Title: Home Road
Summary: The brothers were so different sometimes. Dean after Sam died was lethal silence and a sense of suicide-- Let the world end. Leave me alone. That loudly unspoken I wish I was dead. Sam was different. He had murder in his eyes. Post-NRFTW and Sam finds a way to save his brother.
Note: Thanks to all who read and reviewed "One Week," especially PADavis, nannon, Liquorish, zuimar and Stoneage Woman. You guys rule and are as encouraging as always. I can't seem to tickle readers into reviewing me in this fan-verse so every encouraging word counts. Massive thanks :) I'm still working on that story, but I thought I could relax a bit since Chapter One can stand on its own. Besides, after watching the finale, I guess I just couldn't resist trying to think of some sort of continuation, just to tide me over 'til the series resumes in the fall. So there :) Hope you all enjoy this one. C &C's as welcome as always!
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The clocks have chimed to usher in midnight, that slim line that held the difference between someone's last night and someone else's new day. Who would have suspected the weight of that third hand, perched at the very edge of the 59th second, holding the difference between life and death...
It made Bobby Singer run as if his tail were on fire. Run, like a suicidal madman hacking his way across a sea of stunned demons who disbelieved his nerve, almost as much as he disbelieved it himself.
And then he stopped at the door of the beautiful suburban house, where two young men he had loved like sons fought for their lives. He was breathless, surprised at success for a moment, allowing himself to believe, maybe, maybe we can win...
Suddenly, the quiet, erratic buzzing and sputtering of the water sprinklers on the lawn died down. He turned, horrified, behind him at the demons that were suddenly in a position to attack, no longer hindered by holy water.
Except they didn't, and in a macabre chorus of open mouths and inhuman screaming, black smoke shot up to the skies, and then bodies flopped down on the ground like a fallen who's-who of the people-in-your-neighborhood.
The demons have left. That's what it meant, right? That must be what it meant. Why would they leave if Lilith wasn't killed? Have the Winchesters, again, dodged another bullet?
"Sam?" Bobby called out, as he considered kicking at the door, before deciding to just turn the knob and push it inward, "Dean?"
It was quieter outside than in. There was a clattering of miscellany in the... kitchen, Bobby guessed, by the sounds of plates crashing and the dully-stinky smell of hastily discarded food. He raised up his gun, and cautiously stepped toward the door.
"Sam?" he asked, finding the taller Winchester squatting on the ground before the refrigerator, ransacking it, just throwing trays and plates and racks over his shoulder. Leftover turkey, bottles of Sunny-D, bags of vegetables and fruits, milk and eggs, nothing was spared. He grabbed a half-filled bottle of champagne, chugged its contents in like, two seconds, then threw it over his shoulder too. Did the same with a bottle of red wine.
This is bad.
"Sam," Bobby said, softly, as he stepped forward, "Son, what the hell are you doing? And where's your brother?"
"There," came the grunting, distracted and fairly vague reply, "I called 911, but they couldn't raise anyone nearby. Lilith messed around with this town, when she left I think they all did. Nearest ambulance is coming from the next town. They will be here in fifteen minutes, so we have some time to get everything ready. Help me, Bobby."
"She left?" Bobby asked, moving beside Sam, as the younger hunter cleared the refrigerator, "Ambulance? Is Dean all right?"
Sam looked up at him hotly, with crinkled, sarcastic eyes. Red eyes, Bobby saw, but so, so inhumanly dry. "No, Bobby, he's dead. Now help me."
"Dead--" Bobby said, turning on his heel, determined to head off to find Dean and see for himself, except Sam grabbed him firmly by the arm. God, his grip was unyielding, and so, so inhumanly steady.
"Nothing you can do for him in there," Sam said, letting go, and looking at his handiwork. He stood up and Bobby reflected grimly, with cold hands, that the fricking, industrial-grade, Martha-Stewart-esque fridge was so huge it could hold a man...
"There's a convenience store down the road," Sam said, fishing in his pocket, "Take the Impala, it'll go faster. I need as much ice as you can get."
Bobby numbly took the keys from Sam, and found them sticky and red-streaked. Blood. Dean's, he realized.
"Sam," Bobby began, voice shaking, "If he's dead--"
"If he's dead there isn't anything anyone can do to help him," Sam said, quickly, "Is that it? Tell you what, Bobby, you're wrong but I don't have the time to talk about it right now. Please. Please. Do what I ask, trust me for now, I need you. I need you. If he's dead then none of this could hurt, right? The worst that could happen is he stays dead, so just do as I ask for now. Please."
Bobby stared at him. God, he was scared, and he did not scare easy. The last time he felt like this was looking at Dean, the Dean after Sam had died, exactly one year ago. They were so different sometimes, these Winchester brothers. The devastation was plain to see on both faces, sure, but Dean's was lethal silence, and in afterthought, an inextricable sense of suicide. Let the world end. Leave me alone. And that unspoken I wish I was dead.
Sam was different. He had murder written on his stern face.
Bobby did not know what he feared more. He did not know if to follow along with Sam on this one was the right thing to do. As a matter of fact, he realized, he knew very little about very few things. What he did know was that all the times he had worked with the brothers, things somehow turned all right, even for just a little while. Dean's deal brought his brother back, didn't it? He had no idea what Sam was thinking, but the kid was sharp, and they've always lived by the moment anyway.
"You got it," Bobby said under his breath, gripping the keys tightly, and then running out the door.
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"First aid kit," Sam said simply, as he tore open the door to the basement. The panicked occupants within jumped at the sight of him, wide-eyed, breathless civilians huddled fearfully in the dark.
"What?" the man of the house asked, rightfully stunned.
His wife was slightly calmer, showing the nerve of that woman Sam had first seen upstairs, asking him to kill her own daughter. She blinked at Sam, before rising to her feet. "I can show you."
"Wait," her husband said, grabbing her arm and turning toward Sam, "Is it safe to go out?"
"For now," Sam said, "You can walk up with me if you like, but you might want to stay here for a little while, with your daughter. There are... there are things upstairs children shouldn't see."
The man's eyes crawled down from Sam's face to his bloodied clothes. He clutched his daughter tightly, and nodded, as Sam and his wife closed the basement door and went up to the higher levels of the house.
The woman kept a good half-jogging pace with Sam, stopping in the kitchen. She blinked once at the mess from her empty fridge, before shaking herself off and drawing out a large, fully-tripped-out first aid kit from one of the lower cabinets. Sam was pleasantly surprised, and she saw it on his face when she handed him the case.
"She's..." the woman said, by way of stammering explanation, "We had a hard time conceiving. She's our only child. I had to... to be very cautious."
The woman was gonna break, Sam realized, sensing the events of the last few - hours? days? weeks? how long had Lilith tortured this family in the face of that beautiful child?- begin to crash around her. The woman had been willing to kill her own daughter, for god's sake. But he had no time or inclination to coddle her. He turned his back on her and stalked for the room where his brother's body was. He felt her follow, felt himself not-give-a-damn.
He knelt by Dean, and swallowed the lump on his throat he thought he had already gotten rid of. He wanted to stop feeling. He wanted to stop-the-fuck from crying. He had work to do, damn it. He heard her gasp behind him.
"I know, lady," Sam growled at her as he opened the insanely well-equipped first aid kit, "The most paranoid mother's first aid kit won't do a damn thing for a corpse. I got an ambulance coming in minutes but I want to... to.. I just – I need to..."
Tend him, Sam thought, Clean him, I don't know. I don't want to leave him looking like this...
"He's my brother," he finished instead, as if that was supposed to explain everything. Maybe it did, because she said nothing else about what he was doing.
"What," she asked, breathlessly, "What did that to him?"
"Dogs," Sam said with a grunt, as he drew out surgical scissors from the kit, and started getting rid of the remnants of Dean's clothes. He did it with practiced precision, and tossed aside the soggy, bloodied pieces of clothing and, occasionally, he almost gagged, torn muscle and flesh. He stripped Dean down to his boxers, and surveyed the full extent of the damage done him by the hellhounds.
"God," Sam gasped, hands fisting at his sides, "Damn it."
He felt her hand on his shoulder, and felt himself shoving it away. He seemed removed from his body, removed from the situation, as if he wasn't doing anything, just living through things happening to him.
"Your brother," she said, softly, kneeling down next to Sam and looking over Dean's body, "bled out worst through here," she pointed toward the inner side of Dean's right arm, "Here," she said, now motioning for the middle section of his torso, near the base of his throat, "And here," she said, nodding at his inner thigh. "I don't know why, but those dogs went right for the places where the right veins and arteries are. I can't say it did not hurt, mister, but I can promise you he would not have suffered very long--"
A dry, humorless laugh. He wanted to deck her, but he checked himself. She couldn't have known, that death by hellhound was the least torture Dean had to endure. That the worst was coming. That hell itself was next. And so he just shook his head.
"I did some volunteer work before I got married," she rambled on nervously, "I went to Africa, and a few cold climes in Asia. Lions and wolves, you know. I've seen my share of lacerations that looked like this."
"Any of the organs damaged?" Sam asked.
"I can't tell from all the visual obstruction," she said, getting to her feet and grabbing some disconcertingly-floral-printed kitchen towels. She soaked them in hot water, and then knelt by Sam, hesitating. "May I...?"
"Please," he said, opening his palm toward his brother's...body.
She nodded, took a deep, shaky breath, and then began wiping at the blood on Dean's chest. God, he was such a mess. The pink flowers vanished in the blood all too soon. One towel, two. Three. Absolutely blood-soaked. And even when she was done, his body was still red-streaked. Clearing away the blood showed the torn flesh in all its gory glory. There was literally, precariously-hanging strips of flesh and muscle that looked... looked kind of misplaced on his brother's body, like semi-loose parts of a car no one knew what to do with. The fucking hood was popped on Dean Winchester's dead body...
"Skin and muscular damage is extensive," she murmured, "But from what I can see, the organs do not seem to have been bitten or scratched into. Cause of death looks like blood loss from arteries and veins, not physical force to the organs. But I haven't done this in years."
"Good enough for me," Sam said, under his breath, thinking, At least I don't have to steal someone else's...
"Is this..." she hesitated, "I guess he wanted to be an organ donor, huh? That's why you're so concerned? If help arrives here in the next few minutes, they should still find them viable--"
"No one's dining off of Dean," Sam snapped, irrationally angry at her again. He heard the sirens of an ambulance nearing. He rose to his feet, and she looked up at him.
"He died saving your family," Sam said, realizing it did not feel like so much of a lie, since this what Dean did for a living, even if this last mission was also incidentally colored by a quest to save his own life, "Now I need you to do what you can for him."
She nodded, jerkily, as she watched him walk away.
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It was a disconcerting sight, like walking into one of those post-apocalyptic horror movies about a small town gone crazy. There was an ambulance in front of the house, wailing as it was supposed to, empty and surrounded by emptiness the way that it wasn't. The unconscious or dead bodies of the formerly-possessed neighbors still laid in scattered sets on the lawn, untouched, and unmoving. The door to the house was ajar.
Anytime Bobby let any Winchester out of his sight, the first thing that comes to mind the next time he sees or hears from them is, What the hell have you done this time?
He stepped inside the house, again, cautiously, keys to the Impala jiggling loosely in his left palm and his gun secured on his right. He passed the hall. And then stood stock-still-shocked by the door to one of the rooms.
"What the hell?" he exclaimed, making all the occupants in the room (excepting the two corpses – Dean's and Ruby's- on the ground) jump.
The lady of the house was standing over a uniformed EMT, her shaking hands tightly gripping a gun pointed at his head as he and his female partner tended a very, very obviously dead, open-eyed Dean Winchester. Sam was on his knees on the ground, dragging that industrial-grade fridge he had emptied out earlier.
"Got the ice?" he asked the new arrival, sounding almost casual.
"Hell yeah I got the ice," Bobby snapped, irritably, "What the hell do you think you're doing, boy?"
"This man is dead," one of the EMT's, a fiery blond, smart-looking like they sometimes came, said of Dean, "I know you're his brother and it hurts like shit but you do not want to be doing this."
"I'm not asking for a goddamn vote," Sam snarled at him, "I told you I want this body kept alive, I got the gun, and you're doing it."
"It won't ever be alive again," the other EMT, a small-framed brunette woman told him earnestly, "He lost too much blood. He's shut down. The organs are barely viable as it is, starved of circulation these last few minutes. The brain is a lost cause. Everything that made him who he was is there, it'll be just like keeping a shell--"
Sam's nose flared in rage. He rose to his feet, snatched the gun from the trembling housewife and pressed the barrel to the female EMT's temple. "I'm not asking you again. I don't want a philosophical discussion, I don't want to talk about my 'pain,' I don't want anything from you, but to shut your trap unless you're going to be productive." His bloodshot eyes turned toward her partner.
"You take care of his shell, and let me handle who comes back," Sam said to them, lethally, "Understand?"
Blondie gulped, and nodded. "O-okay, buddy you got it. Just... just cool it, don't hurt her."
"Now let's run through what needs to be done," Sam said, pulling the gun away from the woman's temple, "You said you can't do much for him here."
"Yes," confirmed Blondie, "Nothing's working on its own. He needs a surgeon. You wanna keep this body alive? He needs machines you know, beat his heart for him, breathe for him, things like that. Everything we do here is going to be useless."
"What about..." asked Sam anxiously, "What about all that artificial stuff?"
"He's got holes in him," said Blondie, explaining as simply as he could, "You get that heart pumping so you can move blood in his body. He lost most of his. There isn't anything to stir up. We can replace it but blood substitutes here won't be enough to save that much loss, and whatever we pump in him's coming out the same way his blood did. You need the damage to the arteries and veins repaired. The only thing we can do for him here is we slow him down, and get him to an OR stat. We've got drugs that keep the blood from clotting. And it seems you've already got the ice--"
"Shut up Alex, I'm trying to keep us alive," he said, easily reading his partner's objection, "Some people say that death isn't just an event, you know, like a fucking blackout and suddenly no one's home. Before, death was just when the heart stopped. Since people learned to re-start it, the definition shifted to the cessation of the electrical impulses on the brain. But some people are saying it should be broadened far beyond that. Death is a process. Heart and brain goes out. The blood thickens and clots, the acids eat up the stomach, water is lost, decomp, dust... it's a series of events, and you can do things in between to intervene. We can thin the blood, we can cool him down. Get him to someone who can repair the damage in a goddamn freezer, put him on life support. The body will be 'alive,' if your definition is 'vegetable.' Legally-dead, unpluggable, but functioning."
"That's all I want from you," Sam said, "Him waking up and walking around after, that's up to me."
"We'll do what you want," Roger said, "But I guarantee you, you are not going to find a doctor who'll be willing to work on a corpse."
"I know that," Sam said, grimly. He handed the gun back to the housewife. "Watch them. Bobby? Let's go grab the ice."
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"You knew they wouldn't be able to do anything for Dean," Bobby said, as he and Sam unlocked the trunk of the Impala.
"What he said," replied Sam, "I read about it too. That's why I asked you for ice even before they came in. I guess I just had to look at contingencies."
Sam hauled up a garbage bag filled with smaller bags of ice, "If I failed, there had to be another way. First thing I had to do was keep his body alive. Dean would have my ass if he had to come back disembodied or worse, inside someone else."
"What else did you read?" Bobby asked.
"I read we needed some blood thinners," said Sam, "So you and I, we couldn't have just iced him and went on our way. They carry that in ambulances. You know what else I read?
"If I had to, I could keep him for hundreds of years," said Sam, hauling up another bag of ice and handing it to Bobby. He closed the trunk, murmuring distractedly, "Dean is sure gonna be pissed we got moisture on the arsenal."
"What do you mean hundreds of years?"
Sam heaved his ice bag over his shoulder, and started for the house, "Ever heard of Cryonics? The guy in there could have been talking about step one. Step two would have been draining all bodily fluids and replacing it with some kind of anti-freezing solution, gradually cool the body down, shove it in a can of liquid nitrogen, and then you've got a body that can sleep 'til forever. They've figured out how to preserve people, Bobby. Next thing they'll figure out is how to reanimate them and of course, cure or solve whatever killed them in the first place. Ever heard of that?"
"I read on monsters, boy," snapped Bobby, grabbing his own bag and following Sam inside, "Not science fiction."
"Common misconception," Sam said with a grunt, "It's a very real science. You've got clinics up and down the country specializing in this. You've got loaded old geezers ponying up hundreds of thousands of dollars to be preserved and 'sleep' their way into the future.
"I'm getting Dean out of hell as soon as I can, Bobby," Sam said, "So that'll be the last resort. But if I had to, I can keep his body in some form of living and work on saving him right until the day I die. Right until the day I die. The solution can both be scientific and supernatural at the same time. He might not mind, much. I'll just tell him he's frozen like Stallone in Demolition Man."
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The damn cord was getting in the way, and Sam was tempted as hell to wrench it off the fridge, except he thought it might be useful, once they found a place to settle down. The irony that he was stuffing his brother in a refrigerator, like that mad immortal doctor they had buried alive not too long ago, was not at all lost on him.
Sorry Dean, he thought, slowly tilting down the fridge such that it was horizontal on the ground, like a damn... casket--bath tub, he corrected himself. He lined the bottom with ice from the bags Bobby had brought. And then he picked up his brother, arms beneath Dean's back and knees, and gently lowered him over the ice. Dean was heavy, but it wasn't why he was shaking, when he was done.
As if the old man sensed his resolve weakening, Bobby elbowed his way forward with a fresh armload of ice, and then proceeded with laying it over Dean's body. It did not take him long, until all that was left was the boy's face. Green eyes still stared upward, emptily.
Sam gulped, not wanting to ask the older hunter to close his brother's eyes. He did not want to see them closed. He did not want to never see them again. It was macabre leaving them open, but they were such a distinct shade of green-gray, weren't they? Rare, that color. Were mom's eyes that color? He didn't know. Don't close them. Don't close them.
Bobby pursed his lips, and without looking at Sam, laid a gentle palm over Dean's face, and closed his eyes. Sam didn't stop him. Bobby covered Dean's face with ice too, and then took a deep breath and shut the lid of the fridge. It closed with a kind of vacuum-like hiss, with finality.
"You've all lost your minds," Alex murmured, "What the hell happened to this town?"
Sam was nibbling at his knuckles, mind racing, thinking of the next step, not up to indulging her.
"How long 'til they miss the ambulance?" Sam asked.
"Depends on what we call in," Roger replied, "Wouldn't have to lie much anyway, this place looks like a disaster area. We can call in four, maybe five more cabs. The people out there look like they need it. With more cabs out, it's harder to tell them coming and going. You got two, maybe three hours."
"Call it in," Sam ordered, "Let's load and get out of here."
"To where?" Bobby asked.
"I'll figure it out," Sam said, grabbing one corner of the heavy fridge and nodding for Roger, Alex and Bobby to do the same, "I just need time to think. On three."
"What..." the house owner stammered, "What am I going to tell the people coming here? So many dead... what the hell am I going to say...?" She walked with them when they loaded the ambulance, looking in panic at the strained faces. Her lawn and the road around it, after all, was still lined by unconscious and dead people.
"Thank you for your help," Sam told her, sincerely, and quietly, finally taking pity on her, "This..." he shook his head in resigned dismay at the world, "This is how things really are, this is what happens in the dark, but I think you know that better than anybody by now; you were willing to pay the ultimate price. Possessions and monsters and demons... No one is ever ready for it when it comes, but it is what it is. Me and my brother... we've worked hard all our lives to protect people, and as you can see, we've paid the price for it too. I don't know what to tell you, or how to help you, anymore. All I want is to get my brother back. We can't do any more for you, and I'm sorry."
"Okay," she nodded, and shakily handed him back his gun. She looked toward the two wide-eyed EMT's who were already waiting inside the ambulance. Roger was at the wheel, and Alex was sitting next to the surreal refrigerator. "I'm sorry. They saved my family. I had to help them." To Sam, she said, simply, "Good luck."
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Bobby Singer left his truck and manned the Impala. Sam wasn't about to leave it behind, he knew that. Sam rode with his brother in the ambulance, letting Blondie drive and staying in the back with a gun trained loosely in the direction of the girl.
A few minutes trailing after the ambulance and not knowing where they were headed, he got a call on his cellphone. "Sam?"
"Bobby, I got a plan."
"Son," Bobby said, wearily, "I don't know where you're taking this, but pointing a gun at somebody and asking them to do what you ask never did anyone any good for too long. We're undermanned, you know that, don't you?"
An exhausted sigh. "I know."
God, he sounds so young...
"What do you need me to do?" Bobby asked.
TO BE CONTINUED...