Disclaimer- I don't own Supernatural that privilege belongs to the CW, Kripke and Co. I'm simply borrowing them for a while but I promise I'll give them back when I'm finished but all the rest is mine. Also I'm making no profit, its just for fun and all standard disclaimers apply.
Summary – Season one. There's no such thing as a simple hunt. Unfortunately for Dean, he learns that the hard way. Plenty of hurt boys!
Thank you - To the fabulous Scullspeare and Harrigan who waved their magic beta wands over this. Your time, input and support is priceless and I'm a very lucky girl to have you both in my corner.
A/N - This fic has been through one major facelift and countless re-writes and edits so any mistakes are all mine. I'll give you a warning for Dean's bad language, a little blood and limited medical knowledge. Here we go and I hope you all enjoy!
He shivered, the slowing rain tickling his bare arms as he clung tightly to his brother. Sam's arm was hanging loosely over his brother's aching shoulders, rain dripping off his fingers and sliding down Dean's chilled skin.
"Sam?" Dean asked, his fingers winding tighter around the belt loops of Sam's jeans, pulling him closer to his hip. Frowning at the silence, Dean jostled his arm gently and watched as Sam's head bounced loosely, a grunt rolling over a fat and bloodied lip. "Sammy? You in there?"
"Yeah," Sam slurred, sawing out breaths into Dean's ear, his footsteps getting more clumsy and unco-ordinated with each wrong turn Dean took.
"Stay awake, OK?"
Scanning the perimeter, Dean looked for a light, a road, for sounds of life in this tangled network of dark alleyways. Stopping dead in his tracks, Dean stared at the large warehouse door to his left, the security light clicking on, throwing long shadows across Sam's bruised face.
Squinting against the harsh light, Dean fisted his free right hand and pounded on the metal door, the cuts on his knuckles re-opening, bloody rivulets of water streaming down his hand.
"Hello?" Dean yelled, his voice echoing down the bricked walls of the alley.
Dean kept knocking, even when Sam's arm slipped off his shoulders. "Is anyone there?"
The metal cap of Dean's boot collided with the door, once and then twice, the metal shaking and rattling down his eardrum, spiking his already pounding head.
Swiping his palm over the water running down his face, Dean took a shaky breath. "Please."
The answering silence was deafening.
Glancing over his shoulder, Dean looked at Sam. Wet strands of hair were plastered to his forehead and his face was swollen and alarmingly pale in the brightness of the security light. But it was the blood that caught Dean's eye, having saturated through the jacket he was using as a makeshift bandage, Sam's shirt and jeans were now slicked with crimson; Dean's too.
Dean had two choices, turn left or right. Maybe one would lead him to a car he could hotwire or a phone he could use to call for help. Or maybe, they'd end up back where they started, lost in this labyrinth of alleyways.
Taking a deep breath, Dean chose left for no other reason than it was marginally closer. Wincing at his swollen knee, Dean heard Sam groan as they took their first step, his growing weight straining Dean's arms as muscles spasmed and bunched.
"We there?" Sam rasped, his breath hot in Dean's ear.
"Almost," Dean said, his eyes flicking from his brother's face to the empty alley. "Not far now."
24 Hours Earlier
"He killed himself, bullet to the head," she said, tucking an errant strand of dark hair behind her right ear. "Well that's what I heard. He's kind of a local legend. It was a huge deal back then, got on the news and everything."
"Really," Dean replied, grinning as he leaned further over the reception desk, appreciating the view, given how tight her shirt was. "What else might you have heard?"
Looking over her shoulder, she moved closer to Dean, her perfume filling his nostrils. "Well," she whispered, "he was stealing money from the company. Hiding it in fake accounts and pocketing it himself. It went on for years before the company found out what he was doing."
"So, what about the girl? Your co-worker?"
Her smile faded at that, eyes dropping down from his gaze. "Andie? She's okay. Shook up and everything but they released her yesterday. The company took care of everything: hospital bills and time off work."
"And they don't know who attacked her?" Dean asked because screw Sam, this definitely sounded like a case to him.
"No, they're clueless. Cops questioned a few people but no one's been arrested," she said sadly. "The company won't let anyone in that office now. Afraid of a lawsuit I guess. Not that it really matters. It's basically just been used for storage since McMillan…well, you know."
Yeah, Dean did know. Suicide had that kind of effect on people.
Scanning the room, he looked up to his left at the security camera that was peering down at them. "Didn't the cameras get anything?"
The receptionist chewed on her heavily glossed lower lip, her eyes scanning the room as she whispered, "No, they aren't turned on. Budget cuts."
"Thank you for your time," Dean said. "It's been a pleasure."
She smiled coyly, her cheeks flushing a hot pink. "You're welcome." She jotted down a few numbers on the back of a company business card, and slid it toward him. "If you need anything else, give me a call."
Dean flashed her a million watt smile as he turned to leave, feeling her eyes on him as he left the building. Walking around the corner he pulled open the Impala's door with a squeak of the hinge.
Seated in the passenger seat, Sam looked up from the laptop. "I'm guessing you got what you came for."
"Yep," Dean replied, waggling his eyebrows suggestively as he twisted the red-inked phone number between his fingers. "That and plenty more."
"You're like a cat in heat," Sam huffed. "So, what did she say?"
"Some guy, McMillan, ate a bullet in his office after getting caught embezzling a ton of money. The exact same office that girl was attacked in." Dean slipped the key into the ignition. "And I forgive you."
Sam scoffed. "For what?"
"For doubting me. I told you this was our kind of gig. You need to have a little more faith, Sammy boy. Big brothers are always right."
"Always," Dean said, a smile curling his lips as he started the engine. "What did you and your geek brain come up with?"
"Four cases of violent and unprovoked attacks over the last ten years. All of them in the storage room."
"AKA McMillan's old office," Dean said, frowning. "So… an angry spirit protecting his territory?"
"Sure looks like it," Sam said, closing the lid of the laptop and shoving it back into his bag.
Dean spun the wheel as they sped around a corner. "Any clues where this McMillan guy is buried?"
"Dude, you just now told me his name."
"So." Dean shrugged. "Look it up."
Sam grinned and Dean knew immediately that he wasn't going to like what was coming. "Most of the older newspapers are on archive in the library, death records too. Library closed twenty minutes ago."
"Of course it did," Dean said flatly as he searched for a vacancy sign, noting how the streets seems quieter, the buildings older, the bars seedier. Wrong side of the tracks or not, a motel here was in their price range.
"I got a better idea. You up for a little office recon, Sammy?" Dean said as he steered off the road, following the neon flashing sign that read Rest Easy.
"Sure it is."
Sam's brow creased, the furrows deepening with each word. "Office recon? Why don't I like the sound of that."
"This is a stupid idea," Sam muttered as he waggled his Bowie knife under the latch of the wooden window sash.
"Dude, chill. Who twisted your panties this morning?" Dean shone the flashlights beam into Sam's face, smirking as Sam shied away from the glare.
"Nice, Dean. Real nice." The latch slid open and Sam yanked out the knife. "There's at least two security cameras looking at us right now, y'know."
"Relax, I've got us covered," Dean said, the receptionist's words from earlier in the day fuelling a grin. Choosing not to share his intel with his brother, he shoved Sam aside and pulled open the window, going head first into the first floor office.
"Tell me you at least have a plan."
"Don't I always?" Dean straightened up, knocking dust and dirt from his jeans.
Sam's sigh of disapproval was ignored as Dean surveyed the room.
The place was a dump. Literally. From his first glance Dean counted half a dozen ancient and bulky computer monitors, not to mention the mound of dead printers and toner cartridges. The wide beam of the flashlight highlighted mountains of boxes of old paperwork, stacked from floor to ceiling and old chairs and desks that had been dumped. The whole room was covered in what looked like a good inch of dust and grime.
They were going to be stuck here for hours, maybe even days.
And just like that, all the fun had been sucked dry from this hunt.
Behind him Dean heard Sam flick on the EMF meter, his footsteps nearly silent to the untrained ear as he scanned the room. Sighing heavily, Dean wandered through the room, the flashlight's beam highlighting yet more boxes. "Here ghosty ghosty. Come out, come out wherever you are."
The high-pitched screech of the EMF meter startled Dean, his shotgun raised and ready to fire as he whipped his head around in search of a threat. "Damn, that ghost call hardly ever works."
Shining the flashlight around the room, the beam fell on Sam at the back of office, crouched down on his haunches, the EMF clutched firmly in this right hand as he scanned a stack of boxes. "I got something."
Dean crossed the room, holding the shot-gun steady as Sam turned around, his eyes catching Dean's as they each nodded. Sam stood on his tip toes, long arms stretched high above his head as he started to un-stack the pile of boxes.
Having a beanpole for a brother did have its perks.
As soon as Sam's fingers grazed along the second to last box, Dean's ears were blasted with the shrill scream of the EMF meter lying at Sam's feet.
"Cover me!" Dean elbowed Sam aside, flipping off the cardboard lid.
Immediately, Dean felt the temperature in the office take a serious nose-dive, as it pulled a full-body shiver down the centre of his spine. He didn't need to see the lights flare on the EMF, nor hear the shriek to know that they had company.
"Yeah, I got the message." Dean eyed the contents of the box suspiciously. Files, oh joy. But there was something else, a glimpse of black amongst all the once white and now faded yellow papers.
He felt Sam step closer, a hand on his shoulder as he was guided to something just below the cardboard storage box, his brother's voice a concerned whisper in his ear. "Is that what I think it is?"
It took Dean a second to see it, for his eyes to adjust from the harshness of the light to the dense shadows that surrounded the flashlight's beam. A thick stream of black sludge seeped out from the bottom of the box as it crawled a lazy path down towards the floor. Reaching out his index finger, Dean poked at the sticky substance, taking a wary sniff.
"Ectoplasm?" Sam asked, his breath tickling the hairs on Dean's neck as he shuffled closer.
"Yeah." Dean wiped the goo off his finger and onto his jeans. "We've got ourselves one seriously pissed off spirit."
This wasn't what Dean had hoped for. He'd wanted a nice straightforward haunting, something that included a lot of lighter fluid and plenty of grave digging for Sam. Not some juiced up spirit who leaked ectoplasm all over the joint.
Dean turned his attention back to the storage box and its contents. Just as his fingers grazed the tip of black leather, the EMF screeched and Sam barreled into his back, his bony elbows and knees striking Dean in all sorts of uncomfortable places as they hit a stack of boxes before tumbling to the floor.
"What the hell, Sam?" Dean shouted as he untangled himself from his brother's gangly limbs. Sam was all wide eyed, looking at something over Dean's shoulder as his hands blindly searched for the shotgun.
Turning his head Dean caught a glimpse of a suited businessman, pinstriped tie and polished shoes. His right eye was missing, the hole in his head gaping, flesh and bone visible through the river of blood that ran down his face and suit. He felt Sam shift next to him before a storage box flew towards them clipping the side of Dean's head as a flood of papers and files rained down into his lap.
The shotgun blast was like music to his ears. Then Sam's concerned face filled his vision, lips speaking muffled words that he couldn't quite hear but got the gist of. Large hands encircled his arms, gently pulling him to his feet as the world around him spun.
Lying among the paper debris, a black book caught Dean's eye. As Sam helped him up, Dean snagged it and shoved it in his pocket.
Once upright, his vision still a little whacked, Dean watched a blurry Sam shoot the suited ghost full of rock-salt before it even had a chance to fully materialize.
Then Sam was shoving him out the window and back to the Impala. Once the fresh air smacked into his face, Dean shoved Sam's helping hands out of the way before reaching for the car keys.
Sam snatched them right back. "No way you're driving."
"I'm fine," Dean said, gingerly prodding the dent in his skull.
"Sure you are," Sam replied sarcastically as he opened the driver's door and slid in. "I'm sure that spaced out look is just for show."
Dean would've argued but in all honesty he was tired and bruised. And when his head felt this bad, it was usually because he'd had a night of pool, beer and body shots.
"You okay?" Sam asked, taking his eyes off the road for a moment to look across his shoulder. He raised his right hand, frowning. "How many fingers?"
"No idea. But I can see at least four hands," Dean said as he poked his head again.
"Quit touching it," Sam huffed as he pulled into the motel's parking lot, killing the engine and pulling the keys from the ignition.
Dean pushed his door open, gripping the frame as the world around him wheeled out of control. He could sense more than see Sam's hovering presence over his shoulder.
"I'm fine," Dean snapped as he pushed himself from the door's support, a dense cloud of white smearing across his vision as his ears rang shrilly, the noise getting steadily sharper like it was echoing down a never ending tunnel.
He felt a hand wrap around his bicep, another around his waist as he waited for his brain to figure out which way was up and which was down.
He heard Sam mutter something about taking it easy but Dean didn't really pay much attention after that. It was taking nearly everything he had to just stay on his feet and not hurl all over his shirt.
Finally, he felt the edge of the bed smack the back of his calves, his legs folding as he sank into the mattress. Blinking the haze away, he saw Sam leave the room, heard him open and close the trunk before slamming the motel door closed and dumping the first aid kit on the bed.
Dean was a bad patient at the best of times but, as usual, he let Sam play doctor. He suffered through the litany of questions and co-ordination and balance checks, only protesting when Sam prodded his head and shone that damn light in his eyes.
Thankfully, he escaped stitches but even the handful of pills he was fed didn't take the edge off his headache. It felt like someone had cracked his skull open with a crow bar.
Realistically he knew it wasn't that bad because the last time that had happened, he'd been in hospital for a week. But still, Sam must be pretty freaked because he didn't turn on the lights, just cracked open the bathroom door. And he didn't bitch once when he had to make an ice pack out of a pillowcase because Dean had used the last one from the first aid kit to cool his beer the week before.
He dozed as Sam fiddled with the thermostat, feeling him hover over his bed before a glass of water was set down on the nightstand.
"Get some sleep, Dean."
"Really? More Tylenol?" Sam asked as he dumped a pile of dusty library books onto the motel's wobbly dining table. His brow furrowed. "You okay?"
Dean looked up at his brother, more than a little shocked to see him. He hadn't even heard the key turn in the lock. "Peachy," he said, plastering on a fake grin as he tossed the pills onto his tongue, chasing them down with a generous slurp of his now lukewarm coffee. "You find anything?"
"Yeah, and that's the problem," Sam said as he flicked through a stack of photocopies. "There's too much. Practically every newspaper article ever written has something on McMillan."
"That receptionist said he was a bit of local legend."
Sam sighed, unpacking yet more papers, spreading them out onto the chipped tabletop. "You want the bad news or the really bad news?"
"How about neither," Dean replied, picking up a handful of photocopied newspaper articles. Some sections were highlighted, others had scribbled notes in the margins.
"McMillan was cremated," Sam said as he sank down heavily onto the chair. "There's no bones to burn and he had at least two properties from what I've dug up so far and that excludes his office space. I have no clue what's keeping him here and no idea where to look for it."
"You getting a little rusty there, college boy?" Dean skimmed over an article that estimated the amount of money that McMillan had embezzled. No one knew for sure as no definitive proof had ever been found.
The idea went through the fog in his brain like an electroshock. "You seen my jacket?" Dean asked, pushing himself to his feet, eyes scanning the room.
"It's here." Sam unhooked the jacket from behind the back of his chair. "What's going on?"
"I swiped a book from McMillan's office," Dean said, grabbing the coat. "From that storage box with all the ectoplasm."
"And you didn't think to tell me that before?"
Dean shrugged as he dove into the pocket and pulled out the book. "Guess I forgot. Sue me."
The black leather cover was scuffed in places, the pages curled and yellowed with age. Flicking through, Dean saw neatly written series of numbers, lines and columns, all of which spoke of confidence, of someone who knew exactly what they doing: Breaking the law.
"We got ourselves the smoking gun," Dean said. "It was never about his office. It was about anyone getting close to the ledger. The only proof of how much McMillan stole."
Tossing the ledger onto the table so Sam could examine its contents, Dean felt a shiver bolt down his spine, electrifying the hairs at the base of his neck.
He opened his mouth to warn Sam that they had company but the air was suddenly sucked out of his lungs. Rocking back on his heels, Dean felt a pushing sensation and then something with the force of a sledgehammer slammed into him and a wave of darkness rolled across his vision.
If his brother screamed his name he didn't hear it. Nor did he feel a large hand try to stop his descent. In fact he didn't feel himself hit the ground at all. All there was was falling. A sinking feeling, as the world around him collapsed in on itself and a torrent of ice spread from his chest to the tips of his fingernails.
"Give it to me."
The words were spoken through fuzzy static, broken and hard to identify. But the tone that floated through the velvet surrounding him was familiar.
"I don't have it."
Sam's voice, that much Dean did know. That and Sam sounded pissed and worried. Potentially a lethal combination when your surname was Winchester.
Something was going down and Sam needed backup. The problem was Dean wasn't feeling too hot. He felt… wrong, like something important was missing. It was then that Dean noticed that he couldn't feel his body. He couldn't flex a muscle, not even a small one. He felt a distant tingling sensation and as panic set in, he wrestled against the feeling and pushed harder against the inky blackness…
…only to see his tightly fisted right hand strike his brother squarely in the jaw. Sam's neck snapped to the left, his head cracking against the wall, chunks of plaster raining down onto the faded carpet tiles.
Dean didn't feel himself take a step forward, but he watched himself do it. He saw Sam struggling to regain his footing, his hands clinging into the holes in the plaster as he tried to haul himself up onto unsteady legs.
"I don't want to hurt you," Sam grunted as he straightened to his full height, swiping a sleeve across his bloody lips.
"Give it to me. It's mine." This time, Dean recognized the voice: it was his own. If Dean hadn't been freaked out before, he sure as hell was now. It was his voice, but he wasn't the one saying those words.
The next thing he knew he was charging at his brother. His clenched fists struck Sam once and then twice, blood and spittle running down his brother's chin and soaking into the collar of his shirt.
He plowed a vicious punch into Sam's stomach and Dean heard his brother gasp as air rushed out of his lungs with a pained whistle before Sam raised his left arm to deflect a right hook.
But no matter how hard the hits came or how dirty some of the moves were, Sam refused to fight back. And as his blows rained down again and again onto his brother, Dean's anger at Sam grew. Fight back, damn you! Stop me!
But Sam just kept trying to back away.
Dean hurled himself towards his brother, their midsection's colliding as Sam was thrown back-first through the yellow Formica table even as Dean struggled to regain control over his body, his actions.
"I'll burn it," Sam gasped, his left arm cradling his ribs as he rolled over and sat up, his bloodied lips pinched.
Dean barely had time to blink before he was standing, his eyes sighting down the barrel of his .45, shooting arm outstretched and pointing at Sam. A streak of blood slid down Sam's eyebrow, his right hand rummaging through the debris of the broken table, shoving papers and pieces of porcelain aside.
He saw Sam's hand wrap around a black leather ledger, his left hand digging out what looked like a book of matches from his pocket, his expression changing from trying to reason with him to a look of fierce determination.
And then Dean heard his own voice scream as his finger pulled the trigger, the bullet tearing through the air towards his brother.
Sam tried to throw his body to the left, wanting to remove himself from the bullet's path. But as fast as Sam was, it wasn't enough and he'd barely moved when the bullet hit him in the stomach.
As Dean's shooting arm lowered, Sam's leg struck out, catching Dean behind his knees. Losing his balance Dean crashed to the floor, not feeling the hit or even the fall as the gun skittered across the carpet.
Dean wanted to see Sam, to see how much damage the bullet had done. But all he got was a face full of dirty carpet and a close up of a thick black substance that his hand swept away from under his nose.
No matter what he did, he couldn't seem to claw his way to the surface. The sense of detachment, the missing chunks of time and Sam's reluctance to fight back. Oh yeah. Spirit possessions were a bitch.
Dean watched numbly as his hand curled around the butt of the gun as he whipped around, firing another shot. This one skimmed past Sam's head just as he tossed a lit match onto the ledger, the flames blossoming as they licked the leather cover.
The pain was instantaneous, spiking and jabbing at his grey matter and all he could feel was an overwhelming urge to flee, to escape from it all. But his awareness was slipping, tumbling into the encroaching blackness as his body staggered out of the motel room and into the pouring rain.
Dean was running down a dark alley. Not so unusual given his line in work, but having no clue why was certainly something new.
He remembered the motel, the office recon and the half bottle of Tylenol he'd downed. The headache from the night before was still pounding his skull. But he had clue how he got from the motel room to the alley, his last solid memory was Sam returning with the library books, everything in-between was a complete blank.
Rain was smacking against his face, his t-shirt clinging to his body like a second skin and he was clutching his .45 in a vice-like grip. As his weary legs pumped against the broken asphalt, his right knee mysteriously screeched at him like a banshee.
He wanted to stop running, to make sense of it all, but his legs kept moving. Whether it was instinct or not Dean knew better than to question these sorts of feelings; the sort that had taken a lifetime of hunting to hard-wire into his very being.
He ran around a tipped over dumpster, his lungs burning as the cold crystallized his breath into white clouds. Casting a glance over his shoulder, he saw nothing. But the footsteps echoing down the confined space of the alley told a different story.
He wasn't alone. Someone or something was on his tail.
Dean launched into a sprint and took a sharp turn to the right. Stopping dead in his tracks, he flattened his back against the sturdy brickwork, standing poker straight as he tried to control his erratic breathing. Turning his head to the left, his cheek mashing into the wall, he tried to blink the rain out of his eyes.
With numb fingers Dean checked the magazine of his .45, catching it expertly as it landed in his palm. Normal rounds, not silver or consecrated iron. But two were missing. It took a lot to ring Dean's internal alarm bells and right now they were deafening him.
He'd checked the clip earlier back at the motel and it was fully loaded. So how the hell was he now missing two rounds?
Shaking his head Dean shoved the magazine back into the butt of the gun with the heel of his hand. Clicking off the safety, he wrapped both hands around the ivory handle, trying to ignore the sight of his cracked and bloody knuckles. Yet another mystery to add to his collection.
And then, like a sucker punch it hit him. Cursing under his breath, Dean quickly skimmed a hand over the pockets of sodden jeans. Nothing. No wallet, no keys and more importantly, no cell phone, therefore no back up from Sam.
"Damn." Dean muttered as a noise caught his attention, his finger hovering over the trigger. Lazy, unco-ordinated footsteps were heading his way. He could hear the soft soles of sneakered feet stumble across the crumbling asphalt and the scrape of material scratching along a brick wall.
Definitely something corporeal. But human? Only time would tell.
Holding his breath, Dean's body stilled as he waited to pounce. The rain was falling slower now, in a soft patter against his bare arms. His heartbeat sounded too loud to his trained ears and his skin prickled with anticipation. Pushing his energy to the tips of his toes, Dean charged around corner, holding the gun outstretched in his arms.
Hurling himself forward he was only slightly surprised to see a solid human figure fly in a whirl of arms and wet material. Gathering a fist full of soaked jacket, Dean aimed the muzzle of his gun at the guy's forehead as he squinted through the darkness of the alley.
One word. One whispered and breathless word was all it took for Dean to want to hurl all over his boots.
"Sammy? What the hell?" Lowering the .45, Dean tucked it safely into the small of his back as he stared into his brother's seeking eyes.
Sam blinked heavily, his brow creasing as he studied Dean's face closely. A beat later and Sam's face relaxed, the tension seeping away from his battered features.
"Dean," Sam choked out, a relieved smile twisting his lips as his body sagged into Dean's grip.
Stumbling, Dean re-arranged his hold on Sam's jacket as he tried frantically to support their combined weight but Sam's responding yelp of pain caught him completely off guard and before he could do anything to stop it, they were both sinking to the ground.
Propping Sam up against the nearby wall, Dean scooted nearer, feeling the sting on his kneecaps as they scraped across the rough asphalt below. "Sam?"
Huddling over his brother, sheltering him as best he could from the slowing rain, Dean stared in disbelief at the sight in front of him.
Blood. It was everywhere.
Dean moved on auto pilot as he shoved material aside and hastily tore at cotton, barely feeling the grazes on his knuckles as old and new cuts were ravaged open. Running icy hands over his brother's torso, Dean began searching for the cause of the blood as he tried to feel rather than see his way through it.
His hands had barely made contact with the fleshy wound on his brother's lower right stomach before Sam's breath hitched deep in his throat and he jerked forward, colliding with Dean's hands.
"What the hell were you thinking, Sam? Following me like that?" Dean said, gently propping his brother back against the wall.
"I had to know."
"If burning the ledger worked." Sam's voice was slurred, his eyes struggling to stay open. "If McMillan was gone and if you were...you."
As soon as the words left Sam's bloody lips, a series of snapshots hit Dean. A black leather ledger, the motel room, watching numbly as his own clenched fists struck his brother, his finger on the trigger of a smoking gun.
Swallowing, Dean shoved all the images to the back of his brain; there would be time to deal with that later. His fingers found the source of the bleeding, the edges of the wound puckered and pumping blood. "Gunshot?"
"Gah," Sam gasped breathlessly, as Dean hands further examined the wound.
"Through and through?" Dean asked, curling his hand around Sam's back, feeling the slick warmth of seeping blood from the exit wound coat the pads of his fingers.
Noting that he wasn't wearing a shirt or coat, Dean gently coaxed off Sam's soaked khaki jacket and balled it up, pressing it hard against Sam's stomach. Tendons and veins corded in Sam's neck as his back arched off the wall and he let out a gut-wrenching scream.
With shaking hands, Dean tapped Sam's pockets. But his phone was missing and there was no one around. And he'd be damned if he was leaving his bleeding brother alone for even a second.
"You're okay, Sammy. Everything's okay."
He knew it was a lie, even before the hushed words left his mouth. But Sam didn't need to know that and maybe he didn't either.
"How bad?" Sam gasped, his Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed deeply, his eyes boring into Dean.
Dean forced a weak smile. "Not that bad. I'll get us out of this, OK?"
Sam coughed, his lungs rattling. "Anyone ever tell you that you're a sucky liar."
The humour fell flat as Dean's mind short circuited. What was he supposed to do? They were in the middle of God knows where, with no phone and no signs of anyone willing to help.
Dean could feel his teeth ache as his jaw tightened. His brother was bleeding out and he couldn't even think straight. "Just hang on, Sam."
It shouldn't have surprised him when Sam chose that moment to cough up blood, specks of red pebble-dashing his deathly pale skin.
Dean strained his ears, wanting to hear the grumble of a car engine and the crunching of rubber tires against wet asphalt; wanting to hear the creak of a car door opening and the pounding of footsteps coming to save them.
But all he heard was Sam gasping for air.
In the end they walked. Well, sort of.
Sam was sagged against him, his arm slung over Dean's shoulders as the toes of his sneakers scraped across the concrete.
Dean's fingers were thumping with strain but he tightened his grip on the waistband of Sam's jeans anyway, pulling him closer to his hip. He could feel Sam's head bounce off his shoulder, feel his own brain throbbing inside his skull as he dragged them both through the network of alleyways.
They'd been on the move for too long and there was still no sign of anyone or anything. Dean had banged on a few doors, hollered through a few barred windows but there'd been no response, no offers of help. It was a ghost town.
"We there?" Sam's breath was hot in Dean's ear.
"Almost. Not far now."
Rain drops slid lazily down his face as he watched streams of red tinted water run down Sam's chin. And it took Dean a while to realise that the electric sensation running through his veins was panic. Panic at the situation, of what was at stake and what could happen.
Dean had been trying not to notice that Sam had been getting steadily heavier and his breaths more ragged. But he knew that Sam was trying; knew for a fact that if he wasn't, Dean wouldn't be able to carry his brother's weight.
He knew it was coming. Because damn, he had no idea how Sam was even still awake let alone on his feet and walking.
"Stop. I need…"
The words were just as broken as Sam's body and Dean tried his best not to freak out when Sam's weight got a whole lot heavier and his own knees started to buckle. He wanted to tell Sam that they couldn't stop, that if they did he wasn't sure they'd get going again.
Before Dean had the chance to plan the best route, they were falling to the ground, knees melting bonelessly as Sam's weight became too much for Dean to bear.
"Damn it," Dean cursed, his knees crashing into wet asphalt. Pulling himself up and dragging a hand over the water dripping off his chin, he reached out for his brother.
Sam was out for the count, his limbs folded uncomfortably under his body. Cupping his brother's face with cold hands, Dean thumbed away the rivers of water that were pooling around Sam's closed eyes.
Sam's forehead crinkled, the ridges of skin quivering as consciousness beckoned. "Nap time's over, Sammy. We've gotta haul ass."
Sam frowned, confusion etching every inch of his face.
"I'm getting us out of here," Dean said, wrapping his hands around Sam's biceps. "All you have to do is trust me. OK?"
"OK," Sam whispered.
Gently guiding Sam into a sitting position, Dean checked that the jacket he'd tied around Sam's waist earlier was still in place and staunching at least some of the bleeding.
Placing his shoulder into Sam's armpit, he dragged them both to their feet. Sam's guttural scream tore through the darkness of the alley, his breathing harsh and pained as his knees suddenly folded. Tightening his grip, Dean shouldered Sam's weight, his knees shaking with the strain. "I got you, Sammy, I got you. Just breathe through it."
Dean cast a glance over his shoulder. Sam's head was lolling, his eyes barely open but Dean could hear stuttering inhales and the quiet whistles of slow and controlled exhales.
"That's my boy," Dean said, taking a small step forward and squinting down the dark alley, their footsteps ricocheting off the brick walls.
Five minutes later, Dean was carrying so much of his brother's weight that they were hardly moving. Rain bounced off his eyelashes as he scanned the perimeter. He blinked away the water, almost missing how the alleyway had opened up onto a small back road. Several rusty trucks were parked outside a seedy looking bar that pumped out guitar riffs into the night air.
He thought about going in, about yelling for someone to call 911 as he laid his brother onto the sticky floor, trying his best to do something to save him. But he couldn't risk it. A bullet wound would attract entirely the wrong kind of attention, especially in a bar like this.
So he dragged them both forward through the rain towards a nearby truck, the doors tinged red with rust. Sam was shivering and mumbling. The words were jumbled nonsense but their meaning was crystal clear: time was running out.
Fuelled by adrenaline and fear, Dean fisted his free hand and punched the passenger window, watching as the glass spider-webbed. The second punch shattered the glass and probably his hand, as bones cracked and blood flowed. Dean knocked out the remaining shards, before snaking his arm through the window and unlocking the door.
Gently lowering his brother into the passenger seat, he unlocked the driver's door before dashing around and jumping into the truck, rusty hinges groaning as he slammed the door closed. Scooting over towards Sam, Dean winced at the pain in his hand as he patted Sam's knee and gently peeled away the makeshift jacket bandage, watching as blood bubbled to the surface.
"Son of a bitch," he mumbled, hoping that somehow it might have miraculously clotted.
Taking a deep breath, his pulse racing, Dean hastily bunched up the jacket, holding it firmly against Sam's stomach, his brother biting back a pained groan. "Sam, I need you to keep pressure on this, OK?"
Sam's eyes travelled lazily through the haze of pain and blood loss before finally settling on Dean's face.
"You hear me, Sammy?"
Sam's head bobbed, his eyes blinking heavily.
"Good." Dean placed Sam's hands over the jacket, making sure he was applying pressure before reluctantly letting go. "Then we'd better get a move on, huh?"
Pulling out the wires from the steering column was hard, especially since he was forced to do it one handed. Stripping and twisting the wires was nearly impossible, his hand shaking so fiercely it looked like it was seizing.
The engine growled to life and before long they were eating up the blacktop, windshield wipers swishing violently as rain sheeted down the glass.
Dean had no idea which way to go and for the longest time wasn't even aware he was driving. Buildings and cars passed by in a blur of colours and random shapes. But it didn't take long for the back roads to become larger ones and before long he found a sign pointing him in the direction of the nearest hospital. Swerving the truck across several lanes of traffic, Dean ignored the blaring horns as he slammed his boot harder on the gas, the speedometer now well over the legal limit.
"Just a bit longer," Dean said, a passing car's headlights lighting up the interior of the truck. Sam had sunk down on the seat, his head tilted towards Dean, his blanched skin paler than pale, his eyes open but shining with exhaustion and defeat.
"Don't," Dean said, his fingers curling tighter around the worn leather of the steering wheel. "I don't want to hear that freakin' speech. Not from you, not ever. You got me?"
Sam's eyes hovered past Dean, struggling to latch on as his focus drifted.
Dean sniffed, his eyes on the road as he turned sharply into the exit lane. "You're gonna be fine, Sammy. We're nearly there, OK?"
Glancing over his shoulder, his eyes burning, Dean's heart pounded in his chest. Sam's hand was hanging limply off the seat, the bloodied jacket now pooled in a heap over his boots, his eyes closed.
She was good at her job and Dean barely felt the needle as it slipped beneath his skin. "Just a local anaesthetic," she said, sweeping her eyes across his face but he didn't look at her. Afraid she'd see more than he was willing to share. "You feeling okay?"
"Yeah." It rolled easily off his tongue. Lies usually did.
She talked a lot. On any other day it would have pissed him off but the background noise was a welcome distraction. She'd assured him that Sam was in good hands, that he'd done all that he could. But all Dean could think of was his finger squeezing the trigger and how maybe his hand should just stay broken.
"You're lucky," she said, swabbing the welling blood from the small cuts that covered his right hand with gentle slow stokes. "These could have been much worse."
Funny, he didn't feel all that lucky.
"How's Sam?" He asked again, knowing the answer but needing to ask.
She looked at him, her crow's feet deepening as her lips formed a sad smile. "The reception desk knows where you are. As soon as there's any news, someone will come to find us."
Same answer as before.
"The police want to talk to you and I can only hold them off for so long," she said, removing a tiny shard of glass with a pair of tweezers. "Eventually they're going to want some more details about the mugging."
It took him a while to figure out exactly what he'd told them when he'd pushed open the swinging doors, dragging an unconscious Sam with him. "I don't know much. I…I wasn't there."
She tugged out another piece of glass before setting the tweezers down and catching Dean's eyes with her own. "You shouldn't blame yourself."
Dean didn't answer. The room suddenly feeling smaller than it was.
"Sometimes no matter what you do, bad stuff happens. You just have to pick up the pieces and move on." She nodded, seemingly satisfied that he'd heard her.
Placing a finger over the swollen skin surrounding the break on his hand she pushed down gently. "You all numbed up?" She asked, watching his face closely for a reaction.
It felt like he'd been numb for days.
Spinning around on her chair, she removed a needle from the stainless steel tray and uncapped it. "Just a mild sedative. You're looking a bit peaked."
He opened his mouth to protest - this wasn't exactly the first time he'd broken a bone - but before the words were out of his mouth she'd depressed the plunger. "Just relax. The doctor will be here soon to set the break."
She raised the head of his bed and guided him back against the foam mattress. He was tired before the damn sedative but now the room was swaying, his eyelids drooping as they grew heavier.
"Sam?" He croaked, struggling to remember if he'd asked her how his brother was.
"If he's half as stubborn as you, he'll be just fine."
He watched her clean up the tray, trashing swabs and needles as she puttered around the room. Then she was by his bed, a cool hand on his forehead. He didn't even have time to flinch at the contact. "I'll be back soon."
He had no idea how much time had passed, or even if he'd closed his eyes but the next moment the door was swinging open and a man appeared, a stethoscope hanging loosely around his neck.
"How's my brother?" Dean asked, his tongue feeling overly heavy as he peeled it off the roof of his mouth.
"No news yet. But it's time to set that hand of yours."
Dean blinked, his eyelashes sticking together as he forced his eyes to open again, slightly shocked to see the doctor next to his bed and his x-ray on the light box.
Damn, the nurse must have given him the good stuff.
"There's a couple of hairline fractures to the proximal phalanges, here and here," the doctor said pointing at the x-ray. The room was blurry and smudged around the edges and Dean doubted he could see his own hand in front of his face but he nodded anyway.
"As you can see the break to the forth metacarpal is clean," the doctor continued, a pair of gloved hands carefully examining the break. "This won't take a minute."
Dean felt some pressure as the doctor manipulated the bone before he heard a quiet crunch and a pop. "All done," the doctor said, snapping off his latex gloves. "We're going to let the swelling reduce a little and then get you in a cast."
The world fuzzed around him, shapes sliding together like a modern art painting. The next time Dean opened his eyes he was alone in the room. "Huh," he muttered, catching a glimpse of his hand lying on a cushion, covered half way up his forearm in plaster so white it made his head hurt.
It took a moment for recent events to clear, before the hazy images of his brother made more sense. Pushing himself up with his left arm, Dean sat up and watched as the room tilted and did a slow waltz around his bed.
Once the room stilled, the pain rolled across his body like a tsunami. There wasn't a single muscle that didn't feel stretched or pulled to breaking point, his knee was stiff and slightly swollen and the only part of him that didn't hurt was covered his plaster. Apparently spirit possession took a lot out of a person.
Needing to know how Sam was doing, Dean swallowed a grunt as he crossed the room and pushed the door open. Taking a quick look down the corridor for possible threats and snitches he followed the blue line on the floor that would hopefully lead him to the surgical waiting room.
The walk was long and it took more out of Dean than it should have, a sure sign that he was pushing himself too hard. He nearly blew it at the reception desk, remembering only at the last minute to give Sam's fake insurance name. He was told to wait. Again.
Feeling his knees weaken, Dean dropped down onto the nearest chair, scrubbing a shaking hand over his day-old stubble and then through his hair. He stared hard at the black stains on his shirt and jeans. Blood or ectoplasm? He couldn't tell.
A pair of battered running shoes broke his trance and Dean swallowed the huge ball of fear that sat in his throat. The man in front of him dipped his head, his grey eyes peeking over his nose-perched glasses. "The surgery went well," he said, glancing at the chart in his hands. "The blood loss was significant and the risk of infection is high. But we were able to repair the damage and his stats are improving."
Dean played with his cast, his fingers picking at the rough edges. "He's gonna be okay, right?"
"Barring any complications, your brother should make a full recovery. But with these types of internal injuries and extensive muscle damage, the recovery time can be quite lengthy."
He could deal with that, they both could. Dean sunk into the hard-backed chair, the relief flooding through his veins more powerful than any drug he'd been given.
"Are you ok?" the doctor asked, concern filling his features as he eyed the bloody mess of Dean's shirt.
"I am now."
The doctor looked down at him and sighed wearily, a glimmer of disbelief shadowing his eyes. "Someone will come and find you when your brother's ready for visitors," he said before turning on his heels and disappearing down the overly bright corridor.
Tapping his boot against the shiny floor, Dean sighed. He couldn't sit and wait; being powerless and stuck on the sidelines wasn't his style. Resting his elbows on his knees, he let his head fall into his hands, feeling the rough plaster brush against his face.
"Sir," a gentle voice said, a petite hand on his shoulder. "I can take you to your brother's room now."
She was staring at him, her eyebrows drawn and Dean could only guess at how bad he looked, all tired eyes and bloody clothes. But he moved on autopilot, following a pair of shoes that squeaked their way down endless corridors and closed doors.
It took a moment to realize that they'd stopped, that the nurse was talking to him but as soon as the door was pushed open the words he did remember were forgotten as he caught sight of his brother.
Sam, who had just had surgery and countless blood transfusions was now struggling against wires and tubes, his hand ready to rip them collectively out of his arm.
"Sam!" Dean barked, "What the hell?"
Dean sprinted across the room, the nurse hot on his heels as he grabbed Sam's wrists and stared into his brother's bruised and swollen face.
Sam's weary eyes met his own before his body wilted back against the pillows, his breaths shallow and pained. "Couldn't find you."
Sam's voice was all off. Too quiet, hushed almost and the words were all slurred together, probably due to the cocktail of happy juice he was luckily still wired to.
And really, Dean should have seen that coming. Especially after everything that had gone down.
"Yeah, well I'm here now so you can quit the Houdini impersonation," Dean said his anger dissipating as he watched the nurse apply more surgical tape, firmly sticking the wires back to Sam's pale skin before scurrying out the door, no doubt to rat on Sam.
God, Dean hated hospitals.
As Dean's eyes took it all in, Sam's bruised and broken skin, the machines, the nasal canula that snaked under his nose, at how haggard and deflated his brother looked, anger burned in his belly along with sickness.
"Not your fault," Sam said as he blinked slowly, reading Dean's mind like it was the easiest thing in the world to do.
"I know." Because Dean knew that; knew that it wasn't his fury that had pulled the trigger or fed his fists, that he wasn't the one who put Sam in the hospital. But somehow it didn't make him feel any better.
Dragging an uncomfortable-looking chair across the floor, Dean sat down, biting back a groan as his joints creaked. Sam's head was tilted towards him, his split lip puffy around the stitches, his blackened eyes slipping closed. Only then did Dean reach out and take hold of his brother's hand, his fingers curling around Sam's as he added a little pressure.
Neither of them mentioned it. Or how Sam squeezed back.
"Are you sure about this?" Dean said staring down at the crumpled pages of physiotherapy routines and the mound of prescriptions that needed to be filled, struggling to quell the feeling that this was all happening too soon.
"I'm sure," Sam said, his tone serious as he pinched his lips.
Dean folded the papers in half and stuffed them into his pocket. "Because we can stay an extra day or so. I mean they have cable here, they deliver food and it sure beats staying in that craphole of a motel."
"I need to get out of here."
Dean looked down at his cast, a little worst for wear, his fingers pulling at the frayed edges. "Yeah, I get that. I just…"
"Don't want me to push it?" Sam grunted softly under his breath as he reached over for the button down shirt that Dean had laid on the bed.
"Something like that, yeah. We've got all the time in the world. There's no need to rush it, y'know."
"I'm ready," Sam said, fingers snapping at buttons. "I really am."
Dean glanced over his shoulder at his brother. He looked tired, exhausted actually. Bruises had long since faded, stitches had been removed and Sam still didn't look any better for it. The reality was that Sam's recovery was taking time, far more than either of them liked to admit. But Dean knew his brother well enough to know that when he had his mind set on something, he went for it. Regardless of what obstacles got in the way.
"Well if you're sure," Dean said, opening the drawer and pulling out a handful of Sam's toiletries.
"I am." Sam shifted uncomfortably on the hospital bed, clearing his throat. "Thanks, Dean. For everything. I don't know what I'd have done if you didn't have my back through all of this."
"Oh God," Dean groaned, rolling his eyes. "I knew it."
"The chick flick moment. This is it, right? You pour your heart out, I listen and then we hug it out and cry softly on each other's shoulder."
"I'm trying to be serious."
"You don't think that I'm being serious?" Dean said cramming the last fist-full of Sam's clothes and toiletries into the duffle bag before turning to face his brother. "Dean Winchester doesn't do chick flick anything, Sammy. It's just not cool."
A crooked half-smile deepened Sam's dimples. "And referring to yourself in third person is?"
"Only if you're as smooth and devilishly handsome as me."
Sam snorted as he pushed himself off the bed, his breath hitching in his throat as he swallowed deeply. "Seriously, Dean, thanks, for everything."
Dean caught Sam's gaze, nodding slightly. "Any time, little brother."
Sam shoved his hands in his pockets. "Do we need to talk?"
Dean frowned. "About what?"
"McMillan, the possession. Everything."
"What's there to talk about?" Dean shrugged. "It happened, we dealt with it, it's over."
"Yeah," Sam said, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "But I could have touched that ledger, McMillan could have just as easily got to me. You know that right?"
"Yeah, Sam." Dean glanced around the room, their home for the past few weeks. Where he'd had all the time in the world to hash it out, to point out blame and come up with a million what ifs, only to realise that it didn't matter. They'd made it, they were leaving and Sam would be okay. All the rest was history. "I really do."
Swinging the duffle bag over his shoulder, Dean stepped towards Sam and clapped a hand on his shoulder. "So, you ready to blow this joint?"
"Hell yes," Sam grinned, wincing slightly as he took a step towards the door. Despite weeks of physiotherapy, Sam was still a little hunched over but his steps were sturdy if a little slow as they crossed the room side by side.
"The offer's still open."
"Aw c'mon, Sam. Live it up a little," Dean said as he held the door open for his brother. "You gotta learn to take advantage of the perks of a hospital stay."
"I said no."
"Where's the harm?" Dean let the door to the room swing closed behind them. "It's just a little wheelchair race, Top Gun-style."
"What? Scared I'll beat your ass?"
"I've had weeks of practise. If anything, you'd be eating my dust." Sam flashed Dean a grin as they walked down the corridor.
Dean stared at his brother incredulously. "I don't know how you got so cocky."
Sam snorted, his shoulder bouncing off Dean's. "Me neither, Dean. Me neither."
A/N – Thank you for stopping by and reading, I hope you all enjoyed. Take care, Madebyme