Candle In The Window

Candle In The Window

Chapter 13: Ties That Bind

Disclaimer: They are mine in my fantasies, and I get pleasure from them, but no money.

Welcome to the world thru my eyes.

AN 1: Here it is. FINALLY.

AN 2: Can you believe my nerve? Sometimes I shock even me and I gotta tell you I'm not easy to shock. That last chapter reminded me of the Grinch trying like hell to stop that sled from going over the edge of the mountain but unlike the Grinch, no amount of pure heart, (lets be realistic here, this is me) digging in my heels or heaving was gonna stop that sucker from going over. I know now that if the devil's car screams to halt next to me and he opens the car door and smiles, I'm gettin' the hell in cause I obviously have no resistance to temptation.

Cause the devil has green eyes, full lips and loooong eyelashes.

And he's dancing on my keyboard even now….

AN 3: Mea Culpa (I KNOW it's Tuesday!!)

AN 3a: FINE!! Wednesday…it's Wednesday!!

AN 4: I can't believe I've been working on this since October! I can't believe anyone is still reading it!

AN 5: Deangirl gets extra points, she'll see why. You're a smart little thing, I'm impressed.

Dean's head rolled loosely as Sam gathered his brother's limp body to him. Crouched over him, alternately stroking Dean's face and hair and shaking him roughly, demanding in heaving gasps that he stop this shit and open his eyes, right the fuck NOW! Sam could feel how cold Dean truly was.

Dean, stubborn bastard he was, refused to give in to Sam's demands for he first time ever and lay there unmoving, his face bereft of color, eyes half closed, lips slightly parted, a trickle of blood drifting slowly from the corner of his mouth.

It wasn't fair

They'd tried so hard…come so close…

If they'd only had a little more time

Unconsciously rocking, holding Dean against him, Sam became aware that the roaring in his ears had grown into a rhythmic whoop whoop that finally pulled his eyes upward as a helicopter painted to look like a huge skull swooped down at him to hover about twenty feet above the roof. The wind from the whirling blades almost rolled Sam from his perch.

Goggle-eyed with disbelief, mouth falling open, Sam threw himself down over Dean as a harnessed figure tumbled from the craft, hitting the roof on both booted feet, balancing with the agility of a cat, a canvas bag in its arms.

Dumbstruck, Sam could only stare as the figure jerked back a hood, allowing long twisted dreadlocks to spill out, revealing a round face with wide brown eyes and a look of deadly intensity. He was easily as large as Sam but bulkier.

"MOVE!" the man thundered, pulling Sam's not inconsiderable weight off of Dean with surprising ease and shoving him away. Sam fell backwards onto the roof, barely catching himself, the rough surface of the shingles digging into his palms, stunned at the sudden shift in circumstances, his brain still trying to catch up.

Instantly the figure knelt by Dean's unmoving form, grabbed a knife from a sheath on his leg and slit the dirty bandage wrapped around Dean's injured arm, revealing the purpled angry flesh beneath.

Still overcome with bewilderment Sam gaped before he managed to gather his scattered wits. "What the hell are you doing!!" he shouted, lunging forward.

Sam felt his arms grabbed from behind as another figure descended behind him. Panic leant him strength and he struggled for a few seconds until beard scraped the side of his face as a voice shouted to be heard over the beat of the helicopter blades.

"Sam! Calm down, it's me, Bobby! It's okay!"

Sam literally sagged at the sound of Bobby's voice in his ear, his knees buckling, taking them both down. "God…Bobby…" His hands closed on Bobby's vest. "You're too late…"

He turned to look back at Dean and the man working over him. "We didn't make it…"

Sam was suddenly shaking with chills that went beyond cold. Exhaustion and the freezing, hungry tension of the last 24 hours were catching up with him in one huge blow, his muscles refusing to respond to his commands.

"What are you doing to my brother?" he shouted, trying to go back to Dean but Bobby held tight, still speaking tightly against Sam's ear.

"Let him be Sam, Case knows what he's doing--"


Sam watched helplessly as the imposing figure of Case finished his hurried examination of Dean. Reaching into the canvas bag, the man snatched up a hypodermic with a long, thick needle, filled with a yellowish liquid.

Moving swiftly Case rolled Dean roughly onto his side, pushing Dean's head as far down as he could.

As Sam watched in horror, unable to free himself from Bobby's grip, Case stabbed the needle in at the base of Dean's skull and rammed it in as far as it would go, plunging the yellow fluid home.

Sam felt his stomach turn inside out; Bobby's arm's tightening even more around him. Words poured low and fast from Bobby's lips but Sam couldn't make them out. He was falling and there was nothing he could do to stop himself.

And then Dean screamed.

Leaning in the doorway, a thick mug of coffee gripped in his hands, Sam watched as Dean slept heavily for the third day in a row.

Dressed in three layers of shirts and a heavy sweater, Sam was still cold. Wasn't sure he would ever be warm again.

The sound of Dean's scream still rang in his ears, a fading echo that wasn't fading nearly fast enough.

Sam had allowed himself to be hauled into the bizarre helicopter and belted in, then Dean had been taken up, limp as a rag, to be draped across Sam's willing lap.

Bobby and Case had lumbered aboard, Bobby sitting across from Sam and reaching out to grip Sam's knee. "It'll be alright, son," he yelled over the beat of the rotors. "He'll be alright."

Sam's eyes rested on Bobby for a moment and then rolled to Case who offered another blinding smile and nodded. "We got the bitch in time," he added. "Just."

Sam glanced up at the pilot. The only feature he could see was long blonde hair and a set of headphones. Male or female was anyone's guess and it really didn't matter.

After that primal scream of agony Dean had fallen back into unconsciousness again, but this time he breathed in smothered gasps. Leaning his head back, eyes not quite closed Sam relished the mad beat of Dean's heart under his hand, too tired to do more than watch the miracle of Dean's chest rising and falling in stunted breaths.

"How…" Sam started to say, but then decided how didn't matter either.

All that mattered was lying in his arms.

"What are you doin?"

Sam jerked as Dean's thin voice startled him. He turned in the chair, blocking the laptop.

"You're supposed to be resting," Sam objected, getting up to help Dean over to the couch. "How the hell did you get down the stairs without me hearing you? You could have fallen!"

"I didn't, so it doesn't matter," Dean growled, pulling his arm away once he was down.

His balance was shot to hell, vertigo coming and going like the tide only without the regularity. One minute he was fairly stable, the next getting to know the floor much more intimately than he cared to. Case had assured him it was a lingering side affect and would go away soon, as would his general weakness. He tired very quickly still, even though it had been a little over a week since he and Sam had been rescued from Emma's roof.

Case had replied to Sam's questions about the shot he had given to Dean with a flat, "You don't want to know."

He repeatedly assured Sam that Dean would make a full recovery, he just needed time. Case and his pilot had gobbled down a quick meal; Sam never did find out the pilot's sex or name. Case didn't offer it and Sam was reluctant to ask since the pilot never spoke and Sam couldn't tell anything through the veil of long hair and bulky clothing.

They had re-boarded the skull copter and soared away.

"They owed me one," was all Bobby would say.

"I'm tired of sleeping," Dean complained, biting off a huge yawn and rubbing his eyes. He was too tired to move around much but if he stayed in one place for to long without moving he would inevitably go to sleep.

"You hungry? It's about lunch time." Sam asked.

He had been so engrossed in his research he had skipped breakfast and was consequently starving. For one of the few times in his life Dean had to be coaxed into eating, he said everything but peanut butter tasted like cardboard so Sam had rounded up every peanut butter flavored thing he could lay his hands on in an effort to get Dean to eat enough. Over the last few days Dean's taste had begun to broaden again and he had accepted other offerings.

Dean shrugged. "Maybe…I dunno…" He looked vaguely interested.

"Well, since you're down here, you wanta come in the kitchen with me while I make something?"

Bobby had gone to town and they had the house to themselves. Sam was grateful for the refuge and the chance for Dean to get back on his feet but he was starting to go stir crazy, unable to believe he was actually looking forward to getting back on the road. He just had one thing to take care of, if he could figure out a way to do it without Dean.

Dean nodded, happy to be anywhere that kept him awake a little longer. He felt much better, but had the sense to realize he was still climbing uphill. Even so, if all he was gonna do was sleep he could do that on the road. He hoped Sam would agree, if Dean could just figure out a way to bring it up without Sam going all mother hen. Dean had had about all he touchy-feely he could stand.

"I've got it!" He snapped, shaking off Sam's hand, yet again, as they moved toward Bobby's kitchen. "Seriously, Sam. I'm okay!" He sank down on the wooden chair at the battered old table and propped himself on his elbows, irritably running his hands through his hair ragged hair.

Sam rolled his eyes and set about making a couple of sandwiches. He thin sliced a banana on Dean's and slathered it with peanut butter and a little honey, hoping Dean wouldn't notice the additions, or at least not object to them. Quickly he threw together a ham sandwich for himself, poured two glasses of milk and set it all down.

Dean eyed the sandwich suspiciously and glared at the milk, but drank some anyway, well aware that he was going to earn Sam's wrath if he didn't at least make an effort.

Sam took a huge bite of his sandwich and did his best not to stare at Dean as he nibbled disinterestedly at his. As Sam opened his mouth Dean spoke, cutting him off.

"I'm eating the damn thing, cut me some slack—what the hell did you put on this?"

Sam ignored him and they ate in silence for few minutes.

Finally Dean dropped the last quarter of the sandwich on the plate and shoved it away. "It was good, Sam," he said at Sam's look. "I just don't want any more." As a peace offering he drained the last of the milk and set the glass down with a slight bang, rolling it between his hands.

"So did you find him?" he said.

"Find who?" Sam said, with such false innocence, if Dean had been a dog he would have barked at Sam.

"Emma's rat bastard husband, who else?" Dean groaned softly and dropped his head on the arm resting on the table as the room suddenly slid out of focus.

Sam started to get up, "Dean?"

Dean lifted one hand, "I'm okay, it'll pass. Gimme a minute."

Sam sat back down and watched Dean intently.

After a few moments, Dean lifted his head and shook it, blinking. "God, I hate that," he said. His eyes moved back to Sam. "You didn't answer me."

"Answer what?" Sam hedged. He grabbed their plates and carried them to the sink.

"Sam, don't play stupid, it doesn't work for you. I know you've been looking for him. You gotta stop falling asleep on your laptop." He snorted as Sam's look of chagrin. "Dude, I'm sleeping like 20 hours a day right now, what the hell do you think I do when I AM awake?" Dean heaved himself to his feet, pleased when the world didn't instantly shift on its axis. "So let's get this show on the road, I think we've been playing in Bobby's sandbox long enough."

"Dean, I was gonna check it out on my own, I'm not sure you're up to traveling any distance yet—" Sam's argument was an obvious last ditch effort but he played it gamely.

Dean snorted again and shuffled toward the door. "Bite me," he replied. "You know I'm gonna crash as soon as you turn on the engine." He turned at the door and gave Sam a drowsy smile with a touch of the old Dean at the corners. "I promise, we find him, I'll stand back and watch while you kick his ass." He jerked his head at the stairs and winked. "I'll even let you carry my duffel bag."

Still grinning, Dean crossed back to the stairs and started pulling himself up, pausing every few steps, but making it on his own.

Sam hung in the doorway watching.

"You can make it, Dean, just a few more steps…"

"I know I can….make it…"

Dean stopped halfway up and looked back at Sam. "You aren't gonna try to carry me?"

Sam's smile was genuine as he shook his head. "You're doin' fine. Just fine."

It hadn't been that hard to track down Emma's last name and wander through the usual maze of records to locate one William Henry Phillips, last known address, Dover, Minnesota.

Sam was tenacious if nothing else.

The trip had been harder on Dean than they had both expected, exhausting him, but Dean had insisted they make the trip in one drive. As they pulled up in front of the ratty apartment building, Dean was asleep in the back, wound in an old blanket, his jacket bunched up under his head.

Sam eased the car to a halt and looked over the area, overfilled trash cans littered the sidewalk, two people sat on the ground in front of the building passing a bagged bottle back and forth. He could hear different people yelling, loud TV's and music blaring, all over the sounds of nearby traffic. He wasn't positive, but pretty sure the woman lounging on the corner wasn't waiting for a bus.

Dean groaned and shifted uncomfortably. "We there?" he said hoarsely, untangling himself.

Sam nodded. "Guess so. You wanta stay here, get some more sleep?"

Dean just looked at him.

Sam held up his hands. "I was just checking, I know you're—"

"Tired, yeah," Dean finished for him, "Play another record, Sam." He pushed himself up and jerked open the door. "I'm friggin' tired of having you tell me I'm tired, so cut it out!"

Sam sighed and got out of the car, consulting some scribbles on a piece of paper.

"So which apartment does this mook live in again?" Dean asked, popping his neck.

"418," Sam replied. "I hope they have an elevator." He started up the steps with Dean trudging along behind him.

Sam wasn't really sure what he intended to do once he met William in person, he just felt the need for some type of closure. They had only Emma's hazy and inconsistent recollections as to what might have actually happened that night. But Ben's body had been real, and his money was on Emma's version.

Emma and Ben's bodies had made the Odd But True news. "Dead woman found after flood, wrapped in the arms of a long-dead corpse…" But no one had seemed really interested in trying to find out exactly what the hell had happened when there were so many other immediate life-threatening issues to deal with after the flood.

Dean planned on following Sam's lead on this one. They both owed Emma their lives one way or another and that was a debt he wanted to pay.

There was an elevator, a creaking wooden box at the end of a long stained hallway reeking of old grease, sweat and cigarette smoke. Closing the doors of the elevator by hand, Sam imagined a shriveled old man at the bottom of the shaft, hand pulling the thing as it inched upwards. Eventually it deposited them on a dirty landing. Sam forced the doors open and stepped out.

The smell was worse in this hallway and it was even dirtier than the ones below. There wasn't a breath of air and it was hotter than hell. Trash was strewn everywhere and several of the apartment doors stood open.

Sam looked around in disgust. "I can't believe anyone lives here…"

Dean stepped up next to him, making a grossed-out noise. "God, it stinks up here!" he covered his mouth and nose with his hand.

Sam moved down the hall reading the numbers. The smell got stronger as they got closer and by the door of 418 it was overwhelming. The door was ajar and Sam, with some trepidation, pushed it open with his foot. Both he and Dean gagged and stumbled back coughing as a cloud of rot swept over them.

"My God…" Sam gasped, pulling the fabric of his jacket over his mouth and nose. "You okay?" he asked, glancing back at Dean, doubled over against the wall, trying not to vomit. Dean waved a hand and nodded, coughing.

Sam stepped into the apartment warily, drawing his gun mainly because it made him feel better. He became aware of a low buzz that he traced to an overstuffed chair that was facing away from him. He looked back as Dean came in, elbow over his mouth and nose.

Dean's eyes widened as he looked around. Every surface he could see was covered with a greasy looking black smudge, he could smell smoke in the air, even over the miasma that filled the room. He grimaced as he went over to Sam, both of them approaching the chair with great reluctance, both pretty damn sure of what they were gonna find.

William had to have been dead for at least a week. The chair in which he sat and a large part of his body were charred black. One arm and his legs ended in burnt stumps and the skin that was visible was twisted and blackened, where it wasn't covered with flies, gleefully digging for whatever flesh remained and depositing their eggs. His mouth was open in a wide silent scream and whiteness squirmed within.

Sam turned away, nausea choking him.

"Jesus…" Dean gagged. "What the hell?" Keeping his eyes resolutely away from the corpse itself, his own stomach rolling, he scanned the floor around the body. The floor was covered in the same smudgy film but otherwise no sign of fire was visible beyond the chair itself and its grisly occupant.

Sam finally managed to force himself back under control and joined Dean in his search for clues.

"It's like spontaneous combustion," Sam said thickly. He swallowed and closed his eyes briefly. "Nothing else is burned." The arm that had not burned hung out of the crumbling remains of a plaid flannel shirt. The fist at the end of the arm was gripped tightly around some object.

"What is that?" Dean asked softly, trying not to inhale.

"I dunno…" Sam said, taking a pen from his pocket and carefully working it between the clenched fingers. After a distasteful few moments he managed to dislodge the object and it fell to the floor.

They both stared at it.

"It's a candle," Sam murmured. He reached out rolled it with the pen.

"Maybe the guy set himself on fire," Dean said rather doubtfully.

"This candle's never been lit," Sam replied, "It should have melted from the heat or at least left an imprint of his fingers." He pushed the virgin candle again. "Whatever the hell did this burned hot and fast." He glanced up at the ceiling. Not a mark.

A tiny glint on William's chest caught Sam's eye as he stood. Frowning, Sam reached out with his pen and snagged it, pulling.

"Oh, jeez! Sam, what are you doing?" Dean exclaimed as he watched a long string of something pull free of Williams charred body and then the rest slip from his mouth, maggots tumbling out as Sam continued to pull.

Dean, beyond disgusted, couldn't watch, but couldn't turn away either as Sam lifted the dangling object free.

A small medal turned at the end off the silver chain and when it stopped spinning Sam read the inscription that faced him.

For Benjamin, my love, my light.

"Son of a bitch," Sam murmured.

Back outside, they both gulped the fresher air and felt a huge need for a hot shower,

"We'll call the cops when we get outta here," Dean wheezed, leaning over the hood with his head buried in his arms.

Sam nodded, "Then let's go." He slid behind the wheel while Dean got in the passenger side.

"Whadaya think really happened to that bastard?" Dean said as Sam started the car. "You think Emma did it? Cause, Dude, unless they each had one of those necklaces…"

"I don't know," Sam replied, "Whatever happened, he deserved it." He put the car in gear and eased out of their parking space.

"How can you be so sure?" Dean asked, pulling his cell out of his pocket.

"I dunno. It feels right…somehow. Good." Sam thought about it. "I feel good." He shot a look at Dean. "How about you? How do you feel?"

Dean lowered the phone and squinted. He felt alert. For the first time in days. He actually felt pretty good, too. Vindicated in some bizarre fashion.

"I'm starving," he finally said. "Let's get something to eat and find a motel."

Sam laughed. "Whadaya wanta eat?"

"Anything without peanut butter," Dean replied, lifting the phone to his ear. "Yes, I want to report a body…"

They'd eaten and managed to locate a motel that had gotten one star with a point broken off in the Fleabag Motels of America Where To Stay List.

Dean was so weary at that point he didn't give a damn where they stayed and had collapsed on the couch and fallen asleep almost immediately.

Sam had left him be after a quick reassuring check and taken a fast shower.

Out, dry and dressed in sweats and a worn t-shirt he stood looking over at Dean, remembering how close he had come to losing him. The feel of Dean's body, limp and lifeless in his arms making his heart beat faster.

It had been too close.

Dean roused himself as he felt Sam sitting down next to him on the battered old couch.

Blinking sleepily, he shifted into a sloppy sitting position to give Sam some more room, watching in idle curiosity as Sam set two glasses on the table, and between them a stubby candle he had gotten from God only knew where.

"What's this for?" Dean asked, rubbing his eyes.

Sam poured a finger of whiskey in each glass and held one out to Dean, making sure Dean had a grip on it before letting go.

Dean sat up a little straighter, brows drawn together as he watched Sam solemnly light the candle with Dean's Zippo.

In the glow from the candle Sam's eyes glittered as he looked at Dean and held up his glass.

"For her," Sam replied softly.

Dean's face softened and he leaned forward to tap his glass against Sam's.

"For Emma," Dean agreed, tossing back the drink, blaming the burn of the liquor for his watering eyes.

End Notes: I hope this meets with your approval. I'm not sure what I wanted to accomplish with this other than make Nana56 (Dear Carol) feel like she got her money's worth. I got more out of it than that and I hope some of you did too. There is art that goes with this, along with my other stories and I hope to be posting links to that on my bio soon (If I can figure out how).

I am very much a loner. I've tried to run with the pack and it just doesn't work out for me. I don't play on the forums or keep multiple sites going, with a few very rare exceptions, and you know who you are, I tend to keep to myself except for these occasional forays into this wonderful world of fanfic where I feel like I've managed to carve out a small place where I'm welcome.

Ta for you patience with this story, with me, for your enthusiasm, which made me laugh, your understanding and your kind words when my personal shit has hit the fan. I like to think I'm capable of wiping it off my face and moving on alone but feeling that maybe other people cared and looked forward to my meager offerings, receiving them kindly and cheering me on means so much to me.

I'm very good at keeping people at arm's length cause it's safer for me that way. Exposing myself thru these written words has allowed me to broaden my narrow world in a way I had never thought possible and handle some stuff that needed handling; Saying things out loud thru these stories I had always kept locked inside.

And nobody laughed, told me I was bad for thinking it or judged me for doing it.

And the world didn't come to an end.

I love you all and if I could, I'd go to every one of you and give you my gratitude in person. I hope this in someway makes up for the reviews that didn't get responded to, I was trying so hard to get this chapter up.

Carol, I hope this story was what you wanted.

Smiles at Gaelic.

As Always.

End Note 2: William Henry Phillips was my real sire's name. I haven't said it out loud, let alone written it down, for a long time. Wounds heal, but the scars are always there to remind you.