Characters: Sam, Dean
Timeline: Season 3, the deal with the crossroad demon a ticking time bomb in the minds of our boys
Summary: Roaming the gloomy flipside of Las Vegas after a series of gory killings gives the Winchesters an unwelcome glimpse of what loneliness and desperation are able to trigger ...
Disclaimer: You know the drill – not mine, still Kripke's, still a part of us anyway
A/N: This has been one of the toughest months/weeks of my life – but this story has been important to me in a difficult time and I don't want to let my faithful readers have to wait for the last (and shortest) part of it. So here is the end, my friends – hope you enjoy. As always I'm immensely grateful for your opinion. Live long and prosper ...
First there was a constant rattling that reminded him of rapid fire. He tried to move and found his arms and legs bound, unfamiliar hands working over his body as if searching for something. His right side seemed to be set on fire and he grunted, frantically trying to open his eyes and get free of the chains.
Someone patted his chest, uttering words that didn't make it over the sound of the gunfire. Then a sting, fueling his panic. His ears filled with the desperate sounds of gasping and panting, someone stammered the same word over and over, not making any sense ...
"He's hyperventilating. Gimme the oxygen mask."
Something cold and hard was pressed over his face, cool air assaulting his lungs. A hand stroked over his head, as if to calm him down.
"Hey pal, easy there. We've got you, you're on your way to the hospital. Your wrist is broken and you've got a nice bump on your head, but you'll be okay. You're some lucky devil – there's already a bunch of drowned people reported."
Sam's eyes opened in terror.
Drowned? Dean ... He recalled his brother's warm embrace, lifting him from one rung to another, and all of a sudden he was gone, as if he'd never been there, vanished with a last desperate cry.
His breathing accelerated again, and he tossed his head from one side to the other to get rid of that stupid mask, hollering. He could feel the painkillers setting in, filling his limbs with cotton balls and his brain with spider webs.
"Whoa, hey – shush, calm down. Listen: You stop moving like a caged tiger and I take away the mask, okay? Deal?"
A woman about Sam's age looked down at him with a concerned smile, cupping her hands around his face to stop him from hurting himself. Her warm brown eyes reached out and anchored him until his breathing slowed down. She removed the mask, bending over him to be able to hear his agitated gasps over the noise of the chopper.
"My brother, Dean. He's out there ... fell into the channel when he tried to save me."
Something warm trickled down his cheeks. He didn't care. Time was running out.
"We have to find him, please! Help him. Get ..."
The darkness was back, covering him in a choking embrace. Red lips hovered above him, moving, but all he could hear was a static hissing, receding into nothingness.
The next time he woke up in total silence, and the concerned eyes staring down at him had changed their color into a mossy green. For a second he remembered the insane plan he'd had for the shapeshifter and he jerked back, cold with fear.
"Hey, I can't look worse than you brother." The voice feigning mock hurt, only the eyes revealing Dean's emotions – worry, exhaustion, relief and something else, hidden behind.
"Dean, that really you?" Sam's tongue felt like an alien inside his mouth, too large and dry and very clumsy.
"Yep, dumbass. Do I need to cut myself with a silver knife or is my word going to be good enough?" He was only half joking. In their line of business pure faith could be a deadly sentiment.
"No, I – I guess it's alright." He wanted to reach out, touch his brother to make sure he was really there, sitting beside him, not drowned, not dead. He looked down at the white cast around his arm, his brain too dizzy to process the new situation.
Dean rose from the chair and sat down on the bed beside his brother, grunting a bit when he strained his messed up leg. The large gash had earned him 15 neat stitches and some admiring glances from the blonde nurse who'd assisted the doctor. The pain was a bitch, but nothing that a healthy dose of painkillers and a few shots of JD couldn't cure.
"Want something to drink?" he asked softly. Sam nodded, licking over dry lips.
Dean helped his brother to sit up, held his feeding cup and sustained his neck when Sam fell back into the pillow, weak as a kitten. The hand remained at his neck for a few seconds, warm and reassuring, telling Sam more than words how much he cared.
"So you've sent me some angels coming right from the sky to rescue me, huh?" Dean asked, with a strangely quivering smile. "You DO know how much I love flying, right? Err, thanks – anyway."
"So they really came after you?" Sam asked, the tension slowly leaving his body when he felt his brother's weight right beside him. "But how did you ... I thought ... when I looked into that goddamned stream" – he swallowed.
Dean shook his head.
"I don't know what kind of mojo it is that's drawing all sorts of freaks to you ..." he instantly regretted his choice of words when a Sam closed his eyes and turned his head away.
"Whatever," Dean coughed slightly, "seems as if that Shapeshifter saved my life. Freaks me out, to tell you the truth. He killed all these people – probably killed Steve too, and everything in me screamed to rip his heart out, but he saved me. It feels wrong, Sammy."
His brother turned back to look at him. "I know," he said softly "it ain't easy to deal with all shades of grey instead of the usual black and white. He ... it's as if he'd sneaked into my mind, my thoughts," he shuddered. "He said that I'm ..."
Dean laid his hand on Sam's shoulder. "Don't," he whispered. "You're not like him."
"But the things he was willing to do – the things that made him a monster in our line of business … I'd do them too, if it would save you. You're everything that's left, everything that means something to me. I can't ..."
"Aw Jeez, Sammy", Dean barely managed to keep control over his voice. He had tried to avoid this conversation, but deep inside he knew exactly how Sam was feeling. It was the same mix of rage, desperation, guilt and love that Dean had felt when he had discovered the kind of deal his dad had made. Just that back then it was too late to do anything about it.
"I get it, Sam. I really do. And I'm sorry about it. Believe me, if there'd been any other way to go …," he swallowed. "But having to feel the life seeping out of you, having to watch your body, so quiet, so strange …"
Dean inhaled, shifting uncomfortably. "It was like … something in me had taken control, and I was glad it did, because I felt blind and deaf and dead. The worst thing had already happened to me. There couldn't be anything more terrifying than that. So I made the deal. And I'm glad I did …"
"But?" Sam whispered, unconsciously leaning a bit more into his brother, not needing to look at his brother to exactly know how vulnerable that kind of confession made Dean.
"I don't wanna go Sammy." Voice rasp from raw emotion. "I mean, you know the rules. You know I won't jeopardize your life. But I ain't ready to die too. So if there's a way out of this mess, any way, we'll find it, okay? Just ... don't try it alone, ya hear me?"
Sam tensed, looking guilty.
A shaky smile.
And this time the silence felt comforting.