SUMMARY: After the crash in In My Time of Dying, how did the Colt get in the trunk? Following the collision with the semi, Sam comes to and holds off the possessed driver at gunpoint. But in the hospital, when John asks where the Colt is, Sam says "In the trunk." Here's my take on how it got there. It's also my attempt to explain the time lag between the crash when it's pitch black, and the rescue when the sun's high in the sky. Spoilers for Devil's Trap and In My Time of Dying.
A/N: There are lots of tags for IMTOD, I know, but this one has been rattling around my brain recently and needed to get out – especially after rewatching the episode in the course of doing research for my last story. Hee. Don't you love it when you can re-watch your fave TV show, obsess over details and call it research!! Anyway, I looked around and didn't see any missing scene one-shots take this particular angle. Doesn't mean they don't exist – just that I didn't find them.
This little appetizer is a present for the gang over at SFTCOLARS. You guys are awesome! Enjoy.
LEAN ON ME: Missing scene from In My Time of Dying
"Get back or I'll kill you, I swear to God."
The demon smiled. "No you won't. You're saving that bullet for someone else."
Somehow it knew. Knew there was one bullet left in the gun, one bullet that offered one more chance to kill the yellow-eyed son of a bitch that had taken his mother and Jess, possessed his father and nearly killed Dean.
Sam was barely hanging on to consciousness, his actions fuelled purely by instinct and adrenaline. He struggled to keep the possessed man in focus, to keep the Colt steady. He fought to pull back the hammer and point the gun at the demon, to keep his hand from shaking, but he refused to break eye contact with the demon threatening him, threatening his family.
"You wanna bet."
Sam's breathing was rapid and shallow as he stared down the demon, the puppet master at the strings of an innocent host. To kill the demon, Sam would have to shoot that innocent man.
Dean had done the same thing the day before to save Sam's life when the possessed man in the alley was beating him to death. Sam had seen the guilt eating away at Dean and consoled him with the words that drove him now. "You didn't have a choice, Dean."
But, more than ever, he understood his brother's fear: "Killing that guy, killing Meg. I didn't hesitate, I didn't even flinch. For you or Dad, the things I'm willing to do or kill, it's just, uh ... it scares me sometimes."
It scared Sam too because, like Dean, he would do anything for his family. Later, when his head was clearer, he would wrestle endlessly with the ethics of their actions; why both could knowingly kill an innocent man to protect their family, but neither could kill their father, who was willing to die if it rid his family of the evil that had plagued them for more than two decades.
The demon tilted his head, his black eyes studying Sam as he recognized the danger he posed. He smiled slyly. They were right about this one.
Sam started as the demon threw back his head, then watched both horrified and fascinated as the thick cloud of black smoke expelled from the host's mouth spiraled skyward and disappeared.
Sam collapsed in relief against the back of the seat, breathing heavily and instinctively releasing the hammer on the Colt. The adrenaline that had helped him hold off the possessed driver was gone and Sam teetered on the brink of unconsciousness yet again.
The silence around him suddenly became deafening. The radio had stopped playing. His Dad had said nothing. Dean was uncharacteristically silent.
"Oh my God."
Sam barely heard the words of the truck driver as the memory of the crash, of the truck plowing into them ripped through his head. He rolled his head to the right to check on his dad but couldn't focus the vision in his right eye. But even with everything blurry, he could tell his father wasn't moving. "Dad?"
There was no response.
"Did I do this?" The truck driver stared at Sam, horrified at the sight of the mangled car in front of him; even more horrified by its blood-drenched occupants.
Sam could hear the distress in the truck driver's voice as he too tried to put the pieces together, but Sam could think only of his family. "Dad?" Still nothing.
Sam rolled his head to the left and twisted stiffly to stare into the back seat. A crushing pressure in his chest stole his breath when he caught sight of his brother, bloody and unmoving. "Dean?"
There was no response. The memories of the cabin came flooding back – of Dean's attempts to protect Sam from their possessed father's emotional torment, of the demon's torture of Dean, of all the blood, of the icy fear that grabbed him when Dean suddenly stopped struggling, of his own helplessness, pinned against the wall, unable to stop any of it.
"Dean!" The yell was primal, fueled by fear and pain. He jumped at the feel of a hand on his shoulder.
"God, I'm sorry…..I don't…..."
Sam turned to see the truck driver standing beside him, the inky black eyes of the demon replaced by worried brown ones but, instinctively, he clutched the Colt tighter.
"My brother…help my brother, my dad."
Fear and confusion mingled with concern on the trucker's face. He nodded, the directive to do something helping him fend off the shock of the crash, of the injured people in front of him, of not remembering how any of it happened. "Yeah…. I…I'll call 911."
"No." Sam's vision was swimming as panic robbed him of the ability to breathe. "I need to know Dean's alive. Check…. my brother…..please."
The trucker stared at him, shock dulling his responses. He nodded again, then moved off toward the back of the car.
Sam waited expectantly for the familiar, welcome creak of the Impala's hinges but frowned when the sound never came. Instead he heard the trucker's voice. "I can't get the doors open. The crash twisted the frame."
The collision had also shattered the Impala's windows. The trucker reached into the back seat, resting his hand on Dean's neck in search of a pulse. He found one. It was weak and irregular but it was there. He also noted the slight, rapid rise and fall of Dean's chest. "He's breathing." The trucker pulled himself back from the car and looked again at Sam whose eyes were closed. "Hey? You still with me?"
Sam peeled his eyes open but the hazel irises were confused and unfocused. "What?"
"Your brother's breathing, kid." His realization that two of the occupants, at least, were still alive and needed help spurred the trucker into action. He moved round to the far side of the car, reaching through that missing window to see if John was still alive. He looked over at Sam, offering a worried smile. "Your dad – he's alive. Just hang in there while I call 911."
Sam's head was spinning. He looked at the trucker, now off to the right, and, for a moment, there were two of them. Sam closed his eyes and tried to level out his breathing. When he opened his eyes again the trucker was gone. He frowned in confusion. Where did he go?"
Sam's head felt too heavy to lift. He felt sick, the churning in his stomach fuelled further by the pounding in his head. He stared again at his father. "Dad?"
He let go of the Colt, leaving it on the seat beside him as he reached for his father and found his arm. He wrapped his hand around his dad's wrist, sighing in relief at the soft thudding of a pulse beneath his fingers. "Dad. Come on. We need to help Dean, remember?"
"Hey, kid." He blinked in surprise when he turned to face the driver's side door and saw the trucker crouching there again. "There's no cell service and my radio is screwed. I've gotta go up to the road, flag down some help." He looked worriedly at Sam, at the unfocused look in his eyes, at the drying blood that matted his hair and covered the side of his face. "Just don't move around, all right? It's best you keep still."
Eyes closed, Sam nodded, not really sure he knew what he was agreeing to. When he opened his eyes again, the trucker was gone. He frowned. What if he wasn't coming back? Had he ever been there at all?
Sam blinked, lifting a shaky hand to wipe blood from his eyes. He looked around him, at his Dad and Dean, still unmoving; at the twisted carcass of the Impala they were trapped inside, at the shattered glass that covered everything – it was his worst nightmare come true. A demon attack had stolen his mother and Jess, now one threatened to take his father and brother too.
"No." Sam shook his head, wincing at the pain the action caused. "You can't have them. I won't let you take them."
They had to be okay. Had to be, but it was up to him. So much of his life he had been the one being taken care of but, now, he had to take care of his family.
Memories of the confrontation at the cabin suddenly came tumbling back. Dean had lost so much blood. Too much. And Dad, he had shot Dad.
Sam fumbled in his pocket for his cellphone. The trucker's phone didn't work, but maybe his would. He forced his eyes open, forced them to focus on his phone's display. The words twisted and swam before slowly becoming clear: 'No Signal'
Sam closed his eyes again. It was so damn hard to think. He twisted again in his seat to look at Dean. "Dean, please. I need a little back-up here."
That was his heart talking. His head knew Dean was in bad shape, had been even before the crash. He had been barely conscious when Sam half-carried him from the cabin to the Impala. The brother he'd always turned to, always relied on, always leaned on, this time needed to lean on him.
Lying on the cabin floor, covered in blood, his larger-than-life brother had suddenly seemed small and frail. There was a haunted look in Dean's eyes which Sam had never seen before and it terrified him. And he knew what put it there; watching one of the two men he trusted most in life try to kill him, and relish the attempt. Sam wondered, if he looked in a mirror, if that same haunted expression would stare back at him.
He'd stood there in shock after the demon had fled, leaving his brother bleeding to death and his father with a bullet in his leg. A bullet from a gun Sam had fired. Sam broke the silence when his father lifted his head to look from Sam to Dean. "I couldn't do it, Dad. I couldn't."
John pushed himself up to sitting, wincing at the pain from the bullet wound. His expression grew cold as he saw Dean who lay shivering noticeably on the floor, his arm wrapped protectively around the wounds the demon had inflicted "Dean?"
There was no answer. Only the same haunted look in his eyes as he looked at his dad and frothy, bloody bubbles that formed at the corners of his mouth with each tortured exhale.
John turned to Sam. "You okay, Sammy?"
"Then help your brother."
Sam was already moving to Dean's side. "What about you?"
John waved his hand dismissively. "Get you brother safely in the car, then come back and give me a hand. I'll be fine."
'I'll be fine.' It was the Winchester mantra that so often rang hollow. Today was no different. Given the guilt Sam heard in John's voice, knowing the demon had used him to attack Dean, it would be a long time before he was 'fine.'
Dean said nothing as Sam lifted him to his feet. Dean had no strength to help himself or push away Sam. What little the demon had left him with, he'd used up begging Sam not to shoot their dad, as he was being ordered to do. Sam pulled Dean's arm over his shoulders, cringing at the soft cry of pain it caused, and wrapped his other arm around Dean's waist. With Dean leaning heavily against him, Sam could hear the hitch in his breathing, feel the tremors racking his body as the blood loss took its toll. But what scared him most was how quiet Dean was; he didn't say a word – no smart-ass remarks, no phony reassurances. It took all he had left to drag one foot after the other as they made the slow trek out to the car.
Sam twisted again in his seat to stare at Dean. He'd give anything right now to hear his brother call him 'bitch' or 'sasquatch' or any of the other hundred nicknames Dean routinely used. But Dean hadn't moved; he still lay crumpled against the door of Impala, blood running down his face from a large gash on his forehead. Sam frowned, wondering what had caused it.
He shivered as a blast of cold air moved through the car and realized Dean must be cold too. He was likely already in shock and you had to keep shock victims warm. Sam frowned. There was a blanket in the trunk. He needed to get the blanket. Keep Dean warm till help got there. Then he'd be okay. Dean would be okay.
Sam turned around and glanced again at his father. Dad wasn't in much better shape than Dean. "Dad, please…" His breath caught when he realized those were the same words Dean had used when the demon was torturing him, pleading with the man he had always turned to, who had been so cruelly turned against him.
Somehow, Dad had heard that plea, been able to break the demon's hold long enough to free Sam.
Sam looked again at his Dad, still hearing the words that had ripped through him and cut far deeper than any weapon ever could. "You shoot me in the heart, son." But he couldn't do it. He couldn't shoot his dad. His father simply wanted the demon gone; wanted an end to the evil that had stolen his wife, his sons' mother, and fueled almost every moment of his life every since. If that mean sacrificing himself in the process, so be it. But here he wasn't just giving up his life, he was asking his son to take it. But if Sam had any thoughts of following his father's final order, they had been destroyed by two simple, barely audible yet gut-wrenching words from his brother. "Sam…no."
Sam swallowed, nodding at his father. "We'll find another way, Dad. We will. But family comes first. I gotta take care of you and Dean."
He grabbed the steering wheel with his left hand and hauled himself upwards. He shrugged off his jacket and draped it over his father. He blinked, forcing his vision to focus as he shakily reached for the keys and pulled them from the ignition. His hand fell back onto the seat beside him, the simple action of sitting up and taking off his coat stealing much of what little energy he had left.
He turned, dragging his left leg out of the car then grabbed the door frame with his left hand as he pulled his right leg free. Both feet were now on the ground but he was breathing heavily, even before he hauled himself to his feet. His knees buckled almost immediately and he fell sideways, landing parallel with the car. He gagged, then swallowed to fend off the wave of nausea the fall launched.
Rolling onto his stomach, Sam rested his head briefly on the ground, relishing the feel of the cool ground against his pounding head. Shakily, he pushed himself to his knees then allowed himself to slump sideways against the Impala. It was Dean's car, an extension of his brother, and the only permanent home Sam had ever known. Even in its current battered form, he could draw strength from it. He grabbed the rear door handle and pulled himself to his feet. His chest tightened when he saw Dean's head slumped against the door.
He would never get used to seeing his brother still. Dean radiated energy. He could feel it across a crowded bar when his brother was happy. It was even more noticeable when Dean was angry, an early warning of a pending explosion. For Sam it was also fuel; he fed off that energy when he was down, when he was scared, when he was hurt. He needed that energy now, more than ever.
Sam teetered unsteadily and leaned against the car for support. He reached a shaky hand into the back seat and rested it gently on his brother's head. Dean felt cold. His mind clouded and he tried to remember what he was doing. Right. The blanket. He had to get the blanket. Keep Dean warm 'til help arrived.
Sam stumbled along the side of the car to the trunk, praying he would be able to open it, that the crash had not welded it shut. He blew out a breath to steady himself as he moved to put the key in the lock, then frowned as he realized his hand held the Colt as well as the keys.
Sam glared at the gun, anger suddenly overriding all other emotions. The damn gun was supposed to be their salvation, to rid them of the demon that had haunted them almost their entire lives; instead it had launched the nightmare they currently found themselves in. The demon had taken it from him, taunted him with it as he ripped apart his brother. Dad had begged him to shoot him with it, get rid of the demon by killing his own father. And here, while it had scared away the demon possessing the truck driver, it couldn't help him save his family.
Sam shakily inserted the trunk key in the lock. The trunk lid groaned but yielded with a little effort. Sam shakily spun the combination lock on the weapons locker, pulled it open, threw the Colt inside and relocked it. Screw the Colt, screw the demon, screw everything. He needed to help Dean, help Dad. Nothing else mattered if he couldn't do that.
He grabbed the blanket then slammed the trunk shut, frowning as it bounced open again. "Dammit," he hissed, the twisted metal refusing to catch. He slammed it again, and again before exertion-fuelled dizziness took his feet out from under him and he fell.
Slumped against the car, the cold metal of the bumper against his cheek, Sam squeezed his eyes closed, fighting to bring his breathing under control. With a groan, he hauled himself to his feet again. He was dizzy, the world around him tilting dangerously with each step. The Impala was his crutch. By the time he reached Dean, the car and pure determination were the only things keeping him upright.
Sam reached in through the window and draped the blanket over Dean, once again resting his hand on his brother's head, drawing what strength he could from the simple, physical contact. "I can't do this by myself, Dean. I won't."
Sam swayed as his vision greyed at the edges. "Don't you dare……" He was out of fuel and his body simply shut down. He was out cold before his body even hit the ground.
Sam frowned at the feel of sun on his face and the noise that suddenly surrounded him. There were strange voices, the high-pitched whine of a saw cutting through metal, breaking glass, then more voices. In the distance there was a loud thudding, and it was getting louder.
He was aware of something being strapped around his neck and then he couldn't move his head freely any more. His frown deepened at the feel of strong hands lifting him up, carrying him and placing him gently down. He was no longer on the cold ground and blankets were being wrapped around him.
Confused, he peeled open his eyes but could see nothing out of his right. Panic started to build as he tried to figure out where he was and what was happening.
"Hey, hey. Just relax." A young, blond woman was leaning over him. "You've been in a car accident. We're taking good care of you."
Car accident? Sam's head was pounding, making it hard to remember what happened. "Can't see."
The blond woman was a paramedic. She nodded, smiling gently. "Don't panic. You have a bandage over your eye. You've got some nasty cuts on that side of your face. We just want to keep them clean until we get to the hospital."
Sam pulled his hand from the blankets and reached up to paw at the brace around his neck. The paramedic took his hand and gently tucked it back inside the blankets. "You have a cervical collar on. It's just to keep your neck stable until we can examine you fully. I know it's not comfortable but it's necessary, just as a precaution."
Sam winced as he felt the sharp sting of a needle in his left arm. The paramedic smiled. "That's something to make you feel more comfortable. Just let it do its job."
Sam squeezed his eyes closed, concentrating fiercely to once again put together the pieces. The events at the cabin and the crash quickly tumbled back but Sam focused on two things – Dean and Dad. "How's my family?"
The paramedic looked worried. "We're taking care of them. We're gonna take you all by chopper to Chandler County General."
By chopper? That meant they were in bad shape. They'd only been 10 minutes away from the local hospital when they'd been hit by the semi. He knew Dad and Dean were in rough shape, but this was bad. "Please. How are they?"
The paramedic smiled. "They're in good hands. We're doing everything we can for them, but I need you to concentrate on you, okay?"
The well-meaning evasiveness just fuelled Sam's panic even more. It had been close to dawn when he passed out but the sun was high in the sky now. That meant he'd been unconscious a while. The trucker had gone for help. It must have taken a long time for him to find someone. Was it too long? Was it too late for Dean? For Dad?
His eyes snapped open when he felt himself moving. The litter he was in had been picked up by four men and they were moving quickly toward the waiting helicopter, the deafening thudding of the rotor blades doing his pounding head no favors. Sam lifted his head; the bandage across the right side of his face limited his vision but straight ahead of him he could see another litter being loaded into the chopper. Was that Dean? Dad?
He looked to the side, where the blond paramedic was walking alongside the litter. "My family…..tell me if they're okay?"
She frowned at his agitation. "You have to stay still….."
But worry was quickly becoming full-blown panic. What weren't they telling him? "Are they even alive?" He was yelling but he didn't care.
The paramedic's frown softened. "They're alive. Now, please, I need you to stay still. Hurting yourself isn't going to help your family."
The only words Sam heard were 'They're alive.' His head dropped back and his eyes slid closed as relief washed over him. He was dizzy, he was scared but now, at least, he had something to hold on to.
His eyes snapped open again as he felt the litter being pushed into the chopper. There was a paramedic to his left, his back toward Sam. His eyes traveled downward when he realized the paramedic was working on someone; he froze when he realized that someone was Dean. His brother was less than six feet away from him.
Dean had a bandage wrapped round his head, a brace stabilizing his neck. Sam watched as the paramedic placed an oxygen mask over Dean's face, then pulled back the blankets and opened his shirt to attach wires to his chest. Sam's breath caught audibly when he glimpsed the bandages crossing Dean's chest, covering the demon-inflicted damage.
The paramedic turned and saw Sam following his every move. He smiled, turning around and securing the straps on Sam's litter to hold it in place for the flight to the hospital. "How you doing, son. You hangin' in there?"
Sam swallowed. "My brother. How's my brother?"
The paramedic motioned with his head toward Dean and Sam nodded. "He's a tough kid. He's putting up a good fight. They both are."
Sam frowned and the paramedic motioned with his head to the left above Dean. Sam looked up and saw another litter secured to an upper rack. He caught enough of the profile of its occupant to recognize him. "That's my Dad."
The paramedic's expression conveyed both shock and sympathy. "Like I said, son. They're both fighting hard. We're doing everything we can for them."
Sam smiled softly. If there was one thing his family knew how to do, it was fight. They could fight with each other, they could fight evil, now they had to fight to live.
Sam closed his eyes as he felt the chopper take off. "Just keep fighting. Please. You're all I've got."
A/N: Hope you enjoyed this wee bit of Winchester angst. Please, let me know what you think. Now it's back to working on the next multi-chapter fic.
For trivia buffs: Sam is wearing his beige jacket in the car prior to the crash and is shown wearing it again at the hospital when he first visits Dean. He is not, however, wearing it on the gurney when he is being loaded into the helicopter. Deliberate choice or hot day when filming? Hmmmm.