Disclaimer: Not mine. Blah, blah, blah. READ!
[October 7th, 2007]
Sam crept into the bedroom, the chamber dull except for where a thin blade of light snuck in through the door held ajar. She stood there with her back to him, lightly illuminated by the sunset hanging in the sky. He concealed the gun in his hand behind his back even though he was certain she had heard him. They both knew what was coming, but he didn't want to alarm her.
He approached with caution, practically slinking into the room as if he could become completely imperceptible and delay the inevitable. She turned slowly, her face serene in what appeared to be complete acceptance of her fate. Her gaze tracked him, a nervous flicker that betrayed the calm exterior she had put up to protect herself. She knew what had to happen, she just never thought it would end like this.
Sam didn't want to do this. He loved her - all of her - except for that one part that marred her mortal existence. He hated that part because it meant that they couldn't be together. He wished against everything else that he could get rid of just that one part of her and preserve the rest. Everything would be okay then. Everything would be alright.
They made eye contact and slowly but surely, Sam let the gun come into view. Neither said a word, preferring the silence to the gruesome details that were unavoidable at this point. A breath caught in Sam's throat as he struggled to suppress the feelings he had for the woman before him.
She closed the gap between them, pressing her lips against his. Sam closed his eyes, savoring the feeling before he felt a gentle warmth resting on his chest. He glanced to it, effectively breaking the kiss, and found Madison's hand resting there, poised above his heart. A sad smile crossed his features as he looked back into her warm, brown eyes.
They knew this was it. This was the end.
A loud thump and sharp, stabbing pain jolted Sam from his dreams. He knew he must've made some kind of noise, especially based on the way Dean was doing his best to avoid looking at him at all costs.
Sam's eyes darted around trying to discern where he was. So far, all he could gather was that he was still in the passenger seat of the Impala, wrapped up in the now stolen motel room blanket, as it streaked down the highway.
The noise continued, loud and heavy in his ears. The pain, on the other hand, had lessened some; he rubbed his hand over his chest, swallowing away the panic as he acknowledged that the imp had decided to attack his heart. With that realization came the understanding of the loud noise. His heart beat was pounding away in his ears relentlessly.
"You alright?" Dean asked glancing in his side mirror as he changed lanes.
Sam nodded and looked for any signs to give him a hint as to their whereabouts. Finding none, he asked, "Where are we?"
"95 South. We're headed back to Baltimore," Dean said patiently.
The elder Winchester had already explained this back at the motel room nearly an hour ago. He had awoken with a start and had nearly panicked when he realized just how late he had let himself sleep in. He had moved quickly, packing up their bags and tossing them into the back seat of the car before destroying the salt lines throughout the motel room. Dean had finished the task in record time before he moved on to helping getting Sam out. He had gently ushered Sam outside, his brother awake but barely coherent enough to know what was happening around him.
"'Kay," Sam replied, resting his head against the cool glass of the Impala. He wasn't quite ready to sleep again, but he was absolutely drained. His voice was tired when he found himself speaking.
"I had another dream," Sam said as another weak shock of pain jolted his chest. He absent-mindedly rubbed at the spot.
"Yea?" Dean asked, glancing at him quickly before turning his attention back to the road.
"Yea. I watched myself… Kill her. Again," Sam said with a note of sadness.
"You had to do it, Sammy," Dean replied.
"I know," Sam managed, though it was hardly more than a whisper.
A comfortable silence drifted into the front seat of the Chevy as it continued its journey towards Maryland. Dean drifted through his own thoughts to avoid the pressing need to get his brother to Poe's marker. A grunt from Sam brought him back to the present situation much sooner than he would've liked.
"You sure you're alright?"
"Yea, 'm fine," Sam replied as he ignored the shock of pain that ripped through his chest again. With each ripple, the pounding in his ears grew louder. He blinked a few times and shook his head in unhappy understanding.
"The Tell-Tale Heart," he said.
"What?" Dean asked.
"The Tell-Tale Heart," Sam said again, "That's what the dream was about. That's why my chest…"
Dean shot his brother an angry look before he spoke, "I thought you said you were okay, Sam."
"Alright, I lied," he said in return, "That make you feel better, Dean?"
Dean wiped a hand down the side of his face, his lips pursed together angrily.
"I take it your chest hurts then? Kind of a sharp pain, right? Sometimes feels like your heart's skipping a beat?"
Sam stared at his brother incredulously. This was exactly why he didn't want his brother to know about his heart. The angry timbre to his voice, the barely contained fire in his eyes and the note of complete comprehension? Sam hated it.
Dean caught his brother's eyes for a moment and the anger that hardened his features softened a little as he turned back to the road.
"I was there once, remember Sam? Damn rawhead," Dean muttered under his breath.
Sam nodded once in understanding and made an effort to stare out of the windshield at the dark skyline that hovered above the ebony asphalt.
"Get some rest," Dean said, turning down the radio so it wasn't anything more than a ghost of sound.
Sam nodded and slouched down in the seat, his knees pinned against the dash, as he closed his eyes and let the purr of the Impala coax him back into the dream world.
Dean was sweating despite the chilly October air as he worked away as quickly as he could manage to put the spare tire into place. In all the years he had owned the Impala, she had never let him down ever. Yet, here they were, pulled over about 15 minutes outside of Baltimore on 695 with eighteen wheelers blowing past in a frenzy as Dean worked to get the blown tire off and the spare put in its place.
"When did I ever do you wrong, huh, baby?" he asked with his voice full of strain due to his physical labor. He grunted as he loosened a nut, "Sam's the one that went and wrecked you."
Another big rig flew by, its horn honking away into the night as Dean did his best to ignore it and keep working away at the wheel. The last thing they needed was for the cops to show up while their trunk was wide open. There was no way he'd be able to explain all the weapons.
He heard the chattering teeth before Sam had a chance to speak, "T-t-talkin' to the 'mpala, D-Dean?"
Dean paused for a moment, as the rusty - and at this he had been appalled - lug nut finally gave way from its place on the tire, and he wiped a hand across his forehead.
"You really shouldn't be outta the car, Sam," Dean said in response.
If Dean thought Sam looked rough before, he had been severely mistaken. The phrase "death warmed over" was probably an appropriate cliché at this point. The only thing that told Dean that Sam wasn't a zombie was the angry scarlet flush that had been more or less permanently attached to Sam's skin since the clocks had hit midnight about three hours ago.
"Whatever, Dean," Sam ground out.
Dean turned his attention back to getting the blown tire off so he could get the spare into place. He had been incredibly surprised to find the spare buried under the weapons hidden away in the trunk mostly because he had been certain that he'd tossed it out to make more room for their artillery. To say he was grateful that that wasn't the case was an understatement.
Sam shifted from foot to foot as he wrapped the motel blanket around his shoulders more tightly. The imp had really started going to town on him since midnight had rolled around. He was honestly surprised that they had been able to keep the scorching heat that was his temperature maintained at the ridiculous peak of 102.9 degrees, but that wasn't the half of what he had been hiding from Dean.
Sam's muscles alternated between extreme aches and absolute weakness. At one point during the car ride, Sam had been in a heated debate with his brother and very suddenly stopped talking mid-sentence. He had felt his head roll to the side, even farther than he had already been leaning, and thwack harshly against the window; he had been completely powerless to stop it. Fortunately, Dean had written it off as extreme exhaustion and left Sam alone to sleep.
However, what Sam was most worried about was the volume and tempo with which his own heart had been beating. It was much quicker than it had been even ten minutes ago. It wasn't anywhere near completely dangerous yet, but Sam still felt as though he had been jogging for the past 5 minutes. There was a pang of heat scorching through his chest before he heard his heart rate increase in speed and stay at the steady, elevated rhythm.
A soft grunt escaped Sam before he could suppress it, his chest aching with what felt like an adrenaline rush.
Dean started working away at the last lug nut to secure the spare in place, but glanced up at his brother at the change in his voice. He sounded even more tired and wrung out if it were even possible.
"You gonna pass out on me?" Dean asked.
Sam shook his head, but Dean couldn't help but notice that he had decided to make his way back into the passenger seat of the Impala instead of stand there and make small talk. He knew his younger brother was definitely hiding something, but Sam was sometimes even better at diversions than he was. Chances were slim in regards to figuring out what he was keeping to himself.
The car door creaked as it opened and closed around the same time Dean managed to put the finishing touches on the tire situation. With a few swift movements, the car was lowered back to the asphalt and Dean was rummaging through the trunk to put the jack back in its place. He tossed the blown tire out into the murky grass alongside the highway before he checked for traffic and dodged back into the driver's seat.
The door closed with a soft groan and a loud click as Dean pulled the keys from his pocket; he was poised to talk to Sam when he noticed that his brother was napping against the window again. A bead of sweat rolled down Sam's face and Dean turned his attention back to getting his brother to the cemetery and out of this horrible ordeal.
"You have got to be kidding me!"
The loud smacking noise of Dean's hand meeting the steering wheel startled Sam from his sleep. The dream had returned again, this time with less accuracy and more desperation. Sam could practically hear Madison's voice as she begged for her life like she had in the dream.
Sam turned, eyes bleary from sleep, and took in Dean's appearance. He could practically feel the desperation and frustration dripping from his older brother and as Sam turned his attention to the front windshield, he understood why immediately.
A team of road workers stood in the middle of their path. There were at least 10 other cars ahead of them, their engines turned off at this point, as the team scrambled to fix what looked to be a blown water main if the gushing water was any indication.
A snort escaped Sam in amusement. The Winchester's weren't exactly known for their good luck, but what they lacked in luck they made up for in sheer determination. Apparently this was just going to be one of those situations again.
"What's so funny?"
Sam glanced at Dean and bit back the chuckle that he so desperately wanted to share. Dean's face was firm, angry and would've terrified any five year old within sight. However, because of the fever, the exhaustion and the rate of his racing heart, Sam couldn't help but see everything around him as ironic in that cruel kind of way.
"You don't think a blown tire and a water main breaking on the way to save my life isn't funny?"
Dean's face slipped a little as his cynical side tried to win out over the frustration. However, whatever inch of anxiety relief Sam had gained quickly vanished as Dean spoke.
"You think all this happening with thirty minutes until go time is something to laugh about?"
"C'mon, Dean. It's a little funny," Sam said with a twinkle in his eye. After all, he had just stolen one of his brother's lines and used it against him.
There was a tense moment before Dean relented, a soft bark of laughter spilling from his throat, before he shook his head and leaned back into the seat of the car. The tension that left his body in that instant felt like ecstasy. He hadn't realized exactly how tense he had become in such a short time. Hell, he hadn't been this tense since he had first started hunting, which was saying an awful lot!
"I guess, even for us, it is kinda funny," Dean conceded more to appease his brother than anything else.
"Yea," Sam said.
A tinny, pinging ring tone interrupted whatever comment was about to fly out of Dean's mouth. With one fluid motion, he pulled the phone from his pocket, flipped open with his thumb and placed it against his ear.
"How's your brother doin'?"
Dean glanced in the review mirror, pleased to see that he was still the last car in the line up, "He'll be fine if we ever get to the damn marker."
"You still haven't gotten there yet?"
An annoyed chuckle caught Sam's attention and he knew almost at once that Dean was talking to Bobby. As much as the older hunter seemed to irritate the older Winchester, Dean still considered Bobby to be a father to him. Sam felt the same way, even if Bobby did call them idiots more often than sons.
"Kinda hard when you blow a tire and get stuck at a damn blown water main."
The silence on the other end of the phone had even Sam's ears ringing. He winced as a sharp pain jabbed through his chest and his heart picked up its pace. The thudding in his ears had become white noise up until that point. Now it was starting to freak him out.
"Dean," he managed weakly as another spike of agony ripped through him. He could feel his heart racing to the point that he could do nothing more than pant at the strain. Sam had felt pain before, but this? This was beyond words.
He closed his eyes and set his jaw - anything to take his mind off the agony blazing away through his chest and heart. He slid sideways, head leaning against the window as his eyes slid open to mere slits. He nearly gagged at the sight that greeted him. Black, twisted imp skin lay embedded somewhere within his own flesh; clearly its hands were literally wrapped around his heart. Another sharp sting confirmed his suspicions and Sam began to feel any strength he had been grappling with start to drain from him rapidly.
Dean glanced at his younger brother, poised to inform him that the adults were speaking and he'd have to wait his turn. However, the sight of his brother, slumped against the window and just centimeters away from the point of passing out grabbed his attention.
"Sam. C'mon, Sammy. Breathe," Dean spit out desperately. He grabbed for his brother's arm, shaking slightly to rouse Sam. All he managed to do, however, was to make his little brother whimper instead.
"The hell's goin' on over there?"
Bobby never did get a response as Dean snapped his phone shut, stuffed it into his pocket and threw the car into reverse. The sudden change in direction made Sam gasp and his hand shot out in front of him to steady himself. He vaguely registered Dean apologizing as the blood pounded through his ears and the Impala lurched forwards, darting down a side street to get around the road work.
"C'mon, Sasquatch," Dean grumbled, "Help me out a little. Your sorry ass weighs a ton."
Sam staggered, barely holding himself together through his misery, with one arm wrapped around his brother's shoulders and the other gripping fiercely at the fabric over his heart. His vision had long since blurred and was starting to come in shades of gray. He could barely hear Dean's voice, but it was enough to encourage him forward.
The night air did little to relieve the tension in Dean's muscles as he continued to more or less haul his brother through the cemetery towards Poe's marker. He could feel the cold metal of his knife against the skin of his back where he had hastily slipped the blade to get his brother out of the car. It pressed into his skin now, far from enough pressure to cut, but just enough to embed the chill into his spine. Dean shuddered a bit as the marker came into view.
It seemed ordinary enough and Dean struggled to see how a stone of such size could have taken a place in a grown man's chest. Then again, he reasoned, he was still grappling with the idea that werewolves and all those baddies he hunted for a living were from the Fae world as well. He shook his head and muttered under his breath just as they arrived in front of the marker.
The ominous raven perched in the emblem upon it seemed to stare at both Winchesters maliciously as he helped Sam rest against the stone. Almost immediately, Sam's face screwed up tightly as he rode the wave of agony thanks to his change in position. Dean could practically hear his brother's teeth grinding together in the stillness of the night air.
"It's alright, Sammy," he said checking his watch, "It's almost over."
He dropped his duffel to his feet as comprehension washed over him. Dean only had five minutes left to anoint the story with some of Sam's blood, a splash of holy water and send the mixture up in flames before he lost him.
The zipper gave way with no resistance as Dean worked away. He grabbed the book first, flipping it open to the pages he had already marked before they left and tore out all six pages of the text. Sam would probably give him an earful about it later, but Dean was pretty sure saving his life trumped ruining a good book.
The knife appeared in his hand next, glinting dangerously in the moonlight. He had really hoped he'd never have to hurt his brother, but if spilling his blood meant saving his life, who was he to back down now?
Dean pulled the flask out next and shook it. The faint tinkling of water echoed in the little chamber and he felt his resolve returning. As the matches appeared from the depths of his duffel next, he knew he could win. He knew he could make this end.
Dean looked up at Sam with an apologetic smile.
"Sorry, Sammy," he whispered as he grabbed his brother's hand and drew the blade across it.
Sam groaned deep in his throat and tried to pull his hand away. The pressure in his chest intensified as the imp began to process what the elder Winchester was doing.
"Easy, Sam. It's all done, ok?"
Dean was careful and thorough, pressing Sam's blood soaked hand against each page before he stood and set it on top of the marker. His brother's face seemed to ease as his hand hit every page and he realized, with satisfaction, that Sam's blood was indeed weakening the bond between him and his captor.
Dean checked his watch and started as he realized he had about 2 minutes to complete this or Sam was lost. He managed to get the cap off the flask, only fumbling once in his hurry. Quickly, he dumped the contents of the holy water onto the pages and was startled as Sam's eye flew open and a scream tore through his throat. The agony and despair that rent the night air made Dean's heart ache and his gut clench uncomfortably.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. The water was supposed to sever the bond. He kept going as Sam began to squirm weakly on the ground. It was obvious that what little fight he had left in him was being used up at last.
Dean dropped the match onto a dry corner of the pages and at once, a fire began to leap up and dance on top of the stone. He heard Sam take in a shuddering breath, the cords in his neck standing out again, before he dropped to his brother's side.
"Sam," Dean said, shaking his shoulder.
Sam continued to writhe as the flames licked at the paper. He couldn't see anything anymore nor could he hear anything other than the imp screaming and his heart beating wildly against his ribs. This was an agony unlike anything he had ever had to endure and he was fairly certain that he was dying. He had to be. There was nothing on earth that felt so completely crushing.
The pages of the book burst into a sudden pillar of fire, scattering the spent ashes of what once was a story into the air in its wake. Dean stared at it in awe and horror before he checked his watch and noted that it was 5am on the nose. He felt himself panting as his panic rose. Sam was still in pain, still panting and straining against an enemy that was unseen by him. Dean pressed his forehead against Sam shoulder and silently began to pray that nothing had gone wrong. He prayed and hoped and wished that he done everything he could to save his brother.
Sam blinked and took in another sharp sting of night air. Faintly, a form began to glimmer in the distance. Her hair was dark against her skin. Her lips were full and tugged down at the sides. Her eyes were russet brown and soulful, but full of such tragedy and sorrow that Sam felt himself breaking. There was a stutter in his heart's rhythm not once, but twice before he felt it stop completely.
"Madison," he whispered out before his head rolled forward and Sam Winchester died.
It felt like drifting, but not quite. Maybe floating was the right word. He struggled to remember what any of that felt like, but here in this black void, it was impossible to remember anything other than relief and complete peace.
"I missed you, Sam."
The voice caught him completely off guard and his eyes popped open, despite the fact that he had been unaware that they were closed. There she was. The woman he had agonized over for nearly two weeks now. It wasn't because he had loved her. No. It was because he had loved her and had to physically put an end to his own happiness.
"Madison," he replied, reaching out to her. She caught his hand with her own and pressed it against her cheek. Her flesh was cool and smooth under his touch.
"You know you can't stay here, right, Sam?"
He felt the squeeze in his heart at the thought. He loved her. He wanted to be with her because he deserved it. He deserved the normalcy - the happiness.
Both of their faces softened in sadness and Sam wished this dream would never end.
"You know you had to do it," Madison said, breaking the tense silence that had built.
"I know, but we could've found a way to-"
"Stop," she said with a chuckle, "There is no cure, Sam. You saved me."
He shook his head, his eyes shining with tears of sadness and frustration.
"You call burying a silver bullet in your heart saving you?"
"Sam," she said softly, inching closer to him and wiping away the stray tear that rolled down his cheek, "You saved me from turning again and harming other people. And yes, I consider that a blessing. You let me go as a human and not as a monster. Don't you think that's something in itself?"
Sam blinked a few times as more tears tracked down his cheeks. He had never seen it that way. He had only blamed and ridiculed himself for ending a life instead of saving one.
"I love you, Sam," Madison whispered as she pressed her lips against his cheek. She pulled herself away slowly and whispered into his ear, "but you have to let me go, Sam. It's time to let go and go home."
He nodded slightly, "Love you."
Dampness. He felt it along his cheeks and somewhere along his shoulder, but he couldn't remember it raining. He pried his eyes open, momentarily panicking as he saw nothing but the twilight sky ahead of him. Then it came back in a flood of memory and it engulfed him, overwhelmed him.
He gasped, his chest burning as his lungs screamed for oxygen and he felt the pressure that had been nestled against his shoulder move.
Sam blinked and rolled his eyes towards the sound of his name, immediately recognizing his brother's voice. He tried to respond, but the only thing he could get out was a groan before his head tilted backwards against the strong stone marker.
Dean stared, mouth agape in complete disbelief. His brother was here. His brother was alive after he had had no pulse and hadn't been breathing for over two minutes. He had been frantic with worry, guilty and finally completely and utterly ashamed with himself for breaking his promise and not protecting his little brother. He didn't know what to do and he had hugged his brother close, hoping and praying that he could get him back somehow.
He sniffled suddenly and realized, with abject horror, that there was a track of tears running down both of his cheeks. If this wasn't he most chick-flick like of moments, he didn't know what was.
"Crying?" Sam croaked out looking up at his brother. Dean winced as he realized Sam could barely hold his head up himself.
"Thought I lost you , Sammy," Dean responded before he could stop himself. He couldn't tell Sam he had actually died. It hurt to much to even think about it.
"I'm okay, Dean," Sam responded with a weak smile. He felt like he was floating, but the relief from the pain was almost dizzying. He chuckled low in his throat before he finally decided to go for the dig.
"We just have a chick-flick moment?"
"Dude, I swear if you say anything about this to anyone, I will personally turn you into a Samantha myself," Dean grouched back, swiping furiously at his face while cleaning his knife against the grass by his knee.
"Whatever," Sam sighed out in response. It felt good to hear his brother playing the tough guy act, even if he knew something terrible had just happened. It was good to see the routine. It felt safe and secure.
Sam could feel himself drifting away again, but this time it wasn't to avoid pain.
"Whoa there killer," Dean said, turning away from repacking his duffel, "You gotta help me get you back to the car. I can't drag your fat ass there on my own."
"S'all muscle," Sam husked out and tried to summon the strength to prop himself up. He managed it, but just barely. He felt completely drained and he blinked his eyes sluggishly as he looked his brother over.
"Somethin' you're not saying?" Sam slurred out.
Dean nodded before he zipped his bag closed and secured Sam's arm over his shoulders.
"Talk about it in the morning, 'kay?"
Sam nodded and tried to push himself to his feet even though he knew Dean was doing most of the work. He felt himself stumbling as they trekked back to the car, back towards safety and everything they had. However, the cocoon of warmth that was the Impala soon engulfed Sam and he fought against sleep hard. The door soon shut and Sam relaxed against it; his eyes slipped closed and he let himself drift off into the first peaceful sleep he'd had in days.
Dean sighed as he slid himself into the car. He paused for a moment, hands resting on the wheel as he fought with himself. Sam had been dead and Dean had nearly lost it. He didn't know what to do or how to move on without his brother. It was by far the worst feeling of his life and he sure as hell hoped he wouldn't have to deal with it again any time soon.
He let out his breath in one quick burst before he grabbed his keys and coaxed the car key into the ignition. His wrist turned as a thought flipped in his mind. Sam was fine therefore Dean was okay. His little family, his little piece of the world, was safe.
If only he knew what he would be driven to do the next time this happened.
A/N: Thanks for sticking with me through this one! It was a complicated but fun ride, none the less! Anyways, please let me know what you think/thought and I'll see you next time!