Title: November Falls - Part 4
Word count: 4,133
Rating: NC/17 for bad language and violence
Summary: They lose Sam in November....Teenchester fic with some serious Sam whumpage...what? Yes, I know I like whumping Sam and I'm totally okay with that. :D
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: Sorry for the ridiculous delay. This final chapter is for Blair.
November Falls – Part Four
Dean drives fast, too fast. Scenery whipping by the windows with such speed they could be anywhere in the States right now.
Through the glass, everything outside of the car is a mesh of muted colors. Harsh browns and soft greens.
Towns come and go in an eye blink. Mere seconds pass by before they're passing city limits and travelling along roads which carve their way through sprawling farmland.
Years ago—long before Sam vanished and back when the Impala was Dad's baby, not Dean's—Dad would sometimes give Dean permission to take the car out, providing he promised to refill the tank. It was a rare treat, considering Dean's young age and mainly came about whenever they were staying in some minuscule burg in the middle of nowhere and his boys were crawling up the walls.
They'd drive for miles, no real direction just the thrill of the open road. Windows wound down, voices singing in unison to the stereo. Sometimes Dean would grow bored and start honking the horn, scattering petrified cattle like pins in a bowling alley while Sam chastised him from the passenger seat. Not that Sam's scowl ever hung around for long, Sam enjoyed the freedom of those unusual aimless journeys as much as Dean did.
Now Sam is back, sitting beside him, solid and real and it's as though nothing else exists beyond the Impala's doors.
Dean's breaking speed limits he'd normally obey out of a desire to avoid attracting the attention of any passing cops but his foot is refusing to ease off of the gas. Sam's starting to look sick again and he's not sure if it's the bond or other more recent events which are to blame.
Dean's feeling pretty sick himself, with his brain working overtime and a sense of agitation making him feel as though he has fire ants swarming over his skin.
They stop in a small town a few miles outside of Wilmington.
Sam stays in the car when Dean opens his door and slides out. The kid looks too ill to move and anyway, Dean doesn't plan on being gone long.
He disappears for just over twenty minutes, returning with a crumpled brown paper bag clutched in one hand. When he climbs back into his seat, he holds the bag out to Sam.
"What's this?" Sam reaches for the bag and holds it a little away from himself, eyeing Dean questioningly.
Dean looks faintly green around the gills, he waves his hand, motioning for Sam to look for himself. When Sam complies he finds a medium sized polystyrene cup, covered with a lid. His brow furrows as he opens it because even before the lid is fully off, he can smell the thick tang of coppery blood. "Jesus Christ, Dean. Where did..."
"Relax. It's pig's blood. There's a butcher's shop a block away and I told him my grandma was making blood sausages." Dean grimaces, his face still carrying a green hue which stains the skin around his pale mouth and eyes, "Are you gonna drink that now or do you want one of those tiny umbrellas?"
"Just, drink, okay? I know you're feeling shitty and you're only going to get worse if you don't drink. It's not like I'm a vegetarian, you don't have to worry about my delicate sensibilities." Dean scrubs the back of his hand across his mouth and starts the engine, busying himself with the task of driving. "Drink it," he adds forcibly and Sam reluctantly follows the order.
It's growing dark as they hit downtown Wilmington less than an hour later. Even in such a short space of time, Sam's already looking better. He's back to doing his mannequin impersonation though and that's the cause for a seriously uncomfortable atmosphere in the car.
The apartment block doesn't seem to be any different from when they were last here although Dean knows the recent murder in the building could create some problems in that the police are likely to be keeping the place under surveillance—or at least including it in their patrols.
"Sam?" Dean glances over, noticing that Sam's hands are twitching in his lap. "You okay?"
"I just—I just didn't think I'd be seeing this place again so soon."
"Stay in the car. I'll be quick. Uhm, keep the doors locked and there's a—"
"—.45 in the glove compartment. I know, Dean." Sam lifts his head to look at his brother, hazel eyes meeting green. It's not quite a smile but it's the closest Sam's come to one since they ditched Dad. "You haven't changed; you're exactly how I remember you. It's good." His gaze drops back to his hands, "At least some things stay the same."
Dean breathes out heavily, lets his hand rest on Sam's shoulder, feeling the sharply cut ridge of bone underneath his palm. "Sammy, I just need to go inside and see if there's anything I can find out."
Sam nods silently and almost laughs when Dean reaches under the driver's seat and pulls out a copy of Hustler, dropping it into Sam's lap. "Knock yourself out, short stack."
The moment Dean gets inside the building he can hear the faint canned laughter of a comedy show playing on a television a few floors above.
He's armed with a fairly passable FBI badge in case anyone pokes their nose out into the hall to investigate his presence but he still plans on getting in and out as fast as possible.
He hurries up the few flights of stairs and makes short work of tearing away the crime tape spanning the door of the Selkie's apartment, wiping sticky residue from his fingers as he picks the lock and goes inside.
The apartment is in almost total darkness but he can't turn the lights on and risk the cops seeing the place illuminated like a Christmas tree.
All of the rooms are a mess, the furniture overturned and contents of cupboards and drawers scattered across the floor. The police obviously went to town in their meticuloussearch for clues. The Selkie's abnormal corpse is probably causing waves in the PD's forensic lab but they'll no doubt think up some rational way to explain it. They nearly always do.
Dean shuffles through any paperwork he comes across but its mainly warnings for unpaid utility bills. There's nothing out of the ordinary, not even in the room where Sam was held prisoner and Dean works his way through that one with fast determination.
It's only when he's in the kitchen that he notices the stove. It's clearly an old model but spotlessly clean, as though it's barely been used. It's no real surprise bearing in mind the Selkie had a taste for dining out on fare so fresh it was usually still breathing. Dean moves closer and opens the stove door. Hidden inside is a box.
The box is beautiful, ornately carved, expensive looking polished wood. It's oddly out of place considering the derelict state of the rest of the apartment.
It's a diamond ring on a beggar's hand.
Dean can't see a key anywhere but the lock doesn't appear complicated, more for show than actual purpose. He jimmies it easily, cracking open the lid to reveal a plush satin lining and sitting inside, a heart. Not a human heart, it's too large but still has all the parts which make the organ recognizable for what it is.
Nice. Dean grimaces as he tips the heart out into his hand with a soft squelch.
There are many myths and legends focused on the heart. Animal hearts are big time powerful ingredients for working black magic and certain lore ties the heart to the soul and consequently, bonds between souls.
He's never heard of any lore pertaining to a Selkie's heart before but Sam was always the big research geek of the family and Dean not knowing about it doesn't mean that such lore doesn't exist. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that, odds-on, this heart is the Selkie's and its existence the very reason behind the bond remaining unbroken.
Dean pulls out his switchblade and after a moment's pause, he drives it into the heart, forcing it through the muscle until the small blade is buried to the hilt.
Nothing happens, at least nothing that Dean can see or hear but then not everything in life comes with a light show and accompanying trumpet blast.
Dean wipes his blade clean on the side of his pant leg and folds it away. Slipping it away into his pocket he picks up the box and heads back outside to the car.
It's probably unnecessary to take the butchered remains of the heart with him but Dean will feel better when it's been salted and burned to cinders, taking all traces of the bond with it.
Dean's only a few steps away from the car when he realizes that he can't see Sam sitting in the passenger seat. He instantly breaks into a run, telling himself he's being stupid for panicking and that Sam's simply decided to lay out on the bench-seat,
But as his hands hit cold metal and he wrenches his door open, he can see the Impala is empty and the back window is smashed.
It's an instant flashback to that fateful November night two years ago, the rush of guilt as overwhelming as it was then if not more so. Not again. How could I lose him again?
He's still frantically trying to decide where to start looking when he hears a commotion a short distance away, muffled voices and the unmistakable sound of knuckles meeting flesh.
Dean sprints towards the sounds.
A group of college kids are blocking the sidewalk, high on life and too much booze. Dean barrels his way through, managing to knock one kid sideways but he doesn't stop even when they yell angrily after him and a couple of guys make a half-assed attempt at a chase.
The alleyway is dark. Of course it's dark, it's not like the damn things have strobe lighting or luminous paint on the walls. Just once it would be nice to find one that didn't look like the setting for a crappy horror movie and smelled of something other than sour piss.
Dean nearly makes it all the way through to the other side, dodging questionable puddles and distractedly checking around for rats, before he sees them. It's Griffin--and he's on the ground at Sam's feet.
Dean gapes, stumbling to a stop, his legs still carrying forward momentum.
"He's evil..." Griffin pants, staring up at Dean through tangled strands of long grey hair as he thumbs away the blood on his lip.
Dean kicks out, letting his foot connect with Griffin's chin. "Just shut the fuck up already."
Griffin is out of it and Sam has gone down into a crouch, kneeling on the dirty concrete, breathing heavily. Both of Sam's eyes are already swelling, puffy skin the color of badly bruised fruit. There's a gun lying on the ground that Dean doesn't recognize, obviously one of Griffin's. One he'd brought with him to use on Sam.
Dean's face twists and the thought of emptying a clip into Griffin flashes fleetingly through his brain.
"He was trying to kill me. I know he's Dad's friend, I-I didn't want to hurt him..." Sam's got one arm wrapped around his middle, eyes squeezed tightly closed.
"Hey, you did good. Real good." Dean squats down so that he can lift up Sam's shirt and check his ribs. His brother's thin chest is a checkerboard of bruising to match his face and as Dean's fingers move down to his stomach; Sam flinches away from the careful exploration. It's not a good sign. Dean presses again, hissing through his teeth in sympathy when Sam moans in pain. Sam's belly is rigid, distended. He's only just fast enough to catch him when Sam's face drains of all color and he faints.
In the ER waiting room, a doctor wearing a stereotypical white coat with a stethoscope hanging around his neck, takes Dean to one side and talks him through Sam's injuries which read like a checklist of pain.
Two bruised ribs, one cracked (and Dean well knows that even breathing with a cracked rib can hurt like a son of a bitch), contusions to the face and hands (where Sam had tried to block Griffin's attacking blows), one broken finger and some severe bruising. The worst is what Dean already suspects, internal bleeding. Given the hospital's basic observations this probably means ruptured organs. In Sam's doctor's opinion, a torn spleen. Sam is going to need surgery.
When he finally gets to see his brother, it's been almost two hours. Two hours too long considering Dean never wanted to let Sam out of his sight. A nurse in sage green scrubs tells him that Sam's been drifting in and out, asking for Dean every time his eyes opened. Nervous of anyone that wasn't his brother, checking Sam's temperature and attaching his I.V. had proven difficult to the point where they'd had to administer a mild sedative. Whether they believe Dean's fabricated hit and run story is another thing, it's a lie which won't stand up to rigorous questioning but for now it seems to be keeping five-o and social services at bay.
Dean takes up his post in the chair at the side of the bed, rests his hand on top of Sam's and waits.
He slips out to use the toilet after an hour of watching Sam sleeping, his little brother's face creased with pain even while unconscious. Dean smooths out the lines around Sam's eyes with the pad of his thumb before he leaves, whispers in Sam's ear that he's only going to use the can in the tiny bathroom next door.
Dean stares blankly at his reflection in the mirror which hangs over the sink. He doesn't recognize the face staring back at him. He feels used up, drained dry. He splashes water on his eyes, trying to wash away the grittiness.
Dean has fake papers, a whole trunk full but nothing which gives him guardianship of Sam. Dad could be miles away right now but wherever he is, he's most likely as pissed as hell. Dean's going to have to make that call and it scares him to think that his dad might refuse to come. That John might not understand, that he might feel the same inexplicable hate towards Sam as Griffin.
Dean wouldn't chance it before, wouldn't risk his brother's life on it. He's not sure what to do now that Sam's life is at risk either way.
He sucks in a long breath and tries to mentally prepare himself for going back into Sam's room because if Sam's awake, he wants to be ready. He needs to know what to say. Hi kiddo, you're in the hospital because a hunter thinks you're evil. It doesn't matter that you were kidnapped and bonded against your will, your own side want you dead. Life sure is a bed of roses ain't it? Yeah, that's probably not the way to go.
When he finally goes back, he finds Sam's bed empty and there's a man sitting in the chair.
Dean's reaching for the small folding knife tucked in his back pocket before he figures out who the hunched figure is. When the realization hits, he keeps on reaching. He can feel his voice shaking as he whispers, "Where's Sam?"
John turns to look at his son with eyes which are red and wet. Dean stares at the floor unable to bare the weight of John's indefatigable gaze. John reaches out his hand as though to touch Dean and then stops, an abortive gesture that belies his own internal battle. He ignores Dean's question as though his son never said a word. "You took off." John states numbly. He shakes his head and laces his fingers together in his lap, "I was tracking you boys and found Griffin instead, put two and two together when I saw that someone had worked him over. You think I'm like him? That I'd kill Sam without trying to save him first?"
"Dad, I—" Dean loves his dad, he does but those feelings are locked behind a shuttered door and Dean won't choose.
Not when the choice was made long ago.
John's face darkens and he motions at the empty bed. "I've signed the forms, Sam's being prepped for surgery."
Dean slumps back against the wall, only now seeing fit to move his hand away from his concealed weapon. He wishes he could have spoken to Sam before they whisked him away, even if Sam hadn't been awake to hear it. "I think I broke the bond...between Sam and the Selkie."
"So Sam really is Sam again?"
"He always was."
"I wouldn't have harmed a hair on his head. I would have helped you save him."
Dean clenches his teeth and nods shakily but doesn't agree or disagree, his doesn't trust his voice enough and his silence is probably the answer which says the most anyway.
A few minutes pass and Dean's head suddenly jerks up, "What about Griffin?" He's horrified that it's taken him until now to remember. The desire for revenge flares brightly as Griffin's name leaves his lips.
Something dark and dangerous flashes through John's brown eyes. "He won't be going anywhere for awhile, not with both his legs busted. He needs to learn to be more careful, there's some dangerous people around."
"You think he'll be back?"
"If he is we'll be ready for him."
Dean nods, although his blood lust isn't sated. They sit down together to wait for Sam. Old magazines and crap television doing little to ease their fractured peace. Each dragging second marked by the slow ticking of the clock hanging on the wall.
The sound of the door opening is nearly enough to startle them both. John and Dean move to stand with their backs pressed against the wall. Both to give the nurses and silver-haired doctor the space required to wheel Sam back into the room and in the hope they'll remain inconspicuous enough not to be asked to leave.
It takes them awhile to get Sam back into his bed and hooked up again. By the time they've finished Sam has the addition of an oxygen mask, an I.V. for pain relief, one for dehydration and another pumping someone else's blood into his veins.
The irony isn't lost on Dean. Everything seems to come back to blood, one way or another.
Sam looks frail and hollow-eyed, more like an old man than a kid and Dean chews on his lip to combat the exhausted emotions threatening to tumble out in an ungodly manner. His legs are jelly and the world tilts as he walks an unsteady zig-zag line to plonk himself back down in the chair by Sam's bedside. When Dad pulls his attention away from Sam to notice, he disappears out of the room mumbling about fetching Dean something to eat and drink.
For once, Dean's not overjoyed at the prospect of food, not even entirely convinced he'd be able to keep anything down.
Dean takes the time alone to press his warm lips to the back of Sam's cold hand, watching the movement of his brother's chest to remind himself that life still resides within the pale inert body. "Hey, Dad's here now and...we love you, Sam. You're safe. It's all over. You're going to be okay."
For the first time since finding Sam, he cuts himself some slack. Walking over to the window overlooking the city, he presses his forehead against the glass, soaking up the coolness like a sponge. If he cries, well, that's something nobody else needs to know about.
When Sam wakes up he's groggy and disorientated, opening his eyes only for them to slide closed. Dean wraps his fingers around his brother's wrist, offering him a grounding touch-point and Sam blinks awake again.
Sam doesn't attempt to talk. Dean feeds him a couple of ice chips, which he opens his mouth for, jaw working as the ice melts. He's staring away from Dean and there's no way in hell the water jug on the table by the side of the bed is that interesting.
"When are we leaving?" Sam asks finally, voice so ragged and low that Dean has to lean forward to hear him.
"We're not going anywhere until you're well again."
"But social services..."
"Dad's here, we don't need to run." The machines by Sam's bedside have been beeping steadily all this time, the soft repetitive sound mingling with Dean's own heartbeat until he'd almost forgotten they were there but he notices them now as the beeping speeds up, growing louder. "Hey, easy. Calm down!" Dean leans over the bed rail and presses down on Sam's shoulders trying to stop him from jostling his damaged ribs as Sam's chest starts to heave.
John hasn't left Sam's room once since his trip to the hospital cafeteria. Leaning heavily against the doorframe or slouched in a chair staring out of the window, always hovering only just in the periphery of Dean's vision but he steps forward now, moving out of the shadows from a darkened corner of the room. "Sammy?"
Sam's goes still, through fear or something else, Dean can't tell. His breath is still coming in short panted gasps. "I'm sorry Dad. Sorry I couldn't fight him...stop him." Sam's covers his face with his hands. "I should have run away, found my way back to you somehow."
It takes both John and Dean a long minute to realize Sam's talking about the Selkie and not Griffin.
They both dart forward at the same instant, their stream of words overlapping and yet carrying the same message. "It's not your fault, don't say that, don't even think that."
John rests his hand on the pillow by Sam's head, rolling the end of one of Sam's unruly curls between his finger and thumb. He looks lost and Dean's never seen his father appear so helpless and unsure. John Winchester always knows what to do, what to say. Except it seems, where his sons are concerned.
Slowly but surely the tension begins to melt from Sam's body. His breathing easing up as he settles down to sleep under his dad's familiar touch.
Dean watches the unfolding scene and closes his own heavy eyes. Dad can take the wheel for awhile, he knows in his heart that they're going to be okay. It's only as he's tipping over the void into sleep that he hazily remembers that today is the first of December.