Disclaimer: I own nothing in the following story. All recognizable characters and locations belong to Eric Kripke, the actors who portray them and everyone in between. No money was made and no offence was intended in the telling of this story. All characters will be dusted off and returned after I have finished playing with them sometime in the very distant future.
Author's Notes: Thanks to lynxlan and Muffy for betaing and just being there for me over the last several months. Without your support I swear I would seriously be climbing the walls. So really, thank you.
This was supposed to be a one shot follow up after Renovations. It was supposed to be simple. Dean working out a little stress and feeling a little dejected at being left at Bobby's without Sam. However it got a mind of its own and it morphed into monster of its own. That said, as this is a sequel, it would be helpful to read Renovations first before reading this story.
There are some darker themes in this story that I've not written before. My own life has been extremely stressful over the last several months with health issues and when I was able to actually write properly again this is how I was dealing with it. It's not meant to offend but if abuse and blood rituals are not your thing please back out now. There is nothing overly graphic but I'm just trying to give fair warning.
If you are still with me please enjoy the story. This story has been completed and beta'd. It will be posted once a week until all fifteen chapters and the epilogue has been posted. Please let me know what you think of the story.
By infinite shadow
Walking. He was walking, stalking, glaring at everything around him, his hands clenched at his sides. A young pup, as Uncle Bobby would say, right at his heels. His emotions were churning dangerously and he needed to get a handle on them before he did or said something stupid.
Orders had been barked at him just before he'd slammed the door and stomped down the steps. The walls had been closing in and he'd had to escape. Hesitation at the bottom of the steps before a flare of gut wrenching anger shoved him off, told him the order was not needed. There's no way he would walk too far away. Not with Sammy...
He broke into a run and tried to ignore the barks of glee at his side. Shadow was his favourite dog at Uncle Bobby's. Stupid dog would follow him all around the salvage yard, and if he managed to get out of the house undetected by the dog, Shadow would come across him within five minutes of being outside.
Today though, the company was not welcome.
He needed space, a little time to be alone to sort out the screaming, gun shots and just what the hell had happened on the last hunt, or more correctly, what had happened on all the hunts since staying at Pastor Jim's.
The signs from the blood poisoning and broken ankle were all but gone. The physical wounds had left nothing but two bright pink scars – one over his ankle bone the other on his arm. He looked fine, and it took almost all of his energy to make it look like he was ok.
Realistically it was light years away from the truth because he still hurt. Not that he would admit that to anyone, least of all himself. But there were times when he caught himself straining to breathe, almost as if the breathing tube was still stuck down his throat. He still felt weak in his leg and in his arm. Fear fueled his nightmares that tore him from sleep and tormented him even in the light of day.
He wasn't the only one having nightmares though. Sam was having far more than his fair share. Every night they'd go to sleep in their own beds. Sometime during the night he'd wake to Sam burrowing himself next to him, shaking and holding onto him for dear life. Truth was he didn't mind. Having his little brother beside him seemed to keep his own nightmares at bay.
Dad hadn't commented about it, even though it seemed to annoy him. He stopped asking for a pull out at the motels they stayed in, just ordered the boys to share a bed. It was really starting to piss Dean off. He was sixteen and shouldn't have to share a bed with his little brother.
He supposed it really made him mad because having his little brother reacting this way made him feel needed, or even wanted. But they weren't five and nine years old anymore. Sam was old enough to look after himself, even in the middle of the night.
With a shake of his head he pushed himself to run harder. He was exhausted all the time and the only way he was going to get better was to get stronger physically. That wouldn't happen by a short light jog.
His legs pumped with a smooth grace and he felt each strike of his feet on the ground. His foot burned around where the break had originally been and phantom pain shot up his arm where the blood poisoning had taken hold as his arms pumped in motion matching his strides. He wouldn't give up the harsh pace; he couldn't let the pain win.
Running usually helped settle him, an almost natural occurrence after running so many laps around different motels and running tracks over the years. This time was no different. But settling made him relax, made his mind wander slightly. Before he knew it he could hear screaming, see flashes of different hunts, different fights, and felt himself trip and go down hard onto his shins.
He stayed down for only a moment, until a cold nose pushed into his face. Pushing Shadow back he got up with a strangled cry and forced himself to run.
As he heard his little brother scream in his head again he moved from a fast run to an all out sprint. Dean gasped for air as he ran he brutally pushed himself trying to blank out the sounds and images from his mind.
He'd done almost six laps around Bobby's large salvage property before he stumbled to a halt near the back of the yard, panting hard. Damn near dead on the spot where he and Sammy had a fort when they were younger.
The semi-safe structure was long gone. It had partially collapsed on him one afternoon while he'd been climbing around on it like it was some kind of jungle gym. He'd landed hard, heavy metal pieces came down around him pinning him to the ground. While he hadn't been totally buried it had been painful and uncomfortable. It was after when he'd tried to stand up that he realized it wasn't the metal holding him down that made it hard to breathe. It was the rib he broke on the sudden hard stop on the compact ground of the salvage yard that was the problem. There had been promises of building a new stable fort from Bobby that John had immediately nixed.
The dark thought had him stunned and confused. He loved his father. Dad would do anything to protect him and his little brother.
Only he hadn't. The asshole had left him in a horrific hole of a house, unprotected and completely alone. Safe from demonic and supernatural entities they hunted, but vulnerable to anything and everything else. He'd almost di… It'd been so close. How could he… How…
Dean hunched over with his throat closing up, gasping for breath as a stitch tore at him in his side. His eyes burned with unshed tears. Clenching his teeth against all of the raging emotions he grabbed a large rock off the ground and heaved it as far as it could go with a gut wrenching cry.
Shadow barked and wagged her tail as she bounded off in the direction Dean had thrown the rock.
He panted heavily and impatiently scrubbed a hand over his face. Hating the few tears that had broken lose and trickled down his cheeks. "Shadow!" Dean ground out stopping the lovable mutt from chasing after the stone.
Instantly Shadow stopped and trotted back to the teen as Dean bent over. The stitch in his side overrode his anger and he dropped to a knee.
Shadow sniffed at the teen. She pushed her nose into his hand at his side then moved up to lick Dean's face.
"Hey girl," Dean said gruffly and just took a minute to run his hand down her back. He let the gentle motion calm him slightly and he just took a moment to look at the dog. He didn't get it, he really didn't. Most people and animals gravitated towards Sam or his father, but Shadow never had.
Dean's lips twitched into a slight smile and remembered when Bobby had asked him to name her. When he'd suggested Shadow it seemed fitting. When she'd first come to them she'd hideaway in them, and when she'd been comfortable enough she was always in Dean's.
They'd been here at the salvage yard when Bobby had brought her home, the last of a family that hadn't survived a ghoul attack. Bobby figured she'd been a little over a year old, unsteady and untrusting.
She would hide under furniture or car parts and would push as far back as she could if anyone tried to coax her out until Dean tried.
Originally he hadn't done much. He just sat himself next to the old coffee table on the floor and put a plate down next to him. With a glance under the table he met her eyes. "For you girl, when you're ready," he'd said softly.
He stayed there for hours doing homework, watching TV. Every once in a while he'd toss in a piece of food to her and talk to her. By the end of the day she had crept out enough to be seen, and be in hand's reach, but Dean never reached out to her. He waited and told anyone that came close to entering the room to get lost. By the time Dean was ready to head for bed that night Shadow whined when he stood up.
Dean smiled down at her and patted his leg. "Well? You coming with me or what, girl?" He asked softly and waited. He was a little disappointed when she crawled back to the corner of the room safely out of touch from everyone.
"S'all right girl. See you in the morning," he said quietly and headed off to bed.
When he'd gotten up in the morning he found her curled up in his shirt he'd worn the day before on the closet floor. She whined when he'd approached and he knelt down to her level careful to not spook her.
Her head hovered a mere inch above the floor, her ears plastered all the way back and her tail wagged hesitantly. Hopeful and afraid all in the same moment.
"Well there you are," he said giving her a bright smile even though he was still half asleep. "Will you let me pet you?"
She whined again and crawled an inch towards him.
Dean lay down on his chest so they were eye level.
The, as of yet unnamed dog, tilted her head in confusion at him.
He put his hand forward on the floor close to her paw. Careful not to touch, but offering at the same time.
She sniffed carefully at his hand then gave it a lick. Her head lifted slightly and her whole body shook as she whined. She sat up and began moving back into a dark corner of the closet.
"Hey now you don't need to go back in there," Dean said softly as he tapped the floor softy with his hand. "Come on out here."
She stopped and looked at him. Cautiously she lay back down before crawling back out towards him.
"That a girl," Dean coaxed softly. "Come on. You can do it."
Then he face to face with a scared dog who was intent on licking the life out of his face. "Ok. Ok," he said and couldn't help but laugh. He gently ran his hand down her back and frowned as he felt bumps and ridges that shouldn't be there.
"You're far too thin," he mumbled as he ran his hand over her ribs again.
She'd disappear constantly around the yard and in the house. It was always Dean that would be able to find her and coax her out of her hiding places. Soon all he had to do was call her name and she was there almost instantaneously.
After that the dog would only let Dean near her, feed her, pet her and she snapped at everyone else. She followed him everywhere he went and followed every command he taught her. Eventually she got around to trusting Bobby, John and Sammy.
He pushed Shadow's nose away, slowly stood up and started walking in the direction of the house when she growled.
He turned and looked back over his shoulder at the dog. "What is it?" Dean asked softly as he turned back and put a hand onto the dogs back.
She growled again, shifting her stance slightly, and baring her teeth.
Dean glanced around the stacks of twisted and wrecked vehicles. It was a metal graveyard of cars and hiding places for anyone or anything waiting to pounce and attack him. Even though that was true of everywhere, it was creepier in a place he normally felt safe.
And the only protection he had was Shadow and his wits. His personal defenses seemed to be on the fritz as he had let something or someone get the drop on him, cornering him in the back of the salvage yard.
Fleetingly he thought that Dad or Bobby were playing a trick on him but quickly dismissed it. Not after what had happened on the last hunt.
"Hello?" Dean called out uncertain, even more so when Shadow whined and shook slightly.
The silence seemed to echo around him. The sun was half way down towards the horizon. A slight breeze came up making him shiver.
Shapes began to grow and stretch on the ground. He drew a shaky breath as he was momentarily frozen by fear. He was alone, again. Dad, Bobby and Sammy were safely tucked away in the house on the other side of the maze of towers of cars and parts that snaked around the salvage yard.
He jumped as Shadow growled and barked. He silently and angrily reprimanded himself for being so foolish, reminding himself that nothing supernatural could be there. Bobby had umpteen dozen wards littering the yard of more sorts than he could imagine, and he could imagine plenty. This was different. It had to be a human.
The mere thought sent a spike of terror down his back and he crouched next to the dog. Taking a moment to scan the area he petted the dog, calming himself so he could deal with the situation, if there even was one.
Shadow growled, whined and bared her teeth, seemingly all at the same time. Then her hackles rose under his hand and the dog's body braced for something as another growl merged into a menacing snarling bark.
"Want to play," a voice said softly.
His heart lurched and his stomach dropped away as he straightened up. He couldn't hear enough of a voice to know who was talking, although the way it had a slight echo to it meant that it couldn't be human.
"Easy girl," Dean tried to soothe but the dog wouldn't stop barking spiking his own fear.
"Who's out there? Show yourself!" Dean yelled and staggered back two steps as Shadow bumpedinto him knocking him off balance.
The boy regained his stance and saw Shadow standing in front of him. Growling, barking and snapping her jaws menacingly in a never ending run of noise.
"DAD!" Dean shouted hoping his voice would carry all the way to the house. As much as he hated to call in the cavalry, he'd be awfully stupid to get Shadow killed just cause he'd not been paying attention.
A shape began to move from the shadows, and part of Dean hoped it was his father, but he knew it wasn't.
A slow agonized breath floated out towards him sending goose bumps over his skin.
"What are you?" Dean demanded moving to stand next to the dog shivering as he thought he recognized it.
There was an echoing soft laugh but no answer.
The teen watched as the shadow shifted and moved closer. He was almost transfixed at the moving form until Shadow bumped into him again and took a step forward. The barking escalated as Dean grabbed her collar.
"We have unfinished business," the form whispered.
"What business," Dean snapped. "Crazy bitch."
"The anger. The fear," the shadow gasped. "Yes. Yes. You understand now."
Shadow lunged forward barking, snarling, and was brought back sharply as Dean held firm on the collar. His arm burned as he held onto the dog with all his strength. Sammy had been hurt today because of him, he wasn't about to let the dog get hurt too. Not if he could help it.
There had to be something he could fight back with. He kept his focus on the entity in front of him while he looked around the area trying to see anything that could help him.
"You cannot fight me," the shadow wheezed as it quickly moved forward.
Shadow's collar was torn from his hands and the dog was thrown across the yard.
"NO!" Dean screamed as he remembered the hunt they'd just returned from. He thought he'd seen two forms but they'd only put down one before he'd snatched Sammy away from the second one and they tumbled down an embankment.
"You may have killed me, my husband, but I will take you with me," the shadow whispered as it closed the distance.
Dean turned and ran towards the dog. There had to be something, anything to fight this ... this ... thing off with. He dove down next to the dog, one hand reaching for a piece of metal as the other hand landed on Shadow.
John came out of the boy's room as he wiped his bloodied hands on a cloth. Glancing around the room looking for his oldest son he found Bobby with a beer staring at a game on the TV.
"How's Sam?" Bobby asked as he put the bottle down on the table and stood up.
"He'll be fine," John answered. "Where's Dean?"
"He hasn't come back in since you told him to get some air," Bobby said harshly.
John sighed and tossed the cloth into the kitchen. "He was barely holding in his emotions. Sam needed him..."
"So you tossed him out of the room?"
"Only when Sam passed out. Christ I thought Dean was going to implode. He needed to walk some of it off," John said crossing his arms over his chest.
"Shoulda told me you were gonna do that. I would have gone with him," Bobby said knowing Dean was having a hard time controlling his temper lately. "He shouldn't be alone."
"I know that," John said as he wiped a shaking hand over his face. "But I had to put Sammy first."
"Yeah," Bobby agreed and thought of how the pre teen looked as they'd returned to the salvage yard. How careful John was as he carried the boy in his arms. Blood was everywhere, coating Sam's clothes, on John, even more on Dean and some on himself. He sighed heavily. "I'll go get Dean. He's probably calmed down by now."
"Don't count on it," John shot back. "Got another one of those?"
"In the fridge. Help yourself. I'll go get Dean. Pissed or not," Bobby said as he took a step towards the door.
"Bobby we got them both, right?" John asked momentarily rerunning the hunt in his head.
"Yeah course we did. You got the second thought form just as Dean made the lunge for Sammy," Bobby answered. "But if you want we can go back later and double check."
"No. You're right I did. Just had a weird feeling," John answered then went into the kitchen.
Bobby shook his head slightly at the tone in his friend's voice and went into his yard. He took a moment to listen, and not hearing anything gave out four sharp short whistles.
And waited. Shadow always came when she was called and if she didn't she was either being held back by Dean or was busy protecting something, or someone. He took off his hat and scratched his head slightly. "DEAN!" He shouted waiting only for a moment before heading out into the maze of twisted metal he affectionately thought of as home.
John went to open the fridge door and stopped. With his hand on the door he leaned forward and rested his head against the freezer door. He could hear both of his children's screams echo though his mind. Sammy in pain, Dean in anger, no more than that, it had been rage.
He turned and walked back into his boy's room and sat down next to his injured son. Remarkably Sammy had only taken about thirty stitches, much less than he thought his youngest would have needed.
There had been so much blood, he wasn't even sure his child, his baby boy, would have survived the attack.
He reached out and placed a hand gently onto Sammy's bandaged head. It wasn't bad enough that his boy had been injured by what they had been hunting, but then he'd fallen down a slope, both boys had, when the ground beneath them gave way.
It was a miracle they were both still here.
"Hey Sammy. You'll be ok," he said softly.
Dazed Sammy's eyes opened just a crack. "Dad?" He asked softly.
"I'm here Little Man," John replied and moved his hand from the bandaged head to a bandaged hand.
Sammy closed his eyes as he tightened his hand around his father's larger one. "Sorry. I'll do better next time. Promise," he whimpered.
"S'all right. Just need more training is all," John said.
"Yeah," he said then his eyes fluttered open and looked around the room. "Dean?"
"He's ok too. Little banged up but ok," John answered.
"Mad at me again," Sammy said as his eyes closed again. He couldn't seem to keep them open.
"No he's not mad at you," John said softly.
"Sure?" Sammy whispered.
"Yeah," John answered. "Get some sleep."
Sammy mumbled something then his breathing evened out.
Bobby walked through the maze occasionally calling out for Shadow and Dean. Shadow had been a challenge to control and train when he got her, but the pup seemed to be drawn to Dean and would respond easily to the teen's commands. Dean seemed to be drawn to the dog as well.
Often when Bobby got up, Dean was already up and dressed. He'd find the teen sitting on the porch, mug of coffee in one hand and the other tangled in Shadow's fur.
Bobby often thought as much as he liked the mutt, Shadow wasn't his. She had picked Dean as her owner without question. Bobby merely watered and fed her.
Shadow and Dean both seemed to have a calming effect on each other. Bobby didn't mind as it seemed to keep them both out of trouble. This visit though was a little different. Shadow usually stayed outside, but this time she'd whined, barked and scratched half his door down until he'd let her in. Dog went directly to Dean, put her face on his lap and just looked up at him. Bewildered at her sudden arrival Dean had glanced up at Bobby knowing she wasn't allowed in the house. Before he could say anything a slight whine had Dean petting her, gently, and some of the tenseness surrounding the teen just eased away. The mutt had been allowed inside ever since, and would be until their visit was over.
But not getting a response from either of them had Bobby worried and walking faster through the metallic maze.
He hollered again and finally heard a faint response. Shadow's bark sounded so far away, farther than it should have been.
"Dean!" Bobby shouted as he ran towards the soft barking. He skidded to a halt as he came around to a shifting pile of junk where one shouldn't be. He paled sharply and almost fell to his knees. "God, no."
With shaking hands he dug into his pocket and pulled out his cell. He pushed a few buttons and put the phone to his ear. He didn't bother giving the person time to say anything as the call connected. "Get to the back of the yard. Now," he barked out, snapped the device shut and started digging.
"Dean! Shadow!" Bobby yelled as he dug, encouragedby the barking and petrified that the teen wasn't responding.
As reluctant as John was to leave his youngest son, he made it to the back of the yard in record time. He stood there for a second before he registered the sound from inside as Shadow. Instantly he knew what it meant and felt sick. "Oh God. Bobby what happened?" He asked as he started to pull pieces of junk away from the pile.
"Don't know. Just shut up and help me dig," Bobby snapped back.