Title: None Goes His Way Alone
Spoilers: General season one, "Skin"
Warnings: Mildly harsh language, but no worse than you hear on the show.
Summary: "Dean can call him Daryl Hannah all he wants, if he'll just get here already. He's starting to raisin. And the water creeps higher."
Disclaimer: Sadly, the brothers Winchester do not belong to me. But maybe they should. I mean, sure, I beat them up a lot, but at least *I* follow it up with some brotherly comfort. *glares meaningfully at Kripke*
A/N: "Season Four Affective Disorder" continues to exert its depressing hold on me. In desperate need of brotherly schmoop and H/C, I have once again self-medicated with fic. Here's hoping it eases the pain of season four's angst for some of you, as well. One again, major credit goes to Faye Dartmouth for her exceptional Beta'ing skills. Stay strong, my fellow Sam Girl! Reviews are much loved and appreciated, should you feel inclined to share your opinion with me. :)
"There is a destiny that makes us brothers: None goes his way alone: All that we send into the lives of others comes back onto our own."
Sam Winchester decides on September 2, 2006, that he is never ever going near water again. Maybe he can someday be convinced to shower, if he gets smelly enough to cause personal distress to others. But only if it's a particularly low-flo shower head. Otherwise, society will be lucky if Sam is even in the same room as a flushing toilet after today.
Right now, water is not his friend. Water sucks. This whole situation sucks.
The day had started so well, too - promising leads to follow up on, breakfast at a diner that actually understood the concept of 'egg white omelet,' and a motel that seemed to have been built after 1960. Most importantly, he and Dean were finally starting to ease back into the rhythm of being brothers and hunting partners again. Dean had teased him good-naturedly about his omelet, waggled his eyebrows when the waitress flirted shamelessly with Sam, and even let Sam drive the Impala back from the diner.
It had felt like the first time since the Roosevelt Asylum that they felt truly comfortable around each other.
Then a frickin' shapeshifter had to go and screw it all up. Sam hadn't even seen it coming. One minute he was running after the slimy bastard, the next there had been blinding pain in his skull and nothing but indistinct darkness.
God, it had been a boneheaded move to just veer off on his own like that, chasing it through the rain and fog. He'd screwed up royally, putting himself and his brother in danger. Again. Dean is going to kill him.
So much for regained trust.
As if all of that isn't bad enough - as if being knocked unconscious and abducted isn't demeaning enough - the stupid, moronic monster has chained him in a basement. Sure, at first it had seemed to be a step up from a sewer – until it had become apparent that it was a flooding basement, thanks to the epic rainstorm raging outside. So in addition to the discomfort of being shackled to the floor, hungry and tired and mentally kicking himself, Sam has the added torture of cold, wet jeans and extremities that have gone numb from the chilly water.
Currently, the water level is hovering just below his navel as he sits with his back to the basement wall. Due to the short length of chain between his newly-acquired wrist manacle and the bolt in the floor, Sam's face is as high above the water as it's going to get. This is a concern, because the water level is still rising steadily.
But not a huge concern, Sam reassures himself.
Dean is going to swoop in here any time now, guns blazing, and free him. Sam may have screwed up, Dean may be angry, but it's still Dean, and his brother never lets him down when it counts. Sam might do things like wander off and get possessed by the spirit of an insane doctor, might try to shoot his own brother in the head, or might even abandon strategy and get kidnapped by a monster, but Dean will still come to save him. Sam knows this - even with four years of tense separation looming in the recent past, Sam knows this.
There'll be the usual round of belittling sarcasm - Dean calling Sam a damsel in distress and making inane references to the movie Splash - but Sam knows it's nothing more than a mask for his brother's concern. Dean will get him out of this stinking basement, and once he's dry and warm Sam will apologize and they'll continue the work of rebuilding a brotherhood.
And, really? Dean can call him Daryl Hannah all he wants, if he'll just get here already.
He's starting to raisin.
And the water creeps higher.
Dean is never letting Sam out of his sight again. Seriously, the kid has some sort of cosmic sign on his back that reads "Attention, Creatures of the Night: Free puppy!" And god help him, it's another damn shifter. Dean hates the friggin' things. He still hasn't forgotten the oh-so-lovely experience of shooting his own doppelganger, his badly beaten brother gasping and bleeding ten feet away. Sonuvabitches are creepy. Just plain unsettling, the way they slither out of their false skins, the way they steal a person's face and voice and memories. Plus, the last shifter had had the gall to steal his car. Freakin' monsters.
And now one has his kid brother. Again.
God damnit, Sam.
He knew they shouldn't have split up. But they'd lost track of the thing in the rain and the fog, and Dean had zigged when Sam zagged, and that had been all it had taken.
Twenty minutes later and the discovery of Sam's Sig Saur (smeared with blood) lying in an alley, and Dean is officially panicked.
Luckily, he knows just who to call.
Bobby Singer makes good time to Okewani, Washington. After all, he's only two hours away, tracking a wood ogre near the British Colombian border. Dean thinks Bobby probably heard the thinly veiled panic in his voice, and most likely broke several laws getting to Washington quickly. Dean reminds himself to thank Bobby for his haste, later, when Sam's life isn't on the line.
"Bobby," he says gruffly when Bobby arrives at his hotel room, "Thanks for coming. The more eyes we got on this, the better."
"'Course I came, ya idgit," Bobby growls, shaking the ever-present rainwater from his hat. "That wood ogre can keep for a while - that brother'a yours… well, the sooner we find him the better for us all."
Dean feels a swell of relief, the sort of thank God, it's not all on me feeling that has been so sorely missing from his life since their dad went AWOL.
"Yeah," Dean sighs, slumping on the bed. "I just- I don't know where to look. This thing is changing skins like Paris Hilton changes outfits. It could be anyone, anywhere, and Sam could already be-"
His voice chokes off, and he feels the fear and desperation clogging his throat.
"Don't get ahead of yourself, boy," Bobby chastises him. "Yer already lettin' your emotions run yer head. You just said it yourself - this thing could be anyone, and you let me waltz right in here unchecked. S'foolish, and not like you. Get yer head on straight, or you won't be any help to Sam."
Dean feels a flush of embarrassment and wariness, and the sudden mistrust must be all over his face because Bobby rolls his eyes and produces a silver knife.
"A little late for suspicion, Numbnuts," the older hunter says dryly, but scores his palm with the knife all the same. Showing Dean the welling, red, human blood, he re-stashes the knife.
Dean offers up a chagrined smirk, and Bobby smirks back with a look that clearly conveys his fond exasperation.
"Now, how about we find that walking disaster you call a brother so we can both finish our hunts and get the hell outta this perpetual puddle of a state?"
Sam's teeth are chattering, sending nonsense Morse code messages through his skull. He distracts himself for all of five minutes by trying to find a pattern in way his molars rattle together, remembering evening code lessons with their dad.
But that just leads to remembering how, as children, he and Dean had tapped out messages to each other against the headboards of shared motel beds. Long after they were supposed to be sleeping, Dean would tap out dirty limericks and a young Sam would struggle to smother his giggles in his pillow.
There once was a fellow McSweeny
Who spilled some gin on his weenie
Just to be couth
He added vermouth
Then slipped his girlfriend a martini
Thinking about those warm, safe moments with his brother just makes Sam ache over the time he's missed with Dean these last few years. It just makes this musty, freezing basement all the more miserable. And it's safe to say that Sam really doesn't need any more misery added to this situation.
Can't he catch a break? He's already been kidnapped and shackled - he'd had to wake up to a God damned shapeshifter leering at him. Then the creepy thing had taunted him with its plans to steal Sam's face and wreak some havoc, monologuing on and on about its evil, genius plans and superior intellect.
Blah, blah, blah.
Why do these things have to talk so much?
At least the bastard had left the overhead light on when it had gone gallivanting off to do God-knows-what. The wan little 40 watt means he's spared the fate of drowning in the dark, but that's about the only silver lining Sam could find right about now.
The water is up to just under his sternum, and his legs have turned to heavy, numb logs of water-soaked flesh.
There once was a hunter named Sammy
Who let a shifter give him the whammy
So then he was bait,
and could do naught but wait,
as his ass did grow quite clammy.
It isn't really all that funny, and yet Sam finds himself laughing at the stupid limerick his soggy brain offers up. He'll have to remember it - Dean will get a kick out of it.
Assuming, that is, Sam is still breathing by the time Dean finds him.
It takes Dean and Bobby an hour and thirty-eight minutes to figure out that the shifter is squatting in one of its former victim's real estate listings. An hour and thirty-eight minutes of shuffling through papers and documents and utterly frickin' useless words. An hour and thirty-eight minutes that Sam could be being tortured, or beaten, or already beginning to decompose.
Dean clamps down hard on that thought and shoves it into the part of his brain labeled not a chance in hell, because he's damn close to losing his mind as it is, and that'll just push him over the edge.
He can't lose his brother now (not ever). He's just gotten Sam back. Even with all the crap of the last six months - Dad bailing, Jessica's death, Lawrence, the freakin' asylum, and then that fight during the hunt with the nasty scarecrow- Dean is grateful to have Sam in his life again. They're brothers again. Dean has missed that more than he'll ever admit. To lose it all now…
Not gonna happen, Dean tells himself sternly. There's still time.
Sam is alive. He has to be alive, because the world is still here, still spinning, and Dean's pretty certain all of that would have crumbled the moment Sam died.
The water is sneaking up over the tops of his shoulders now, giving Sam an up-close view of the oily surface of the basement flood. Several cans of cleaning solution and paint bob merrily in the water, buoyed in currents that Sam can't discern. Chemical films blossom out around the floating cans, making Georgia O'Keefe rainbow pictures on the water.
Sam worries briefly about what the chemicals will do to his vision when the water gets that high. Then he remembers that, should the water get that high, it'll be a moot point what happens to his eyes.
He's still shivering, the motion sending concentric circles of ripples out through the water. He's tired, and he feels heavy and numb. Twice now he's been jerked back from near-unconsciousness when his dipping chin skims the water. He wonders if the cold and the weariness will win out, if he'll slip into the wetness and drown as he gives in to sleep.
God, he doesn't want to die like this. He has to avenge Jess, find their Dad, finish fixing things with Dean. There's too much left to do for him to die so pointlessly.
Not to mention, he really doesn't want to die alone.
Dean, he thinks with growing desperation, where are you?
The house on Mulberry Ave looks unassuming and boring - normal - a hideous shade of beige.
God, these people have no idea what is lurking in their neighborhood. But it doesn't matter - Dean is going to kill the damn thing before anyone else has to learn the hard way what's living on their street.
Dean parks the Impala at the end of the avenue and resists the urge to sprint to the house in question. He wants to park closer, wants to run and kick down the door, but with the recent deaths in the area, people are spooked. They can't afford to attract attention, can't afford to have someone remember the car.
Be smart or be caught, his father's voice whispers.
Night has come on fast, and with Bobby at his side, Dean melts into the shadows and creeps towards the house. It's still raining, unsurprisingly, but the decreased visibility works in their favor. It wouldn't do to have a good Samaritan neighbor peek out their window and see two strange men breaking into the house next door.
They don't have time for complications. With Sam missing, there's no time for anything except finding him.
Already, driving across town to Mulberry Ave has taken considerably more time than they can afford. A good-sized creek runs through the center of the neighborhood, winding behind residents' back yards. The rain has swelled it into a small river, and more than one back yard is submerged under the muddy water. Storm drains are overflowing onto the street, and the danger of hydroplaning on the wet roads had been very real. Dean had forced himself to drive at a reasonable speed, his anxious mind chanting Sam, Sam, Sam in time to the whoosh-slap of the Impala's wipers.
Please, he prays silently, Don't let me be too late.
Heart pounding, Dean follows Bobby around the house to the back door and stands guard while the older man picks the lock. As soon as he hears the soft snick of the latch disengaging, Dean is through the door and sweeping the kitchen for threats.
"Damnit, boy," Bobby hisses behind him, "We do this thing right - don't go charging off half-cocked and gettin' killed. "
Dean doesn't have time to feel chastised, but he does make an effort to be more cautious as he sneeks a look into the dining room.
The place is dead quiet, no sign of life, and for a heart-sinking moment Dean thinks they've gotten it wrong.
Then he sees the faint sliver of light fanning out from under a door to his right.
Motioning to Bobby, Dean points at the door. Nodding, Bobby reaches out and slowly turns the knob. The door creaks as Bobby eases it open, and Dean winces as he aims his Taurus at the lit doorway, half expecting a snarling shifter to launch itself through the frame. There is only a gust of damp air, though. The sound of water lapping, and-
The voice sounds weak, wary - but it is unmistakably his brother's. Relief turns Dean's insides to jelly.
"Sam?" he calls, already halfway down the stairs as Bobby curses and mutters about bone-headed Winchesters.
Dean pounds down the stairs, taking in the dimly lit basement and the cracking cement walls without conscious thought. His right foot lands on the first submerged step with a splash before he realizes that the basement is flooded.
Then he sees Sam, or the little bit of Sam that's above the surface of the water, and his heart stutters and clenches in his chest.
Sam's face is just visible, tilted back painfully in order to keep his jaw out of the water. His hair is wet at the ends and the back of his head is submerged. Even straining like this, dirty water laps up against Sam's lips as he struggles, and Dean can hear his brother breathing harshly through his nose as he presses his mouth shut to keep the wetness out.
"Shit. Sam," Dean gasps, splashing his way down the rest of the steps, and damn the water's cold. No wonder Sam's lips look a little blue.
"Dean, you've got to hurr-" Sam's voice chokes off in a wet garble as Dean's movements send little waves dashing over his face.
Sam is staring at him with huge, frightened eyes. Dean can clearly see the panic that his brother is trying so hard to hold back, and God, Dean's had this nightmare a hundred times before. Trying to run through a heaviness that grabs at his legs, hurrying to save the people he loves and always being just a little too slow.
Then he's reaching Sam, wincing as he lowers himself further into the flood and begins to pat his brother down.
"Sam, are you stuck?"
"Shackled," Sam gasps, and water sprays from his lips. "M'arm."
Dean follows the feel of his brother's long arms down towards the floor, and has to hold his breath and submerge his head before he can lean far enough to feel the band of hard iron around Sam's right wrist. His fingers walk down the attached chain, stretched taut as Sam pulls against it uselessly. There's a metal bolt sunk into the cement, and Dean maps it out with his hand before he comes up for air.
"Bobby!" Dean yells, "I need the lock picks!"
Bobby is already halfway across the basement, face grim, when Dean turns to look for him. By the time he looks back towards Sam, the water has risen to cover his little brother's mouth, and Sam can only fight for air through his nose. He stares right at Dean, like he's begging.
Then he closes his eyes, and the water rises to cover his nose.
A/N: This story is complete, and the second half will be posted tomorrow. Thanks for reading!