Warning: Things get a little tense at times and there may be some curse-type words spoken. If you don't like that kind of language, please feel free to insert the word 'bubblegum' wherever applicable :)
Dedicated: To the awesome, amazing, wonderful TraSan! If you haven't already read her stuff, get on over there and do it! She's the author that got me into writing, she's my friend, my mentor and, quite often, my inspiration.
Special thanks to: My awesome beta, Muffy, who waved her magic wand over this and found some blindingly obvious errors and repetitions that I threw in there in a moment of complete insanity. Thankfully, that moment has passed and, with Muffy's help and encouragement, this chapter turned out much better than I thought.
HUGE thanks to: TraSan. Yes, I'm mean, I put her to work on her own Pressie Fic, but in my defence this wasn't work! She virtually begged for it! Okay, I begged her, but she was excited just the same! She's been so patient with me, but I could hear that foot tapping from over here, so 'work' was really more of a 'sneak peak'. But thanks to her I was able to actually FINISH this chapter, since I'd been staring at the last seen for days completely unable to figure out what to do next, when she gave me some awesome advice. It's just too awesome not to share, so here it is! "Not all scenes need to be written". How profound is that?!?! I read that and BANG! This chapter was complete! Thanks hun!
Dean sat in the driver's seat, drumming his fingers against the steering wheel. He felt an unbearable pressure building up inside him, threatening to force itself out of his chest.
He was angry.
No, not angry. What he felt was more like rage. Painful, burning, all consuming rage and it was aimed at his little brother. Thinking about the past couple of hours he couldn't think of why he'd be so angry with Sam. He cast his mind back, over past days, weeks, months, but nothing was coming to mind. Things had been okay between him and Sam, they hadn't argued any more than usual. There had been no real difference of opinion. Well, not until the hunt with the old man, of course. That's when it had changed, but this rage had been building since-
When? Since when? He wasn't sure, he couldn't pinpoint a time except to say it had been around the time of that hunt. Things had been different and now they were getting worse.
A lot more serious. He had wanted to hit Sam – in anger. Something he hadn't done often in their lives. In fact, the one time he remembered vividly was when he had lashed out at Sam after their father had died. When everything was dark and painful and every breath Dean took hurt, and every breath Sam took made him realise what he might have to do, what his father had told him he might have had to do.
And every breath he took simply reminded him of what his father had died for.
Dean wanted to run back inside to tell Sam he was sorry, that he would never leave him behind, that he didn't mean the things he'd said. He wanted to tell Sam he was just being a pain in the ass older brother and was just talking shit and should be ignored at all costs.
Instead, Dean felt the rage begin to build to dangerous levels. He didn't just want to hit Sam, he wanted to hurt him. Really hurt him. And not just physically, he wanted to do serious and lasting damage to his little brother. The person he had fought to protect since the day he was born. He wanted to make him beg for forgiveness, to plead for his life.
Forgiveness for what?
And why would Dean ever want to hurt Sam like that? Why would he want Sam to have to plead for his life? Why?
"Oh, shit!" Dean hissed, sudden realisation hitting him like a sucker punch.
And then it all became clear. Everything began to make sense.
Sam had to die.
When Sam got out to the car 4 minutes and 53 seconds later, Dean was revving the engine and glaring at the door. Sam hesitated, concern putting a painful lump in his throat, but when he saw Dean glance in his rear view mirror, preparing to drive away, Sam pushed all concern away and hustled to get in the car before he would be left behind.
"Finally," Dean grumbled, reversing from the parking spot quickly before Sam even had time to pull the door shut. "What'd you have to do? Put your make up on?"
Sam didn't respond. He glanced at Dean out of the corner of his eye, gritting his teeth together painfully.
"You would've hustled a lot quicker if it had been Dad telling you to move your ass."
There was something seriously wrong and Sam was starting to doubt he had anything to do with it. Dean wasn't just acting like a pissed off older brother. He wasn't even acting like a teenager suffering with raging hormones but forced to take his kid brother everywhere with him. He wasn't acting anything like the Dean Sam had ever known.
He wasn't acting like Dean at all.
"You gonna sit there like a little pansy ass girl, all pathetic and snooty? You not going to say anything at all?" Dean chuckled, snorting loudly. It was the snort that caught Sam's attention, he glanced at his brother sharply. "Little bitch, just gonna stew over it and whine at me later, huh? Pathetic little bitch."
Sam's jaw dropped.
Sam tried to stop himself from flinching while Dean held his gaze, but he knew that Dean hadn't missed the whispered exclamation. His eyes were looking over Sam's body, searching until he finally found what he was after.
He reached over and snatched the cell phone from inside Sam's jacket pocket.
"BITCH!" he cried, his voice not even sounding like him anymore. "What the hell do you think you're doing? What the hell do you think this is?"
Sam didn't know what to say. He waited.
"Who the hell do you think you ARE?!?!"
Dean held the phone tightly in his hand, barely looking at the road as he studied the phone. Sam didn't have to wait long to find out what Dean's next move was when his elbow was thrust with sharp and painful accuracy at Sam's face. It connected with such force that Sam's head shot back and hit the side of the car.
Sam was so dazed that he barely registered what was happening as Dean let go of the phone, and the steering wheel, and launched himself across the seat at him, his hands immediately around Sam's throat, squeezing tight.
"Dean!" Sam wheezed, trying to break Dean's hold. Nothing was working, nothing could stop the sudden violent urge that had taken hold of his brother. There was a rage in Dean's eyes that Sam had never seen before. "Dean, stop!"
Sam did the only thing he could think of, reaching up to Dean's face and tearing at his eyes.
"You even fight like a bitch!" Dean laughed at him. The Impala accelerated as Dean pushed off the accelerator to get a better hold over Sam. "I should've done this a long time ago! You just cause trouble, you just make everything WORSE! I should've let you stay dead! I went to HELL for you, and look what I get! Hell, Sam! HELL!"
Sam gasped for breath.
Dean slammed Sam's head against the door time and time again as he yelled at him.
"I did EVERYTHING for you! Everything! Shit, you should've died in that damned fire instead of Mom! She should've left you there!"
Sam's heart was aching and it wasn't just from the strain of trying to breathe. Dean was hitting every nerve Sam had, and it was more effective than Sam would like to admit.
"If you'd died, Jessica would've lived! Hell, I could've left you there then, to die with her and then I wouldn't have had to listen to you whining ever since!"
Sam finally broke free of Dean's hold and pushed his brother away. His hand automatically went to his throat, massaging tender muscles and bruises that would appear in time.
"You don't mean any of that, Dean," Sam wheezed, swallowing passed the lump in his throat. "This isn't you talking, Dean. Something's wrong, this isn't you."
"Isn't it?" Dean questioned, launching at Sam again. Sam reached out for him, intercepting the attack. For a moment the struggle for control was fairly even, either brother could've won, but Sam's injuries had taken a toll and he was forced back again, unable to breathe. His vision had already started to fade before Dean had even struck, and now he could feel himself growing weak.
Sam reached up and clawed at Dean's eyes, desperation and pure instinct kicking in. His finger nails connected with Dean's eyes and soon Sam saw blood trickling down Deans cheeks as he gouged skin from around them. Dean let go briefly, growling in a barely human voice.
Dean ran fingers over his eyes, pulling them away slippery and wet with blood. He stared at them as if he were in a trance, amazed by the colour on them. He rubbed them together, in awe of the stickiness.
Sam reached for the steering wheel to try and right their course, grateful that there was no traffic. Before he could grab onto it, however, Dean slammed his fist into Sam's face, and pushed the passenger door open. The wind grabbed it and threatened to tear it off its hinges, threatening to come back and slam shut.
Dean pushed Sam against the door. Sam was half out of the car, desperately grabbing at Dean's jacket to try and keep himself inside the car. The Impala was going at a dangerous speed, spreading its path across the road, uncertain of which way to go. Sam was fighting against impossible odds to not only stay in the car but to stay alive.
This time the threat was his big brother.
What the hell am I doing? This is Sammy! My little brother! What is WRONG with me! Get him up! Get him back in the car! Save him! You're going to kill him! Oh God, I'M going to kill him! I'm going to kill my little bro-
Shut up, asshole!
Sam could feel his grip on Dean's jacket loosening. He looked into his brother's eyes and for a split second, Dean was there, looking at him with that fear and concern that was reserved for Sam. As suddenly as it was there, it was gone. Replacing it was anger and hatred. Dean wanted Sam dead, and Sam could see it.
He heard something clatter to the road. The sound lasted only a split second as the Impala roared up the highway, swerving as there were no hands to keep it on track. Sam wondered how it was even possible that they hadn't crashed, but the thought was pushed out of his mind as he felt his body shift beneath Dean's and the blacktop was suddenly a lot closer.
"Dean, please," he pleaded, real fear and desperation bursting through his chest. He didn't think he had ever felt anything quite like this before. "This isn't you, Dean. You don't want to do this!"
Dean laughed and pushed Sam harder, his head coming closer to the road.
Dean smiled and pulled away from Sam for a moment. Sam felt relief swelling in his throat for a moment before the realisation of what was really happening sunk in.
Dean's fist hit him hard and sure, stunning Sam almost into unconsciousness. He lost his grip completely and for a second all that held him in the car was Dean's left hand around his throat.
"See you in hell, little brother," Dean hissed.
He let go.
Dean sat back in the drivers' seat, taking control of the Impala quickly. He didn't decrease his speed, he liked going fast, feeling the wind racing through the open passenger door. He glanced in his rear view mirror and saw his brother's body hit the road and tumble several feet before landing in a barely recognisable pile of Sammy Winchester's famously long arms and legs.
Oh God! Sam! What have I done? I have to go back, I have to get him to a hospital! I have to-
"Shut up already," Dean muttered.
The Impala continued its course, its driver never looking back again.
"SHIT!" Bobby shouted when the connection to Sam's phone was finally lost. He didn't like what he heard, there were definite sounds of a struggle, screeching tyres and everything was just… gone. "SHIT!"
Bobby hit the steering wheel of his truck as he sped across the highway in the direction he hoped the boys would be. He had no idea what he was going to do, but the only thing he could think of was to get to Sam – somehow. He knew they had left the motel where they had stayed after finishing their last hunt. A hunt he had sent them on. It was only a few hours away and Bobby had left as soon as he had gotten Sam's phone call, but he wasn't entirely sure that he had a few hours to get there.
The boys had planned to stay at Bobby's for a few days to regroup so Dean could do some repairs to the Impala and Sam could bury his nose in books. Bobby hoped that had still been the intention. After what Sam had told him in his hurried call before joining Dean in the Impala and then what Bobby had heard over the open line, he didn't think he could count on any of that anymore.
Something was very wrong with Dean Winchester.
Bobby had heard enough to know that Sam was hurt. At least, he hoped that he was hurt because the alternative was unbearable. The struggle had sounded serious. He prayed desperately that it was THAT serious. He had lost both Sam and Dean in painfully permanent ways before, and even though he knew things had not been right since Dean had made the deal to bring Sam back, he couldn't pretend he wasn't relieved to have the younger man alive and well. And now Dean was back, too, and he thanked his lucky stars because it had been hell knowing that Dean was in, well, hell.
After Dean had died, he had taken Sam back to his place to drown their sorrows. They had barely spoken, Sam shut down completely. All he did was drink and research until, one day, Sam had left without a word. Bobby had tried to stop him, tried to tell him that it wasn't safe for him to hunt right then, especially alone, but Sam had ignored him. He'd caught a glimpse of Sam's eyes that day and had seen something he had never thought he'd see in Sam Winchester's eyes.
Gone were the dreams, the hope, the innocence that only Sam could keep in a world like this. Instead, he saw anger and bitterness. He was no longer the youngest Winchester, but the only surviving Winchester. He didn't dream of a better life for himself, didn't dream of returning to the life he had once lived. He was now, finally, one of them.
He was a hunter. Deadly. Dangerous. And worse, he was a grieving Winchester.
Although Sam was alive, Bobby had lost him. He hadn't been able to hold onto him for long after Dean had died, and even after Dean came back, Bobby knew that Sam never really did. He hadn't recovered from losing Dean, he hadn't forgiven himself for not being able to save him. And once innocence is lost, it can't be recovered and so Sam remained a hunter, hungry for the next kill.
Dead or alive, Bobby didn't think he could handle losing one of them again. They were like his own kids, everything he ever could've asked for. He had had to bury Dean once, was lucky to have gotten Sam back in the first place… He just couldn't do that again.
A man was not supposed to bury his boys, it just wasn't the natural order of things.
Bobby tried to push the panic out of his mind. The engine roared as he pushed it beyond its limits to get to where he thought – hoped – prayed that Sam was.
And God, he hoped he wasn't hurt too badly, that he'd get there on time…
That he was still alive.
Sam felt consciousness threatening to return and he hoped that he could fight it off. He could already tell that he was going to be in a world of hurt when he woke up.
Damn. WHEN I wake up. Well, that's just stupid, I AM awake. I can tell because I'm talking to myself… am I? Or am I just thinking…
Ah, shit. I've got another concussion. Well, that's just great! Homicidal brother plus concussion, what else could go wrong?
Sam gingerly raised his head and immediately regretted it as nausea ripped through him and the contents of his stomach poured over the road, his jeans and whatever else it managed to reach. His head was pounding, the world was swimming around him. He tried to sit up and his body screamed, pain shooting through him.
That can't be good. Maybe I shouldn't move? Hmmm, you know, I did hit the road pretty hard. Hell, I could have a spinal injury for all I know. Internal bleeding even! Ha, like that'd be the first time!
Sam tried to roll onto his side and a hiss of pain came out involuntarily.
Shit, that hurts! I really shouldn't move. But then again, getting hit by a car now wouldn't be a good idea. Not that it's ever a good idea to get hit by a car, but something tells me it would be even worse now. Hey, what's that?
Several feet away from Sam, there was something lying in the middle of the road. He couldn't tell what it was and it looked like it was in a few pieces. He began to drag himself in that direction. He wasn't aware of his body, all he was aware of was pain and a desperate need to get to the small black object he could see ahead of him.
A new wave of nausea overcame him and he flopped back onto the road as his stomach retched painfully, expelling whatever was left in his stomach. The burning sensation of stomach acid and bile made him cough and splutter. It felt like acid was shooting through his brain.
Sam pulled himself to a more upright position once again and commando crawled toward the object that he could only assume was his salvation from the pain, though he had no idea why that was. He knew he was dragging useless legs behind him now as the noise of denim on top of gravel penetrated the thumping in his head, but he tried to ignore the possible reasons for his inability to use his legs. At the moment, all he could think about – all he allowed himself to think about – was that thing. That was his goal. Reach the black object, his doorway to safety, to help.
One thing Sam really didn't want to think about was the reason he was lying, damaged, on the road.
Just as Sam reached the object – his cell phone – he stretched an aching arm that looked like it was working from a rather odd angle, toward it. As fingers brushed the edge of the phone, nausea threatened.
More bile rose.
Sam coughed and sputtered.
That really can't be a good thing.
Bobby was driving at speeds that he had never dared to drive before, but he knew he didn't have much time. He had tried to call Sam's phone several times along the way but kept getting the recorded message that made Sam sound more like an accountant than a kick-ass Winchester. Finally, he tossed his phone onto the passenger seat in frustration and concentrated on two things.
Keeping himself on the road.
And driving as fast as possible without the truck falling apart.
Bobby had hoped that Dean had followed the plan that Bobby had laid out for him and stayed at the motel he had recommended. Sometimes, as a hunter, the hardest part about getting started was finding somewhere to lay your head at the end of a long day. Especially when you've driven for days to get to a hunt, had to do some re-con and THEN try and find somewhere to call home.
How things had gotten his bad Bobby had no idea. He didn't even want to consider what had happened! The boys' usual arguments he could handle. The petty bickering that went on among brothers – although somewhat more dangerous with the Winchesters – he could put a stop to. The boys listened to him more than they had listened to their own father. Even their bitch fights when the trickster got involved he managed to take care of! But this? This was a whole new level and he didn't even want to think about what had happened, that it could carry on for so long without Sam trying to Chick Flick his way out of it! Why hadn't he tried to talk to Dean and try to figure it out? They had obviously been arguing, otherwise Sam would've known something was seriously wrong. He must've had doubts as to whether Dean was even talking to him. But, why?
Bobby had already been driving for about four hours, and he had no idea how far away the boys were. The hunt wasn't particularly far from his place, which is why he was hoping they'd been on the way because, at the moment, that was the only way he would find Sam. He considered calling in some help, even some local law enforcement contacts, but he wasn't sure who he could really trust given the recent reports of demonic activity in the area. He had deliberately not told Sam about that because he knew he was out for demon blood and right now he was trying to keep the boys alive. Busy, but alive. And now it seemed like Sam might have met with a rather nasty accident at the hands of the one person he had always trusted.
Bobby's cell phone rang and he reached across the seat to answer it. He took his eyes off the road for one second and when he glanced back up again his heart was immediately in his throat!
"Aw, SHIT!" Bobby shouted, swerving the steering wheel sharply. The truck careered across the road and over the side of the road and into the bushes. Only three wheels were touching the ground and, although Bobby wasn't sure how it had happened, his lip was bleeding.
Bobby glanced behind him, straining to see what it was that he had almost hit. He still couldn't make it out properly, but there was a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that told him that he knew what it was.
Or rather, who it was.
He reached for the door handle and fought against it, trying to get the door open. It was refusing to budge, something was stopping it from opening. He wound the window down and reached to the outside handle, but still the door wouldn't open.
"Damn it!" he growled, his frustration growing. The longer he sat in the truck, the more convinced he was that the unmoving lump on the road behind him was Sam. He leaned out of the window far enough to see what was going on. It was a large tree branch pressing into the side of the truck, and judging by he rather large dent in the door, Bobby guess that it was the damage from the branch preventing him from opening the door. "SHIT!"
Bobby reached for the passenger door and, with a slight pause for something akin to prayer, Bobby pushed the door open. It swung wide easily and Bobby dropped to the ground. His feet had barely touched down before they were carrying him back to the road and towards…
He wasn't sure how he knew that it was Sam lying there, considering he hadn't had a chance to see it before landing in a ditch, but something deep inside him knew. The distance wasn't far, and yet it seemed like miles stretched between them. Time had slowed down. The air barely seemed to be moving. Silence seemed to have surrounded them. Not even the birds were singing, like the death of the youngest Winchester had put a stop to the world revolving. It would certainly have put a stop to Bobby's world, he was sure of that.
Wait, who said he's dead? I haven't seen him yet… If I don't go over there, it can't be true. But then, if I don't go over there, Sam could die. He could-
Oh shut up, old man, and get moving!
Bobby fell to his knees, his heart skipping a beat at the sight of the young man before him. Sure enough, his gut instinct had been right, it was Sam lying before him. Blood pooled around Sam's head. Bobby glanced further up the road and realised that Sam had dragged himself to this position. A few seconds of further inspection told him why.
The tips of Sam's fingers touched the broken cell phone.
Reluctantly, Bobby rolled Sam over so he could inspect his injuries. The struggle between the boys that Bobby had heard obviously ended in the way that he had feared. And, judging by the damage he was seeing, it had been at a high speed.
There was a large gash along the side of Sam's head, just inside his hairline. Blood was flowing pretty freely from it and Bobby knew he would have to put a stop to the bleeding, and soon.
"Sam?" Bobby spoke to him, unable to keep the desperation out of his voice. "Sam? Can you hear me?"
He kept checking for injuries, and as he lifted Sam's torn shirt he hissed in involuntary sympathy. Dark bruises were spreading from Sam's ribs, across his abdomen. Turning him onto his side gently, Bobby found the bruising was spreading from his back as well.
"Shit, this is bad," Bobby muttered.
Bobby refused to let himself think about how bad.
Sorry there was such a delay, we've had some dramas. My beautiful little daughter decided that another trip to hospital was necessary, this time with gastro. With the help of TraSan, we worked out that this was the Australian equivalent of the stomach flu. She couldn't keep anything down and I couldn't wake her up one morning, so it ended up being the emergency room for us! Anyway, she's coming good now and I was finally able to get back to this chapter.
I'll try and be better in the future! Meanwhile, let me know what you think :)