Bound for Life
Disclaimer: The show belongs to Kripke and the CW. The love belongs to us.
Beta'd: By the irreplaceable Wysawyg. I don't own her either.
I did some serious tinkering after she beta'd so as usual any and all mistakes are mine!
Dedicated: To SpnMom, who graciously and generously bid on me at the fund-raising auction organized by K Hanna Korossy to benefit a fellow Supernatural fan and author.
I hope this is close to what you were looking for! Fingers crossed, because it took a hard right turn into odd first thing. :D
…………………………………………………….Ring Around the Rosy…………………………………………………
"We're lost." Dean slowed the Impala to a crawl, gravel crunching beneath the tires as he leaned way over attempting to read the map over Sam's shoulder. Sun glinted off the hood, the warm spring day smelled of honeysuckle and wild strawberries. Humidity hung on like a second skin, causing Dean's shirt to melt to his chest.
"We're not lost, Dean," Sam insisted. He glanced at Dean before returning his scrutiny to the map. "Don't you think you should watch the road and leave the navigation to me?"
Dean straightened in the seat. "Yeah, well I thought that too, but that was before you got us lost," Dean said, a smirk curling his lips.
"We're not lost." Sam sighed. He ran a hand through his hair pushing unruly, longer locks of hair off his forehead. "Tammy said to turn onto Sugar Pine Road. I can't find it on the map and there hasn't been a sign for it."
"Tammy, now she was hot in a good way." Dean smirked and cast a pointed look in Sam's direction. The tall, blonde waitress at the diner had definitely been worth the stop. "Unlike little brothers who are stinking up my car."
Sam tugged on his t-shirt and sniffed. "Hate to break it to you, Dean, but you don't smell so great yourself."
Dean opened his mouth to retort when a small, homemade wooden sign caught his attention. He slowed the crawling car to a stop and squinted. "What do you know, Sammy," Dean said. "I figured out where we are."
Sam looked up from the map and shot Dean a questioning look. "What? Where?"
"Sugar Pine Road," Dean said, slapping Sam on the chest and pointing in the direction of the sign. "Looks like it's a good thing I took over navigation."
Sam rolled his eyes and huffed. "Whatever, Dean."
Dean chuckled and turned the Impala sharply onto the rutted, tire track road. The grassy median strip waved a greeting as they drove through the increasingly remote country-side. Tall shade trees with ambling branches stretched over the road. The sound of bullfrogs croaking in the marshy grasses filled the air, audible over the Impala's throaty V-8.
"You hear that, Sam?" Dean asked, calling his brother back from whatever field trip his mind had taken.
Sam creased his brow in concentration. "Yeah," Sam said. "You know the southern saying, 'If rain is coming, the bullfrogs sing.'"
Dean raised an eyebrow and scrunched his face. "I don't even want to know how you know that." He shook his head. "I meant you can practically hear the banjoes playing."
"It can't be any worse than Hibbing." Sam shivered in the warm air. "God, it stunk in that barn."
"Didn't smell any better in the house, trust me." Water splashed up the side of the car when Dean hit a deep puddle. "This hunt was your idea, Sam, and now my baby is paying the price."
"We're here," Sam said, ignoring Dean's outburst. "To the left."
The rutted road gave way to the house drive which was barely more than down-trodden grass. A shabby two story house with peeling white paint leaned noticeably eastward towards the rising sun. "Remind me again, why this is a good idea?" Dean asked.
"I never said it was a good idea exactly," Sam said. He folded the map, tucking it above the visor. He stuck the rumpled paper with driving instructions in his jeans pocket. "I said the locals have several ghost sightings and stories for this area. There's the 'crying child,' the 'woman of the marshes' and the 'old hag.' Tammy said Miss Violet has lived in this house her entire life. If anyone has seen something strange around here, Violet is our most likely candidate."
"And you think they're responsible for the people who have been attacked?" Dean parked the car and killed the engine, turning to face his little brother. "The reported injuries don't exactly sound like a typical woman in white or old hag."
"I think it's as good a place to start as any," Sam replied. "A lot of these old sharecrop farms have family plots. If someone's disturbed one of them somehow…"
"It would account for the recent activity," Dean agreed with a head nod. He looked over at the house and back to Sam. "Man, you just know it's gonna smell like old lady and cat piss in there."
"Let's go," Sam said. He climbed out of the car and headed down the stone path to the house.
Dean pocketed his keys and followed after his brother. "Sam, hold up." Sam paused and Dean closed the distance in a couple of running steps. "How long are we going to be here?"
"What's it matter?" Sam asked. "It's not like we have anything going on tonight." Dean tilted his head and quirked an eyebrow. "You do have plans?"
"I told you, Sammy," Dean said, walking past Sam and continuing to the door. "Tammy's hot in all the right ways."
Sam shook his head. "You're unbelievable."
"Thanks," Dean replied. The screen door hung crooked, one set of hinges broken off. He knocked on the door.
"That's not what I…" the rest of Sam's retort was cut off when the heavy, wooden door creaked open.
An ancient woman with a walnut face and wild, white hair stood in the doorway. She wore a nondescript blue dress and there were no shoes on her puffy feet. "What can we do for you boys?" she asked in a crackling voice.
"Miss Violet?" Sam asked, "We're students at ASU and we're doing a paper on the history of the area. I was hoping we could talk to you?"
"Come in, come in," Violet said, swinging the door wider in invitation. She turned and walked down the dim hallway. "It's not often we get visitors."
Dean stepped into the house and the smell overpowered his senses immediately. He wrinkled his nose in disgust and turned to Sam. 'I told you,' he mouthed to his little brother.
Sam rolled his eyes and entered the house. "So, uh, Miss Violet, how long have you lived in the area?"
"Was born in this house, will die in this house," Violet replied. She gestured for the boys to take a seat. She slowly backed into a wooden rocker, her ample frame filling the chair.
The stale air in the house was oppressive and sultry. It blanketed their skin, hanging heavy around them. Dean took a seat across from Violet and fidgeted in his chair. He hated these meet and greet sessions. He glanced about the room at the old-fashioned winding clocks, the worn wooden floor, old family photographs and oil lamps. It was the home that time forgot.
The squeaking of the rocking chair interrupted Dean's inspection and he turned his full attention back to his brother. "Local legend tells of at least three different spirit hauntings in the area and I was wondering if you've ever seen anything unusual out in the marshes?" Sam asked.
"Ain't never seen a ghost," Violet replied. "But this is the South, honey. Of course, there's spirits haunting these hills and grasslands."
Sam nodded, his eyes taking on the near brown quality of empathy. Dean wondered if Sam had any clue how well that worked or that it even happened. "You've never seen anything unusual? Something you couldn't explain?"
"Well, now that is a different question altogether," Violet replied. She rocked in the chair, keeping perfect time with her southern lilt. A bright orange, fat cat jumped into her lap and settled in. She stroked the cat as she talked. It blinked lazily at Dean. "Never quite have figured out how babies grow inside a woman's body. How does that happen? That's just wrong."
Dean spluttered and coughed to cover it. He ignored the scrunched look of exasperation on Sam's face. He wondered how Sam was going to answer that question. Violet gave Dean a sympathetic look. "Have some sweet tea, honey," Violet offered pointing to the pitcher and glasses on the coffee table. "Henry won't mind sharing and it'll help that cough. Take a cookie too."
"Thank you, Miss Violet," Dean said, leaning forward to pour a glass of tea. Dean grabbed three cookies and shoved one into his mouth and delighted in the sweet and buttery flavor. He caught her eye and nodded. "It's good."
"Our mama's recipe," Violet replied with a smile.
Sam cleared his throat. "I meant something more unusual. You know, like strange sounds in the house, lights you can't explain, cold spots?" Sam explained.
Violet tilted her head in concentration. She stopped petting the cat and stared thoughtfully into space. "Most everything's a little odd."
"Lady, you don't know the half of it," Dean muttered under his breath. Sam kicked him, the tip of his boot catching Dean in the ankle. He glared at Sam.
"Thank you for your time, Miss Violet," Sam said. He scooted forward in his chair to stand.
Violet's cloudy, blue-gray eyes shot over to Sam. She reached out with quickness that Dean would not have expected and grasped Sam's hands. The wide-eyed look of surprise on Sam's face faded to a blank expression. Dean stood, grabbed Sam by the elbow and hauled him to his feet breaking the connection with Violet. Sam gasped as Dean walked him a few steps past Violet, towards the door.
"Sam, you okay?" Dean asked, watching Sam's face for some sign as to what had just taken place.
"I'm fine," Sam said, not meeting Dean's gaze. "Just need some air." He walked down the hall, fingers tapping the wall every few feet as if to keep his balance.
Dean turned from watching Sam's exit back to the old woman in the living room. "I'm not sure what just went on here, but we have to go," Dean snapped, shooting a glare in Violet's direction.
Violet did not get up from the rocking chair nor did she acknowledge Dean's statement. She sat rocking, the old chair creaking against the wooden floor. Dean waved a hand of dismissal in her direction and turned on his heel to follow Sam out the door.
Sam was on the far side of the Impala, resting on the hood. He had his back to Dean, but Dean could see the tension across his shoulders. He turned his head to the side in acknowledgement as Dean approached. "Sam, what the hell happened in there?"
"Nothing." Sam turned and opened the passenger door. He glanced over at Dean, a blush of embarrassment visible on his face. He fidgeted under Dean's scrutiny until he slid onto the seat.
Dean joined Sam in the car, but didn't start the engine. They sat without talking, the silence stretching. Dean placed a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Sam, what happened?"
Sam looked at Dean briefly before returning his gaze to his hands. It hadn't been long, but it had been enough. The look in Sam's eyes, the slightly furrowed brow, and the half-wince when he turned his head all meant one thing. Sam was afraid of what Dean would think. "Her hands were cold."
Dean wasn't sure whether to laugh with relief or slug his brother for causing him to worry. He did neither. "Her hands were cold?"
"Yeah, Dean, I know how it sounds." Sam turned to look at Dean. "They were unnaturally cold." Sam's eyes flicked away briefly.
Dean narrowed his eyes. "And?"
Sam huffed. "It doesn't matter because it doesn't make any sense."
The rain that had held back all afternoon started falling, the first splashes of large drops hitting the windshield. Dean moved his hand from Sam's shoulder to his arm in a half-grounding, half-comforting gesture. "Come on, Sammy, this is me."
Sam swallowed hard. "It almost felt like she wasn't in there."
The rain came down in earnest, punching the roof of the Impala with hard knocks. Dean rolled up his window and motioned for Sam to do the same. He didn't need Sam to explain what he meant, Sam's newly discovered psychic abilities had blipped when Violet had grabbed his hand. The real question was not how Sam knew, but what it meant. The problem being, he couldn't think of a response that wouldn't sound like he was dismissing his brother's statement. "Think we should go back inside?"
Sam shook his head, leaning back against the seat. "Not yet."
"You sure?" Dean didn't want to go back in, not until he had a better idea what he was up against, but he would for his little brother.
"I'm sure, let's just go."
"Sister, we can't let them leave." Violet pulled back the curtain and looked through the rain streaked window to the car parked outside. The men were still here. "He's the one." Violet pushed open the window to let in a fresh breeze, then dropped the curtain and walked over to her sister.
Daisy sat rocking in the chair, not saying a word.
Violet took a seat in front of her, placing a hand on Daisy's knee. "We ain't neither one of us happy about this, but we can't wait," Violet said.
Daisy frowned. She rocked faster, harder, the squeaking chair gaining volume.
Violet sighed. "We both wanted a lady, but we need help now."
A tear rolled down Daisy's cheek and she clumsily swatted Violet's hand off her knee.
Violet stood and pulled Daisy into one-armed hug, resting her head on Daisy's shoulder. "We've been upset ever since mama died, but we need to focus, sister. We need help before we are too weak to help ourselves," she whispered.
She felt Daisy nod against her cheek.
Violet embraced her sister tighter. "Let's fetch those boys back here."
The first time Sam's breathing hitched Dean knew something was wrong. Dean turned off the car. They hadn't even made it out of the driveway. "Sam?" He twisted in the seat to get a good look at his little brother. Sam's face was pale, eyes reflecting pain. One hand clutched at his side while the other shot out blindly searching for Dean. He grasped Dean's arm. "Sam, what's the matter?"
Sam didn't answer, but his ragged breathing did nothing to reassure Dean. He placed a hand on Sam's shoulder, fingers close enough to brush Sam's neck and surreptitiously check his pulse. Sam's heartbeat raced under Dean's thumb. Fingers tightened around Dean's arm and a small groan escaped Sam's lips. "Sammy, talk to me," Dean urged.
"My side," Sam said between gasping breaths. He squeezed his eyes shut tight.
"Your side?" Dean repeated. He had thought maybe Sam was having a vision. A new, undefined pain ratcheted up Dean's concern. The confined space inside the Impala made it difficult to take a closer look at Sam's side. He pulled Sam closer, tilting him until Sam's head rested on his chest.
"Agh!" Sam's body arced, his head pressing hard into Dean's chest.
"Sam! Sammy, what's wrong with your side?" Dean could hear the note of panic in his voice; he could only hope Sam did not.
"I, I'm not sure." Sam pulled his shirt up revealing an angry, gaping wound. He dug long fingers into his side, pulling, stretching the torn skin further. Blood ran down his hand leaving streaks of red on Sam's arm.
"Sam, stop it!" Dean commanded, grabbing Sam's wrists and pulling his hands away from the wound. Sam struggled against Dean's restraining grip as his body stiffened again.
"Please," Sam begged. The plaintive tone cut deeply into Dean. There was almost nothing he hated more than watching Sam suffer and being unable to do anything to fix it.
"Sam, you're hurting yourself, try to breathe through it," Dean stated with a calmness he didn't feel.
"Dean, help me. It's trying to get inside," Sam panted. Beads of sweat broke out across his forehead creating a glossy sheen on his deathly pale face.
Salt. He needed salt or holy water, something, anything to protect Sam against whatever was attacking him. "Sam, I have to get the salt out of the trunk." Dean moved to slide out from under Sam, but stopped, unsure. He'd have to release Sam, obviously, to get out of the car, leaving Sam free to dig into his side again. He scooted inches closer to the door, his little brother following his movement.
"No, don't go." Sam's muscles quivered with the effort of holding back another scream.
The faint underlying fear in Sam's voice made his next words that much more difficult to say. "I have to. I'll be right back."
He turned to open the car door and saw Violet standing a short distance from the Impala. The rain streamed off her hair and dress, adding to the pool of water at her bare feet. The vacant expression on her face did nothing to ease Dean's apprehension. With a small breath of exhaled air, Sam's taut muscles wilted, collapsing across the seat into Dean's lap. "Sam?"
Dean placed two fingers on his brother's neck, breathing a sigh of relief at the slowing cadence. Sam seemed to be breathing easier, his chest rising and falling in full, deep movements. "Sam?" Sam did not respond, his quiet breaths sounding louder in the now silent Impala.
A knock on the window caused Dean to jump, hitting his knee on the steering wheel. Violet was standing only inches from the car, she was talking, but Dean couldn't hear her over the pounding rain. He cracked the window, leaning close to the opening without taking his hand off Sam's shoulder. "What?"
"The Davis bridge will be washed out," Violet said. "Always is when it rains."
"We'll take our chances," Dean snapped. He didn't trust Violet with his brother. He started to roll up the window, but Violet stuck her hand through the open glass, hanging onto the window.
"It's always washed out and there ain't no place else to go," Violet insisted. "Come inside until the rain lets up."
"Go in the house," Dean ordered. "We're leaving." To his surprise, Violet released her hold on the window and took a step backwards.
Dean wasted no time starting the Impala and backing out of the drive. Having Sam's long body stretched across the seat made for an awkward driving position, but Dean managed it. As he pulled away from the house, he could see Violet through the rearview mirror standing in the rain, her dress plastered against her body. She didn't seem to be in any hurry to go back inside and get out of weather, but Dean wasn't about to waste any time worrying about her after what had happened to Sam.
They weren't more than a few clicks down the road before Sam stirred. He moaned low and made waking rustling movements. "Dean?"
"Here." Dean took one hand off the steering wheel to squeeze Sam's shoulder. "How are you feeling?"
Sam pushed off Dean's lap and groaned, collapsing back to his starting position. "It's gone."
"Yeah, well, you're bleeding, Sam. Lie still." Dean pushed gently on Sam, forcing him to lie down again. Sam lay at an odd angle, legs bent and curled on the floorboards, one arm draped across his side. He realized, belatedly, that Sam hadn't really answered his question.
The windshield wipers beat a percussive accompaniment to the melodic patter of falling rain. Visibility was poor at best and Dean bit back a curse. "What happened?" Sam asked. He probed the wound on his side with careful deliberateness.
"I was kind of hoping you could tell me." The rear tires of the Impala hit slick mud causing it to fishtail wildly. Dean turned the steering wheel in the opposite direction of the skid willing the tires to grab hold. "Come on baby," he urged. The rocking car jostled its occupants. Sam groaned behind tightly pressed lips. "Sorry," Dean apologized after the car's motion stabilized.
Sam nodded and Dean waited while Sam regained his composure. "I think it was the same thing that attacked the others," Sam said.
"Why?" Dean tightened his grip on the steering wheel. The fact was, he and Sam frequently found themselves standing between evil and strangers, but he couldn't help but feel there was more to it than that.
"Same type of experience," Sam explained. "The wound in the side, the feeling that something was trying to get inside." Sam paused taking a deep, if somewhat shaky, breath. "The fear of dying."
"You're not going to die, Sam," Dean said tightly. He couldn't spare a hand to comfort his brother so he settled for bouncing the leg Sam's head rested on instead.
"I didn't think I was going to die," Sam said. Something about Sam's statement didn't quite ring true, but Dean let it slide. "Whatever is doing this…" Sam groaned again when the car bounced roughly out of a pothole. "It's afraid, very afraid, that it's going to die."
"It should be," Dean growled.
Sam pushed himself to a sitting position and braced himself by pressing one hand against the dashboard. "It's really coming down," Sam said ignoring Dean's previous statement.
Dean quirked an eyebrow. "Ya think?" He spared a glance at Sam. "Just keep pressure on it, Sam, and quit poking it. It's not going to stop bleeding if you don't leave it alone."
It was Sam's turn to raise his eyebrows in incredulousness. It didn't stop the automatic little brother defense mechanisms from kicking in. "I'm not poking it. I'm just trying to get a better look."
Dean rolled his eyes at Sam and turned his attention back to the road. He hadn't looked away long, but it was long enough. Dean eased his foot on the brake and the car slid sideways, the momentum pushing them forward. He pressed the pedal to the floor and the Impala continued to swing crazily from side to side.
"I got it." Except, he didn't. Although the car slowed, the front tires slid off the embankment, the useless, washed out bridge mocking them. Dean had both feet on the brake pedal now, not that it would stop the car. The heavy engine alone would pull them down. "Sam, hang on!" he shouted, before the front bumper hit the wooden support beam of the bridge and his head hit the steering wheel.
Violet waited patiently for Henry to arrive. They'd always been able to count on the elderly general maintenance man and farm hand. He'd been on the farm longer than Violet and Daisy, he knew all their secrets. Daisy had loved Henry from the moment she'd laid eyes on him. Violet loved Henry because he was kind to both of them.
The screen door squeaked opened and closed followed by clomping footsteps coming down the hall. Moments later, Henry appeared. He crossed the room, taking a seat in front of Violet. "You okay?" he asked kindly.
"No, Henry, we need your help," Violet replied, ceasing in her rocking. "It's raining hard. Hate to see those boys get themselves in a peck of trouble out there."
"You want me to take the truck and fetch them back here?" Henry asked. He pushed the green and dingy white feed-seed hat farther up his forehead. "That bridge is nearly always washed out in the rain. I could probably catch those boys in time."
"Told them that much," Violet said, rocking in her chair. "Henry, can't thank you enough for taking care of us after Mama and Daddy passed on. Ain't had much to repay your kindness, but it's appreciated." She smiled, letting Henry know she was pleased with his willingness to help.
"I know that, Miss Violet," Henry said sitting down, his knees cracking in protest. "I don't need much though. I enjoy helping you." He picked up a glass of sweet tea and took a gulp, a smile lighting his face. "We're practically family."
"True, true," Violet replied. Water dripped down her dress and pooled around her feet, blue from the cold. "Wonder if you might do us a small favor this evening."
"Sure thing," Henry replied. He nodded in the direction of Violet's bedroom. "But you need to change those clothes first, you're soaked through."
"Will soon enough," Violet assured him. "Can change while you're out and about."
"Well, spit it out, Miss Violet." Henry fidgeted on the hardback chair, his sore hip obviously troubling him.
"We want you to fetch only one of those boys for us." Violet stopped rocking and fixed a milky blue eye on Henry. "The tall one with the hair."
"What about the other?" Henry asked, frowning in puzzlement. "I've known many brothers in my lifetime and I can tell you this much. Those two are brothers, no matter what they might have said. Ain't no way I'm getting one to come without the other. 'Sides how am I supposed to overpower two men less than half my age, anyhow?"
"Henry, the older boy will just get in our way. You'll think of something, always do." Violet took one of Henry's gnarled hands in hers. "Please, Henry, for Daisy."
"Now, that's just not playing fair," Henry admonished. He stood and helped Violet to her feet. "I tell you what, Miss Violet. I don't know why you only want the younger boy here, but if you get changed into dry clothes, I'll figure something out."
"That's our Henry," Violet said, patting him lightly on the cheek. "Knew we could count on you."
"Always." Henry guided Violet by the elbow to her bedroom, closing the door gently behind her.
Violet shed her wet dress as she walked to the wardrobe. "Knew we could count on you, Henry," she repeated with a whisper and a smile.
Through a fuzzy haze of white, Dean saw Sam slumped over on the passenger side, his head against the door. He tried to call out to his Sam, but the words wouldn't make it past his lips. "Mssmam." It sounded more like a mumbled protest than his little brother's name. Sam responded by raising his head.
"Dean?" Sam's voice was barely over a whisper. "You okay?"
"Ssmmm." Closer, but it still didn't sound like anything intelligible. He turned his head and rested it against the steering wheel.
"Dean?" Sam's voice rose. "Come on, Dean, look at me."
Had he closed his eyes? Sam's fingers were cold on his neck. He opened his eyes directly into his brother's concerned hazel. Sam held up his fingers. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Three," Dean answered correctly. He held up his hand, pretending to examine his waggling fingers. "Why do they call them fingers? I've never seen them fing."
"Simpsons?" Sam furrowed his brow. "Now?"
"Hell yeah," Dean said, his lips curling into a grin. "Any time's a good time. That's quality entertainment right there."
Sam chuckled and groaned, clutching his side. He tilted his head, listening, then looked around, searching. "Did you hear a car?"
"No." Dean peered into the inky blur around him, but he couldn't make much of anything out past the Impala's interior. "Wait here."
"Like hell, Dean," Sam protested. "You were unconscious for a minute."
"How would you know? I was awake before you," Dean said, ignoring the obvious implication. "I'm going to get the kit and stitch up your side."
"You think it needs stitches?" Sam asked, his hazel eyes taking on the appearance of a kicked dog.
"Probably," Dean said. "At least after you got done pulling on it."
Sam's eyes held a glint of embarrassed apology before flicking away. "It felt like something was trying to burrow into my side. I swear, Dean, I could feel it."
"I believe you." Sam's head whipped back in his direction, the look of surprise falling off almost in time to hide it from Dean. "Sam, something attacked you. The question is what and why."
"I didn't tell you everything," Sam confessed quietly.
"I know," Dean said. Sam's head shot up, his eyes wide. "Sam, I don't always know what you're keeping from me, but I always know when you are." It was a lie, he didn't always know, but Sam didn't need to know that.
"It's afraid." Sam repeated from earlier, his voice barely over a whisper. "The feeling was intense." Sam averted his gaze and peered out the rain streaked window. The next words were low, but Sam's voice was steady. "Intense enough I couldn't tell it wasn't my own fear right away. It felt like it was bonding with me somehow."
Sam's eyes flicked back to Dean and Dean understood. Sam wasn't afraid of whatever had attacked him, he was afraid of what it represented. That his shining had attracted some unknown supernatural entity and that it said something about Sam. "Bonding with you?" Dean couldn't stop the smallest of smirks despite the seriousness of the situation. "That sounds vaguely dirty."
Sam huffed and some of the anxiety fell from his face as Dean had hoped would happen. "How are we going to get out of here?"
"Ever hear of a tow truck, Sammy?" Dean smiled and pulled out his cell phone. "Hopefully, there's more than one way over the creek." Sam nodded and shifted in the seat, his face scrunching momentarily in pain. Dean pressed two fingers to the bridge of nose and pushed back a threatening headache. He pulled out his cell phone and bit back an expletive. No signal, of course not.
Dean's stomach rumbled and churned. Great, nausea to go with the knock to the head, always a fun combination.
"Hey, Dean, are you feeling okay?" Sam's voice sounded at full strength, but the rough edges reminded Dean that the first thing he needed to do was patch up his little brother.
"I'm good." Dean pushed the queasiness down and fumbled with the door handle. "I'm going after the kit."
"Okay." Sam's sweat-dampened hair was plastered to his forehead. He ran a hand through his increasingly longer bangs and it poked out in several different directions.
Dean exited the car and slowly walked back to the trunk. He ducked under the cover of the trunk lid and pulled out the first aid kit, a bottle of holy water and the rock salt. This time he wouldn't be caught unprepared. Slamming the lid closed, Dean walked around the car and knocked on the passenger window, motioning for Sam to scoot over. By the time he slipped back into the car, he was soaked through.
"You're wet." Sam said. Dean paused at the obvious statement and took a closer look at Sam. The crinkles around Sam's eyes spoke of pain, but the hazels were clear and aware. Sam had possibly taken his own knock to the head, but he was teasing not confused.
"You're a riot," Dean countered. He twisted in the seat, motioning for Sam to pull up his shirt.
Sam frowned, but he leaned against the door, wrapping his arm around the steering wheel. He pulled the cotton fabric high. Sam craned his neck, examining the hole in his side. "It looks almost like a bite," he commented giving it a poke.
"Geez, Sam," Dean said. "Leave it alone."
"Like you would?" Amusement glinted in the hazel orbs before Dean batted Sam's hand away from the wound.
The foggy, rain-streaked windows and gray sky made it too dark to see well. Dean pulled out a flashlight, shining it on the injury. He could see what Sam had meant about it looking like a bite. The flesh was jagged and torn rather than a clean cut or smooth like a bullet hole. Blood oozed slowly, but the wound didn't appear too deep. "You know I need to use the holy water on this."
"Yeah, I know," Sam replied. He wiped a sweaty hand off on his raised shirt and re-established his grip on the steering wheel. "I'm ready."
Dean nodded and unscrewed the flask of holy water. He poured water over the wound, watching until the bubbling stopped and the water ran clear. He tried to ignore the small groan from his brother and the tense, shaking muscles, but ignoring Sam simply wasn't the way Dean was hard-wired. "Almost done," he assured.
Sam nodded, but didn't say a word. His grip on the wheel relaxed when Dean put the water flask away. "How's it look?"
"Like something tried to eat you for lunch," Dean said. The humor had the desired effect and Sam visibly relaxed as a small huff escaped past his lips. Dean threaded a needle and then made eye contact with Sam. "You need a minute?"
"No." Sam breathed deeply several times and closed his eyes. Eight neat stitches later, Dean dressed the wound and pulled Sam's shirt down.
"You hurt anywhere else?" Dean asked, his own headache throbbing now that he no longer had Sam's injury to occupy his mind.
"A bump on my head, same as you," Sam confessed, straightening in the seat, squishing Dean against the passenger door. "Otherwise, no."
"Good," Dean said, pressing a hand to his stomach when it gurgled loudly.
Sam wrinkled his forehead. "Man, you are a human garbage disposal, aren't you? I saw the cookies you inhaled at Miss Violet's."
"Hey, they were good," Dean defended. His intestines twisted and Dean groaned.
"Are you okay?" Sam asked. His brow had changed from the wrinkles of disgust to the scrunch of concern.
"I'm fine, Sam," Dean said. He grimaced as another wave of nausea hit. He pressed a hand to his lower stomach as cramps twisted in his gut. "No, I'm not. I have to go."
"Go?" Sam asked. "Dean, it's pouring rain and besides, we're stuck."
"I don't want to leave," Dean explained. "I have to go."
"Oh," Sam said, the dawn of realization lighting in his eyes. "Oh man, Dean, that sucks." It might have sounded sincere if Sam hadn't practically snorted, the laughter barely contained.
"Dude, you better just let this one go," Dean growled. "I mean it, Sam."
"But, I don't have to go," Sam said with a wide grin, dimples sinking further into his cheeks.
"Sam," Dean said his brother's name as if issuing a warning. He rifled through the glove box. Sam almost always stuck a couple extra napkins inside. He found three under the maps and stuffed them into his jeans pocket. "I'll be right back," he said, slipping out the door.
Sam waved a hand in dismissal, sliding the rest of the way back over to the passenger side. "Don't get lost."
Dean glared at his little brother. "Bite me." He slammed the door shut on Sam's retort. Dean hunkered his shoulders against the rain and trudged through the slick, clay mud towards the cover of bushes.
He ducked behind the first row, turning to face the Impala. It was a no go. Under normal circumstances he might stay within sight of the car, but not for this. He walked back further until only the barest outline of the car stayed within viewing distance.
Thunder rolled overhead. "This sucks," Dean muttered. Another cramp hit pulling another groan from Dean's lips. There was no use prolonging the agony. Dean found an acceptable spot. Five minutes later, he made his way back to the Impala. He never wanted to do that again.
The Impala windows were fogged up from condensation. As Dean approached he was thankful for that fact. It meant there was no way Sam had seen him taking care of business in the underbrush. He ripped the driver's door open, immediately noticing the broken glass and the empty car.
"Sam?" Dean straightened and scanned the horizon on all directions. "Sammy!"
Only rumbling thunder and falling rain answered Dean's call.
AN: I will post spnMom's prompts at the end of the next chapter (when more is revealed).
I would be remiss without thanking several people who helped me through a little writer's angst at the idea of writing for an audience of one who actually donated money in return for a story.
Wysawyg – who puts up with angst-ridden emails, three and four versions of the same chapter within twenty-four hours while I begin my pre-beta tweaks, and as always, for providing the really hardcore feedback to help me re-think and re-write until I'm comfortable enough to post. :D
Muffy Morrigan – as always, for letting me bounce idea after idea off of her sometimes with the tinge of panic … "Read this now!..Uh, please?"
Carocali – for offering some great insight and feedback.
And to another friend and author, for not only offering feedback at a critical point, but also helping me past the biggest stumbling block I had with this chapter -- how to get Dean away from Sam. :D
And finally – another thank you to spnMom for her donation and story prompts!
And a huge thank you to everyone else who reads!
As always – feedback welcome and appreciated.