Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity.
Spoilers: None for the true arc of the show.
A/N: Thanks for reading and for those of you who have reviewed, I appreciate it more than you know.I will be replying to each of you later today, but wanted to get this one up. I hope you enjoy this final chapter!
Surveyor's Office, 9:30pm
Dean was dying.
It was Sam's first thought as consciousness slowly returned. Dean's dying… Sam's hands were bound behind him with some sort of thick, coarse rope. His fingers tingled as circulation was restricted. He realized that he was sitting up, propped against the filing cabinets. He could feel a handle digging into his spine. His head hung low, his chin nearly touching his chest. He could hear voices nearby.
Slowly blinking his eyes open, Sam raised his aching head to see Reed pacing the length of the office directly across from him, and Frank standing in the center of the room, his back toward Sam. They were arguing, but Sam's ears were ringing too loudly to separate the sounds into actual words. He flexed his jaw, sticking his tongue against the cut on his lip.
He tried to focus his eyes on Reed, separate her voice. She slid in and out of focus. Sam shook his head, dropping his eyes, and listened for Frank instead.
"…couldn't let you try it, Reed. Now do you see?"
"You cut him up, Uncle Frank," Reed's voice was brittle. "Your own brother. I could have brought him back… I was so close…"
Sam blinked again, looking up and watching as she wrapped her arms tightly around her middle, looking like she was trying to disappear inside of herself.
"What you were going to bring back wasn't your father, Reed," Frank's voice was low, steady. "I kept him with us."
"And didn't tell me about it!"
"What? You were going to? When?" Reed interrupted. She stopped pacing, and turned to face her uncle, her hands fisted at her sides. "Three years, Frank. Three years I've been working on that spell… that research. What if that boy hadn't followed me in the house, huh? I didn't even know Pop was a spirit until he stopped that kid. What if I had been able to get the necromancer spell to work?"
"You wouldn't have," Frank shook his head.
"I was damn close, Frank," Reed narrowed her eyes. "If you hadn't taken those books from me, I would have. And then what?" Reed raised her arms in a question. "You would have had to send someone after my father's revenant… oh, wait… I mean pieces of him."
"I told you before," Frank roared. "I didn't send them after his spirit! They were just… a means to an end."
"You're such a friggin' liar, Frank," Reed growled, her voice cold. "You don't know what the truth is anymore."
"Where…" Sam croaked, licking his dry lips and trying again. "Where's my brother?"
Frank jerked around, startled, and stared at Sam.
"Damn, kid," he muttered. "You got a cast-iron head or what?"
"How long?" Sam demanded, blinking as his vision slid.
"How long what?"
"Has he been… been buried?" Sam's voice caught on the last word, and he clenched his jaw.
Frank dropped his eyes, running a hand through his hair. "Long enough, Sam."
"Let me go," Sam twisted his hands against the taut bindings. He felt his balance settling, felt the ringing fade. His head throbbed, but one thought overpowered any pain… Dean's dying…
"I can't do that, Sam," Frank said, sounding genuinely sorry.
"Why the hell not?" Reed demanded. "You think you get the luxury of buyer's remorse in this, Frank?"
Sam twisted his arms, shaking his right sleeve until the small knife that Dean insisted he always carry with him jarred loose and he felt the pinprick of the scalpel-sized blade hit the heel of his hand. Watching Reed confront her uncle, Sam worked his arm slowly, carefully maneuvering the knife down from his sleeve and into his hand.
"Listen, Reed," Frank dropped his hands to his waist, his head angled down as he stared at his niece. "I didn't want this… I wanted to keep him with us, but… Lawrence just got... out of control."
Reed pulled her eyebrows together. "Out of whose control – yours?"
"I get it, Reed, okay… I got scared, I wanted it to stop."
"You can't have it both ways, Frank," Reed shook her head. "You can't try to harness that kind of power and then just… let it go."
"I wasn't thinking clearly when Lawrence died," Frank said, rubbing his forehead. "And then… he was just… here. And no one needed to know. But then you started in with those books… started trying to bring something back that wouldn't be Lawrence."
"What?!" Reed shoved her hands in her hair. "I can't believe I'm hearing this." She dropped her hands and stepped back once. "You've lost it, Frank."
Sam kept his eyes on the feuding family, working the knife down to his fingers, then turning the blade away from his flesh and toward the bindings.
"I've lost it?" Frank snapped. "You were going to turn my brother into a zombie!"
Reed tilted her head, her eyebrow arched. "That's a bit of a pot and kettle argument, Uncle Frank."
"I just did what Lawrence wanted me to do," Frank argued, turning from Reed and facing Sam.
Sam froze, staring at Frank. He darted his tongue out to dab the cut on his lip, willing Frank to turn around. But Frank stared at him with unseeing eyes.
"What are you talking about?" Reed demanded.
"He believed… I didn't know until it was too late, but when he died I realized that he believed there was something else… something beyond death…"
Frank closed his eyes, but Sam didn't move. He kept his eyes on Frank's face, afraid for the moment that Frank would see that his arms were looser, that his hands were almost free.
"You don't get it… Lawrence was my brother. I didn't want him to go…" Frank's voice dropped and he shook his head slowly. "So I found a way to keep him around, keep him close to me. I just never thought that he would…"
"What, Frank? What?" Reed marched over to him, grabbing his arm and turning him around to face her.
Sam breathed a silent sigh of relief when Frank's back was once again facing him and continued to work at his bonds.
"You never thought he'd what?"
"Kill people, Reed. Good people… innocent people!"
"What about him, huh? He was innocent… he was a good person… and you just let him die!" Reed shook her uncle's arm once, hard.
Sam felt the pressure inside of his head build as the temperature in the room plummeted. He stopped his attempt to cut through his ropes and looked anxiously around. Reed and Frank seemed oblivious.
"Don't give me that! I did everything I could to save him, Reed," Frank grabbed her arms, gripping them tightly. "You were there… you know. I almost died trying to get him out of that river. What more do you want?"
"I want my father back, you son of a bitch!" Reed exploded, and pounded on Frank's chest, hard.
The noise in the room was instantaneous. The dissonance of voices that Sam had heard earlier returned with a vengeance. No words, no meaning, just noise. Sam winced and tried to tuck in on himself, working harder at the bonds around his wrists.
"What the hell?" Sam heard Frank mutter.
One rope snapped free. Sam continued his slow, patient slicing.
"Pop?" Reed's voice was young, hopeful.
The pressure grew in Sam's head and he bit his lip, hard, to keep from crying out.
"Lawrence, what… is that you?" Frank's voice was hushed, afraid.
Sam brought his head up, his concentration focused on cutting through the remaining ropes, his eyes on the Jessups. Reed was standing in the center of the room, her back to Sam. Frank was against the far wall, staring at his niece in shock as next to her stood the transparent image of a man.
Sam blinked. So this was Lawrence Jessup, pillar of the community, and current bane of the Winchester's existence. The final rope snapped free and Sam pushed himself slowly to his feet, trying to figure out how to break into this little family reunion and beat the location of his brother out of Frank. Lawrence's spirit shimmered silently in the chaos of sound that surrounded Reed and Frank.
"Lawrence…" Frank pleaded. "I just… I couldn't lose you… you left the books… you showed me the way."
"Those were my books, Uncle Frank," Reed said, standing next to the image of her father, her arms wrapped around her middle once more. "Pop thought he was protecting me from them… from their power."
"No… no that can't be right," Frank shook his head as the office grew colder. "His name was in the books – they were here… here in his office. There were parts underlined and…"
Sam took an unsteady step forward, reaching out to balance himself against the nearest wall.
"He thought he was protecting me," Reed repeated. "That's why he hid the books." Reed dropped her hands to her sides and curled them into fists. "He's my father, Frank. He protected me all of his life… and I guess… even in death. He kept that kid from finding out what I was trying to do…"
She continued to close the gap between herself and Frank, the noise in the room growing in volume. Papers and maps began to swirl and shoot across the room, plastering themselves against the window of the office and preventing anyone on the exterior from seeing what was happening inside.
"You should have just told me, Uncle Frank. You should have told me what you did. But you didn't and one boy died… and so did those people in the railcar… and now Dean." Frank shook his head in silent denial, but Reed continued. "You took my father from me… you denied me the ability to bring him back to me… and then you sent ghost hunters after him."
Frank held his hand open, pleading for understanding. "No, see, that's where you're wrong… that wasn't me… I didn't send them."
Sam knew as he watched Reed advance on Frank that he wasn't going to get any information from them about Dean. His eyes darted around the room, desperate for a solution, a way to get to Dean, a way to determine where he was buried. As the noise and the wind continued to build, Sam saw one of the maps drop from the window. He could see Frank's police cruiser sitting just outside the office. Thank God…
"You paid them." Reed's voice was a shrill allegation of disbelief.
Sam shot his eyes back toward the Jessups. Keeping his eyes on them, he began to edge himself sideways toward the back door.
"I know… I know," Frank dropped his gaze. "I didn't call them, Reed, I swear… but, once they knew, well… I needed a reason, something to show that we were doing everything we could to find out what happened to that boy…" Frank turned away from his niece and the after-image of his brother, shoving his shaking hands into his hair. "I knew what Lawrence had done… and I thought if the guys could stop it… I didn't want anyone else to die…"
"You can't tell me you didn't send them, Frank. You knew them," Reed accused, taking another step closer. "You knew their father."
"I never met John Winchester before in my life," Frank turned back to face Reed, raising a hand in denial and defense. "I saw his picture at Luke's – back in the kitchen. I knew what he did because of Luke! If I wasn't always answering Luke's phone—"
The noise and wind inside the office suddenly increased, silencing Frank. Sam had almost made it to the opening when Lawrence Jessup's spirit jerked, then turned and faced him.
Sam froze, his eyes locking on the empty, cavernous holes that had once been Lawrence's eyes. Please, he pleaded silently. Please let me get to my brother… please let me save him.
As if he'd heard him, Lawrence began to fade and the noise and wind inside the office spiked, causing Reed and Frank to duck as books flew from shelves and more papers spun in blurred tornadoes around the office. Sam hurried out of the office under the cover of swirling maps, running in a low crouch to Frank's cruiser. Praying it was unlocked he pulled on the handle and breathed a sigh of relief as it swung out toward him.
He slid across the seat, and ducked under the wheel, pulling down the wires from the undercarriage of the car. He'd never hot-wired a cop car before, but Dean had made sure he knew the basic principle behind crossing the correct wires in any vehicle. The car roared to life and Sam shifted into reverse before he was even sitting up in the driver's seat.
Hang on, Dean…
The maps still covered the window of the surveyor's office, and Sam buried the accelerator in the floor mat as the car screamed away from the building. Eyes darting rapidly in thought, he tried to figure out where Frank might have caught up with Dean. He remembered telling Dean to go to the river and the foundry. He'd been staring at the maps of Ellicott City for the better part of three hours; he knew where both locations were.
Hoping that he was right – that Dean had gone to the first location he'd told him – he headed to the river.
Patapsco River, Water, 10:00pm
He should have realized when he didn't see the Impala, but it took until he had thrust the car into park, launched himself from the driver's seat, and sprinted to the white cross grave marker for him to realize that Dean was at the foundry. It was evident the land around the marker had not been disturbed in several years.
"SHIT!" Sam screamed, shoving his hands into his unkempt hair, then turned on his heel and ran back to the cop car. Shoving the gear into reverse, Sam slid the car around in a spray of grass and dirt.
How long… how long…
Sam couldn't even bring himself to complete the question. He couldn't bring himself to contemplate the reality of Dean trapped in a box underground. Dean buried. Buried. Dean didn't even want to be buried when… Sam shook his head, banishing the thought as he flattened the accelerator and drove the five miles to the foundry with a white-knuckled grip on the wheel.
Foundry, Fire, 10:15pm
The lights from the foundry reflected back from the midnight hue of the Impala. Sam felt an odd rush of relief followed by a bone-chilling fear flood him at the sight of their home sitting alone and vacant in the empty lot next to the brick building. Eyes scanning the location, he quickly spotted a small mound of earth and ran over to the partially filled hole next to a broken, semi-buried white cross. Their shovel was gone.
"Dean!" he yelled into the night. "Dean, hang on! I'm here! I'm gonna get you out of there."
He thought quickly, then ran back to the cop car, jerked the door open and grabbed the rifle from its rack behind the seat. Back at the loose, sandy earth of the grave, Sam used the butt of the rifle to dig through. Panting, sweat rolling down the sides of his face and into his eyes from exertion, Sam climbed down into the hole that Dean had dug not long ago, sifting through the earth for the box that contained his brother.
Please… please don't let me be too late… don't let it all have been for nothing… he deserves more… he deserves more than this…
The rifle butt struck something solid.
Tossing the rifle out of the grave, Sam began to dig frantically with his hands, shocked when he could see the mahogany lid of a coffin.
"A coffin?" He breathed in question.
As he continued to clear the top, his fingers desperately searching for the edge, he detected the unmistakable smell of gunpowder.
"Oh, God…" he swallowed, and dug faster. "God, Dean… No no no no no…"
He found the edge of the coffin, then felt along the ridge until his fingers dipped unexpectedly into a hole. Peering down in the darkness, he saw what appeared to have once been a lock. Please, please, let this have been why he fired his gun… Tucking his fingers into the hole and clenching his jaw, Sam heaved upward, using the motion of the opening coffin lid to clear away the remaining dirt.
Dean lay inside, pale in the shadowed light of the foundry, twisted slightly on his side, his neck at an awkward angle, his eyes closed, and blood everywhere.
"Oh, Jesus, Dean," Sam breathed, then reached for his brother with trembling hands.
Blood covered one side of Dean's face, including his eye. His right arm was black with it, the inside lining of the coffin was gory with it. Sam touched Dean's face and was relieved to feel the heat radiating from Dean's cheek. He pressed his fingers against Dean's throat. Nothing. No pulse.
"Shit!" Sam growled, grabbing Dean awkwardly at the shoulders and pulling his brother's limp body up against him.
Feeling quickly, Sam determined that none of the blood was from a bullet wound—self-inflicted or otherwise—on Dean's body. He lurched backwards, keeping Dean close, and tried to climb out of the hole. Stumbling, Dean slipping from his arms, Sam realized quickly that it was impossible to do so and hold onto his brother. Propping him against the shattered side of the coffin, Sam clambered out, then leaned over and grabbed Dean under the shoulders.
"Guuuhhhh!" Sam growled aloud as he hauled Dean's inert, muscular body from the coffin and dropped him in a heap on the ground next to the hole.
"C'mon c'mon c'mon," Sam panted, beginning CPR reps against his brother's chest.
One, two, three, four, five...fourteen, fifteen... breathe… The chant was steady in his head. He tipped Dean's head back and blew air into his brother's lax mouth. One, two, three, four, five...fourteen, fifteen... breathe… He leaned over to listen for breath sounds. Nothing. One, two, three, four, five...fourteen, fifteen... breathe… Again, nothing.
"Goddammit, Dean," Sam panted as he pressed harder against Dean's ribcage, massaging his brother's heart. "Don't... don't do this to me..."
Breathe… No breath sounds. Sam belatedly checked Dean's airway as best he could for dirt or debris. Nothing. One, two, three, four, five...fourteen, fifteen... breathe…
Sam started shaking. There was no slow build-up, no warning. He was suddenly trembling violently, unable to steady his breathing, unable to still his hands. He kept them clasped, fingers laced, pressing as hard as he could against Dean's chest. He forced another lungful of breath into Dean's mouth.
He refused to think about how long Dean might have been buried… refused to think that this could be it. That this could be the end… of everything. The end of their fight, their struggle, their resistance. The end of the search for Haris, the end of their life together, their friendship… the end of his brother.
"NO!" Sam yelled, oblivious of the tears that ran unchecked down his face. "No, you don't do this, Dean, you don't!"
One, two, three, four, five...fourteen, fifteen... breathe… Nothing.
"Dean, you bastard!" Sam screamed, grabbing Dean's bloody, limp body at the shoulders and shaking him. "You can't leave me like this… you can't give in now…"
Sam dropped Dean against the ground and started to repeat the CPR motion when something inside of him snapped. He growled, low, wounded, pained. He curled his hand into a fist, pounding it, hard, against Dean's sternum.
"I gave in to him… I gave in to save you…" He pounded again. "You are the best of us, Dean…" He pounded harder. "I gave up everything for you, man!" He punched Dean's chest hard enough that he could easily have cracked a rib. "You can't… you can't go now… you can't leave me, Dean!"
Tears choked him, anger suffocated him, pain lanced through him. He was going to lose his brother. Shaking his head, Sam began CPR again.
One, two, three, four, five...fourteen, fifteen... breathe… Nothing.
Sam began to swear. Latin mixed with English, spells with promises. He felt like his brain was short-circuiting. He felt like he was coming apart. He was shaking from the inside out; tears dropped from his chin and turned the dirt and blood on Dean's shirt to paste.
Sam put both hands on Dean's face, lifting it to his until he could see Dean's closed eyes in the dim light from the foundry.
"I won't let you go, Dean," Sam whispered on a trembling breath. "Do you hear me? I won't let you go…" He shook Dean's head. "Do you hear me, Dean?" He yelled. "I won't let you go. I won't let you go."
Laying Dean's head back carefully, Sam began CPR again. As he finished his fifth rep, he leaned forward to breathe into Dean's mouth and heard a wheeze, a slow, laborious rattle of air. Sam froze. Oh, God… please… He felt a soft, barely perceptible exhale against his cheek.
"Yes! Yeah, that's it, that's it, Dean," Sam encouraged, turning Dean slightly on his side. He slapped the flat of his hand against Dean's back. "C'mon, man, gimme another one like that."
Dean coughed. Sam whimpered, tears threatening to spill once more. He continued to clap Dean on the back. Dean coughed again, and at the tail-end of the cough, he dragged in a desperate lungful of air.
"That's it! That's it, Dean… slow and easy, just breathe, man… just breathe…" Sam sniffed, nodding in the darkness. As Dean began to drag in breaths and cough them out, Sam felt his head spin, weak with relief. Dean still hadn't opened his eyes, but he was breathing.
He was breathing.
Sam gripped Dean's shoulders, pulling his brother's limp body toward him in an embrace he knew Dean would never allow were he conscious. Holding Dean against him, his forehead resting on Sam's collarbone, Sam willed his tremors to still, his breathing to even out. He willed the tears to abate. He told himself that he would hold on to Dean for a minute… just a minute.
He rocked forward, gripping his brother to him like an anchor as he rode out the wave of relief to an exhausted end. Nine days… he had nine days until Haris came for him. Until Dean, he knew, would do whatever it took to keep him safe – even if that meant death. Sam felt Dean stir weakly against him. It can't happen… I can't let it happen… He had to get himself out of this deal, or pay the price he agreed upon. His sacrifice for Dean's life could not take Dean's life.
Feeling Dean's hand clumsily push on his arm, Sam laid him back down against the earth. Dean's eyes weren't open, but he was breathing a bit more evenly. Sam tried to wipe some of the blood off of Dean's face and out of his eye with the edge of his shirt sleeve. Dean turned his head sluggishly toward Sam's hand, coughing weakly. Sam rolled him slightly to his left side. The blood from his head wound collected more dirt in that position, but it seemed easier for Dean to pull in air.
"Sam?" It was a whisper more than anything. A plea for reassurance.
"I'm here, Dean," Sam's hand rested on the nape of Dean's neck. He watched his brother's shadowed face, waiting for his eyes to open.
"'m I out?" Dean rasped.
"Yeah, man," Sam replied, picking up Dean's right hand and inspecting the damage as best he could by the light of the foundry. He could see that the wound on his palm had torn open and his knuckles were split and bleeding. "Just take it easy, okay?"
"You came," Dean whispered. "You found me." Sam watched as Dean's eyes rolled under his closed lids.
"'Course I came," Sam said, wiping the last of the tears from his face with the back of his hand.
"Told Larry," Dean said, and as Sam watched he blinked his eyes open to slits, resting them on Sam. "Told him..."
"Coffin," Dean breathed, then coughed again, his body shaking with the force of it.
Sam looked over to the hole. Shifting to his knees he crawled the short distance to the edge and looked down into the coffin. Resting in the hollow where Dean's body had been was a human skull. Sam looked over his shoulder at Dean.
"We finish this?" he asked.
Dean closed his eyes and nodded. Sam glanced around, saw where Dean had dropped the supplies, then gathered up the salt and lighter fluid. He searched the ground for the matches.
Dean's eyes were closed and for a moment Sam felt panic slice through him. But as he looked closer, he could see Dean's chest rising and falling. He moved back over to where his brother lay and began to pat down his pockets.
"Dude," Dean mumbled. "'S called personal space."
Sam's face relaxed in a quick grin. "Matches," he said.
Dean's eyes fluttered open and he looked up at Sam as if trying to remember what image connected to that word. Then he dug his left hand into his pocket and pulled out the box of wooden matches.
"Sam," he rasped, rolling weakly to his back and dragging one leg up so that his knee was at a right angle to his body.
"Get my gun first."
Sam went cold. The image of Dean, bloody and still, lying in the bottom of the coffin, surrounded by the smell of gunpowder swam across his vision and he had to press his hand into the ground to keep from keeling over. He closed his eyes and breathed through his nose.
"Sam? You okay?" Dean's voice was barely a whisper, but Sam heard him, heard the ever-present concern.
"Dean… I thought… when I saw you, I thought…"
Sam opened his eyes. Dean was staring at him, silent.
"I thought I'd lost you," Sam confessed.
"You almost did," Dean replied, blinking his eyes up at Sam.
Sam swallowed. "I can't handle feeling like that again," he whispered.
"Neither can I," Dean whispered back.
Sam was floored when he saw Dean's chin tremble. Dean never cried. Sam couldn't even remember the last time he'd seen him this close to tears.
When Haris had tried to rip his heart from his body wearing their father's face, Dean hadn't cried. When Sam had found him, beat to hell and broken in that compound, he hadn't cried. When Melissa had died silent and bloody in his embrace, he hadn't cried. But as he looked at Dean now, Sam saw that his brother had been pushed to his limit—physically and mentally. Being trapped in that coffin, fighting to get out… Sam couldn't—didn't want to—imagine what that had been like.
"It's no different," Dean said, clearing his throat, working to make his voice louder, stronger. Working to clear the emotion from his eyes, and failing. "It's no different for me, Sam."
Sam looked down, then away. It is different, he argued silently with Dean. He couldn't explain how sacrificing his soul to save Dean was different… he couldn't put it into words that Dean would accept… but it was. It just… it just was.
He climbed down into the hole, grabbed up the .45, then climbed out and tossed the match in. As the small, bright glow of the fire consuming Lawrence Jessup's skull illuminated a tiny portion of the landscape, Sam knelt beside Dean.
"We got one more, Dean," he said.
"'Course we do," Dean muttered, rubbing his chest with his left hand. "Damn, Sammy… what did you… do to me?"
Beat you to life…
"You need a doctor," Sam said, not answering him. He picked up Dean's right hand again, wincing at the angry red gash now swollen and smeared with dirt and blood.
"Your hand is—"
"I said after, Sam," Dean rolled to his side, but seemed unable to move beyond that. "We gotta finish this job…"
"Why?" Sam laid a gentle hand on Dean's shoulder. "You didn't even want to go on this hunt in the first place."
Sam tilted his head to the side, his brows pulled together in confusion. "What?"
Dean rolled his head in the dirt, pressing his forehead down into the sand. His voice, when he replied, was low and muffled. "He's lonely, Sam. He's not a vengeful spirit… he's just… he's just lonely. We can't leave him like this."
He turned his head and looked up at Sam. "I wanted to… I didn't care. What's one more spirit, right? I mean, we had our own problems."
Sam nodded silently.
"But… he was a person once, Sam. He was a person and he lived… and he had people he… people he loved… and it's all gone now."
Sam thought about Lawrence Jessup's spirit releasing him from the chaos in the surveyor's office, allowing him to leave to find Dean. He felt Dean's muscles tense under his hand as his brother tried to sit up. He wrapped his hand around Dean's arm, helping him shift into a sitting position.
"Okay," he said. "We finish this. Then you go get checked out."
Dean was staring at the dirt, swaying a little. "Deal," he breathed.
"Don't move," Sam said, standing.
He grabbed the .45, salt, lighter fluid, matches, and rifle and ran to the Impala. The keys were still in the ignition, which surprised Sam. As he leaned over to retrieve them he saw the condition of the interior of the car and his mouth fell open. Mud was smeared across the seat and dirt had collected on the floor of the passenger side. Dean's phone was lying discarded and open near the passenger door. Blood and dirt smeared the steering wheel and gear shift.
Still ducked inside of the car, Sam raised his eyes and looked at Dean's blood-smeared, dirty figure sitting alone next to the grave, his head hanging low. The meaning behind the condition of Dean's car was not lost on Sam. Moving quickly, he grabbed the keys, then reached behind the driver's seat for a spare towel and wiped down the seat and steering wheel as best he could. He moved to the trunk, opened it, and tossed the supplies and rifle in, noting with wry humor that there was an extra shovel in there.
Grabbing a water bottle and clean towel, he went back to Dean.
"Here," he said, uncapping the bottle and handing it to his brother. Dean took several long pulls on the bottle, rinsing his mouth with the first mouthful, then swallowing the rest. He nodded his thanks to Sam, then tried to push himself to his feet.
"Wait," Sam commanded, easily able to stop his forward motion. He wet the towel with some of the remaining water, and crouched down in front of Dean. Dean saw the towel and jerked his head back. Sam clapped a hand on the back of Dean's neck. "Humor me."
"It's fine, Sam." Dean tried to twist is head away.
"Shut up," Sam said, holding Dean still with the grip on the back of his neck. He wiped the blood from Dean's cheek and jaw, turning the towel as he moved up to his eye and forehead so that he was continuously using a clean piece of cloth. "Your eye's red."
"Red?" Dean lifted an eyebrow, tensing as Sam worked around the gash on his forehead.
"Yeah," Sam nodded. Blood had run from the cut into his eye turning the white a painful-looking pink that contrasted sharply with the green of Dean's iris.
"Huh," Dean said. He huffed out a laugh. "At least it's not yellow."
Or black, Sam thought.
He finished cleaning Dean's face, trying to get as much dirt out of the cut as he could, then lifted his right hand. He winced at the swelling he could see and feel. Definitely need a doctor on this one… He didn't have any clean space left on the towel, so he poured the rest of the water over the cut, trying to get the dirt out of it. Dean hissed as the cool water soaked into the open wound.
"Happy now, Florence?" Dean said.
"No," Sam replied. "But it will have to do."
"How 'bout you… you okay?" Dean asked, and Sam saw him peering at the cut on his lip, the bruise on his jaw.
"Yeah, man," Sam nodded, flexing his sore jaw. "I'm fine."
Dean narrowed his eyes. "Who hit you?"
Sam leveled his eyes on Dean's. "It's fine, Dean."
He rocked back on his heels and grasped Dean's left hand at the wrist, shoving himself to his feet and pulling Dean with him. Once vertical, Dean's swaying increased and he stumbled a few steps to keep his balance.
"Here," Sam said softly.
He bent and pulled Dean's arm across his shoulder, hooking his other arm in Dean's belt loops. Concerned when Dean didn't protest, Sam moved them toward the car, then dropped Dean into the passenger seat. He frowned when Dean simply laid his head back against the seat, cradling his right arm across his lap, and closed his eyes.
Sam headed around to the driver's side, glancing once at the police cruiser, then slid behind the wheel. He looked over curiously at Dean as his brother rolled the window down and rested his head on the open window sill.
"It's Frank," Sam said as he backed away from the foundry, then turned the Impala toward the river.
"Figured," Dean said tiredly. "Knew something was hinky when he paid us…"
"But… it's also Reed," Sam said, recounting the argument he'd overheard between Frank and Reed while cutting his ropes, from Reed's accusations, to Frank's reveal that he'd seen John's picture in Luke's kitchen.
"So… Frank doesn't even know Dad?" Dean asked, pulling his head from the sill and looking over at Sam.
Sam shook his head.
"Then why did he answer the number I called? The number Dad gave us?"
Sam shook his head again. "Dunno, man. I didn't wait around to find out."
Dean dropped his head back. "Yeah, well," he cleared his throat. "I'm okay with that."
"You still have that number?" Sam slid his eyes over to Dean.
Dean nodded. "Put it in my phone."
Sam gripped the blood-stained steering wheel with one hand, then leaned over and grabbed Dean's phone from the CD box where he'd dropped it during his hasty cleaning job. He handed it to Dean.
"Maybe we should find out who we're really working for," Sam said.
Dean looked at him, then at his phone. "Huh," he said, bouncing his head once. "I always knew you were the brains of this outfit."
He scrolled down through the menu until he found 410-341-2667. He hit dial, pressed the phone to his ear, and waited. When the line picked up, Dean's eyes widened and he looked at Sam.
"Hey," he said into the receiver. "We, uh… we need your help."
Patapsco River, Water, 10:50pm
Sam parked at the edge of the clearing, parallel with the river. Shutting off the headlights, he peered at the swiftly flowing water as it capped white over hidden rocks and reflected blackness back to the bright starlight that illuminated the clearing. He could see the cross he'd found before reflecting in the silvery light.
"Wait here," he said to Dean.
"Like hell," was the immediate reply.
"Dean," Sam started. "You can barely—"
"Sam, forget it," Dean interrupted, pushing himself up from his slumped position against the opened window. "I'm not sitting this one out. Not after…" He looked at Sam once, then reached across his body to open the door with his functioning left hand.
Opening with his leg, Dean stepped out, then leaned against the black body of the car and waited. Sam cursed his brother's stubbornness, then exited the car and went to the trunk. He grabbed the supplies, his eyes catching on Dean's .45. He paused, shifted his eyes to Dean, then closed the trunk. Why do we always cut these things so damn close…
Dean nodded, stepping away from the car. Sam watched him carefully, but although his walk was unsteady, Dean stayed on course. Sam stopped at the white cross, then looked over at Dean.
"Dude, sit down," Sam frowned as Dean swayed on his feet.
"Sit down, I got this."
Nodding, Dean stumbled back and dropped to the ground, staring at the cross. Sam watched him a moment longer, then began to dig. It was never easy, digging graves. He was sweating in minutes. He thought of Dean digging four graves earlier this evening and he clenched his jaw. Casting quick glances up to his brother as he worked, Sam's frown deepened when Dean didn't pull his eyes from the cross.
The noise-canceling rush of the river was broken with the sound of a gunshot the same moment that the blade of Sam's shovel struck the box beneath. He jerked his head up at the sound and saw that Dean had whipped around, looking behind him. Sam tracked his eyes with Dean's line of sight and saw Frank standing on the edge of the clearing, pistol directed at them, Reed's Ford Falcon several feet behind him.
"Gonna have to ask you to get out of there, Sam."
"Frank…" Sam breathed, gripping the shovel. "Where's Reed?"
Frank shook his head. "Doesn't matter to you right now. All that matters is that you get out of that hole." Frank shifted the aim of his gun to Dean. "Or I shoot your brother."
"You son of a bitch," Dean said, his voice low and dangerous.
Sam looked at him nervously. "Dean," he protested.
Dean ignored him, pushing himself to an unsteady stance. Frank stepped forward, his gun trained on Dean's chest. As if he didn't see the weapon, Dean strode toward him, his left hand curling into a fist, his right hanging bloody, swollen, and useless.
"Dean!" Sam cried again, vaulting from the grave and launching to his feet to chase after his brother.
"You freakin' coward," Dean spat, never slowing his advance.
"Stop," Frank commanded, thrusting the gun forward.
"Why don't you make me, you bastard," Dean growled, fury returning to him the strength that time and circumstance had taken away.
He swung his arm, slapping his left hand across the muzzle of Frank's gun as if it were made of plastic. Shocked, Frank dropped the gun, taking a step back. Dean didn't stop until he was nearly chest-to-chest with the cop, his face inches from Frank's, forcing him to stare into his mismatched, wounded eyes.
"You trapped him here," Dean growled. "You trapped him here; you made him what he is."
"W-what?" Frank sputtered.
Sam skidded to a halt, watching in silent awe as the force of Dean's rage pushed Frank back toward the river.
"Why'd you even let us start, huh? Why even let us—"
"I thought you'd be finished with it already!" Frank yelled, finally finding his spine and stopping his backward escape. "I thought it would be done by now! You're John Winchester's sons… I thought it would be over!"
"Over?" Dean demanded, once again in Frank's face. "What? You just got tired of having your brother around, that it? Decide that Larry's spirit was more trouble that it was worth?"
"No!" Frank shook his head. "No, I didn't want him to leave – why do you think I kept him here?!"
Dean spread his arms wide. Sam watched in horror as behind them the river began to churn and swell.
"Dean," he called. He wanted his brother beside him, away from Frank, away from the river.
"You tell me, Frank!" Dean demanded, not hearing Sam's plea.
"I couldn't… without Lawrence… nothing made sense…" Frank said, looking down and away from Dean's accusing eyes. "He was my best friend. He protected me from everything – all our lives. He was my… my brother. I couldn't let him go… I just… I couldn't…"
"So you trapped him here?" Dean yelled. "You forced him to stay when he couldn't do anything, interact with anything, change anything."
"I needed him to be around," Frank spat. The water behind him began to grow into a funnel.
"Dean…" Sam repeated his warning.
"You put him in that freakin' pentagram, Frank," Dean yelled. "You knew what would happen if we burned the bones. And you let us do it…"
"He killed people…" Frank yelled back. "I had to stop it… I had to make it go away."
"In case it was traced back to you, huh? Covering your own ass," Dean spat. "How were you going to explain me? You think about that?"
Frank shot his eyes over to Sam, his expression suddenly cold, his eyes hard. "The only people that know about you are so far off the grid they would never be found. I wouldn't have had to explain anything."
The water funnel grew until it was taller than Frank. Sam yelled Dean's name again and saw his brother step back, finally seeing the water. Frank reacted to Dean's expression, and turned around.
"Holy shit," Frank breathed.
"Dean," Sam yelled. "Get away from there!"
Frank stumbled back, away from the water. His shoulder hit Dean and knocked him off balance. Dean fell to one knee.
Reed's voice was clear, cutting through the roar of the river. Sam looked back and saw her standing at the edge of the clearing. He searched behind her, around her. He couldn't see a car and more importantly, he couldn't see anyone with her.
Where is he… he said he'd come, now where is he? He blinked and looked back at Frank's retreating form.
"Sam," Dean yelled over his shoulder from his position on the ground. "Sam, finish it!"
Sam turned back to the grave, picked up the shovel and with as much strength as he could gather, thrust the blade through the slats on the wooden box.
"No!" Reed cried, running toward Sam. She slammed into him, knocking the shovel from his hand. He cried out, stumbling and landing hard on his back.
"I won't let you… I won't let you…" Reed was screaming, pounding at Sam's face and chest with small, furious fists.
Sam shook off his surprise and grabbed at her hands, rolling her to her back. He stood up, pulling her with him. He gripped her slim wrists, keeping her hands away from him and she lit into him with her feet, bruising his shins with her anger.
"I want him back, you hear me?" she screamed. "I want him back."
"Reed!" Sam heard Dean cry out her name and suddenly his brother was there, standing behind her, arms wrapped around her body. He pulled Reed away from Sam, backing away, toward the river.
"Finish it, Sam," Dean panted, stumbling back with an armful of angry woman. Sam scrambled for the shovel, intent on breaking the rest of the way through the box.
"No!" Reed screeched bucking against Dean.
Sam saw Dean's pained expression as Reed pulled at his wounded hand, hitting the bruises on his abused body.
"Reed, you have… have to let him go…" Dean ground out through clenched teeth, trying to hold her still, trying to get through to her.
Sam raised the shovel, shooting his eyes to his brother's struggling form. He saw Frank step toward them, hand outstretched toward his niece.
"I won't," Reed panted, arching her back, her face next to Dean's, her mouth at his neck. "I won't… I'll find a way, Dean. I'll find a way to be with him again."
"You can't… it's over, Reed." Dean tightened his grip, and Sam heard him groan in pain and frustration. "Stop... stop it, Reed. Don't do this. It's over!"
"No, it's not!"
Reed flipped around in Dean's arms and swiped a hand at his face, slashing across his blood-red eye. Dean stumbled backwards, directly into Frank, and dropped her. Reed dove toward Sam and the grave.
The water funnel crashed down, turning the river into a torrential, unnatural sideways flow. The furthest from the river, Sam watched in horror as the water slammed into Dean, folding him and propelling him forcefully backwards into Frank. Reed dove toward the rush of water, directly into her father's grave. And then the water hit Sam.
It was a surge of frigid force, the weight of the water sending him tumbling away from the grave, gasping and clawing for purchase. His hands hit a tree and he gripped tightly, stopping his rush of motion. Coughing, he fought against the twisted flow of water and raised his head.
"De—" he tried, water rushing into his mouth and nose, cutting off his air. He coughed again, gagging, pulling his head up once more. "DEAN!"
He couldn't see anything, couldn't hear anything. His world had tilted. Up was down, down was up. His head spun and he gasped desperately for air.
"Dean!" he screamed again.
"ENOUGH!" he heard suddenly over the din. It was a voice he'd never heard before, but he knew instantly. "Enough… you won! Lawrence, it's over… she's yours."
The voice stopped the chaos, stilled the water, and calmed the spirit. The river simply stopped. Sam dropped to the ground beside the tree and hung his head limply, coughing out river and pulling in air. Dean…
Sam lifted his head and looked around. The brilliance of the stars lit up the wet land around him. The grave had filled with water. The bank of the now normally-flowing river was a churning mass of mud and bodies. Reed lay motionless next to the grave, her fingers buried deep in the earth, gripping the edge as if she were anchoring herself there. Sam turned his head and saw Frank against another tree. He had one arm wrapped around Dean's limp body as if he were holding him up.
Sam trembled with relief. Dean was there, he was still there and he was alive. Then he saw the gun.
"No…" he croaked.
He pushed himself to his feet, water dripping from his sodden clothes and running from his hair into his eyes, and stumbled toward them.
"Let him go," he rasped at Frank, curling his hands into fists.
Frank cocked the gun, pressing it against Dean's side. "Save my brother, first."
"Take what's left," Frank said, blinking river water out of his eyes. "Bury it again. Save him."
Sam shook his head. "It won't work, man."
Frank shoved the barrel of the gun roughly into Dean's side. Dean groaned and jerked, bringing his head up, his eyes dazed, his face twisted in pain.
"It has to!"
"No, Frank," said the voice. Breathing hard, Sam turned and saw Luke standing next to the grave, Reed in his arms.
"Luke?" Frank's voice was confused.
Sam pulled his attention back to the cop. He watched as Dean blinked, sagging in Frank's grip, his face pulled into a grimace of pain. He was so pale the freckles across his nose stood out like beacons in the starlight.
"It's enough, Frank," Luke said. "It's enough."
"I wanted to stop this," Luke continued, his voice heavy with sorrow, his eyes pinned to Reed's pale features. "I tried… but, I should have known she would find a way to be with him."
It hit Sam then. Luke had allowed Reed her obsession, had watched out for her, had protected her in lieu of her father. Then he realized that her obsession was going to get her—or someone else—killed. Luke knew what Frank had done to her father's body, but because he loved Reed, he'd never said anything… until he knew it was out of control. Until he knew that having her father's spirit close by could kill her. Then, he'd called John. To save her.
Taking a closer look at Reed's still face, Sam felt himself go cold. Luke had been too late. Luke's voice hadn't stopped the river. Reed had. She gave herself to the river that had taken her father. As soon as she took her last breath, Lawrence Jessup's spirit had been at rest. Lonely no longer, he had released the river, had released them.
"Reed?" Frank dropped his gun.
Seeing his opening, Sam hurried forward, grabbing Dean's upper arms and pulling his brother from Frank's grasp with little effort. Dean slumped against him, his knees buckling. He gripped the back of Sam's wet shirt with his left hand, trying to keep his feet under him. Sam shot his eyes back to Luke as he wrapped Dean's left arm over his shoulder, hoisting his brother up. He felt Dean lift his head slowly.
"When I called your dad," Luke said, looking at Sam. "I was trying to save her." Sam nodded, silent, aware that Dean's posture pulled straighter when Luke mentioned their dad. "He saved my life once, a long time ago. I kept tabs on him, knew what happened to your mama, knew what his life had been like. I knew…" Luke looked down at Reed. "I knew if anyone could save her, it would be John."
"I'm sorry he couldn't come," Sam croaked. "I'm sorry we weren't… enough."
Luke shook his head. "Lawrence had told me about her witchcraft books a long time ago. When she lost her father… I thought she was going to go crazy. She wanted to bring him back, keep him with her. I didn't know she'd finally had the means to do it until…" He looked over at Frank, his eyes hardening. "I found out that Frank had… had done what he did the same night as Reed."
"Why didn't…" Dean rasped. Sam felt his brother trembling against him from exhaustion and cold. The weight of their wet clothes pulled against Sam. "Why didn't you say anything?"
Luke kept his eyes on Frank. "He begged me, and I gave in." He closed his eyes, shaking his head in regret. "I shoulda… I know I shoulda said something, shoulda told you boys… but, I thought that maybe… maybe you would figure it out and Frank could be spared. Lawrence and Frank," Luke looked back at Sam and Dean. "They were everything to each other. I shoulda known…" He dropped his eyes back to Reed. "We lost all of them that day in this river. We just didn't realize it."
"Reed…" Frank stepped toward Luke.
"No," Luke tightened his grip on Reed's body. "You don't touch her."
Frank blinked at Luke. "I just… I just didn't want my brother to go, Luke."
"That's how it may have started," Luke said softly. "But that's not why this happened. That's not why Lawrence's spirit became a killer, what made you try to kill Dean. That's not what… what took our girl."
Dean shifted against Sam and started to pull away. Sam kept a grip on his arm, unwilling to break their connection.
"I called John Winchester to set Lawrence's spirit at peace," Luke said, looking down at Reed. "We were both wrong here, Frank. We should have told the truth from the start… hell… we could have finished it ourselves… but we didn't. And now… we've both lost. We've lost… everything."
Frank was silent. He stepped closer to Reed, reaching out to run a finger down her face. Sam swallowed, tightening his hold on Dean.
"I wanted her to leave," Luke said, watching Frank's finger travel down Reed's face. "I wanted her to go, to get away from this, to find a new life… but…"
"The world is too small," Frank said in a choked voice. "Sometimes you can't run far enough."
Sam swallowed, shifting his eyes from Reed's face to Dean's profile. The eerie stillness he saw echoed on his brother's features made him shiver.
"We have to finish this, Sam," Dean said.
"The grave is filled with water," Sam protested.
Dean looked at him, both eyes once again green, the blood washed away by the force of the river. "We gotta pull him up."
Sam nodded, then slowly released Dean's arm. He stepped over to the grave, jumping down inside the hole. The water came up to his shoulders. Holding his breath, he ducked under and found the edge of the wooden box. It was heavy—too heavy. He surfaced and blinked in surprise as he saw Frank and Luke joining him in the water-filled grave. He shot his eyes over to the side. Dean stood where he'd left him, his eyes never leaving Sam. Reed lay off to his right, her face serene.
Sam looked back to Luke, who nodded. As one, they ducked under the water and pulled the wooden box up from its swampy depths. Struggling over the edge of the muddy grave, they set the box on the ground, water pouring out from the slats and running along the river bank. Sam sat still for a moment, gasping. The salt and lighter fluid that he'd retrieved from the trunk were nowhere to be found.
Sam sprinted to the Impala, hoping they had spare supplies. He was able to find salt, but came up empty on the lighter fluid. He grabbed a book of matches. Looking back at the group standing silently around the box, he thought quickly. Reed's car was nearby. On the off chance that she had something in her car to help him finish the job, Sam jogged over quickly, grabbed the keys from the ignition and opened the trunk. A can of gasoline was secured against the side.
"This was the first one," Frank said softly as Sam pulled the planks off of the box. "This was the first place I buried him."
Lawrence Jessup's torso lay in the box, ribs in pieces, pelvic bone intact, spine bent and twisted from the force of the water. Sam glanced at Dean, concerned that his brother hadn't spoken, hadn't moved, had barely blinked since Luke's confession.
Dean was shivering, his eyes pinned to the bones jumbled inside the wet box. His left hand opened and closed in a trembling rhythm and Sam felt a pain shoot through him as he watched Dean work to square his shoulders, to bear it, to see that the job was done.
Sam dumped salt on the bones, watching as the water soaked into the crystals, then poured the gasoline over the bones.
"Hope this works," he said, setting the gas can away from the box, and lighting a match.
"Bye, Larry," Dean whispered just before Sam dropped the match in.
The rush of flame as it caught the fumes of the gasoline made everyone but Dean jump back. Sam grabbed Dean's arm gently and pulled him away from the flames. Lawrence Jessup's earthy remains disintegrated in an anticlimactic crackle of wet flame.
Sam looked over as Frank sank to his knees, his eyes on the fire. Luke turned and gathered Reed up in his arms, and with one backward glance at Sam, he carried her to the Falcon. Sam didn't worry about how Frank would get back. It was a mere five miles to the surveyor's office and town. Frank could take care of himself that far.
"Dean," Sam said softly. "Let's go."
Dean didn't reply, he simply allowed Sam to pull him to the Impala. Sam opened the passenger door and Dean dropped into the seat, shivering violently and staring back toward the burning bones with empty eyes. Sam frowned at him then went to the trunk and dug out two towels. He walked back up to Dean.
"Here," he said, handing his brother a towel. "We'll have to get our stuff from the hotel before we head to a clinic… or whatever they have around here."
Dean nodded silently, then reached between his shoulders with his left hand and pulled off his wet T-shirt. He dropped it on the muddy floor and wrapped the towel around his bare shoulders.
"We'll get the car cleaned out tomorrow," Sam offered, hoping to draw Dean's attention to the mess inside his beloved Impala.
Dean nodded again.
C'mon, Dean, give me something here…
"Let's just go, Sam," Dean said. "It's done." His eyes flicked past Sam and rested on the bent figure of Frank Jessup kneeling before his brother's burning bones. "It's over."
Sam moved around to the driver's side, a towel wrapped around his own shoulders, climbed in, and headed for the hotel.
Road outside of Ellicott City, 12:01 am
Eight days. Sam had eight days left.
Dean shivered. Sam had insisted that he change out of his wet clothes and Dean had been too tired to argue. Though his jeans were dry, and the long-sleeved gray Henley was layered with Sam's green hoodie and his own leather jacket, he didn't think he'd ever be warm. He leaned his head against the open window, letting the cool air wash over him, stinging the open gash on his forehead, pulling moisture from his eyes, rushing air into his still-bruised lungs.
The music was a balm in the tense silence filled with unspoken words. Dean blinked slowly and listened as the radio station switched from Billy Squire's Lonely is the Night to Breaking Benjamin's Breath. His lips folded down in a frown at the universe's idea of irony.
"Roll up your window, Dean," Sam instructed suddenly.
"It's okay," Dean replied.
"You're shivering," Sam pointed out.
"Leave it, Sam," Dean pleaded. He was having enough trouble breathing as it was; he needed the wind. He needed the air. He needed the space.
So sacrifice yourself
And let me have what's left
I know that I can find
A fire in your eyes
I'm goin' all the way
Get away, please
"I called the county sheriff's station with an anonymous tip about the boy's killer, like Luke suggested," Sam said. "They should be by to question Frank in the morning."
"I know it was really Lawrence's spirit… but, it still seems like Frank's getting off easy," Sam mumbled quietly.
Dean's body shook once. "Nothing about what Frank's going through is easy, Sam."
"I guess not," Sam sighed. "Especially now… with Reed…"
"Loneliness does weird things to your head," Dean said, shifting against the open window.
He clenched his jaw against the bone-deep ache in his hand, and relished with perverse pleasure the cut of pain that shot up his arm and through his body when he tried unsuccessfully to close his fingers. The pain was real, the pain was now. The pain reminded him that he had time… he had eight days.
"We'll be at the ER in about 10 minutes," Sam said, worry plain in his voice.
"Fine," Dean closed his eyes.
He knew the cut on his hand was infected. He knew his head was going to require stitches. He knew the ER would ask questions. He knew Sam could have handled one wound, but not the other. He knew that they were doing what they needed to do to keep going, to get the job done.
He knew the logic, but he didn't care. He wanted to tell Sam to head south to Mexico. North to Canada. He wanted to keep his brother away from Haris at all costs. He wanted to lay low, play it safe, keep away from evil, from people in need, from daughters meddling with forces they didn't understand, from spirits of brothers who had once been good.
He wanted just for a moment to forget that there were bad things in the world, to forget that they knew how to fight them, to stop them. But Frank was right. The world was too small. There was nowhere for Winchesters to hide.
This will be all over soon
Pour the salt into the open wound
Is it over yet?
Let me in
"We did the right thing here, Dean," Sam tried to reassure him. "We did what Dad wanted us to do."
"I know," Dean said, a chill wracking through him and causing him to wrap his arms as tight around him as his wounds would allow. "I know, Sam," he repeated.
He saw Sam move out of the corner of his eyes and felt a blanket that they'd taken from the hotel settle over him. He tried to shift upright, to fight the weakness in his body, the heavy pull of his heart, but Sam laid a restraining hand on his shoulder.
You take the breath right out of me
And left a hole where my heart should be
You've gotta fight just to make it through
Cause I will be the death of you.
"Lay still, Dean," Sam commanded. "Just for a bit, okay?"
He saw Sam cut his eyes over to him and pulled away, the need in Sam's eyes to make things okay, to make Dean believe that Sam had done the right thing, was suffocating him. He faced the wind of the open window, pulling in the swiftly flowing air into his lungs, letting it steady the rush of his heart. He heard Sam roll his own window down and felt the bands around his chest ease a bit.
"Just breathe, Dean," Sam said softly. "We'll keep the windows open as long as you need."
Dean closed his eyes. The world is too small…
"What?" Sam asked, looking over. Dean didn't realize he'd spoken aloud.
"The world is just too damn small, Sammy."
Sam rested his hand back on Dean's shoulder and drove.
a/n: I hope you enjoyed.
Next up is Unseen Heroes, Episode 18 from Virtual Season 2, originally posted in September of 2007. It's a bit of a dark comedy and in it a character appeared that I really enjoyed writing. Hope to see ya then!