't want to waste time I could be looking for Sam with keeping his quarters nice and neat."
"Don't you miss things if you trash it though?" He asked. "I am betting someone like him keeps pictures. He has a lot of trophies in the display case out front in the lobby. I bet he has scrap books, old year books... Glory days you know."
"Makes sense. What I meant was we don't give it the white glove approach. We go through a drawer, go through files, we're not worried about putting everything back just as it was. If this guy's still alive after my dad finishes with him, I don't care."
Brad nodded. "I think if we can take proof to your Dad that he was involved with this chick, maybe we can get more information out of him. And I don't think you are capable of the white glove treatment today. We'll be lucky if I'm not carrying you out of there. "
"I'm fine." Dean said automatically. "Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to a nice long nap once this is done. I'm talking epic nap. With lots of pain killers. I'm just not there yet." He said as they headed to the provost's quarters. Dean picked the lock, it was a simple lock, and pushed the door open.
"Okay... "Brad said once they were inside and began to search. He wasn't trained at this. All he could do was treat it as though he were looking through his father's private things. Where would his father put something that he treasured but wanted no one else to see?
Dean wasn't as choosy. He tore through drawers and files and under couch cushions. "Check under the mattress in the bedroom." Dean said, knowing full well he couldn't manage that right now.
This was exactly where Brad found the scrap book he had been looking for. "Okay here we go." He said starting to look through it as he walked back into the living room. "Look... this is Sgt Adams... the gym teacher before your dad, along with the provost, and one other kid... they are all in a lot of pictures together. Jocks...this one the president of the science club, the provost was in some play... here it is... Romeo and Juliet... poor bastards... and guess who was Juliet..."
"You're shitting me." Dean said as he put the couch right so he could sit on it, winded already. "All right, let's go grab my dad. Show him the scrap book right away so he's distracted and won't yell at me. Then we'll go confront the Provost. I can't believe he dragged us here when he knew all along a huge part of the story!"
"Hope your dad sees it the same way we do." He said marking the place in the book, and continuing to look as they walked, hoping to find something else that would give them a clue as to where to look for the body or Sam.
Their pace was slow. Because of Dean, and that pissed Dean off. But as they were headed back to the academic buildings where the provost's office was, they saw John with a sledge hammer headed toward the track. "Dad!" Dean said and took the scrapbook to hand to his father. Before he got yelled at for sneaking out of the hospital.
"We found this in the provost's rooms. I know I shouldn't have been there." Brad said quickly, well versed in explaining things to military men. You spoke quickly and clearly and hoped they processed it before reacting. "But those three guys are involved in the original death somehow. The girl was Juliet to his Romeo too... so he had to know her."
"How did you get involved in this?" John asked, taking the book, and giving Dean a 'we're going to talk about this later' look.
"She tried to kill my brother twice." Brad stated. "I saw her in theater throwing a sand bag at Jimmy. She made me involved."
John wasn't pleased, but he looked at Dean. "Good work." And he turned to walk back toward Steven's office.
"So wherever he threw her body is where Sam is." Dean said. It was quite a logic leap but he felt it to be true. "She tried to have that kid hang himself in rehearsal, remember? Made herself nice and visible. Brad just happened to be the only one that looked up."
"Sounds to me like she wants this to be over and done." John said aloud. If she had hurt Sam however, he would make sure that not only did it never end but she could never hurt anyone else either.
His father was flaming mad. Dean could tell that from how fast John was walking. Stalking was more like it, and Dean struggled to keep up. Once they were in the office, Dean was sitting down. His body wouldn't take any more argument on that. "Where were you headed?" He asked.
"The track field. It had been nothing but upturned dirt back then, they were just starting to put it in."
Dean nodded. "Makes sense. But Sam can't be ditched below a track." He said. It was getting cold. Sam would be scared. And it was his fault because he somehow drew the spirit's ire and distracted everyone when he got hurt.
"No... But if we put this bitch down she can't hurt him and we have time to find him." John said. "With her still around, who knows what she will do?"
Dean barely made it into the office. He stumbled the last few dozen feet, and collapsed into a chair gratefully, sucking air and holding his ribs. He looked at the provost. "We found your scrap book."
"Damn it, you had no right to go into my personal quarters." He said. "This has gone far enough John. You and your boy here are pushing my patience."
John slammed the scrap book on the desk and opened it to the pages Brad had marked. "Gym teacher. Science club. Football quarterback. Drama club. Oh look, who's playing Juliet? Who's her Romeo? Dammit you've been keeping things from us from the start. Look at Dean! Look what it cost us that we know of! Do you see Sam? I don't! She has my son, she nearly killed my other son and you will start talking."
"Just exorcise the bitch or whatever the hell it is you do and get the hell out of my life. The past doesn't matter. Just get rid of her."
"Gladly." John shot back. "But I need her body. Where is it?"
"What the hell makes you think I know that? Hell if I knew that don't you think I would have told you long ago and gotten you and your tequila habit off my campus?"
"No, I don't. Because if you know, and you do, you would be confessing to a crime. I don't give a shit about that! I'm not a cop, and I'm not going to report you to the police. But if I don't put her down now, she's going to kill my son. Then she's going to kill you. She's building up and without a body I can't stop her."
"We didn't kill her." Steven said. "She did that herself." He sighed settling down into his chair. "We just hid the body... "
"What?" Dean said. "That doesn't make sense. If she offed herself, why would she be so freaking angry and targeting specific groups?" He said. "Let me guess, you were supposed to fulfill the last act of the play and backed out like a bitch?"
"Dean." John admonished his son. "I think you should tell us what happened, Steven. We're not getting the full picture here."
"I didn't back out." He said. "Things were crazy back then. Everyone puts this idealized spin on the world. Heroes going off to war, kids standing up for their beliefs and not going to war. But the fact was it was insane. Everyone was afraid. We knew that when we graduated we were going to war and by this time we knew what it was really like, and what it wasn't about. And our parents made things even harder. Looking back on it, it was nothing compared to what life really had to offer but to us back then it was too much to bear. Sarah and I thought we were in love. We had spent so much time play acting that we were that it just started to feel true I guess. She found out she was pregnant and wanted to get married, but my parents wouldn't hear anything of it. They threatened to disown me, were going to pull me out of the school. I wouldn't be 18 until months after graduation. Back then you didn't go and have a baby and get married later. Abortions were... nightmares. So we agreed that we would meet. Overdose and that would be that. She was scared... wanted me to wait until she was unconscious before I took my dose. Tom and Cal found me before I took the drugs. Tom stayed and did everything he could to keep me from taking the pills, while Cal went to get Coach. She died in my arms."
"And where did you put her?" John asked. He felt a degree of sympathy, but it was all negated by the fact that Steven's mistake years ago had put what was left of John's family in danger. Not to mention all the other deaths.
"The caves, you know the ones... near the river." It had been a popular make out point until the cave in.
John nodded and turned to go. "I can tell you this much, the reason she's still here is she thinks she can guilt you into joining her finally." John said. "Brad, go grab some blankets on our way to the caves, Sam's going to be cold."
"He loves me, you know." Sarah said to Sam as she stood next to what was left of her skeleton. "He'll come. Your brother will make sure he comes."
"If he loved you, he would have buried you in a real grave like a normal person." Sam said his arms closed around him. He was cold, and even though his eyes had adjusted to the darkness he could barely see that he was standing next to her. He had found that out more by touch. He wasn't in the mood to humor a love sick ghost.
"You don't understand." Sarah said. "I've waited for so long. But he never saw me. Your brother, then his friend, they were the first to see me. In over twenty years. No one sees me. No one saw me before, except Steven. Steven always saw me. And when he comes, you'll see. Then I can rest. Because he promised."
"Why do you kill the others? They're just kids. They don't deserve to die, they don't want to die. "
"I don't. I don't know how. The first person I've been able to touch was your brother. I learned how to make things move, but no one ever died because of that." Sarah said. "I don't make people die, why would I do that?"
"Yeah well you've been succeeding. When the kid hung himself on stage you threw sand bags at people on the stage, tried to stop them from saving the kid... "
"No!" Sarah protested. "They saw me. I wanted to make sure they saw me. And then he threatened me and I got angry. Someone says they want to destroy you....." She shook her head. "You're not like everyone else. You know what it's like to be different. Now imagine that you're different, and invisible."
"Invisible doesn't sound so bad." Sam said and leaned against the wall of the cave, sliding down to the ground. "I know it doesn't seem like it from your side, but from where I'm sitting it's not so bad."
"Not so bad? You spend decades screaming and no one hears you." Sarah said, flaring at that. "Not so bad? Do you know how lonely it is? Always waiting. Just waiting. And no one comes."
"My family always comes, but they never hear me. They hear what they want to hear, not what I am saying. But the biggest difference is I didn't ask for this... you did. You threw your life away literally. And now you take other lives... whether you mean to or not you kill people and have ever since you died. You almost killed my brother, you hurt Jimmy, you kidnapped me... tell me where in there I should feel sorry for you?"
"Sometimes they keep me company for a while." Sarah said. "But they always go away too. They can move on. I can't. I've tried! I tried for years, until the only thing left for me was to stay here and wait."
Sam picked up a pebble and toyed with it just to prove to himself that he was still alive, and not merely keeping her company for a while. "It's because you won't let yourself. My dad... he won't let go of my mom....so he can't move on either. Not so much difference in the living and the dead I guess. "
"He would have come with me. He promised. But I stood there waiting, watching him stroke my hair. Before he could take his half....they came in. They stopped him. They watched him for days and convinced him it was a stupid idea. He stopped thinking of me. But now he's thinking of me. And what we could have had. It's not like today. I watch the kids. A guy knocks up a girl, he gives her two hundred bucks and it's taken care of. We weren't even eighteen yet, we didn't have a choice. And then they took his one choice away from him."
"You were pregnant? Wow... look....People have been having kids before they were married for as long as people have been having kids. You didn't have to die... I'd think you would be happy that someone you loved got to live and have a life... instead of being invisible."
"We wouldn't have been invisible. We would have had each other. And we would have moved on." Sarah said. "That's different than screaming in the middle of the gym and no one hearing you."
"Yeah well...whether he joins you or not... bringing me here was a bad plan. My dad will send you to the other side whether you want to go or not."
"I know." Sarah said, smiling brightly. "And he'll bring Steve with him. And hopefully he'll come with me. But either way, I know I can finally move on. And maybe my aunt can know what happened to me after all. I knew when I saw your father unpacking, when I heard you and your brother talking....you'd be the ones to help me."
"Yeah and once you knew we could see you, you should have talked to us. Not put my brother in the hospital. You could have killed him. For all I know he died there." Sam's voice slowly grew in volume as his anger and fear showed. "You could have taken him from me because you're selfish. Nothing but a selfish girl too scared to face up to her mistakes."
"I like you, Sam." Sarah said. "But don't push it. You're supposed to keep me company until this plays out. Now be a good little boy and talk about something else."
"You trap me in the dark next to a skeleton and you want me to talk like normal kids talk?" He asked shaking his head. His mind was on Dean, afraid that he would lose his brother and be alone in the world himself. His father wasn't there even when he was there most of the time. She was making him invisible too and she wanted to talk like friends.
"You're next to me. All of me." Sarah said. "Yes, I want you to talk. Is that so bad? So hard? No one listens to you either Sam. Well, I'll listen."
"About what? That I hate what we do? I hate the smell of gun oil mixed with salt... the smell that clings to everything after salting and burning the remains. That I hate lying and changing schools and that there isn't anything that can ever change it, because to change it would mean I would have to change my Dad and Dean. Or maybe that I'm a geek and no girl ever looks twice... that I'm 13 and the youngest kid in my class, and my dad still insists that I need a baby sitter even though Dean was watching me alone when he was 7... Where do I start....? "
"You won't be thirteen forever." Sarah said. "You'll be able to escape, they can't hold you prisoner your whole life unless you let them."
"And if I don't, then I lose my family forever." Sam said, knowing that quitting would be the same as telling his family goodbye.
"And sometimes that's what you have to do. Good bye is all you can do." Sara said. "It's....hard. But sometimes it's all you can do."
"You know... you went to school with my Mom." Sam said. Changing the subject. "Your aunt showed us pictures. Do you get to go over to the girls' school... you know... to see her. "
"I did. But she never saw me, and it hurt too bad after a while." Sara said. "I remember your mom; she was a very sweet woman. Strong though. And your dad...half the girls had a crush on him. She never talked much about her family though."
"Dad doesn't either. His or hers. "Sam shrugged."Dean is like Dad... the one the girls all have crushes on... do you ever wish you hadn't done it? "
"After he was stopped....all the time. Limbo is hard. I can't move on, I can't go back. I'm just here and no one hears me. Everyone's forgotten and no one cares anymore. They barely cared when I was alive."
"That's not true. Your aunt cared. She cared a lot. I could tell when we went to talk to her. I know it feels that way sometimes. Like they don't care, and they don't listen. Like nothing you say matters, and you're just this weight around their necks... I know how that feels. But it doesn't make it true... just cause it feels that way."
"He's been back a year." Sara said. "I've waited so long."
"So you want him to die too? I thought you loved him." Sam said quietly. "Wouldn't you rather see that they are happy and alive?"
"Don't you get it? I can't leave! I'm stuck here. And I'm alone." Sara said. "And he promised."
"You can let go... you can give up on him and let it all go. Killing him or making him kill himself isn't going to make you any happier."
"It might. You never know." Sara said. "But they're coming. I can feel them."
"Leave my brother alone when he gets here. You almost killed him..."
"But I didn't. Your brother is strong, he'll always survive." Sara said. "Once this is all over you can go."
"Only because the doctors saved him." Sam pointed out. "I mean it...you leave him alone."
Sara turned to him to speak, but was drowned out by male voices echoing through the caves.
"Sam! Sam!" One strong, deep. John. Another more winded, frantic. Dean.
"In here!" Sam yelled. "She's with me... Salt the tunnel...Salt it!" If she touched Dean again, Sam would make sure she never left this cave again. She could stay here for all eternity watching her bones degrade.
Dean started salting a line behind him. "He's okay." Dean said gratefully.
John shoved Steven toward the cave. "Now put a line of that around yourself and stay put." He told his older son.
Dean didn't answer. Of course he wouldn't stay put. But he handed an iron bar to Brad and surrounded him with salt. "She won't be able to get you." Dean said as he followed his father. This was his brother. His responsibility. John had told him that enough.
"Those lines will keep her in place? Then we don't have to do this. Have the boy come out and we go home." Steven said. He had a life now. Had children of his own.
"No." John said. "All it will take is a good rain and the salt washes away." He pointed out. "But we will get Sam. And you've got to face some things of your own, don't you?"
Steven glared at John. "I'm not going in there to die for her. Not after all this time. Let's go get your boy and do whatever it is you have to do to put her to rest."
John glared back. Whatever happened between the ghost and Steven wasn't his business. He just wanted Sam. More importantly, he wanted his boys safe.
Sara stood up and looked at Steven when the group got to their space. "You came." She said as Dean ran past her to Sam.
"You okay? Did she hurt you?"
"I'm fine... she didn't hurt me." He knew that his brother would come, even when he shouldn't be there. Not even their Dad would be able to keep Dean away. "You should still be in the hospital though. You don't look so good. "
"Hello Sara." Steven said, hoping that John would just go about his business and take care of this damned ghost business. The girl he had fallen in love with all those years ago would never go around driving people to their deaths. This wasn't his Sara any more.
"You finally came." Sara said, looking at Steven. "I've waited for so long. I've tried to get your attention every way I could. I even stood in your office and you ignored me."
Dean leaned against the cave wall. "Yeah, I know. The hospital sucked though, so I broke out." He said with a grin, keeping a weather eye on the ghost.
Sam stepped away from the ghost only to find himself tossed backwards to the cave wall.
"Let him go." Steven said. "It's not any of these kids that you want."
"Come closer." She told the man. "You're still running... still afraid to keep your promise."
"Sam!" Dean yelled, going over to his brother, only to find himself thrown against the opposite wall. Which was NOT what his body needed right now, as he crumpled into a moaning heap on the floor of the cave. "I really don't like you...."
John started for Sam, but Dean was already injured, so he went to his oldest son, who was closer. "You want him dead?" John said. "You've got to be kidding me. You've been killing students and faculty to try and goad him over?" He looked at Steven and shook his head.
"I'm not going to die for you Sarah." Steven said. "I would have that night... but I was stopped. I'm sorry that you died. I have regretted that every day of my life but the fact is I have a life. I have a wife and children. But you can't do this anymore. You can't punish innocent children for our stupid mistakes. Leave these boys alone. Let me go... I'm not 17 anymore. The world looks very different through adult eyes. It wouldn't be the same. Not after everything you have done. "
"Dean, get out of here!" Sam said. "Leave my brother alone you bitch!" He yelled at Sarah.
"No." Dean said as he struggled to at least sit up with his father's help.
John looked at Brad. "Get Dean out of here." He wasn't sure how much more his oldest son could take physically.
Sarah shook her head at Steven. "I can't believe it. Wife? Children? How could you do that to me?" Sarah said as she threw Steven up on the wall. "How could you forget about me?"
Sam dropped to the floor as she focused her attention on Sarah. He skirted over to the body and motioned to his father to toss him the lighter fluid and matches.
"Because I grew up. I went to war, I went to college... I lived my life. It wasn't done to you, Sarah. It had nothing to do with you. The living go on. It's not a matter of forgetting. It's just how things are."
"You promised me!" Sarah screamed at him. "You promised me and I crossed over alone. You weren't there! You have to keep your promise!" She continued yelling and throwing Steven up against the wall over and over as John tossed the lighter, matches and salt to Sam.
Sam moved quickly, dousing the remains in salt and lighter fluid hoping he would have time to light the flames before she took notice.
"You haven't crossed over. You died. But you haven't crossed over. You are still here and you are hurting people. You are hurting children, Sarah. How can I be with someone that does that? "He asked weakly, wondering if he was going to die at her hands.
The cave lit up as the remains caught fire, burning brightly.
Sarah turned on Sam in fury, but didn't get far as her apparition went up in flames as surely as her remains.
John sighed in relief. "Come on." He said. "We need to get out of here." Maybe take Dean back to the hospital.
Sam didn't need to be told twice, he was running to catch up to Dean as Brad was slowly pulling him out of the cave and into the larger cavern.
Dean put his free arm over Sam's shoulders when his brother caught up to them. "And everyone wonders why I hate freaking school." He muttered. "This shit never happens on summer vacations."
Sam laughed. "No, it's other kinds of monsters. Usually the sort with claws and fangs that have the decency to actually use hands...paws... Something tangible anyway, to knock you around."
"You two live a weird life." Brad said. "Before I met you guys, I was worried if my SAT scores were enough to make my dad happy."
"Oh it's the same difference. We just worry if our Latin is good enough to impress our dad." Dean said with a chuckle.
"Not yet." John said coming up behind, making sure Stephen was leaving as well. "But you're getting there."
"So the job's done." Dean said, looking back at his father. "Does this mean we're leaving?"
"Not until after the play." Brad insisted. "The understudy doesn't have an understudy."
"I think we can stick around here a while. There are worse places." John said, wanting to make sure his son was completely healed before getting back out on the road.