Sam glanced at his watch for the fifth time in ten minutes while his dad slept off the effects of the sedative given to him during his procedure.
Even though it had only been about an hour and a half since Dean left, he hadn't heard a word from his brother. He tried not to worry, but he had a nagging, sickening feeling in his stomach that told him that he needed to check up on him.
Sam tapped his foot up and down in nervousness. Another anxious five minutes ticked by and he decided it was time to call his brother and make sure that he wasn't in any kind of trouble.
He dialed Dean's number and it went straight to voicemail, which wasn't a good sign since his brother had been adamant that he call him should anything happen at the hospital.
"Shit …" He muttered.
"Sam?" He looked up and saw that his father had woken up, concern written on his face, "What's wrong?"
John had been too out of it since his procedure for Sam to tell him about Dean taking off after the witch. Sam didn't want to stress his father out after his recent heart attack, but he had to know where Dean and Caleb would have gone to hunt her down. He had a sinking feeling that they had gotten over in over their heads and with his father in no shape to leave bed let alone chase down Dean; it was up to Sam to track down his brother.
"Dad … Dean went to finish the job you and Caleb had in town. But he's not back yet or answering his phone – do you know where they would have gone to find her?"
"He what?" John asked with a slur in his speech that gave away his confusion and fogginess thanks to the drugs.
"I need to find Dean, Dad."
"No … you can't" His father tried to push himself up, but Sam stopped him with a hand against his chest, gently pushing him back down.
"You're not going anywhere and I'm not an invalid, Dad. I can do this. You taught me everything you know, remember? Dean's in trouble, I just know it and I need to find him. Now, where could they have gone?"
"You have to trust me, Dad." His father sighed then nodded his head.
"There's a house at the east end of town -"
Dad explained everything - what he was up against and the location of the house where he and Caleb had planned on paying the suspected witch a visit.
As soon as his father was done, Sam was up and heading for the door, but stopped when his father spoke up in an authoritative voice, "Be careful, Sam."
Dean had been in some pretty sticky situations before, but he always somehow found a way out of them. This time however, he had no idea how to get out of this and he was coming to the dishearting conclusion that he and Caleb were completely screwed.
If he survived this ... and that was a big 'if' ... his father was gonna tan his hide for all of the mistakes he had made - for underestimating the witch's power, for letting himself get caught ... for refusing Sam's offer to back them up -
Then again, he was glad Sam wasn't there. His own death he could face without too much fear, but the thought of his little brother in this kind of peril was far scarier. Sure, Sam had been trained well by their father and during the years he had hunted, he proved himself capable, but Sam was at a physical disadvantage now and shouldn't be anywhere near a hunt.
The witch holding them captive in her kitchen had apparently grown tired of holding Caleb and Dean down with only her power and had just finished tightly strapping them both to their chairs with sturdy ropes when she discovered Dean's cell phone in his pocket and promptly destroyed the device with the heel of her shoe.
Dean lamented the loss of his phone, but not for long as he had bigger problems to worry about.
"You know … it's a good thing you guys stopped by, I was running low on human blood. It's an important ingredient in so many things." the witch cooed, brandishing her knife and approaching Dean slowly with the blade.
"Where to start?" She wondered out loud with an evil grin, her face close enough to Dean's for him to smell her cigarette flavored breath, "Wrists? … Femoral artery? … Jugular? So many choices."
She snickered, "Then again, I wouldn't want to you to bleed out too fast … where's the fun in that?"
"Leave him the Hell alone!" Caleb shouted from his chair, fighting his restraints.
"Shut up, Hunter!" She yelled back and suddenly Caleb couldn't speak, his mouth moving, but no words coming out.
"Just get it over with, Bitch." Dean spat out. "Enough with the maniacal shit already, it's so cliché."
"You know, you're right. Let's get this over with. I'm sick of hearing you breathe."
The witch grabbed hold of the collars on Dean's shirt and yanked them apart, sending buttons flying in all directions. She used her knife next to cut away his t-shirt underneath, exposing his bare chest.
Without any further preamble, she took the knife and started carving into his flesh. Dean bit down on his tongue to hold back the scream building in his throat as she made three deep slashes across his chest and let them bleed.
She took a plastic Tupperware container and pressed the lip of it against the cuts, allowing the blood to drip into it, collecting it for future use as Dean struggled uselessly against his bonds.
Her face came in close to his once again and she smiled. Despite the stinging pain flaring, Dean grinned back, thinking about how stupid it was of her to get that close to his forehead and snapped his head back and slammed it forward into hers. Their heads collided with a resonating crack and Dean's sight exploded into an agonizing white.
The witch fell across the floor, stunned and bleeding, but roared back up in anger, raising a hand and using all of her wrathful power to propel Dean, chair and all, into the farthest wall.
The last thing he was aware of was gunfire.
Everything went black after that.
For once, Sam's father hadn't disappointed him.
His info about where Dean and Caleb would have gone was right on the money and Sam wasted no time parking his father's truck behind the Impala sitting empty alongside the street. He didn't waste a second getting out of the vehicle and for the first time since he got his new leg, he broke into a run, hurrying as fast as he could towards the ramshackle house his father described.
As soon as he forced the door open, his worst fears were confirmes as he saw his brother bound to a chair and flying backwards. There was a loud crash as Dean hit the wall and fell to the floor, still and bleeding.
Sam didn't hesitate to pull the trigger.
"No!" Sam shouted, the gun Dean had given him went off three times in quick succession straight for the surprised, dark-haired woman.
Her body jerked with each bullet that ripped into her chest until she collapsed onto the floor.
Sam rushed into the kitchen, his heart beating furiously in his chest as he dropped to the floor beside his unconscious brother, ignoring the witch's body lying on the floor. He let go of the gun and with shaky hands then checked for a pulse. When he found it beating rapidly against his fingertips, he finally let out the breath he had been holding since breaking in and took a knife he found on the floor to swiftly cut loose the ropes restraining his brother.
"Sam!" He turned sharply towards the sound of Caleb's voice and saw the other hunter tied to a chair as well, but failed to notice what Caleb was alerting him to - that that the body on the floor was moving.
Just as soon as he realised what was causing the other hunter's distress, he felt his body lift into the air, a power grabbing him and flinging him across the room like a ragdoll until he hit the far wall. Sam's head contacted hard with the drywall and he saw stars enter his field of view.
Sam expected gravity to take over and drop him to the floor, but Half-way up the wall he found himself pinned, held tight by an unseen force, unable to move a muscle.
The next thing he knew, the witch he thought he had killed was in his face. She was bleeding from the gunshot holes he had pumped into her chest, but they didn't seem to faze her as she glared at him menacingly.
"That wasn't very nice." She spat into his face then she looked down and noticed the artificial leg dangling from the bottom of his jeans. It had come loose during his flight across the room and had almost fallen off once he impacted the wall. She grinned as she bent down to pull the leg off the rest of the way.
"Look at this … what happened? Werewolves bite your leg off?" She tossed the prosthetic over her shoulder, keeping her eyes trained on Sam.
She moved closer to him and Sam could see just how ugly she was. She had several missing teeth, smelled like stale cigarettes and her skin was as leathery as an elephant's hide. He shivered involuntarily as she filled his vision.
"These two friends of yours?" She asked, nodding her head towards Caleb and Dean.
Sam's nostrils flared in anger, but he refused to answer her.
"You know …I'm getting really sick of all of you hunters thinking that you can barge into my business. It's time I got a little more proactive and make sure none of you comes after me again. Now ... that other boy mentioned that he had a father – undoubtedly another hunter that wants me dead that I'm gonna have to deal with. So, I tell you what - You tell me who he is and I might let you live … heck I may even throw in a brand new leg if you lead me to him."
"Go to Hell." He told her.
"Oh please … I've been around for a long time. I know a hunter when I see one and you're not much of one - you're too damaged to be much of a threat to me. Plus, I can see it in your eyes – you don't have the passion for hunting like these other two morons. You don't even like it do you? "
"Sam … don't listen to her. She's lying!" Caleb shouted as he struggled in the chair he was strapped to.
The witch ignored Caleb's comments, keeping her focus solely on Sam, "I could kill you and your friends here with a snap of my fingers, but I'd rather have that boy's father taken care of before he comes after me as well. So, what do you say? It's the bargain of a lifetime."
Sam only sneered in response.
"Oh c'mon … l know how badly you want that leg back – to be normal again. I can feel it – you want it more than anything. So, just show me where the other hunter is and you can have what you desire the most."
Sam paused and she smiled, believing that he was considering her deal. He then opened his mouth to reply, "If I agree, how can I be sure that you won't welch on the deal?"
"Okay … tell you what. I'll give you the leg first then you take me to him or … I can slowly kill your friends here while you watch and then do the same to you. You're choice."
Sam swallowed and gulped hard, forcing himself to maintain eye contact with her, "Fine. I'll do it, but only under one condition."
"And what would that be?" She questioned suspiciously.
"You gotta talk to my brother first." Sam explained, nodding to a spot behind her shoulder.
"Wha-?" She turned suddenly, leaving Sam pinned to the wall, but ran right into the reason why he had been stalling for time by playing along with her.
Dean met the surprised witch's forehead with the gun Sam left near him, "Sayonara, bitch." Dean snarled then pulled the trigger.
The barrel of the weapon exploded with a flash and a cloud of smoke. The bullet didn't have far to travel as it passed clean through her brain and destroyed the back of her head, spraying bone, brain matter, and blood everywhere. Her body dropped to the floor and her lifeless eyes stared up at nothing as Dean shot three more rounds into her head for good measure, his face a picture of wrath, hate and disgust.
Sam fell immediately to the floor and looked up to Dean, breathing heavily from the adrenaline still coursing through his veins.
His brother swayed on his feet, bleeding from his head and chest while giving Sam a cocky smirk, "Not bad, Sammy. Guess you're not that rusty after all." he quipped just before his eyes rolled up in his head and he passed out cold.
Dean smelled disinfectant, bleached sheets, and iodine. That was his first clue that when he opened his eyes, he's be looking up at the acoustic ceiling tiles of a hospital.
Sure enough, as soon as he dragged his heavy eyelids open, he was greeted by that expected sight.
"Dean? You awake?" Sam asked, dropping into Dean's field of view.
Dean was sure that was the dumbest question he had ever heard come from his brother's mouth, "No … I always open my eyes when I want to keep sleeping. Of course I'm awake." He turned his head, immediately regretting the movement as a spike of pain pushed into his brain while Sam sat down into an uncomfortable looking chair next to his bed.
Assessing his brother, Dean saw that Sam had a purple and red bruise on his cheek, but otherwise he looked pretty good considering the memories of the witch Dean had coming back to him.
"You okay, Sammy?" He asked, "That's quite a shiner you got there."
"I'm fine, Dean … you're the one you should be worried about. You've got a concussion, two bruised ribs and it took twenty stiches to put you back together. Plus, you scared me half to death passing out like you did."
"I did not pass out." Dean insisted. "I lost consciousness – there's a very manly difference."
"Dude … you fainted like a southern belle with a case of the vapors."
"Shut up." Dean tried to shift into a comfortable position, which was harder than it should have been, but everything hurt and any kind of movement pulled at the stitches in his chest.
"Here … let me." Sam stopped him from moving and pressed the button on the side of the bed that raised the head so Dean could sit up.
"Better?" Sam asked.
"Yeah … thanks." Dean closed his eyes for a moment, allowing his body to ride through the wave of pain the movement caused and after it subsided to a dull ache, he opened his eyes again and started asking all of the questions rattling around in his head.
"He's doing pretty well and his doctors say he should be able to leave the hospital tomorrow. He's gonna have to take it easy for a while and he needs to start taking better care of himself, but he should be back to normal activity in a month or so."
"Good … He always was a tough son of a bitch."
"Ain't that the truth."
"What about Caleb?"
"He's fine too and says he's planning an leaving as soon as he's sure you and Dad are gonna be okay."
"Speaking of Dad … you and he...?"
"We're good ... really. I mean, things aren't perfect, but we've talked and that's a start. So, it's kind of a work in progress."
"Well ... like you said, at least that's a start. I'm just glad you guys can be in the same room without killing each other."
"Give it a week and we'll see," Sam pointed out, "Dad's bound to be pretty cranky about being cooped up and unable to hunt for a while."
"Crap … yeah, he's gonna be a bowl full of cheer." Dean agreed then thought of another burning question on his mind.
"Can I ask you something personal?"
"Since when has my permission ever stopped you before?"
"Seriously, Sammy …" Dean tried to prove to his brother that he wasn't kidding around, "That witch – You think she could have really given you a new leg? It makes me wonder if maybe we should look into that – see if there's someone out there that can do that for you. Maybe not a witch, but someone ... you know ... not evil."
Sam shook his head and pursed his lips "Nah – the power to do something like that is never good, Dean. Besides, I'm good ...really. I can walk and I can still go to school and do all of the things I did before. And that's all because of you and Bobby. So …" Sam grabbed Dean's shoulder and squeezed it affectionately, "thanks for that – I'm not sure if I ever told you how much appreciated your help ... I don't think I could have done it alone."
Dean felt heat rise in his cheeks and cleared his throat before he completely turned into a woman and started bawling.
"So uh …" He started, desperate to change the subject, "How about finding a way to get me outta here, huh?"
"Nope, not going to happen, the doctor said you need to stay one more night."
"Doctor's … what do they know besides how to charge obscene amounts of money for something we can do ourselves in a motel room."
"Don't be such a baby, Dean." Sam came back, rising from his seat, "It's not like being in here will kill you."
"I'm not so sure, Sammy. I've seen the food they serve here—"
Sam headed for the door and Dean called out, "Hey – where you going?"
"To get you a Big Mac, but only if you stay in that bed."
"Make it a double quarter pounder with cheese, bacon, extra pickles, a side of large fries, a milkshake, and apple pie and you got yourself a deal."
"Jeez … anything on the menu you don't want?"
"I guess that should just about cover it – for now anyway."
Two weeks later …
Dean pulled up to the curb then looked into the backseat. "Need any help with your stuff?"
"Nah – I'm good, Dean."
"You sure?" John asked from the passenger seat.
"Really, you guys – the terminal is like twenty feet away, I think I can handle it. You two are the ones that are supposed to be taking it easy, remember?"
Dean and their father shared a withering glance, "We're fine, Sam." Dean reassured him.
"I know – but, maybe you guys should stay with Bobby for another week or two until you're both 100%."
"Sam … " His father stopped him, "Bobby's been great to let us stay with him this long, but if we spend one more day with him, we might drive the poor guy insane and he might actually shoot me next time he pulls a shotgun on me. But don't worry, Dean and I are gonna take a few weeks off before finding another job. So, we'll be fine, got it?"
"Yes." Dean and John answered in unison.
"Alright then, "Sam relented and opened his door, pulling his bag out with him. John and Dean each got out of the car as well and joined him where he stood awkwardly between them, "Promise me you guys will be careful, okay?"
"Of course we will, Sammy. We're the epitome of careful." Dean waved off his concern with sarcasm.
Sam smirked, "Is that supposed to reassure me, Jerk?"
"It's the best I can do, Bitch." Dean reached up and squeezed Sam's shoulder before playfully slapping him across the back, "Now go – go be one with your kind at school."
"Yeah, ya know … dorks, nerds, geeks –"
Sam cut his brother off with a swift kick in the shin with his prosthetic, glad that he couldn't feel the impact and grinning as Dean hopped around, grabbing his leg dramatically.
"Owwww … damn that hurt."
John loudly cleared his throat, signaling that the time to let Sam leave had come, "Alright you two … Sam's got a plane to catch."
Sam sighed heavily, "Yeah ... I guess I better go. Stop by and see me next time you guys are in California, alright?"
"Of course we will, dumbass." Dean assured him, adding an admonishment of his own, "And call every once in a while, will ya?"
"I will." Sam promised.
Sam turned his attention from his brother and then shifted uncomfortably, eyeing his father, unsure of how to say good-bye to him. Things still weren't perfect between them, but over the last couple of weeks, they had come to an understanding of each other. John had come accept that Sam wasn't hunter as much as Sam had accepted the fact that his father would always be one. Maybe they would never have the ideal father-son relationship, but both of them were trying to knock down some of the walls that they had built up between them.
After a moment's deliberation, Sam offered his hand for John to shake. But his father ignored it and deliberately walked up to his youngest son, took him by the shoulders with both hands, then pulled him into a tight embrace.
John whispered into his ear, "You know that you make me proud, right? … You always have, son."
"Thanks, Dad …" Sam beamed, feeling warmth blooming in his chest from the unexpected praise and squeezed his father back in kind. "I'll see you soon."