A/N: Totally blown away by the response this is getting. Most of you by now have thought that the boys are hallucinating but you can't figure out whether they've actually found help or if they're still in/at the car. Answers are coming. I'm about to lose my computer to the repair shop, so I'll take this time to thank everyone that has reviewed, favorited, alerted and taken the time to read. I hope all your questions get answered and you enjoy the rest of the story. After this is a small epilogue that I won't make you wait for. It's at the end of this chapter. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH! Enjoy the rest of this one! I'm being bugged by two more so I'll be back.
Also, sorry about the level of Impala abuse. Trust me, I wouldn't do this to my baby for anything!
Jasper Riley lowered the blade on his plow truck, clearing an ice covered drift before he slowed into a curve in the road leading into the foothills and into the town of Stevens Pass. Chatter from his radio always kept the burly man company on his long nights of clearing snow and ice from the road and he returned jibes with many other drivers within his twenty mile CB range, also keeping in touch with his dispatcher and necessary emergency vehicles, and his co-workers from the county roads department.
He slowed further when he saw a large redwood limb lying across his lane of the road. He lowered his blade and was going to push it off to the side. His headlights reflected off of the ice coating on the branch and he thought better of it, realizing that the heavy evergreen might spring up and catch on his truck once he knocked the ice off.
"Truck 555 to dispatch?" Jasper said over the airwaves as he keyed his mic.
"Yeah Jas?" Roger Davis said.
"I got a tree limb down on the road. I'm gonna clear it by hand."
"Alright." Jasper climbed down out of his truck, sliding heavy gloves over his large hands. He walked around the front of the truck, the headlights causing his shadow to fall over the redwood limb. He leaned down and gripped the broken end of the six inch thick coniferous bough lifting it slightly. He looked down and cursed, seeing a man pinned beneath the limb. Jasper pulled off his glove and tucked warm fingers to icy flesh at his throat.
"Hey? Buddy?" The trucker called, rolling the man over gently. Dry, split, bluish lips were slightly parted, his face lax and waxen. "Christ. Just a kid. Come on kid, you be alive. C'mon kid."
A voice forced Dean to pull in another shallow breath and open his eyes, seeing a smoky, translucent figure swirling through the dust and moving closer to him. He watched, detached, as it knelt beside him, and reached out. "Easy buddy. I'm here to help. Gonna get you help." Dean felt the floor beneath his cheek grow impossibly cold and he felt a heavy weight shift off his torso, the brush of something soft but prickly, something barely felt besides the cold, raked over him and thrown aside. A minute later something warm and heavy was laid over him, wrapped beneath and around his head, chest and arms, sheltering him from the snow and ice. A warm hand poked inside the fabric and rested against his neck. "Just hang on. Help's comin'."
"Mm." Dean tried, failing to speak.
"Easy, easy. I'm gonna get you outta the snow and into the truck. Anything broken?" The man looming over him said, leaning closer when Dean's mouth moved again.
"Your car buried? We'll take care'a you then someone will tow your car out." He hauled Dean up, wrapping the flannel blanket closer around him and began the trek with him back to the cab of the tri-axle, diesel engine rumbling warmly. He opened the passenger door and spoke to Dean, "C'mon buddy. Need ya to haul yourself up. Get in and get warm."
Dean groaned, his voice nearly gone as he let the driver boost him up into the cab. Dean sagged into the seat, flopping over towards the gear shift. The heater was turned to high and the vents all directed at him, warm air making his cold face burn. A heavy blanket was tucked tightly around him and Dean felt himself sag unconsciously against the driver. The older, burly man comforted him. "I called ya an ambulance."
"Brother…m'brother…car." He whispered as the driver leaned over to sit him upright.
"Brother?!" The plow truck driver straightened, picking up the radio and slamming a thumb on the mic. "We need the Grader and a tow truck out here, now! 'Nother ambulance too. This kid just said he's got a brother still trapped in the car!"
"Alright Jasper. I'm just over a half mile out." Nick Rawlings said, static over the microphone making the big man's voice more gruff than usual.
"That car o' his, all I can see is tail lights and half the back glass. I can't even tell if the boy's really in there."
"Can't take any chances, an' can't wait. I'm on my way out." Miranda Davis answered over the CB. She owned the large fleet of tow trucks that worked Stevens Pass and the surrounding areas and his dispatcher's wife.
"Hey kid." Jasper said, feeling Dean's neck for a pulse. Dean's eyes fluttered but didn't open. "We're gonna find your brother and get ya both outta here. I'm gonna go and start diggin' my way to your brother, ya just get warm, an' hang on for him." Jasper climbed out of the truck, reaching for his shovel that was stowed in its hook on the side of the bed. He made his way down over the embankment to where he could see one corner of the black car. Jasper slid down the slippery drift and stopped himself, finding the edge of the car with his heavily gloved hand. He pushed snow and ice from the back window of the car, frost still clinging too tightly to let him see into the dark interior. Jasper sunk the metal shovel as deep as he could into the hard packed snow in the area he believed the passenger door to be. He tossed the scoop away and plunged the shovel in again, hearing the blade scrape off metal. He raked snow away, exposing the door pillar. He shifted the shovel several inches to his left and dug in again, shovel full after shovel full clearing away before he finally found himself looking at spider webbed bloody glass.
"Damn." He cried aloud, his ears finally picking up the sounds of the heavy equipment headed his way. He dropped the shovel and clawed his way back over the bank just in time to see Nick stop the big Grader. He ran to the piece of equipment and climbed up to speak to the driver.
"Need you to clear the shoulder down to the guardrail. The kid is in the car. I can't dig it all out though and it looks like there's two feet of snow and ice coating it. It's layin' against a hundred year old tree too, nearly on its nose. We're gonna have t' pull it out to get to the boy's brother. Miranda pulled up in her big tow truck and sirens blared in the distance.
"What d'we got?" She asked Jasper.
"The older boy is in the plow, the other kid is in the car. I can see him but I can't tell if he's alive. We're gonna have to tow the car up onto the shoulder to get to him. Nick's gonna clear the shoulder and we'll hook up the tow rig."
The Grader made short work of the snow piled along the shoulder and he took the guardrail out with the wide blade, bending metal and snapping wooden supports. He moved aside and Miranda backed her truck into the space, lowering her heavy duty tow rigging as Jasper walked down behind the bumper of the car and used his shovel to clear snow from beneath the axle, where he wrapped the cable around it.
She reeled in the excess and the cable and car both groaned as she winched the big black machine up on to the shoulder. Two ambulances pulled in and stopped, EMT's scrambling to help. Two had the door open and Sam on a gurney, tucking warm blankets around him. Two more eased Dean from the cab of the big plow and helped him to the ambulance, quickly stabilizing the two before heading for the hospital.
Sam woke, bolting upright on the bed as Jessica came through the door and stopped. She circled the bed and sat down beside him, putting the two mugs of steaming coffee down on the bedside table. "Baby?" Sam didn't hear her, his chest heaving as his eyes roamed wildly around the room. Jessica turned to him and gripped his bare shoulders. "Sam?!" She questioned. "You're freezing!" She said as she felt the chill of his flesh seep into her fingertips and raise gooseflesh on her skin.
Sam shuddered and gasped for breath, "J-jess…somethin's wr-wrong." He said, his hand rubbing hard over his chest. "I can't b-breathe." Jessica leaned Sam forward, laying his clammy forehead against her shoulder. She worked her hands down Sam's backbone and on both sides, soothing him however she could. Sam's breathing finally calmed and she let him sit up straight, pulling the quilt tight around him.
"I dunno. I've been havin' these feelings…more like flashes. Pain, cold…God I'm so cold." Sam gripped the blanket tighter around his shoulders. Jessica jumped when Sam's neck arched and he threw his head back.
Jess helped Sam to lie down, easing him back against the pillow that rested against the headboard. Sam's eyes scrunched shut, Jess' hand smoothing over the lines of pain that marred his features. "What is it, baby?"
"My head. It hurts." Sam said, trying to breathe through the pain, curling in on himself as he writhed.
"Shh, shh. Just relax. It'll be okay Sammy." Jess said, her voice oddly gruff, sounding foreign to Sam's ears. "Just breathe and relax Sammy." His head throbbed violently, his vision fading to white as Sam finally recognized the voice drowning out Jessica's. Dean.
Sam's vision stopped swimming, clearing but remaining white. He finally focused on the hum of a soothing voice and the fact that the white above him was divided into equal rectangular shapes of ceiling tiles. He felt air being pushed into his lungs mechanically and it forced him to inhale. "That's it. You're alright."
His eyes drifted from the white of the ceiling to the blurry face to his left. Dean's features finally came into focus, the dark circles under his bright emerald eyes, the slight dryness that was the healing windburn on his cheeks. Scabs ran in a line over the shallow cut on his forehead and bruising darkened the stubble on his chin. Sam's hand fluttered in Dean's direction and the older hunter clasped his little brother's wrist, squeezing reassuringly. Sam took another breath, aided by the ventilator, and his eyes slipped closed, relaxing into slumber.
"He's gonna be okay, Son." Bobby said, quietly, his hand on Dean's shoulder over his robe.
"Yeah. I know he is." Dean said, his arm tightening around his still sore ribs.
"C'mon kid. Time t'git you outta that chair." Bobby gripped Dean gently under the arm and helped him stand, easing him back to the bed. "Get some sleep. I'll see ya in the mornin' after I make arrangements for that car o'yours." Dean nodded and turned his head in the direction of the other bed before his own eyes closed. Bobby listened silently until Dean's breathing evened out and he showed no signs of discomfort. Bobby went to the other bed and brushed Sam's hair back from his forehead before whispering to the youngest Winchester.
"I am glad you're gonna be alright. Don' think either one of us could handle losin' ya, Sammy."
Dean woke up the next morning, his eyes automatically scanning his surroundings and falling on his brother's form, the white coated doctor leaning over him.
"What's wrong?" Dean asked. The doctor jumped slightly before turning.
"We took him off the ventilator this morning. He's still just slightly feverish but that's to be expected with what he's been through. It's often the body's way of dealing, but we'll still be monitoring him closely."
"Where was I when you took him off the vent?" Dean asked, stretching slightly to mask his alarm.
The doctor smiled. "Snoring. Everything went completely smoothly. No complications and he went right back to sleep. We have him elevated to ease his breathing." The doctor leaned over Dean and touched his ribs, checking the fractures. Dean disguised a wince, but the doctor saw anyway.
"If all continues to go well we should be releasing you in the next couple days, Sam by early next week. You're both very lucky boys. Rest up. I'll be around later to check on him." The doctor said as he left the room.
Dean eased from the bed and moved to the chair he'd used yesterday. Sam's breathing was regular and deep and Dean allowed himself to be comforted by the quiet sounds. He leaned back in the chair and rested his eyes.
"Dean?" Sam queried as his eyes opened, his voice rough from the ventilator. Dean jumped awake and leaned forward, disguising his slight grimace of pain.
"Hey dude. Don't talk and don't move. Ya just came off a vent an' ya had surgery on your shoulder. Detached tendon."
"Where's Jess?" Sam questioned in a whisper, his eyes roaming the room hopefully.
"Jess? Sammy… you know she's gone."
"No. She's not. I was at her parent's house. She was there. The demon faked her death to push me." Sam denied.
"Sam, I wrecked the car. You were trapped inside. I never made it for help. We almost died. You were in the car until we were helped by the roads crew and a tow truck driver.
"No Dean! I saw her, I talked to her. Hell, we made love!" Sam cried, his voice giving out as he began coughing.
Dean gave Sam a sip of water, easing him back to the bed as he breathed, his eyes clenched tightly shut. "Easy Sam. Look, we'll have Bobby check it out. If she's there, he'll bring her here for you."
"What am I volunteerin' for?" The gruff hunter said as he walked through the hospital room door, smiling as he saw Sam awake. His smile faded quickly as he felt the tension between the brothers.
"Need ya to check somethin' out for us Bobby." Dean said.
Sam told Bobby what he could remember about his time with Jess. The older hunter left, but not before admonishing Dean to get back into bed and rest after Sam had exhausted himself and his voice.
A couple hours later Dean woke to Bobby shaking his shoulder. "Anything?" Dean asked, stretching gingerly as he sat up straighter against the pillows.
"Ain't nobody been in that house since last year. Calendar in the kitchen was on November. 'Nough dust to give a desert a run fer it's money." Bobby answered quietly.
Dean looked over at his still sleeping brother. "Damnit. He's gonna feel like he lost her all over again. Why the hell can't we catch a break Bobby?"
"Kid, I wish I knew."
Dean pulled Bobby's truck into the driveway that Sam motioned to. His eyes roamed over the lane that led through neglected shrubbery and up to a porch that sported peeling white paint and a thin layer of ice. Dean watched through the windshield, his peripheral vision letting him see Sam sigh before he slid out of the truck, adjusting the sling on his right arm as he walked carefully through packed snow to the porch. Sam looked up at the house, swallowing hard as he stood at the base of the stairs that led to the front door.
Dean got out of the truck and quietly walked up behind Sam, gripping him on the back of the neck, fingertips just touching skin above the strap of the sling.
"This place…" Sam said quietly, shoulder's sagging, "it wasn't like this. It was beautiful. Lights in all the windows." Sam strode forward, walking up the groaning stairs and through a door that loudly protested being opened. Dean followed, watching his brother walk into the den, seeing furniture shrouded in dust laden sheets and plastic. Dean recognized Bobby's boot prints in the dust, the only disturbance in the film. Cob webs hung in a curtain over the hearth. "The fireplace…it was warm when I was so cold. And she was here. Jess. She was warm, happy."
Sam moved off again and Dean let him lead the way. He made his way up the stairs, running a finger over the railing he remembered kissing Jessica as she leaned against it. His heart broke as his finger moved dust aside to reveal the beautiful golden oak wood grain beneath the layer of grime. He topped the stairs and turned down the hall as if he truly knew his way around the house. He walked through a door and into a bedroom with an antique sleigh bed protected with a large sheet of grit caked plastic. "She warmed me up, brought me back. We…" Sam sighed. "God Dean, it was so easy to say I'd stay. It was so easy. I missed her so much, then she was just…there. She asked and I stayed. I just stayed. I knew you were out there. Somewhere. And I just…"
"No Dean. You could've died. I can't…"
Dean spun Sam, albeit gently, and gripped his shoulders, Sam's eyes drifting to rest somewhere over Dean's shoulder. "Sammy, we were both out there. We both went through a lot of crap over the last little while. It sucked. Believe me. It freakin' sucked. If I'd have been here, I'd have felt exactly the same. Look at me. Sammy, look at me." Sam met his brother's eyes.
"I'm sorry. So damn sorry. I know it felt real. I saw some crap that I can't explain, and it felt real, but it was nothing like what you went through. I'm sorry for that."
"I'm sorry Dean." Sam said.
"The night we wrecked, your birthday. Hers was the same day."
"I didn't know that." Dean said quietly.
"And she was on my mind. I guess… I just hoped… God Dean, I miss her." Sam turned from his brother and began walking back to the truck. Dean moved to catch up.
"Listen to me… We will find the sonuvabitch that killed her. We will kill that bastard. I swear Sammy." Dean bumped shoulders with his brother as he fell in beside him. "Let's get outta here. Maybe I'll let ya help rebuild my baby." Sam looked at his brother, agape.
"Well… maybe I'll let you hand me the tools."
"Jerk." Sam huffed a short laugh.
"Hey Dean?" Sam said, opening the door of the truck left handed.
A/N: Again, Thanks so much for all the support on this one, and I really hope you've enjoyed the read. Don't forget to let me know. It might be after I get my computer back but I will take time to thank everyone who reviews. Your thoughts mean so much!