CHAPTER TEN

A low buzzing inched its way into Sam's unconscious mind, slowly bringing him around. His eyes scrunched up as awful pain lanced through his head. Bile rose in his throat and he turned to retch violently. Damn! If he hadn't been in pain before, he sure as hell was now.

He groaned and turned onto his back, his breath coming in quick gasps as he tried to regain his composure. The buzzing noise crept into his awareness again. Squinting against the pain, Sam peered about him, eyes widening as he realized Dean lay trembling on the next bed. He was back in the motel room. Why they would have brought him back here? It didn't make sense.

He shook his head in frustration. It didn't matter--he really didn't have time to waste thinking about it. His first priority was to get Dean out of the room. Sam scrambled shakily over to his brother, only to be brought up short as he ran into some kind of invisible barrier that seemed to be surrounding Dean. He grabbed his face as pain blossomed across his nose.

"Damn it!" Sam yelled, hammering his fists against the barrier. Rage filled him and tears of frustration and exhaustion streamed down his face. He gasped as pain flared up his injured arm, shocking him out of his fury. His strength left him and he leaned his head silently against the invisible obstruction.

Knowing he had to get his emotions under control, he fought to stay calm as he contemplated how to rescue Dean. He was going to rescue Dean. HE WAS! Even if it meant his own death.

He forced himself to focus, slowing his breathing and thinking back to his earlier encounter with the barrier around the town. Would the same trick work here? They may have had time to refine their technique, but it was worth a try.

He gathered his tattered strength around him, closed his eyes and brought up another image of the wall. It took longer this time around, but after a moment, he felt it slowly coming down. Sam could hear Dean's pained breathing. 'Thank god' Sam thought, relieved his brother was alive. His legs gave way, and he sank to the floor.

Now, how was he going to get Dean out of there? He knew that the townspeople wouldn't let them leave without a fight, and he wasn't sure he had any more fight left in him. Despair spread thru him. They were going to die. Dean was going to die. Sam knew that it was his fault, all of it.

He sat there; numb, barely aware of the room around him, until a strange noise permeated the fog in his brain. That damned omnipresent buzzing was actually getting louder. Sam realized that the barrier was rebuilding itself. He could feel it drawing on his strength. The electricity in the air had his hair standing on end. He sensed static energy building up. Oh god. He remembered the last time he had felt that charge; right before Chelsea let loose a bolt of energy.

Sam rose weakly to his feet and reached for his brother, but Dean shoved his hand away. Stowing a flash of hurt beneath a mask of determination, Sam again reached out and this time pulled his silent brother to his feet. He didn't have to look at Dean to know that he blamed Sam for all this. Hell he blamed himself.

Sam's heart sank and a dull ache throbbed deep in his chest as once again his brother pushed him away. He watched as the elder Winchester stepped back, putting more distance between them. He didn't understand the animosity that Dean had for him. He shook his head as he held back the tears that threatened to spill. He tried to calm down. He was a Winchester for Christ sakes. A sound alerted him to the danger that still threatened them. He slowly turned toward the doorway and was unsurprised to see Chelsea standing there with the old doc just behind her. Doc, however, was no longer stooped over. In fact, he stood straight and tall; much taller than Sam. That scared Sam to no end. The doc had morphed into a much younger and stronger person. Sam groaned.

"Dean." Sam whispered. No answer. The younger brother huffed in exasperation, then grimaced as abused ribs protested the movement.

"Please Dean, just listen to me. Please" Sam pleaded. There was a slight change in his brother's stance, and he knew that Dean was listening--at least for the moment.

"All this, the town, its people…they don't exist." Sam began. Dean looked at him as if he were crazy.

"I know how it sounds, but with both of our emotions way off the radar, we couldn't contain it anymore, and that energy had nowhere to go, so it created this town." Sam said.

They stood in the middle of the room, watching Chelsea and the doc. The air crackled with energy that seemed to radiate from their enemies. The younger Winchester wondered why no attack had come. After all, neither brother was in any real shape to take these two on. It was a stalemate and neither side was going to concede.

Sam had an idea. "Dean" he spoke out of the corner of his mouth, low enough to reach only his brother's hunter-trained ears.

"Please trust me enough to follow my lead?" He whispered. Not waiting for a reply, Sam took a deep breath, staring hard at Chelsea. As he had the last few times he'd accessed his new ability, he carefully constructed an image in his mind. While previously he had focused his thoughts strictly on the townspeople, in this vision he meticulously reconstructed every building and alley of the village itself. Then, he began to dismantle every structure, all the while instructing Dean to do the same. Soon, all that remained were Sam, Dean and the townspeople.

Sam opened his eyes, realizing even as he did so that he didn't remember closing them. His heart was racing with adrenaline. He knew he would have to rest before he deconstructed the citizens of the town.

Sam observed Chelsea for a moment and realized that she looked a little spooked. She was afraid of the brothers. He gathered courage from somewhere and quickly grabbed Dean's hand. He had to fight to keep his grip when his brother tried to yank his arm back. This time he kept his eyes open as he began to tear down the townspeople.

He began to worry when it was just Chelsea and the doc who remained. It had taken all that he had just to destroy the town and its people. He didn't know how much longer his strength could hold out. That thought barely registered when Sam was nearly knocked off his feet, as wave after wave of despair battered at his mind. His entire body started to shake.

He realized now that he had made a mistake; Chelsea had waited till he tired himself out before attacking. He felt like a thousand tiny knives were filleting him from the inside out. She delved into his mind, rifling through his memories of Dean and pulling forth hundreds of terrifying images. Every snide remark, every slam against a wall, door or car. Every punch, hit, or slap that Dean had ever thrown his way, bombarded his mind almost like a movie projector. The gut-wrenching emotional turmoil of each incident washed over him now in titanic waves of grief, rage and pain. Sam struggled to think, to fight. He struggled even to breathe.

"What the hell, Sam?" Dean shouted as his brother stumbled. Sam grabbed onto Dean with both hands and dragged the older boy to the floor as he fell, tears of pain leaking from his tightly closed eyelids. Sam could sense his brother getting ready to attack.

"No Dean, you have to continue deconstructing while I try to hold off Chelsea." Sam said, teeth clenched to ward off the pain. It just kept bombarding him. He was scared that his brother would continue to ignore him.

"Please Dean"

Sam breathed a little easier as Dean continued to follow his lead. Sam pushed with all that he was, to dull the pain. Chelsea's attack intensified and he began to gasp. Tears ran down his face as he struggled to hold off her advance. After a moment he realized how to defeat her. Or he thought, shuddering, at least he hoped it would defeat her. He concentrated on adding his mind to Dean's.

It was true that they were stronger if they worked together, but maybe they could be even more powerful if they were of one mind. Sam knew that what he was about to attempt would further alienate his brother, but he didn't see any other option.

Sam felt the need to physically touch Dean in order to keep himself grounded and to reach deeply into the other man's mind. He had no idea if this would work. He tried to remember back to Stanford and certain metaphysical classes that Jessica had made him take with her.

Sam closed his eyes and synced his breathing with Dean's. He sent his mind toward his tight-as-a-bow brother and nudged him a little. It scared him how easily he was able to invade his brother's mind. If it was that easy, what was to stop any supernatural being from doing the same? That was for pondering later- right now they had an enemy to banish.

He could tell the exact moment when Dean realized what he was trying to do, because the older brother tensed at the intrusion. Quietly Sam whispered his plan to Dean. He sensed his brother grudgingly follow him. They turned toward Chelsea in one synchronized move.

The brothers watched terror dawn on Chelsea's face as she felt the combined weight of their minds come to bear against her. She frantically drew on the last vestiges of the power that had created her, the power of Dean's rage. As she did so, the hunters could feel a pull against their own minds. She gathered the energy and lashed out with one last bolt of electricity aimed at the elder Winchester.

Sam saw her move, yanked Dean around behind him, and took the bolt directly. They tumbled to the ground in a heap of twisted limbs.

He breathed through the pain as his entire body hummed painfully with electricity. After a moment, he realized he was sprawled on top of Dean. He grunted in discomfort when his brother shoved him unceremoniously aside. Getting slowly to his feet, he positioned himself in front of Dean. Chelsea was swaying from side to side. They saw her try to speak but no sound issued forth. She looked right at him.

We just wanted to live, is that so bad?

The words shifted softly thru Sam's head as Chelsea faded from existence. He sighed with regret.

"Stay the hell out of my head!"

Sam blinked and looked at his brother's furious face. Dean grabbed Sam by the front of his shirt and yanked hard. The younger man tried to get his feet under him, but he was so weak that his brother's iron grip on him was the only thing keeping him upright

He tried to say something, but the way Dean had a hold on his jacket had cut off his oxygen. Sam's heart plummeted as the elder Winchester pushed him away with a look of disgust written plainly across his face.

"Dean" he pleaded as he watched him walk towards the impala.

Impala?

What the hell?

"Hey, you idiots, where the hell have you been? More importantly, where the hell was I?"

Sam whirled around to see Bobby walking towards them from where he and his car had suddenly appeared, and was stunned into complete silence.

Sam tried to hide a flinch when Bobby grabbed his shoulder but could tell that his friend saw it. The older man smiled gently at him.

"It's over, right?" he asked.

The young hunter nodded his head, still unable to speak.

"Alright Sam, let head back to my place. It looks like you boys could use some time to recover."

Once again Sam nodded and watched as Bobby headed for his car, pausing once to look toward Dean.

With his heart lodged in his throat, Sam reluctantly headed towards his brother

The tension in the car was thick enough to cut with a knife and silence permeated the air as they headed towards Bobby's place.

Sam kept shooting Dean tiny looks outs of the corner of his eye. His brother didn't look too good--like he was barely holding on. Sam had offered to drive—though he knew he was in no shape to do so—but Dean had angrily refused. Knowing this couldn't go on any longer, Sam pushed back the pain and weakness that swamped him and ventured to speak.

"Dean, maybe I should drive." he said, and sighed, as he got no response.

"Dean"

The only reaction he got was the tightening of hands on the steering wheel. He could see that Dean's eyes were narrowed angrily. Sam turned to face his brother head-on, but was immediately sick. He tried, but didn't think he could keep the nausea at bay this time. He closed his eyes and took deep breaths.

"Dean, you have to pull over," Sam said. He swallowed thickly and tentatively looked at Dean, "I'm going to be sick". Still his brother did not stop.

"Dean" he said more forcefully. Finally Dean slanted his eyes toward him.

"Pull over" Sam replied and quickly he brought his hand to his mouth. Dean slowed down but not fast enough for Sam, who had by that time rolled down his window and begun to puke out of it. He groaned as Dean slammed on the brakes throwing him against the window frame.

He began to retch again as angered footsteps stomped around the car. Sam reached for the handle but the door was wrenched open and he promptly fell out. He began crawling away from the car, but had to stop when his entire body tensed to fight another bout of nausea. When the stomach spasms were over, he slumped to his side in exhaustion.

As he lay trembling and trying to get his breath back, Sam could feel Dean's gaze on him. He lifted his weary head and turned to look at his brother. Fear swept thru his exhausted body when he saw pure rage on Dean's normally stoic face.

"Are you finished? Can we go now?" the elder Winchester bit out.

He saw no emotion but rage on the other man's face. Sam blinked rapidly to hold back the tears that threatened to flow. He hadn't been able to sense his brother in his mind since they had left the town. It was like there was an empty hole where Dean used to be.

Slowly Sam climbed to his feet, afraid to meet his brother's eyes, and nodded that he was ready to go. He really needed to rinse his mouth out but he didn't want to make Dean angrier. They pulled back on the road just as the cell rang.

Sam could hear his brother talking, but it sounded strangely muted; almost like his ears were full of cotton. He was pretty sure it was Bobby checking to see why the boys had pulled off.

Absently, Sam rubbed his hands across his face. Suddenly black spots appeared in his vision. He couldn't draw air into his lungs. Panic set in as his chest tightened.

God he wanted his brother back. The old Dean. The one that he knew cared for him. The one that would have placed his hand over Sam's heart and told him to breathe. But this wasn't his Dean. No, this Dean was a complete stranger to him.

Sam never felt the hand that reached over to guide his head out of the awkward position he'd slumped into. He never saw the tears that slipped down his brother's face.

Sometime later Sam regained consciousness, aware first of a throbbing pain in his head. He sat up, only now realizing he was lying on a bed. He looked around confusedly till he recognized the spare bedroom that belonged to Bobby.

Painfully Sam made his way out of the bedroom and downstairs, but slowed down as a sense of dread thrummed thru his body. The living room was empty, but voices floated in from outside. Turning toward the screen door, he could see Bobby standing on the front porch, tension in his shoulders.

Sam couldn't quite make out what Bobby was saying, so he inched his way closer to the open door. His heart began to race as he heard Dean grumble something. His breathing became erratic and he knew if he wasn't careful he would pass out again. As Sam approached the screen door, he realized that Dean was leaving. He reached for the latch but hesitated.

A blinding fear flashed thru him. Thoughts sped thru his mind; memories of the last few months. Memories of silence that had grown between them, harsh words, beatings. His breath caught at those memories.

But still he raised a shaking hand to unlatch the door and stepped outside just in time to watch his last remaining family drive away from him. Tears welled up, then slipped from his eyes.

The youngest son of John and Mary Winchester did not break.

He shattered.