More Than Just Luck
K Hanna Korossy
The crackle and snap, like some kind of demonic breakfast cereal, drew Dean's attention even in his anger. Scowling, he looked away from Bela's—that bitch!—fleeing car, to the dying fire behind them. Just in time to see the rabbit's foot finally incinerate in a flash of unearthly blue flame.
The next moment, everything around Dean…shifted.
He blinked, rotating his jaw as after a massive yawn, ears popping. The candy-colored haze over everything faded, and all that was left in its wake was a dark cemetery.
And Sam, groaning in pain.
Dean reared back, confused. A moment ago, it had all been so simple, everything fixable with a little bit of luck. Now, hard reality came crashing in. Dad had left more secrets behind. They'd nearly been killed by a curse as a result. And Sammy… Dean stared at him for the first time through clear, horrified eyes, seeing the bruises and blood from the earlier beating—torture—he'd undergone, the bloody handkerchief he clutched now to his shoulder. Sam had been shot. And none of this was funny anymore.
Sam groaned again, bending forward, and Dean immediately reached out to prop him up, cradle his bad arm. "Hey, you okay?"
"Yeah, just…got dizzy there a minute." Sam clenched his teeth, pushing the words through them with effort. "Feels like the bullet's still digging through my shoulder."
"I think the curse just broke." Dean pulled the shovel out of his hand and wrapped an arm around his waist, hitching a shoulder under his brother's good one. "Come on, let's get you back to the room so I can take a look at it."
"The curse just broke?" Sam muttered as he stumbled along next to Dean. "Shouldn't I feel better then?" His voice sounded weary and pained, and how had Dean not friggin' heard that before?
"I dunno, maybe we weren't feeling anything right before. Hasn't it seemed…different since you touched the foot, like it wasn't you things were happening to?" Sam shifted, grunting, and Dean lifted his other hand to Sam's chest to steady him.
"You mean like a…distancing effect?" Sam managed to sound thoughtful while panting. "Make you bypass your normal inhibitions and logic to keep from recognizing the curse's influence? That would explain why nobody figured out how to destroy it before. They might not have realized what was going on until it was too late."
Dean paused. "I was gonna say it seemed kinda like being high, but, sure, okay." He didn't know what Sam was talking about half the time and didn't really care, but if it distracted him from the fact he was beaten up and punctured, Dean was all for it.
They finally reached the car, and Dean eased Sam inside, trying to remember and failing how his brother had been moving when they'd first arrived. He was willing to bet it was cautiously, stiff and sore. Had they even patched up his knees and palms from before? Damn that stupid foot, Dean couldn't recall. And how damning was that of him?
Sam settled back into the seat with a defeated sigh, his eyes quickly sliding shut. Dean turned up the heat for him, throwing him anxious glances the whole way back to the motel. For once, Sam didn't seem to sense it, drifting without sleeping, his hand still a white-knuckled clench around his shoulder.
A few minutes later, they were pulling into the motel parking lot, and Dean almost jammed his foot on the brake. What was he doing? Taking Sam back to the room he'd been roughed up in? Yeah, 'cause that was tactful. The two freak hunters who'd done that to him were tied up and tossed into the field nearby, out of the picture, but Sam didn't need any other reminders.
"Just get a different room," Sam dragged out the words beside him.
Dean looked at him. "You sure?"
His brother's sweat-damp head rolled his way, eyes cracking. "Make sure the a/c's not broken in this one."
Dean frowned, knowing he was missing something. The weather was cool, and Sam was shivering under the sheen of perspiration. But, "Right," he agreed slowly, willing to do just about anything Sam asked him at the moment. Guilty consciences pretty much sucked.
Sam smiled a tiny bit—at least there was that—and leaned back against the window.
Dean shook his head, wondering briefly yet again about the sanity of little brothers, and went to get them a different room.
It had, fortunately, décor nothing like the room he'd rescued Sam from earlier that night, and, yeah, that he remembered just fine, thanks so much. It was kinda hard to forget arriving to the sight of his little brother duct-taped to a chair, bleeding and battered, with a gun to his head. Also hard to forget was the grin and joke Dean had greeted him with at the time. Why Sam's bad luck hadn't made Dean arrive just a few seconds too late, he didn't know, nor did he want to think about too much.
All that was pushed to the side, however, as Sam's knees started to buckle halfway into the room. Dean quickly grabbed for him, adjusting his grip until Sam wasn't breathing hard through his nose and the lolling head lifted a little.
"Yeah, I think I figured that out," Dean answered, heaving his brother's unwieldy and way-too-limp form toward the bed. He hitched Sam onto the edge of the mattress with a muttered curse, then tugged him up higher by an arm around his middle.
Sam's contribution to the whole maneuver was working hard not to pass out, which, all things considered, Dean truly appreciated. It made it at least a little more bearable to stand yet again over his bloody, ashen brother.
"You okay for a minute while I get our stuff?" Dean asked, and took the vague wave of the hand as a yes. He hurried nonetheless, grabbing his and Sam's duffels and the first aid kit from the trunk. The weapons bag could wait. Dad's SOPs didn't seem all that important at the moment.
Dean returned to find Sam sounding a little better, at least, not like a beached fish anymore. He still held his arm tight against his side, body stiff with pain. Dean dropped the duffels and snagged the blanket from the other bed on his way back to Sam's side, draping the coverlet over his brother's torso and legs.
"You hurt anywhere else?" Dean asked as he unpacked supplies. He didn't even know yet what kind of damage he was looking at, but he laid out everything he might need. If the bleeding hadn't stopped, though, or bone was broken, FBI's Most Wanted list or not, they were going to a hospital.
"Not what I asked, Sam."
"You already know what—"
"Just humor me, okay?" Dean said impatiently.
Sam opened his eyes and looked at him. Blinked. "You don't remember," he realized.
Dean shifted, fighting to keep from averting his eyes. "I'm a little fuzzy on the details, all right?"
Sam huh-ed, fingers flexing on his shoulder. Oddly, he seemed to relax a little. "This mean you're not really Batman?"
"Sam," he growled. He was grateful his brother had closed his eyes again, because Dean could feel himself flushing.
Sam's mouth twitched, but the kid had some sense of self-preservation left because he dropped the dangerous line of thinking. "Head hurts. Think they knocked me out for a few seconds. Actually, I think I knocked myself out, too." He flinched, fingers twisting, and Dean sat on the edge of the bed and pried his hand loose from his shoulder. Sam swallowed several times. "Uh…knees, hands. An' my arm. Fire…"
Fire? Dean gave him a startled look, remembering vaguely Sam changing jackets before they left for the cemetery, and a blackened sleeve. "Just what kind of trouble did you get into while I was gone, Sam?"
Dean made a face, and started peeling off clothing.
In all, it could have been a lot worse. The bruising was superficial, the forearm only red with first degree singeing, palms scraped and knees not scratched too deep. The shoulder, of course, was the worst, but again Sam had been lucky—and wasn't that just an ironic word for it—the bullet coming to rest against the shoulder blade without severing anything important or breaking the bone. It clearly hurt him, but he could move his arm, use his hand. Considering Sam had been hit by a 9mm at fairly close range, lucky actually didn't even begin to cover it. Dean frowned. That really was weird…
Sam had roused during Dean's treatment of his shoulder, and he gasped as Dean finished and edged the tweezers out.
Dean grimaced. "Sorry." He knew all too well how painful a bullet in the shoulder was.
"No, I mean…" He stole a glance at Sam's pale, bruised face, and looked away again. "I'm sorry."
Sam snorted softly. "D'you—" He must've realized his voice was slurring and visibly pulled himself together. "You know how many major nerves and blood vessels go through the shoulder?"
Dean lifted an eyebrow at him as he threaded a needle with sterile thread. "This really a good time for an anatomy lesson, Sammy?"
"Dude," Sam shook his head heavily, eyelids drooping, "it didn't matter how good her aim was. My luck was all bad, remember?"
Dean frowned again, not liking this subject any more now that Sam was raising it. "I'm sewing up a hole in your shoulder—that's not something I'm gonna forget any time soon."
"She should've killed me, man. But it wasn't my luck that affected her aim." He forced his eyes open to meet Dean's. "It was yours."
Dean paused mid-stitch to stare at Sam.
His brother smiled at him and lay back on the pillow, letting his eyes fall shut.
That…huh. Well. He could live with that.
He made the last few careful stitches, knotted and cut the thread with a professionalism no doctor he'd observed had beat. A square of gauze taped in place, and Sam was as patched up as Dean could make him. Also mostly asleep, Dean observed wryly, and pulled the blanket up to Sam's neck. He rose to his feet, knees popping, to get a glass of water before Sam sank too deeply under.
"Doesn' mean…I don't wan' pancakes in bed tom'rrow," Sam murmured behind him.
Dean rolled his eyes and grinned. "Shut up and go to sleep, Jinx."
The security system was a joke, especially considering whose it was. He got through it even faster this time, knowing what he was up against, and spent the extra minutes browsing through the place. He confiscated a dangerous Eye of Ra amulet, liberated an old copy of Huckleberry Finn he figured Sam might like—even if the author had scrawled all over the inside cover—and helped himself to the imported beer and very good caviar in the fridge. Who said he didn't appreciate the finer things? Finally, he settled down in a chair across from the front door and waited.
It opened twenty minutes later, just as he'd calculated. She stopped just inside as she caught sight of him in the dim room.
"You again." It was spoken with the tone one reserved for rats and lawyers.
"I was wrong about you," Dean said in greeting, rising from the chair but gun not moving an inch. "Here I thought you were just a thief—a classy thief, but a thief. Didn't think you actually had it in you to pull a trigger."
"Your mistake then," Bela said impatiently, dropping her coat on a nearby chair and scrutinizing him impassively. "I'm sorry if I damaged your feelings, or your brother."
"Really," he said skeptically.
"No," she responded without missing a beat, then broke out in a bright smile. "Now that we've cleared that up, are we done?"
"No," he responded just as quickly.
Bela heaved a dramatic sigh. "Really, Dean, what is this about, revenge? Are you going to shoot me now, teach me a lesson?"
"Maybe, if I thought it would help," Dean said, tilting his head. "But I am a good judge of character. And I know a lost cause when I see one."
"So…are we done then? Because I really have a lot to do, but so nice of you to stop by."
"I want the lottery tickets."
He took her aback with that one, he could see. "That's it?" she asked, voice verging on incredulous. "That's what you came here for, to take back a handful of lotto cards?"
Dean adjusted the handgun comfortably in his grip. "I think the key word here is 'back.'"
Bela stared at him, then slowly shook her head. "Well, it seems I've overestimated you yet again." She took a step toward the cabinet that lined the living room wall, and Dean's gun rose a fraction of an inch. Her eyes tracked down to it, then, amusedly, back up at him. "I presume you wanted me to get them for you now."
Dean's jaw clenched; he'd never taken patronizing people well. But she was barely worth the sarcasm. "Sooner we get this over with, sweetheart, the sooner you can go back to ripping people off."
She crossed to the cabinet, sighing again. "So Homo neanderthalensis. Really, couldn't you come up with a better repartee? After all I've heard, I expected more." Bela retrieved a handful of cards from a drawer and crossed over to Dean while he watched her carefully.
He screwed up his eyes as she got close. "Did you just call me gay?"
The corner of her mouth pulled up. "Touché." She reached the cards out to him.
He grabbed them, then motioned her back over to the side of the room. With an upraised eyebrow, she went. Both their gazes never left the other as Dean circled the other way, toward the front door.
In the entrance to the foyer, he paused, grinning at her. "You've heard a lot about me, huh?"
"Oh, yes," Bela said dryly. "Grave desecration, disturbing the peace, assault, wanted for Homicide in six states, not to mention by federal law enforcement. You've made quite a reputation for yourself, Dean Winchester."
His grin vanished, something far darker leeching into his expression. "Then you know I'm not bluffing when I say this—if you touch my brother again, I will kill you."
Her self-assurance faltered for the first time, the condescension slipping off her face.
Dean nodded pleasantly to her and walked out, shutting the door behind him.
Sam sucked in a breath, blew it out in something close to a moan, and screwed up his entire face in an effort to open his eyes. It was, in all, not much different than the way he'd woken as a baby.
Dean glanced up at him from the table where he sat writing in a notebook. "Huh. It's alive."
Sam slumped back into the pillow. "Shut up," he mumbled. "'Time 'zit?"
Dean raised an eyebrow. "Does it matter?"
Sam reached up to gingerly clasp his shoulder, and rolled onto his good side to squint at Dean. "Didn' you promise me pancakes?"
Dean snorted, dropping his feet to the ground from the other chair they'd been propped on. "Dude, you think a little bullet in the shoulder is gonna rate you breakfast in bed?"
"Think there's a Biggerson's down the street," Sam pointed out.
"I'm on it," Dean said immediately, standing.
Sam just huffed and closed his eyes.
Dean tucked the bank receipt, 46K deposited in the name of Samuel Singer, into the notebook to mark his page, buried it in the bottom of his duffel, and left to track down some free pancakes for his lucky little brother.