Thank you everyone who has been reading and thank you for all the great comments, you've made my day!
Sam had never been so happy to see the night sky in his life. Finally clear of the tunnel, he and Dean crossed the small lagoon under a dark sky littered with stars. He had no idea how long it'd taken them to traverse the underwater tunnel. It seemed as if he'd spent hours trying for freedom. The entire time he was tucked safely against Dean's chest, his head against the beefy part of Dean's shoulder, making breathing tolerable. His brother was the only thing keeping Sam afloat. He'd never have been able to get back through the tunnel without Dean's help.
Hooking his arms over the side of the lagoon wall, Sam let Dean brace him there for a few seconds before giving him a boost to dry land. Turning at once, he grasped Dean's hand, leaning his weight back so Dean had an easier time scrambling out.
They both flopped down on the ground, staring up at the sky.
"I hate swimming." Sam coughed out the last word. He fumbled with the rope around his waist, getting it off and letting it lay where it fell to the ground.
They made a good team. Just the two of them. He and Dean.
Dean's hand dropped onto his chest. It felt good. "We still gotta ghost to waste."
Sam rolled his head to the side, facing his brother. "We still hafta find it." Without dislodging Dean's hand he propped onto his elbows, coughing and sneezing.
Hand moving to Sam's back, Dean patted a few times then climbed to his feet, holding the same hand out for Sam to pull himself upright. Sam pointed to the small car Ed had driven him in.
"Our stuff is in his trunk."
"Creepy-ass little bastard." Dean moved ahead then stopped without warning. "Oh shit." His exhale was the only warning Sam had.
Jerked from his feet, Dean was flung back into the lagoon and shoved under the water. Arms flailing, Dean managed to get his head up, coughing and sputtering, apparently trying to fight the spirit off with clever use of harsh language.
Sam darted after him, tripping and falling over his uncooperative feet. How many laws had Dean broken in his life? Sam lost count years ago. Flattening on the ground, he reached into the water, grabbed Dean's arms and hauled him up.
Something hit him between the shoulder blades, sending him tumbling into the water beside his brother. Sam had broken a few laws too. He'd just killed a man. His entire body shook as he was shoved beneath the water's surface. Strong fingers wrapping around his forearms stopped his descent into the dark, unforgiving water. Sam kicked his feet while Dean pulled him up.
The spirit couldn't go after them both at once.
Sam was shoved against the lagoon wall again. Hooking one arm under Dean's shoulder, Sam scrambled over the edge, Dean landing nearly on top of him. Up and moving with lightning speed, Dean reversed their holds, grabbing Sam under the arms, pulling up and backpedaling at once. "We gotta get away from the water." Dean was shouting even though Sam wasn't more than six inches from him.
"The house—in the house—" Sam got the words out as he and Dean were flung apart.
Dean had been thrown farther from the water. He hit the ground with a harsh grunt, then dodged to one side immediately, arm thrown over his face. Sam didn't stop to wonder what Dean was protecting himself from; he had a good idea anyway. Getting his shaky legs under the rest of him, Sam ran, staggering sideways as much as forward at the house.
Again he was hit on his back; this time the blow sent him sprawling face down in the dirt then he was being yanked backwards. As ground flew by, he caught sight of Dean beside the Impala. Spinning toward Sam, Dean brought a shotgun up. Sam ducked his face away as Dean fired at a point just over his head. The spray of rock salt gave him freedom, for the moment.
"In the house!" Sam struggled to his feet, tripping and stumbling toward the house, hoping Dean would follow him without asking a lot of questions.
The back door, when Sam finally got there, was locked. He gripped the doorknob in both hands, hanging on and leaning in.
"Move!" Dean barked.
Sam rolled to one side just as Dean's foot slammed against the wood. The door bounced open. They fell through and into the kitchen. The door slamming shut behind them made Sam shudder. Dean often kicked doors open. He rarely bothered to shut them in the same manner.
Water erupted from the sink. They heard toilets in the house flush over and over. Somewhere farther into the house was the distinctive sound of water rushing from faucets. Pipes rattled in the walls, the noise escalated to near painful levels.
Hitting the wall face first—this was getting old—Sam inched sideways, fingers scrabbling along the worn wallpaper. A second blast from Dean's shotgun and he was once again moving more freely. Finally he clutched the boomerang. Yanking it from the wall at the same time his body was pitched away, Sam threw the boomerang at Dean, not seeing if Dean caught it or not.
Water was swirling around their feet, getting deeper. It blew from pipes in the walls and under the floor. Bits of plaster and wood fountained into the air, mixing with the water, and rained back down. He heard Dean's body impact with the table, pushing it against the far wall. The shotgun hit the rising water with a ker-splash. Sam was free again, the spirit now attacking Dean. The boomerang gripped in Dean's hand, he flipped over, his other hand connecting with a salt shaker rolling around the table.
"Sam!" Dean shouted over the rushing water and the pops and bangs of breaking pipes.
Darting forward, Sam had Dean's arms again, pulling against unseen hands, trying to get Dean on his feet. Dean had the boomerang and some salt. Sam had Dean. Eyes flitting around the kitchen, he finally let his gaze rest on the stove. Throwing them both at it, Sam got the burner turned on. Dean tossed the boomerang onto the flame, then the salt.
It wasn't the ideal way to go about this sort of thing, but it worked.
The small cooking flame flared when the dry wood of the boomerang hit it. There wasn't enough salt to quench the flame, but there was enough to quench an angry spirit.
Water spiraled up from the floor, spouting toward the ceiling and moving at them with alarmingly fast accuracy. Dean's hand on his shoulders, pushing and turning at the same time forced Sam away from the stove and toward a wall.
The boomerang cracked and popped, completely engulfed in flames.
The water spout exploded outwards.
Everything went still and quiet.
Sam sagged against the wall for a few seconds. He wasn't hanging around long; he wanted out of this place.
"C'mon." Dean's hand on his arm told him Dean had the same thought.
They made their way from the house to the Impala. Sam leaned his side against the car, bracing his hands on his knees, coughing and sneezing while Dean unlocked the door. Offering no resistance when his brother stuffed him into the car, Sam watched through watery eyes as Dean took a crowbar to the trunk of Ed's car. After their duffels were extracted and thrown into the Impala's backseat, Dean slid into the driver's seat.
Sam inched down until his head rested against the seat back; letting it loll to one side he watched Dean. His brother was gripping the steering wheel, panting and shivering.
"Hey." Sam let the back of one hand rest against Dean's shoulder.
Dean turned and looked at him, nodding.
"When's Champ Day?"
Shrugging, Dean squinted at him. "About two weeks."
"Let's go see."
"Yeah. Champ Day with my big brother sounds awesome."
"Oh, hell no." Sam's attempt at a laugh simply came out as congested hacking.
Dean's hand moved from the wheel to bounce heavily a few times off Sam's bicep. "We're outa here."
When they reached the road, Sam let his eyes drift shut, comforted by the sound of the Impala's engine and the fact his brother was safely beside him.
When they reached the motel, Dean got Sam awake enough to stand him up and hang a duffel off his shoulder, then guided him through the motel room door. Sam's butt hit the bed, but Dean figured he was out cold before the rest of him hit. Disentangling the duffel from Sam, and throwing a blanket over him, Dean found clean clothes.
As much as he'd been wet tonight, he was filthy and wanted a shower. "You wanna shower first?" he asked Sam's sleeping form. "No? Okay." Snickering at his own joke, Dean headed to the bathroom.
Sam didn't look as if he'd so much as twitched when Dean emerged, cleaner. He stood there, in the middle of the room, watching his brother sleep. It'd been a long day.
Tired as he was, he couldn't sleep so he spent time reorganizing the shitty packing job Ed had done with their belongings, sorting his and Sam's things into the appropriate duffels.
He couldn't move his mind beyond the fact Sam had been hurt because of him. It wasn't his fault, he knew that, but still…Then poor Sam, having to shoot the same person, killing him. They'd get by, they always did. Knowing that didn't make it hurt less. If only he'd paid more attention, been more diligent.
Trudging outside and loading the Impala, Dean turned, watching Sam through the open doorway. All because of him, this whole mess, because of Dean. How many other times, Dean wondered had Sam been hurt because of him somehow? He didn't want people, particularly Sam, hurt because of him.
It'd be so easy, closing the door, getting in his car, driving away. Sam would have his life back. He'd go to school; maybe get married. Be safe.
It'd be so simple, so easy to go away, vanish forever.
Except for one fact.
It was impossible.
Dean couldn't leave his brother. They needed one another. Apart, separated, wasn't an option. They were a team. A family.
He couldn't condone what Geoffrey Sherman did or became. He couldn't condemn him either. Dean had to be honest, he'd be no different if it had been Sam to die, not William Sherman.
As for Abby Sherman, they'd have to wait and see. Finding her remains in the maze of tunnels and underwater rooms in the area might be impossible, but everything had ceased with the burning of Geoffrey's boomerang. It was the one thing of Geoffrey's that tied him to Ed. The boomerang had become Geoffrey's route to revenge. Dean felt confident that was the only spirit they were dealing with, though he was unsure why Ed himself had never been a target.
Wandering to the nearby gas station, Dean made a few purchases and tossed them into the backseat of the car.
Dawn was just lightening the sky when Dean made his way to the motel office, checking them out. He returned to their room to find Sam sitting up, gaze moving slowly from one point in the room to the next.
Sam looked up at him silently. Dean stopped just inside the doorway, tossing his keys to the table. "I got us checked out. Don't know about you, but I'm ready to blow this town."
Nodding hesitantly, Sam moved stiffly off the bed. "Can I get a shower first?"
Dean's lips curled to a slow smile. "Now he wants a shower." Waving at the bathroom, "Go ahead."
Sam watched him intently. Damn, the kid knew how Dean had thought, for a minute, of driving away. Alone.
Settling at the table, Dean pulled the book he'd bought at the diner their first night there closer. He'd left it on the table, intending to leave it for the next person, since he knew for a fact most of it was probably bull anyway.
"I'll just sit here and read." Dean leaned back in the chair and opened the book.
Nodding curtly, Sam made his way stiffly to the bathroom, waving off Dean's mock threat of, "Don't take too long."
Sam broke even Dean's record for longest shower in the history of shower taking. Dean would have thought he'd spent enough time in water the past day, but apparently not so.
At long last, they settled themselves in the car, and Dean pulled away from the motel.
"Where are we going?" Sam asked after a few minutes. "The highway is the other way."
"I know. Something else I want to do first."
When Dean pulled into the parking spot near the old lookout Sam split the quiet inside of the car with a loud sigh.
"What are we doing here?"
Dean grabbed the bag containing his purchases out of the back, then shoved out of the car. "You'll see, I hope. Come on Sammy."
"I'm not getting into a dinghy." Sam grumbled, but trailed along behind him. He grumped and groaned and complained the entire way down the steps.
Dean sat down, getting comfortable. Twisting to look back at Sam, he patted the ground next to him. He hung his legs over the break wall edge and tuned out Sam's huffing and grouching. Pulling two bags of bread from the store bag, he shoved one against Sam's chest. The other he opened, and threw a slice onto the water.
Sam shook his head, opened his bag and extracted a piece of bread, tearing it into bits. "You want to sit here and feed fish or ducks or whatever." Small chunks of bread floated on the water. "And you call me a girl." Sam leaned to the side so his shoulder rested against Dean's.
The water sloshed and churned.
"Why can't we just get—Holy freaking CRAP!" Sam's voice shot up to what had to be an embarrassing screech.
Dean's eyes slid to the side, watching Sam.
In a flurry of unorganized movement, Sam's legs were pushing him back. Arms, legs, and hair were going in too many directions at once. Hand shooting out with practiced accuracy, Dean's fingers closed around Sam's wrist, preventing him from going anywhere. Sam jumped to the side, nearly losing his balance. If Dean hadn't caught his arm quick, and pushed him back to the ground, he was sure Sam would have jumped into his lap.
"That's! There's a—" Sam's fingers fisted in Dean's shirt.
Dean ignored him and focused on the mottled head bobbing up from the water. "It's okay little guy, he's noisy, but he won't hurt you. Don't be scared." He tossed another slice of bread out. It was scooped up and sucked into the creature's mouth in seconds.
Dean winced, the way Sam's voice cracked it had to be uncomfortable.
The creature turned its head to the side, body coming out of the water more and rolling far enough a long, flat flipper breached the surface. It reached out, tapping against Sam's foot. Hastily curling his legs back, Sam sat, staring wide-eyed, mouth gaping open. He gulped a swallow once, twice, "Dean. That's a—"
Dean laughed. "And we didn't even need the dinghy." He let go of Sam's wrist and wrapped one arm around his shoulders, squeezing Sam's neck with his fingers for a minute. "Told ya." His other hand gently pushed Sam's lower jaw up, closing his mouth.
Without losing Dean's body contact, Sam leaned forward, stretching his arm out until his fingertips brushed the creature's nose. "Wow." He exhaled, turning his head only far enough to look at Dean. Sam's face was filled with wonder, outright awe. It was something Dean hadn't seen or felt in too long. Neither of them had.
This felt good.
Waves slapped the break wall. Sam sucked in his breath and made some astounded noise at the back of his throat when the larger of the two creatures popped up, sliding between Sam and its companion. His own bag of bread apparently forgotten, Sam grabbed Dean's, digging in and pulling out more slices. He held them out to the creatures. "There's two!"
Dean jerked his bag of bread out of Sam's hand. "I distinctly remember mentioning that."
"Dean, they're really real."
"Pretty cool, huh?"
"This is amazing." Sam emptied his bag of bread into the water, laughing as the two creatures jockeyed for the bigger share of the treats.
Then, just like before, they were gone, gliding just beneath the water's surface, heading back to the open lake.
"We gotta go to Champ Day now."
"Heck yes!" Sam stood up, brushed off his jeans. "We can make fun of how they probably got it all wrong."
Dean gave one last look over his shoulder at the lake and retreating forms of the creatures before following Sam up the steep steps and to their car.
A team. A family. Together. There wasn't any other choice really.
He slid into the warm familiarity of the Impala, of home. Starting the engine, Dean turned the car around, heading for the highway.
"That was the best, ever." Sam literally beamed at him.
Dean pressed his lips together, swallowed and grunted, nodding.
"What's wrong with you?"
"Nothing," he squeaked out, closing his eyes tightly against the pressure for a few beats. He ventured a look at Sam, who was busy rifling around for something under the seat.
A box of tissue dropped onto his lap. "Bless you."
"Thank you, Sam."
He was so screwed.