A/N: Here is the final chapter of this story. You waited long enough for it, and I hope the wait was worth it :) I was planning on 2 chapters, but this couldn't be ripped into two separate chapters respectfully enough, so it had to be one long one. In the end, I hope I ended it well enough and that the characters were as close to canon as possible. I tried my damnedest to get Dean right, and I hope I did.
This chapter was all about Dean (for those of you that remember how I ended the last chapter, hehe) so again, I hope I did him justice.
Enjoy, and soon I will be working on my next story called 'Retrograde.' That is where Dean is slowly losing his memories, but there is a very killer twist. Stay tuned for that one. I promise to get that one out faster than I did this one! :)
"13, 14, 15…"
By this time Dean had already been performing CPR for a good 5 minutes without much success. Sam's eyes were blankly staring at the ceiling and all of Dean's pushing on his chest was futile.
"Goddamn it Sam. I already lost dad. I can't lose you."
He pounded a fist onto his brother's chest which only caused Sam's body to bounce but nothing more.
Dean sat back against a wall, hitting it hard, ignoring the searing pain in his left shoulder. Sam was gone, and there was nothing he could do about it. He had failed. Tears streamed down his cheeks mixing with the dirt and blood on the floor.
"Swift, we never did anything to you."
Dean sniffed. He hit the wall again. When a sharp jolt dug into his shoulder he bit his lip hard. Dean closed his eyes letting the pain subside. When he opened his eyes, he looked at Sam.
"I'll make this right Sam, don't you worry. We'll get out of this, no matter what."
He gripped Sam's lifeless hand tight catching sight of the handcuffs. He still had to get his brother free if he wanted to get him out of this hellhole.
"I'll be back Sam. I just, I just have to find a way out of here. I won't leave you here I promise."
He let his brother's hand drop. Dean wiped at his eyes. He realized that he had been making a lot of promises lately and up to this point none of them had been kept. He did not like that because it was not how he was. Dean always stayed true to his word no matter the consequences. He promised to keep Sam safe, promised to look after him no matter what and look what happened? He died on Dean's watch.
Sam looked so peaceful, so angelic lying on the floor despite the blood caked to his clothing. Dean placed a hand to his face, choking back more tears and reached for his gun.
Dean glanced at Sam once more and headed out into the hallway praying he could find Swift before he came back for Sam.
The light was comforting but at the same time depressing. The hours had passed by so fast while he had been unconscious, had marched on without warning. He welcomed the warmth that beat down on his exposed skin, yet also shunned it. It was a cruel joke and he wanted no part of it.
Dean sighed heavily as he passed through the upstairs hallway scanning through various rooms for a hint of that monster. There had been no sign of him since Dean had loaded him with rock salt. He knew Swift wasn't dead because rock salt was just a deterrent. Swift would merely have slipped away to lick his wounds and now he was probably even more pissed than before. Just what Dean needed to do: Add fuel to the inferno.
Dean slipped down the stairs, this time with a little more ease so as not to alarm anyone that might be listening, and made his way to the living room. He had to find those keys because there was no way he could unlock the cuffs himself. He was a master lock picker, but even his skills went only so far.
He stopped just outside the living room. The atmosphere was dark and full of angst. He found it hard to breathe. Something was wrong with this area of the house and it wasn't just because of what he had found hours earlier, there was a deeper threat in the inner room of the mansion that sent a cold wave up Dean's back.
With his gun at the ready, Dean edged his way in sneaking glances at every corner of the room. Every noise made him jump and he almost shot the tattered drapes that blew in the morning breeze. Calming himself and wishing this would just end already, he moved toward the fireplace.
Dean leaned the gun against the crackled marble and checked the mantle for any sign of keys. He had no clue where they would be, or if they even existed. Swift might be the only thing to be able to open the shackles and keys were obsolete. But at this point Dean couldn't overlook anything.
He ran a hand through three layers of dirt but found only that. There had to be more places to look, other hiding places. If I were a sick psychopath, where would I hide a set of keys? Though if I were a sick psychopath, I would have bumped myself off years ago.
He picked up the gun turning slowly. There was no one behind him which was beginning to bother him. All the rooms he had searched upstairs, all the noise he was sure he had made up there and the time he had spent, he was sure Swift would have come for him by now. What was taking the guy so long? Why was he playing with him?
Dean shook it off and headed for the kitchen keeping an eye on his surroundings as he did so.
Inside he was bombarded with a stench that almost knocked him on his ass. He had smelled that earlier and when they first came to town. It was burnt flesh.
Dean placed a hand to his face and moved further into the square room.
There were large pots and pans that were filled with strange stews. What looked like meat was floating in a dark red broth. Dean gagged.
"You really are a sick fuck aren't you John Boy?"
He passed by the stove trying desperately to keep his stomach from escaping through his lips when he spotted a set of keys on a hook by the fridge. He shut his eyes tight thanking God. Re-opening his eyes, he swiped the keys and rushed out of the kitchen unaware that Swift had been watching his every move from behind the kitchen door.
"Sam, I got 'em, I can get you out of here kiddo."
Dean dangled the keys in front of Sam's lifeless eyes. Dean knew he wouldn't respond, but to him it was the principle of the thing.
He laid his gun beside Sam and fiddled with the keys. There were five on the ring, all antique so it was going to take a minute to see which one fit.
Getting it on the third key, Dean almost giggled. He yanked the cuffs off his brother's arms and pulled Sam to his chest. He was like a rag doll, but at least he could hold him without anything interfering.
"I swear to you that I'll make Swift pay for this."
As he set Sam back on the floor to work on his ankle cuffs, he heard a familiar laugh that set his teeth on edge.
"Oh dear child, I don't think so. You see, I have one of your souls already. I can break you just as easy, in fact in your present state, you might break too easy. No challenge in something that doesn't fight back. Sort of lacks a little, what you call, fun."
Dean turned from his brother. The man was standing in the doorway smiling like a mental patient. Dean had had enough of this cat and mouse crap. It was time to get down to brass tacks and deal with this like men.
He slowly reached for his gun and pointed it at Swift. He had a score to settle. This had just become personal. Hell had no fury like a Winchester brother scorned.
"Okay Swift, you want a fight? Fight this."
The gun exploded, a shell left the barrel at an alarming rate and spun toward Swift's face. He cackled and burst into a cloud of smoke. Dean raised his eyebrows as he wondered where he had gone.
He didn't have long to wonder when Swift reappeared in front of him.
He slammed into Dean throwing him against the wall, and disappeared again. Dean slid down the wall feeling dizzy. The gun had dropped to the floor where he had been thrown from. It was a good six feet away.
He sat there a moment when Swift materialized in front of him. He yanked Dean up by the throat. Dean coughed and dug at Swift's hands without much success. His feet kicked the wall looking for the safety of the floor below.
"Keep fighting Dean. The more you fight the more your lungs struggle to get air. Your heart stops pumping which in turn causes you to succumb to blood loss. If you want to end up like Sammy over there, then keep fighting. Just kick and scream, let it all out, because in the end we all die alone. Don't we Dean? You sure will now."
Dean stopped kicking, stopped fighting. He stared into Swift's eyes. The darkness held a glimmer of truth and something Dean knew in his own soul. The bastard knew it and he was using it against him.
"No one should ever die alone." Dean croaked out.
"It's inevitable my dear boy. And when you realize this fact you will be able to give me what I want, what I so desperately need."
Dean kept staring into the man's eyes when something past him caught his attention. Dean's eyes grew wide as he saw his shot gun rise.
"Put him down now Mr. Swift."
Swift spun not expecting to be interrupted by anyone. When he saw the small child holding a gun that was almost as big as he was, he laughed.
"Jacob you insolent boy. You better put that down before you hurt someone."
Jacob cocked the gun which made Swift twitch ever so slightly. His grip on Dean broke and he slid to the ground rubbing his throat. Jacob took the opportunity to let off a shot. It slammed into Swift causing him to splatter into dust yet again.
"How did you…?"
The boy shook his head.
"We don't have time. He'll be back. Just take your brother and get out of here."
Dean opened his mouth but said nothing. It wasn't everyday a seven year old ghost gave you orders. It was a bit off putting.
Dean lifted Sam over his right shoulder and headed downstairs. They had to get out that much was abundantly clear. Once in the living room the same feeling that came upon him from before was back tenfold. He felt nauseous, light headed, and dizzy. He nearly toppled into the fireplace trying to get to the front doors.
Setting Sam by the doors, he placed his hands on his knees and tried to collect himself. Yet the room was spinning and his head was like a balloon full of helium. He gripped the door frame tight and watched the floor come to meet him head-on.
It was dark and Dean could hear crickets. He rubbed his forehead and prayed for a bottle of Aspirin or maybe a bottle of Whisky. It could use either one right about now. Looking around he realized he had been out for quite some time and gauging by the numbers on his watch it had been…only fifteen minutes? Yet that was impossible. It was dark out and he heard crickets. Something wasn't right here.
He turned back to the door to see that Sam was missing. That bastard must have taken him while I was asleep. Shit!
Standing, careful not to crash back to the floor, he edged his way up the stairs to where Sam had been held. Maybe Swift had taken Sam back there.
As Dean reached the top of the stairs he heard a voice coming from that very room. He leaned against the door trying to hear what was being said.
"Jacob, go to bed now and that's an order."
Dean's ears perked at the familiar voice, though it had a different timbre to it. It did not sound as dark and violent. What was going on here?
Dean slid into the darkness to avoid detection as footfalls crossed the room. The door opened and Swift stepped out and from what light there was Dean could see Swift standing holding a cigarette in his left hand. He looked different. If it hadn't been for his eyes Dean would have sworn he was looking at a complete stranger.
Maybe Dean had hit his head harder than he thought because Swift actually looked younger. Dean shook his head but the man in front of him still looked the same. It had to be a hallucination of some sort. That was the only explanation.
Swift put out his cigarette and headed for the stairs.
Dean stepped out from his hiding place, still a bit confused. He wasn't sure of anything when Jacob exited his room.
"Jake, where's my brother? I have to get out of here."
The boy ignored him so Dean called his name again. Still nothing. This time Dean grabbed at him and his hand went right through.
What the hell is going on here?
He followed Jacob down the stairs and on the return trip he realized something. The stairs were in good shape. They weren't rotted out or creaking. They actually looked new. He hadn't noticed that the first time because he was still a bit dizzy and out of it, but they were quite pristine.
In fact, the whole building was. Things were beginning to get stranger and stranger by the minute.
"Jake, are you doing this? Cause if you are, I'd like to be in on it really. This whole Punk'd deal ain't my style kid."
Jacob continued to ignore him. Dean rolled his eyes and followed the boy into the living room. Jacob stopped in front of the kitchen door and listened intently. Dean mirrored his actions and could hear someone banging pots around and water running.
"Damn rotten kids. If only they did as they were told I wouldn't have to punish them like this."
It was Swift. Dean heard a pot slam against the kitchen door causing Jacob to step back. The boy swallowed hard and pushed open the door.
"Mr. Swift, we need to speak."
Swift spun around. He was holding a knife in his left hand. There was blood on it. Dean made a face.
"Oh I don't think so Jacob. I think you need to get back to bed."
At this point Dean realized the older man couldn't see him because he was standing in the doorway and he hadn't even acknowledged his presence, or he didn't care.
"I know what you've been doing, and you have to stop."
"Oh, really, do you now? What could a seven year old child possibly know?"
Jacob sighed heavily.
"I know that Xander never made it back from the market last Thursday and ever since then you have been extremely busy in here. I may be a child, but I am no retard."
Swift glared at the boy in front of him.
"Well then, if you think you know so damned much, why don't you find him yourself?"
With that, Swift plunged the knife into Jacob's stomach. The boy screamed out in pain knocking a small pot to the floor. The contents spilled at Swifts feet.
Jacob fell to the floor crawling out into the living room, Swift right behind him.
"Disobedient children deserve everything they get."
Jacob crawled to the fireplace hearth, blood pooling underneath him. He struggled to breathe blood bubbling at the corners of his lips. Dean could only watch on unable to do anything.
"My child, the fight is almost over, let it linger as long as God wills it and then let your body succumb."
Jacob hacked staring into the fire.
"You know nothing of God."
Jacob reached for a burning log and tossed it at Swift's feet. He watched the flames lap at the oil that had fallen from the pot and consume him. Dean's eyes widened as the flames danced around Swift's body.
They soon enveloped the house and every person inside, trapping them forever in a fiery tomb.
Dean awoke to the smell of smoke. He coughed and wiped at his eyes. He looked toward the living room to see everything back the way it was. Yet everything was devoid of fire and smoke. It was just residual from the vision. But that was too damned real to be just any ordinary vision. It was as if he were there. He could smell the food cooking in the kitchen, the blood on the knife, the fire and Swift's flesh burning afterwards.
But now he knew how everything happened, how Swift died and how all this started. Now he just needed to end it.
Standing, he caught site of Jacob leaning against the wall by the kitchen. He noticed Dean and headed toward him.
"I see you're awake. Sorry about that, but I had to show you what happened and I think I was a little heavy handed on the vision. You're the first person to ever get to see what I had to go through that night. You see, no one ever lasted long enough, either mentally or physically, to see it."
"So you're telling me that that's why you bring people here? To tell them about Swift so they can help you?"
"In a manner of speaking. It's also to help them. If they know the truth, they can help themselves as well. I tried so hard to get into your brother's head but he had already slipped by the time I got to him. I didn't have a chance. Swift is just so fast anymore. It gets harder and harder every year. That is, until I met you. There's something about you that he couldn't crack. You're a fighter, and no matter what he says, he truly hates that."
Dean rubbed at his face. This was all a little crazy, yet at the same time it all made perfect sense. Swift kept yelling for him to fight, to struggle, but that made no sense. Why would he want a fighter when he was tearing Sam to shreds like that? He wanted it to end as quickly as possible.
"So now we have to figure out how to kill the guy, 'cause I mean my gun only pisses him off and I can only touch him on his terms. The most obvious is fire, but sometimes we have to think zebras instead of horses, you know what I mean?"
"I do. Though I don't really think it's fire completely. It's…"
Before Jacob could finish he was thrust against a far wall. Swift stood in front of Dean, scowling.
"You just won't give up, will you? I guess I have to teach you the finer art of dying don't I?"
He lifted Dean off the floor.
"Disobedient children deserve everything they get."
Dean instantly snapped back to the vision. That was what would kill him, someone like Jacob, someone with the balls to stand up to Swift and take him down.
Dean let go of Swift's grip to his throat and whacked him with both hands to the neck. Swift dropped Dean to the floor and stepped backward. He growled.
"You little prick. You will not get away with this."
Dean stood staring the man down. He could tell that he was breaking down the facade Swift had so carefully placed for himself. It was crumbling like the edifice that surrounded them both. If not in his demeanor, it certainly read in his eyes. Dean had him right where he wanted him, and it wasn't what Swift liked at all. To lose your footing after a century of being on top to a man with nothing to lose, that had to be eating him alive.
"You might think you have the upper hand, but I know one thing you don't."
Swift laughed, but it did not sound very genuine.
"Oh, and what would that be my boy?"
Dean looked behind him at the fireplace that was now ablaze. He smiled.
"You're about to, how do you say, fry."
He shoved Swift backwards who swung his arms trying to grab at anything without much success. He landed in the fire screaming like a banshee, the flames engulfing him.
Outside, his brother lying beside him, Dean realized even after slaying the beast, he hadn't truly won anything. Sam was still dead and he was finally alone. He couldn't get his brother back and life meant nothing anymore.
He sat on the wet grass staring into the sun waiting to go blind. It didn't matter if he did.
As he stared for a while, something blocked his view. He blinked but it did not move. He looked and was surprised to see Jacob standing before him.
"I just wanted to say how sorry I am for everything that happened. I feel responsible."
Dean shook his head.
"No. No one was at fault but Swift. You were just an innocent like the rest of us."
Jacob sat beside Dean and looked at Sam. He smiled.
"I can save him you know, if you want me to."
Dean sat at attention.
"Are you serious? I, of course I want you to. He's my brother and he means everything to me."
He bit his lip trying not to cry again. To hear that his brother was going to be coming back to him was more than he could handle.
"You saved me, so I believe it only fair that I return the favor."
Jacob blinked and then touched Sam's forehead. Nothing happened, at least that Dean could see. A moment later Sam's eyes fluttered, his chest started to rise and fall and he began to cough and wheeze. Dean almost hyperventilated when Sam tried to sit up.
Dean looked up at Jacob and then back at Sam.
"He's okay now. Again, thank you."
Before Dean could thank him back Jacob had vanished.
"Dean…where am I?"
Dean grabbed his brother and held him tight. Sam hacked again and struggled to breathe in Dean's grasp. He didn't care, Sam was back and that was all that mattered.
"Don't worry about that now. I'm just gonna get you home."
Sam pulled away from Dean's squeeze. He shielded his eyes from the sun that poured down on top of them. He looked at his watch which read nearly 8:30 in the morning. He had been gone for almost 12 hours. He took a deep breath, trying to calm himself. The smell of smoke filtered into his nostrils making him swallow hard. He saw flames and heard screams that weren't there. He pushed back on the grass causing Dean to grab for his arms yet again.
"You're with me Sammy, everything's okay. And I promise to never let you out of my sight again."
Sam nodded, but he knew that the emotional and physical trauma was imbedded in his soul forever, never to be wiped clean.