Deanzilla vs. Hydros: This Time It's Very, Very Personal (concluded)
Disclaimer: See Chapter One.
A/N: We made it to the end! Thanks to Katiki for all her help with this fic, and thanks to all of you that have taken the time to read and/or review this story. I truly hope you've enjoyed the ride as much as I have :)
Chapter Nineteen: Sasquatch Sam to the Rescue
Dean has always figured he'd die in one of two ways: one, on a hunt—very likely. Two, from a sudden heart attack after amazing sex with his 20th Playboy Bunny—just as likely. But dying as a 300-some-foot giant in Chicago? Honestly, he never saw that one coming.
He can't even lift a finger right now; every last bit of energy he had was used up in simply moving his enormous body. He felt as if he was wearing a lead suit and walking at the bottom of the ocean: EVERYthing, from simply raising his hand to catch Sam, to taking a few steps to grab the hydros, to kneeling down and holding it still, required so much effort that it nearly made him black out. When he stood up again after Skippy had been shrunk, his vision swam and refused to clear. Dean decided he'd better lie down before he fell down. So he slipped away, taking advantage of Shady Guy's attention-stealing arrest, and found an empty street nearby. Carefully, Dean sat down, triple-checking that absolutely no one was in the Squish Zone, and eased himself onto his back. He shut his eyes, using up the last of his strength in the simple action.
Now Dean's nearly frozen in pain, breathing in needles, breathing out blood, as his massive ribs crack from their own weight. In his mind he pictures Wile E. Coyote just after the POOF, lying flat on the hard canyon floor, a giant boulder squishing him paper thin. Dean would smirk if his two-ton lips would allow it.
Wish I were a cartoon, Dean thinks. Just wait for the next scene to start and I'm all better, just like that. He manages a very weak sigh. Reality sucks.
His thoughts scatter, dandelions to the wind, and every sound goes hollow as The Quiet billows in and settles down. His heartbeat slows. His breaths become shallow. Dean knows he's supposed to fight The Quiet, but he's so very tired. You've done the job, The Quiet tells him. It's better this way. No one will even notice if you let yourself rest.
And for the first time in a long time, Dean doesn't argue.
The Quiet is disrupted by the small voice. What was that? Dean asks it, but The Quiet assures him it was nothing. Then Dean feels the teeniest pressure on his chin. Surely THAT is something. But no, The Quiet tells him to ignore it.
The Quiet dissipates as the sounds swirl back into Dean's ears. Wind. Waves. His brother starting to cry.
What's wrong, Sammy?
The teeny pressure on his chin moves again. Dean tries to crack his eyes open so he can figure out what's going on, but he's so exhausted…even that minimal movement seems overwhelming.
"Don't leave me, Dean," he hears Sam whisper. "Please…"
And with his brother's simple plea, Dean's eyes crack open on their own. He sees the sky—blue with the happy, fluffy clouds that sometimes look like stuff. The clouds seem to swirl as his mind churns, struggling between coming back to the pain or falling back to painless sleep.
The teeny pressure taps up his face, and a very little blur appears at the bottom left of his vision.
"Dean, hey!" the very little blur with Sammy's voice exclaims. "Man, you scared me…"
Sammy? Where…scared you how…where are…?
"We'll fix you, all right? But you gotta hang on."
The Quiet creeps back in, gently pulling those heavy lids shut again, but the Very Little Blur with Sammy's Voice waves his arms. "No no no, Dean…stay awake." He sounds sad again. "You have to stay awake, okay?"
Okay little blur. I'll try. The big green eyes stay open—barely.
"Good, Dean." The blur rubs his microscopic hand on Dean's skin. It's comforting. "Bobby and Owen will be here soon. Just hang on."
The last few words come out in a small sob. Dean wishes he could tell the Very Little Blur with Sammy's Voice not to cry. His heart hurts even more when he hears it.
"God, Dean…are you even in there? Blink twice for me if you can."
The Quiet tells Dean not to, but Dean doesn't want to make the Very Little Blur with Sammy's Voice sad. Somehow he summons up the vast amount of energy to give two small, slow blinks. The little guy cries again. Oh no, I made him worse.
"Dean…" The voice is watery, but happy, and the blur wipes his blurry arm across his face. "Sorry, man, I'm just so glad to know you're here with me." He smiles and adds, "You're probably calling me a wuss inside your head…"
Not a wuss. Just don't be sad anymore.
"Sam!" a lower-pitched voice calls. The little blur looks away.
Little blur IS Sam?
Another, younger-sounding voice is calling his name, and he feels something extra tiny grab on to his ear. "DEAN! What's wrong?"
A third voice answers him: "Stay back, Tyler."
"But we have to help him!"
"We will, but he's in a lot of pain right now. We shouldn't touch him or we might make him feel even worse."
The extra tiny something lets go of Dean's ear at once. You didn't hurt me, Tyler, Dean thinks, and for a brief moment, he remembers everyone. Tyler. Bobby. Owen. Sam. Then his thoughts jumble up again and he's second-guessing himself; he both knows and doesn't know these people. Even Sam is his brother and a stranger at the same time. Dean tries to concentrate, but his mind is worn out from the constant struggling. The little blur—no, SAM, Dean tells himself—disappears from view. Dean's heart pangs. Where'd he go? Is he sad again? Why'd he leave me?
Then Dean hears a whisper in his ear: "I'm not giving up, Dean. Don't you give up on me."
Dean tries to nod but doesn't succeed. He takes in another thin, agonizing breath, and listens to his brother's tiny footsteps as they walk away.
Sam joins Bobby, Owen, and Tyler in their worried huddle near the top of Dean's head. Bobby opens his mouth to ask how Dean is doing, but the crushed look on Sam's face tells him everything.
"How'd he get so big?" Tyler asks Sam, sounding very small as he says it.
"Sometimes he can grow on his own. He doesn't know how or why…it just happens."
"That would explain why the hydros didn't get any bigger when Dean did," Owen muses.
"Well he shouldna done it," Bobby grumbles. "Now he's in a world of hurt and there ain't a hospital around big enough for him—IF we could even move him, which we CAN'T."
"Bobby…" Sam warns, looking from the hunter to Dean's ear and back again. Bobby holds his hand up, nodding that he knows Dean can still hear him.
"Just sick of seeing you so hurt, kid," Bobby mutters at Dean. He turns away.
The words are weak and rusty, but it's definitely Dean's voice. They all look up at him, straining to see his face, but it's too high for them to see anything but the corner of his left eye. He swallows and coughs hard, and blood sprays down on his face and his friends. "Couldn't…ungh...let…….Sam…fall…" he rasps. "Prom…missssssed…" The coughs attack him again, and his enormous body spasms. The street shakes so badly that the buildings sway and lamp posts break, and Sam has to crawl over to Dean's ear.
"Shh," Sam soothes, ducking as the wire holding the traffic signal snaps and smacks against Dean's temple. The huge head turns slightly toward him. "Don't move, don't talk, Dean, please. Save your strength—"
"NO…Sam…" Dean grunts, sounding frustrated. "Had to…fight! Hell…trapped…just couldn't…scared…" The words dwindle into a pained cry. Sam feels something wet drop onto his head, and he looks up and finds the tell-tale streak leading from Dean's eye down to the ground. Dean is breathing so hard now that he sounds like a whistling teapot, and the frantic drum of his heartbeat resonates through the ground. Another tear trickles down as more coughs tear their way through his system.
"Relax, Dean," Sam begs, crying a bit himself. "You have to let yourself rest or you won't get better." The shaking eases up, and the giant seems to deflate. Bones creak and crack, muscles sag. A few aftermath coughs sputter out. Sam's watery eyes look up at Dean, who has managed to turn his head just enough that his left eye is now completely in view. The long eyelashes are stuck together in pearls of large tears, but the sea of green behind them is still, as if weakened by a storm. Dean just looks at him, features settling into his Trying to Be Brave Face. Sam would recognize it anywhere. He puts his hand on Dean's cheek—a small touch of comfort is all he can offer his big brother right now.
Sam and the others turn toward the camera flare and find a gathering crowd snapping away. Based on their grumbling, the pictures still aren't coming out, but that doesn't keep them from trying over and over. One man starts climbing up Dean's arm, and Sam sees red. He rushes over, jumps up, and throws the guy back to the ground.
"Get the FUCK off my brother!" He pulls his fist back to punch, but Bobby holds him back.
"We don't need any more trouble," Bobby barks. Sam nods—he knows. But he glares as other would-be adventurers start climbing up Dean's limbs, staring and gasping and pointing at the giant in their midst.
"Dean's hurt and they're treating him like a playground," Tyler grumps, just as pissed off as Sam. Then Tyler cups his hands around his mouth and shouts, "He just saved your lives, y'know!"
Some new people show up and shout similar things at the rude ones, but they shout back that they can do what they want. Overhead, the news copter is fighting for air with a police chopper. The military people are arguing with each other just down the street, some yelling to contain the giant, others to award him a medal. Dean starts to moan, no doubt from the rising noise in his ears.
"Give over," Owen grouses loudly at the bedlam, "your bloody greed will be the death of him! He doesn't need this stress! CLEAR OFF!"
Sam is thinking the same thing, glaring at everyone who can't see that his stricken brother needs HELP. But no one listens. Fights break out here and there between do-gooders and good-for-nothings. The police move in and try to hold people off, but more people climb up onto Dean's body to get away. When Sam overhears one man yell at another to "help me get this huge ring off—we can sell it to the papers!" the last strand of his patience breaks, and he storms over to Owen.
"You still got that growth powder?"
"Yes, a bit, but—"
"Use it on me," Sam orders, standing over him. "Make me as big as Dean so I can get him out of here."
"Are you off your block?!" Bobby shouts as he joins them. "Look at him, Sam! He's so big he can barely move! It'll be the same way for you! How the hell you gonna carry him outta here on top of that?"
"I'll manage," is Sam's terse reply.
"You'll break your back before you even get him down the street! And then what, Sam? What if you drop Dean and break him too?"
"He can't stay here!" Sam yells back. "He needs rest and help, not people walking all over him!" Sam points to the growing throng atop Dean's chest as proof. His face falls as he turns back to Bobby. "I can't just stand here and watch him die again," Sam utters, head low and back to Dean so he hopefully won't hear. "I have to do SOMEthing, Bobby. And if getting him some peace and quiet is the only thing I can do…" He trails off, looking upset, but then he nods with conviction. "Then that's what I'm going to do." The puppy dog eyes look up from the ground, and Bobby sighs.
"Yeah," he says, conceding Sam's point. "Guess I'm just pissed that I didn't think of it first."
Sam gives a half smile and turns to Owen. "Can you make me big? Yes or no." Owen hesitates to answer, so Sam folds his arms. "Owen?"
"Yes, b-but I don't know if I can make you as large as Dean—I only have half a bag left. And even if I can make you that big, it won't last. You've seen how quickly the effects wear off. I could only promise you ten minutes tops. How far do you really think you can get in ten minutes?"
"Far enough," Sam answers, mind very much made up. Owen sighs and looks down.
"It's going to hurt, Sam," he says quietly. "I won't lie to you. The transformation itself won't be bad, but when you're up there…all that weight pulling you down…" Owen shakes his head.
"Dean's at least had a chance to get used to the pain a little," Bobby continues gently. "But you won't get that, Sam. It's gonna hit you all at once. You might die before you ever get the chance to move your brother."
Sam nods that he hears what they're saying, but he licks his lips and looks right at Bobby. "If I don't take this chance, Dean will die," he replies, voice breaking. "Right here in this street. I have to do this, Bobby. I want to." He turns to Owen. "So let's go. Make me a giant."
"That will not be enough," a new voice tells them. They turn around and find a man in a trench coat standing next to Tyler.
"Who are you?" Owen asks.
"Castiel. I am an angel of the Lord."
Tyler looks awestruck. "Really?" he asks, breathless. Castiel casts his deep blue gaze down at the boy and nods.
"You're also LATE," Sam seethes as he stomps forward. "Dean's been in trouble for DAYS. Where have you been?"
"Fighting in the field. I am sorry, Sam. My superiors kept Dean's condition secret from me until moments ago, when it became clear that he would die before he had finished God's work. I came at once."
Sam's skin and temper prickle at the words. "So you're only here to make sure he lives long enough to do your work. He's just a servant to you, a tool!" The angel's gaze falters, and if Sam didn't know any better, he'd swear he actually looked hurt by the words.
"I am here for Dean," is all Castiel replies. Then he teleports to Dean's forehead, and the huge eyes look up at him.
"Hey…Casss…" Dean whispers. Castiel puts his palm on Dean's skin.
"Rest, Dean. Rest." The angel shuts his eyes, and everyone keeps quiet a few moments so he can concentrate.
"Can you fix him?" Tyler asks hopefully.
"No." Castiel stands up, looking disappointed. "The healing energy required is too much, even for me. I was…afraid of this."
"Then why'd you stop me?!" Sam yells up at him.
"Because enlarging yourself is not enough," Castiel replies calmly. "Dean is masked from cameras. You, Sam, are not."
"You get big and your face'll be on every TV nationwide," Bobby realizes. Sam looks nonplussed.
"Fine, so disguise me."
"I cannot do that."
"Well then what CAN you do?!"
"I will be able to stop time while you move Dean to a more…restful environment."
A soft chuckle burbles out of Dean's throat. "Cas ex machina," he mutters. "Awesome…"
"No one will see you go," Castiel continues. "Dean will seem to vanish into thin air."
"Great, stop the clock," Sam says. Castiel just looks at him. Sam frowns. "What now?"
"You are injured." Castiel puts his hand on Sam's still-bleeding shoulder and it heals in seconds. Sam rolls his shoulder around, amazed at the complete lack of pain. He looks at Castiel, surprised more by the angel's gesture than the healing itself.
"You need your strength if you want to help your brother," Castiel points out in his usual matter-of-fact manner. Sam nods. The angel holds his arms out to either side. "I will stop time now."
"Hold on, Clarence." Bobby moves past the angel, who is moderately confused at the wrong name, and stops in front of Sam, giving him a good look in the eye.
"I can do this, Bobby," Sam swears.
"I know it, kid. I just don't want you to." With a sigh, Bobby gives him an 'all right then' nod. "There's a large park south of here, on the lakeshore. You two should be safe there."
"Thanks, Bobby," Sam smiles with gratitude. Then he turns to Owen and ducks down so Owen can pour every last bit of growth powder on top of his head.
"Everyone stand back," Owen suggests. Everyone but Castiel moves away, and Sam steps back a few strides as well. "Remember, Sam, you won't hurt while you grow, but you'll feel it as soon as you've stopped. Take a few deep breaths before you move, or you'll fall right over. All right?"
Sam nods. Owen looks to Castiel now. "Stop time the moment I've finished the spell. This stuff works fast."
Castiel nods as well, slow and serene, and faces Sam once more. "Time will start again the moment Dean touches ground. I will find you after that and bring your friends. Once Dean is small again, I will be able to help him." His normally austere face softens, and his blue eyes grow kind. "Good luck, Sam," Castiel wishes—and disappears.
Everyone looks to Owen, who gulps down his worry and nods that he's ready. He says two strange words and instantly drops away as Sam shoots upward. Sam feels like he's on an express elevator, but the windows shrink as he gets higher, wrecking the illusion. All at once he stops. Sam looks around at the frozen birds and the flags stuck in mid-flap. Time is definitely at a standstill. Okay, he thinks. Let's do this. He takes in a deep breath…
…and hisses in pain as the gravity smashes down on him. It's like two big hands are squeezing his ribs while a third strangles his heart. His jellied legs buckle and he's falling. His knees slam into the ground, and Sam grabs onto the building next to him to keep his torso upright. He breathes hard, even though his burning lungs beg him not to. Then a migraine the likes of which he hasn't experienced since his last vision smashes through his skull at point-blank range. Sam shuts his eyes and clenches his teeth as he rides out the waves of pain wracking his body.
How the hell did you handle this, Dean?
The thought makes him remember why HE is putting himself through this, and he looks over at his big brother. He spies the Chicagoans on Dean's chest first and marvels at how tiny they are, holding their itsy bitsy cell phones that Sam can barely see. Then he locates Bobby and Tyler and Owen. They're all standing to Sam's right, near his knees, but they're so SMALL…Sam can't believe he himself was ever that small! You weren't, he reminds himself. Dean was just that big. He looks down at himself. This big… Sam shifts his ginormous knee and smooshes a Hotwheels-size police car flat. "Oops." As one hand peels the metal off his jeans, the other gently brushes his insect-sized friends a little further away, just to be safe. Then, taking a few breaths to steady himself, he finally allows his eyes to drift up to his brother's face.
In short, Dean looks awful. Ashen skin, shoulder swollen to bowling-ball size, blood-spattered t-shirt, and slow, labored breaths, all wrapped up in a silently suffering form. Dean's eyes are shut tight and his jaw is clenched, and Sam doesn't have to imagine the pain he's in anymore—he's experiencing some of it for himself. Sliding forward on his knees, he scoops the frozen Chicagoans off Dean's chest and sets them down by his boots. Then he cups his hand around Dean's cheek. "Dean?" he asks gently, like he's waking up a sleeping child. Dean opens his mouth to speak but coughs instead, and the back of his head hits the concrete. Sam slides his arm behind Dean's head to cushion him and then carefully wipes away the bloody spittle around Dean's lips. Dean winces, though whether it's because it hurts or because he hates the mothering, Sam doesn't know. He guesses it's a bit of both.
"Just hang on a little longer, Dean," Sam tells him. "It'll be over soon." Instantly he regrets his choice of words, until he looks down and sees a ghost of a wry smile on Dean's face. He's still in there. It fills Sam with hope. "Okay, here we go." He moves into a squat, puts his hands underneath Dean, and lifts him up. His knees scream at the exertion, while his spine threatens to break from the sheer weight of both gigantic bodies. But Sam grits his teeth and keeps rising until he's standing fully upright. He looks down at Dean again and finds him looking back. The big green eyes are wide open and displaying one, clear message: Don't do this, Sam. Sam responds by putting one of Dean's arms around his neck for extra support.
"I've gotcha, big brother," Sam smiles. "And we're getting out of here right now."
Sam takes his first step, and the concrete cracks on impact. The second sends more cracks rippling up the street. The third swallows his foot whole. Sam stumbles, and Dean moans as his aching body gets squished against Sam's chest as his little brother holds him tight.
"I won't drop you," Sam whispers, telling the fact to himself as much as Dean. Sam tries to get out, but the hole eats his shin. More concrete is cracking around them, and Sam knows it's only a matter of seconds before the entire block crumbles. He has to move. NOW.
He jumps as high as he can, which isn't nearly as high as he wants. They clear the hole, but form a new one when they land. Sam turns toward the lake and starts running. The street crackles behind, giving chase, but Sam runs on. He jumps onto Lakeshore Drive and stretches out his longer-than-ever stride, covering as much ground as possible. Soon the cracks become single, gigantic craters as Sam's heel hits the pavement with the force of a bomb. Dean whimpers in pain with each step, and Sam holds him even tighter.
"Slow…down..." Dean murmurs in a painfully dry voice.
Sam shakes his head and keeps running. He smiles to lighten the mood and quips, "You sound like Emperor Palpatine." Dean makes an annoyed sound, shaking his head back and forth, and Sam looks down at him and finds his face is now sheer white, making the blood on his lips look as red as paint. His teeth, also blood stained, are bared, and his entire body is shivering.
"Dean? What's wrong?"
Dean grunts, face contorting with pain and effort. "Hhhhh-heart," he croaks out at last.
"I know it hurts, Dean, I'm so sorry. I'm hurrying, I swear." Sam pushes on even harder, ignoring the new pain radiating up his left arm and up to his head. Dean cries out and rubs his forehead against Sam's shirt, right where his ribs hurt the most. He's mumbling something into the fabric, and Sam grunts at his own pain as he ducks his head down. He hears the word "yours" and frowns, confused. That just makes Dean moan, and he starts butting his forehead against Sam.
"Hey hey hey," Sam soothes, worried at how distressed his brother is getting. "What, Dean? What are you trying to tell me?"
Sharp pain provides the answer, cutting through Sam's ribs and slicing into his back. He stops running and bends over, fighting to breathe with newly leaden lungs. Dean is squirming again, more strength to it this time, and Sam has to crouch down and lean over him to keep him from rolling off.
"Lemme go…" Dean rasps.
"No, I've gotcha, I'm fine." Another agonizing shockwave radiates through him. "ARRRGH…ungh…"
Dean kicks his heel into Sam's side. "Down! NOW! Leave…me!"
"I won't let you fall, Dean!" Sam yells. Dean stops struggling, and Sam pulls his torso up so he can look at his brother's face. Wide-open eyes stare back at him, looking shocked. Sam grunts and readjusts his hold on Dean as his chest pain slowly ebbs. "You didn't…let me fall…" Sam pants. "Wuh…wouldn't. You really expect me…to drop you? Huh?" Dean's eyes flicker with sadness...doubt. Sam regards him with love. "Never," Sam promises him. "Won't leave you, Dean." The dark doubt in Dean's eyes fades away, replaced by brightness—the look Dean usually gives Sam when his little brother pulls through something awful. Sam reflects it back down to him, and, forcing air down his clenched throat, he slowly stands them back up. "It's my turn to play hero."
Dean's eyes roll and close, and he mutters a barely audible "bitch." Sam smiles and angles his left arm out so he can see his watch. Five minutes left—if he's lucky. Sam looks around and spies a large park ahead in the distance. Please let that be the one Bobby mentioned, Sam prays as he starts walking again. And please let me get Dean there in time…
The woods don't seem to get any closer after the first minute, so Sam pushes his shaking legs into a jog. "Almost there, Dean, just hang on." Dean doesn't protest this time—he's quiet. Sam wants to look down and check on him, but he can't afford to waste any more time. He runs, glaring at the trees and willing them to come closer. His heart begins to clench, so Sam fights to keep himself breathing evenly. Spots appear before his eyes. He doesn't slow down. Get to the trees. HAVE to reach the trees for Dean. For DEAN.
And then they're finally there, towering above the tallest trees and a sparkling lagoon. No one is around anywhere that Sam can see, so he thuds over to the edge of the lagoon and lays Dean down on the grass. Sam sits down beside him and props Dean's head and shoulders up against his chest.
"Made it," Sam wheezes. He's so relieved that he starts to laugh, brushing his hair off his sweaty forehead. "We made it, Dean! We're safe." Sam smiles down into his brother's face…and gasps. Dean's eyes are sunk and his skin is beyond pale—it's almost translucent, like a fresh corpse.
"That bad…huh," Dean whispers, eyes cracking open again. Sam shakes his head.
"You've been worse," Sam lies with a smile, "so don't worry—you'll get to keep your Miss Universe crown."
A small laugh scrapes out of Dean's throat, and harsh coughs follow. Sam supports him as Dean's upper body seizes through the coughing attack, blood and cries wetting the air. Sam hears several small cracks—more ribs breaking—and Dean falls limp against him. Sam takes his own flannel shirt off at once and binds it around Dean's chest, cursing himself for not doing that sooner. Dean's eyes flutter open.
"I'm right here," Sam replies, looking around for Castiel. He said he'd come the moment I set Dean down. So where—?
"…have to…TELL you…" Dean whispers with another cough. He's trembling again, so Sam wraps his arms around his brother.
"What, Dean?" he asks, trying to keep his brother talking and awake, even though Sam knows how much it hurts. Dean's eyes open all the way but don't focus on anything.
"M'not…afraid…anymore…" His lips curl ever so slightly. "…building came…down…trapped me……but I didn't…" He coughs again, face crinkling up in aggravation. "I…didn't...eerngh…get scared!" Dean breathes hard, but he looks happy—even fulfilled. "I beat them, Sam…" His eyes start to close, but the smile on his face remains. "…beat them…"
Sam gives him a very gentle hug. "I knew you would, Dean. I knew you had it in you."
Dean coughs and gives a single headshake no. "Not…me…you. Cos of you, Sam…my, cosofyoucosof…you…" His eyes shut and he smiles again. "Broth…ther…"
His face goes blank, and his jaw falls slack.
"No." Sam shakes him. "Dean? Hey." No response. Another shake. "Talk to me, Dean." A few taps to the cheeks. "Dean?" Sam leans his ear down to Dean's chest and finds no heartbeat. "NO." He starts CPR at once. Blood spurts out of Dean's mouth. Sam keeps going. "Come on, Dean. Don't die on me." He breathes into Dean's mouth and keeps pumping.
All of a sudden, his hands start to shrink. Sam's heart pangs in panic. "No, not now!" He keeps the compressions up, but in no time he's too small to make the enormous chest move. Soon after that, he can't even make a wrinkle in Dean's shirt. Normal size again and standing in the middle of a grey cotton countryside, Sam falls to his knees and listens for that huge heart to beat. It doesn't.
"NO!" Sam jumps up and down in sheer desperation, trying to summon up enough weight for a compression, but it's no use; a mouse can't save a dinosaur's life. Sam collapses, exhausted. Eyes soaked with tears look up at Dean's face. His head is still tilted back from the CPR, so Sam can't see if his eyes are open or shut. But he fears he already knows.
"Dean…" he whimpers. "Please…"
No response. Sam breaks down, sobbing as he curls himself up over Dean's heart. His thoughts run wild with grief.
Don't leave me.
Why can't I save him?
I failed him. I always fail.
I CAN'T be alone again!
I should be dead, not you.
Sam stretches his arm out over Dean's shirt and puts his palm down in a final pat. Nothing happens. The blame holds Sam down, threatens to flatten him, and he doesn't fight it. Doesn't care. Nothing matters anymore.
Sam's breath hitches at the soft sound. He blinks and waits. Nothing comes. Please please please please—
Just as soft, but there. Sam looks up. "Dean?"
Weak, slow, but there. THERE. The huge chest rises up in a shaky breath, and Sam is crying again—this time in pure joy. "Dean," he repeats, letting his brother's name sum up his love, his thanks, his everything. Then a shadow looms over him, and Dean's gigantic hand cups high over Sam, blocking out the cold air.
"…can't…get rid of me…that easy…" Dean breathes. Sam laughs and wipes his tears as he leans his back against the pad of Dean's thumb. It moves ever-so-slightly in a comforting rub.
Outside the hand-made cave, they hear the fluttering of wings…
One week later, around 8 p.m.
Dean's phone vibrates and he grins, already knowing that Tyler has sent him yet another text message. The kid's been messaging him nearly non-stop since they said their good-byes four days ago, but Dean doesn't mind. It's kind of nice having someone out there trying to make him smile. Dean checks the message:
DEAN! Turn on WGN right now!
Dean flips over to the station, and the screen fills with a scene of mass celebration. Chicago's streets are packed with happy, cheering people. The reporter on scene shouts into her microphone to be heard over the crowd pushing up behind her:
'All of Chicago has turned out for this celebration, one week to the day that our city was attacked by a monster and saved by a very friendly, and from what I'm told, very handsome giant.' The women in the crowd shriek happily at that part, and a buxom blonde holds up a sign that reads, "I'm up for grabs!" complete with a silhouette of a gigantic hand pulling a female out of a window. The reporter laughs and goes on. 'Gino's Pizzeria has even prepared the world's biggest slice of Chicago-style pizza in gratitude to the giant, but so far, he hasn't shown.' They switch to an aerial view of the square slice, nearly half the size of a city block. 'Not to worry, though—if the giant decides he isn't hungry, all of these folks will be happy to eat it for him.'
The crowd cheers, and Dean's head hits the ceiling as he looks at all that pizza goodness. The TV shuts off.
"Awwww," Dean moans from the motel room bed. He grabs for the remote, but Sam holds it out of reach.
"Stop torturing yourself, dude."
"I earned that pizza! Can't we even go back for one bite?"
Sam smiles sadly. "Someone might recognize you. And since you can show up in pictures again…" He takes out his camera phone and snaps a shot of his pouting, 10-foot brother to demonstrate, and shows the picture to Dean as proof. "You're staying here."
Dean crosses his arms and sulks. It's taken a week of painful anti-venom injections and uncomfortable shrinkings to get him back down to normal size, and yet he still grows every time he sees, smells, or thinks of food. Occasionally a woman sets it off instead: once he came out of the bathroom just as the sexy young maid came in to change towels. He started flirting, she flirted back, and he grew with his arousal. The maid screamed and ran out of the room. That was two hotels ago. They move away from Chicago a little more each time, but they watch the news every night to make sure that Dean was never photographed. So far, so good. Because no one caught Dean on camera, the rest of the world thinks the entire incident was just a huge tourism ploy by the city, ignoring the evidence of broken buildings and thousands of eyewitness reports. They've even chalked up the huge tracks Sam left on Lakeshore Drive to very elaborate (and expensive) pranks. To the brothers' surprise, the police have played along, denying the reality of the affair in every news conference. Whether that's just their way of saying thanks to Dean or an attempt to put an end to crazy speculation about when the giant will be back, they don't know—and honestly, they don't really care. What matters is that everything turned out all right. Except for the fact that Dean's cravings are growing—literally.
Right now they're waiting for Michelle and Owen to stop by with the results of some tests they ran to figure out not only why Dean still grows, but why it sometimes wears off on its own, and other times it doesn't. Dean's stomach growls, and Sam hands him a big bag of peanut M&Ms.
"You do realize that I spent the last of Waldo Durden's money on your snackage," Sam complains with a smirk.
"Money well spent," Dean smirks back, eating the entire contents in one mouthful. He swallows and signals for more. Sam opens a new bag, snags a few candies for himself, and hands the rest over. Dean happily munches away, and Sam smiles. It's so good to see Dean looking like Dean again.
It was very touch and go at first. There was a tense hour while Owen made the first batch of anti-venom, and they all kept watch as Dean struggled to keep breathing. Castiel meditated while atop Dean's forehead, and it somehow kept Dean calm as well. Sam later asked the angel what he did. Castiel simply replied, "I reassured him of your well-being." Then Castiel asked Sam why he looked angry.
"He was nearly dead, and he was still thinking about ME. Why doesn't he ever think about himself?"
Castiel just stared with those deep blue eyes. "Do you really not know?" And he turned back to Dean and said nothing more.
And Sam knew, of course. But he'll never stop wondering why, because it will never make sense to him. Dean coughs and Sam's head snaps to his left, just as it has every day and every cough since the park. After Owen injected Dean, he deflated like a balloon, shrinking so fast that he was back to normal in seconds. Sam smiles as he thinks back on Dean's first words: "God, that's better." Then he fell unconscious, no doubt from all the stress on his body followed by the sudden release. No sooner had Castiel healed Dean's shoulder, ribs, and lungs that Dean started to grow again, requiring another injection. And so it had gone for the next two days. Dean slept through most of it, resting comfortably at a ritzy, high-rise hotel Tyler's parents treated them to in thanks for saving their son. Sam remembers looking down at the street from their vantage point on the 32nd floor, marveling that Dean could have ever stood outside and looked right in at him. Resting in the huge bed, he looked so small. He still coughed, fighting a cold, and Sam still jumped to bring him water and make sure he wasn't getting any worse. The injections finally took, and Dean stayed small—until the first time he saw a commercial for Chili's Baby Back Ribs. Dean grew until he took up the entire room, squashed up on his side so he wouldn't bust through the ceiling. Sam was pinned between Dean's neck and the door.
"I think I still have a problem."
Sam resisted the snark and patted his hand on Dean's chin. "We'll fix it, Dean. I promise."
Sam prays that he can keep that promise.
He hears snapping fingers, and he blinks out of his contemplation and back to the here and now. "Huh?"
"You gonna answer the door or what?" Dean asks.
Sam notices the knocking now and moves into the living room part of their suite. They've been staying at nicer places to get these larger rooms and give Dean any extra growing space he might need. Sam looks through the peephole and smiles. "Cavalry's here," he announces as he opens the door. Michelle and Owen step inside. Owen nods a greeting and slips past, and Michelle gives Sam a big hug.
"Hey Sam. How's your heart?"
"Fine. It really hasn't hurt since that day in the park." He smiles as she examines him anyway. "How's Jeremy?"
"Better. We've got him down to 20 feet." She looks both happy and sad at the news, and Sam knows why. They've had to go much slower with Jeremy due to his much more severe condition. And since Castiel had to leave just a day after Dean's return to normal, they can't rely on angel power, either. Michelle smiles up at him and gives him a little smack on his chest. "Stop feeling sorry for us, Sam. We'll be fine. Bobby is back with him now."
Sam nods and they go in to see Dean. His big brother is a little smaller again—maybe seven or eight feet now.
"Did you inject him again?" Sam asks Owen.
"No. He did that himself."
Dean looks surprised. "I did?"
"You did. Just as well, really, as I've no anti-venom left for you. We have to save it for Jeremy. And besides," he smiles at both brothers, "Dean doesn't need it anymore."
Dean and Sam look at each other…and frown. Sam reaches down, opens a bag of chips, and holds up a single Frito. Dean grows at once. They both look back at Owen. "You call that cured?" they ask together.
"He isn't CURED," Michelle responds, "because there's nothing TO cure. He doesn't have a growing problem anymore."
Sam opens a bottle of beer and Dean grows again, bigger than when they first came in the room. Michelle opens her mouth, but Sam signals her to wait. He lifts up a skin mag from Dean's duffle and unfurls the centerfold. Dean grows so big and so fast that they all get squished up against the wall.
"So when you say 'no growing problem'…" Dean murmurs to the people pressed into his side.
"The hydros…is dead, Dean," Owen strains from under Dean's elbow. "You're growing entirely on your own!"
Dean shrinks at once, and they all fall into a dog pile. Dean's the first to scramble away, looking rattled at the news. "But I'm not even thinking about it," he confesses. "It's just happening!"
"Exactly," Michelle smiles. "And you just went back to normal on your own, too."
Dean sits down on his bed, not liking where this is going. "So what…I'm Apache Chief now? Growing is my superpower?"
"Erm…sort of. Reckon he had a bit more control." Owen blanches when Dean glares at him. "M-Meesh, why don't you tell him what the tests revealed…"
"Your DNA has been altered," she blurts out, but unlike Owen, she smiles through Dean's look of doom. "You simply had the hydros venom in you for too long. Plus, you were connected to it through long-term exposure to its blood. We can't cure you, Dean, because it's a PART of you now."
Dean doesn't say a word. He looks stunned. Sam speaks for him. "What, ah…what's that mean, Meesh?"
"It means that Dean can now grow whenever he wants, and as much or as little, too. Isn't that awesome?" Her smile fades when she turns to Dean, who seems a little lost. She kneels down in front of him. "Dean, this is good news."
"Just think of all the good you'll be able to do with this ability," Owen points out. "All the added strength you'll bring to your hunts!"
Michelle rubs Dean's knee. "Of course you'll have to practice to get control. In fact, I'd let yourself get big at least twice a week—maybe spend the night as a giant."
"Just don't ignore the new you, all right? You have to allow your inner giant some freedom, or it may backfire on you."
"Backfire?" Sam asks.
"He might grow by accident more often if he neglects his new ability," Owen explains. "He has to grow comfortable with his, erm…growing."
"And he doesn't have to get super huge or anything," Michelle reassures both brothers. "Just…maybe about how big he was when we first met. Sixtyish feet. That's not so bad, right?" She looks back at Dean and finds him crestfallen. "Dean? Sweetie, are you all right?"
Dean blinks but stares at her shoulder. "Peachy," he replies, fronting a smile. He stands up, and Michelle follows, not convinced.
"Absatively posolutely." Dean gives her a warm hug. "Thanks, Meesh, for everything." Releasing her, he gives Owen a firm handshake. "You too, man. Thanks."
"You're very welcome," Owen says. "Oh! Before I forget." He reaches into his pocket and produces a small vial. "Sprinkle some of this on all of your clothes and shoes. Then no matter what you wear, they will grow and shrink as you do. You can use it on your mobile as well."
Dean grins, holding the vial up to the light. "Cool, thanks. But you sure that'll be enough?"
"The vial itself is magic as well. It will never run out." Owen grins. "And yeah, it's the dog's bollocks." He smiles at Dean's confused expression. "That means the best thing ever." Owen walks back to the front room of the suite, and the rest file in behind him. "Ring me with any problems or questions, yeah? I'll be in London, reopening my shop." He shakes Sam's hand and leaves. Michelle waves both boys in for a simultaneous hug.
"Call me too, boys. Anytime, twenty-four, seven, three-sixty-five." I've got Bobby wrapped around my finger now, so if you incur my wrath, you'll be answering to both of us." Sam and Dean chuckle, and she gives them each a peck on the cheek. Then she straightens their shirts and smiles. "Bye."
Sam waves and shuts the door behind her, and his smile gently fades away. "So, you going to tell me the truth?" he asks as he turns around. But Dean is back in the other room, sitting on his bed and staring at nothing. "Dean?" Sam stands in front of him. "What is it?"
"Nothing, Sammy," he murmurs. Sam frowns, but Dean lies down before Sam can say anything. "Think I'll hit the hay early tonight. Head hurts."
"Yeah." Dean sets his untouched beer down on the table. "Don't feel like you have to turn in too. Get out and go somewhere, or read, surf some porn, whatever you want." He rolls onto his side, facing away from Sam. Then he feels a hand on his shoulder.
"You okay, Dean?" Sam knows damn well that he isn't, but he still has to ask.
"Tired, Sammy," is all Dean replies. Sam backs away and shuts the light off.
"Call me if you need anything. I'll be in the other room."
Dean doesn't say a word. Sam sighs and sits down with his laptop, hoping to find a legend about people or beings with growing powers while he waits for Dean to fall asleep. He knows it's probably futile to try. But it's better than sitting here and doing nothing but worry, he thinks, and his fingers type in the first search.
Sometime later, Sam looks up from his power nap and finds that he's been asleep for hours. It's past midnight now. He stretches his arms out and yawns as he gets up and makes his way to the bedroom. He checks on Dean. The bed is empty.
Sam races to the door and swings it open. The Impala is still there, same spot she's been in since Bobby drove her over the other day. Seeing her makes Sam even more nervous. He grabs his jacket, phone, room key, and gun. He's got Dean's number highlighted before the door shuts behind him.
"Yeah?" his brother's sleepy voice answers after a few rings.
"Dean? Where the hell did you go?"
Sam actually glares at the phone. "Why didn't you wake me up?"
"You were smiling. Figured it was a good dream."
There's a pause as Sam fumes and Dean yawns. Then Dean murmurs, "Well, see ya in the morning."
"Where ARE you? Bar? Diner? What?" No answer. "Dean?"
"I'm…in a field."
"A field." Sam has started to pace in the parking lot. "Not your usual kind of plowing."
"C'mon, Dean, tell me where you are. EXACTLY," he cuts in before Dean says 'a field' again. His brother sighs into the phone.
"You're not gonna let me get my shut-eye till you find out, are ya…" he grumbles. "Fine."
Fifteen minutes later, the Impala finds herself on a rural road. Sam stops her just past a farmhouse with a driveway lined by gnome statues. He grimaces at them. There are at least 40 of them—a little army of pointy hats and chubby, bearded faces. Sam turns around to the field across the street. Prairie stretches out in every direction, free of any feature save for a hill in the near distance.
A hill that just rolled over… Sam gets out of the car and clicks his flashlight on. He jumps the fence and walks along semi-frozen ground. Dean sits up near the far end, facing away from the road. He's about 30-feet tall, hunched over, and shivering.
"Dude, it's freezing out here," Sam says as he moves around to Dean's front.
"Then go back inside," Dean mutters. Sam shines the light up to Dean's face, and a big hand comes up to block it. "Dude! Turn that off."
"But then I can't see you."
"Why d'you think I came out here?" Dean murmurs, not looking at Sam. Sam climbs up to Dean's knee and shuts off the flashlight. They sit in the darkness in silence for a few minutes, both of them looking up at clear night sky and the countless stars above.
"You forget how many there are," Dean comments at length. "All the lights from the towns and cities…they erase half the sky."
"It's called light pollution," Sam informs him.
"I wasn't really asking."
Dean glances down at Sam, whose eyes must have adjusted because he's looking right back at him—and smirking. Dean smirks back. Their faces fall as the silence settles back in, neither one of them wanting to start the conversation they know they have to have. Eventually, Dean clears his throat.
"So when are you leaving me, Sam?"
Dean doesn't actually say the 'me', but he thinks it—and Sam hears it—all the same.
"Leaving? Who said I'm leaving?"
"Someone's got to stop the seals from breaking, and it damn well won't be me anymore."
Sam can't believe his ears. "Why?"
"Uh, cos I'm a full-time freak now?" Dean snaps. Sam balks, but Dean goes on. "Face it, Sammy—I'm stuck with this. Yeah I can go back to normal, but I don't know how. I need time, and we don't HAVE time. The fucking Apocalypse isn't gonna wait for me to figure this out. You have to go on without me—"
"—and win this thing. I'll just slow you down and screw things up if I come along. And the world does NOT need a screw-up right now."
Sam nods along, hearing Dean's words but not liking them at all. "So that's it? That's the plan? I'm supposed to pack my bags, take off, and leave you here?"
Dean nods. "Pretty much, yeah."
"Well forget it."
"Don't 'Sammy' me," Sam retorts, paraphrasing Dean's words and anger from the other day. "Dean…I can't just abandon you! And more than that, I don't WANT to."
"Well you have to."
"Why? Cos you say so?"
Sam stands up on Dean's knee and folds his arms. "This is stupid. I'm not leaving, end of story. Let's go back to the hotel."
"Yes you CAN. Come on." Sam glares at him, but Dean doesn't move. "What's the problem now?"
"I'm stuck, all right?" Dean's eyes sparkle in the starlight, and he looks up and away. "I came out here to practice," he tells Sam, speaking low. "Grew, walked out here, shrunk back down, and started from scratch. Got it right a few times. Big, normal. Bigger, normal. Then you called, and after you hung up, I knew I had to hurry before you got here. So I tried bigger yet…and now I'm stuck."
Sam can hear the shame in his brother's voice, so he's careful to keep his own in check. "What did you do to shrink before?"
"I don't know, that's the whole problem! Sometimes it's like a reflex, and sometimes it's just by thought…and then other times it just happens on its own. It's so confusing…I never know if I'm doing it right, only when I'm doing it wrong and this happens to me." Dean gestures to himself. "What if this happens when we're on a hunt, huh? What if some fugly gets away cos I just start getting bigger and get stuck? What if we're interviewing somebody in their home? What if I hurt the victim—hurt you?! What if—"
"What if you learn how to make it work?" Sam offers. "And what if I help?" Dean is speechless for a change, eyes and face like a little boy seeking comfort after a bad dream. Sam smiles warmly. "Meesh was right about this, Dean. If—WHEN you get this under control, it could really help with our hunts. You could flick the heads off vampires. Draw the world's biggest devil's traps. You could swat werewolves like flies!"
Dean gives a little smirk. "That could be fun."
"All you need is practice."
"We don't have TIME!"
"We'll make time," Sam tells him. "And I'll be here to help. I'm not going anywhere. I'll even stay out here with you on nights like this, if you want."
"It's freezing out here," Dean reminds him.
"Well then you'd better grow big enough so I can fit in your pocket." Dean smiles at that. Sam does too, then adds, "Um, that wasn't a request. I can't feel my toes."
Dean grows till he has doubled in size, and Sam tucks himself in to the left jacket pocket.
Sam shuts his eyes. The familiar weight of Dean's palm soon settles over Sam's body, warming and comforting him at once. Neither brother notices the other one smiling.
The next morning, Sam wakes up and finds himself almost on the ground. Almost because he's still on top of his brother—but Dean is no longer huge.
"You're not a giant anymore."
"So I'm basically just lying on top of you."
"Is it gonna be like this every morning after?"
"DON'T call it that. And God I hope not."
They both breathe. In. Out.
"Feel free to get off me any time…"
Sam rolls off. They brush the dirt off their clothes and walk back to the car. Sam tosses Dean the keys, and Dean smirks as they sit down. Sam looks at him, asking 'what?' with his expression, and Dean turns to him with a grin.
"S'pose I should buy you breakfast or something."
"Hilarious," Sam frowns, though he can't keep the edges of his lips from curling up. "Just get me a bowl of coffee. Black as night."
Dean nods. "You got it, Sammy." He starts the car, and the radio is playing a song that makes Sam groan and Dean laugh. "Oh come on, this is perfect, admit it!" Dean nudges Sam in the arm, and Sam nods.
"Yeah yeah. Still waiting for my coffee."
The Impala takes off down the road, Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla" blasting out of her speakers.
A/N Additional: Again, thank you all so much for reading! A number of you have asked for a sequel, so I will happily oblige :) It will be called "Measure of a Man" and I will send out an alert here when Chapter One goes up sometime soon.