Fanfic: Nobody Dies
Spoilers: Spoilers through S02X16 Roadkill
Summary: Season 2 casefic. Sam has a horrific vision of Dean taking his own life. Can the boys solve the case before the unthinkable happens?
"And you say I offed myself?"
Sam fidgeted and scrunched his eyebrows before pinching the bridge of his nose. Damn, his head really hurt.
Dean released his arm as Sam sank onto the mattress, Dean's face a mix of shock and concern. "You saw me … ?"
"Yeah." Sam hated the damn visions. His body wouldn't stop shuddering, his skull was being jack-hammered from the inside out, and his stomach was roiling as if he was on a rapidly sinking ship.
And none of that compared with the lingering horror behind his eyes of his brother blowing his brains out.
One Week Earlier
Her body was long and lean. Very athletic, not curvy. Not usually Sam's type. Her face was gorgeous, though. Angular with high cheekbones, delicate features, a straight nose, and perfectly bowed lips. A gently rounded chin. She had auburn hair that brushed just below her shoulder blades. Her arms rose gracefully as she took a few steps forward on the high diving board. He watched the slight ripples of her back muscles shift with the motion. Sam pondered why he'd never thought of boy-cut swim bottoms as sexy before, because on her … yeah.
She jumped up, bringing her arms together in perfect form. He caught a glimpse of her face and something shimmered off her cheeks. Wet and ragged tears. His heart started accelerating the second her body began its downward arc.
The pool bottom, devoid of water, absorbed her with a nauseating crunch and red blazed out like a Jackson Pollack painting conceived in Hell.
"No! Don't … god no, there's no … Oh god."
"Sam! Sammy, c'mon, man, wake up."
Sam shot up and immediately clutched his forehead. Pain stabbed like ricocheting buckshot. As one hand clutched at Dean's tee-shirt, Sam could barely breathe and he fought his impulse to retch. He couldn't shake the image of a broken blob that had been a girl, on the bottom of an empty pool, crimson rivulets running out from underneath her.
"Vision?" Dean asked gruffly.
Sam nodded, forced himself to stand, tried to walk, then gave up and leaned on Dean who helped him into the bathroom. Dean hovered while Sam splashed cold water on his face and bit back the bile.
"Wanna talk about it?" his brother asked eventually.
"Woman dived into a pool."
Sam met his brother's eyes. "No. There was no water in the pool. She dived off a high board."
Dean flinched. "Ouch."
Sam said nothing face, scrunched in concentration. He had to prevent this. Stop it. She didn't need to die.
"Trying to remember. Figure out where." He let his mind wander beyond the woman, envisioning the surroundings. "It's a university pool." He staggered from the bathroom to his laptop while initials swirled in his mind's eye. A few minutes later he snapped it shut. "Get dressed, we're heading south."
The yellow caution tape was still up and Sam's stomach dived into the pool along with the remnants of his vision. "Dammit!" Frustration rolled off him in waves. "What's the point? What good is it if … "
"C'mon, let's work the job."
Dean looked up at the high board, then back down at the dark reddish brown stain on the bottom of the pool. Sam watched Dean shake his head once. "Did you see anyone else? Maybe she was pushed?"
"No. She dived. It was intentional."
"So she thought there was water in the pool? Some sort of glamour, maybe?"
Sam retraced the tear on the woman's face. "I think she was … upset. Sad. "He recalled the deliberateness of her movements. "I think she … jumped on purpose. "
"Christ, Sam, this was how she chose to kill herself? Man, give me a bullet any time."
Sam glowered darkly at his brother. "Look … it's one of my visions so whatever this was, it wasn't natural and will never make sense." He paused in front of the impromptu memorial by the fence. 'We love you' was scribbled across a picture of three couples dressed in formalwear. A stuffed monkey, several teddy bears, candles, flowers. Would he ever be in time to stop it? If not, why the hell did he keep seeing these tragedies? Sam gave the blood-stained tile one last long look.
"There's nothing to find here. Let's start talking to some students. See who knew her."
There was an on-campus candlelight memorial that night and finding folks who knew the girl was exceedingly easy.
Dean sidled over. "Hey … girl's name was Samantha … same as you, Sammy." Dean cut his snort short at the twist of Sam's lips, and Sam returned the conversation to what mattered. "Mom's alive. No nursery fire."
"They don't all have one. Besides, you don't know that she was one of the … one of them. They're calling it an accident."
Samantha Klein had been a sophomore. Good grades, popular, on the diving team. Sam shook his head. "That's not true. She wanted to die."
"You're not the only one who thinks that. Was talking to Mindy Streuss, her BFF. Thinks Nietzsche is overrated and likes walks in the woods more than the beach, go figure … " At Sam's exasperated glare Dean continued, "She said Samantha seemed depressed the last few days. Inconsolable even. Said there was no reason for it. Came out of nowhere."
"I talked to her father for a minute. He also said that she'd been acting odd, but then Samantha's mother came over and he clammed up. She won't hear of it."
Dean sighed. "Hate to say it, but I guess we hit the public library tomorrow and do some research. See if anything else is off kilter in this town."
They fought for position in front of the glowing screen, with Dean groaning loudly when Sam's elbow hit his ribs. "Why don't you use your laptop?"
"Because it's in the motel room."
"Well who told you to leave it in the room?"
Sam snarled. "You did. Said we could use the library's computer … never mind … look at this."
Dean read over Sam's shoulder, leaning so close Sam could smell Dean's lingering coffee breath. Sam scrunched his nose and read aloud, "Kevin Brown, 19, committed suicide three months ago. Thaddeus Davis, 20, accidental death, gun accident, seven weeks ago."
"Thaddeus? I'd want to kill myself, too." Dean ignored Sam's bitchface. "How do you accidently shoot yourself in the head?"
"You figure it's another Andy? Or his freaky brother?"
"We gotta find him … or her."
Dean looked at Sam, eyes hardening. "And then what?"
Sam hated this question. He avoided Dean's eyes. "I'll talk to them … explain."
"Sam … Three people are already dead."
Sam shut his eyes. "I know, Dean. I just … have to try."
Walking around campus was familiar and foreign at the same time. The brick buildings and steep lecture rooms gave the illusion of safety, but Sam knew how fleeting it all could be. One blink and it would all dissolve.
Up in flames, he thought, with a bitter silent laugh.
According to an obituary in the campus paper, the victim before Samantha … Thaddeus, worked in the campus library. It was a good place to start. He strode in and inhaled the familiar scents of dust and mildew, wood cleaner and sweaty students. Wow. How quickly that home feeling came back to him.
After a few minutes of pretending to look around, he approached a pretty girl with long dark hair working the reference desk. "Hi. An old buddy of mine used to work here. Thad. You know where he might be?"
The girl's eyes widened and her face instantly paled. Sam hated doing this to her but he couldn't think of an easier way to get her talking.
"Oh my god. I guess … you haven't … was he a close friend?" Her voice was wobbly and Sam's guilt grew.
"Well, we hung out some. Why?"
"He … some weeks ago … he had an accident in his house. With a gun. I'm so sorry. He didn't make it."
Sam took a moment to look properly stunned. "Wow … I hadn't heard. What happened?"
The girl leaned in, "Well … they say he was cleaning it and it … went off. Bullet hit his head. I guess it was fast. He was always so careful … She shrugged the rest away. Sam looked into her eyes, deep dark brown and very sad.
Sam instinctively leaned a little closer. "Hey, you okay?"
The girl dabbed at her eyes. "Yeah. It's just that I lost another friend just this week."
Sam's antenna went up. "Samantha Klein?"
The girl's eyes widened again. "Yes. Did you know her? She was my best friend. I still can't believe … I mean I always thought I'd … "
"You always thought you'd what?"
Her eyes avoided his. "Nothing. It's just been a shock."
Sam let the moment go and introduced himself.
"I'm Mindy Streuss," she said. "Nice to meet you." She tried to smile and Sam fought for the memory. Mindy. Nietzsche-hating Mindy.
He chatted with her long enough to determine that she still had both parents living and had never experienced a fire in her home. Of course, as Dean had pointed out, this didn't mean she didn't have powers. Her answers were short and she seemed somber but then again she had just lost a close friend. Finally he thanked her and went in search of Dean.
Dean seemed quiet but it was late and Sam was beat. They'd spent the rest of the afternoon trying to tie Kevin Brown to Mindy or the other victims. They were in agreement that Mindy's connection to the other two deaths was unlikely to be a coincidence.
"Tomorrow we need to look back further … see if there were any mysterious deaths in Mindy's high school."
A grunt answered Sam. Ugh. He just wasn't in the mood for Dean's mood swings. Ever since their father died Dean had been perpetually on the rag. The anger was leveling off, thank goodness. But now it varied from snarky childish to this. Nonverbal grunts and snarly sullenness. Sam understood intellectually. But he was tired. Dean need to accept that Dad made his choice and move on.
Sam wouldn't argue whether or not it had been the wrong one.
They watched some TV, Dean flipping stations in a lackadaisical manner, never settling on anything for more than three or four minutes. Sam finally gave up and pulled the blanket over his head to try and sleep.
It started like a normal dream. He was the observer as usual. Dean was alone in this exact motel room. He sat at the small table and slowly and methodically cleaned his weapon. Nothing new. Movements smooth and long practiced. Then Dean walked with the gun to his bed and sat. In a movement almost too fast to track he lifted the gun to his temple and squeezed the trigger. It happened so quickly, Sam's scream choked in his throat.
His shriek still wouldn't come out as he struggled to waken, eyes full of Dean's glassy stare and blood spattered face sprawled crookedly over the striped bedspread. Bits of grayish muck stuck in drippy clumps to the headboard. Sam sucked in air with desperate hard pants. The white pain nearly blinded him as he forced his eyes to open, to focus, to please see Dean there. Alive.
"Sam, calm down. Mindy's not forcing me to do anything."
"Maybe. But you should give me your weapon anyway."
"What? No way. You ain't stripping me."
"But Dean … "
" 'But Dean' nothin'. Only way you pry this away from me is out of my cold dead … " At Sam's blanche, Dean softened his tone. "It's gonna be fine. We'll go see her again as soon as it's morning."
Mindy seemed pleased to see Sam. She recognized Dean and was exceedingly bubbly to learn they were brothers. "Wow … and you've been traveling? Wow. That's … just super. Way better education than just staying here. I bet you get to see so many things. Me? I never see anything 'cept this sleepy town. I went to Pittsburgh once. You know, there's more to do there than you'd figure. But, I mean, yeah, Pittsburgh."
Sam looked at Dean, biting back a grin. Dean turned back to Mindy. "You seem more chipper today, good to see."
Mindy's countenance darkened a millisecond before her smile crept back in. " 'S not that I don't miss Sam. Because I do. Every second. It's just, well, you know, life goes on and all that. And she woulda wanted me to be happy. She'd say that a lot, you know, be happy. A lot."
Sam wanted to get this back on track. "About that … Mindy … have you noticed anything odd happening to you? Or around you?"
She looked at Sam with a crooked smile, brows raised questioningly.
Dean took over. "Ever notice things happening because you just sort of wanted them to?"
Mindy's eyes brightened. "Oh. Yes!" Sam and Dean stared at each other before quickly looking back to the still babbling Mindy. "It's like that book, you know, The Secret. The power of positive thinking. You gotta think really hard about something and want it all the way, you know? Not enough to just say it … you have to really feel it."
"And then it happens?" Sam questioned.
"Well," she hedged. "Not always. Actually not ever. Yet, you know, not yet. But the book tells you that. Tells you that you can't expect it to work all the time. But the key is to be positive."
"Are all your thoughts positive?" Sam pushed. "Ever wish anything bad to happen to anyone?"
Mindy looked confused. "Bad? No, never! I'd never do that. Even if I didn't like someone I couldn't do that because then it all would come back to me. The book tells you. You can't do that. Ever."
A student came over then and Sam and Dean had to step away.
"Huh," said Dean.
"Maybe she's not our gal?"
"Maybe not." Sam squirmed some. Did they miss something? "We haven't been able to connect her with Kevin Brown yet." Hell, maybe it was someone they hadn't laid eyes on yet. So many students could have known the other two. He thought back to the vision … Dean … with the gun … this had to be solved.
As if reading his mind Dean interrupted. "Maybe it was just a dream."
"I know the difference."
"You weren't writhing in pain like usual."
That's because he'd been too stunned to breathe and by the time Dean had gotten to him the worst of it had passed. But Sam didn't know how to explain this to Dean. Didn't want to explain it. Finally, he decided to deflect. "Let's just work the case."
They returned to the room with takeout. Dean ate ravenously, barely chewing before swallowing. Sam looked on amused, it had only been a few hours since Dean'd consumed the world's largest stack of pancakes.
Dean stood abruptly from their small table and bounced? He seemed like he was trying to jump out of his skin.
"You okay?" Sam asked.
"Yeah. Just bored, you know. How come all we do is sit around? C'mon, let's do something."
A pillow went flying and hit Sam in the head. A deep laugh immediately followed. "What the — Dean?"
A second pillow bounded off his forehead making him let out a rather unmanly, "Umph."
A smile split Sam's lips despite it all. And it was on.
Four demolished pillows and a room covered in stuffing later they lay on the wrecked beds cackling uncontrollably. Sam rose on his elbows to watch Dean wipe away happy tears with a fuzzy finger, their laughter finally starting to peter out. This left an odd smattering of white wisp on the stubble of his jaw. In the filtered sunlight bleeding through the curtains, Dean's chiseled profile and salt 'n pepper specked beard reminded Sam of their dad with a surprising twinge. Dean blew a stray piece of fuzz off his nose with an exaggerated honk. Well, his brother certainly didn't seem suicidal. Sam smiled. Hell, maybe it was just a dream followed by a migraine.
Sam rose. "I'm heading out. Should research Kevin Brown some more." Sam bit his lip. It might have been a dream. But just in case … "Dean, give me your gun. Please?"
Still smiling Dean simply handed it over. "Whatever makes you happy."
"What makes you happy, Dean?" Sam asked unexpectedly.
After a moment Dean replied, "Miniature golf."
"Want to play a game? There's a place near the college."
That was a weird request coming from Dean in the middle of a case. Although not much stranger than a mid-day pillow fight.
"I could … drop you off. No reason you can't have a little fun. Maybe find a girl to play with you."
Dean cocked his head as if seriously considering this. "Don't know … got a lot of energy or something."
Sam shook his head. His older brother was so definitely the younger of the two of them. "Goofy Golf it is," he said, sticking Dean's weapon in his waistband. "But you're gonna want to look in the mirror before you go, Grandpa."
Sam found himself back on campus. He was still slightly itchy from remnants of the impromptu pillow fight that were stuck inside his clothes. Man, it had been a long time since he'd laughed with Dean like that. Had to be before Dad died. Before Sam'd gone away to school. He fought the melancholy this thought provoked. Why did it have to be that way? Since when did the mundane become so darn special?
Sam approached the offices of the school newspaper. Inside, a slight Asian girl with small wire-frame glasses and shoulder-length glossy black hair was buzzing about the small space. His first impression was that she possessed perpetual motion. Noticing him, she looked up … and up … and a smile lit up her delicate face. Sam couldn't help responding, felt his cheeks automatically dimple. Maybe Dean's good mood was contagious.
"Can I help you?"
Wow, she was virtually beaming at him. "Yeah … I'm doing some research for a story …"
"Oh. Are you a journalist?" Her smile got even brighter. She met his gaze but then started shifting slightly from foot to foot.
"Yes. Well, freelance. I'm Sam."
"I'm Anna. What can I do for you, Sam?"
"I'm writing about college-related suicides. I was wondering if you could tell me anymore about Kevin Brown? He died about three months ago. There was a story in the Student Herald."
The cheerfulness drained from the girl like water down a tub drain. I … wrote the story about Kevin."
Sam lowered his head to meet her eyes. Pretty eyes, he thought, chocolate brown and almond shaped. "I'm sorry. Did you know Kevin well?"
"No. Not really. Actually not at all. He was quiet, I guess. I spoke to his friends. They all seemed so surprised."
Anna transferred a pile of papers from her desk to the file cabinet where she started efficiently sliding papers inside. Her hands moved like windshield wipers in precise, quick steps.
"Did you know Samantha Klein? Girl who died earlier this week?"
"But she … that was an accident, wasn't it?" Even as she said it Sam could tell Anna had her doubts.
"Was it? She didn't, um, notice the lack of water?"
"I know, right? It's odd. I didn't know her. But I spoke to her friends for another article. They seemed to think it was crazy, what she did. And if it wasn't an accident … Everyone said that she was an incredibly upbeat person. Especially her friend, Mindy."
Sam's eyes widened. "Mindy Streuss?"
"Yeah. I talked to her for the article. She's like this chipper machine, you know? I can't imagine her being friends with anyone and not making them feel good. I've been like, bouncing, since I met her. So, Samantha, yeah, it's not like she didn't surround herself with happy people. Hell, Mindy hugged me within seconds of meeting me."
Anna paused and studied Sam before continuing. "See with Kevin it made more sense." Her voice lowered. "He was seeing a doctor."
Sam leaned in conspiratorially. "Oh?"
"A shrink. Kevin had some problems."
"Do you know the doctor's name?"
"Yeah. Dr. Willard Schroeder. He's got an office on Fourth Street. But he won't talk about it. Doctor-patient confidentiality. Only reason I was even trying was to be able to slant my article differently. Didn't want to write yet another 'young-person-overwhelmed-by-the-pressures-of-college' story. I thought if the poor kid had some serious mental health issues the school should have been more supportive. Kept an eye on him, you know?"
She stopped again. She tended to say all her words in quick gushes and then need to catch her breath. Abruptly she slammed the file drawer. "I'm done," Anna announced. "I just feel like … maybe I'll head to the gym."
Sam was dismissed before he'd even gotten a chance to say goodbye.
Before leaving campus, Sam checked in with Dean via cell. Dean was apparently on hole fifteen of Goofy Golf and had found not one, but two young 'ladies' to play with him. Dean giggled into the phone and said that putt-putt golf ruled. If he didn't know better, Sam would have said Dean was stoned. Except Dean didn't do that.
He hung up smiling affectionately and proceeded to follow up the lead on the psychiatrist.
Sam waited in the Impala until the last lights went out in the doctor's office. A few moments later a middle-aged woman – receptionist, probably – appeared, followed by a portly man with a salt and pepper beard. How very Freudian, Sam thought wryly. When they were out of sight he got to work.
With a name beginning with "B" it didn't take long to find Kevin's file. Sam skimmed it quickly. Bi-polar disorder. Doctor had him on a cocktail of antidepressants. His extremes swung from rooftop highs to suicidal lows. He'd tried to kill himself before but was found in time. Three months ago, he hadn't been so lucky.
The facts were shifting and rearranging in his head with all roads pointing back to the image that never quite disappeared. Dean lifting that gun, barrel to his temple, quick pull of his finger. Brains and bone and blood. White and gray and red splattering like vomit …
He looked back down at the doctor's handwriting, flipped the pages backward. His eyes caught on a note. "Disappointed that Kevin's been skipping his medication." He read on that Kevin had been warned that the manic highs could become addictive in their own way. With the medication it was all evened out. They made the patient, well, normal. Dr. Schroeder noted that Kevin craved the high, was willing to risk the lows to achieve it.
Sam's heart started to accelerate although the picture remained fuzzy. Something was still missing.
Mechanically he returned to the file cabinet and looked under Klein. Nothing. After a moment's hesitation he moved to a lower shelf and looked under Streuss. Oh god. Mindy was a patient. This linked her with Kevin, with all the victims. What was her power? Clearly she wasn't controlling it, didn't even seem to be aware of it. He read her file. Bi-polar disorder. Like Kevin. Felt extreme highs and lows. What could happen if she stopped taking her medication?
Sam thought back to her behavior since they'd met her. Clearly the last time they'd met she was on an upswing. Giddy on life. Nonstop talking, movement. Like Anna had been. His heart stopped. Like Dean. If Mindy's ability was to somehow project her emotions … make people feel what she felt … He sucked in air and dropped into the doctor's swivel chair in a whoosh.
Think, Sam. Work the job. It couldn't be that broad. Everyone would be either bouncing around or blowing their brains out all over town, all over campus. He had met her himself. Why wasn't he affected? Not enough victims. So what caused it? Anna's words. She hugged me within a moment of meeting me. Could it be touch? Samantha had been her best friend, Thad a co-worker … Had she touched Dean that first night at the memorial? He certainly made it clear flirting had been going on.
Sam squeezed the papers in his hand until they started to crumple. He caught himself and stopped cold. He was missing something. A final piece. He left Doctor Schroeder's office and drove to Samantha Klein's home. She was the last to die. She had to be the last to die.
Mrs. Klein eyed him warily but her father stepped aside right away and let him in. They accepted his cover of being a school friend. He turned on the sad face and lowered his voice and asked soulfully if they would let him spend just a few moments in her room to say goodbye.
They caved. Sam knew he was good. Dean always said his puppy dog eyes would melt ice trapped in an iceberg. He shook thoughts of Dean away and quickly went upstairs. Dean's weapon was in the Impala's trunk. It gave him some degree of comfort.
Samantha's room was little girl pink and fairy tale pretty. The bed was neatly made. Stuffed animals perched on top as if waiting for their owner's return. He approached her desk and looked at the books lining the small hutch that topped it. Mostly school books from high school. A flowered spine caught his eye. He pulled the journal out and allowed himself only a minute of guilt before quickly thumbing it open.
Her handwriting was swirly and princess-like, just like her room. Most passages were about shopping and other friends and the prom. He skimmed a bunch and nearly blew past the page with the darker ink stains. The crudely drawn crosses broke across the pink paper like an army attacking a bubble gum plain. Words surrounded her images, written up and down and sideways. Dark, dreary and aching with pain. Thoughts of death. Sam flipped ahead. More of the depressed notes intersected the sugar plum existence.
It wasn't everyone that Mindy knew that she could unconsciously influence, or even everyone that Mindy touched. They needed to have the potential … to have the possibility of taking their own lives. To have a place hidden in their soul that couldn't see the worth of their future. The value of their own life.
But that meant Dean … Sam wanted to deny. Wanted to say impossible more than he'd ever wanted to say anything. Dean loved life. Seized every day. Except. His mind took him back to last November. To the one that 'got away'. To Crater Lake and an oddly empty town and another vision.
In that hideous instant when both he and his brother thought that Sam was infected with the Croatoan virus Sam knew, had always known, that they were both not getting out of there alive.
Dean, I'm sick. It's over for me. It doesn't have to be for you.
No, you can keep going.
Who says I want to?
And there it was. Five words. The journal dropped to the floor. For a moment Sam stood paralyzed before pulling out his cell. Dean didn't pick up. Sam left a composed message, didn't want to set his brother off. Sam willed his heart to slow down. Dean not answering didn't have to mean anything. Could be out of charge. Maybe he was somewhere the signal wasn't picking up.
He flew out of the Klein's home.
The motel room was empty. Every instinct in Sam screamed to tear out of there and find his brother. But Dean could have gone anywhere. So if Sam really wanted to make sure nobody else died, then there was someone else he had to see.
He caught up with Mindy as she was leaving the University Library. Her steps were slow, not skip-light as they had been only this morning. His heart immediately plummeted.
She looked up slowly. Every movement seemed deliberate and hard. "Hey, Sam."
He fell into step with her. "How are you doin'?"
She dropped her gaze, looked like it was too much effort to simply keep her head tilted up to see him. "Okay."
"You don't seem okay."
She sank into a nearby bench. Put her hands over her eyes. "It's just hard. So senseless what happened with Sam. Shoulda been … "
Her breath hitched as she swallowed down a sigh.
Oh god. Sam fought to keep the hysteria from his voice. "Don't say that. Think that. It feels dark now, but it'll change." He reached into his pocket and dialed Dean again. Voicemail. He looked at the crying woman next to him and made a split second decision. Even if he got her to take her medication right now it wouldn't do anything, it needed to build up.
"Mindy, please listen to me. I know you cared about your friends. Samantha and Thad and Kevin."
"How did you-?"
"Never mind how. You … I know this will sound crazy. But you have to listen to me. Your emotions, they … they're bleeding out … making other people feel them, too."
She stared up at him, eyes wet and wide. "What?"
He took a deep breath. "A year and a half ago I started having these dreams. Visions. And sometimes they came true. Since then I've met others like myself, who have experienced new … mental abilities … starting at the same time. I think your ability is to transmit how you feel. But not to everyone. First, I think it has to be someone you physically touch. And second … that person has to also have had … thoughts of death."
Mindy rose. "You're crazy."
He reached out to stop her but then caught himself before connecting. He blocked her path anyway, using his size as an advantage. "I know how it sounds. But my brother, Dean … Did you touch him?"
She rose her head to meet his eyes. "At the memorial … I gave him a hug … he seemed so sad to hear of Sam's death, and he was so sweet."
Sam willed her to listen. "Please Mindy. Come with me. We need to find Dean. I think he's about to do something really stupid." Sam felt like kicking himself thinking that simply taking away the one weapon Dean handed him would be enough. Since when did Dean carry so light?
"But what can I do?"
He looked at her sad face. "Be happy."
About to steer Mindy toward the Impala, Sam stopped at another thought. Anna. She'd been manic earlier, too. But Dean … Sam needed to be two people to do this. But there was only one of him. Civilians first. Dean was strong, he would hold out.
Anna had said she was going to the gym. That had been a couple hours ago, but it was the best lead he had.
"Mindy, is there a gym on campus the students use?"
A very puzzled 'yes.'
"We need to go there right now."
Of course it was an old labyrinth of a building. There wasn't time … If he were suicidal, where would he hole up?
"Girls' locker room, let's check there first." Sam let Mindy go in first but was right behind her to hear the gasp of "Oh my god!"
Anna was collapsed in a pile of vomit on the bathroom floor, an empty pill bottle lying next to her outstretched hand.
"Call 911!" Sam threw his phone at Mindy as he checked to see if Anna was still alive. Miraculously, she was. He grabbed some paper towels from the dispenser, wet them, and started to wipe her face, fiercely ordering her to keep breathing.
It was probably only five minutes till the ambulance arrived. It just felt like five hours.
As soon as the paramedics walked in Sam gestured for Mindy to come with him and they bailed.
He had to get to Dean.
The motel manager confirmed that Dean'd returned. Sam slipped his key in the lock. "Dean."
The room looked empty but then a noise from the bathroom caught Sam's attention. "Dean!" he called louder.
His brother didn't answer. "C'mon, man, I know you're in there. Talk to me. What's going on?"
After another eternity of silence Dean replied in a voice so weary Sam would have sworn his brother hadn't slept for a week. "Let it be, Sam."
"Was always more of a Lennon fan, Dean. C'mon out."
The door opened and Dean stood there slackly, a revolver hanging from his right hand. He looked quickly to Mindy. "What's she doin' here?"
Her eyes widened as they scanned down Dean's body and focused on the weapon. For a moment her eyes looked wistful. In an almost hush she said, "It would be so easy."
Dean met her eyes. "Yeah, right? One second and all your crap disappears." He let out a mirthless chuckle. "Or maybe that's all that's left."
Sam looked between them, fighting the looking-glass feeling threatening to suck them all in. "Dean. It's Mindy. She touches someone and then they feel what she feels. And Mindy's been off her medication."
She turned to look accusingly at Sam. "How do you know that?"
"I know plenty. The drugs take away your highs, don't they? And you didn't like that so you quit them and took your chances you'd live through your depressive state till you got manic again?" His voice was raised and he swallowed hard and tried to force himself to relax. "Except it wasn't you that carried through with the death fantasies, was it? Mindy you know. Deep down you know what you've been doing. We all know it. We can feel it. It's different, the power. It pulses through you."
Dean was staring at Sam guardedly now and Sam knew his brother didn't want to hear this. Didn't want to know just how different. How other Sam was. But he had to reach Mindy. Get her in control, calm, neutral, so Dean would relax.
Dean twisted away, facing the back wall of the room. He raised his left hand and gave his mouth a familiar swipe, Sam recognized the gesture of uncertainty even though he faced Dean's back.
"See, it's this … I can't anymore, Sam. I just can't. There's always going to be one more thing. One more special kid. One more power. Until eventually … what Dad said. What he asked … what you asked … I can't do it."
Mindy began sobbing.
Oh god, it was all coming apart and Sam didn't know what to do. He looked at Mindy, not touching her but getting closer. "Please. You have to calm down. Does … does anything help? Do you have your medication with you?"
She nodded yes and started to dig in her purse. "It doesn't work that fast. I need to take it every day. It'll start to take effect in about a week. Takes that long to … He isn't … he isn't going to really … ?"
Sam's brows drew closer as he took in Dean's stiff back. "Dean, I'm just getting Mindy some water from the bathroom, okay? Don't do anything."
The gun still was clutched tightly in his brother's motionless hand. Sam knew he had to get it away from Dean.
"Here, Mindy," Sam handed her the cup and she swallowed the pills she'd found. "Now just sit down and … and think calm thoughts. That everything will be okay."
She nodded and sank on the edge of the bed.
Now came the delicate part. Sam addressed his brother's back in his most empathetic voice. "Dean. I know it feels hopeless. But we'll be okay. I promise. I need you to give me your gun now." Sam took a cautious step forward.
Dean leapt back and spun simultaneously. Sam always admired the way Dean could move with feline grace. And he would have stopped to appreciate it now if his brother wasn't about to blow his freakin' brains out. Dean cradled the revolver to his chest with both hands.
"Tired Sam. Tired of this job. Tired of … my life. Tired of … "
"Me?" Sam interrupted. "It's okay. You can say it. I get it, I do. What Dad put on you … but this isn't the answer. It's not our way, man. This isn't you, Dean. She's influencing—"
"She's not!" Dean bellowed. "I feel this, Sammy, I feel this every single day."
The admission cost Dean and he sank like a stone onto the other bed. Sam watched as Dean's eyes landed on the gun, staring at it as one would a beautiful artifact, his eyes hungry.
Mindy's clear voice surprised them both. "So you are feeling this. I don't believe whatever I'm doing is powerful enough to give you feelings you never had. But even if you did already have them … it doesn't mean you can't fight it. I do. I fight it every day. Even when I'm feeling good they're still there, underneath, slicing at me bit by bit, daring me to succumb. You can't. You hear me. You can't." She started crying again.
Dean looked up at Sam. "I'm sorry." In a move imperceptibly quick Dean lifted the gun, put the barrel to his temple.
"NO!" Sam yelled, diving at Dean as Dean's finger started to caress the trigger.
Sam's leap shoved Dean onto his back but Dean kept the gun steady against his head. Sam sprawled across his brother's body, he could feel the counterpoint of Dean's heartbeat shuddering against his own. He wanted to grab at Dean's arm, try to knock the gun away, but couldn't risk it. Dean would pull the trigger before Sam could stop him. This stalemate was life or death. Dean didn't value his own life so Sam had to threaten a life Dean did value.
Sam tucked his jaw in the crook of Dean's neck and breathed into Dean's ear. "Pull the trigger and you'll take me, too." He felt Dean shudder beneath him. "I'll pick up the gun and take myself out before your heart stops."
Dean uttered a broken no and pulled back hard at this. Sam lifted up slightly but kept Dean pinned. He met his brother's daring eyes hard. "You heard me," he repeated. "I gotta save this one, Dean. Nobody dies or we both do."
The only sounds were Mindy's quick little breaths. An eternity passed as Sam watched Dean measure Sam's words.
Neither Sam nor Dean drew oxygen until Dean slowly dropped the gun onto the bed.
Sam exhaled and sat up. Dean followed suit, knuckles gripping his knees, eyes shut and face immeasurably aged. Sam reached behind Dean for the gun and immediately withdrew the bullets from the chamber, pocketing them. He wanted nothing more than to reach over, to yell 'don't you ever scare me like that again' and to hold his brother and not let go but …
"Sam?" A hesitant whisper.
"It's okay. He's all right. But please … you have to take your medication every day as prescribed. It's not just for you. But you need to take it to keep everyone around you safe, do you understand? I can't explain why this happened to you. To me. To any of us. When I know, I'll call you. I'll try to help. But until then you have to be careful. Be steady. Promise me."
She looked back up at him, tears still tracking her cheeks but she forced a tiny grin upon her lips. "I will. I won't hurt anyone again. I promise. After … when things are normal again … will I be able to touch people? I don't think I could stand it if … "
"I think so," Sam said quickly. "Once your emotions are in check it should be fine. It's only the extremes that were causing … "
This time Mindy was able to let out a smile. "Yeah. They were causing me trouble, too." Mindy looked at Dean who had released his death grip on his knees and was looking up at her with brightening eyes. "You going to be okay?" she asked, her own eyes showing ever more spark.
Dean looked at her squarely. "Wasn't your fault, Mindy." They both stood and Dean gave her a quick hug. At Sam's startled gasp Dean muttered, "What? I'm already under her spell." He turned back to Mindy, green eyes bouncing back with a trademark Dean Winchester twinkle. "Ain't that right, sweetheart?"
Mindy blushed and giggled. Sam could only stare.
They drove her home and waited until she was safely inside. Sam turned to Dean but could tell by the set of his jaw it was much too soon to say anything.
They stopped for dinner, eating quietly and efficiently.
Sam showered upon returning to the motel and came out to find Dean peering at Sam's laptop. Sam took a deep breath and spoke what had to be said. "For the next week or so I'm gonna ask you not to keep any weapons on you."
"Yes, mother," Dean said, but the jibe had no bite.
Sam took the seat opposite Dean, tipping the too-small chair on it back legs to give his legs some space to stretch. "We gonna talk about this?"
Dean kept his eyes on the monitor for a long spell before finally looking up. " 'S nothing to talk about. She had powers. I got caught. She'll take her meds and all will be normal."
Sam considered his next words carefully. "She didn't put the idea in your head. Her feelings … they only amplified what was already there."
"So? You're thinking about ending it all? Thinking about dying!"
Sam blinked. "What?"
"Aren't you, Sammy? How long we been doin' this? Since I was four and you were six months old? Other kids are sledding, we're chasing black dogs down snow hills. Other people drop out of school because they're lazy do-nothings, your goddamn life explodes because you want to go to college. Other people's parents die. They just die. Our dad … he's the blue plate special at the devil's diner. So, yeah, I think about it. Checking out? Letting it go. Giving all this up? Wouldn't be sane if I didn't think about it."
It was the matter-of-factness in Dean's voice that felt like a punch to the gut.
Sam sucked air into his suddenly empty lungs. He met Dean's green stare until it turned warm and swallowed him whole. Yeah, their lives were crap. That was nothing but fact. Another fact was that Sam wouldn't still be breathing if not for the man across from him.
"We good?" Dean asked softly.
Sam's lips twitched up as his mind resigned to the fact that all that was going to be said about this had just been spoken. He nodded. After another minute Sam asked, "Whatcha got?" pointing to the screen Dean seemed so interested in.
"Article from a California paper." Dean's eyes gleamed. "Weird sighting."
"Said they saw a werewolf."
Sam laughed. "C'mon, Dean. Every time you read one of those you send us on a wild goose chase. They never pan out to anything. Werewolves probably aren't even real."
His brother looked offended. "Are, too, real. Saw one when I was a kid. Dad was … " Sam twitched. He'd heard this story about a million times. Dean sneered back but his eyes were dancing.
Sam rose and pulled his duffel out from under the bed, he turned to catch Dean's open-mouth stare. "Well then. Guess we're heading west."