Summary: Sam and Dean crash a wedding. Or it might just be the other way around…
Well, this is it… all wrapped up. Thanks for reading.
Sam came to and lashed out instinctively at whoever was pulling him away from Dean.
"Whoa there, son. It's all right."
Frank. Sam opened his bleary eyes and ordered them to focus. He rubbed the blood away and after several blinks Frank's worried face swam into view.
"It's all right," Frank said again, "but we need to see to you and your brother."
Dean's slurred voice brought Sam more fully awake. "Just hold still, Dean. S'gonna be ok." Sam got up, annoyed that Frank had to help him, and then braced himself with a hand against the wall. He waited for the world to settle and then stood away, noticing that he'd left a bloody handprint behind.
"Now can I call 911?" Martha asked warily.
"No," was all Sam answered. "Is Mort still on your bed?"
"You have another room?" He wasn't going to put Dean anywhere he couldn't stay with him. He looked down at his brother worriedly, seeing the blood still seeping from the wound in his side.
"Our sons' old room," she offered. "It's small, but-"
"That'll be fine. I need the first aid kit from our car." Sam looked up and found Hope. "Can you get that? It's under the front passenger seat. There should be a plastic bag with some clothes too." They kept it there for emergencies in case they were too dirty to check into a motel or had to abandon their bags somewhere. Hope nodded and ran for the front door.
"Let's get him up," Frank said, moving to Dean's other side.
"Don't touch him." Sam didn't even care that it was closer to a growl than anything else. Dean was his to look after. Frank quickly backed off. Sam bent down and put a hand on Dean's shoulder. "Look at you, man," he whispered, too quietly for anyone else to hear. "It's not even Tuesday."
Dean turned his head and looked up at him owlishly. "Huh?"
"Nothing." Sam put his hand under Dean's arm and hauled him up. They both leaned back against the wall and concentrated on breathing for a minute. "You doing ok?" Sam asked.
"The glass is out," Dean murmured. "So I got that goin' for me… which is nice."
"Yeah, man. Real Cinderella story. You ready?"
"Just do it. Not gonna get any better," Dean said, already bracing himself to move.
Sam pulled Dean's arm across his shoulders and together they staggered behind Martha down the hall and into a small room with two twin beds pushed against the walls with a few feet in between. To a person who'd spent nearly his entire life in motel rooms, it felt oddly like home.
He helped Dean onto the bed closest to the door because he knew Dean would be more comfortable there. Dean Winchester, human shield, even when unconscious. Sam stood up and was immediately dizzy again. He'd lost too much blood and saw that he'd managed to smear even more of it on Dean during the transfer to the bedroom.
"Dude," Dean said without opening his eyes, his voice rough. "Shower first. I'll hold. You're giving me the creeps."
Sam hesitated, looking toward the door where Frank and Martha were hovering and then back to the bed. Dean's mouth quirked up on one side. "Don't worry. I won't let 'em touch me. Where's M- my shotgun? I'll put a round of rock salt in anybody comes near me."
Sam didn't know how his brother did it. Sam had spent close to a year now feeling the crushing burden of responsibility for Dean's safety. Dean had been shouldering that burden since he was a child. Sam had grown up never doubting that his brother would protect him and Dean had. He protected him, first from hunting and the knowledge of what was awaiting them in the dark, then once Sam had known, Dean had still shielded him from as much as he could, acting as an intermediary between him and their father, letting Sam study while Dean went out and came back with bruises or worse. And when Sam was hunting, Dean had protected him with the only thing he had left, his own body. Just one year of feeling the absolute responsibility for Dean's life was about to bring Sam to his knees, wanting to beg for mercy.
Dean cracked open one eye. "Hey, Sam?"
Sam cleared his throat of the sudden constriction there. "Yeah?"
"I'm bleeding and you're thinking. Think we could do something about that?"
"Thanks, Bobby." Dean flipped the phone closed and let it fall to the bed. They'd gotten a few more details from Martha about Catherine's burial place and then called Bobby. Bobby had a contact in England who had found the grave and done a quick salt and burn just to make sure.
Andy had been taken to the hospital with a concussion, a broken nose and some cracked ribs. He apparently remembered most of what had happened and although confused, had accepted the need to tell the ER staff that he'd been mugged. Frank had arranged for the repairs to the Impala's tires. Mort had finally managed to wake up and despite a monster headache seemed to have escaped his near-death experience relatively unscathed.
The room was dark, but Dean heard Sam stir and roll over on the other bed. A slight gasp seemed loud in the room and Dean momentarily considered turning on the light. "You ok?"
"Shoulder," Sam grunted.
"Those champagne bottles are killers," Dean observed wryly. They were also the reason he'd decided not to turn on the light. It would have required moving and he just wasn't quite ready to do that yet. He'd been stitched up, but movement was still currently his enemy, not to mention that he had about a thousand blankets on him from when he'd started shivering and Sam had started muttering about shock and the need for a hospital.
After Sam had helped Dean to the bedroom, he'd gone into the bathroom across the hall, spent about two minutes in the shower and then reappeared looking deathly pale, dizzy, and once again like he'd been on the wrong end of a badger attack, not that there was a good end of a badger attack.
Sam had ordered the others out of the room with a near snarl, then had very carefully seen to Dean's wounds before mechanically, almost carelessly, seeing after his own.
Sam had said he needed to be more like Dean. But the problem with that was that Dean only worked because he had Sam to temper his hardness. What would become of Sam when he was alone? What would become of him if there was no one to keep him human? The sight of Sam almost agreeing to sacrifice a virgin, of all things, was just one of the signs that Sam was in danger of falling.
Dean was going to become a demon. There was no way out of it. What he couldn't tell Sam was that he was afraid the same thing was going to happen to him. One dead, one alive, both losing their ties with humanity.
Truth be told though, Dean was worrying about himself more at the moment. It didn't sit well, worrying about himself more than Sam, but they were so close to the deadline and he was closer to being nearly paralyzed by fear than he'd ever been. He was so freakin' terrified he could barely think, barely function. Not that he could tell that to Sam either.
"Now who's thinking too much?" Sam said quietly.
Dean cleared his throat, but his voice still came out gravelly. "You seem to like it so much, I thought I'd give it a try."
Sam gave the barest chuckle. "Why start now?"
"Never too late to learn," Dean answered. Or maybe it was. Maybe it was too late for everything now. Because once he was dead it was all over. He could only hope the same wasn't true for Sam. Sam had to be able to learn new tricks. He had to be.
Sam had been lying quietly when he'd heard Dean's breathing change. Sam momentarily thought his brother was in pain, but the sound wasn't right. Sam had spent his entire life, with the exception of Stanford, at Dean's side. No matter how much his brother tried to hide it, Sam knew when Dean was hurting and he knew when Dean was thinking too hard. These days, it was a short list of things that would make Dean's breathing head toward panic mode.
"Answer something and don't be flippant."
"I don't know what that means, but I'm too tired to be it, whatever it is."
Sam rolled his eyes though Dean couldn't see it. His brother just loved to play dumb when he didn't want to talk about something. Even when he didn't know what it was. "Means don't be a smartass."
"Well, then I'm almost too tired."
"You wanna go back and see that girl you almost married?"
Dean was silent and Sam wished that he could see his brother's face. He doubted it would tell him much, but Sam had spent years interpreting Dean's "nothing" face. "You go to sleep?"
"What would I say?" Dean said wearily. "Hi. I'm about to kick off. Thought I'd stop by and see how things are going."
"You don't have to tell her any of that. It'd be fine."
Dean gave a chagrined laugh. "Sure. Cause showing up and finding out she has a husband and two kids would be so soothing in my last days."
"It might," Sam replied simply, "to know that she's happy."
"And if she's unhappy?"
"Than we kick whoever's ass is making her unhappy."
There was another long pause where Sam could only wait and listen to his brother's slightly unsteady breathing. "I'll think about it," Dean finally said.
Sam knew it wasn't going to happen. The deadline was almost upon them. The odds of them, either of them, making it through it alive were slim to none. But if, just if, by some miracle they did, then everything would change. They would be together again. Together without this unbelievable burden. It was the prize of a lifetime for making it through.
"'Til death do you part."
Sam blinked, trying to figure out Dean's line of thought. "What?"
Sam felt like they were kids again, whispering in the dark so they wouldn't wake up their dad. "Tell me."
Dean laughed, a low rumble. "Just… doesn't really seem to apply to our family, does it?"
Sam smiled. Their mom, dad, Dean, him. Their definition of gone was a messy one for sure.
But all that really mattered right now was Dean. And as far as Sam was concerned, even if he couldn't get Dean out of the deal, his brother sure wasn't going to be staying wherever he was taken.
All those years ago, when the nursery was burning, Dean had grabbed Sam and run for safety. This time it was Sam's turn.
Dean was going to Hell. And Sam was going to have to save him from the fire.
This brings to an end this quintet of military themed stories (the titles anyway - I do have a nerdy love of title groupings). Hope you enjoyed it. Been a pleasure.