A/N: I have to give to Tara for encouraging me to dip my toes in the Brotherhood Universe. But most of all, full credit has to go to Ridley C. James and Tidia for bring the character of Caleb to life and creating a series of fics that are just so incredible, they should have been part of the show. If you haven't read any of the Brotherhood? Do yourself a favour and check them out.
Now, then, for anyone wondering...yes, Amen is still in the works. I'm currently writing Chapter One at the moment and hope to have it up shortly for you. Maybe even a promo vid or two for it. So stay tuned. I haven't forgotten...I just needed to feed this plot bunny, first. LOL
"Sam, come on…it's Thanksgiving, dude. The least we could do is sit down for a meal together; we've got a lot to be thankful for this year." Dean protested as his little brother shrugged on his jacket. "It's freaking snowing outside, Sam! We've got cable porn, beer…a dried out pigeon that the Mini-mart guy assured me was a turkey. He might have meant in a past life, but hey, it looks the part…" He offered his brother an easy grin and raised an eyebrow at him.
Sam shook his shaggy mop hair and tucked his wallet into the back pocket of his jeans. "I already told you, Dean. I need to get a few things. Now just sit tight…I'll be back, okay? Save me some turkey…"
"You'll be lucky to get some stuffing, little brother!" Dean called after Sam as the door closed, ending the conversation. Well, that was just great. Stuck in some stupid backwater town in the middle of Bumfuck, Nowhere and Dean was alone. On Thanksgiving weekend.
This sucked royally.
Sam had considered taking the keys to the Impala, but somehow that felt like he was pushing his luck. Dean was already huffy about this whole Thanksgiving idea…but Sam wasn't on the same page as his brother with that one. A lot to be grateful for?? Yeah, right…like what? Dean selling his soul?
Sure, they knew now that Dad was out of Hell, Yellow Eyes was dead…so there were some things they could honestly give thanks for and Sam knew his being alive again was at the top of that list in Dean's books. But it was at the cost of his life. How the hell was Sam ever going to be thankful for that??
He pulled his jacket closer around him, trying to shield out the icy wind that was blasting along the street before he turned into the small bookstore on the corner. It had been the sole reason for coming to this town, found thanks to Bobby's directions. The man was just as determined as Sam was to save Dean from himself. Ever since the loss of Dad, Pastor Jim's murder, the Brotherhood had closed ranks, become more watchful of each other.
The Cat's Whisker wasn't exactly the name Sam had expected for an Occult bookstore that apparently stood a good chance of being able to help him, but maybe that was the whole point. Bobby hadn't steered him wrong yet, the guy more than stepping up to try fill the ragged hole left in their lives by Dad's death. He would never replace John Winchester, but it helped to know they had someone to fall back on. Someone who knew the score…because Dean was still refusing to tell Caleb about the deal.
It was frustrating the hell out of Sam, because Caleb deserved to know. The older hunter would have kicked Dean's ass for making such a deal in the first place, even though he would have understood the reasons. But Sam would have had someone else to help him save Dean, another set of resources to work with that would save him this stupid wild goose chase from books stores and libraries to Hoodoo shops and other potential sources of information.
Once he was inside the store, Sam could easily see the back room that Bobby had described over the phone. The one that held the ancient tomes. He gave a brief nod to the slender, pale skinned girl behind the counter and made his way back there. Sam had to do this quickly before Dean got bored waiting for him.
Dean was bored. He'd amused himself with surfing Sam's laptop for porn, flipped through God knows how many cable channels until the sea of festive Thanksgiving programming made him nauseous. Even the fact that he'd left Sam nothing but one measly turkey leg and a crumb of pumpkin pie wasn't enough keep him entertained. Glancing at his watch, Dean huffed out a breath impatiently and got up, pulling on his jacket. Fine…the little bitch wanted to stay out? Dean would go find his own amusement.
This was his last Thanksgiving….he sure as hell wasn't spending it alone! There'd been a bar a couple of blocks away, Dean figured he could have a couple beers, maybe pick up a girl?
He locked up the room, knowing that Sam could always pick the lock to get in anyway…and if he didn't? Then the little princess could freeze his ass off out side until Dean felt like coming home.
Pulling up at the bar, Dean noticed the nice bit of tail serving, immediately. Jet black hair that shone with almost a blue sheen to it under the lights, ruby red lips...it was like staring at Snow White...if she'd been hot with tits to die for and an ass that was firm like a peach. Dean's kind of fairytale.
He flashed her a dazzling Winchester smile and was pleased when she returned the smile and approached him. "Can I get you something?"
"Your number?" Dean said smoothly, all butterscotch warm. The woman smiled and leaned in. " Well that depends...I'm not usually that forward with strangers."
"I'm Dean...Scott. Dean Scott. " He amended easily.
" Ok then, Dean...I'm Serena." She poured him a beer. " You in town for long? "
" Nope. Just for a night or two. On my way up north for the holidays. Got my sights set on some ice fishing. Just me and my fishing pole...not another person around for miles." Dean had no idea why he gave that as his story, but hey, it was as good as any. Serena seemed to warm to him the instant she heard he was passing through town and within ten minutes, she'd asked him to meet her out back on his break.
Dean had idea why he'd gotten so lucky, so soon. Maybe it was his natural charm...or maybe it was simply his guardian angel giving him something else to be thankful for? Whatever the reason, Dean was gonna get laid and still be back before Sam had time to worry about him. It was a win-win situation.
It was getting colder by the minute, Dean clapping his hands together and stamping his feet in the alleyway behind the bar, trying to keep warm while he waited for Serena. Suddenly, she was behind him, her eyes almost burning through him as she slammed Dean against the wall, her hands all over him, pulling at his shirt, sliding up underneath it to glide over his stomach and graze his nipples. A groan slid from Dean's lips as Serena kissed him, her lips fire and ice all in one.
Oh yeah, now this was what Dean was ready to be thankful for. A few more nights like this would make him grateful for a whole lot of things.
But then something began to change. Dean was suddenly very aware of the cold. Too aware. This wasn't just the chill in the air hitting him as snow began to fall. This was bone deep...soul deep. Dean felt his knees begin to buckle as he was suddenly finding it hard to breathe. His chest was tight, as if it was being crushed, all the air driven out in frosty breathes he could see. There was a glow to Serena's eyes as she continued to kiss him, her lips trailing down his neck, her hands locked on his arms, pinning him to the wall. It felt like something was being pulled up and out of him, Dean's strength ebbing away as he struggled to free himself and found it impossible.
Cold...so fucking cold. Dean couldn't stop shivering as he whispered one word..."S-S-Sammy"
The girl was sweet. Long, golden blonde hair, legs that seemed to go on forever and she had the enticing scent of sugar and spices all over her. It would have seemed a little cliché, having her smell that way, if Caleb Reaves didn't know she worked in a bakery making pastries. He'd picked her up the day before and they hadn't gotten out of bed since. It was one hell of a way to spend Thanksgiving, although Caleb planned on driving upstate to see his father later in the day, having dinner with him.
His lips were burning a path along the lower part of her spine, his hands sliding over her soft, firm butt…when it hit like a freight train. Caleb suddenly arched back, his bottom lip caught between his teeth as he bit back a growl of pain, his eyes squeezed shut.
Dean was pressed against a wall, hands that had been so pretty and feminine suddenly changing to hagged and wrinkled. The woman's hair was sliding away from blue-black, to grey as she trailed kisses along Dean's jaw. He let out a desperate gasp of air, his eyes fading from their usual brilliant green, to a more opaque grey as the life was sucked from them. Hands were scrabbling frantically to pry her off, but it was too late, the fight was leaving Dean, his entire body seeming to collapse in on it self as the woman…or whatever she was, continued to feed on him.
Dean began to slide to one side, toppling to the ground, shivering and jerking spasmodically as his heart slowed, his breathing becoming shallower and shallower through icy blue lips until it stopped altogether and his lifeless eyes stared back at Caleb.
" Hey!" A hand gently touched Caleb's shoulder and he bucked away as though it was charged with electricity, crashing off the bed in a tangle of sheets that brought him back to reality with a shaky gasp of air. Looking up, Caleb saw the girl -- what was her name? Sherry, Sharon? Carmen! That was it! -- staring at him as though he'd lost his mind. " Sorry…guess my mind was elsewhere."
Caleb offered her a shaky smile and got to his feet, reaching down for his jeans and pulling them on. The vision was still playing in his mind, the timing of those Winchesters apparently as impeccable as always. His cell phone was in his back pocket and while Carmen gave him a confused look and rolled over, pouting, Caleb hit the speed dial and waited. " Come on, Deuce…pick up…pick up!"
Caleb almost growled with frustration as the phone cut through to voicemail instead. " Dean, its Caleb. You'd better not be screwing around, Dude. I swear I will kick your ass!" Hanging up, he dialed the next number on the list, praying this wasn't a dead end and his shoulders sagging a little in relief as he heard the familiar voice answer. " Sammy! Yeah, it's me…listen, Dean's in trouble! Yeah…a vision. Look, there's no time, Sam…listen to me, I'm on my way, but you have to get to Dean first. I'll never get there in time. Now there's a bar…."
Sam's feet were pounding along the sidewalk as he ran, arms pumping, breath trailing behind him in frosty puffs like a freakishly long legged steam train. Caleb's call had scared the crap out of Sam. Dean was in trouble…no, Dean was dying. The life being sucked out of him by some evil bitch in a bar alleyway. As if it wasn't already bad enough that Dean's life was forfeit in a year…there was no way Sam was going to let his brother die in some stinking alleyway to sate the appetite of what sounded like a succubus.
His lungs were screaming, burning from the cold, but Sam pushed on, knowing that he was going to run out of time if he allowed himself to slow down even an inch. Caleb's directions were precise enough that Sam knew exactly what bar he would find Dean behind. He could kick himself for taking so long at the bookstore, for not staying with Dean when his brother asked. Sam had been so intent on finding that damn loophole for the deal…but it was all moot if Dean died tonight. Forcing that extra bit of speed out of his already exhausted legs, Sam reached the alleyway and slid around the corner, almost losing his footing completely as he slid on the icy ground, slamming into the wall hard enough to rattle his teeth and open up a cut above his right eyebrow, blood sliding down the bridge of his nose.
The collision alerted the succubus to his presence and she looked up from hovering over Dean's shivering form like a lion with it's kill, hissing at Sam, her brilliant ice blue eyes blazing angrily.
Reaching into the back of his jean, Sam brought out the Colt. It had never left his sight now that Bobby had found a way to fix it, giving them a demon killing edge that Sam liked. Because he was intent on killing every demon he crossed paths with for trying to take his brother from him. This succubus was never going to have another meal, ever again….
The shot rang out on the cold night air as the bullet punched through the creature's head, snapping it back as a red glow filled out the skull like features under her skin before she toppled off of Dean, dead.
Sam tucked the gun away again and rushed over to Dean, skidding to a halt beside him. He kicked the succubus' shriveling body away from Dean and lifting his brother off the cold ground. Dean's skin was blue, his pupils blown wide as he shuddered in Sam's arms. " S-s-sammy?" He jerked suddenly, drawing his hands up to shield himself, curling up against his brother. " S-S-Serena…w-w-where is s-s-she?"
" Gone, dude. She's gone. I've got you. It's okay. You're gonna be okay, Dean. Let's get you up and get you back to the car, man…you're gonna freeze out here." Sam tried to keep his tone casual, as thought he had it all figured out and wasn't the slightest bit worried. Wasn't thinking his brother was going to die.
" H-h-how'd y-you….f-find me?"
" Caleb. He's on his way too. Meeting us at the motel, so I hope you saved us some turkey?" Sam dragged Dean to his feet and slung his brother's arm over his shoulder, the pair of them staggering out of the alleyway and towards the Impala. It felt like he was holding a snowman, Dean was that cold. Each step was becoming more and more difficult for Dean, the increase in weight against Sam, alerting the younger Winchester to the danger of his brother sliding into unconsciousness. " Hey…hey! Talk to me, dude. Stay with me, okay?"
" S-so cold." Dean muttered, struggling to place one foot in front of the other. He felt so light-headed, shivering uncontrollably as they finally reached the Impala. Letting Sam guide him into the passenger seat, Dean curled up into himself, teeth chattering, his whole body shaking to the point he felt his muscles would seize up altogether. He didn't even look up as Sam shrugged off his jacket and slid it around his brother. " Here…this might help a little."
" 'S cold, Sammy…" Dean protested muzzily, instincts telling him that Sam was now shivering as well as he got in the car beside him.
" I'll be fine, Dean…the motel's close by." Sam assured him as he cranked up the Impala's heaters and peeled out of the bar's parking lot with a squeal of rubber. He kept a close eye on his brother, his heart pounding in his chest as he noted the blueness to Dean's skin, the shallowness of his breathing. What if he had been slower? What if that succubus had finished feeding? Sam felt his heart clench in his chest. Caleb's call had scared him…but what if Caleb hadn't been able to reach him? What if his cell had been turned off or something? No, Sam couldn't bear to think like that right now. Dean was going to be okay. Caleb was on his way and the older Hunter would know how to help Dean.
Pulling into the motel, Sam slid to a halt outside their room and moved quickly to get Dean inside. He stripped his brother out of his freezing, cold, wet clothes, leaving nothing but his boxers on. There were some parts of his brother Sam was happy to never see…ever. Marching Dean to the shower, Sam turned it on as hot as he could get it without scalding himself and slid Dean under the steaming water, holding him upright and ignoring the fact his own clothes were getting soaked through. All Sam cared about was getting some warmth back into Dean.
He tried not to panic when Dean's head lolled on his shoulder, his knees buckling. If Sam wasn't holding him, Dean would have hit the floor. It was as if all the bones in his body had turned to jello and couldn't support him anymore. " I've got you, dude…I've got you. Just stay with me…please, Dean. Please.." Sam couldn't keep the hitch out of his voice, his tears mixing with the shower spray to slid down his face un-noticed.
Twenty minutes later, the shower started to turn cold and Sam shut it off, then all but dragged Dean out of the bathroom and over to one of the beds, drying him off, then wrapping his brother in several layers of blankets. He looked like he was tucked inside a cocoon. But Sam didn't mistake the first shudder as it ran through Dean. His skin losing the soft pinkness from the hot water and becoming tinged with blue again.
Glancing at his watch, Sam realised it would be another hour at least before Caleb got there. He had to keep Dean warm or his brother was dead.
Sam stripped out of his wet clothes and into a clean, dry pair of sweat pants, t-shirt and grey hoody.
Turning up the room's heating as far as it would go, Sam then laid down beside his brother and draped an arm over Dean, hoping the extra body heat would offer some sort of comfort, the way it had done when they were children. Sam would never forget that night of the black dog hunt with Joshua and Caleb…how he'd tried to keep Dean warm then after the dog had torn him up so badly.
As sleep started to claim Sam, lulling him into the darkness with the sound of Dean's gentle breathing, he prayed that Caleb would hurry….falling into uneasy memories of Dad and Pastor Jim watching over them as always.
A heavy fist pounding on the motel room door woke Sam with a start and he tumbled off the bed, hitting the floor hard before his head snapped up towards the sound. " Who is it?"
" Who do you think it is, Runt? Open the damn door!"
Sam scrambled to his feet and wrenched the door open as Caleb strode into the room, making a beeline for Dean on the bed. " Jesus, Sam, did I walk into the Sahara here or what?"
The room was thick with heat, sweat running down Sam's spine as he followed Caleb over to the bed and sat down beside his brother. Dean was still shivering, his teeth chattering, curled into almost a foetal position to try and stay warm. His skin was still tinged blue, his eyes no longer the brilliant green that Sam and Caleb were used to. The opaqueness that had replaced Dean's normal eye colour had Caleb scared, although he kept his fear locked down tight. It didn't take a college degree to see that Sam was close to coming undone, the thought of losing his brother terrifying the kid. Caleb almost snorted at that thought…the "kid" was his height and an accomplished hunter like his older brother…but to Caleb, Sam would always be that skinny little kid with a head full of facts and useless trivia.
Dean's breathing was becoming shallower, more uneven. Caleb pulled down the heavy swath of blankets Sam had wrapped around Dean and studied the younger Hunter's back. A set of deep puncture marks could be seen, each one the shape of a half moon. " Dammit, that's not good."
" What? What the hell are they?" Sam demanded, looking closer at the wounds and noting a sickly smell emanating from the skin. " Caleb, what the hell is that?"
" That bitch got her nails into him, Sam. Succubus poison is fatal unless you have the right treatment. That's why you can't keep him warm. That poison is eating away at his soul, like an acid…just tearing it away a piece at a time. Few more hours and Dean will be dead, his heart will freeze inside his body, dude. You might have killed the bitch's body, but her essence is still inside him, feeding."
Sam felt as though all the air in the room had suddenly been sucked out. He couldn't breath, his head felt light, dizzy. Sam wasn't even aware of the fact that things had started to fade out, until Caleb's hand was on his arm, holding him up. "Whoa, Sam? You with me? Maybe you should sit down?"
" No…no, I'm okay." Sam pushed Caleb's hand away gently, then turned and walked away, needing to think, to digest what was happening. He turned back to Caleb, his emotions barely in check, tears turning his eyes glassy. " What do we do? I can't lose him, Caleb."
" What? And you think I can?" Caleb frowned, raising a hand to stave off the argument forming on Sam's lips. " I'm not here to fight, Sammy. I made a few calls before I came, got the stuff we need. At least I hope it's the stuff. There's no real way of knowing it'll work. It's not like they get much of a chance to test this shit on people….maybe I could call Joshua? He might be able to-..."
"No…you said yourself, there's no time. Bobby said he's up in the Catskill Mountains…he'd never get here before Dean..." Sam couldn't say the last word. Wouldn't say it. Dean had sold his soul for him, the year wasn't up yet, damn it. They couldn't have him!
Caleb reached out and tried to see if he could read anything from Sam, hitting a brick wall as always. The kid was definitely getting better at blocking him and the sensation he found when he tried still troubled him, but there was time to worry about that later. " Sam. Listen, I need boiled water and bandages." He shrugged his jacket off, feeling his shirt beginning to stick to him in places. " Kill the heater, will you?"
" Sam, if this stuff doesn't work, that heater's not going to be doing anything either. I don't feel like cooking in my own juices, dude." Caleb grunted as he took a small packet from the pocket of his jacket before he slung it over a chair.
"There should be some bandages in my duffel bag just to your left." Sam had a pot of water boiling in the small kitchenette within a couple minutes and he poured it into a battered Tupperware jug he had found beneath the sink. It wasn't exactly the ideal circumstances for trying to prepare a healing poultice, but since a hospital was out of the question and Sam was pretty sure they'd be about as helpful with a succubus attack as Dean would be with knitting a bikini…the motel room triage would have to do.
" What do we do with this now?" Sam asked, holding up the jug.
Caleb glanced up from where he had been pouring a small amount of the powder onto gauze pad, before he took one of the bandages from the duffel bag he'd been directed too. " Bring it over here." He took the jug from Sam and poured a tiny amount of the boiling water onto the deep forest green powder he'd brought with him. It turned the powder into a thick paste on the gauze. " Sam, I need your help with this."
" Sure. What do you want me to do?"
" I need you to hold Dean still while I open up those wounds on his back."
" What? Are you serious?"
" No, Sam, this is my new comedy routine. Enjoying so far?" Caleb snapped before he blew a frustrated breath out. " Look, we have to open the wounds and let the poison bleed out, Sam. So either you hold Dean, or I can and you can cut him open. What's it going to be?"
"Alright, alright…just…make it quick." Sam's face screwed up in what could only be described as a classic bitch face at the thought of Dean suffering anymore pain. He tried to assure himself that it was in Dean's best interests. That is was the best way to save his brother. Looking down at Dean's pale, blueish skin and lips, Sam knew they were running out of time.
As Caleb rolled Dean onto his side, trying not to think about how cold his skin felt, Sam knelt down beside the bed so he was face to face with his brother.
" Sss…Sammy?" Dean blinked owlishly at his younger brother, his eyes making Sam think of how a dog looked with cataracts, that strange milky look causing his stomach to knot up. " I'm right here, Dean."
" You're sick, dude. We're gonna fix you, okay? Just hang in there for me."
" W-we?" Dean's brow furrowed lightly in confusion.
Sam glanced up at Caleb for a moment, his stomach knotting even further before he gave Dean a shaky smile. " Yeah, Caleb's here, remember? I told you he was coming?"
"Oh yeah….Caleb…"Dean's voice sound fragile, a shadow of it's normal self and that scared Sam even more.
He had one hand on Dean's shoulder and the other was holding his brother's hand, offering him an anchor if he needed it. Dean had done that for him so often in the past and Sam wanted to return the favour, wanted Dean to know that he had his back, that he would never leave him again.
Dean's cloudy eyes searched Sam's face for a moment, his hand clutching Sam's tighter. "M-made a-a-a m-mess of th-things, S-S-Sammy.."
"No, you didn't. Now shut up, dude. I don't need to hear you talking like that."
Dean arched his back suddenly as Caleb made the first incision. The stench of sulphur filled the air with each cut that was made and Sam found his stomach rolling as he fought to keep Dean still. "Hey! Hey, look at me, Dean. Just focus on me, man…keep looking at me."
Caleb covered his mouth for a moment with the back of his hand, coughing against the choking smell as the sulphurous pus oozed from each wound along with a thin trail of blood. He reached over for the poultice he had made, smearing some of the paste over each wound, then wrapping the area carefully, making sure it was thoroughly covered. " Sam, we need to roll him over. Now the fun part begins…" The tone of his voice told the younger Winchester that it was going to be anything but.
" I swear, when he's better? I'm going to talk to your brother about his taste in women…." Caleb muttered as he helped Sam roll Dean onto his back carefully. "Keep him talking, I have to get something from the truck."
Sam watched Caleb for a second, before he started speaking to Dean, feeling his brother's hand tightening within his own. His voice was shaky, uncertain as he tried to find something to say while seeing so much pain in his voice. "Hey, you know? I was thinking this year we could go to Grand Canyon at Christmas, Dean. Remember you said you'd always wanted to go there? Well how about it? Just you, me and some beer. We can do that whole crappy tourist thing…"
Dean snorted out a laugh that became a pained gasp a moment later, his hand grabbing Sam's hand tight enough to see a flare of pain in his brother's eyes. "Y-you…st-st-start wearing B-b-bemu-ur-da sh-shorts, d-dude. And I-I-I'll throw y-y-you off the w-w-walkway."
"Dude, when have I ever worn Bermuda shorts?" Sam tried not to focus on the pain in Dean's voice, the harshness of his breathing.
"I'll b-b-buy you s-s-some…" Dean said through chattering teeth before he gasped again in pain and his eyes rolled back in his head.
"Dean!" Sam barked, his heart almost exploding out his chest as he felt Dean's grip on his hand loosen. "Dean! Open your eyes! Look at me. Dean!" He reached forward, to try and get a pulse, freezing as Dean's eyes suddenly flickered open again.
" I'm awake…st-stop y-y-yelling."
"You scared the crap out of me, Dean! Now you gotta stay awake, okay? Just keep focussed on my voice and squeezing my hand. Okay?"
" Yeah…" Dean nodded slowly, his chest rising and falling unevenly.
Caleb strode back into the room, kicking the door shut behind him and making his way to the bed with a length of rope. "We have to tie him down, Sam."
"What? You never said anything about that!" Sam glared.
"Look, Sam, you want to sit there and argue about need to know and all that other bullshit, fine. We'll sit down, have a coffee and wait for Dean to die. How's that sound? Shouldn't take anymore than a hour, max."
"Fuck you!" Sam let go of Dean's hand and stood up, rising to his full height, chest puffed out and jaw set defensively.
Caleb couldn't help but see John Winchester in the boy's defiant stance, like a grizzly rearing up before a fight. He knew it had been a low blow, talking about Dean dying. The very thought of it was something Caleb couldn't bear to linger on for even a moment, but he had wanted to snap Sam into action, bring out that protective Winchester streak that ran a mile through each of the boys. "You can kick my ass about my bedside manner later, Runt. Right now, we need to secure Dean to the bed so I can get that bitch's poison out of his body for good. You with me?"
"Yeah." Sam held his hand out for a length of rope, his face twisting up uncomfortably as he took the rope and tied Dean's right arm and leg to the bed while Caleb got the left.
As soon as he was confident that the ropes would hold, Calen took the rest of the green powder from the packet he had brought with him and carefully poured it into a pyramid on Dean's chest, right over his heart. He took out a matchbook from his packet and struck one, then placed the flame to the powder, a sharp tangy scent filling the air as it ignited and began to smoulder.
"You're setting that alight on him?" Sam asked worriedly.
"The heat will draw the poison out of him, Sam and kept it from freezing his heart. I just hope we got to him in time." Caleb couldn't keep the thin edge of fear out of his voice. Turning away, he grabbed one of the dodgy looking kitchen chairs and pulled it up beside the bed. Sam followed suit, sitting on the opposite side of the bed.
"So what now?"
"Now? Now we watch and keep guard." Caleb stated calmly.
"Keep guard for what?" Sam felt an uneasiness growing in his gut.
"From whatever's gonna happen next. There's not exactly a lot of cases of people surviving a succubus attack, Sam. We're kinda in unchartered territory here. You need to talk to him. Keep Dean thinking of you. Focussed on you. Okay? No matter what happens…" Caleb fixed Sam with a serious look that made the younger Hunter swallow slowly, fear creeping up his throat and threatening to choke him.
Looking down at Dean, he could see a sweat starting to bead on his brother's skin. What was about to happen?
Nearly forty minutes passed without anything happening. The powder on Dean's chest had smouldered down almost to his skin, sweat now running in rivulets from his forehead, sliding past his hairline onto the pillow beneath him. His whole body was bathed in sweat, Dean twitched and murmuring Sam and Caleb's names from time to time as he hung on the edge of consciousness.
"Then there was Professor Loecki. Man, I tell you, that guy has the most monotonous voice ever and he loved himself. He was always preening whenever he saw his reflection. Jess thought he was a complete jerk, but the guy had the most incredible knowledge on classic literature, Dean. You'd have probably sat up the back snoring…I know I did once. Jess elbowed me in the ribs." Sam smiled at the memory, his voice sounding a little scratchy, his throat and mouth dry. He'd been speaking non stop, about everything and anything that came to mind as he kept his vigil beside Dean, holding his hand and making sure his brother was still with him.
There was a nudge at his shoulder and Sam looked up to see Caleb standing there with a can of soda.
Accepting the drink gratefully, Sam took a long, deep draft of the chilly liquid as Caleb returned to his seat on the other side of the bed.
"Sammy?" It was a barely spoken, just a soft breath of air from Dean's cracked and parched lips.
Leaning forward, Sam could see his brother trying to find him, his eyes now milky white. Bile rose up in Sam's throat before he swallowed it down again, giving Dean's hand a squeeze. " I'm right here, Dean. I'm right here."
"You okay, Deuce?" Caleb learned forward himself, running a hand over Dean's bristly hair and grimacing at the heat he felt under his touch. He'd almost expect Dean to spontaneously combust at this rate. The powder was supposed to bring up Dean's temperature, warm him so that the chill setting into his heart would stop….but not the this extent. What was going wrong? Caleb found himself wondering for a second time if they needed Joshua? The hunter would possibly have a better idea of what was happening to Dean. They'd come to far to lose him now to some stupid complication. Maybe a call was warranted?
"Dad?" Dean turned towards the older hunter, confusion filling his face. "How…how can you be here? "
Caleb threw Sam a concerned look, then focussed on Dean again, seeing the younger hunter staring over his shoulder at nothing. "Dean….you with us?"
"Yes….yes sir.." Dean seemed to sag deeper into the bed as nodded, his hand becoming loose in Sam's grip as all the fight just seemed to ebb out of him suddenly, his eyes closing.
"Dean? Dean!" Sam panicked, letting go of Dean's hand to physically shake his brother. "Answer me!"
Turning faintly towards Sam, Dean's voice was barely there now. "It's okay, Sammy…Dad's here. He's telling me to stand down…"
"What? No! Dean, no!" Sam shouted, grabbing his brother's hand again and giving it a squeeze. "You feel that? I'm not letting go, dude. I'm not letting you go. You are not standing down!"
"That's an order, Deuce!" Caleb stepped in, his voice bellowing with every bit of fire and authority it had ever taken from John Winchester. "You listen to your brother."
"Damien?" Dean blinked at Caleb, his brow wrinkling in confusion. His hand gripped Sam's a little tighter now, re-establishing the connection to his brother and growing a little stronger.
Caleb felt a lump form in his throat and swallowed past it, locking away his emotions as relief flooded his system. That had gotten a little too close for comfort there. " Yeah, dude. It's me."
Dean looked between Caleb and Sam slowly, awareness returning a little. "Where's….where's Dad? Where'd he go?"
"Dean, Dad wasn't here." Sam felt tears stinging his eyes as he collapsed back into his chair, still clutching Dean's hand like a life line.
"He was! I just saw him, Sammy! He was right here. He was telling me it was okay…that I could rest. That he'd watch out for you for me." Dean argued, struggling against the ropes, tears in his eyes. "He was right here!" Looking past Sam and Caleb, Dean began shouting. " Dad! Dad? Where are you?"
"Dean!" Sam barked, hating the way his voice made his brother jump slightly. "Dad's not here and you cannot rest. You hear me? Whatever you saw? It wasn't Dad!"
Without warning, Dean suddenly arched his back off the bed so violently, Sam heard his back pop in protest and thought for a moment that Dean was going to snap in two. A slow curve of crimson smoke slid from his brother's mouth as Dean's face contorted into a scream of agony. The smoke slipped like a transparent red python away from Dean, curling and twisting until it formed the shape of a curvaceous figure of a naked woman with horns and a rattle snake tail twitching behind her. She extended a long, slender, smoke-like finger towards Dean as Caleb and Sam leapt to their feet. " He's mine…." Her voice was wrapped in the soft hiss of a snake.
"What? You get hot and horny with a guy in an alleyway and suddenly you're a cute couple? If that was a rule, lady, me and Dean would be running harems…" Caleb smirked, but his eyes were cold, deadly.
The succubus suddenly dived forward, striking Caleb in the face, a set of deep claw marks appearing. The hunter stumbled back under the force of her assault, throwing up his arms defensively to block her blows.
"Caleb!" Sam moved to try and help the hunter.
"No! Stay with Dean. Keep him grounded, Sam! She's here for him, not us!"
Dean was still bucking and writhing against the ropes, screaming in agony, his wrists and ankles rubbing raw to the point of bleeding. The powder on his chest was almost completely burnt away and Sam realised as he tried to hold his brother down, that the succubus was making a last ditch effort to claim Dean.
Caleb grunted in pain as he was lifted off the floor by the succubus and dragged up to the ceiling by his throat. Every time he tried to break the choking grasp the demonic bitch had on his throat, her hands and arms would dissipate, then reform again afterwards, but the pressure never let up.
"Oh sure…play…hard…to get." Caleb choked out, spots dancing before his eyes, his brain starting to fog up as his body was starved of oxygen.
A stream of water splashed through the succubus' form, causing her to writhe and scream in sheer agony, rearing away from Caleb. The hunter dropped to the floor like a stone and lay unmoving for a moment, except to desperately try to draw in air.
The succubus swirled furiously, reforming just in front of Sam. He was half lying across his brother, trying to hold him down, a his flask of holy water in his hand.
"You're not getting him." Sam's words were venomous and spoken with utter conviction.
The succubus laughed at Sam, the sound hurting his ears as it rattled like nails down a chalkboard. "Mine…"
Pain, like white hot fingers digging through his skull and into his brain, brought Sam to his knees with a gasp. Everything shut down for a moment, even the ability to breathe as the pain overwhelmed him. He could feel the succubus crawling through his mind, touching his memories of Dean, of his father, Pastor Jim…everyone Sam loved and cared about. Blood began to trickled from the young hunter's nose as he screamed, his hand tightening further in Dean's as instinct drove him to ensure the bond held no matter what.
A bond forged in fire. In pain. In loss.
A bond forged in love that no demon from hell was ever going to take from Sam.
"Get. Out. Of. My. Mind." Sam let his screams of pain twist and change into pure anger. He opened his eyes, staring furiously at the succubus that was only a few feet away, hovering near his brother like a hungry lioness about to claim her meal. "Get the fuck away from my brother. You can't have him. None of you can ever have him."
The rage suddenly punched out of Sam in a psychic shockwave that shattered the succubus with a despairing scream.
The room was suddenly silent as Dean dropped back to the bed, his chest heaving from all the exertion. Sam all but collapsed to his side against the bed, still clutching his brother's hand, exhaustion making him tremble.
" Dude…are you holding my hand?" A shaky voice quietly asked.
Sam wearily raised his head to look at Dean, relief bringing a smile to his lips that was pure sunshine as he saw a familiar set of brilliant green eyes staring back at him. "Hey…"
"What did I miss? And why the hell am I tied to the bed? No wait…I'm not sure I want to know." Dean said, quirking an eyebrow first at Sam, then at Caleb as he staggered to his feet, still rubbing at his throat. " You look like shit, Damien."
"Back at ya, Deuce."
"Oh, that was sharp…you spend all day thinking that one up?" Dean smirked tiredly, his voice sounded dry and parched, but with a strength it had been lacking before.
"You keep that up and I'll take Sammy out for a few beers…leave you like that." Caleb growled, scowling at Dean, but flashing Sam a quick wink.
" Yeah, right…" Dean scoffed, before his smirk faded a little. " You're kidding me, right? Caleb? Sam?"
The diner wasn't exactly five star, but the turkey special was edible to say the least and Dean's brush with death had given him one hell of an appetite. He sopped up more of the thick brown gravy on his plate with his bread roll and shoved it into his mouth.
Sam's lip curled in disgust for a moment, before a smile replaced it and he chuckled softly. "So you don't remember anything?"
"Nope…should I?" Dean queried, looking up from his meal. He was still a little pale, his eyes carrying dark circles under them. Beneath his shirt a bandage covered both the burn to his chest and the now healing claw wounds in his back. Bandages also covered the rope burn on his wrists. But compared to how he had looked only hours before, Dean was a practically a picture of health.
Sam thought about everything that had happened and studied his brother for a moment, trying to see if he was pulling his usual routine of covering up how he felt. The fact he had almost believed the Succubus' lies and surrendered to a hallucination of their father, scared the hell out of Sam. He'd come too close to losing Dean last night. It was always too close…and the clock was still ticking. But he had gained a little confidence now. If the succubus had failed to claim Dean…what made the rest of Hell so sure they could do it?
It gave Sam hope.
The diner door opened as Caleb came in, all smiles before he dropped into the booth seat beside Dean. A set of butterfly bandaids covered the slashes in his cheek. "How the hell can you eat that? It smells like the bottom of my shoe."
Dean shrugged and gave his plated one last swipe with a chunk of bread roll before he popped it into his mouth, chewing happily. "Not everyone can eat five star, you know."
" Yeah well, doesn't mean you have to be a human garbage disposal unit either, dude." Caleb snorted. "Anyway, I have to hit the road. Mac's waiting for me…says he's got plenty of turkey waiting still."
"Plenty, huh?" Dean smiled, eyeing Caleb before he looked over at Sam. "In the mood for a little gate crashing, dude?"
"Actually, I was hoping we could have some time alone." Sam gave Caleb an apologetic smile and was pleased to see the older hunter took no offence as he held up his hands.
"Sounds like plan, Runt. I'd better get going. You need anything, give me a call."
"Sure." Sam nodded as Caleb got up from his seat and clapped Dean on the shoulder, then headed for the door.
" Hey, Damien!" Dean called after him.
"What?" Caleb paused in the doorway and looked back.
Dean swivelled in his chair and met Caleb's gaze with his own, his look one of complete gratitude to the older hunter. "Thanks, dude. Watch yourself out there."
"Always do, Deuce." Caleb winked at Dean and slipped out into the frosty morning.
The boys watched quietly as the large black GMC truck pulled out of the parking lot and disappeared from view.
"So….you want to spend Thanksgiving me with now? No errands to run? No crappy bookstores to visit on your stupid, damn goose chase?" Dean asked his brother coolly.
Sam' jaw dropped slightly. " How'd you know?"
"I'm not stupid, dude. It's not like this frozen ass wart of a town actually has much to offer. One freaky bookstore kinda stands out. I thought I asked you to drop this stupid idea of getting me out of the deal?"
"I'm not dropping it, Dean. Deal with it. You nearly died last night….you could still die and I'm not letting that happen."
"Sam.." Dean growled.
"No, shut up and listen, Dean. You're my brother. You're all I have. It's Thanksgiving. A time to be thankful you told me. But have you ever considered what I'm supposed to be thankful for next year? Or the year after that? You keep checking these things off of your to do list like some fucking kid on a summer camp. Well I'm not ready to have this as our last Thanksgiving together….so suck it up and deal! Okay?"
Dean looked as though his brother had just proclaimed Big Bird to be his lord and saviour, his eyes flickering back and forth, studying Sam, reading the emotions that had welled up in his baby brother's eyes. Dean hated seeing Sam like this. " Okay, Sammy….okay." He could never refuse Sam anything.
They sat in silence for a few minutes, Dean staring out the window and Sam picking half heartedly at the cold plate of fries in front of him.
"So you have any plans of what we're supposed to do this Thanksgiving? Holing up in our motel room seems kinda anti-climatic…not to mention, the tv sucks, dude." Dean asked.
Sam chuckled as the mood shifted again towards something more pleasant for them and shook his head. " I was thinking we could go see Bobby. It's not like he has any family to visit."
"Now that? Sounds like a plan, little brother. Get the check…I'll warm up the car."
Sam headed up to the counter, watching Dean walk stiffly out to the Impala and slide inside. He could see Dean go through the motions of turning on the stereo, one hand drumming a beat out on the steering wheel as he gunned the engine. Even from within the diner, Sam could hear the sound and knew it was home calling him.
He had one thing to be grateful for…..another day with his brother and another chance to keep his family together. It was all Sam needed.
"""""" The End """"""""""