Bearer of all Light
Chapter 5 – The pen is mightier than the sword.
Dean drifted on a river of amber heat, and idly wondered why his body hadn't bubbled and blistered yet. As he breathed in, he sensed the fire invading his nose and mouth and smooth its way over cool skin. Somewhere in his mind he knew this should hurt; he was meant to be in pain, but strangely, he felt oddly comforted when the tongues of flame licked at his face.
As dreams went, this was O.K. He'd had a whole lot worse, especially dreams involving fire, they usually 'sucked' out loud.
There was a voice inside his head quietly whispering, almost seductive in its tone, encouraging him to do something that he couldn't quite make out. It sounded important though, so he bore down and made a concerted effort to focus.
What he heard was another voice entirely, a familiar voice that sent a desperate, urgent shudder down his spine. "Dean. I'm trapped, I need help. Come-on man, I need you to help me."
'Sam'? He tried to call out but his lips wouldn't move; the best he could manage was a muted groan and then nothing. He lay there trapped in a useless body, unable to force his muscles to follow orders while inside, he raged at his impotency. Sam needed him, and all he could do was lie on the ground, and pray this inability to move wasn't permanent.
He felt the touch of a hand on his chest and Sam's voice was nearer this time. "…done a job on you."
With a gargantuan effort, Dean forced his eyes open, needing to see for himself that Sam was there and that he was whole and unhurt. It was a monumental effort, but he managed just enough, for the image of his brother's face to slowly come into focus. "Sammy. Are you O.K.?"
He saw his brother smile and his lips move, but heard nothing; he was back swimming in the fire; feeling it undulate around him, soak through his clothes. The distant voice had returned, calling to him, beckoning him, but it only lasted a moment. Then he was back in the woods with Sam by his side, while memories of the last twenty-four hours exploded in a vivid display in his mind. "Bobby?"
Again Sam spoke, but Dean could only watch as his mouth silently moved. 'OK, enough.' These limitations were starting to piss him off. 'Suck it up, Winchester. Get up off your butt.'
With an internal struggle to rival his last hunt, Dean barely managed to thrash his arms and move one foot before falling back to the ground.
And once again he floated in the blaze, almost enjoying it now, allowing himself to rest in its embrace and only occasionally catching a brief sight of the real world. He felt lifted by gentle hands, no part of him touching the ground; then he could smell leather and hear the reassuring dull throb of the large chevy engine. Next, a soft mattress and cool sheets on his skin, but always he found himself back in the fire, floating in the inviting and serene, burning sea of flame.
Sam sat by the narrow bed and watched, as his brother slept. He arched his spine as far as he could in the small chair and rubbed the back of his neck; letting out a deep breath, but feeling none of the tension from the last twenty-four hours leave his body. It didn't surprise him: he had no right to feel better, not while his brother lay sleeping, burned and concussed.
He heard the soft knock on the door and was instantly on guard. Picking up the loaded shotgun, he paced to the door and listened, then cracked it open. Bobby looked left and right, before entering and immediately motioned to Dean. "How's he doing?"
"That good, huh?"
Bobby dumped the brown paper bag he was holding, on the nightstand and walked over to the sleeping man, examining his face, and gently palming his forehead. No temperature. The sharp line of stitches stood out in a long dark ridge through Deans blond hair and his brow sat clenched in a shallow frown, eyes twitching under heavy lids in time with his dream. The two broken fingers on his right hand had been splinted, cracked ribs wrapped, and Bobby was sure those burns on his back and head looked worse than they were, but he and Sam had spent a long time cleansing and dressing them, just to be sure.
"Let him sleep. We'll need to wake him in a half hour, make sure that head wound is just a concussion."
Moving away, Bobby started to decant the contents of the bag, but paused as Sam came up next to him.
"So what do we do with it now, Bobby?" His voice no more than a whisper, as his gaze touched on the tightly wrapped book on the table. "You got any ideas?"
Bobby turned and followed his stare, pausing thoughtfully and then looked back at the younger man. "Yeah, I know exactly what we do with it, Sam."
The motel room wasn't particularly dark, but it may as well have been for Dean, as he opened weary eyes to the gloom. All he could see were jagged streams of light, filtering out, into his peripheral vision. It took a moment before he realised he was lying on his side, in a bed, staring into a small flaming black candle on a table.
He tried opening his eyes a little more, and for an instant he was sure he was still asleep, that the dream hadn't left, that the voice was still in his head; seducing him with soft sounds that echoed in his ears. He screwed his eyes shut tight for just a second and tried to concentrate on his breathing, in through the nose, out through the mouth.
A faint noise outside his head grew steadily stronger and Dean focused on listening, instinctively knowing it was important. He heard a chant he didn't recognise, smelt hot wax and incense and sensed the soft warmth of the bed he rested on, but none of that could explain the euphoria he felt as he gazed at that small flickering yellow flame. Every second he stared into its depth, it enveloped him further and gave him a feeling of superhuman strength and boundless energy, negating the pain and weariness he'd felt.
Bobby was chanting in a deep rich voice as he stood over the table and watched Sam paint, the red ink blessed and laced with resin.
As Sam glided the bush over the pages with skilled hands, he felt the tome resonate with a kind of energy that seemed to suck the room dry of all life force. He concentrated on keeping the brush in contact with the paper as the book trembled on the table; it was as if it had a mind of its own, as though it wanted no part in this ritual.
As the tome started to shudder hard, Bobby looked up, concerned written all over his face, but he refused to be halted in the incantation. Sam finished the last stroke and the book slammed shut with a hollow groan that seemed to echo throughout the tiny room, the candles blew out of their own accord, and they were plunged into an unholy darkness.
All was still.
A wave of doubt washed over Sam as he looked from the book to Bobby, could it really be that simple? "Do you think it's done?"
"Yeah. I think it is." Bobby looked down at the tome as he scratched his beard. "But I ain't gonna be the one to test it."
A muffled sigh drew both men's attention and they looked across the room at Dean, as he levered himself from the comfort of the bed. Sam was by his brother's side in seconds. "Dean. Keep still; you're meant to be resting." He tutted as his brother completely ignored him and continued to fight his way out of the sheets. Sam shook his head as he watched his brother, he'd always been impressed by Dean's powers of recuperation but this was crazy fast even for him.
"Need the bathroom." Dean glowered at Sam, almost daring him to argue. "You gonna sit there and stare at me? Or you gonna help me up?" For someone who looked the way he did, Dean's was surprisingly coherent. Sam bent to help his brother, but he batted his hand away impatiently. "Too late, besides, don't need a nurse, dude. Not one that looks like you anyhow." He grinned, but the sentiment appeared empty and false.
Throwing his eyes up to heaven, Bobby tried to find something else to do. 'No good helping a Winchester who don't want help'. But he watched as Dean limped hesitantly to the door of the bathroom, and couldn't help but be impressed at the younger man's fortitude.
They both watched as Dean disappears through the door, and were both silently relieved at the sound of the tap running. It was a comfort; at least they knew he was still on his feet as they could hear him slowly moving around the small room.
Standing by the table, Sam turned his attention to the job at hand; he looked at Bobby, pensively. "So, how are we supposed to destroy this thing, if the drawings have to remain complete and it won't burn?"
Bobby sat down and appraised the situation, if he were truthful; they were running out of ideas and he had nothing. Every option seemed to run the risk of the book falling into the wrong hands and they just couldn't let that happen. Sam spoke forcefully, looking at the volume as though it were the most offensive thing he had ever seen. "I say we burry it in cement, or we could encase it, and toss it in the ocean, best to be sure."
Just then Dean stumbled back through the door and paused, leaning against the frame, arms crossed over his bandaged chest and trying to look casual rather than desperate for the support the hardwood offered. "Just hold on Sammy, you're being kind of hasty here."
"What?" Sam frowned at his brother still mentally mapping the colourful bruises on his face; he couldn't believe there was anything left to talk about.
Dean moved forward slowly, still cradling his injured ribs and carefully sank back onto the bed, moving to brace himself against the headboard. Although he sounded exhausted, he looked excited, like a kid with a new toy. "It's a prison for demons, Sammy. How useful would that be in our line of work? Just think about it; our own freaking, mobile, demon trashcan. Just imagine what we could do with that thing."
Bobby looked up. "Your brother makes a good point, Sam."
"Dean, you've got to be kidding me. You want us to KEEP it?" Sam stared open mouthed and blinked.
"Well, yeah." He looked searchingly at his brother but spoke gently. "Would that be so bad?"
Sam appeared incredulous. "What is wrong with you both?"He pointed to his brother. "You nearly died, Dean, TWICE. You're lucky to even BE here right now. How can you want to keep that thing?" He fisted his hand on the table as he spoke, next turning to Bobby. "And why are you encouraging him? Don't you think were carrying around enough demons, Bobby?"Not waiting for a reply, he stood and stalked out of the room letting the door slam behind him, leaving the two remaining occupants sitting in uncomfortable silence. Dean looked at the door still slightly reverberating with the force of the impact, and immediately caught Bobby's eye.
He smiled tiredly at the look of shock on the older mans face. "Don't mind her, Bobby; she's had a hard day."
Sam heard the bell on the diner's door but never looked up. He sat in a booth at the back; successfully hiding from the world, staring resolutely into his coffee and didn't even notice as his brother took the seat opposite him.
"Didn't think you'd mind, people were kinda staring." Dean pointed to the seat he was now wriggling in, trying, and failing to get comfy.
Sam gave the rest of the diner a glance and realised that Dean was quite right, people were staring, but then his brother did look kinda strange. The stitches in his scalp were a dark blue divide through blond hair, and his face was marred by scrapes on bruises. The term roadkill came to mind. He still looked exhausted, but there was something else, something stronger in his eyes, a look of deep concern for his brother…and locked into his pupils, a glow that Sam couldn't identify.
He looked back to his half empty cup. "Dude, you shouldn't be out of bed. How are you even standing up right now?"
Dean grinned. "Amazing what I can do when I set my mind to it, Sammy."
"Yeah, I heard that about you."
"Sam. Look, I ….."
Holding up one hand, Sam cut his brother off before he could hear any more.
"Dean, there is nothing you can say that is going to change my mind about this. I don't know what we should do with that thing, but it's not coming with us. There is no way we're giving trunk space to a demon."
Dean raised his brows and looked at his brother thoughtfully. "Well technically, Sammy, the book could contain one demon or a hundred, no way to tell for sure."
"Well, that makes me feel way better about the whole 'keeping it in the trunk' part." Suddenly realising he'd raised his voice a little too loud, Sam guiltily checked his surroundings.
"Look, I was just gonna say…"
"Dean, that demon had you, and if I'd been just a minute late, you'd be a walking torch right about now….." Sam didn't let up but kept his voice lower this time.
"Yeah, about that…"
"…and, we have no idea just how dangerous that thing might be, so for you to just casually want to toss it in the trunk, it's just crazy, man."
Dean took quick advantage of the pause in Sam's outburst and leaned in, as close as the table between them would allow. "If I pass out, feel free to keep on talking, Sammy." He paused, knowing he'd finally got his brother's attention. "Bobby said he'd take care of it, he said he had a plan, and I for one trust him. Don't know what he's thinking, but right now, I'm not sure I want to. Now…he's packing our stuff, were heading out in ten, better get you're coffee to go and get one for me while you're at it."
Sam was mystified at this unexpected change of events. "Where are we going, exactly?"
"Bobby's place, he offered and it seemed like a good idea to rest up for a while, maybe take a few days. But we don't have to, I mean, if you'd rather head out and look for another hunt, then…"
"No. no. no. that's fine. A few days, yeah, that sounds just fine." Sam felt himself relax for the first time in days. Bobby's place meant safety; it meant a refuge however temporary and on a good day, it could even feel like home.
Bobby pulled up outside the graveyard and cut the engine. The trip had been a long one but considering the last three days, he'd had enough on his mind to keep him occupied.
Both boys had been asleep when he'd left; slowly recovering and gathering their strength for the next battle in this war and he was happy to let them. At least at his place, he knew they would be safe, they'd been through so much already and he knew there was only worse to come for the Winchester's.
Although he loved both boys equally, even considered them his surrogatesons, the deal Dean made to save his brother weighed heavy on his heart. There was no doubt in his mind that Sam would do whatever was needed to find a way out and Bobby knew he'd be there to help, but he prayed both boys wouldn't wind up dead as a result. As for Dean, well he blamed John all over for that one. Wasn't it John who'd tasked a four year old child with a job most adults weren't qualified to do? Wasn't it John who'd taught the boy to be a pillar of strength for others only to abandon him when he'd needed and deserved the same?
'No wonder that boy don't think nothing of himself. Yeah, you got a lot to answer for John Winchester'.
Bobby climbed from the cab as darkness fell; and picked up the torch, shovel and the blessed airtight box containing the book. The hole didn't take long to dig, it was deep but small and after digging graves it was a piece of cake. He let the consecrated box drop down through the ground and started shovelling dirt. Once he was finished he made sure to cover the earth with the carefully removed turf so the area once again looked undisturbed.
Then he stood back for a moment and admired his handiwork. He was ready to make his way back to the truck, and get back to the boys, but there was one thing left to do. He walked slowly towards the small plinth planted in the ground just behind the book's new burial place, sunk to his haunches and gently brushed at the dirt and leaves gathered on the cool flat stone as his eyes caught the inscription. 'In loving memory of John Winchester 1955 – 2007 Fight the good fight'
Bobby glanced to his right and saw Mary's gravestone looking almost serene in the moonlight, then turned back to John's memorial. There was a lot he wanted to say, but the time for talk was passed. They'd been friends of sorts, and they'd also been enemies for a time, but he'd seen with his own eyes as John had rejoined the fight; had battled for the life of his boys and he was grateful. Who would think to look here, 'hell, there ain't even a coffin.' No,no one would think to look here, and Bobby would take the secret with him to his own grave.
As he stood, he spoke softly, his voice no more than a whisper. "Well John Winchester, now you've got work to do." And turning on his heels, he slowly walked back to his truck, shovel in hand.
This story continues in the sequel 'Better to burn out – than fade away' which will be posted very soon.
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