Hello everyone! I was going through some old documents on my computer and realized that I never actually completed this story. That made me sad, so I wrote a nice long ending for you. Sorry it's so late, but I hope you still enjoy it.
Smoke swirled up into the air.
Chris flew across the lot, sneakers nearly catching on parking strips and badly patched holes as he tried to force himself faster around the back lot. Bile flooded his throat. There was a goddamn fire? Now? Right after Brandon went AWOL? It better damn well be some drunkard that conked out on the couch with a lit cigarette, or senile grandma that left a candle burn down to nothing. Not Brandon. Not now. Not…
Not a fire. Not again.
He rounded the bend, saw the smoke burrowing from beneath the door to their room, and staggered. How goddamn unfair that he had believed himself terrified before, when little things like zombies had been trying to rip his face off. At least they had been polite enough not to light his big brother on fire.
He was at the threshold before his brain even recognized the fact. Autopilot hands shoved the door flat against the wall, rejuvenating the flames with a whoosh of oxygen as he brought an arm up to shield his face from waves of heat. Smoke assaulted his eyes, blinding him with a wall of pain.
Fingernails dug into his shoulders as someone yanked him backward, away from the fire. "Get off!" he snarled, twisting to bat away whoever thought could keep him from saving his brother, and found himself shoving at empty air. His panic heightened and he struggled to free himself from the man he was trying to save. "Brandon, stop! You're not—I have to—I have to get you out—" Wrenching his arm free, he took two steps toward the room before he was punched hard. He collapsed, ears ringing. "No."
Glass shattered inside the room. He fought through the dizziness to push himself to his feet and felt his brothers arms wrap around his shoulders, holding him down with a fierce hug. "Brand, let go. Let me go!"
"Son of a bitch," Dean said, struggling to get his legs to cooperate and run faster as he caught sight of the flames. He could hear his brother wheezing a few paces behind him, still trying to get his breathing under control. Getting choked until you were nearly dead had that effect.
Chris was flailing on the ground, limbs punching through the air as he tried to free himself. He turned when he heard Dean's shout. "Please, please you gotta help, Brandon's still in there, he won't let me go inside—"
Dean stopped beside him, nearly going down himself as Sam sagged against him, gasping for air. "The daughter must've…set it…earlier," Sam panted, shifting something in his grip.
Dean looked over and saw his brother struggling to pull the pin out of a fire extinguisher. He reached over and took it from his shaking hands. "I got this, make sure Chris doesn't get himself killed."
Another burst of flames licked the outside doorframe. "Like you can get rid of me that easily," Sam sniped, following close behind his brother, "Brandon's not letting him up, you need me more than he does right now."
Dean glanced at him, recognized the determined glint and knew that he didn't have the time to talk him out of it. Not if Brandon was going to have a smidgeon of a chance at this point. "Just don't die, Sammy," he ordered, and pulled his shirt up over his nose and mouth. "You got that?"
Sam nodded, striding forward. "You worry too much. I'm not going anywhere."
The first blast of foam barely did anything to abate the flames, and Dean growled in frustration. Throwing caution to the wind, he darted inside, giving the rug a short spray when he felt heat searing his ankles. One half of the room was ablaze, with flames leaping up off a bed and scorching the ceiling. The other side, the side where Brandon's body was laid on the stretcher, was still mostly undamaged.
"Sam!" Dean yanked his brother back against him as a burning tile fell from the ceiling where he had been standing. "Dude. I just told you not to die."
"And I didn't die," he shot back, grinning, "Cause I've got you. Come on." He twisted a hand in Dean's coat and strode forward through the smoke until they were both next to Brandon's body. Sam stretched to grab one of the machines and flinched back from the white hot metal. "Ahh, shit. Shit. Dean?"
The fire was growing steadily, spreading closer to them across the old carpet as more of the ceiling collapsed. "No time," Dean choked out, barely able to keep his eyes open as settled upon the only action they could take, "Have to move him." He sprayed the flames once more, heart sinking when the extinguisher didn't lessen the growing inferno.
"But he'll die without the machines," Sam broke out coughing, steadying when he felt Dean's hand rest for a moment on his back.
"He'll die if we…leave him," Dean wheezed. He gave Sam's shoulder a brief squeeze and tugged one of the wires from Brandon's body. The shrill beeping made him wince, but he was already pulling out the next wire. Beside him, Sam hesitated but followed his lead, separating him from the life support.
Chris leaned heavily against his brother, his frightened eyes peering through the smoke where the Winchesters had disappeared. "They'll get you out," he breathed desperately, "They will. They have to."
Brandon tightened his grip on his brother's jacket and tried to believe him. "This isn't your fault," he said, frustrated that couldn't make himself heard. He wished he could say something, to tell his brother he was sorry, that he didn't blame him for anything.
He was going to die. He knew that. The bleak expression mirrored on both Sam and Dean's faces as they had charged into that fire was proof enough. It was only a matter of time now.
"Where are they?" Chris moaned again, "What's taking them so long?"
Brandon grabbed his hand and turned it palm up, spelling a word.
"You're sorry?" Chris repeated, pulling him closer even though the close contact with his brother's spirit had him shivering uncontrollably, "No, no, Brand. You don't—you don't need to be sorry for anything, okay? Not anything. Ever." He flinched as a loud crash sounded from inside the room. "Stay calm. We're going to figure this out. We'll get you back in your body and I'll help you with all your visions. You don't have to do this by yourself anymore."
Brandon shook his head. "No way in hell. I've done enough damage to your life—"
"Shut up," Chris said, pushing him lightly.
Brandon's eyebrows rose. He started spelling C-A-N Y-O-U—
"Nah, I can't hear you. I just know you really well," Chris interrupted, eyes back on the fire as his voice lowered. "We'll figure everything out together, okay? Just don't leave me, please. You can't."
"I wouldn't if I had a choice," Brandon said sorrowfully. A sharp pain shot through his chest and he doubled over, eyes squeezed shut. "Oh god. No."
"Brandon? What is it? What's wrong?" Chris panicked, heart rate speeding as he felt Brandon clutch his wrist even tighter until he could see the imprints of his brother's fingers on his skin. "You're okay," he croaked, "You're okay."
"Chris," Brandon whispered. He tried to open his eyes, whimpering from the pain—
Chris fell forward onto the pavement, scraping his forehead. As he jerked back up blood trickled down into his left eye. He brushed it away. "Brandon!" he threw out an arm, panic stricken and refusing to believe he was gone, "Don't you dare leave me!"
There was another crash from inside the room, and then Sam and Dean limped out, carrying Brandon between them. Chris staggered to his feet and reached them just as they were laying him down. "Brandon's gone," Chris said, shaking, "He's not here anymore, why isn't he here anymore?"
Still coughing, Sam pressed two fingers to the man's throat. "Tell me you got a pulse," Dean said. His brother's eyes wearily snapped up to meet his, and Dean knew the answer.
"He's going to be okay, right?" Chris demanded, his eyes huge, "Isn't he?"
Sam swallowed hard and forced himself to meet his gaze. "Chris. I'm so sorry…" he paused, expression changing as he pressed his fingers deeper against Brandon's throat.
"What?" Dean asked, leaning closer.
"He's got a pulse," Sam said in disbelief. "I mean, it's really faint, but he's got one."
Chris' breath whooshed out in a half laugh, half sob. "O-of course he does," he said, and lightly ruffled his brother's hair, "He wouldn't die on me."
Their heads all snapped up. Sam had his gun halfway out when he saw who it was. Crap. Not now. "Melvin."
The kid sat rigidly in his wheelchair, hands clenched in fists around the metal as he gaped at the fire. "What. Did. You. DO?"
"Sam?" Dean said quietly, hand already reaching for his gun.
"He's just an employee," Sam told him, "From the front desk."
"You set your room on fire!" the kid squeaked, "Why? Why would you even…?"
"We really don't have time for this," Dean muttered.
"Yeah, I know, Dean," Sam said, pinching the bridge of his nose, "Look, Melvin, just go back inside and call the fire department—"
"I'm dead. Dead. All the other kids at school got jobs at fast food joints, and I had to try to be different, thought I'd meet interesting people—"
"Melvin. It's okay."
"And now my boss is gonna take this out of my wages. No, he's going to make me pay for the repairs. No, he's going to—"
"Kid!" Dean shouted loudly. Melvin's mouth snapped shut. "Go. Call the fire department. It's not your damn fault, and no one is going to make you pay for anything."
"Go!" Dean snapped. He turned to Chris, who was still checking Brandon over. "How is he?"
"He's breathing fine," he replied, swallowing back the lump in his throat, "That's all I know right now."
"We need to get out of here before the cops show up," Sam said.
Dean stood up. "Back into the pedophile van it is."
Chris frowned, hand resting protectively on his brother's arm. "I don't know if it's safe to move him."
"Well, think of it this way," Sam said standing. "If the cops show up, we're all in some serious trouble. I mean, if it's not bad enough that we broke Brandon out of a hospital, Dean's wanted for murder—"
"He's what?" Chris said.
"I'm what?" Dean echoed incredulously. "What are you talking about?"
Sam winced. "Seriously man? You don't even remember that?"
"No, actually. I don't," Dean snapped, "I don't remember this 'Bobby' you're always raving about, I don't remember what I used to do for fun, or what we used to hunt, and I especially don't know why the hell I'm wanted for murder. Would you mind telling me exactly who I—"
"It's a long story," Sam broke in tiredly, "Don't worry, you didn't really do anything and none of it was your fault. I'll tell you later if your memories don't come back." He looked up at Chris. "Help me lift your brother into the van."
Three hours later, Chris and Sam carried Brandon's body into a new hotel room and laid him down on the bedspread. "Home sweet home," Dean muttered, glancing with distaste at the floral curtains as he started salting the doors and windows.
"Can anyone find us here?" Chris questioned, afraid to hear the answer.
"No," Sam reassured him, "We should be good now. Unless Nick has any other kids."
"Dude…don't even joke," Dean scowled, finishing up, "You know our luck these days."
"Why hasn't he woken up yet?" Chris asked, reaching to check his brother's pulse again. It was a little stronger. "He should wake up soon, right?" And not be braindead. Please don't let him be braindead…
"Hey," Sam told him, resting a hand on his shoulder, "He'll wake up. Just be patient." He stood up and walked over to Dean, who was already shouldering his pack.
"We're in room 12," Dean told Chris, "Right across the hall, so if anything happens…"
"Scream?" Chris said grimly.
"You know where to find us," he finished. He nodded to Sam and they both left the room, shutting the door quietly behind them.
Chris sat there for a few more seconds, groaned, and fell back onto the bed beside his brother. "Come on, man. Don't do this to me," he whispered into the silence. The clock on the bedside table read 2:30 a.m., and exhaustion he hadn't realized he'd been harboring hit him in a wave. He shut his eyes, figuring he would just relax for a few minutes…
The bed was so comfortable. So warm. How long had it been since he had actually slept? Weeks?
He burrowed his head further into the pillow, turning his head to try to get the light out of his eyes. It wasn't time to get up. He didn't want to. He was so tired.
"C'mon man, wake up."
Someone was shaking him. Hadn't he been through enough? Didn't he deserve a few hours of rest?
"No," he muttered as the shaking continued. "Go away."
"Chris. Look at me."
Half awake and thoroughly annoyed, Chris turned his head, opened his eyes, and brought one hand up to shove the unwelcome visitor away—and froze. His fingers went slack for a moment, and then reached tentatively forward to grasp his brother's shirt. "Brandon…"
The man smiled, watching him with concern. "Hey little brother."
"You're okay," he whispered, sitting up and furiously blinking the sleep out of his eyes. I can see you. He pulled him into a tight hug. "You're back."
"Yeah," Brandon reassured him, "I'm back."
"But…" he swallowed hard. He released his brother and looked at him, at the dark bags under his eyes, at his pale skin covered with soot. "The fire. You were…I mean, you weren't even…"
"Chris, I'm alright. Just a little tired," he said, leaning back next to him against the headboard. "I woke up a few minutes ago."
"Why now? I've been trying to wake you for hours."
Brandon smirked. "Kinda hard to be comatose with you snoring like that," he teased.
"I don't snore."
"Ri-ight," he said, bumping his shoulder. "I don't know. I guess…the antidote finally finished working for me. Just took a while to kick in, that's all. Cause my injuries were so—"
"Shut up," Chris silenced him. I don't want to hear about your injuries. I know how bad they were. He exhaled deeply, and dropped his head in his hands.
"Are you okay?" Brandon asked him quietly, all teasing aside.
"Me?" Chris said, looking away, "Am I okay?"
"Well are you?"
"No, I'm not okay. I thought you were dead. Again."
"That's like…how many times this month? Are you trying to give me a heart attack or something?"
"I'm really sorry, Chris."
"Sor—ah, shit. I mean, okay."
Chris laughed. "Good enough."
They sat in silence for a moment, watching the ceiling fan slowly rotate above them.
Brandon frowned, leaning his head back. "Our lives aren't going back to normal, are they?"
"Probably not, no," he said neutrally, "I think we're stuck in the wonderful world of hunting monsters now. I hear it's a tough life to escape."
"Because of my vision thing."
"Well…yeah," Chris said, hitting his brother lightly when his frown deepened. "But we'll deal with your 'vision thing' together, okay?"
"Yeah. Okay," Brandon said gratefully. He shut his eyes. "Can we at least sleep for a week or two first? You know, before we find anything else that tries to kill us?"
"You've never had a better idea," Chris said, smiling.
Two Days Later…
Dean glanced up the television as Sam entered the room. "Hey."
"Hey," Sam echoed, kicking off his shoes and sinking onto the couch next to Dean. "Zombie attacks seem to have stopped completely. I guess without Nick alive to work his voodoo on them, they're just normal dead bodies."
"The really dead ones?" Dean said, raising an eyebrow.
"Yep, really dead. In coffins. Quietly decaying."
"So no more leisurely walks through the forest with the occasional human snack?"
"Nope. Just dead," Sam concluded.
Dean shrugged and turned back to the tv. "Well that's the best news I've heard today. We should give it a few more days before we leave town, just to make sure it's all over. How's Brandon doing?"
"He's recovering well, actually. Still doesn't have any signs of brain damage," Sam said. "They told me they're going to start hunting. I gave them my number, you know, in case…"
"In case they get themselves in some deep shit?" Dean finished.
"They'll be okay," Sam said, and turned his attention to the show his brother was watching. It was a cop show. He didn't know which one, they all seemed the same to him. "So…" he began.
Dean didn't even look at him. "So?"
"How are you?" Sam asked nonchalantly. How's your memory?
"Since you asked me yesterday?" Dean asked wryly, taking a sip of his beer, "The same." He looked at Sam, and noticed the faint signs of disappointment he was trying to conceal. He bumped his shoulder. "Look. I know you're worried about me, Sammy. But I'm fine," he said, and grinned teasingly, "And not your 'Winchester definition of fine' either. I'm not bleeding everywhere. I can talk, walk, see, and hear, all of which is infinitely better than I'd hoped for a few weeks ago. I'm perfectly fine. And…my memory might come back."
"What if it gets worse?" Sam persisted. "I mean…you might relapse."
"Dude, we've run over this topic so much it's practically roadkill."
"But what if—"
"Would you quit it with your 'what if's' already?" Dean interrupted him, staring him down, "I'm not forgetting my little brother. Period. You have to stop torturing yourself with shit that's never going to happen."
Sam didn't say anything for a moment. "Okay," he said, finally.
"Okay what?" Dean prompted.
"Okay Dean, I'll stop torturing myself with shit that's never going to happen," he said in a singsong voice.
Dean smirked and ruffled his hair. "That wasn't so hard was it?"
"Bite me," Sam said, standing up and heading toward his duffle bag.
"Nah, I'm over cannibalism for now. Thanks for the offer though Sammy, it's really touching how much you care." He smirked and ducked out of the way as Sam threw a dirty shirt at his head.
"I'm showering. Want to get lunch afterwards?" Sam said, heading into the bathroom.
"You really need to ask?" Dean settled back on the couch and took another swig of his beer as he heard the shower turn on. He shut his eyes for a moment, finally giving himself a second to relax.
There was a knock at the door.
Annnnnnnd that about wrapped up that second of relaxation. Who exactly would be at their door? Sam was in the room with him, and no one else knew they were here. There was a second knock, more of an impatient pounding this time. Dean turned up the volume on the television. "You have the wrong room," he called out, already uninterested.
"Open the damn door already!" A man shouted, and the pounding intensified.
"Dean?" Sam's voice inquired from the bathroom.
Groaning, he got to his feet. "I got it, Sam." He walked to the door, picking up a handgun on his way, and peered through the keyhole. Random old guy with a beard. Great. The man beat his fist harder on the wood, and Dean rolled his eyes. "Of for the love of—" he opened the door. "Can I help you?"
"Don't be a smart ass," the man said, shouldering past Dean and into the room. "I've been trying to track you two idjits down for over a day, why the hell haven't you been answering your phones?"
Dean blinked, momentarily caught off guard, and then his gun was up and pointed at the intruder. "Stop," he ordered, voice cold. Who the hell wanted to kill them this time? Hadn't they been through enough in the last month? "Hands up, where I can see them." He nudged the door closed behind him with his foot.
The man turned and saw the gun. His brow furrowed. "Dean?"
"Hands up," Dean repeated, unsettled by the stranger's use of his name, "No sudden moves. Just have a seat on the bed."
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
Sam threw open the bathroom door, his hair still dripping wet. "Dean, no—" he hurriedly strode in front of his brother, one hand pushing down the gun.
"But he just charged in without—"
"Dean," Sam said levelly, "That's Bobby."
Dean froze. Shit. "Uh…" he took another long look at the man on the other side of the room. Nope, still not familiar. "You mean he's…?"
"Yeah," Sam said, taking the gun from his brother's slack fingers and sitting it back on the table.
"He's the guy that you…?"
"Would one of you mind telling me what the hell is going on?" Bobby ground out, stepping closer.
Sam pushed his wet hair out of his eyes and turned to face him. "Well, it's a long story. Basically Dean's got severe memory loss."
Bobby stared at them, trying to digest the situation. "Okay…how severe are we talking here? Short term? A year back?"
Sam paused, shook his head. "Severe," he repeated simply.
"Seriously?" Dean muttered to Sam, "That's how you choose to sum up the last month? Memory loss? Personally, I would have mentioned the zombies—"
"The what?" Bobby cut in, raising his voice.
"Zombies," Sam told him, and turned back to Dean. "You sure nothing about Bobby is ringing any bells right now?"
"Sam. It's an old guy in a hat. I don't know what you expect me to say."
Bobby's mouth opened and shut. He shut his eyes, took a breath, and opened them again. "Okay then," he took another step toward Sam and lowered his voice. "Was he cursed or something? Is there a way to reverse this?"
"I can still hear, you know," Dean said loudly.
"It's not a curse," Sam said, "It's a side effect from an infection."
"What does he remember?"
"Uh…me," Sam said.
"And…" Bobby ground out.
"He's got a vague impression that we hunt monsters for a living. But mostly he just remembers me," Sam told him, and got that look in his eyes again.
Dean groaned and punched him lightly in the arm. "I'm still here, guys," he said meaningfully. Sam shot him a grateful smile.
"What kind of infection causes that type of memory loss?"
"Well, he was a zombie."
"Nearly," Dean spoke up with false enthusiasm, "Nearly a zombie."
Bobby stared at them in disbelief. "Dean was nearly a zombie."
"And you didn't think that it might be a good idea to give me a call?" He growled.
"What?" Sam snapped, throwing his arms out, "Seriously? Bobby, I did call you. Probably a hundred times. I left you so many voicemails that I was beginning to think—"
"Sam," Bobby cut in, "The only voicemail I got from you was the one you sent me two days ago, where you yelled at me for ignoring you for a month and said I better be half dead somewhere or you were going to beat the shit out of me. Trust me, that got my attention. Next time just remember to include your location along with any death threats you want to send my way."
"I'd already told you where we were! In other messages. Why didn't you get any of the my other messages?"
"I don't know, Sam," he said, exasperated, "Believe me, I had no idea you boys were in trouble or I would have hauled ass up here earlier."
Sam rubbed a hand over his face. "How did you find us?"
"I always do, don't I? I've got my sources."
"You're getting a new phone," Sam told him, aware as he said the words that he was being illogical. He didn't care. "Today. To replace that dinosaur you're carrying around."
"Sure," Bobby said kindly, even though his phone was under a year old. "Sure, I'll get a new phone."
"Good," Sam said, expression softening. He let out a long breath. "I'm...glad your not dead."
"Thanks," Bobby said, "I'm glad I'm not dead too. But you two need to tell me everything that happened. Especially..." he paused, sighed. "Sam, he really doesn't remember...?"
"Not yet," Sam said, trying to sound hopeful, "Soon, maybe."
"That's what we're holding out for," Dean broke in, clapping them both on the back, "Don't worry about me, I'm still the most fantastic son of a bitch that ever lived, memory or no." He dug the car keys out of his pocket and strode toward the door. "So before this turns into a full blown chick flick moment, you guys ready to get lunch? Otherwise I'm going to start eating the furniture."
They stared after him. Bobby smirked as he heard the Impala roar to life outside, blasting a guitar solo across the parking lot. "Haven't you been feeding him?"
"He ate two hours ago. I swear he has five stomachs, Bobby. You know how he is," Sam shrugged, rolling his eyes. He swiped his coat off the chair and followed his brother. "Wouldn't have him any other way."
Thank you all for reading! I hope you have enjoyed this story, and please review! :)