The final chapter, at long last! Thanks SO much to all the lovely people who reviewed or favourited or alerted this story! You make me so happy :-)
A huge thanks to my wonderful Dad who helped me with the fight scene...
Disclaimer: The usual.
Dean lifted the cardboard cup from where it stood on Sam's cabinet and peered hopefully through the little hole in the plastic lid. The coffee produced by this hospital was actually better than average. Which made it just about drinkable. He swallowed the mouthful that still remained, wrinkling his nose at the taste of gritty dregs, and glanced again at his watch.
This day was just taking forever.
He looked out of the window, and sighed. The sun was dipping, but it would be at least another hour before dark, and there was no point in making a move before night.
Dean knew from years of experience that nasty things prefer to come out at night.
Even nasty human things.
His fist clenched unconsciously, crushing the cup, as he remembered Sam's words.
"A really fancy red sports convertible..."
It was a measure of just how weakened Sam was that he hadn't noticed the effect of his statement on his older brother.
Dean stood up abruptly and took several hasty steps to the other side of the small room. Then he came back, tossing the empty cup in the trash, and sat down again.
Driver of a scarlet Porsche Carrera.
The Porsche Carrera that had almost killed Dean's little brother.
An image of the other man rose up in his mind: large, aggressive, contemptuous. He'd always taken exactly what he wanted and whoever had dared to stand in his way had run up against the might of Milford senior.
Or Devan's fist. Dean recalled the beer bottle and his lip curled. It had been a long time since he'd felt such a desire to break someone's nose.
And that was before he'd discovered what Devan had done to Sam.
Dean glanced across at the bed. Sam was asleep again. He'd gone under shortly after their conversation that morning and hadn't really woken properly since then. He still looked frighteningly pale and shadowy, but the various medical personnel who'd been in to check on him had seemed pleased. The oxygen mask had been replaced with a nasal cannula, which Dean took to be a good sign.
Dean's gaze lingered on his brother's face. Sam was alive, and recovering. His sickly pallor was a much better colour than the gray-blue he'd been last night when Dean had found him. But it was a far cry from Sam's usual healthy tan. Dean shivered, remembering his first sight of Sam in the ditch, huddled and limp and blue. He didn't think he'd ever get that image out of his head.
And Devan had been responsible. Driving recklessly, too fast and on the wrong side of the road, he'd forced Sam into the ditch and then just driven off, not even pausing to see if he'd caused any damage. He'd left him lying there. And Sam had come within inches of death as a result.
Dean's teeth ground together audibly.
He'd walked away from the fight last night, albeit reluctantly. Devan's taunts were maddening, but given the circumstances Dean had overlooked them.
But Milford had crossed the line when he hurt Sam.
No-one messed with Dean Winchester's little brother and got away with it.
He wasn't there.
Dean breathed heavily through his nose, staring morosely at the beer bottle in his hand. The bar was busy, its faintly sordid clientele all in various stages of inebriation, but the one man he had come to find was nowhere to be seen. Under normal circumstances he wouldn't have objected to being there, drinking beer and perhaps investing in a game of pool, but these weren't normal circumstances.
Sam was in hospital, by no means recovered, and Dean didn't like to leave him. He knew, though, that he had to get this done before Sam was discharged. Their dubious insurance would not stand up to close scrutiny and they would have to get out of the town fairly quickly once Sam was ready to move. There would be no time then to deal with Devan.
"So, did you find your brother?" Kendra leant against the bar, a momentary hiatus in the steady stream of customers allowing her to take a break. Dean looked up.
"Uh – yeah. Yeah."
"Was he okay? Everything fine?"
Dean's eyes flickered.
"He... uh... he ran into a little trouble." Or rather, trouble ran into him... "He's doing okay now, though."
He could see she was curious for more information, and was relieved when someone called her attention away. He'd replayed the previous night's events too many times in his head to want to recount them to a relative stranger now.
Glancing around again, he swallowed the last of the beer. Devan hadn't come in, and Dean's self-imposed time limit was up. Sam was likely to sleep through the night, but Dean didn't want to be absent if for some reason he woke. Or had one of his nightmares. Or if some complication arose.
The possibilities marched through his mind, each worse than the last, and propelled him to his feet. He'd just have to come back tomorrow night.
As he stood up, a different sort of discomfort made itself known.
One beer and three coffees... I gotta take a leak.
The bathroom was about what he might have expected, given the atmosphere of the rest of the place, but Dean had seen worse in his wide experience of motels. He didn't linger, wanting to get back to Sam.
He pushed back through the swing doors and stopped just inside, his head lifting as adrenalin flooded through him.
At the bar stood a familiar figure.
Devan was angled slightly towards him, a faintly predatory grin on his face. He was leaning against the bar. The small blonde beside him wore a distinctly uneasy expression although the brave remnants of a smile still clung to her lips. She was pretty, in a wholesome, innocent way, and did not appear to be out of her teens.
She looked about as comfortable in the bar as Dean would have been at the Vicar's tea party.
Devan leant nearer, and murmured something in her ear. At the same time, his arm came up and curled round her waist.
The remains of the smile disappeared and she pushed his arm away, stepping back a little. Devan followed, his smirk widening a little, and his arm returned. His hand began to wander.
Her face darkened into a frown as she pulled free. She said something to him, although through the noise of the bar Dean couldn't hear what it was, and hurried towards the swing doors through which Dean had just walked, evidently seeking refuge in the ladies room.
Dean's eyes narrowed. He took a step towards the man at the bar. Devan was looking in his direction, but from the way his gaze passed casually over Dean it was obvious he did not remember him. Then, as if coming to a decision, he headed over and went through the swing doors in obvious pursuit of his latest conquest.
Dean stood without moving, his mind racing. A part of him wanted to follow the other man. A fight to the finish in the setting of a grimy bathroom was not quite what he'd envisaged, though. The room was tiny and poorly lit. He didn't really want to attack Devan in front of the girl, either.
A faint sound, quickly stifled, set his senses quivering, and his head turned sharply in the direction in which the couple had gone. He stepped closer to the doors, glanced around, and then pushed back through them.
The gents' stood open and unlit.
The door to the ladies' was closed.
Some instinct sent him across, and tension rippled through him as he heard a scuffle from behind it.
I really hope she's not actually using the bathroom. This could be embarrassing...
He twisted the handle and pushed the door open.
Devan had his back to the door. His superior weight pinned the girl to the wall, one hand over her mouth. She was struggling violently, but it was more than obvious that she had no hope of breaking free. One sleeve of her pink shirt was torn.
Devan went back through the swing doors considerably more quickly than he'd come.
He was heavy, but Dean's rage made an easy job of swinging him around and kicking him out of the bathroom. Momentum propelled him with a crash back into the bar to sprawl inelegantly at the feet of a decrepit elderly man.
"Hey, Superman, whassa matter? Trip over your cape?"
In the sudden silence of the room, the slurred words were audible to all. Dean pushed through the swing doors in Devan's wake to find that every eye was on him. Hands on beer bottles had frozen, some halfway to open mouths; over at the bar Kendra stood motionless, whisky pouring unheeded into the glass in front of her. The air crackled with tense anticipation.
Devan came to his feet with a lunge, growling something at the old man, and his fist swung in Dean's direction. It wasn't a calculated blow but it was powerful enough to have done some damage had it landed. Dean had been expecting it, though. He sidestepped neatly, and threw a punch of his own.
Devan staggered as his forward rush carried him into Dean's rock-hard fist. His eyes widened a little, surprised pain flaring with the blood that spilled from his split lip. Then fury reddened his face and he came at Dean again.
Dean ducked into the blow this time. Devan's arm went over his shoulder as Dean's fist buried itself in the man's stomach. Devan's breath left him in a pained grunt and he doubled over, clutching his middle and wheezing. Dean eyed him alertly, his eyes a little narrowed, predicting what his opponent would do next. The rage still bubbled near the surface, but he was harnessing it, completely in control, not allowing his anger and hatred of this man to distract him and cloud his judgment. He was the consummate hunter stalking his prey.
Devan straightened slowly, still sucking air in audibly. His hands clenched and unclenched, twitching with the intensity of his emotion.
"I'm going to smash your face in!" he snarled, and threw himself at Dean.
The right hook was better timed than his previous shots, and only Dean's excellent reflexes saved him from a broken jaw. His head jerked sideways as the fist grazed the side of his face. Unlike Devan, though, he didn't let his anger affect his tactics. Recovering, he feinted left. Devan dodged it, and put himself neatly in the path of Dean's right fist. It caught him in the stomach, in precisely the same area as before. As his body jack-knifed, Dean smashed his left into Devan's face.
Devan wobbled, and slid to his knees, his arms wrapped around his abdomen. Blood trickled from the newly opened gash across his cheekbone. His mouth hung open, the air hissing across his damaged lip.
Dean tensed, preparatory to another swing, but Devan cringed.
"No... please... enough..." His gasping plea was almost a whine.
Dean's lip curled. He grasped hold of the man's shirt front with both hands and yanked him up, leaning forward so their faces were inches apart.
"You almost killed my kid brother. You knocked him into a ditch and drove off and left him, and he nearly died. You think this is enough?"
For the first time a flicker of something akin to fear passed over Devan's face. Dean could see his thoughts. This was not some random guy protecting a damsel in distress. This was personal. Dean was out for justice. He was out for revenge.
"I don't know what you're talking about," he bleated, and cowered back instinctively at the fury which sparked from Dean's eyes.
"Oh, I think you do. Last evening, driving too fast and on the wrong side? On the road out of town?"
Devan's involuntary flinch gave him away.
"I... I didn't mean..."
"Just shut the hell up." Dean released him with a hard shove, sending the man into an ungraceful heap on the floor.
"Is... is that true?"
Dean turned at the sound of the voice beside him. Kendra stood nearby, one arm comfortingly around the shoulders of Devan's erstwhile date. Her face was a little pale.
"Is that true?" she repeated. "That Devan... your brother..."
"Yeah." Dean's voice was curt.
"Is he – your brother – is he alright?"
Dean's eyes flickered as the events of the last twenty-four hours rushed through his memory. He forced them back with an almost physical effort.
"Yeah. He will be –"
The abrupt widening of Kendra's eyes alerted him before her scream of warning.
Dean whirled round. Light flared off glass as the broken bottle flashed towards him. Even as he jerked his head back his hands closed around the arm which wielded the deadly weapon, and in a blur of motion he slammed it down across his upraised knee.
Devan's shriek and the shatter of the bottle as he dropped it were simultaneous.
Dean's eyes were flat and deadly. His left hand fisted in the man's shirt front, preventing the imminent descent to the boarded floor.
"That's how you want it? Fine." His voice was a merciless snarl.
Dimly he heard what sounded like shouts, but his vision seemed to have narrowed so that all he could see was the man in front of him. Then he was smashing his fist into that hated face, feeling the dull crunch as flesh bruised and bone and cartilage gave way, hearing the yells of pain which only fuelled his rage. His grip on Devan's shirt loosened, allowing the man to slump to his knees, but he only let up when his arm was aching and his hand bloody and throbbing.
Devan was huddled on the floor, whimpering. One hand clutched his face. The arrogance and aggression seemed to have leaked out of him with the blood that trickled through his spread fingers.
Dean crouched down, leaning over him.
"You made a big mistake when you messed with my brother, you son of a bitch. No one screws with Sammy and gets away with it."
One hand went to the back of Devan's collar and he dragged him unceremoniously to the door, ignoring the gasps and groans of protest. Then his other hand gripped Devan's belt, and heaved.
For a man of his size Devan flew surprisingly well. His body described a graceful arc in the night air before coming abruptly to rest on the gleaming hood of the Porsche. There was a hollow, shuddering thud as flesh collided with metal, the sports car responding in a manner which suggested that its owner was not the only one who'd be bearing the scars of tonight's encounter.
"Oh, and Milford? Leave the ladies alone from now on." Dean's comment dropped into the silence as Devan slithered off the car to land in a heap on the muddy ground.
Completely focused on Devan, Dean had almost forgotten the presence of everyone else, and the sudden burst of sound behind him was unexpected. Voices, loud, excited, swirled around him as the patrons of the bar spilled from the door. Several of them thumped him on the back, boisterous in their enthusiasm.
He barely responded. His rage and lust for revenge were still too acute to allow him to feel anything else, and while he could see that the general mood was jubilant he couldn't participate. He stood unmoving, his face rigid, and watched Devan, who was stirring feebly.
"Well. That was... that was quite something." Kendra's voice was dispassionate. Dean glanced at her and saw in her face the confusion of emotions that her voice didn't show. "I daresay I don't want to know how you learned to fight like that."
"I daresay you don't."
"It doesn't seem quite appropriate to say thanks, but... yeah. Devan's had that coming to him for a long time." She looked around. "Everyone would have liked to do it and no-one dared - but I think he's just not going to be a threat anymore. You totally humiliated him, apart from anything else." She smiled, and Dean's mouth quirked in response as the violent emotion within him began slowly to subside.
"You have time for a drink? On the house, of course."
Dean hesitated. It was tempting. But an image rose to his mind, of a stark room and a pale-faced boy asleep in a hospital bed, and somehow beer and congenial company seemed to lose a little of their allure. He smiled apologetically.
"I think, if you don't mind, that I'm going to get back to my brother. He's been alone all evening."
There was complete understanding in the smile Kendra gave him.
"Yeah. But listen, once your brother's up and about, you both come down here and take me up on the offer, okay?"
Sam was asleep when Dean returned. He was lying on his side, cheek pillowed on one hand, looking absurdly young and innocent.
Dean stood beside the bed and looked down at him. Sam was going to be alright. A faint but unmistakeable wash of colour had appeared in his face and he seemed to have improved even in the hours Dean had been absent. Dean's face softened into an expression that it seldom wore, an expression that only his little brother had ever been able to evoke, and for a moment his bruised right hand rested lightly on the dark head.
"Mmm... De...?" Sam stirred, his voice a drowsy mumble.
"Yeah, it's me. Go back to sleep, Sammy."
"'kay." Sam's breathing deepened again. Dean huffed a sigh, suddenly exhausted.
"Sleep well, bro." His voice was very soft.
"So, tell us all exactly how you felt!"
It can't be... surely....
Sam's eyes opened.
Dean was tilted back in his chair, arms folded across his chest. He was staring with absorption at the television, completely engrossed. Sam took one look, and sniggered.
Dean leapt, almost falling out of the chair as he snatched up the remote and fumbled with the buttons.
"Uh... I was –"
"Shut up, Sammy." Dean managed eventually to switch off the television. Sam noted, with pleasure, the scarlet hue that was rapidly suffusing his face. Dean saw the impish grin.
"I'm not the one who watched Barney for four hours one evening." He smirked in satisfaction as Sam's amusement gave way to horror. "You thought I didn't know about that?"
Sam tilted his head and his mouth puckered as he tried to formulate an explanation. Then Dean reached across for his coffee and Sam saw his hand.
"Dean! What the hell?"
"What?" Dean followed his gaze, and his eyes flickered a little. "Oh, that. It's nothing, really."
"I... uh... it was... it was a hunt."
"A hunt?" Sam was eyeing him suspiciously. "What kind of hunt?"
"A malevolent spirit. I had to banish it." Dean's gaze met Sam's, eyes wide and mouth curling up a little. Sincerity was apparent in every line of his face.
Sam knew that look.
It was the one Dean wore when he was fabricating his most outrageous stories.
"Awake at last! And how are we feeling this morning?"
Sam's protest died as his nurse surged into the room. He threw a speaking look at his brother and then smiled brightly at the woman.
"I'm okay. I'm fine. Can I leave today?"
"Well, I don't know about that, honey. We'll have to see what the doctor says." She gripped Sam's arm and took his pulse and blood pressure with the ease of practice. "BP's a little low. Feeling dizzy at all?"
"No, I'm good."
"I'll check it again after breakfast." She glanced down at her watch and shook her head. "Which is late, of course. But what can we expect? After the uproar in the ER, the whole hospital is going a little crazy."
"Uproar in the ER?"
"Oh, my word. Early this morning... I tell you, I've never seen anything like it, and I've been here for – well, I'm not going to tell you how long, haha, but for a while, and there's never been such a scene..."
Dean's eyes met Sam's, and his lips twitched.
"I mean, we all knew what he was like, of course, but I guess it must have been a shock. You'd think his own father – but then he always was blind where Devan was concerned, which is probably why –"
"Devan?" Dean cut through the flood of words. "Devan Milford?"
"Yes, Devan Milford – oh, of course, you wouldn't have a clue what I'm babbling on about! Devan came into the ER early this morning in a very bad state, broken arm, broken nose, fractured mandible and what have you. Apparently he'd been beaten up but no-one seemed to be able to give any information as to what happened. If you ask me," her voice lowered confidentially, "it was angry menfolk of one of the young ladies that he's always getting so... friendly... with. I've always said that boy will get what's coming to him one of these days."
"So... he made a scene?" Dean prompted.
"No, not right then. His father was with him, talking about finding out who did it and pressing charges etcetera, and Devan wasn't saying much and everyone was just keeping their heads down. Mr. Milford is not someone to get on the wrong side of, so we just stayed quiet and hoped he'd leave. Anyway, they'd been there about an hour when who should arrive but a police officer. He had this other man with him, a very well-dressed middle-aged gentleman, who's apparently a lawyer, a pretty high-up one, too."
She paused to catch her breath. Dean's eyes had narrowed at the mention of the police, and he avoided Sam's gaze.
"No! That's the thing – that's when the... er... poop hit the fan! It turns out Devan took this man's daughter out last night and tried to... assault her. Luckily he was interrupted, which is where the beating part came in, I'm guessing, but now this lawyer is pressing a charge of attempted rape." Excitement warred with genuine concern in her face. "Mr Milford just seemed to... I don't know... collapse. Emotionally, I mean. I was almost sorry for him. He kept looking at the lawyer, and then at Devan, as if he couldn't believe it, and saying "rape?" over and over. I think he just never knew quite how badly his son was behaving, so he always took his side, and now he'd realised. And Devan won't get away with it. There're too many people in this town who'll be happy to support the case against him. He's done it before, you know. And Mr Milford said he wasn't paying for a defence lawyer. Devan will have to sell that lovely red Porsche of his and get a lawyer himself."
She glanced at her watch, and uttered a little cry.
"Here I am chatting and time's passing! Breakfast should be coming soon, honey, and then we'll see what the doctor has to say about discharging you."
She whirled out of the room, a small hurricane, leaving a very pregnant silence behind her.
Sam broke it.
"A hunt, huh?"
Dean met his gaze levelly.
"We're not gonna argue about this."
Sam said nothing for a moment. He looked down.
"So... Devan drives a red Porsche." His voice was thoughtful.
Dean watched him without speaking.
Then Sam's mouth curled, in a grin that was somehow shy.
Something flashed across Dean's face, an expression Sam might have recognised if he'd been awake when Dean had come in the previous night. It was gone in an instant.
"Yeah, dude. You owe me, big time." He looked at his watch. "When's your breakfast coming? I'm starving."
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