Well, its been a while, hasn't it? I'm really sorry for not updating any sooner, and I apologise to those wonderful people who sent me messages asking for another chapter - or, you know, an ending - for not getting back to them. Real life just doesn't flow in the way we would like, does it?
Once more, I would like to humbly remind my readers that the plot for this fic belongs to the writers of Supernatural, although I have changed things to suit my purpose. For those of you who haven't read this story before, or my other one, Back to Basics, I'd like to mention that yes, I am following the basic plotline, no the Winchesters, as much as I love them, don't appear and yes, these are not the Tracy boys you might recognise from their own show.
Now, done to the chapter. It's a little dark. I didn't expect this when I began writing it, I actually thought I was going to wrap up the story, but the boys and their angst demanded a little more time. I really hope, since it's been so long since I last delved into this, that I haven't messed it up! I can rely on you to tell me, right?
Finally - Enjoy!
John was getting sick of himself. The mirror image was, well, mirroring him, running the same hand through his hair, only half a second later than John himself and it was, to be honest, driving him nuts. The other John was enjoying it, however, grinning widely with a smile that was all Gordon.
Following on the heels of that thought, the other John morphed into the copper haired Tracy.
"You done playing?" he asked cheerfully.
"Why are you here?" John asked warily.
Gordon shrugged. "Is that rhetorical? Why are any of us here?"
"I mean, why is there another conscious running around in my subconscious?"
"You think you're seeing another conscious? Doesn't that mean there's someone else inside your head?" Gordon suddenly grinned again. "You've finally proved it, Johnny-boy. You're such a genius, you're insane."
John tried again. "So you're a figment of my imagination?"
"Dunno," Gordon replied, glancing around at the darkness. "When you gonna break outta this joint?"
John sighed. Most other conversations had gone this way too. Intellectually, Johnwas sure what he was seeing were simply his mind's conjuring of his brothers, but being a psychic, he could hardly discount the possibility that someone was screwing with him. It was certainly interesting, if not a little frustrating, talking to his own mind, if that was the case instead. John shook his head. He was getting sidetracked exploring his mind when he should be focusing on getting out of it. Looking up, he saw the other John was back. Maybe his feelings reflected on which Tracy he saw, he mused.
The other John smiled knowingly and John wondered idly if his brother's ever felt the same urge to wipe the smug smile off his face when he was telling them the answers only he knew. It was infuriating, knowing the other John had answers and wasn't sharing them.
"C'mon, blondie," the second John taunted instead. "You know the way out. Think."
John sighed in frustration and tried to remember what he'd learned so far. It was easier to do this with Virgil, the ever patient Virgil, waiting for him. Gordon was too distracting, Scott was too intense and John, he'd found, was wise, but seemed a touch too competitive. The blond Tracy had been surprised to learn he was racing himself to the finish line.
Perhaps there was something to be said of the competitive nature of a middle child after all.
"What am I looking for?" John asked suddenly, disgusted at himself for letting his mind wander again.
The other John shook his head. "I can't answer that."
"Why not?" John demanded. "What's the point of you being here if you're not going to answer me?"
John smirked and flashed out of existence, replaced by Virgil again.
"John, you know the answer," he said slowly in that soft, sure way of his. His dark gaze locked with John's. "C'mon, Johnny."
Without breaking eye contact, John frowned, thinking hard. He'd been told little, but had his guesses confirmed or denied by various members of his family, and himself … yet only when he had been sure of the answer. John's eyes widened and Virgil smiled. They were giving him information he already knew.
"Christ," he whispered, staring off into the dark recesses of his own conscious. Unable to fully process the facts within his injured, fragile mind, he had supplied himself with a way to access them instead. He scared himself sometimes.
"Good, Johnny," Virgil's voice sounded crisper, more like Scott now and looking up, John saw his oldest brother's serious face. "Time to go."
"How?" John demanded and Scott scowled.
"I thought we'd established I couldn't answer that?"
"Sorry," John mumbled automatically. Even in his own mind, Scott could make him feel like a little boy. "It's my mind," he protested weakly.
Scott crossed his arms, waiting for John to make the first move. Typical Scott, not giving anything away.
"It's my mind," John told him again. "I should be in charge here."
Scott stared back at him. "So be in charge."
Gordon stumbled through the corridor, bumping his shoulder against the wall and jolting backwards hard. He didn't care, continuing his helpless rush forward. It had taken every ounce of strength Gordon possessed to leave Virgil and John, and his body threatened total shut down. He couldn't stop; Gordon doubted he'd be able to get moving again if he did.
He understood Virgil's reasoning, and in the same predicament he hoped he'd have the courage to make the same choice, but his mind was screaming at him with the wrongness of his actions. He'd left his brother's to die.
Gordon thought it may very well have broken him.
He could feel his earlier orange juice threatening to make an appearance as his vision swam and his knees buckled suddenly. Pulling himself together sharply, Gordon struggled on. Virgil was making the ultimate sacrifice. The least he could do was ensure it wouldn't go to waste.
Eventually, he saw Scott and the others ahead. Hearing him, they turned, waiting for him to catch up. Gordon fought for control over his expression, clamping down on his emotions. Scott would never leave if he could see what it was doing to him and Gordon couldn't afford to get into a battle of wills with his oldest brother. Predictably, Scott's expression grew dark when he saw Gordon was alone.
"Where's Virgil and John?" he demanded, wincing at the volume of his own voice. Gordon had anticipated this. For someone who suffered concussions on a regular basis due to overuse of his telekinetic talents, sustaining one naturally was going to be harder to recover from. The more concussions, the harder to heal, Gordon's old WASP medical officer had once mentioned and Gordon knew Scott would be hurting badly and, more importantly, disorientated.
Unconsciously, Gordon straightened his spine. "They're coming," he lied, feeling another something shatter inside him. He cleared his throat to keep it steady and kept his words to a minimum. "They'll meet us before we get out."
Scott glanced down the way they had come and Gordon readied himself for the next lie, but Alan coughed miserably and provided all the distraction the red head needed.
"Come on," he urged, getting the group moving again. "We gotta get these people some medical attention."
Hayley and Gary hurriedly began helping Tommy through the mine once more, Alan following behind, tugging at Scott to get him moving, who still leaned on him. Gordon couldn't resist one final glance down the corridor where he'd left John and Virgil. Tears stung his eyes, but he swallowed thickly, hardening his resolve. He had promised Virgil he would see everyone safely off the mountain and he meant to do it. Firmly leaving his brother's behind, mentally instead of physically this time, Gordon hurried after the rest of the group.
They stopped once more as a low rumbling echoed down the corridor. The Wendigo was roaming.
John glared at Scott. Scott glared back, pushing him the way the real Scott would. He always showed his brother's the way, but never paved it for them. His brother's were their own men and would make or break themselves. Scott was simply a guide, a source of inspiration and advice, in the real world and in John's subconscious.
If it had been any one else, they would have been cajoling John to think. Scott simply stared, arms crossed and expression unforgiving. John ached for the Scott of his younger years, and suddenly this Scott was moving, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. He still didn't say anything, but this time, he didn't need to. His support was there, as always and that spurred John into action. He liked thinking, he enjoyed puzzles and a race against the clock was always a thrill. This was no different.
"Alright," he said, glancing up at his older brother. "I'm gonna get us out of here."
Scott smiled. "I know you are."
John looked around them. "This is my mind," he muttered. "I'm not a prisoner, there's no bars, no locks and I can control what goes on in here. What I need is a door."
"Good," Scott approved. "Let's go."
John stood. "It's that easy?"
"It's your mind. You tell me."
John turned slowly on the spot. He couldn't see a door anywhere. Growling in frustration, he turned back to his mind's version of Scott.
"We're running out of time," the elder Tracy said seriously.
"I know. Do I imagine a door?"
"Whatever you're going to do, do it fast," Virgil told him. John blinked, wondering why his second oldest brother felt the need to make an appearance. Virgil, the gentlest man John had ever known, looked distraught. "Your organs are going to start shutting down … John, you're dying."
Virgil made it to John's side, awkwardly lifting his brother's head into his lap, ignoring his damaged leg and running his fingers through the blond hair, leaving crimson trails as a mark of their presence. He didn't say anything. There wasn't anything to say. He trusted John knew he loved him and whatever secrets his brother may have been keeping were going with him to the grave now. There was no place in Virgil's heart for regrets or words left unspoken. He was as ready as he ever could be.
Methodically, Virgil began checking his brother's vitals, as best he could in the near dark, letting his thoughts skip through various memories, lingering on them for the briefest of moments before moving on to the next. He rested his fingertips against the pulse in John's throat, concerned at the sluggish rhythm and chill of his skin. Bending to bring his ear close to his brother's mouth, Virgil frowned at the irregular breaths escaping from between his lips.
Instinctively, Virgil went to settle John into an easier position to breathe but stopped himself short. Better this than the agony of being ripped apart by the Wendigo's long claws, to slip gently from life instead of having your soul torn from existence in a frenzy of violence. Virgil cradled John, watching the slow, uneven rise and fall of his chest with dry eyes.
His brother was dying in his arms, and against all expectations, he wasn't going to prevent it.
Scott glanced at his group. Nearly every member sported an injury or illness, something that collectively slowed their escape. They needed more time.
"Scott," Hayley hissed, terrified. "Come on!"
"Keep going," he told her, managing a reassuring smile. She looked positively sick with fear. "It's okay, just keep going."
"What are you going to do?" she asked, torn between Scott and Tommy. The man had barely said a word since he'd been reunited with his small family and Scott had privately winced at the amount of therapy he was going to need.
"I'm going to kill it," Scott told her with a confidence he didn't feel. "Gordon'll get you out of here."
"No," Gordon moaned softly, a horrific image of Virgil demanding his promise from him dancing before his eyes, but Scott leaned past him, capturing Hayley's attention with his electric eyes.
"It's gonna be okay," he promised. "Get your brothers to safety, I'll see you again."
Hayley looked unsure, but finally stood on her tip toes to press her lips against his.
"You'd better," she warned quietly. "I decided I like you after all."
Scott pressed his forehead to hers, unaware of any other person in the tunnel, his world narrowed down to the woman before him. "Get out of here," he urged, feeling the chill of the mine replace the warmth of her skin as she left him.
She tried to smile at him, but her lips trembled and a tear made its way down her cheek, glistening in the dark. Dashing it from her skin, she turned away from him and began to move her brothers further down the corridor.
Scott watched the small family go into the shadows, then glanced at Gordon, standing pale and ghostly beside him and down at Alan. The twelve year old looked drained, ready to drop and Scott reached for him. The boy buried his face in Scott's chest, emphatic abilities picking up the sense of loss from Scott.
"I want to go home," he whined, unsure what to make of his oldest brother's emotions, unable to understand what they meant. "Scotty, I really want to go home."
"I know, Allie," Scott murmured soothingly. He closed his eyes, placing the moment firmly into his mind before breaking the embrace reluctantly and turning to his red haired brother.
"Alan's your responsibility, he's your only thought," Scott told him quickly. "You get him to safety, even if it means risking your own. Understand?"
Miserably, Gordon nodded, feeling the frightened pre-teen edge closer to him.
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm buying you some time."
"Us," Alan whispered. "You mean 'us', Scott."
Scott smiled for his youngest brother, reaching out to ruffle his hair.
"I need you to listen to Gordon, okay, Sprout?" he said. "What he says, goes."
Alan may have been young and sheltered, but he was far from stupid. He noticed the way his correction wasn't confirmed. Alan's voice trembled. "Scotty?"
"It's gonna be all right," Scott soothed, tracing Alan's cheek with the back of his fingers. "You'll see."
Gordon couldn't hold back any longer. "Scott, you can't go," he said, more forceful than he'd intended. He was aware of Alan staring wide eyed at him, no doubt picking up his emotions, or at least the strength of them, but ignored him.
"It won't be for long, Gords," Scott reassured him. "Just until Virgil and John catch up."
Gordon shook his head, the words sticking in his throat as he struggled to speak.
Scott frowned. "Gordon, I need you to do this."
"You can't!" Gordon screamed, his world unravelling faster by the minute. "You're all that's left, Scotty."
"All that's left?"
Gordon looked distinctly unwell. "Virgil …" his voice caught and he gazed at his brother pleadingly.
"Virgil couldn't wake John," Gordon admitted quietly. "They're not coming."
"You left them," Scott said flatly, his voice low and as quiet as his brother's. Gordon stepped back.
"I couldn't … I didn't have a choice."
Scott glared at him. "There's always a choice," he said coldly.
"Scott," Gordon began, but his brother cut him off.
"Get Alan off the mountain."
Without another word, Scott moved past his stunned brothers and unsteadily back into the deepest part of the mine.