Hands Tied
K Hanna Korossy

Something was up with Sam.

Okay, so he had some reason to be upset. There was the fact that Dean was gagged and tied to a chair, while Sam was still shaking off the tazer hit that had knocked him out in the meantime. And that the guy responsible, a little dweeb of a bookkeeper with some surprising hidden talents in both martial arts and handguns, was advancing on Sam next. Not to mention—oh, that's right—the friggin' elephant in the room of Dean's deal coming due in just over a month. Ironically, Dean's imminent death had just made Sam more protective those final days. But anyway, yeah, Dean figured Sam had earned the right to be kinda ticked.

This, though, this looked like Sam was ready to dismember the dweeb. Which seemed a little…extreme. Especially considering what the guy—Bieri—kept saying.

"It won't be long, I promise. I just can't let you burn her—you understand. I love—loved—her." He took another step toward Sam, gun in one hand, rope in the other. "I'm just going to move her someplace safe, then I'll be back to let you go. I won't hurt you if you don't make this difficult."

It was just the kind of plea that would get to Dean's softhearted brother—tazer or not—to Dean's typical dismay. But Sam was flat against the wall, dark stare trailing from the rope to Bieri's face and back. Fear and fury in his eyes, but not a shred of empathy.

Dean managed a muffled sound, wriggled in his chair, trying to get Sam's attention for a second. Don't fight him, dude, he tried to project. Not worth it.

But Sam was completely ignoring him, focused only on the dweeb. And then Dean's little brother bared his teeth and growled.

Yeah, this wasn't weird at all.

He might've been the one with the gun, but the little teacher dude faltered for a second. "I really don't want to hurt you," he said earnestly. "But I can't let you desecrate her. I'm sorry."

Sam didn't telegraph; he was too well trained for that. But Dean knew the split-second before it happened that Sam was through listening. A blur of movement, and it was on.

The gun immediately went flying, and Dean breathed a tiny bit easier. Maybe Bieri made Danny DeVito look buff, but you didn't need size or strength to shoot somebody. But while the dweeb had some mad gun skills, he'd gotten too close to someone with the reach of a gorilla. Dean was rarely as glad for Sam's height as he was just then.

It wasn't over yet, though. The professor was more Indiana Jones than Mr. Feeny. He immediately lashed out with a side-kick that sent Sam slamming back into the wall.

Dean winced.

Sam came barreling back right away with a punch that should've flattened a guy twice Bieri's size, but he was deflected. Bieri immediately lashed back with a chop to the chest.

Dean's breath caught around the gag. A concentrated blow aimed just right could stop a heart, and the dweeb looked like he knew what he was doing. Dean struggled harder, the ropes rubbing painfully against his wrists but not giving at all.

Sam angled himself sideways so Bieri's hand grazed his side instead of his chest. Still, Dean could see that the strike hurt, and he flinched along with Sam. Didn't stop his brother from throwing himself into a flurry of punches and deflections.

Dean silently cheered him on, even as he kinda wished Sam would just give in, and tried to understand why he wasn't. So they'd have to wait to be able to salt and burn the remains of the woman who'd been scaring people off the road outside town—so what? They could always regroup and come back. Wasn't worth getting roughed up for. Not with their time running out.

But Sammy…Dean knew that look. The pinched eyes, the drawn-tight mouth, the stiff jaw: Sam was determined. He was going to win this one no matter what it took.

Which was what Dean was afraid of.

The fight continued, and in other circumstances Dean might have even enjoyed it. He took pride in the graceful way Sam moved, the skill with which he parried and lunged, the control he showed. Dean's little brother was all grown up and could look after himself, and the thought was both painful and reassuring. He'd need to soon enough. Dean wouldn't be with him much longer.

Sam knew that all too well. Which made this fight, and Sam's unexpected fire, all the stranger. Seriously, did he want to spend their last weeks together nursing a busted-up body?

Or worse, because Bieri wasn't going down easy.

He still had the rope, and Dean made a strangled sound as the tables suddenly turned. A length of hemp wound around Sam's throat, then the dweeb wrapped the ends around his fists and pulled tight, twisting.

Sam choked, falling forward against the wall, face already a fiery red.

No friggin' way. Dean jerked up, slamming the chair back against the floor. It wasn't that strong, and he thought he felt one of the legs wobble a little. He did it again, snarling as he saw Sam's hand scrape helplessly against the wall.

It wasn't worth it; none of it was worth Sam's life, not the job, not a stupid professor who didn't know when to let go, not even Dean's life. "No," he roared around the gag, smashing the chair down once more. He wasn't losing Sam now. Again.

The leg gave, sending him toppling to the floor.

Sam gathered himself, muscles in the broad back rippling, and jabbed his arm back. His elbow just grazed Bieri as the smaller man jumped back, but it gave Sam enough space to twist and shoot a leg out. That connected, driving them both back from the wall as the professor's breath whooshed out.

Sam yanked the rope from his throat and descended on the dweeb, pinning him to the ground with his legs, large fists swinging. Forget finesse and training; Sam was just punching now, face twisted with rage and painted with blood, frightening sounds escaping his throat.

Crap. Dean forgot about getting his hands and feet loose and just concentrated on nudging the gag out of his mouth. He scraped it against his shoulder until his cheek felt raw, getting more anxious the longer Sam kept pummeling.

Bieri was still, face pulped, by the time Dean felt the fabric start to move. But even as he worked his jaw to spit it out, he saw Sam hesitate, slow, then stop. His brother gazed blankly down at the mess of his opponent, hands still loosely fisted. Then a shudder went through his hunched back, and he looked up, meeting Dean's wide eyes.

Dean looked back at him a long moment, wordlessly calming: it's okay, you're okay, it's over. He waited until the fire dulled in his brother's eyes and the bloody fists relaxed, then gave a full-body shake, grumbling into the gag. Get me free.

Sam shook his head like he was coming awake and glanced down at Bieri with a grimace. As he pushed heavily to his feet, Dean saw the professor's chest was still rising and falling evenly, and heaved a silent sigh of relief. The guy would probably be eating his meals through a straw for a while, but at least he'd be alive to do so. Dean turned his focus instead on Sam, watching closely as his brother sank to his knees and fumbled for Dean's ropes.

He had a sudden flare of déjà vu to after Gordon had tried to take them down the…second time? Dean similarly tied and gagged in a chair, listening helplessly to Sam possibly dying. And then Sam staggering out to free him, his face as blank then as it was now.

No, not blank. Very, very weary.

Sam got his arms free, and Dean shook off the bloody ropes and reached for the gag as Sam started on the ankles. The next minute, Dean was shoving free of the wreckage of the chair, pulling Sam up with him. "You okay?" he demanded, hand spread across Sam's ribs right above where he'd seen his brother take a hit.

Sam shook his head, but it wasn't denial so much as impatience. "Y'all right, man?"

The insanity of the situation was starting to filter in, and Dean was pretty sure he spluttered. "Dude, I'm not the one who just went the death round with Mr. Miyagi. He wasn't gonna hurt us—what were you thinking?"

Sam took a careful breath, hand pressing against his side right next to Dean's. "I was thinking," he said measuredly, "that people I've been tied up with recently haven't ended up too well."

Oh. Huh. Right. Corbett and…the phone company guy—Stewie? Dean hadn't even—

Sam exhaled hard and straightened, eyes never leaving Dean's face. "And you're not the only one who's scared by what's gonna happen in a month, all right? I want every single minute we've got left between now and then to find a way out of this, Dean."

He had about a dozen answers to that, most of them glib, a few downright deprecating. But considering Sam was standing there bloody and raw in his desperation to save Dean, he couldn't quite muster the sarcasm. Sam would fight to the end for him…and Dean was actually pretty cool with that. "Okay."

Sam's eyebrow rose. "Okay? I'm having a moment, and that's all you've got to say? 'Okay'?"

"Yeah, okay?" Dean tilted his head, smiling brightly.

Sam chuffed a laugh, then winced, touching his abraded throat. "You're doing the salt-and-burn, you jerk."

Dean gave the bloody scene a final glance, then gently shoved his brother toward the door, a hand against his back to guide him as Sam weaved. "In your dreams, bitch."

The End