Million Dollar Baby

By Carol M.

Summary: Two weeks after the events of Abandon All Hope and Dean is barely holding it together. In

an effort to get his brother back on the horse, Sam finds what he thinks is a simple hunt with a hefty

reward at the end of it. Unfortunately, taking the case could be a deadly mistake that may cost Dean his


Spoilers: Everything up to Abandon All Hope

Disclaimers: Don't own them, only love them

Working on this little ditty got me through the hellatus. Counting the hours til Thursday! Hope you



The feeling of peaceful unawareness lasted about five seconds. Five seconds where everything was right with the world. Five seconds where he didn't have to put up a fight. Five seconds where he didn't have to feel guilt. Five seconds where his gut wasn't seized up in fear and anticipation. Five seconds where he didn't feel like a failure. Five seconds where he didn't have to compulsively self medicate his brain with any and all stimulus in order to forget. Dean Winchester got only five seconds of peace each day.

Those five seconds lie in between the moment he first awoke from sleep and the moment his brain snapped to attention and flooded his heart and soul with a toxic sludge of self torture that left him so miserable and defeated he didn't want to get out of bed. He'd rather go back to sleep and have the nightmares, no matter how bad they were. They couldn't compare to the hopeless void that had become his life.

It had been two weeks since the Lucifer/Colt debacle. Dean had spent all fourteen of those nights drunk and in the arms of a willing woman who just knew she had the cure to mend his tortured soul. All fourteen had. So had the booze. For a little while. The problem was eventually the girl was gone and the buzz wore off, and then reality would hit his brain like a chainsaw, hacking through his mind until it was bleeding painfully. He was powerless to staunch the flow, so he took another drink and picked up another girl, hoping the anesthetic would eventually hold the cure. Or so he kept telling himself.

He and Sam had been wandering around aimlessly ever since Carthage and had found squat to hunt. Apparently, now that Lucifer was the new big bad wolf, all the little dogs were staying in their cages. And that suited Dean just fine. He didn't want to hunt. He didn't want to deal with any of it anymore. He couldn't face it. He wanted to disappear and start a new life as somebody else. Somebody that didn't have the guilt of destroying the world and the responsibility of putting it back together resting on their shoulders.

And in those five seconds of ignorant bliss, he could pretend like he really was someone else.

He rolled over listlessly on the scratchy sheets of his bed in the random motel room he and Sam had crashed the past two nights, trying to get away from the morning light that stabbed at his tired, hung over eyes. He rested his forehead against the crappy pillow, trying to ignore the crumb or whatever the hell it was burrowing itself into his right elbow. He could smell coffee and donuts wafting through the room, the scent causing his stomach to simultaneously roll and growl. He could hear the clickety clack of Sam typing on his laptop, the hyperactive rhythm his brother maintained never ceasing to amaze him. Just as that thought left his head, an image of Lucifer popped into his mind and a feeling of dread crept into his gut, drying out his throat with its intensity. His five seconds were up.

It hit him all at once. Flashes of varying emotion…grief, guilt, love, hate, failure, fear, weakness, loneliness…flooded through him, swirling his mind until it was cloaked in hopeless misery. He was helpless against the onslaught, feeling as if his conscious mind was being shot at round after round after round by a Tommy gun. He would give anything not to have to think, to not have to confront these evil demons of his mind. He moaned softly, his body desperate for some kind of physical release from the deluge.

"Dean, you awake, man?" said Sam.

Dean's face flushed hot, embarrassment and shame flying through him as he realized Sam had heard his little pity party. He took a steadying breath and put on his mask of strength and emotional invincibility as he rolled over to face his brother. "I am now," he said, his voice rough, his mouth tasting like someone had taken a crap in it.

Sam turned away from the table he was sitting at and regarded his brother with worry. "How long you gonna keep this up? It's been weeks, Dean."

Dean waved him off as he dizzily got out of bed and reached for one of the coffees. "It's the end of the world as we know it, Sammy. And I feel fine."

Sam paused for a moment as if he were contemplating a rebuttal to Dean's statement. Dean silently begged him not to with his eyes. His brother seemed to take the hint and dropped it. "Think I might have found something for us," he said instead.

"Oh yeah?" said Dean unenthusiastically as he sat down at the table next to Sam.

"Thought you'd be a little more excited," said Sam. "We've had nothing for weeks."

Dean put his feet up on the table lazily. "I don't know, man. Kind of starting to enjoy a life of leisure. Maybe it's time to retire."

Sam sighed. "Look, Dean, I know you're still upset about what happened in Carthage. So am I, but…

"Upset?" said Dean. He chuckled in irony.

"It was a setback, but…

Dean shook his head. "It wasn't a setback, Sammy. It was our shot. Our one shot and it didn't work. Game over. We lose. So I say, let's spend the end of days on a tropical island sipping Mai Tai's and admiring the native girls in their coconut bikinis. Hell, we could even take up surfing."

"Dude, even if that was our one shot, which by the way, I seriously doubt, but even if it was and we can't defeat the devil, there's still plenty of other things to hunt. There's still plenty of people to save," said Sam.

Dean looked down at his hands. "What's the point? Lucifer's gonna gank us all anyway," he murmured under his breath.

"What?" said Sam.

Dean looked back up at Sam. "What's the job?" he said gruffly.

"Dean, you don't really…

"What's the job, Sam?" said Dean firmly, the matter closed.

Sam sighed again and sat back in his chair. "Maybe it's exactly what you're looking for. Comes with prize money at the end. A million dollars to be exact."

Dean nearly choked on his coffee. "Come again?"

"Holmes Point Bed and Breakfast. Shut down about five years ago due to an overabundance of paranormal activity," said Sam. "Apparently the owner, a Max Gibbons has tried to exterminate the problem by hiring out help."

"Hunters?" said Dean.

"Bingo. In the last year alone, six confirmed hunters and four, I guess you would call them civilians, checked in. They all checked out in body bags," said Sam.

"Hmmm, a regular Hotel California, huh? You can check in, but you can never leave," said Dean. "Where's the million dollars come into it?"

"Apparently Max Gibbons was the heir to a sizeable real estate fortune. The hotel and twenty others like it have been in the family for years. There's a standing award of a million dollars to whoever can survive the night and rid the bed and breakfast of its…infestation."

"Hot damn," said Dean.

"Yeah, so every amateur ghost facer," started Sam.

"And every hunter worth his salt," added Dean.

"Wants to take a crack at it," finished Sam.

"Uh huh," said Dean, silent for a moment. "So let some other hunter play who wants to be a millionaire."

Sam groaned. "Dude, it's not like you can cash in your company 401k. How do you plan to finance your endless summer? Poker? Credit card fraud? Probably wouldn't even pay for your banana hammock," said Sam.

"Damn straight, I need lots of material," said Dean.

"Ugh," said Sam. "I'm just saying…it'd be nice to give yourself a little cushion for the future."

"What's left of it," said Dean.

"Dean," said Sam, giving him the worried little brother eyes.

Dean rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. "Fine, I'll do it. But when this is finished, it's all about sunshine and sunburns. And I get to pick the island."

"Deal," said Sam, looking relieved. "I'll get us packed up and ready to go."

Dean watched as Sam jumped to action and then sunk back into his chair, shutting his eyes. He focused on his future as a rich professional sunbather, trying to ignore the flames of apocalyptic battle fire that kept entering into the picturesque vision.