Butte County, CA
Slipping past any notice at the hospital was easy, given the influx of injured being ushered in through every main entrance. Marissa, clutching Chelsea's hand and practically dragging the poor girl to keep up, followed behind Sam and Dean as they plowed toward their destination through the sea of wounded and medical staff.
No one was occupying the unit desk and Dean leaned over it, grabbing up the census and flipping through it before nodding down the hall.
"Your brother's on this floor," he told Chelsea. "Room one forty-seven."
They'd been able to get clear of the house before it collapsed, and Chelsea's request to see her brother was impossible to ignore, especially when Sam had to explain to her and Marissa what happened; minus, of course, a few details about how Nathan had ended up in the hospital.
Chelsea's comment about knowing that Sam was like Nathan didn't change the fact Marissa hadn't seen what had happened and was none the wiser to what was going on. They had to be careful around Marissa, but Dean could see the questions building in Sam's mind, making him edgy, settling in him a need to ask Chelsea more.
It had been one of Sam's hopes that Nathan was okay, that maybe Chelsea could talk to him, calm him down in whatever state he was in. Unconscious was Dean's best bet, but with the evidence of the storms, Sam was hopeful that there was brain activity, that Nathan was going to pull out of this. How fast or how soon, Dean wasn't even going to try to guess, and he didn't want to think that by the time Nathan came around, ten, fifteen, or twenty more tornadoes could have wrecked their way though Butte County.
Rounding the corner to find room one forty-seven open, Dean halted in his lead when he saw inside. The bed was empty.
Chelsea peered around his legs then pushed past him into the room.
"Did they move him?" Marissa asked.
"Jay?" Chelsea's timid voice drew their attentions as she stood on the other side of the hospital bed.
Sam had moved into the room, maneuvering around the curtain to see what Chelsea was looking at so pale-faced. Taking a few more steps into the room, craning his neck, Dean could see feet and legs on the ground between the window and the bed. All of them gathered there quickly, Sam moving Chelsea aside so he could get to Jay, sprawled out and unconscious on the linoleum.
Sam brought his hand back from Jay's neck, fingers having pressed at his carotid, glancing back at Marissa and Dean with relief. "He's alive," he announced. "Breathing…"
"Jay," Chelsea squatted beside Sam, tugging at the young man's shirt. "Come on. Wake up."
Jay groaned, stirring. He attempted to sit up, winced like his head had connected with an invisible wall, and then laid back down, hand going to his eyes. "Aw, God, what the hell?" he moaned, swearing into his hand as he dragged it over his mouth. "What happened?"
Sam offered him a hand, which Jay took, allowing Sam to haul him up and help him to a chair. "We were hoping you could tell us," Sam replied.
Jay blinked, shaking his head like he was clearing it, unsteady and obviously confused. "Hey…it's you two," he eventually said, eyes focusing on Sam and Dean. "You're those reporters."
Dean watched Sam tilt his head, shrugging a shoulder. Dean himself was debating getting into this again. It wasn't important right now. What was important was where the storm wielding, unconscious psychic had gone.
"Yes and no…" Sam started.
"Where's Nathan?" Chelsea asked, getting to the point. "What happened, Jay?"
Jay seemed to realize that Chelsea was there for the first time, and he looked between her and Marissa, even more perplexed now. "Chels, Marissa, how did—what are you—?"
"Is Nathan okay?" Chelsea continued.
"I—I don't know, Chels…honest. I don't even know what I'm doing here."
Dean watched Sam walk to the bed stand. He couldn't see what had his brother's attention, but observed Sam running two fingers along the surface like he was checking for dust.
Jay was starting to mildly freak out, his eyes darting between all of them. "God, this is just like Japan…"
Sam looked up from the bed stand, eyes narrowing. "What happened in Japan?"
"Dude, if I knew…I was in Kyoto, just hanging out, hopping clubs, blacked out and I woke up a few days later, just completely lost time. I'm telling you, last time I blacked out this bad was then…or was it last week after tequila?"
Marissa scoffed, shaking her head. "You're not helping, Jay."
If only she knew how wrong she was. Dean hadn't missed Sam's expression as he'd come to Dean's side, rubbing his index finger and thumb together, yellow dust flaking from their tips. Sulfur…
There was a damn good reason why Jay couldn't remember squat.
"I can remember Nathan was upset…there was a storm…" Jay continued, pausing to wet his lips and gather his thoughts. "That's all I can remember…honest to God. Is Nate in trouble?"
He lifted worried eyes to Dean, then Sam. Neither of them could give him an answer he'd want to hear. Dean didn't think it would be wise to tell him anything, no matter how much Jay probably knew, just like Chelsea; the best thing for them was to get out of town, to leave worrying about Nathan to Sam and him.
"He probably went home," Chelsea suggested, hopeful. "He probably went back to find me."
The sulfur was reason to worry. Nathan unconscious and uncontrolled was terrifying. Combine the two: Nathan possessed…their night just got a hell of a lot worse.
"Marissa," Dean said, turning to her, catching the worry in her eyes about her friends. "Could you take Chelsea in the hall for a minute?"
Puzzled and reluctant, she arched a brow, before reaching for Chelsea's hand. "Come on, sweetie. Let's go see if we can find something for you to drink."
When the door closed behind them, Dean and Sam simultaneously glanced back at Jay.
"What?" he asked, shifting nervously in his seat. "Who are you guys, anyway? Friends of Marissa's?"
"We know about Nathan and the storms," Sam said, ignoring the blank look he got in return from Jay. "We know why you call him Arashi."
Jay paled a little, looking away and down at the tiles. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Come on, Jay," Dean prodded. "Think real hard and it will come to you. How long have you known about what Nathan can do?"
Jay's eyes turned up from the floor quickly, defensive, angry. "He'd never hurt anyone. Not intentionally. Not ever."
"We know that, Jay…" Sam said calmly. "We know that he's not a bad guy. We're not going to hurt him, but we can help him."
"What do you want from me?" Jay asked, exasperated. "I already told you I don't know where he is. I don't know what happened to him after I left the house…"
"We know you know what he can do…we know you know what he's capable of," Sam continued. "We want you to take Chelsea and Marissa, and get south of Butte County. You got any relatives nearby?"
"An aunt in Roseville…Wait, what are you two going to do?" Jay asked, worry plain on his ashen face.
"We're asking you to trust us, and get the hell out while you still can, Jay," Dean answered. "We're asking you to grab Chelsea and Marissa and make it out of here in case we don't get to your friend in time."
"W-what happened to Nate?" Jay asked. "You still haven't told me what I'm doing here…What do you mean if you don't make it to him in time?"
Sam sighed, getting closer. "He's not stable, Jay. You think any of the storms you've seen so far were bad, you haven't seen bad."
"We'll get him back, but you have to go, and you can't look back," Dean added. "And if you know anything, can remember anything at all that will help us find him, it will give us more of a chance of getting to him before all hell breaks loose."
Jay dropped his head onto his chest, eyes darting side to side as he wracked his brain for the time he'd lost. "I don't know…I honestly can't…"
"It's okay. We'll find Nathan," Sam tried to calm him. "Jay, you understand what you have to do, right?"
Pale, bewildered, and upset, Jay's hesitant nod was the best indication of his understanding. Dean tipped his head toward the door, indicating they needed to move, knowing Sam would stay longer if given the chance. Reluctantly, his brother turned away from Jay and followed Dean into the hall, both picking up their strides to get back to the Impala and back to the Cole residence.
"You think he'd go home?" Dean asked.
"Honestly? No…but I've got nothing else. Dean, you saw the sulfur…"
"Yeah, I did," Dean replied, cringing inwardly with the thought, as he ducked in and around hospital staff. "Does that mean what I think it means?"
"That we're in deep? Yes. Dean, if Nathan causes macro-level storms when he's asleep, what do you think will happen while he's possessed? A lot of people describe possession like Jay did, conking out and not remembering a thing later. If Nathan's in some kind of sleep state, held down by whatever demon has him…"
"Then we're definitely not in Kansas anymore. Theories?"
"Jay came back from Japan with a stowaway. Some black eyed freak riding piggy-back, waiting for Nathan to really go off the deep end."
"Then we need to find him," Dean said tightly. "Kick the opportunistic, sulfur-breathing punk back to Hell, and do it all before something even worse comes down on this county."
Stepping out into the parking lot, Dean knew they were already working within a small window of time. Wind tore through his open jacket with icy tendrils, while small flakes of snow filtered through the lamplight. Sam held out a hand and caught a few, before raising his eyes from the melted beads to Dean.
"This can't be good."
The windshield wipers on the Impala were working overtime, clearing the sludge of snow and rain from their view. Dean gripped the wheel tighter as the wind checked itself into the side of the car, again and again, knocking the Chevy around its center.
"So, do we have a plan if he's there?" Dean asked as they neared the street the Cole residence was located on.
"Honestly?" Sam answered, distracted, trying not to think about how screwed they were at that moment. He'd banked originally on them having to face a demon, but he'd hoped they'd be able to lay the trap, use some sort of summoning sigil, fight the damn thing on their terms. He'd been remiss in thinking that it could be so simple. Now with a demon commandeering a psychic... "No. I don't have a plan. We have maybe one flask of holy water…Can't take in the written exorcism, he'll just rip it apart in some miniature storm. I've got the rite memorized…but how and when and where do we lure him into a trap?"
"That's a comforting pile of nothing," Dean came back.
"Yeah, pretty much…" Sam replied, setting his jaw, mind working through something he'd been thinking earlier. "Or I could…"
"What?" Dean asked, and Sam could tell from the flat tone of his brother's voice he wasn't going to like the answer.
"Dean, I think I figured out what I can do," he said quietly. "I can… mirror abilities. I don't really have many if any of my own, but if I'm near someone who has one, I can— well I can turn whatever they turn on me back onto them."
He didn't wait for Dean's reaction or even risk a look his way, just kept plowing on with his reasoning. "It explains a lot…and since Nathan's abilities cover all of Butte County with their attacks, I was able to start making his abilities my own the second he dropped a storm on me in that bar the first night. If I can just…focus on that…"
Dean was silent, and Sam slid his eyes to the side, watching him work his jaw, tighten his grip on the steering wheel until his knuckles looked like they'd split. "Sam, I swear if you're suggesting what I think you are…"
"I can fight him, Dean. As long as he's throwing punches, I can throw them back."
Sam knew that would go over about as well as it did, Dean's eyes flashed in protest almost instantly at the suggestion.
"Like hell," Dean growled. "I'm not going to let you go into this thinking you two are gonna have some all-out psychic battle."
"And what if that's our only option, Dean? What if this is the only way?"
"How do you know?"
"How do I know anything like this, Sam?" Dean turned his brother's words back around on him. "Got a bad feeling about it, all right? Now we go in and we set up a trap, lead him into it."
Sam scoffed. "If he doesn't see us coming."
"Sam, you don't have to fight him."
"And what if I want to?" Sam shot back.
The question struck Dean into a forced silence, and Sam could tell from the way every muscle seemed to coil in tension that Dean wanted to fight him on this with everything he had.
"What are you saying, Sam?" he finally ground out, gaze not risking leaving the road.
Sam was tired of the pattern, tired of waiting for his powers to pop up at their convenience. Sam was tired of watching Dean bleed, of these demons and psychics and whatever else there was out there putting them in situations where their backs were against the wall, literally.
Dangling over Hell, listening to the mockery about his abilities, scared to death that because of his inadequacies he'd be unable to save Dean, he knew then that he wouldn't be satisfied until he'd learned how to control these cursed abilities he'd never asked for. He wanted dominion over them, not the other way around. They didn't own him or control him, they were his, and this was the first time he'd felt close enough to take hold of that truth.
"It's something I have to do, Dean," Sam spoke softly, not wanting to fight with his brother, knowing that once again this had to be scaring him.
"Says who?" Dean returned, finally prying his gaze away from the road. Sam could see worry in the creases of his face, embedded in his eyes.
"Me," Sam said, unwavering in his resolve.
Dean huffed, dropping his head into a pensive nod. "Sam...please, just...We go in there with a plan, or I'm not taking you in. Got that? I will leave your ass in the car."
Sam blinked, throwing up his hands in frustration. "Like hell! I'm going in there, Dean. You're not going alone."
"And you're not going in with it in your mind to fight this thing head on!" Dean snapped.
The Impala skidded to a sudden stop, and for a moment, Sam thought his brother was considering not going until Sam agreed not to use his abilities.
"Why are we stopped?" Sam asked, intoned.
"Because we're here," Dean replied flatly.
The surroundings didn't look familiar at first, and Sam looked outside, trying to find a recognizable marker. The mail box at the end of the gravel drive had the Cole name along its side, but when he followed the path to where the home once stood...
"Where's the house?" Sam asked.
The lights off the side of the barn illuminated parts of the leveled farmhouse, reduced to the main floor, its contents littering the yard like they had been blown out from the inside.
"If he's not here now, he was," Dean said, opening his door and stepping out into the cold, shrugging up his jacket against the biting breeze.
Sam followed, grateful that the bizarre snowfall had ceased, but the wind still slashed through the exposed sides of his open jacket, causing him to pull it closer around his body. The winds had lost a little of their edge, but Sam couldn't imagine what screwing with the weather had done or was doing to their surroundings. He met Dean by the trunk, and their single flask of holy water was shoved into his chest.
"We're going in to trap it?" Dean asked. The question more of a statement. An order.
Sam knew Dean wanted to know that they were going in to this without Sam gunning for a fight. A nod was the only answer he could give, not able to express his true thoughts with risking Dean stuffing him in the trunk right then and there. He knew Dean would. There was no doubt in Sam's mind that his brother would leave him and take on Nathan alone. How fair was it that Dean got to be the reckless one?
Grabbing shotguns, the best they had at this point, they approached what was left of the Cole home warily. Stepping around debris, and onto what was left of the front porch, Dean entered the kitchen first, looking at remains of the entryway rug and nodding for Sam to cover him.
While Dean worked on laying the trap beneath the rug, Sam stepped around him, shotgun up, senses feeling out every creak and groan, every shadow. There was no roof left, no upper floor obstructing the view of the sky, or any walls standing completely to keep out the cold winds. Large ragged sections of plaster and wood served as place markers, reminders where walls had once been.
Amazingly enough, a few pieces of furniture remained. Through the dark he could see the couch where Nathan had fallen, the dark stain there a cruel reminder of the day, of destruction, pain and failure.
Sam swallowed hard as he approached it, watching the red grow increasingly brighter as the moon above cleared the clouds, illuminating the dark, sending shadows skittering back to the corners. It was then he felt the presence, saw the dark shift in his periphery, and he'd rounded on the figure in the corner of the living room, shotgun at point.
"I knew you'd be back," Nathan's voice slid from the dark. He was sitting in one of the easy chairs, face obscured in shadow, head bowed. "You're an abomination, Sam. You shouldn't exist."
"You're gonna hurt my feelings," Sam replied, lowering the shotgun. It wasn't going to do him any good in this fight. "Am I talking to Nathan, or Nathan's new best friend?"
Beneath dark bangs all Sam could see was the curvature of Nathan's lips, thinning back against his teeth in a pitiless smile. "Oh, I think you know, kid. I think you sensed I was here the second you walked through that door. Lucky for me you still walked in."
"Why's that?" Sam asked, the tension bunching through his muscles, setting him on alert, mind running over what he needed to do. Get Nathan back to the hallway. Counter any attacks. Keep him away from Dean.
"Because even though abominations like you and Nathan shouldn't be walking around, you are, fresh for the picking. Do you have any idea what you're capable of?" the demon inside Nathan asked pushing to his feet, straightening, and giving Sam a good look at his new oil-black lenses.
Sam unconsciously backed up, all warnings to get out, to run, having to be pushed back in his mind. He was hoping Dean didn't try to step in now, that his brother would stay in the hall. It would probably end up being wishful thinking...
"You're going to let him go," Sam promised the demon.
"Am I now?" The demon crooned. "You offering something better? You perhaps?"
Sam saw wrapped within the black of the demon's eyes was undeniable greed, hunger. "You're not leaving here with either of us, you parasitic son of a bitch. You're going home."
The demon held open his hand to Sam, electricity spreading, web-like, all along the forearm. "Figured you'd want a fight. And I think I'll stay with my current packaging. Truth is, you can't do jack unless someone with true talent is around. Am I right?"
"You're about to find out just what I'm capable of," Sam returned darkly. "Last chance. Let him go."
The demon paused, lips pressing together in mock thought. He cracked his neck, responding without a hint of fear. "No."
There was little time to breathe as white-hot light slammed into Sam, ripping back through his entire body, blinding him. He was thrown back into what was left of the wall, hard enough to leave an imprint and to have what breath he had left stolen from his lungs. Shaking, muscles twitching with the electricity still flaring through his synapses, Sam attempted to get to his feet, failing to do much more than roll onto his back groaning.
The shotgun blast tipped Sam off to Dean's arrival, opening his eyes just in time to see Nathan crumple to one knee, chest now full of rock-salt. Dean was by Sam's side quickly, taking hold of his jacket to get him to his feet.
"Come on, Sam," Dean was encouraging, practically lifting him with his strength alone.
Sam pulled tight the muscles in his abdomen, curling up, knowing they had only a few seconds to move before Nathan's demon came back around.
They didn't make it.
Dean was punched back, a slicing current of air catching him in the gut and hefting him without effort back into the china cabinet behind him.
"You have nothing to offer me," the demon told Dean, who'd fallen to the ground in a disheveled heap of cuts and glass. "Stay out of the conversation."
"I can offer my boot in your ass," Dean grunted, moving sluggishly onto hands and knees, trying to stand, visibly hurting.
Sam had staggered to his feet right before the demon attempted another attack on Dean. He saw the bluish-white sparks flare back in Nathan's hand and saw his interest resting on Dean. Sam's chest tightened with thoughts of Dean's body wracked with electric current screaming through his mind. Not again...
The demon's eyes seemed to flash with delight, turning back to Sam.
"You know I can read your thoughts, Sam." He laughed lightly. "Thanks for the suggestion. Let's see if his heart can survive this time, shall we?"
Sam watched the demon jut out an arm for Dean, and before "No!" could make it past Sam's lips, a punch of wind rocketed into Nathan, knocking him off balance, silencing the current sizzling around his arm.
The demon laughed, visibly amused. "That's more like it. Nice love tap. But you've got to put more of yourself into it!"
Sam was snapped back suddenly, gut-checked by an attack through the weak wall behind him, and sent spiraling, limbs pin-wheeling, world moving in one solid blur before his body came to rest on the sleet soaked grass.
The demon was there before Sam could utter a groan, shadow passing over Sam as he gasped, arm cradling his middle. Sam was quickly starting to come into the sad realization that he couldn't fight this thing, not even on a good day. There was only one other way he could think to fight back.
"Nathan," Sam breathed. "You have to fight it. It can't control you."
The demon tilted its head playfully. "Now, we're onto pleading? Already? Sad, Sammy, even for you." He kicked Sam in the stomach, watching him roll over onto his side. "What happened to me finding out just what you're capable of, huh?"
Sam rolled away from the demon, holding his stomach, hand moving along the inside of his jacket for the flask of holy water. His fingers found their mark and started to twist off the cap. He could feel Nathan getting closer, was anticipating the demon putting a boot into his vertebrae, but when he heard the familiar snap of electric current, he made his move faster, rolling onto his back and swinging out his arm and the flask.
Holy water pieced through the air and into Nathan's face, forcing him to back away, hands flying to his face, crying out. Sam, fighting off the pain in his back and abdomen, got to his feet, knowing he could only douse the demon once more before he was out of the holy water completely.
Nathan was laughing, after he'd recovered from the burning liquid, glaring into Sam. "That stung a little. Kinda pointless don't you think?"
Sam cast the last of it onto the demon, knowing weakening a demon would help Nathan fight his way to the front, would help him regain control…if he could. "Fight it, Nathan," Sam commanded.
Writhing, the demon had curled into itself, holding its midsection as it backed away, steam rising from its body and back like macabre wings. The demon hissed, lifting its eyes to Sam, the hiss turning into a growl as the wind started to accelerate. There was the sound of thunder in the distance, and the sky opened up, releasing relentless droves of rain in thick sheets.
"Are you done?" the demon asked through gritted teeth.
Again, without warning, Sam found himself flying backward through the air, until his back connected with a nearby tree, expelling air and almost dislodging what was left of his stomach's contents. Stunned, Sam slid down the trunk, back screaming, head fogging up with panic and confusion. He was pretty sure the audible crack along his side had been the snapping of a rib. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. He was supposed to be able to fight back…
Nathan knelt down beside Sam, fisting his hand in Sam's shirt and bringing his face close to his. "Well, I've got to say, this has been disappointing, Sam."
Sam twisted, looking away, but the demon grabbed hold of his face, forcing him to look at him. "Look at me, Sam. I want you to know I'll take real good care of Nathan. I wouldn't dream of destroying such a perfect vessel. You, on the other hand, useless trash without a clue, defective, should definitely be sent back to the manufacturer."
Sam swallowed, mind clawing for something, some kind of burst to get the demon away from him as Nathan stood up, both open palms flashing with destructive light, making the hairs on the back of Sam's neck stand on end with anticipation of the shock.
It never came, however, as Nathan was tackled to the ground by Dean, the two of them rolling over one another until they came to a disjointed stop. Dean clawed back toward Nathan's prone body, pinning him down with a rosary against his chest, the deluge of rain providing him with more than enough water.
Dean started to recite the Latin rite as the demon writhed and tried to throw him, the water around the rosary burning through his shirt and into his flesh. Sam stared at the two of them, wide-eyed, unbelieving and relieved at the same time that Dean was going to try to finish the rite before the demon could overcome the small holy object.
Sam tried to stand up, to help, but he was having trouble finding his legs, sinking back against the tree. In the next instant, though, Sam was able to find the strength, staring horrified as Nathan stopped fighting the effects of the rosary, grabbing hold of Dean's left shoulder.
"Nice effort," the demon smirked, before Dean's body started to buck, electricity flooding through it.
Dean ceased moving, and Nathan pushed him away, rolling him to the side, as Sam quickly found his feet. Running to his brother's side, Sam could see him breathing, hurting but alive. Dean curled into himself groaning obscenities. "Weak…" Dean coughed. "You call that…an electric shock…"
Sam rolled him over, looking at the burnt flesh of his brother's shoulder, the holes where Nathan's fingertips had been. Dean's hand shot out and encircled Sam's wrist, stopping him from worrying over it.
"Son of a bitch," Dean gasped. "Almost…had him…"
Nathan looked down at his shirt, at the rosary outline burned there and sighed. "If you were feeling left out, Dean, all you had to do was tell me." His obsidian eyes moved between the two brothers. The moon was gone now, the sky coated with thick cloud cover, the rain ceased, lightning running between the clouds, snapping tirelessly. "No, I call this an electric shock," he said, bringing down a bolt on the tree Sam had been up against, splitting it clean in half, sending smoldering bits of wood splinters flying through the air. Sam covered Dean, protecting him from the explosion, Nathan's laughter filling his ears as the tree burned and blackened.
Sam uncurled from the protective shield he'd become, looking over his shoulder to see Chelsea running up to them with Jay in tow. She stopped next to Sam, putting a hand on his shoulder, not venturing any closer. She looked over them, worried, then up at her brother.
"I didn't mean it Nathan," she cried. "I didn't mean to be scared of you. You're my brother…I need you, Nathan."
Dean was sitting up with Sam's help, and both of them managed to get to bended knees, putting themselves between Chelsea and the demon.
"This isn't you, man," Jay spoke up. "You can control this, we know you can, and we're here to help you, Nate."
"You don't hurt people, Nathan. You don't…" Chelsea continued.
Nathan's features softened, eyes returning to their soft hazel light. Sam caught himself holding his breath, hoping that the two of them being there had somehow broken through. Sam knew he should have known better than to grab for optimism when in the firelight of the nearby burning tree, those softer, gentler eyes glossed over with black.
Dean and Sam were back on their feet, Sam having to lace his arm under Dean's to get him there. They were out of options, and now they had two more people to protect.
Chelsea pushed to the front between them, and both Sam and Dean reached out and grabbed hold of her shoulders, pulling her back against their legs. The girl was fearless, Sam would give her that, but she wouldn't stand a chance.
"That was touching," the demon nodded. "But Nathan's gone, Chelsea. He isn't coming back."
The demon held out a hand, and Sam anticipated his attack, but Nathan's face twisted in confusion, suddenly unable to make wind or lightning follow his command. Nathan was fighting back. He had to be, or they'd be looking a lot like the burning remains of the tree…
Frustration and rage accompanied the confusion in the demon's eyes, growling as it stretched out its hand again in an attempt to take them all out. Nothing.
"Fine…" the demon growled. "Let's just all go out together."
There was a deafening crack of thunder, pulling their faces to the sky where the clouds were churning, the sky itself giving off an unearthly moan as the clouds circled. A visible circumference, stretched well over the property's boundaries started to define itself, and began to drop down.
"That's not good," Dean breathed as the wind intensified.
"Go," Sam told him. "Take Chelsea and Jay and get in the cellar."
"I'm not leaving you here," Dean came back.
"Dean, you have to! I have to try to stop this."
"Are you friggin' insane?" Dean asked, grabbing hold of Sam's shirt and whipping him around to face him. "He's gonna bring it right down on us."
Stronger, picking up speed and ferocity, the wind started to move debris in the yard, and the demon wasn't taking kindly to being ignored. Some of the siding from the house was scooped up on a gust and hurled toward them. Jay pulled Chelsea back, as Sam stepped in front of all of them and deflected the shards with a counter.
"I am the only one who can keep him away from them, distract him, Dean, and you know it. You need to get them out of here!"
Dean swore as another burst of debris and wind side-swiped them and rendered him unable to argue the facts. Sam wasn't in complete control, had little to no idea how exactly to make these abilities work, but he was still the only one that could stand as interference between the demon and them.
Sam watched Dean scoop up Chelsea, yelling something over the wind to Jay about not listening to them in the friggin' first place, asking if he had to spell it out for them as he shoved the young man toward the remains of the house, both starting into a sprint.
"They won't survive, Sam!" Nathan shouted, as the wind took on an animalistic howl, any visibility past the edge of the property obscured by the wall of thick black cloud and debris roiling together, rising up from the earth and descending from the sky to enclose them within the whirlwind. "You won't survive."
Flying pieces of the house's remains were ripping past Sam, several nicking his cheeks, and limbs. He tried to focus on that connection he'd felt earlier when the abilities had been able to come to the front, but it felt like there was something blocking it, something keeping him from grasping it again. A plank of wood caught him on the outside of his knee, and it buckled, forcing him to kneel.
Nathan was laughing, "Glad to see you acknowledge you position."
Sam's eyes widened as he saw the demon lift the broken pile of wood from the obliterated shed, holding it back from the winds, cruel smile spreading before he released it to the sudden burst of gale heading right for Sam.
Again he tried to grab hold of something tangible at the back of his mind, create a counter windstorm, but nothing happened as he outstretched a hand toward the rapidly closing rubble, turning away to brace himself for the impact.
Sam was slammed into from the side, startled, as he landed with an umf of ejected air, sinking into the wet earth as the splintered wood passed harmlessly overhead. Turning his head he saw Dean next to him, blood trailing along his brow from where he'd taken a hit while shoving Sam to the ground.
"Dean!" Sam bellowed, heart constricting as he crawled to his brother, ducking more wind-thrown objects, ignoring the ones that sliced at his shoulders and back.
Sam could see Dean's chest rising and falling, giving him proof of life even though Dean wasn't moving or responding to Sam's pleas for him to wake up.
The walls of the whirlwind seemed to have moved closer, their circumference lessening, constricting, closing in on their location. There was nowhere to go, nowhere to run to. They were trapped.
But so was the demon.
More debris flew in their direction, and Sam covered Dean, muffling a cry into his brother's shirt as something sharp raked along his exposed back.
Sam felt something within him punch back, adrenaline sluicing through every vein in his body. Sam could feel himself re-tapping into the abilities. He focused them on himself and Dean, fueling thoughts of shielding them both within the storm.
It only took a few seconds, Sam's heart slamming repeatedly into his throat, before he couldn't feel the wind coming at them, but surrounding them, before his body ceased to be ripped at by flying wreckage and rubble.
Sam hazarded a look, lifting his eyes to the demon who was seething, fists clenched at its sides. The massive whirlwind's walls were closing in rapidly, and anything coming Sam's way was sent bounding off to the sides before it could reach him.
Trapped, Sam knew that the demon would have to give up its host, would have to free Nathan, or stop the windstorm if it wanted to escape. Smirking, returning the demon's glare before starting into the exorcism, the Latin poured out of Sam's mouth with desperate speed.
The demon staggered back, making last attempts to silence Sam by kicking up more wreckage and hurling it toward him. But like the rest it was cast aside and Sam kept at the rite, unwavering, steady with the new sense of strength that had flooded his core.
The last words of the rite spilled forward, and Nathan's head shot back, the demon ripping up through the young man's throat in black cloud that intermixed with the violent squall until the demon was gone.
Sam watched with helpless dismay as Nathan fell to his knees, lost in the confusion of what had happened to him, unable to control the chaos around them. Nathan locked eyes with Sam for one stuttered heartbeat, pain and bewilderment written in his wide eyes before the outer wall of the whirlwind collided with him, pulling him away, leaving Sam with a smudge of his outline against the dark, and then nothing.
Any hope that expelling the demon from Nathan would save them was lost as Sam was dreadfully aware of the earth and sky around them disappearing rapidly.
Sam had to be the one to stop it.
Ducking again inside the protection of his own body, Dean pulled close to him, Sam found himself screaming internally. Heart so tightly wound that it hurt, his stomach pushing up bile as he thought for sure they would die there, unable to make it stop.
What good was this power, this ability, if he couldn't save them?
"Not here, not now," Sam whispered, his very core shaking. Not like this!
The storm groaned out to a breath-like sigh, dispelling its last dying gasps as stillness settled the chaos. Sam raised his head timidly, taking in the brush and destruction laid out around them, encircling them in a windswept pattern, coating the ground everywhere, but within the perfect circle where Sam and Dean were huddled in the middle.
Weak and tired, Sam couldn't move, sitting in stunned silence and awe, trying to keep the contents of his stomach right where they were.
There was no sorting through the thoughts that filled him right then. Dread, fear, elation, grappled within him, and he knew things would now be irrevocably and undeniably different.
The Sunny Days Motel,
Sprawled out in the front seat of the Impala, Dean kept the cold compress Sam had given him against the swollen bump at his temple, resting, letting Zeppelin's The Rain Song soothe him.
"Nine friggin' lives," Dean muttered as he shifted into a more comfortable position, thinking about how he'd honestly thought that he'd lost the Impala once again. She'd been down by the road, right where he'd left her, not a scratch, two trees and a power line fallen near her.
Dean had already said his goodbyes to most of the team after they'd met back up at the motel, and Sam and he were ready to get going, to put Butte County very far behind them. Morning had brought with it clear skies, and while they knew there weren't going to be anymore storms, at least of the psychic variety, the team was going to stay a few more days to see if the worst was over.
There was a rap at his window and Dean lowered the bag of ice, catching Rachel and Russ at the window. Dean sat up, sliding over to the driver's side window, and rolled it down.
"We've got video for you, bro," Russ beamed, handing a disc through the widow.
Dean forced his best smile as he took it. "Great. Thanks. Will come in handy for…my report…"
Rachel shrugged. "We figured you'd like to have a copy of the footage Sam got."
Dean's smile became genuine in spite of never wanting to see another tornado as long as he lived. "Thanks, guys."
"So, back to Chico?" Rachel asked.
"Yeah," Dean sighed. Or something like that…They'd pass it by at least.
"Dude, we're gonna miss you and Sam," Russ added. "Not to go emo on you or anything."
"What? You, Russ? Naw," Dean teased, casting a hand through the window to grab Russ', shaking it. "You take care, man."
"You too, Dorothy," Russ ribbed. "Take care of that massive knot on your noggin."
Dean moved a hand to his head, touching the outer edge of the tender tissue. "Yeah, yeah." Dean returned, mouth quirking up at the corners. He'd miss him too. "No more trips to Oz. Hey, you were there…and you…"
Russ laughed, "Tell Sam thanks for the wicked vid footage, man. Kid unwinds a little, relaxes, he'll be okay out here."
Dean nodded, trying not to be too amused by the advice. "Will do."
Russ tapped the open window a few times before turning away, taking his leave. Rachel had returned to her nervous rubbing of her arms, and looked like she was reluctant to follow.
"I threw out my CCR," she admitted with a wince
"Why'd you do that?" Dean ragged.
She exhaled sharply, shaking her head. "You ruined a perfectly good band for me."
"Aw, come on now," Dean started, bending forward and reaching under the seat. He pulled up his box of tapes and started to sort through them. "Let me make it up to you." He picked out a mixed tape and handed it to her.
"Random Zeppelin I, IV, and Houses of the Holy…some other good stuff too."
Rachel beamed, "Thanks."
Russ let Rachel know he was ready to get going, tapping the horn, and Rachel turned her head for a beat to let him know she was coming, then looked back at Dean. "Guess this is goodbye. Take care of yourself, Dean."
Dean smiled at that, finding himself wishing for different times and different circumstances. The feeling left with her retreating form, leaving him oddly content just from having the chance to know her and the others.
Sam appeared from the motel room not long after, bending down to Dean's eye level on the driver's side.
"You sure you're okay to drive?' he asked, brow creased in concerned furrows.
"Yeah," Dean said, giving his brother a reassuring smile.
Sam threw a duffel into the backseat and took his place on the passenger side, letting out a labored sigh. Dean nodded toward the disc Russ had given them.
"Something to remember another brush with death by," Dean said, not the least bit surprised when Sam took the disc and threw it into the back seat.
"Not really in the mood to remember anything about this place anytime soon." He slid his eyes over to Dean, worried. "How's your head?"
"Still attached," Dean said as he switched out the current tape for one he'd come across when searching for Rachel. Pink Floyd's The Great Gig in the Sky started to play, eliciting a huff and a weak smile from Sam.
"Figures," Sam sighed, nodding to the tape deck. "All of this kinda makes me want to watch The Wizard of Oz to Dark Side of the Moon."
"Oh yeah?" Dean asked.
"Not really," Sam said, eyes lightening for a moment before becoming burdened once again. "If I never see another tornado…"
"I hear you there," Dean said, pulling the Impala out onto the road, heading south, feeling a weight lift as The Sunny Days Motel disappeared in the rearview. It didn't stop the compounding burdens building in the seat next to him, however…
Dean sped up the Impala, passing Russ's van and exchanging a two fingered salute with him before pulling in front, watching them shrink into the distance as well.
"I wish we'd figured it out sooner," Sam said absently after a few minutes when just the sound of the road and Floyd had become almost impossibly too silent. "I wish there'd been something we could have done for Nathan…"
Dean wished that as well, but he was pretty sure there was nothing more they could have done. He wasn't there to see what had happened, coming around after the demon was gone and calm had been restored. It didn't take much to put together what had happened, however, and all Dean had to do was try to look Sam straight in the eyes to know his brother was wrecked after what had happened. Sam would always divert his gaze, bury it in the floor, and tell Dean that he was okay.
"Me too…" Dean sighed.
"I guess Jay's taking Chelsea to Roseville, gonna try to find family, try to put the pieces back together." Sam dropped his chin, eyes disappearing behind his bangs. "I feel sorry for both of them…losing someone that close…"
"Hey," Dean said, tapping Sam's arm to try to get him to look at him. "Again. Not your fault."
Dean knew that the conversation was about to turn back to where it had many times before, but Dean welcomed it this time. He wanted Sam to get it out of his system, because he knew it was killing him slowly right before his eyes.
"You gonna be okay?" Dean pried.
Sam laughed a little at that question, listing his head to the side, resting it against the window. "I'm okay. Injuries weren't too bad…just sore."
"You know that's not what I'm talking about. What's going on in that head of yours?"
Sam closed his eyes, taking in a deep breath. "The abilities are gone…for now. I can't help thinking that even with Haris gone, there could be others out there like the demon that took Nathan, just waiting to cash in on whatever this is…whatever I am."
Dean didn't want Sam talking like that, like he was something other than human. "You can't keep thinking that way, Sam."
Tiredly, Sam pulled away from the window, and Dean caught the desperate look in his eyes before he spoke.
"Please, Dean. Just once…tell me the truth, 'bout how you feel. Please…Scream, laugh, get angry, but don't act like I didn't…that what happened…"
"It'll be okay, Sam."
Sam slunk back into his seat. "You mean besides the fact I can kill you with my brain?" Sam scoffed, "God, I can't even get you to be honest, just this one time…"
Dean knew that if he didn't let this part of him go, if he let it stay hidden, he'd lose more than just his brother's trust.
"'M Scared…" Dean admitted reluctantly. "Just a little though, and not of you, Sam. For you. Scared you'll let this thing get bigger than you, tear you apart, drive you into Nathan's shoes."
Sam had quieted, eyes on the floor of the car, shoulders folded down. Dean continued, hoping this hadn't done more damage than help. He knew Sam was frustrated with his answers, with his speeches, with his jokes. He knew his brother would give anything for the truth, which he wasn't realizing Dean had been giving him all along. Dean knew that the presentation had to be different, that the raw truth couldn't be buried under promises and speeches for Sam to believe him.
"I think Chelsea said it best. I'm not scared of you because I know you. You're my brother, Sam, and I…"
Need you. Need you to be all right…
Dean paused, not sure how much he was getting through, awkward with opening himself up for Sam to see right through. Sam lifted a corner of his mouth in a partial, weak smile.
"That wasn't so hard," he said.
"Says you," Dean returned, unable to look at Sam, his last glance at his brother's troubled eyes having torn him apart inside.
"Tell me again," Sam said quietly, and Dean could hear that plea for reassurance he always found impossible to ignore. "What you always do…"
"You'll be okay, Sam," Dean returned, making it truth within himself, refusing to believe anything else. "We'll figure it out like we always do. And I'm not going anywhere. As long as I'm around, nothing bad is gonna happen to you."
Roseville, CA, Night
There were certain moments in her tangled life when Chelsea Cole felt things would be all right. Moments graced with reassurance and laughter, moments where she felt secure and safe as long as her big brother was with her. Moments unlike the ones she was lost in now. There was no more reassurance or laughter, no more big brother, and things would not be all right as long as he was gone.
She could hear her current caretakers talking through the walls, their voices muted, but clear in their meaning. She'd heard the discussions over what was to be done with her. No father, no mother...No Nathan. She had no one now, and she didn't want to stay there. Not in Jay's aunt's house. Not with the creaking windows and the smell of moth balls.
She stared down at the pinwheel in her hand sadly, remembering when Nathan had helped her stick them in the garden. He'd liked the blue ones. So had she. She'd saved one to remember him.
Watching it closely, she made it spin, enjoying the colors, all different shades of blue, melt and blur together. She liked that she didn't have to use her breath, that she could make the colors dance without pursing her lips together like a fish. All she had to do was concentrate on the foiled edges and she could feel wind kiss her cheeks.
The chimes at her closed window started to move too, and she stopped looking at the multi-colored blues and listened to them ting against one another. The tree outside her window was tapping its branches against the glass, breaking her concentration, slowing the pinwheel and her chimes.
Pushing up from her bed, Chelsea went to the window, looking passed the branches and down into the yard. The branches had stopped their rapping at her window, asking for attention, the second she appeared at the sill. A smile spread, relief and confirmation of hopes filling her when she caught the shadow beneath the tree.
Making sure she had her pea coat and her shoes, Chelsea took up her small school bag filled with what was left of her home and stuck her head out into the hall, making sure no one was near. She could hear Jay talking to that aunt of his, could hear the worry and the sadness in his voice. He deserved to know the truth, but at the same time, Chelsea reasoned it was better this way.
Jay could be happy with no more Nathan, no more Chelsea.
Being as quiet as she could, Chelsea, padded her way down the steps and gently coaxed back the front door. She paused to make sure her flight was undetected, and closed it quietly behind her. Sprinting around the side of the house, she practically barreled over the arms that were there to greet her, laughing.
After burying her face in his shirt, holding onto him for fear that he wasn't real, Chelsea turned tear-filled eyes up into his face.
"I'm sorry it took me so long," Nathan told her, "Sorry I didn't realize a few things sooner..."
Chelsea hugged him again, shaking her head. She took his hand and they started walking away, down the street, knowing they had no home, no place to go, but she was finding that was okay. She wanted him to know that was okay too. Because there were moments in both of their tangled lives when things would be okay, if only because they had one another.
"I knew you'd come back for me."
A/N: Thank you for reading. :) It was really fun to put my VS stories up here and I hope that you enjoyed them. My next story will hopefully be up in January. It is a collaborative project called Colt & Winchester, and I'm writing it with the lovely Bayre. Once again, you guys are awesome and I want to thank you for your feedback and support. Happy Holidays! I'll see you in 2009!