Previously appeared in Rooftop Confessions 1 (2007), from GriffinSong Press
K Hanna Korossy
Dean knew it wasn't going to be his day when the girl's eyes turned coal black.
"Whoa!" he blurted and fell back a step. So not what he'd been expecting when he'd started flirting with her. His gun was in his hand a second later.
The thing inside her pulled her mouth up into a rictal smile. "What are you going to do, Dean, shoot her?"
Not exactly his first plan. Actually, considering he'd only come here to talk to her about witnessing her friend kill himself, it wasn't even his seventh or eighth plan. If he'd known what he was getting into, he would have brought Sam along with him to share the fun instead of dividing up the witness interviews. And choosing the young single women had also spectacularly backfired.
Dean appeared to consider it. "No, actually, I was gonna do this," and he swung the gun at her.
She dodged the blow as he figured she would, but it gave him the distraction he needed to uncork the bottle in his pocket. Holy water; never leave home without it. He always had a bottle on him even though he and Sam had thought it was a shape-shifter or maybe an influential spirit responsible for the string of suicides and assaults the survivors had no memory of, not even twigging onto possession.
She caught him with a vicious backhand as she straightened, but he absorbed the blow and whipped back to fling the water on her.
She screamed, her face and dress smoking.
Dean spared a second for an icy smile. "Sorry, thought you looked like you could use a cold shower." Then he was on her.
Not all demons had telekinetic powers, which was a good thing. They did, however, all boast superhuman strength, which was not so great. As Dean rammed the still-cursing and steaming demon against the wall, she quickly recovered herself and threw him off just as hard. He hit the floor and bounced back up, swearing.
"Fine. I like chicks who play rough," he spat, and waded back in.
She gave as good as she got, throwing him twice more, catching him in the side once, splitting his lip. Dean fought back dirty, breaking her holds, blindsiding her…it…whatever. Pinning her briefly, he upended the rest of the water on her face and smiled when she screamed.
A few seconds later, he had her cuffed to her front door knob.
It wouldn't hold her for long and Dean knew it, but he was making this up as he went. Who would've thought Miss Small Town Girl would answer the door with a demon inside her? Even Sammy would've been taken off-guard with this one.
Dean knew exactly one exorcism by heart, the most all-purpose one in their arsenal, and he began to recite it in low, grim, Midwest-tinged Latin.
"I could help you, Dean Winchester," the possessed girl hissed, writhing in her restraint.
He ignored her, kept on with his chant.
"You think if you kill enough of us, you can save what's left of your family? It doesn't work that way, Dean."
He stuttered to a stop, stared darkly at her. Every demon he'd ever come across seemed to know his weak spots: Sam, Dad, and Mom. And wasn't that just so comforting?
"Let me go and I can tell you what really happened to your mother."
He stared at the porch's wooden slats a moment longer, then started reciting again.
She cursed, cried out. Her head and body whipped like a shaken doll.
A siren sounded in the distance.
Dean's mental stream of swearing kicked up a notch, and he rushed the exorcism a little more, as fast as he could go without stumbling over the words.
She threw herself his way, and the wood of the door groaned, the panel around the knob starting to splinter. She was groaning constantly now, trembling, black eyes full of hate.
So what else was new?
Dean finished the exorcism with a sharp bark of the last word, and barely lifted an eyebrow as the girl threw her head back and dark smoke rushed from her mouth. He followed it up with his eyes, mentally smirking his good-bye.
The girl fell to the porch, gasping, starting to cry.
Dean quickly knelt in front of her, wincing now at the damage he'd inflicted. Without the demon's control, the girl's eye was swelling, her face bleeding, her wrist already discoloring. And she was sobbing with piteous gasps, jerking away from Dean when he reached out to skim her jaw.
"You're okay, you're safe now," he soothed as he reached up to unlock the cuffs. The siren had cut off, maybe a false alarm, but there was no time. He couldn't leave her chained to her house, though.
He was just lowering her arm when he heard the terse command behind him.
"Put your hands up and move away from her."
Dean's eyes darted around the porch, looking for a way out. It only sounded like one cop and a young one at that, and even if he had his gun trained on Dean, these small-town yokels weren't exactly the shoot-first, ask-questions-later type. No matter how bad it looked, because Debbie Sunshine bleeding and crying in front of him was pretty bad.
"I suggest you do what he says," came a much older and harder voice.
Dean grimaced and raised his hands, scooting back a little on his knees. He had to be slipping if he hadn't even heard these yahoos arrive, but they must've been smarter than he gave them credit for, turning off the siren and sneaking up on him the last stretch.
Boots pounded up the sidewalk and vibrated the wood of the porch under Dean, a form slipping past him to the girl while a second wrenched the back of Dean's collar. The one with the girl talked softly to her, lifting her head, examining her bloody face. Then turned to glare at Dean with murderous eyes.
"Hey, don't look at me," Dean quickly protested. "I was just walking by and I saw this guy whaling on her. I was just trying to help. Ask her."
It was taking a chance, but possession victims usually had hazy memories at best and were fairly impressionable when first exorcised. If he planted the story early enough, she'd be describing her alleged attacker by nightfall.
In theory, anyway.
The cop said something to the girl that made her eyes dart up. They flicked over Dean…and she whimpered and pulled back from him, into the cop's arms.
Oh, this just got better and better.
Dean's hand was jerked by the wrist, twisted down so the cop kneeling by the girl could see the blood on his knuckles.
"Hey, that was from the guy who—"
"Shut up." He was pulled to his feet, his arms roughly yanked behind his back, and Dean sighed. Figured. Just figured. It looked like Sam would be walking back to their room.
The cuffs tight enough on his wrists to cut circulation, Dean was spun around to stare into a cold pair of grey eyes. "So," the older cop said calmly. "You get your kicks beating up on helpless girls, huh?"
A meaty fist swung toward his face.
Yeah, definitely not his day.
By the third time Sam reached the street corner, the newsstand man was giving him strange looks.
Sam smiled distractedly back at him and turned to retrace his steps. The block the library sat on wasn't big, pretty much just containing the small building and a half-dozen weeping cherry trees, and their motel was only a few blocks away. But Sam didn't dare leave in case Dean showed up. He had a moment of déjà vu to a nine-or-so-year-old Dean telling Sam solemnly he couldn't cross any streets without his big brother, leading Sam to one day circle the block a dozen times before realizing he was fenced in by asphalt.
The memory made his mouth twitch, then faded quickly under the soft brush of worry. The fact it was an hour past when they'd agreed Dean would pick up Sam, or that Sam was the one who usually got carried away with his research and not his brother, or that Dean hadn't answered his phone when Sam had finally tried it a half-hour before, all hadn't escaped him.
The truth was, they had a dangerous job. He'd only been back on the road with Dean about a month, and already so much he'd forgotten, so much he'd tried to forget, was rushing back. Like how even in small-town America—especially in small-town America—things no one else believed in lurked in the night. They weren't even sure what the culprit was yet in this job, although Sam was leaning toward a wraith, and with its victims seemingly chosen at random, it was possible Dean had run into it. Not that he couldn't take care of himself, but…this was why he'd said he wanted Sam back with him, the reason Sam had come.
Well, okay, not the main reason, but still.
Sam muttered in frustration about older brothers and did a one-eighty again at the corner, staring at the opposite one. The newsstand man gave him the gimlet eye, and Sam grimaced and pulled his phone out. This was why they agreed to meet at certain times, stayed in touch, always knew where the other one was. This was why he'd kill his brother if Dean had gotten…distracted with one of the witnesses. This was why Sam didn't usually let him take...er, handle…um, question the single women alone. Because the possibilities were so much more dire than a little brotherly revenge for forgetting to give him a ride.
Sam brought Dean up on speed dial and put the call through, swinging his gaze around as he counted rings, pulling on his lip. Straightening a little as the call connected.
"Who is this?" a hard male voice interrupted. Not Dean.
Sam lurched back, frowning. "Who's this?"
"I asked you first, son."
The name rankled now more than ever, hurt on top of old anger since John Winchester had vanished into thin air. They both winced through the jobs in the South now where they were "son" to everyone middle-aged and up. But on Dean's phone with no explanation, this stranger wasn't getting any polite resignation. Sam felt himself grew stony. "Where's Dean?"
"If you know the owner of this phone, son, I suggest you get down here. Talbert Sheriff's office. Your friend was caught dead-to-rights forcing himself on a young lady, and he's going to need all the help he can get."
Wait, what? Dean assaulting a girl? He might have loved the opposite sex more than anything except maybe Sam and his car, but Sam had also seen him almost kill a rapist once. The idea that Dean… "That's impossible," he spat.
"Got a handful of witnesses, including Annie herself. So why don't you just—"
"I want to talk to him."
"I'm afraid that's not—"
"Everyone gets one phone call." He just didn't know why Dean hadn't used his. "I want to talk to him now," Sam said flatly in the tone he'd learned from his father.
"Well, that's not gonna be possible at the moment. You see, your friend was resisting arrest…" The officer's voice trailed off suggestively. And, God help him, he almost sounded amused.
Sam's vision went red. A literal blood-hued tint over the quiet street, the trees, the sidewalk. And the internal image of cops coming across Dean and an injured girl, maybe the latest victim of their prey, maybe someone Dean was just trying to help, and blaming, arresting, hurting him. An enemy that should have been on their side, that they couldn't fight. And Dean helpless…
Sam flipped the phone shut before he could say something irrevocable, then turned and strode down the street to the newspaper vendor, already pulling out his wallet. The ten-dollar bill cleared up the man's suspicions unbelievably fast.
"What's the fastest way to, uh…" Sam looked up Ann Bellweather—Annie—in his notes. "Flower Street?"
He had to get to Dean, to get him out of there and make sure he was okay. But Sam would make a pit stop on the way.
He needed something from the Impala first.
The cell was pleasant, in a stark kind of way: clean, bright, with white-painted cinderblock walls and a cot with a decent mattress and a blanket on it. The penal version of small-town hospitality.
Dean didn't see any of it.
He was huddled against the wall on the floor beside the bed because, frankly, it would have been too much effort to climb up. Besides, a little padding probably wouldn't have been much help with the vicious ache that throbbed through his ribs, abdominal muscles, face, and limbs. Right now, all his energy was going into staying conscious because he didn't trust these redneck 5-0s not to go another round on him. Well, staying conscious and planning his escape, but that latter part wasn't going so well. Dizziness and blurred vision had a tendency to make even regular doors and windows seem insurmountable, let alone barred ones. With a wince, Dean rolled his head against the wall and wondered if Sam had missed him yet.
Turned out very quickly, yeah, he had.
It took him a minute to realize he was hearing his brother's voice because, for one, he wasn't used to backup, let alone this fast, and, two… Dude. Who'd died and turned Sam into Dirty Harry?
"—my partner in ten seconds, I'm going to have you up on so many federal charges, you're never going to see—"
Dean's mouth twitched at the words filtering in through the open doorway. "Give 'em hell, Sammy," he murmured approvingly, and started to straighten and push himself up because he was getting out of there. When Sam sounded like that, it was play along or get out of the way.
It had been a long time since Dean had heard that temper explode for his sake—Daddy, Dean's sick. He needs to stay home—and he'd been far more likely to be on the receiving end the last few years—I'm going to school, Dean, no matter what Dad thinks.
Was it really bad if he wasn't always sure he still meant that much to Sammy?
"—were on the case, and if you idiots had even bothered to—" Sam's rampage went on while Dean tried to stay focused and listen.
Huh, he didn't even know Sam knew that word.
His body wasn't going anywhere, however, despite his best efforts and growing embarrassment that Sam was coming to his rescue while Dean couldn't even stand up. So when Sam stomped in behind the deputy, a tower of fury in his fed suit and barely combed hair, all Dean managed to do was tip his head back against the cinderblock wall and offer him a hazy, sheepish smile.
It served its purpose. The angry flame in Sam's eyes was quenched almost instantly, replaced by relief and empathy and even the barest hint of a returned smile. The worry was pretty much a constant and would be until Dean didn't look like roadkill, but that was kind of a given.
"Hey," Sam said, as gentle as he'd been forceful before. Then he cleared his throat as the deputy stepped forward to get the door. "I'll have you out in a minute, partner."
Which meant Sam would take it from here, and Dean didn't have to keep track of whatever ID his little brother had pulled out for him. FBI, by the looks of the suit.
He would have been impressed if he hadn't been so busy feeling relief at the momentary ease of responsibility, a burden increased tenfold since he'd carried Sam out of a second burning house.
"Sparky," he rasped, trying for a normal tone and only making it about halfway. That line between Sam's eyes deepened fractionally, his eyes going a shade closer to the dark end of brown, otherwise his brother could have just been any agent concerned about his partner. "Took you long enough."
They didn't need code for everything. The corner of Sam's mouth twitched. Then he turned and growled at the deputy to hurry, tone lethal again.
Dean felt vaguely proud of that, but his head hurt too much and a vicious spasm had started up in his left thigh, and the holding on to consciousness bit moved back to top priority.
Then there was a rush of air, and the warmth and the sky-scraping shadow and the faint scent of his brother not even that fruity shampoo he used now could camouflage. Eyes shut, Dean grinned.
"Idiot," chuffed the fond voice only for his ears, then, more loudly, "You all right?"
Dean swallowed nausea and pain, nodded. "Yeah. Help me up."
Both of them aware of the deputy's watching eyes, Sam stepped back and offered a hand, lending in that one grasp the strength Dean needed to push up to his feet. Then Sam slid over, probably right in the path of the officer's stare, and slipped his hand back to Dean's elbow. "Take it slow, all right?" And again, the faint murmur of private conversation, "I won't let you fall."
Good to know. Dean hadn't had a safety net in a long time. Even before his dad had taken off, with all John's tests and lessons, Dean had never really been safe.
Maybe he'd lost most of his big brother dignity now, between the wendigo in Colorado and Sam breaking him out of this Mayberry jail. But Sam let him keep his pride in face of the Talbert Sheriff Department, letting Dean limp out of there on his own steam with only an invisible pair of fingers curled through his belt loop and a possessive hand flat on his back to keep him going.
He heard Sam's low growl distantly, something about special agent and report and disgrace and another couple of impressively naughty words, sounding cultured and restrained mixed in with Sam's ten-dollar jargon. But Dean wasn't really paying attention, focused on moving his feet and not jarring his aching body any more than was necessary. God knew he wasn't going to give these Barney Fife-wannabes the pleasure of seeing he was hurting.
Only when the door shut firmly behind them did Sam scamper around to stand in front of Dean, both his hands latched onto Dean's arms.
"Screwed the pooch this time, Sam," he whispered unsteadily.
"Looks more like it screwed you. Do you need a hospital?"
The extra support was good, because pain was stabbing through his thigh, threatening to buckle it any moment, and the ground was swaying under Dean's feet. He tried to blink Sam clear, his head clear so he could think. "No. Just…bruises."
"There's nothing 'just' about this, Dean—they worked you over pretty good."
"Just bruises," he insisted, pawing once at Sam's jacket. "Get me home."
And then his knees finally caved, and Sam was suddenly wrapped around him, and Dean really hoped the deputies weren't watching from the window because this was embarrassing…and felt good. "I gotcha," Sam was soothing like he was the older brother. "I gotcha, tough guy. Man, Dean, I can't leave you anywhere, can I?"
"No," he mumbled, suddenly none of this amusing or comforting, who was watching now completely irrelevant. Sam's shirt was a handful of starched cotton in his grip. "No. Can't…"
A hand cradling the base of his wobbly head was the last thing he knew before he went completely under.
It was surprisingly easy to threaten a whole sheriff's department.
Once Sam got over the nail-on-chalkboard wrongness of yelling at men in uniform—became Dean, in other words—he found himself almost enjoying it. And no, that had nothing to do with his bruised and bandaged brother sleeping out in the car. Of course not.
Sam slapped the paperwork down on the polished wood counter, relishing the flinch of the deputy on the other side. The man's knuckles were unbroken, his shoes not matching the deep purple bootprint on Dean's left thigh and upper back, which was the only reason Sam was practicing the restraint that he was. He smiled coldly.
"We tied up your case for you—you'll find documentation in there about the virus that made your suspects aggressive and not responsible for their actions, and my partner's report on his interaction with Ann Bellweather, which you'd have heard from him if you'd taken the time to ask instead of beating him half to death."
Dean had come to by the time Sam had hauled him back to the room, enough to haltingly relate what had happened, then to pale and sweat through Sam's examination. Nothing broken, nothing bleeding inside, just a nice working over. Sam had seethed, ready to go back and raise hell, until Dean had murmured a half-asleep, "Stay here."
They hadn't been apart so long that he couldn't put that together with Dean's reaction outside the police department. It didn't help that Sam had already been wondering what Dean would have done if he'd been alone on the job. Chastened, Sam hadn't left the room after that, even having their meals delivered.
Was it really bad to be surprised by the thought that Dean had really missed and even needed him while he'd been at school?
The sheriff and another deputy lurked beyond, in the room with the cells where they'd held Dean. Sam knew it and was just as glad the men were staying out of his sight. He was only doing this for Dean, because his brother had insisted the victims hadn't done anything wrong and deserved the exoneration. Otherwise, Sam would have been just as happy to find the men with Dean's blood on their hands and practice a little southern hospitality of his own.
This part, though, Sam's feral smile grew as he smacked another sheaf of papers down. This was all his idea.
"And here's the bill for my partner's recovery, including clinic expenses—" No need to mention he'd been the one to treat his brother back at their room and that the clinic had merely been a convenient stop to restock their first aid kit. "—motel room fees, and food bills." The one steakhouse in town knew them by name now. Well, one of their names.
The deputy swallowed, his eyes huge.
Once committed, the only way to play this had been wholeheartedly: beat the small-town department down so far, it wouldn't even occur to them to check into Sam and Dean's shallow cover stories. Sam leaned forward into the smaller man's space, the designated scapegoat cringing back from him.
"One more thing. If we hear you've so much as breathed one word about this, this department is going to be slapped with a lawsuit so big, your grandchildren will be paying it off. And I mean talking to anyone—your girlfriend in bed, your psychiatrist, your pet dog. Am I clear?"
A sharp, frantic nod.
"We should call in an anonymous report, anyway," he argued over pancakes. "Even if it doesn't go anywhere without our testimony, it'll still make them sweat for a while."
"Dude, what happened to 'they're just doing their job'?" Dean's eyebrow rose with a tired smirk.
"Working over a suspect is not their job, Dean, no matter who it is!"
"So if they'd gone all Rodney King on somebody else, we wouldn't be having this conversation?"
He stared Dean in the eye. "Right, because you don't know anything about being biased."
"Hey," Dean shrugged, "I never claimed not to be."
And he hadn't. He'd been the one to tell Sam he could always call if he needed anything, that their dad hadn't spoken for him, that he'd always be there for Sam.
He'd been the one who'd looked surprised when Sam returned the favor.
Sam nodded at the deputy. "Good." He cocked his head, spoke up a little louder for their hidden audience. "That goes for your whole department, too."
"Special Agent," Sam said pointedly, drove it home with one last glower, then turned heel sharply and walked out.
And felt that persona slide away like water at the sight of the dark-blond head pressed against the passenger-side window. It'd already been nearly three days since Dean had collapsed on him outside those same doors, but all his brother had wanted to do since then was sleep, with an occasional bathroom and food break. Not that Sam could blame him, after having checked out all the bruises and cuts that decorated the elder Winchester's body. He would have preferred staying around another day or two for Dean to heal up more, but they were pushing it in that town already. Dean had barely roused as Sam had packed him in the car along with their meager luggage—Dude, the only way I'm gonna get horizontal in the back seat of my own car is if it's with a hot girl, and you're zero for two on that one—and would probably sleep through the next three states.
Still, he stirred even as Sam gingerly slid into the car and eased the door shut. "Sammy?" he murmured, eyes shut.
Once upon a time, he would have known automatically. And he would once again, Sam was sure of that. For now, though, he didn't mind Dean checking on him. "Go back to sleep, Dean."
His brother's mouth tugged up. "Put the fear of God in 'em?"
"Nope, the fear of Winchester."
Dean chuckled something that sounded like "lawboy," winced, and settled into the seat with a sigh. Sam debated pulling his slipping jacket back up to his brother's neck or digging him out a pillow to wedge between his head and the window, but the moment he reached out, Dean growled a low, "Don't you dare."
Sam snapped his hand back, made a face at his older brother. "Go to sleep, man. You're cranky when you're healing."
"Hmm…pie…" Dean's breathing lengthened as he slumped completely against the door, asleep again.
Sam grinned and turned the engine over. Their next stop would be any place on the other side of the state line. And one that served pie.