Cracked and Crazed
Summary: Coffins are popping up out of their graves. It could be a sign, or it could just be a royal pain… Season 5, Post "The End."
And here you have it... the last chapter. Thank you for all the kind reviews. Hopefully, this was a pleasant diversion while the show was on hiatus.
Now... The cemetery's going nuts, Dean' spaced out and Sam's got to take care of business...
"You," Sam pointed at Springer, "stay with my brother. Make sure he keeps breathing."
"What are you gonna do?" the man asked, wide-eyed, his voice higher than Sam would have thought possible.
"Just watch him!" he ordered. Sam only waited a few seconds to make sure Springer was doing what he was asked before snatching up their duffel. The shaking ground and shifting earth required some fancy footwork to find the canister of salt that had rolled away, then he found the lighter fluid in the bag. Sam dumped the salt into the hole with one hand while squirting lighter fluid with the other. Dana Compton's skeleton was only partially visible, but hopefully it would be enough.
"Get the lighter out of his pocket," Sam called. To his credit, Springer didn't even balk. Sam supposed that seeing a graveyard full of coffins popping up was enough to convince him this might be out of his jurisdiction. He pulled the lighter out of Dean's hip pocket and tossed it to Sam, who flicked it open, lit it, and threw it into the hole in one smooth motion.
Immediately, the skeleton and the surrounding dirt caught fire. A few seconds later, the shaking stopped. Sam was momentarily disoriented, not unlike stepping on land after being at sea, but the sensation quickly passed. He grabbed his flashlight and he and Springer both cast their light out over the graves and saw coffin after coffin, just bones in the older graves, all at various stages of coming out of the ground.
The ghost had been desperate for his family to find his body. Sadly, he hadn't been able to unearth himself, but he'd certainly managed to get his family's attention that there was a problem in the cemetery.
Sam instantly set that out of his mind and hurried back to Dean. "He's breathing," Springer said, still kneeling on his other side.
Sam wanted to believe him, but he trusted exactly one person in this world and that person was the one down for the count. Sam set his hand on Dean's chest and waited for the rise and fall before he could take a breath of his own.
"Dean?" Sam waved at Springer to back up. Once he did, Sam leaned over Dean so he could look him in the face. "Dean, I don't know what's goin' on in there," he said quietly, "but it's ok. You're ok. You're out." He slapped Dean's cheek. "I need you to snap out of it, man."
Snap out of it. What an idiotic thing to say, Sam berated himself. Dean had always been... off. Not that it wasn't to be expected with a life like theirs. Sam had had Dean to give him some semblance of a childhood, screwed up as it still was, but Dean... He'd had their father and a whole lot of firearms to raise him. Follow that with disaster after disaster, and even before he'd gone to hell, Dean had been carrying around so many issues Sam was amazed the Impala didn't have a hitch for a U-Haul. And then came hell. If Dean had been off before, now he was so far out in left field, it wasn't even funny, not that his brother wasn't very adept at hiding it.
To end forty years of torture, his brother had been forced to dig his way out of his own grave, which Sam was still pissed at Cas about. That was like rescuing an injured animal, patching it up, taking it out to the country to release it and then refusing to open the door on the pet carrier.
So... the insomnia, the drinking like a fish... His brother was so screwed up, it wasn't surprising he'd just shut down in the middle of a rerun.
Sam's voice dropped to a whisper. "Dean, we got the bad guy, ok?" he assured him. No matter their differences, Sam could only hope that his brother at least still trusted him to know that much. "It's over. You're safe, Dean. You hear me? You're safe."
"What's wrong with him?" Springer asked.
Sam felt the lump in his throat grow and threaten to strangle him. "He's... he's just seen too much."
Springer looked out over the cemetery and the coffins springing up like weeds. "Yeah, I can believe that."
Sam saw Dean's blinking change rhythm. His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed. "Sam?" he said hoarsely.
"Yeah." The air in Sam's lungs left in a whoosh. "You all right?"
"You been takin' personal space lessons from Cas?"
Sam let out a burst of choked laughter and sat back on his haunches, giving Dean the space he needed to get himself back together. Sam watched as his brother struggled to sit up, visibly shaky. He looked out over the graveyard and saw all of the coffins, some popped open, bodies seemingly clawing their way out of the graves. He shuddered and his breathing sped up and Sam was tempted to once again move forward to comfort him somehow, but just stopped himself. He knew his brother wouldn't appreciate it.
"So, uh..." Dean cleared his throat, but didn't add anything else. He brought up a hand and brushed dirt out of his hair, then patted at his clothes, busying himself so he didn't have to say anything or look at anybody. Finally, he braced his hands on the ground and pushed himself to his feet.
Dean wobbled noticeably, but he stayed up, actually putting out a hand to keep Sam at bay. The gesture once again rammed home a reminder of the distance separating them. Dean was hurting and freaked, but still he couldn't allow himself to lean on Sam, and Sam felt the guilt and shame afresh of what he'd done, although anger kept trying to creep in that his brother was being stubborn and refusing to accept Sam's change of heart.
Dean turned and realized they weren't alone. Almost immediately, he straightened and his defensive walls snapped into place. "Officer Springer... What brings you by on such a fine night?"
The man looked around them helplessly at the utter upheaval of the entire cemetery and once again he did that weird hand-flapping gesture that Sam had noticed before that said, "I have no clue what to make of this." He stood and walked to the edge of the grave they'd almost been buried in. "You wanna tell me what you two yahoos were doin' diggin' up this grave?"
"Technically, we were digging our way out of it." Dean tried for a laugh, but it was too tense to sound real.
"What were you two doin'?" Springer demanded again, pulling out his no-nonsense cop voice. "I know y'all aren't FBI and unless I hear somethin' useful comin' outta somebody's mouth right quick, y'all are goin' to jail."
Dean looked down into the hole and pointed. "See for yourself."
"Officer Springer," Sam made the introduction, "meet Dana Compton."
The policeman's mouth actually fell open. "You gotta be kiddin' me."
Dean snorted. "Nah. Sam's sense of humor's always been kinda limited. Although there was this one time, he took a spatula-"
"Right," he said, slightly abashed. "Anyway, this is Dana. Timothy Miller hit him with a shovel while they were burying Abe Smith and buried 'em together."
"Dana woke up inside the coffin," Sam added. "He tried to dig his way free, but he didn't make it."
Springer looked from one of them to the other. "You tryin' to tell me a dead guy's been makin' all this mess?"
Dean raised an eyebrow. "We in the same cemetery? Cause from where I'm standin' this ain't what I'd call normal."
"But..." Springer was completely stymied. "This..." He looked back at the skeleton, clearly forgetting he was a policeman and they were criminals. At the moment, he was just a frustrated, freaked out guy in charge of a messed up town. "If this gets out, the Comptons and the Millers are gonna... It's gonna be bad. They already hate each other. I mean..." He glanced at Sam, wide-eyed. "You shoulda seen the county fair last year. It gave new meanin' to the term goat ropin'. You just... I mean..."
"You willing to take a suggestion?" Dean asked.
Springer frowned. "Maybe."
Dean looked out over the cemetery at all the coffins popping out of the ground. "Gas."
Springer blinked in confusion. "Come again?"
"Call Dave and get his backhoe in here to plant everybody again and you tell the town this was an underground gas line explosion causing all the problems or a freak gas pocket or something. People will believe anything if you tell them it was gas."
"Look, we took care of this for you," Dean said, shifting into authoritarian mode, heading toward irritated. "You think it's a better idea tellin' 'em this was a dead guy makin' coffins pop up to let people know he was trapped himself, then have at it, but we're gonna leave town. You want our advice, you sweep this under the rug and move on. Got it?"
Springer bristled momentarily, then scanned the disaster area that was formerly the town cemetery. "Y'all are sure this is over?"
"Positive," Sam said. "Although, if I were you, I'd pull Dana out of this grave and bury him alone."
Springer nodded. "Seems the decent thing to do. And Dave knows well enough not to set off the Comptons and Millers."
"And that's what's important." Dean shook his head. He grabbed up their duffel and headed toward the car. "Come on, Sam."
Dean sat on the bed, still covered in dirt. Sam was in the shower where Dean had urged him as soon as they got back to the motel room. It somehow seemed appropriate. Sam was trying to clean himself up, and Dean... all he could do was sit there and feel vaguely dirty and useless and like he should be doing something, but he didn't know what.
He was still embarrassed that he'd checked out and left Sam to take care of the body alone. Sam hadn't said anything, but Dean had been awake, sort of, when the ground had begun to shake and the coffins had done their modified gopher routine. He just hadn't been able to move or think, not clearly anyway. He'd come out of the vision only to find he was still buried in the dirt and unable to move or breathe, and all of a sudden it had been a year earlier and he'd been climbing out of his coffin, desperate to get free, desperate to find his way back to Sam after forty years of non-stop torture, only this time he didn't make it. Sam was still going to be alone, and Dean was being tortured beyond what he'd already suffered. They'd let him taste freedom, only inches away, and then snatched it away because he wasn't strong enough.
Dean knew he was a mess. He drank too much. He didn't sleep enough. When he did, it was because he drank too much, so basically a big vicious circle there. His waking hours had always been full of nightmares and now they followed him into his last place for respite, his sleep. Hell had done that. Burned away all of his dreams, his hope, any tiny bit of optimism he'd had left.
Yeah, he was a mess, but he did his best to keep it from being so spectacularly obvious to his brother that he was only a few cents short of buying a one way ticket on the crazy train.
The voice was wary and Dean's eyes snapped up to see that Sam had reappeared from the bathroom. He was wearing an old pair of sweatpants and a faded, stretched out v-neck t-shirt that needed to be replaced, but would have to wait until they got someplace that would take his cards or Dean managed to find a game and make some cash. One thing was for sure. They were out of this one-horse, cash-only town come morning.
"Yeah," Sam answered, still uncertain. "Your turn."
"About time. I've got dirt in some very unfortunate places. I mean, seriously, you wouldn't think it could manage to get-"
"Dude," Sam cut him off, "you had me at unfortunate."
"Don't blame me. Stupid ghosts," Dean griped. "They get clobbered with a shovel and get all bent outta shape."
Sam sat down on the other bed. "You might be pissed, too, if you were buried alive for no good reason."
"No good reason?" Dean asked, one eyebrow arched.
Back in the cemetery, Timothy Miller's rage had been overwhelming. His supposed friend had not only made the arrangements to get rid of his unborn child, but had brought about the death of the woman he loved through such an ungodly and dangerous thing to do. That rage had been coupled with guilt that he and Molly hadn't waited and she had become pregnant in the first place. He'd known to wait until they could be married, even though her father didn't like him and it would have taken time to wear him down. But he hadn't waited. Seeing her every day, but not being able to have her had been torture.
Beyond the rage and guilt, however, was the nearly unbearable weight of Timothy's sorrow, his loss. Because of Dana's actions, Timothy had no child and the woman he loved was dead. She had been absolutely everything to him. She had been his life, his whole world. And his so-called friend had thought he was doing the right thing, but what about anything he'd done had been right?
To say that Dean had been feeling Timothy's pain might be a bit of an understatement. Dean had broken the first seal and started everything, then Sam had come in batting clean-up, cluelessly trying to fix things but actually ensuring the world was completely screwed.
"It's not like he meant for her to die," Sam said. "He was trying to clean up Timothy's mess. It just happened."
"Dana didn't even ask Timothy. They were friends and he couldn't be bothered to talk to him before he went and ruined everything." And there was the real sticking point for Dean. Sure Sam had let Lucifer out, but it was the year of lying, the refusal to listen to someone he should have trusted more than anyone else. It was the betrayal of the bond between them.
"He was trying to help, Dean," Sam said again, his tone just condescending enough to really get under Dean's skin.
Just trying to help. Where had Dean heard that one before? "And wanting to help is all that matters, is it? Who cares how he did it, or how it turns out in the end?"
Sam instantly deflated, the same pinched, guilty look on his face that he'd been wearing ever since they'd been back together, and Dean grimaced, feeling like he'd kicked a puppy.
"I know…" Sam cleared his throat nervously. "I know I should have listened to you, but-"
"Always a 'but', isn't there, Sammy?"
"But I wasn't thinking straight," Sam pressed on. "I know that. But I'm thinking straight now." His eyes came up to meet Dean's, sincerity and steadiness there where Dean had been seeing only lies and deception before. "I just… Just don't hold it against me forever, ok?"
Dean sighed heavily and decided to go for flat out honesty. "It takes what time it takes, man." He didn't know how long it would take before he could trust Sam completely again. Even now he was looking for signs that Sam was lying or needing to score some demon blood. Finally, Dean shrugged. "But you know me. I've got the attention span of a gnat. I can only stay pissed for so long."
"Whatever," Sam said tiredly. "At least we got these two squared away." The better than we can say for us was understood.
Dean sighed and offered an olive branch. "Not like they didn't both have something to do with it. Tim shoulda kept it in his pants and Dana shoulda known better than to go to some country quack who probably worked on Molly right after he worked on Farmer Smith's prize mule. It's no wonder she got sick and died."
Sam gritted his teeth like he was trying to keep from saying something else, but he nodded, accepting the statement for what it was. It was as close as Dean was going to come to saying they'd both screwed up and Lucifer was free because of it.
Dean wasn't sure what Sam had seen while they were buried, but he had a good idea. The ghost had shown them what had happened, and Dean had seem himself crack Sam over the head with a shovel. He'd known it wasn't really him and it wasn't really Sam, but did it matter? He'd watched himself put Sam in old Abe's coffin, knowing he wasn't dead, and that he was either going to remain unconscious and suffocate inside the coffin or wake up and still suffocate. Timothy had silently cried the entire time he was burying his friend alive, yet he'd still done it.
Dean thought of Sam and once again vowed not to let Detroit happen. Yes, he was still angry. Yes, he still had some serious trust issues, major trust issues even. Yes, Sam had screwed up beyond belief. But Dean couldn't just bury Sam and move on. They had to stick together and figure things out no matter how much they wanted to kill each other sometimes.
"So," Sam said into the awkward silence, "you gonna take a shower sometime soon?"
"You tryin' to tell me something?" Dean asked.
"Is that a question?"
"I dunno, is it?"
It was as if the bubble of pressure surrounding them had broken and they both broke into grins at the same time. It kept happening. The pressure would build and build, then suddenly burst under its own weight before beginning to build again. It would just take time. The pressure was already slower to build than it had been.
"Go shower," Sam said. "I'm hungry. We can go find something to eat when you're done."
Dean frowned. "You gonna make me go back to that diner that won't take cards?"
"You magically find another place to eat in this town?"
"Then yes." Sam smiled, all innocence.
"Dude, I got almost nothing left."
"That's because you blew all your cash last week on a cubic yard of beef jerky. Don't go cryin' now cause you're broke."
Dean grinned sheepishly. "Oh, yeah."
Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah."
"Jerky's expensive!" Dean said defensively. Sam just looked at him, showing absolutely no pity. "It was homemade, man! How often do you find homemade jerky?"
"Go shower," Sam ordered.
"Fine." Dean quickly gathered up fresh clothing and headed for the shower. "Just be a minute."
Dean closed the bathroom door and sucked in a deep lungful of air, feeling like it was the first time in days he could breathe properly. If being short of cash was the biggest problem he and Sam had, then it was a pretty decent day. Things weren't good, and even now he was wondering what Sam was up to now that he was out of Dean's sight, but it was getting better. They just needed time.
They'd get there. They would be the team they used to be. They just needed everybody to leave them alone long enough to get it right. If they could do that… then maybe… just maybe they could save the world.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it.