A/N: Wow, I still exist. Muse took a severe vacation that almost became permanent. The latest episode was enough to move her to writing, though, and now that I've caught her she won't be going anywhere anytime soon. Hope you enjoy the first of (hopefully) many new fics!
This job had 'bad' written all over it, Sam could feel it deep down in his churning gut. It wasn't just the tension between Bobby and Samuel, or Dean and Samuel, either. The Mother of All appearing couldn't be a good thing, and whatever she'd set loose in the cannery was something none of them had seen before. Nobody had the slightest idea what was going on.
And if that weren't bad enough, Samuel Campbell was there. With a woman, Gwen, Sam told himself, even as he watched her disappear out the door to talk to Dean. He had vague memories of her, mostly good. She was someone he trusted, someone Dean obviously didn't mind. Samuel, though...
Well. If Sam turned his back for a minute, Dean wouldn't hesitate to put a bullet or four into Samuel's skull. Apparently Samuel had sold him and Dean out, to Crowley no less. How the hell did you sell out your family?
The way Dean had kept growling, and continuously putting himself in front of Sam, spoke volumes without a single word verbally pronounced. Sam honestly didn't care if the man had put a ketchup smear on Dean's jacket: if Dean truly felt this much about the older Campbell, then Sam would back his brother without hesitation.
Still, it'd been nice when Dean had stepped outside for a minute, letting the tension fade slightly. Bobby had pretty much picked the argument right back up where Dean had left off, so it didn't disappear completely. The fact that Bobby was arguing so vehemently for both Sam and Dean made the tension almost worth it. It wasn't often someone stood up for them, and Sam gave a small smile in Bobby's direction. A solid nod was his only response, but the message was received, and Sam felt warm inside at the knowledge.
The shot that suddenly went off out in the main corridor left Sam instantly cold, blood draining from his face. He raced outside with the others, his gun instantly sweeping the area for the danger.
The only thing he found was Gwen's bleeding body, already turning pale on the ground. Dean was nowhere to be found.
If that thing took him... Sam gritted his teeth and quickly told the others what he was doing, leaving them with Gwen. He raced through the empty halls, eyes scanning everywhere for his brother. "Dean!" he shouted, hating the way his voice immediately came back to him. His flashlight barely did anything in the dark, and there was still way too much ground to cover. There was a doorway at the far end, two more hallways to the right, and a dozen places that thing could hide his brother.
Every fiber of his being screamed to go find Dean, now. The longer that thing had him, the longer it could be doing who knew what inside of him. The urge to race ahead, the darkness be damned, kept growing until Sam swore he was swaying forward from it.
If he went off now, though, without anyone at his back, he'd never see the bullet coming. And he knew damn right well what it would do to Dean if he'd been the one to hurt Sam. To kill Sam. No: the best thing he could do for Dean right then would be to turn back around and get help. Help with Gwen in any way he could. She was family, and she'd cared about what had happened to Sam and Dean. It'd meant something to Dean; it meant something to Sam, then.
Stomach twisting inside of him, Sam slowly turned back towards the group, which was getting smaller by the minute.
When the shot went off, Dean froze for all of a second. Then he was tearing down the hall, through every open door, leaving Bobby and Rufus hollering behind him. Let them holler: he had a brother to find. Sam could handle himself, he reminded his panicking brain. Sam was a grown man, a hunter whose talents rivaled Dean's, and was one of the most intelligent men Dean had ever known.
He also didn't remember half of the things he should regarding Samuel, and this was where Sam's soul had gotten him into trouble so many times before, the one downside to Sam's having a soul: Sam was too trusting and forgiving. Sam cared about family. Sam cared about people period. Sam let people live when they shouldn't.
He'd gotten stabbed in the back for it once. And Samuel Campbell had no reserves like Sam did.
"Sammy!" he yelled ahead of him. His voice echoed off the walls, and worse yet, gave him no reply. His heart hurt against his ribs, pounding hard in fear. He'd known the instant that door had slammed shut behind Sam that it was going to end badly. Bad enough that Samuel had booby-trapped the place, but he'd managed to separate Dean from Sam, and that alone was unforgivable. If he hurt Sam...
He pushed himself even harder, trying to pull in enough air to keep going. Behind him, he could hear Bobby and Rufus trying to keep up.
Unless Samuel had given Sam a serious reason to shoot him, Dean had a terrible feeling that it was the older Campbell who'd pulled the trigger. Images of Sam gasping for air, choking on his own blood, hearing Dean but being unable to answer him, flooded through his mind. God, no. Please no. I just got him back-
When he rounded the corner and saw a tall figure standing, gun drawn, seemingly frozen, Dean pushed himself forward faster. "Sammy!"
Slowly Sam turned at Dean's call. No blood, safe and sound. Dean followed his previous gaze over to the ground, where Samuel Campbell lay, blood trailing from his forehead. He felt a brief moment of elation knowing one enemy was off the table and couldn't hurt them anymore, a moment of frustration because he'd really wanted to be the one to plug Samuel, but then they were gone and Dean turned his gaze and focus to Sam. Sam, whose eyes were round and almost dazed. Kid was probably going into shock.
And then Rufus and Bobby pulled their guns on Sam, and Dean remembered that they weren't out of the woods yet. If Sam was infected, then that freakin' worm was going to die. His brother had been through enough: he didn't need to be regarded with suspicion anymore.
He was alive, though. Dean would take that.
It all happened in a blur of a moment.
Too late, they saw the knife. Too late, the thing was inside Bobby. Too late, and the thing swung the knife down and through-
After one hard fist to the face, Bobby was out for the count. "Dean," Sam said desperately, already turning back to Rufus. The hunter's eyes were glazing over and he was panting shallowly, blood trickling down his chin.
It had happened too fast, and it was over. Sam put his useless hands over the wound anyways, helpless to do anything else.
In what felt like eternity Dean was there, kneeling next to Rufus. "Just hang on," Dean said, positioning the hunter more solidly against the locker doors. But the bleak look on his face told another story. He knew it was over, too.
Rufus snorted and coughed up more blood. "Shut up," he rasped. "Tell B'by, tell 'im-"
"We will," Sam said, then had to swallow back against the knot in his throat. He didn't know what the hell he'd tell Bobby, but he'd make something up. Anything to try and combat what was going to be a horrible awakening.
Rufus barely managed to raise his head, his shoulders already slumping. "You get that thing outta him," he whispered, eyes catching Dean's for a moment before closing. "Jus'...tell..."
And then he was silent. Sam stared at the prone body for a long moment, fingers digging tightly into Rufus's shoulder before he realized what he was doing and let go. Rufus slumped forward and stayed there, never again to crack a joke or glare sullenly at any of them. It wasn't the first time Sam had been confronted by death, and god knew it wouldn't be the last, but so many deaths in one night were leaving Sam reeling.
Dean looked about as lost as Sam felt. Three lives taken by one measly little worm. If this was any indication of what was coming-
Sam pushed himself to standing, trying to ignore the way blood was hanging and dripping from Rufus's mouth. He glanced around the room, his eyes catching on Samuel's body before landing on Bobby. Bobby, whose chest was still rising. He hadn't seen the thing slither out, which meant it was still inside.
But he was still alive, which was more than could be said of Gwen, Samuel, and now Rufus. Their mismatch group had dwindled by half, and Sam's mind shot him back to tenth grade, where Agatha Christie had been required reading. "And then there were three," he murmured.
"You thinkin' of it too, huh?"
"Kinda hard not to," Sam said. Dean was standing and surveying the damage now, though his eyes skittered out past the doors to the corridor, where one of the smaller rooms held Gwen's body.
Time to move on, and fast, for Dean's sanity. Sam's too. "If we're not going to keep decreasing in size, then we need to do something, now," Sam said, succeeding in drawing Dean's attention back to the present issue. "We need to find a way to squash that thing, permanently."
"We've got duct tape," Dean offered. He pulled a chair out into the center of the room, but hesitated when he glanced at Bobby. Sam fought not to shiver at what they'd have to do. It was what Bobby would tell them to do: he'd never forgive them if they let the thing live just to keep him safe. But saying it, thinking it, knowing it were all very different things than doing it. There was no way they were going to get the thing out of Bobby without hurting him.
"If it gets out of Bobby, it could go anywhere," Sam said, clearing his throat. There were several vents in the room, cracks underneath the doors, a few tiny spaces in the walls even. They needed to seal the place up.
Dean nodded absently, his eyes moving back to Bobby. For all that it had moved fast before, time seemed to drag on in the silence.
Then Dean took a breath and straightened up. "Bobby first, then we duct tape the place to hell," he said, and Sam gave a nod. They'd mourn later, when they had time.
Because it was all going to speed right back up again, Sam knew it. And they had to be ready when it did.
It took too long from when Bobby stopped breathing to when he started again. Dean was pretty certain that neither he nor Sam breathed either until Bobby choked and hauled in a gasping breath. His pulse was crazy and his ribs were going to hurt like nobody's business, but the CPR had done its job and Bobby was pulling in rasping breaths. Dean would deal with the rest.
Sam looked ready to fall apart. He'd turned away when Dean had put the live wire to Bobby's neck in a desperate attempt to smoke the thing out. Dean couldn't remember a time when Sam hadn't been able to handle the job, but he'd turned away and put his face in his hand, flinching at every sound Bobby made. Ever since Rufus had died he'd been too open, too battered. Hell, since he'd shot Samuel he'd looked like he was going into shock. The huge downside to having a soul was feeling too much. It was what had gotten them into trouble in Bristol, when Sam had decided it was time to start remembering and fixing things.
Bobby was blinking slowly, trying to come back around. "You're okay," Dean said, not surprised to find that his own voice was shaking. "You're all right, just take it easy. It's dead."
"Wha' happened?" Bobby slurred. He still looked disoriented, but he was alive. Sam was alive, trembling beside him and looking closer to crying then Dean had seen in a long time, and Bobby was possibly looking at some type of permanent damage to his heart but he was alive, and all Dean wanted was out of that cannery and into a bed somewhere. Preferably one he didn't have to crawl out of until, oh, forever.
But there were three bodies to tend to, a bucket of guilt to share between the three survivors, and a whole host of new problems. Castiel would have to be notified, if he didn't know already, and Dean didn't want to have to be the one talking to him. Not yet.
"Can you stand?" Sam was asking, and Bobby's response was to shakily grasp his hand. Dean caught onto Bobby's other hand, and between the brothers they got him to standing. He wobbled a little, but then he was upright, and he seemed the better for it.
That was before he caught a glimpse of the wreckage. Before he saw Rufus. Bobby's knife was still embedded in his chest, and Dean belatedly realized that he couldn't have said, "You killed him, Bobby," any louder than that. Bobby froze under Dean's hand, and for a minute he was fairly certain the older man was going to go right back down.
"It's dead," Sam said, sounding a little more calm and with it. "It's dead and it can't hurt anyone else."
It was more than Dean could've figured out to say. God knew all he could think of was his third cousin laying dead in another room, Dean's bullet in her gut. Knowing that he'd been possessed didn't make it any easier to live with. Not even the satisfaction of watching the thing writhe and die on the floor had helped. They were still all dead. Three hunters in one night.
Shell-shocked was a good term for all three of the survivors.
Finally Bobby began to move. Together the three of them headed for the exit, sun starting to peek through the windows. They'd only taken a step or two when Bobby stopped. Dean frowned and began to speak when he caught sight of what had caught Bobby's attention.
The worm was on the ground right in front of them. It looked charred and definitely dead. They had no idea what it was, no way to identify it. Taking the body with them might help, if just to draw the new species of whatever the hell it was.
When Bobby firmly crushed it beneath his heel, Dean found he didn't care.
They were a few steps away when Sam turned back. Bobby was staring solemnly at the patch of dirt on the ground, and Sam wanted to keep following Dean and leave the older man to his own grief without disturbing him. But Dean had already stopped, merely waiting for Sam, and Sam took a breath before calling softly, "Bobby."
He didn't get an answer, but the way the man turned his head told Sam he was listening. "He said to tell you..." And there was the part Sam hadn't quite figured out yet. What would Rufus have wanted to tell Bobby? "He told us to save you," he finished, feeling lame for it. It felt like a cop-out.
Bobby turned slightly, eyes still on the ground. "I know what he said," he replied softly. Then, "Thanks, Sam."
There was no relief in having given the answer; if anything, Bobby looked almost worse by the words, but there was nothing more Sam could do. Dean's hand on his arm pulled him away and towards the exit, where they walked side by side to the Impala. It felt wrong to leave Bobby's vehicle in the cemetery, to leave Bobby in the cemetery, but staying any longer wasn't any option. Dean seemed to have felt the same way, if the manner in which he pushed down on the accelerator was any indication.
They'd gotten more questions than answers, as usual. Eve was still out there, they were down two allies and two enemies, and then there was just the three of them, standing silently to watch the end of the world come sliding faster towards them. Just like it had almost two years ago.
"You sure about what you said?" Sam asked suddenly, because thinking about two years ago brought up all the things that had lead up to it. "Awful lot of slate to clean."
Dean slowly turned from the road to look at Sam. After a moment Dean's lips slid up slightly. "I'm sure," he said. "Wouldn't have it any other way, Sammy."
And yeah, he'd known before he'd jumped that Dean had forgiven him for it all, but there was something so reassuring about this, that whatever Sam could do or had done would be forgiven under the love of family... it was heady. The rush of fierce love for Dean was so swift that Sam's breath stuttered for a minute. To hell and back, and Dean was still there, backing him, protecting him, forgiving him, loving him.
It was suddenly so important to tell him what had happened in the cannery. "Samuel offered to tell me what I'd done," he said. "Over my 'summer vacation'. Asked if I wanted to know."
Dean took a breath. "And?"
"I said I did," Sam said, before offering a small smile. "And then I shot him." I told you I wouldn't go digging and I won't. You told me he was the enemy and I believed you without hesitation. I'm behind you all the way.
Dean turned his gaze back to the road, but his grin turned up even more. "That's my boy," he said.
There were nightmares behind them trying to catch up. Nightmares ahead yet to be seen. Guilt still yet to be dealt with, grief still there in the hollow of his chest.
They'd deal. Of everyone they'd lost in the cannery, it hadn't been each other. Two brothers, still standing strong. Sam was going to make sure it stayed that way.