Okay so sorry doesn't cut it anymore! This story is jinked between me and my family not being well and now BOTH my pc and my century old laptop decided to quit in the same week - send for the boys! My brother-in-law gets special mention as he is an IT guy and finally got the laptop up and running again. (Afraid we are going to have to salt and burn the PC) This chapter gives the story a little closure but I have an idea for taking it on and the Sam leaving/Dean recovering hasn't really happened yet so watch this space - just don't hold your breath! lol
Thank you again for all the support and reviews, they are unanswered to my shame but greatly appreciated. Mary xx
Turned out that the time to free Pauline didn't come for another week or so as Dean did one of the things that he did best and his fever spiked so high that John was almost taking him to the hospital, cops be damned. The decision not to had Sam and John at each others throat over his care and needs.
Dean vaguely remembered the sound of the angry voices and the harsh words that his family threw at each other. He remembered wanting to tell them the shut the hell up and leave but he couldn't fight through the fog in his head long enough to do it. When he finally managed to throw the fever and get on his feet, albeit with the aid of his crutches, he knew what he had to do, much as his insides churned at the though of his brother leaving.
So he did one of the other things that he did best in the world. He hunted down his prey and showed it no mercy.
"I want you to go."
Sam tightened his lips and frowned at his brother. "But you're still hurt….," he started to say, the frown deepening as Dean cut him off.
"What can you do to help? You got some kind of power that I don't know about? One that can heal bones?" He forced himself up onto his feet and snatched for his crutches. "You should be at school. You know it and I know it. What's keeping you here isn't important."
"You're what's keeping me here…"
"Exactly my point," Dean groused as he moved closer.
Sam changed tact quickly, realising a losing argument when he saw it. "You need help with dealing with Pauline….,"
"…..and I got Bobby and Dad for that." Dean hobbled over and eased himself into the chair opposite his brother, a defiant look on his face.
"…but,…. but,….." Sam didn't know what he could say that would change Dean's mind. His could see that his pig headed, mule of a brother had made up his mind and Sam knew that he was going to be in his face about it now until he caved. He still tried to reason with Dean, not wanting to leave him just yet, only half healed as he was. Dean though had other ideas.
"Exactly, but what? There is no reason for you to stay. I appreciate that you've been here this long but you have to go Sam." Dean looked down at the ratty old sweats he was wearing and pulled at a loose thread.
"Why? Why are you trying to get rid of me? Why me and not Dad?" Sam slammed the book that he had been reading closed and pushed back his chair, folding his arms and scowling.
Dean's voice was low when he answered. "God, this isn't about you and Dad Sam. It's about me and what I need okay? And what I need is for you to go Sam. Please. Can you just for once in your god damn life do what someone asks you to?" He wiped a tired hand over his face and stared at his brother until Sam had to look away, a huge sigh escaping him as he did.
"Tell me why and I will."
"I told you why, there's nothing left to keep you here." Dean went back to tearing up his sweats and his brother watched for a while before he conceded defeat.
"Fine," he huffed. Standing he swept the books from the table into his bag and heaved it onto his shoulder. "I'll leave in the morning if you've in such a hurry to get rid of me."
"No, no. You're right. I have absolutely no reason left to be here. I'll go back where I belong and leave all you hunters to it." He stomped out the room door and slammed it behind him.
Dean let his head fall onto the table with a soft thunk. One down, he thought, one to go.
He didn't know how long he had sat there before he heard the door to the room open and Bobby's voice. "How you doing kid?"
Dean raised his head and gave Bobby an 'okay' sign with his left hand.
"That good?," the elder man chuckled as he stepped in and closed the door behind him. "I see Sam's packing," he offered conversationally.
"Told him to, we don't need him here for this."
Bobby sat down and clasped his hands on the table. "You okay with that?"
Dean raised his head fully this time and sat back. "Has to leave sometime right? Better now than later."
"That bad huh?" Dean looked at the old man and wondered not for the first time what Bobby could always see in his eyes that his family never seemed to be able to.
"I miss him Bobby and having him around, well that just reminds me how much."
The older hunter just nodded an acknowledgement and then checked his watch. "Bert's coming over to see about maybe getting that cast off. You up for that or will I tell him to hang fire, it's only been three or four weeks…."
Dean's face brightened for the first time since Bobby could remember. "Hell no, if this can come off, then let's do it."
Bobby got up and headed for the door. "I'll tell him to bring the saw then…."
"Saw?" Dean's snatched at his crutches and heaved himself up onto his feet. "What saw?" He started to follow Bobby slowly out of the room. "I ain't letting that maniac near my leg with no saw…..I mean did you see what he did with those needles!" He held out his arm that still bore the marks.
Bobby just chuckled at that and made his exit, his laughter drifting up to Dean from the stairs as the older man headed down to make the call.
Bobby, John and Sam all watched as Bert cut the plaster off of Dean's leg, the former two trying to hide their smiles at the worried look on Dean's face as the medic sliced into it with a power tool that really wasn't designed for the job. The later looked on with a keen disinterest.
"You ever cut anything off with that before?," Dean asked with a nervous laugh.
"Guy's hand….," Bert offered conversationally as he dug in a little deeper and Dean swallowed nervously. "But I meant to do that," he finished.
"Funny guy," Dean muttered and looked back up at his father's face for something to concentrate on apart from the mad man that was sawing away at his leg. "What you grinning at?," he groused.
John cleared his throat and shot Dean a little smile. "Don't worry, he's an expert."
Bobby snorted, Bert chuckled, and Dean shot John a cold look. "Do not make him laugh!," he scolded.
With a final dip of the power tool that he was using Bert killed the power and reached for the rough edges of the cast. "On three okay?," he said to Dean even as he pulled. The cast gave suddenly and Dean hissed his discomfort as his leg was jostled.
"All done," Bert said cheerfully raising Dean's leg up and sliding the cast out and onto the floor. "Let's see how it's healed."
"Hello leg," Dean offered a little wistfully as he looked down on his whiter than normal skin.
"You broke a leg before?," Bert asked as he began poking and prodding at Dean's.
"Twice, not this one though. That hurts!"
Bert just shot him a smile. "Okay, then you know the drill and my work here is done." He turned and started packing up his things and Dean watched as he tried to wiggle his toes gently to ease some proper circulation into them. "What was that blue stuff that you used?"
Bert stopped and shrugged then got back to his packing." A little trick I picked up in Congo."
"Hurt like a bitch," Dean grumbled as he gingerly swung his leg off the table and down onto the floor, John stepping forward with a crutch and a 'don't even' look in his eye.
"Got you awake didn't it?" Bert shot him a smile and heaved his bag on his shoulder. "Well it's been fun and all but my brother and I, we're outta here." He saluted John and slapped his hand down on the older man's shoulder. "Another one you owe me John. Got a job coming up, might call it in."
"You know how to find me," John answered reaching out to help Dean to his feet only to be swatted away.
"Good luck with that," Dean muttered under his breath.
"You say something?," John asked raising his eyes to Dean's own.
"I said, I got it." Getting his good leg on the ground first Dean got to his feet, staggering a little and letting out a hiss as he pulled his side trying to keep himself upright.
John and Sam rolled their eyes in unison. "Looks like it," John offered as he stepped back.
The concern was smothering so Dean did the only thing he could think of. He deflected it. "You ready to go yet?," he asked his brother watching as Sam went from concerned to pissed off instantly.
"Jim says I can stay as long as I like." Sam crossed his arms defiantly.
Dean just stared at him. "You career changing again Sam?," he snarked back. "Wow, going from would-be hunter to college geek to mall guard?" Dean stepped forward carefully, smiling a little as his leg took the weight that he dared to put on it. "Although, you know, there ain't any mall left to guard, don'tcha?"
Sam drew himself up to his full height and looked down on his brother knowing how much that being the short one irked Dean. "Still, it would be better than having to hunt with you two." He turned and walked away at that.
John shot Dean a look.
"What," his eldest asked with a shrug. "You think that he's gonna stay here and hunt?"
"It doesn't mean that you have to chase him away."
John glowered. "What?"
Bobby stepped in and rescued Dean, almost voicing the younger man's thoughts for him. "Not like you didn't chase him away the first time John, boy's just following your example." He cut John off as he tried to speak. "Don't John. I don't want to hear it and neither does Dean. Sam don't belong here anymore, whether any of us would like him too or not so it's best we make the cut as quick and as painless as possible for all of us." He threw a pointed look at Dean and then walked over and put a hand on John's shoulder. "Much like you shoulda done the first time." With that he walked away.
Dean hobbled to the door only to be stopped by his father's voice. "He'd stay if you asked him to."
He turned with a wry smile on his face. "No," he answered with a sad shake of his head. "He wouldn't, not for long anyway. Besides, I don't want him to, he's got a life and it's not here." With that he hobbled out after Bobby.
John wiped the sweat from his forehead and leant on the shovel, watching his eldest son hobble to the side of the grave and then lower himself to the ground. Dean slid his legs over the edge and looked down at the open coffin that housed the remains of Pauline. He'd lost count of the times that he'd done this but he couldn't remember doing it for anyone that he knew. Digging his hand into his pocket he pulled out the box of matches and then just sat there, turning the box round in his hand as he waited for her to show.
After a few minutes he raised his head and turned briefly to where his father and Bobby stood. They shrugged at his enquiring glance and he let out of soft sigh and turned back to look out over the grave. "Pauline," he uttered softly. "You there?"
The temperature dropped and he looked to the side, watching as the mist thickened into form and then into Pauline. She didn't look at him, just stared down into the grave.
"Hey." Reaching out Dean placed his hand on hers.
"Hey," she replied, her gaze still locked on the grave.
"So." He didn't know how to start this.
"Isn't there supposed to be a white light that takes you off to heaven?," she asked him, finally turning to look at him.
"Don't know," he answered with a soft shrug.
"There is in all the books and on television, ghosts always get pulled off to heaven in a beautiful, white light." She paused, looked back at the grave. "Does that mean that I'm not going there?"
"No." He said it a little more forcefully than he meant to causing Bobby and John both to start towards them. "It's okay," he called out and then squeezed her hand. "No," he said more softly this time. "You deserve to get your place upstairs…."
"…but I killed people."
"Only the ones that killed you, that tried to kill me. Name one person that you hurt when you were alive?"
"See? You can't. If you can't get into heaven then there's no hope for any of us." He waved his hand in the direction of where the others stood.
"Will it hurt? When you burn me?"
Dean blanched. That thought had occurred to him before but it had always been crazy, homicidal ghosts that he'd put down so he hadn't dwelled on it. "I don't know," he answered truefully. "I hope not. It's over quickly," he added.
She moved closer to him, touching his face and pressing her lips softly to his cheek. "Thank you."
Dean didn't know what to say to that so he just nodded. They sat like that for a few minutes and then Pauline pulled back and dropped into the grave. "Time to go then?"
She flashed him a weak smile and then gestured for him to move back. "I'll see you on the other side Dean. Be careful."
"Count on it." He pulled his legs free from the side of the grave and shuffled back a little. "Bye Pauline."
Her smile lit her face as his hand lit the match and then he dropped it, rearing back as the flames quickly took hold of her remains. Her smile dropped as the flames spread and he knew then that she was in pain, the mask on her face not quite solid enough to hide it. "Pauline?," he called, thoughtlessly reaching out, almost touching her hand until the flames and the sudden presence of his father forced him back.
"Dean!" His name was half-cried, half-screamed as the flames finally ate enough of the body in the coffin to free her and she vanished in a plume of smoke and ash.
He slumped forward, the steadying hands of his father stopping him from toppling too far. "Shit." The word was ground out between gritted teeth even as he raised a hand, wiping it quickly across his face. He reached up and grabbed John's arm. "Get me out of here."
"We'll get you back to the car and Bobby and I will sort her grave right. Come on." John tugged him carefully to his feet and helped him across the grass to the truck. Dean stopped as they approached, reaching out his hand and grasping the metal. "I got it from here," he informed his worried father." Just go help Bobby."
John hovered for a moment too long and Dean turned, the flames reflecting in the tears that shone in his eyes. "Go." He pushed John off and the older man went, giving Dean the little space he needed to get himself together.
Once he was alone he rested his arm on the cold steel in front of him and then his head on that.
He wanted to get out of here now, leave this town and just get out on the road.
Go to Bobby's; get the Impala and then just drive.
He shivered in the cold wind that sweeped the graveyard.