The Trickster was giving him a Devil-May-Care type of grin, and all Sam wanted to do was shove the stake hard through his throat, and not even care who saw. Dean had been worried at first, and vocally so, until he'd heard what the Trickster had been up to, what he'd done to Sam.
Over one hundred Tuesdays spent watching Dean die was more than enough reason for the Trickster to die.
His brain was almost fully there too; they could dump the body behind the restaurant and be out of town within thirty minutes. There'd be no trace of a murder weapon, no ID probably on him, and he'd be another John Doe for the morgue to deal with.
The tiny part of his brain that wasn't homicidal, the logical part, was telling him to stop.
You couldn't kill him back at that campus, his inner voice reminded him. He dropped a guy in a wormhole, sent you into a series of Tuesdays. You're not gonna get the upper hand on him here. This is NOT going to end the way you think it will. Shove the anger aside, bargain with him. Don't threaten him.
Sam gritted his teeth, but did just that: he pulled the stake away and shoved it back inside his coat. His arms went out to his sides, hands up towards the sky. "Sam, what the hell?" Dean was asking, but Sam didn't take his eyes off the Trickster.
"You're free to go," Sam said, even though his murderous fury was fighting to be seen and heard. "We won't come find you."
"The hell we won't-"
"We won't come find you," Sam stressed, sending Dean a glare. Dean sent it right back at him. Sam turned his attention back to the Trickster, who looked...impressed. "Just let me out of the Tuesdays. With Dean alive," he hastened to add.
The Trickster raised an eyebrow. "Well I'll be," he said, before whistling slowly. "Not bad, kiddo. Not bad at all. Brain over brawns; that'll win me every time." He leaned away from the fence, still grinning. "You know, threatening me probably would've gotten you out of the Tuesdays. Of course, I don't think you would've liked it a whole lot. Irony: my favorite plaything."
Sam let himself think about it for a minute. If the Trickster had let him out of the time loop, then he'd have been free, no more reliving the day.
His eyes widened. Dean probably would've died, and then there wouldn't have been a going back. He'd have been stuck. He felt his body slump and his eyes burned. "Oh god," he managed faintly.
The Trickster nodded. "Yeah. I didn't think you'd have liked it."
"You sonuvabitch," Dean said, shaking his head slowly. His glare was aimed now at the Trickster; he must've figured it out, too. "Give him what he wants and then let him watch me die without the cushion of a time loop. Not bad. Sam, why aren't we killing him?"
"Because I don't want that future," Sam said, before taking a deep breath. "Okay. What do you want from me to let me out?"
"Kid, you've got it all wrong," the Trickster said. "I don't want anything from you chuckleheads. Besides, you know, the chuckles. In all honesty, this is kinda getting boring. I don't normally stay so long in a town before I move on; I'm itching to go south again. All sorts of fun to be had around the border."
Sam stared at him. "So you'll let me out?" he asked. A tiny bit of hope that hadn't quite been stripped from him began to rise.
The Trickster stopped for a moment, the grin falling into something softer, almost sympathetic. "How about this: you find your own way out."
Sam couldn't breathe. He had to be kidding, right? "Not kidding," the Trickster said, as if reading his mind. Maybe he could. "You can get yourself out. C'mon; your big brain got you this far, to me, though you were a little slow on the uptake for what, how many Tuesdays did you have?"
"Enough," Sam muttered. "And I was a little busy worrying about Dean and watching him die on a daily basis, thanks so much."
The Trickster shrugged. "Little details. But anyways, what I'm saying is that you can get yourself out. You could've gotten yourself out AGES ago. You make it to Wednesday, it's done. Boom, bada-bang. Plus, to make it to Wednesday, Dean has to live, so it's all good, right?"
"Right," Sam echoed tonelessly. How the hell could he have gotten himself out of the Tuesdays?
Dean was glancing between him and the Trickster like he was following a ping-pong game. "What about the professor? You gonna let Hasselback go?" Dean finally said, jumping into the flow of things.
Thank hell Dean was there to think of these things, because Sam sure as hell wasn't. His mind was firmly stuck on could've gotten out ages ago and I can't watch Dean die again I can't I can't I CAN'T.
The Trickster began to make a face, and Sam plowed through. "I'll make you a deal. Bargain," he rephrased after a moment. They didn't need to have more deals on them; the one Dean had made was bad enough. "I make it to Wednesday, you let the professor out of the wormhole."
The Trickster sighed in exasperation. "Fine," he said, throwing his hands in the air. "You get to Wednesday, I'll let the idiot out. Send him home to his daughter dearest. You happy?"
"Not ecstatic, but I'll take it," Sam said. He still didn't have the foggiest clue on how to get out, though.
The Trickster stared at him long and hard. "I'll give you one last clue, Scooby-Doo," he said, raising his right hand. "You've been through every possible Tuesday there could ever be. From here on out, this station's airing reruns. It's up to you to figure out which one'll get you closest to your target."
He snapped his fingers, and the world fell away. By the time he woke up, Asia blaring to his right, Sam was pretty certain he knew what he had to do.
By the end of breakfast, Sam had pieced it all together. There was only one Tuesday that would guarantee his getting to the end of the day. Ironically (and that had been Sam's first clue that he was on the right track), it was the first Tuesday he'd had, all those days ago.
The only downside was that it was the last Tuesday he wanted to revisit. If he screwed up, Dean was going to get shot, and Sam would still have Dean in his arms, dying with his eyes latching onto Sam one last time.
Just because he knew which Tuesday had to occur and how to get his results didn't mean he knew how to fix it, though, so he could get to Wednesday.
Sam glanced up from his mug to Dean's worried face. "You didn't even touch your food," Dean said, raising his eyebrow. "And you've been nothing but twitchy since you woke up this morning. What gives?"
Sam glanced over at the counter. The Trickster was there in the guise of the business man, stepping away from his finished plate. "Nothing," Sam said, turning back. This was up to him; the Trickster was being good enough to let him out if he could find the way out.
Dean didn't look like he was buying it. "You done?" Sam asked, sliding out of the booth to stand.
A hand caught his arm and pulled him back, though. If anything, Dean's concern had piqued. "Dude, all you've had is caffeine," Dean said. "You didn't take a single bite."
"You counted?" Sam couldn't help but retort.
"Your fork's not even dirty," Dean said, glaring now. "Eat something."
Even the smell of the food made Sam's stomach twist. He'd eat when it was Wednesday. "Really can't, Dean," he said, pulling away from Dean's grasp and heading for the door.
He wasn't outside long when he heard Dean come up behind him. "Seriously Sam, what's going on with you?" Dean asked. The dog on their right began to bark at them, and Sam turned a full glare on it, well remembering that Tuesday.
The dog whimpered and backed down.
Sam sighed. He needed to pitch the idea to Dean now so they'd pause for about ten seconds, then step into the road which would then be vacant. Dean, though, wasn't going to be in the mood to hear it if he was worried about Sam. "I just..."
He couldn't explain the time-loop to Dean. Not this time around. He hadn't that first time, and he was terrified of what he'd change if he did it now. "Can we take a break after this one?" he found himself blurting out.
Dean frowned, then frowned again when Hasselback's daughter bumped into him. He didn't even spare her a second glance this time, though, just kept walking with Sam. "A break?" he asked incredulously.
"Yeah. See the Grand Canyon; we always keep saying we will, but we never do," Sam said. "And the ocean. We should stop at the ocean for awhile."
The movers began griping at each other as they passed by the doorway with the desk (and man had THAT felt good to break apart with his axe on the 76th Tuesday) and both Winchesters ignored them. When Dean stopped and refused to budge, Sam gave him as much of the truth as he could. "I just...I just feel like I'm surrounded by death," he said, before snorting. Understatement of the year. "I can't get away from it, you know? It feels like it's surrounding me, like it's gonna swallow me, and I can't...I can't do it anymore, Dean. I can't."
Dean was giving him a look as if he wasn't sure whether to be afraid or worried or both. "Just one break, I swear, and then we can get back to the hunt," Sam pleaded.
He hadn't even thought of a break, to be honest, until the words had come tumbling out. A few days from hunting, and then he'd be fine. He needed to see Dean relaxing, needed to relax himself, needed to not worry about Dean getting killed on a hunt (because god knew the problems that could arise THERE). Just a few days.
Dean regarded him for a moment, looking even more worried. "Can we talk about this afterwards?" Sam asked, feeling anxious again. They had certain spots they had to get to for this Tuesday to bring them close to Wednesday. "I think I've got an idea of what happened to the professor, anyways."
"Like what?" Dean asked, frowning but following Sam's lead in the change of subject.
"The local Mystery Spot."
Dean rolled his eyes and started walking again, and Sam moved to keep up. "Dude, those things are just gimmicks."
"Maybe this one isn't. Maybe it's the real deal, and we need to take it seriously. Stranger things have happened," Sam said. "Maybe there's...some sort of spirit haunting the place."
"Cursed land," Dean offered, getting into it. Sam wanted to roll his eyes but refused to do so. Let Dean believe it, and then tonight-
Sam swallowed hard.
"Could be worth looking into," Dean said, turning to him. "We'll check it out tonight, after everyone's gone."
No no NO! Gunshot, blood on his jacket, trembling body heavy to hold-
"Sounds like a plan," Sam managed.
"Dude, are you seriously okay? You're kinda freaking me out here," Dean admitted. "You look like you're waiting for something horrible to happen."
No shit, Sherlock, Sam wanted to toss at him, but he couldn't. It really wasn't funny, anymore. Maybe it would be funny again in a couple of weeks.
He was one foot off the curb when Dean's hands grabbed his jacket and pulled him back. The cursed car went flying by, Mr. Pickett glaring at them as he went. "Dude, do you want to see Wednesday?" Dean asked, staring at him with anger and a lot of concern.
Sam probably didn't help the concern any when he burst out laughing. It wasn't supposed to be funny, but it really sort of was.