A/N: Welcome to the final chapter. I thank everyone for their reviews, alerts, and favorites. If you have not reviewed, please consider doing so. I'd love to hear what you think.
A/N 2: Aside from the bunyip, nothing Australian was hurt in the production of this story unless it is through my attempt to catch the flavor of their accent and slang. No insult would ever be intended.
As soon as he put the car in Park, Sam limped over to open their hotel room door. He limped back to the car and grabbed Dean's crutches from the front seat, before opening the back door and shaking Dean's shoulder.
"Up and at 'em, Dean. We're here."
Dean's head came up. He yawned and waved off Sam's outstretched arm. "I got it." He got his good leg down, and stood, dragging his left leg out of the car. He hopped backwards, and lost his balance.
Sam caught him, and brought him upright. "Let me help."
Dean gritted out, "This sucks" and reached out a hand to grab for the crutches. His leg was wrapped from his crotch to below the knee, metal struts holding the leg straight. And he was tripping on painkillers. Sam sighed and held him until he was steady and set up on his crutches.
"The room is straight ahead."
If they hadn't bent Dean's knee a little bit before they wrapped the leg, Sam had no idea how he would be able to walk, crutch or no crutch. They reached the curb by the sidewalk and Dean stopped. Sam waited impatiently until he felt Dean shake a little, then looked over in alarm before he realized Dean was laughing.
"Just try to keep moving forward. I'll steer."
"You mean up?" Dean negotiated the step, still laughing. "See, I got it." He looked around blearily. "Where we goin'?"
"Forward, Dean, just move forward." They reached the door, and Sam brushed past Dean to turn and help pull him into the room. "Just a few more steps."
He got his brother to his bed, and helped him take off his jacket and over shirt. He tugged off Dean's boots, and helped him stand to remove the sweatpants he'd worn home from the hospital.
Dean swatted at his hands. "Just got dressed a minute ago."
"You have an appointment or something I don't know about? You're stuck to that bed for a few more days."
Dean looked mulish. "Keep the pants on."
Sam helped him sit back down, and said, "Whatever."
Dean smelled his armpit. "Need a shower, dude." He tried to stand up, but Sam easily tipped him back against the headboard and packed some pillows behind him.
"You can have a shower tomorrow." He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Stay still. Just have to get a few things from the car." He headed for the door, but stopped when he heard Dean say his name. "What?"
"What happened to the sheep? There was a sheep."
"I placed an anonymous call. Someone will pick her up." He ducked out and only felt a twinge in his arm as he grabbed Dean's duffle and the bag of prescription meds from the front seat. He locked up the car, and headed back in, closing the door behind him. Dean was looking down at his hands.
"You OK, man?"
"Just checking my fingers. Nothing broke. How's your leg?"
Sam glanced down at his wrapped foot. "Fine. Hardly hurts at all. It's mostly this boot they told me to wear."
"Arm OK? You need something, I got primo painkillers."
"It's fine. I can take the stitches out in a day or two. And I know about the painkillers. Same stuff I had." Sam powered up his laptop and looked back at his brother. "Good stuff, isn't it?"
Dean looked up. Sam could almost see the wheels slowly turning. "Oxycontin."
"You a connoisseur of narcotics, now?" Sam huffed out a laugh. "Of course you are."
Dean quirked up one side of his mouth and blinked slowly. "'Connoisseur.'" He rubbed his eyes, yawning. "Why'm I so tired?"
Sam sighed. "That is a puzzle, 'cause after all, you slept like a baby when your fever spiked to 104. And don't forget, jerking awake with nightmares twenty times a night was restful. For both of us."
Dean grimaced and leaned his head back. "Sarcastic, much? Sorry if I kept you up."
"Dean, that's not…" He stopped. "In the ER, you freaked at the restraints. Is that, was that… Did that happen to you in Hell?"
Dean focused on Sam's face. "No, it's just, they're no reference points, no way to… I said I wouldn't lie, but I won't talk about it. Drop it." He closed his eyes and turned his head away.
Sam got a glass of water from the kitchenette and walked over to sit on the other bed facing Dean. He went through the bottles and pulled out a handful of pills. "You probably haven't slept a whole night since the bunyip. So take your pills and take a nap." He handed Dean the glass and the pills.
He booted up the laptop but couldn't concentrate. He walked back to the bed. "Dean?" He didn't see a reaction and tried again. "Dean?" He sat down on the bed next to his brother.
Dean cracked his eyes open, his pupils like pinheads. "What?" He reached for the glass of water on the bedside table and missed, almost knocking it on the floor. Sam held the glass while he took a few sips. Dean leaned back on the pillows, his eyes slipping shut.
"I need to tell you something. You awake?"
"No, sound asleep, smartass. I'm uh, this … painkiller, man. Can't think. Talk later."
Dean rubbed his face. "Tol' you. Don' wanna talk about the Pit. Leave it alone."
"When you are ready to talk, I'll listen. I don't know what else I can do for you… but something's got to give."
"Don' want you to do anything. And I'm not your responsib, sponsa … sponsability."
"Yes, you are. Ever since you came back, you haven't been … the nightmares, the drinking. Angelic visitations. You have to talk to someone. We can't hunt when you're drunk. So talk to me. About anything. I'll listen."
Dean lifted a hand, but dropped it again. "You don' know what you're sayin'." He looked away for a moment, then back at Sam. "An' you're still a girl." He swallowed. Sam helped him drink a few more sips of water.
Dean mumbled something he couldn't make out, and went still. Sam waited until his breathing steadied and lengthened, watched as the pinched looked around Dean's eyes smoothed out, and his jaw finally relaxed, letting his mouth drop open. He waited another five minutes until he heard it, a tiny click on every exhalation, a leftover from a meeting of Dean's teenage face with a brick wall.
He set his phone to chime in two hours and plugged it into the charger. After swallowing a couple of ibuprofen, he climbed onto his own bed, toed off his shoes, and fell asleep just as he was thinking he should get under a blanket.
Dean eye's snapped open, the all too familiar sounds of anguished screams echoing in his ears. Hell was, just hell, lurking in the corner of his eyes, gone when he looked for it, choking his breath off if he let his guard down. He lay still, listening for anything out of place. Sam was breathing on the next bed, asleep from the sound of it. The room was almost dark. Nothing out of place. His leg was throbbing in time with his heartbeat. There was a disgustingly cheerful chirping noise coming from the bedside table. He slapped his hand around until he found Sam's phone and silenced the alarm. He rubbed his face, and heaved himself to the edge of the bed, swinging his right leg off the bed, and dragging the left one onto the floor with his hands. He held his head as the room spun momentarily. When he raised his head he spotted his crutches on the far side of the room.
Sam would get pissy if he woke him up just to help him take a piss. Dean stood on his good leg and gingerly set his left foot on the floor. Not bad. He slid his left leg forward and set it down. No problem. He hopped his right leg forward to meet it. Tolerable. A few more steps and he'd have the crutches. He got about half way before he put too much weight on his on his left leg. Not so tolerable. He sucked in air and shook his hands, breathing like a bellows, trying to ride it out.
He felt a hand at his elbow and leaned onto the support. "Thanks."
He jerked away from the touch and pivoted on his good leg, looking for the threat. All he saw Sam, still sprawled on the bed. Nothing else.
"Sam! Wake up."
He hopped toward the bed, and leaned over to grab Sam's ankle and shake it. "Sam?" He heard something behind him, and came up quickly and off balance. His left leg went out to one side and down he went, falling half on and half off the bed, his nose pressed into Sam's right sock. He waited for Sam to wake up, bitch, and help him up but his brother slept on, breathing slow and regular.
He got himself up on one elbow. There was still nothing in the room. Must be the Oxy. He smacked Sam's leg again. What was wrong with Sam? Dean checked Sam's pulse at the wrist. Strong and steady. Maybe Sam got into the painkillers? Had a stroke, hidden brain injury, heart attack … Dean had to get up.
He felt a strong pair of arms picking him up from behind, like he was a doll or something. He drove an elbow back and connected with – nothing. He tried to struggle, but there was nothing there to fight against. Just strong hands getting him up and seated right next to Sam's feet.
"Quit fighting me, you asinine lummox. Sleeping beauty is fine."
"Bamapana." He sighed. "Well, isn't this fucking cozy? What are you doing here? Sam killed the bunyip, I can talk again … and why can't I see you, you little freak?"
The Trickster appeared in one of the chairs. He was perched at the edge, swinging his feet back and forth.
"I wanted a chance to talk to you without the skyscraper nosing in."
"Who isn't a skyscraper to you, you little pervert? Are you keeping Sam asleep?"
"Be glad you have your voice back."
"Be glad the bunyip is dead. How can a Trickster be such a pansy?"
Bamapana grinned. "Got me in to see you two without a stake in my back. And you were going to hunt it anyway."
Dean sighed. "So, Tattoo. Just what the hell was this all about."
The little guy stared at him. "Tattoo?"
"'Da plane! Da plane!'" Dean didn't see a spark of recognition in the man's face. "Fantasy Island? Come on, you've got to have seen that." Dean watched something almost like hurt flicker across Bamapana's face.
"That' guy? I've got six inches on him a least." Bamapana stood and dragged his chair in front of the mirror mounted over the dresser. He climbed back up on it to look at himself. "I really look that short to you, ya bounce?"
Dean looked down, trying to suppress a snort of laughter. So, the little guy was vain. He pulled up a corner of the comforter and tugged it over Sam. "Why me? Why us? Why everything?"
The small man turned from the mirror and sat down again, looking almost embarrassed. "Heard a lot about you two. Thought you and your brother would be perfect. So I set up a little meet and greet."
"Heard about me and Sam? You could have picked any hunter. And you could have just asked."
"What would be the fun in that? And I wanted to meet you. Back from Hell - who can say that? And the guys with feathers? Dean, you moron, you are more powerful than you know. Hard as it is for me to say, but these days, you talk, people listen. And a lot of us don't want you talking about what happened in Florida."
Dean stared at him then burst out laughing. "Nobody listens to me. Even when I'm right." He thought for a second. "You mean Broward County? The Mystery Spot. It was a load of crap. The only thing there was that goddamn Trickster … Oh."
Bamapana nodded and tapped his finger against his nose. "You're as slow as a nun's orgasm, but you do eventually get there."
"That was a clusterfuck if ever there was one. And I still don't know how Sam convinced me to go anywhere near the damn state. In February. We never even went to a beach. And he got the bed with the Magic Fingers." That still smarted. He glared at the Trickster. "But what business is this of yours, Tiny Tim? I don't remember squat and Sam's barely said a word. If he won't tell me, who the hell would he tell?"
"Tiny Tim? Shine, Winchester. Is there really a porn version of A Christmas Carol? You don't have a habit of keeping your damn mouth shut, so how would anyone know you were going to stay quiet? Maybe Sam has been whispering to his black-eyed skank?"
"Sam? Pillow talk with a demon? You've got to be …" He drew himself up short. He suddenly felt nauseated. "Sam wouldn't talk hunts, about me, with a demon." He rolled that around in his mouth thinking of the months prior to the deal. "Strike that." He slapped Sam's foot. "It doesn't matter anyway."
"If word gets back to the hellspawn it does. Demons aren't usually a problem for us. We are as old as they are and powerful." He patted his staff. "But any Trickster would have problems with a pack of the fuckers, and that's what we have topside now. If we appear weak, if they think we give in to any weepy human, even a psychotic one, they'll make our lives … difficult. And we hate difficult."
"Sam was never psychotic." This time Bamapana snorted. "Never mind, I get it. I'll make sure Sam does, too." He rubbed his face. "Is there anything else, 'cause I really need to take a leak."
The little guy handed him his crutches. "I'll wait."
Crap. "Wake up Sam first. I'm not leaving him alone with you."
"He's going to be a right bastard about all of this. All pissy or all emo."
"You Trickster types like sweet stuff – give him some candy. Always worked for me."
He shook Sam's foot through the comforter. "Sammy, wake up. Bamapana's here…', and that's as far as he got. His brother came up and off the bed like a rocket, kicking the comforter off his legs and slamming a foot right into Dean's bad leg.
Sam practically levitated off the bed when Dean said the Trickster was in the room. How that could have happened without him waking up… But it was nothing to the panic of opening his eyes to see Dean groan, lean forward, and fall off the bed.
"Dean!" He was on his feet, and placing himself between his brother and the little man in a fluid movement. He pushed the Trickster back. "What did you do to him?"
"Me? It was your giant foot that did that." Bamapana's eyes widened comically. "You really are a freak of nature. Feet like a hobbit, and yeah, yeah," he held up a hand, "I know about them. Couldn't stop hearing about them. Those bloody actors were in New Zealand for fucking YEARS."
Sam smiled brightly at the Trickster and held up his hands. "Everything important is in proportion to the feet and hands, right, little man? And look at your little tiny feet. What does that say about you?"
That shut Bamapana for two seconds. Sam kept his head down and did his best to ignore the Trickster as he helped Dean back up onto the bed. Dean tried to wave him off, but with his immobile leg, he wasn't going to get up easily. Sam glanced at the clock. "Six hours? I was out for six hours? What did you do to me?"
The Trickster smiled. "Kept you asleep for a bit while Dean and I had a conversation."
"What the hell did you talk about?" Bamapana didn't answer, just waved Sam's attention back to his brother. Dean's breathing was still ragged but starting to slow down. "Dean, how you doing? You need to take these." He held out painkillers and antibiotics and watched Dean until he'd swallowed the pills.
Bamapana grinned. "He needs to take a piss, you big dick."
"That's what you talked about?" Sam glared at him, then looked at Dean. "Is that true?"
Dean blushed. "Yeah, I do."
Sam retrieved the crutches and helped him to the john. Dean wouldn't let him in, so he waited outside, swiveling his head to look at the door, and then at Bamapana, and back to the door.
When Dean finally came out, white faced and sweating, Sam offered an arm, but Dean swayed past him. Sam got to the bed first, and helped Dean settle back against the headboard.
Sam'd had his back to the Trickster, keeping between himself between it and his brother, so it was a surprise to turn around and see his bed covered in bright packages. The table had chafing dishes and plates loaded with cakes and cookies. The smell of sugar was taking over the room. He sat down heavily next to Dean. Who hit his back.
"Wha's going on? Move. Lemme see!"
Bamapana grinned at them both. "A thank you from me." He looked at Sam then stage whispered to Dean, "Is that pissy or emo?"
Dean considered Sam and raised his right eyebrow. "Both. Candy will help." Sam huffed in annoyance. When Dean tried to heave himself upright, Sam held him down by simply leaving one hand on his chest.
"Wanna see the pie."
Dean sounded all of five to Sam's ears. He had to laugh. God, he still loved his brother on narcotics. "I'll bring you pie. Just wait till the painkillers kick in." He checked Dean's pupils. "And they have." He looked at the Trickster. "What is everthing?"
"Arnott's Mint Slices, Black Forest, Cherry Ripe, Jaffa's, ummm, Polly Waffles, Violet Crumbles, four kinds of Tim Tams, and some Fruit Tingles." The Trickster handed Sam a Violet Crumble. "Try this, kid, should be sweet enough for you."
Sam unwrapped it warily, sniffed it, and bit in. Honey, chocolate, and so sweet his teeth hurt. God, it was like heaven on a stick. He closed his eyes in ecstasy. "Dean, you've got to try this."
Dean hit his back again. "Get me some pie."
Bamapana pointed at the table. "We have pav, frog cake, lamington's, and vanilla slice."
Sam translated for Dean. "Cake, cake that looks like frogs, um, cake with powdered sugar, and cake that kinda looks like a napoleon."
Dean's eyes were only half open, but he smiled. "Where's pie?"
Bamapana opened one of the chafing dishes. "Pie floater."
Sam stood and walked over to take a look. He looked in the dish, and sniffed. He whispered, "That is not pie."
"Meat pie, pea soup, tomato sauce on top. You've got to try it."
Sam gulped. "I can't do that to him. Isn't there some kind of fruit between layers of pastry?"
"Try him on the pav", pointing at a tall white confection covered in fruit.
Dean liked the pavlova as soon as Sam described it as Australian meringue pie. After experimenting with some of the other food, Dean explained in a slurred voice that vegemite on toast, which he'd tried at Bamapana's urging as an Australian favorite, should only be used to repair flat tires. He was instantly sorry and proceeded to apologize to Three Dog Night, Russell Crow, and Mel Gibson but only, he explained seriously, to Mel pre Passion of the Christ. Bamapana took no offense, pointing out that Gibson was an American by birth, and that explained both Passion and Apocalypto. Sam pondered that but had drawn no rebuttal before the Trickster got up to take his leave.
This time Dean did get up. Sam was so full of food that he was almost inert. Dean took two hops and met Bamapana by the door. Sam was pretty sure they thought he couldn't hear them, but the Trickster was too egotistical to lower his voice, and Dean was too stoned to know how loud he was.
"I don't ever want to see you again, you fucking dwarf."
"Back at you, you piece of shit ingrate. You'll remember what you promised?"
"I'll take care of it, but if you forget and come near me or my brother again, staking won't be good enough. Remember, I have friends. In high places." He grinned. "And in low places." Dean started to laugh, and looked down to fix his constricted pupils on Bamapana. "Get my drift?"
Sam had to give it to his brother. Dean was barely upright but still had the menace mojo just baking off him. He stood and walked to stand behind his brother. He could do menacing. After all, he'd learned from the best.
"I'm going. But I have a special present for Dean."
"Oh, fuck. Not more?"
Sam had to grab Dean's biceps when he tried to reach for the nonexistent gun at his back and swayed backwards, then dangerously forward.
Bamapana handed a leather bag to Dean. "Your own mojo bag."
Sam stepped forward as Dean took the bag with a ridiculous grin on his face. "For me? You didn't get one for Sam? This is just for me?"
"Just for you." The little man looked from one to the other. "You know how to reach me. I owe you." He cleared his throat and looked up. "If you ever do end up in bed, you'll call me, won't you? Promise? It'll keep me up nights if you don't promise."
Sam held onto Dean with one hand, and opened the door and pushed the Trickster out with the other. "You'll be the first to know. We promise." He didn't slam the door shut, just closed it deliberately.
After a few minutes of watching Dean melt into the mattress, Sam pulled the bag from his unresisting fingers. Dean muttered something he couldn't make out.
"I'll give it right back."
A picture of a kangaroo was burned into the leather on both sides. Intrigued, he opened the bag and took out a card from the manufacturer. He read the card, and laughed out loud.
Dean's eyes opened a crack. "Wha's so funny?"
"I'll tell you in the morning." Sam put the bag back in Dean's hand, and watched his brother's eyes slip shut.
He unwrapped another Violet Crumble and booted up the laptop. Tomorrow morning, he'd find out what Dean's reaction to a bag made out of kangaroo scrotum leather would be. Now that? That would almost make this screwed up hunt worthwhile.
Thanks everyone for reading. This month marks the anniversary of posting the first chapter of my very first fan fiction story. I wanted to thank all of you for making this year such an awesome ride. Phoebe