You And Me And The Things We Hunt
Final Chapter Two
I lost sight of Sam, but not his boot prints; which were stamped on the dusty floor of a long, narrow hallway. I kept my eyes and my flashlight's beam on them, rushing to play catch up. From the day I heard a baby was on the way, I wanted to keep that kid in my pocket. And from the day I first heard him cry, I wanted to wipe those tears away. I hadn't done a good job of either of those things. Sam was never one to stay in anyone's pocket and he had cried oceans since I'd drug his ass away from Stanford.
"What the hell, Dean," I growled, wiping a sleeve across my stinging eyes and shutting off my own waterworks. And I thought Sam was the overly sensitive one here.
Leaving my own stupid chick-flick moment behind, I adjusted the weapon's bag on my shoulder and picked up my pace. Sam's prints lead me to a carpeted stairway. Gripping the solid oak banister, I made my way up. The moldy ancient plaster walls were lined with framed photographs. Behind the dirty glass, the pictures were severely water-damaged. The half-human, half-troll looking faces dripping and giving me something else I rarely got – the chills.
I ran out of boot prints when I hit the top of the steps. Right in front of me was an intricately carved, oak door slightly ajar door, a glow of white light shining behind it. I hesitated, checking out the area. To my left was more hallway, and to my right a blank wall. I turned off the flashlight and stowed it in the weapon's bag. Didn't need to announce my approach as I quietly crept forward and peered through the crack.
My eyes went straight through the room to the opposite side. There was a large, glassless window framed by ragged curtains flapping about in the warm breeze. Outside, the moon hung low and huge in the vast black sky as if someone had just put it there, like a hung painting. The milky-white glow illuminated the shadowy pattern of craters and slops creating a creepy man-in-the-moon face, and my chills increased, feeling as though I was being watched.
I glanced around qucikly. Thin strips of shadows moved across the glass glittering in the cracks of the wooden floor. I waited a moment to be sure that was all that was moving. Satisfied, I pushed the door open just enough to squeeze by and stepped inside a very large, squared off room.
Aside from the ten-inch layer of dust and the broken window, the room looked intact and like a shrine. Nobody having touched a thing in years. A king-sized canopy-styled bed with a large mosquito net draped over it was pushed up against one wall. Next to that, two oak dressers with weird frilly lamps and vases holding dried, long-dead flowers sat on top of each. The walls were lined with bookshelves, and there was an open closet obviously shared by a man and a woman, judging by the old fifties-style suits, shirts, ties, skirts and dresses. Not to mention the handbags, black shoes, red high heels, and pink hatboxes sitting on a top shelf. On the other side of the room was a small kitchenette, a stove, refrigerator and a sink, a few dirty dishes still sitting in it. In another far corner of the room was a heavy-duty lawyer-like desk littered with books and papers, and a nameplate that read: Arthur Glattke.
This was the Warden's chambers. Warden Glattke and his wife both had died here.
I felt that chill again and glanced around. No sign of any ghosts, and there were no fugly-faced pictures hanging on the walls either, but still I shivered.
"Sammy, where are you, man?" I started to leave the room when I hit a cold spot. The warm breeze blowing through the window picked up snapping the curtains and bringing with it the scent of roses. "And we're off." I drew my salt gun.
There came a click, click sound and everything turned foggy and watery-gray. Then they appeared. The three dimensional images of a man sitting at his desk – Warden Glattke – I was fairly certain as I'd seen photographs on the net. And across the room - up on tip-toes and rummaging around on the top shelf of the open closest - a woman dressed in a pink bath robe – his wife – Helen. Even under the fluffy robe, I could see she was tiny, little more than a skeleton.
I realized right away they were not aware of me. This was a residual haunting, an echo, a video replay of what had happened in this room long ago. I stowed my gun remembering the story I'd researched. The story went, Helen had been searching in the closet for something and accidently knocked the Warden's gun to the floor ironically sending a stray bullet into her chest and into her heart. The rumors ran through the prison like wildfire. Most felt that the Warden murdered his wife. That there had been a cover-up, but there was never any evidence and he'd died only nine years later of a heart attack, sitting at the very same desk he sat at now.
I stood a silent witness, watching the echo play out:
"You know I can't do it, Helen," Warden Glattke slowly got up from his desk.
"Arthur, you promised me. It's what I want. I need you to do this. I need it to be you."
"Helen, I love you. I can't. I won't." Glattke trudged across the room, bone weary, like a man heading for the gallows as he came to stand before her.
"I can't do it myself." She got off her tip-toes and turned from the closet, pressing a .22 caliber handgun to his chest.
"No." Galttke shook his head frantically, refusing to take the gun. "No."
"Please. You have to," she said through thin trembling lips.
"We'll find a cure."
"There is no cure for cancer. You know that. We've tried. You've tried. There's nothing left to do," she cried shoving the gun more forcefully at him.
"I'll make it go away," Glattke said, refusing to take the gun. "Put the gun down. We'll find a way." He cupped her cheek, staring into her sunken in eyes.
"Arthur the cancer…it's a monster inside me …eating me alive."
"Helen, no." He ran a thumb over her hollowed out cheeks. "I can't. How can I?"
"Because I asked you to," She simply stated, taking his hand. "Because you love me that much." She wrapped his fingers around the gun. "Because, it hurts." She frowned deeply, "Because I can't live like this. I won't live like this. I'm begging you," she wept.
Glattke took the gun, every inch of him shaking. Heavy, fat tears racing unbridled down both his cheeks. "I love you," he said, leveling the gun to her chest then pulling the trigger.
The gun went off with a loud bang and Helen fell dead – facedown - to the floor. The gun fell from Glattke's hand and he dropped to his knees into the rusty-red pool of his wife's blood.
Within seconds, the echo faded away and the breeze died down, but still I shivered. The rumors were wrong. The Warden had not killed his wife, nor was her death an accident. It was a-
"Mercy killing," the words slipped past my lips, eyes still trained on the dark spot on the floor by the closet.
The Warden's wife was sick, near death and in terrible pain. As a kid, I'd watched one of dad's hunter friends die of the disease. Cancer was as much a monster as any I'd ever hunted. There was nothing more the Warden could do. His wife asked him to do it, and he had, though it killed him. They'd made a pact and he'd seen it through, a commendable act on his part that obviously had torn the man apart. Crushed him. Just like -
"Aw, Sammy," I barely whispered. I had to find Sam and shag ass out of here.
What I thought would be a cake-walk hunt to distract Sam, would only break Sam's heart all over again if he saw this. Something suddenly crept up into the spot behind me and the chill left my body.
Of course, he would show up now. Kid had impeccable timing
I put on my game-face and whirled around. "Don't do that!" I whacked Sam upside his head, mussing his hair.
"Owe, damn it, Dean." Sam rubbed away the sting and smoothed strands of hair back into place. "What was that for, man?" he gipped, not appearing to have seen or heard anything.
"Brotherly love," I spat, using all the sarcasm I could muster, too worried to really care if I jostled his already screwed up head. "What do you think it was for, Sam? That's what you get for taking off on me like that." I gave his shoulder a punch for good measure.
"Dude, I was gone two minutes," Sam complained, rubbing his shoulder, "Checking out a room down the hall."
"Let's go." I grabbed him roughly by the arm and started to tow him from the room. "And you were gone for four."
"What's your rush and call us even." Sam pulled away.
"Even for what?" I reached for him again.
"Shock therapy." Sam maneuvered away from my outstreched hand.
"I'm ready to go, Sam." I got serious, not that I wasn't serious before.
"I'm not, Dean." Sam continued to buck like a mule tied to a stake.
We stared each other down like a couple of deer about to lock horns. Sam wasn't stupid. He knew there was a reason for my rush. But my patience was gone, and I wasn't telling him crap. I was the oldest and if I said we were out- we were out. I grabbed for him again, this time with fierce determination. That echo would be back and I didn't want him seeing any part of it.
Sam's face went hard and he danced away from me with all the execution of a professional boxer.
"You son of a bitch," I growled. "That how you want to play it?"
Sam shrugged. "That's how."
I circled to the left, Sam circled to the right. I hopped forward. Sam skipped backward. We twirled, pirouetted, promenade left, promenade right, and did the fucking do-si-do before we both did the Mexican stand-off in the center of the room.
"You finished?" Sam huffed.
"Mostly," I puffed, fisting my hand and thinking I'd throw a punch to his gut, but the creases of pain around his eyes stopped me and I dropped my hand to my side. "Fine, we're even. Whatever, Captain bent-out-of-shape, you can stay here if you want. I'm out." I shouldered past Sam, in a hurry to leave, heading for the door.
"Where are we going now?" Sam followed on my heels like a lost puppy.
I smiled. Kid never did understand the concept of the bluff. "Don't get your feathers in a tizzy, Samantha. I'm done hunting lame-ass ghosts, and this place is full of them. Taking you shopping at one of those expensive chick boutiques you like so much instead."
"What? No massage parlor, Dean?" Sam smirked.
I laughed at that. Sam seemed to be loosening up. Maybe this baby-cake hunt wasn't such a bad idea after all. I just needed to get us out of here before -
We both stopped in our tracks and stiffened against the sudden cold spot. "Crap," we sung out, turning simultaneously.
The breeze had picked up again, curtains flapping in the wind and a few papers fluttered off the Warden's desk.
Sam drew his salt gun like Eastwood, scanning the room that had once again turned watery-foggy gray.
"Shit." I grabbed him by the arm and spun him away. "Relax, Sam, just an echo," I informed, calmly trying to maneuver him out the door. "Put the gun away."
"Dean. No. Wait." Sam turned back toward the room.
Warden Glattke appeared, sitting at his desk, his wife reaching up on her tiptoes to the top shelf of the closet.
"Sam, we can't help them, okay." I tried to get him moving again.
"We could try to wake them," Sam said, cramming his gun back inside his jacket.
The Warden got up, and slowly walked across the room. I didn't have much time here.
"It's a friggin' echo, dude, you know that never works." I seized his arm again and stepped in front of him, getting all up in his face and trying to block his view, but the kid had too many inches on me.
"Dean! What are you doing? Get off me." Sam tried to push past. "Let me see."
Damn 'bighearted – be the hero -save- the-world' kid. Sam knew trying to wake an echo was a huge waste of time. And as many times as we, and even dad, had attempted it, we'd never succeeded. I'd never heard of any hunter that was able to. Besides, this particular echo hit too close to heart and home.
"Sam," I yanked harder, "Let's go," I insisted, going into panic mode as the Warden came to step in front of his wife. I needed Sam out of here.
"Dean, just give me a minute to try." He broke my hold, overstepping my big brother authority. "Hey! Hey! Wake up!" Sam shouted, circling and waving his arms like a lunatic in front of the Warden and then his wife.
"Son of a bitch," I growled, unable to stop him.
The second Helen brought the gun down and handed it off to Glattke, Sam literally froze mid-wave, like he'd looked into the eyes of Medusa and had turned to stone.
"Because, it hurts." Helen frowned deeply, "Because I can't live like this. I won't live like this. I'm begging you," she wept.
Sam didn't blink, didn't look like he was breathing even, just watched in horror as the echo played out before him. When the gun went off Sam startled violently watching as Helen fell to the floor followed by the Warden kneeling in her blood.
The echo faded and everything stilled.
Sam turned to look at me, tears forming in his eyes. His pain cut open all over again, not that it ever healed. I just stared back, not knowing what to say or do and it took a minute for me to find my voice.
"I had no idea we'd run into an echo," I said thickly. I'm sorry, buddy. I didn't want you to see that. She had cancer. He did it for her."
Sam shook his head, opening and closing his mouth but no words came.
"Let's just go, pal."
Sam shook his head again.
Before I could argue or make a move the cold was back. The echo coming faster than before for some odd reason. The curtains started flapping wildly, and the watery-gray fog filled the room as the Warden appeared at his desk.
Sam sucked in a deep breath and unfroze, jumping in front of Glattke as he rose up out of his chair. Once again, Sam tried to wake him, dancing in front of him as the Warden walked across the room. Only this time Sam did so with ten times more desperation. I decided the only way to end this was to help him.
Called to action, I ran over to Helen. "Lady! Wake up! You're dead! Wake the hell up." I swung at her hard as she came down off her toes as if I could knock the gun out of her hand. I couldn't "Come on! Wake up!"
Behind me Sam screamed, "It wasn't your fault. None of it was your fault. You did what she wanted. You need to wake up!""
That was healthy thinking on Sam's part. Still, the echo played out, neither ghost seeing or hearing us.
Sam and I stood back-to-back now between the two. He continued to shout at the Warden, me his wife. Still nothing. This wasn't working. The gun would go off again any second now. That's when I heard Sam change his tone and his tactics.
"It was your fault, you bastard," Sam shrieked angrily. "You killed her. You suck. You're no hero. She didn't want to die. She wanted you to save her. Needed you to save her and what did you do? You pulled that trigger…ended her life. She wanted to live and you killed her!" he shouted tearfully, near hysterical. "She wanted to live, damn you! Nobody wants to die, no matter what. You killed her. You did it. You killed -"
"Sam!" I stopped trying to wake Helen and spun around. "Sam!" Snatching my brother by the biceps, I shoved him backward toward the door. "That's enough."
Sam jerked away and kept shouting over my shoulder at the Warden over and over the same line. "You killed her."
Warden Glattke raised the gun and pointed it at his wife's chest.
"Hey, hey, hey," I continued to wrestle Sam away from the echo. "I said that's a friggin' 'nough."
Sam wasn't giving up, and my progress getting him out of there was too slow. The gun went off and Helen dropped to the floor- dead – again.
But then something did change. The water-gray mist suddenly thickened and the moon outside the open window dimmed from white to blue.
I caught sight of the Warden. He glanced up from his dead wife, looked around the room then directly at me. He blinked hard, frowned, shook his head and looked around again. Holy shit he was awake, we'd managed the unheard of. We'd woken up an echo. The Warden looked confused, then scared, then confused again. He stood slack-jawed as he came closer to conscious awareness. I imagined he probably felt like Dorothy opening her farmhouse door and stepping out of her black and white home into over-the-rainbow Technicolor.
His body, then Helen's body began to ripple and shimmy and flashes of lightning began to zing around the room. They both turned into mist, a mist that quickly evolved into a hissing, growling funnel cloud; whirring around the room and sucking up and destroying everything in its path with a voracious appetite.
First the curtains ripped away from the window, then the chair, the desk, the dressers, the bed were sucked into the twister.
Damn thing even stole the weapon's bag from my shoulder as I ducked, covering my head with my hands. Planks began to pull away from the walls, and slivers of glass bit into my flesh. Peeking up from under my arm, I noticed Sam, still standing there in a trance-like state, looking down at the bloody pool still visible on the floor.
Sam raised his head and stared at me, but he didn't move. It was as if he too, had just opened that farmhouse door.
From then on out, everything seemed to move in slow slug-like motion. The echo turned indoor tornado whirred around the room destructively. Before I could do a damn thing, something whacked Sam in the head and broke, pieces falling to the floor, but Sam remained steady on his feet as if he hadn't felt a thing. He just stood there staring straight at me. His brow was creased; jaw clenched tight and twitching, throat bobbing. There was a gash that split his left eyebrow in two, a pencil thin line of blood streaming over his lashes and slipping down the slope of his nose to drip off its tip.
A lamp flew my way and I ducked just in time, narrowly avoiding decapitation.
I glanced at Sam again; he was weaving off his feet.
"Son of a-"I hurled myself toward my bottoming out brother, grabbed him by a flaccid arm and manhandled his overgrown ass, pushing him backward toward the only shelter I could find - the closet.
"Ahhh!" Sam shrieked in agony as I slammed his back against the back of the closet wall, his ribs taking the brunt of the force and his big head knocking the shelf above us loose.
Boxes and shoes and clothes on their metal hangers fell down around our ears. "Shit." I reached back for the closet doorknob and pulled the door closed, sealing us inside.
"Shit. Sorry, sorry," I breathed, sliding to the floor, on top of Sam.
Outside the closet came the torrent sounds of plaster cracking, wood splitting and other noises that involved general mass destruction. We were wedged in good, Sam crushed beneath my weight in the dark confines, his heart pumping full force against my chest.
"D'n?" Sam wheezed in and out, fighting to move his arms or his legs.
"Right here in front of your face," I hissed, unable to see a thing.
"Echo…we woke an echo." Sam flailed about in the small confines trying to stand.
"You think?" I panted, one hand pressing him down. "And let's never do that again." I felt around his pockets for a pent light.
"What are you doing?"
"Just take it easy," I growled, finding the penlight and flicking the switch on. "Let me see you." I directed the small beam about coming across the cut I knew to be on Sam's eyebrow. "You're a bloody mess." I said, glancing at his previous cheek wound then pressing my palm against the fresh cut, blood already sticky and clotting.
"D'n," Sam slurred, frantically turning his head away from me, only to clunk it against the closet wall. "Out, out." He squirmed, reaching for the doorknob.
Damn kid always was claustrophobic.
"You're not going anywhere, man." I shoved him back, and straddled his legs to keep him put. "Staying in this matchbox until whatever is going on out there stops."
"I have to-" Sam choked, weakly struggling.
"Sam-" I hunkered further over him, tugging several wool sweaters off my shoulders. "We stay here in Mr. Rodger's closet. It's the only port in the storm."
And what a storm. How could one little echo cause so much damage. Outside our little bomb shelter nothing was stopping. It was like an all-out war was taking place on the other side of that door.
The wind roared and bombs went off, avalanches slid down mountain sides and the world sounded like it might just crack in half.
"-get out." Sam spasmed against me. "Dean. Let me out!"
As if Sam's words bore some sort of 'open says me' power, the closet door was ripped from the hinges and we were sucked out of the closet and sent sprawling, the spiraling. The room was a fierce, stormy blur. Shake, rattle and rolling like nothing I'd ever known before - a tornado, a hurricane, and an earthquake all rolled into one. Everything was cloudy and I couldn't see a thing. I tried to call out to Sam but my breath was whipped away.
My last thought before the swirling darkness took over was…I hoped to crap we didn't set down on some bitch wearing glittery-red shoes. We'd pissed off enough supernatural things for one day.
I woke to the gentle flap, flap, flapping of curtains. Peeling my eyes open slowly I glanced out the glassless window, the warm breeze and white glow of moonlight back. I must not have been out long. The moon looked just as big and full and hadn't risen any higher in the sky.
I inched my way up to my elbows, eyes roaming the room. Everything was quiet. Furniture and walls all intact, the closet door open and connected to its hinges as if nothing had happened. I stared a few seconds longer, realizing one difference – instead of everything being covered in thick layers of dust and cobwebs, everything was coated in some sort of freakish-green, stringy goopy crap – including me, and the friggin' weapon's bag a few feet away.
"What the-" I shook my head, more of my senses coming back to me. "Sam," I called, my voice sounding deep and hoarse.
Nothing. Just the flap, flap, flapping of those damn curtains.
"Saaaaaam!" I raised my voice, eyes darting like a fast paced game of Ping-Pong.
There! Just barely visible under Warden Glattke's desk was a pair of brown boots attached to my brother's clown-sized feet.
"Crap, crap, crap. I scrambled up to hands and knees, dog-crawling over to the desk because my legs wouldn't get up under me fast enough. I found Sam, sitting on his ass, uncomfortably slouched into a corner. His head hung low off to one side and his eyes were shut, legs spread out in front of him and arms hanging limp at his sides.
In a panic, I grabbed his shoulder with one hand, his chin with the other and tugged his head up straight. "Sammy! I yelled anxiously, fingers digging into jawbone holding his face and trying to keep his head from wobbling.
"Nuh." Sam came around, absently slapping at my arm. "Out. Ge' me out," he slurred.
"Bro." I gave him a rough-housed shake.
"No, no, no." Sam pushed back against the wall further as if he were trying to push straight through it and disappear.
"Open your eyes, Sam. You are out, bitch."
Sam's eyes slit, groggily at first, only the whites showing, and then slowly filled with hazel. "You are out, bitch" he muttered, eyes fixed - distracted, confused.
"Come on!" I squeezed his chin between my fingers. "What I tell you about using my word?" I leaned in close to his face. "You're out. We both are," I said, noting the kid's big fat brain wasn't concussed, just dazed and probably working overtime after seeing the echo of a man so in love with his wife he could do the one thing he thought he couldn't - kill her.
"He did it for her. He…the Warden…he did it for her," Sam muttered, his voice trembling and harsh.
"Yes, Sam, that's right, he did," I said with utter conviction. "And so did you, pal. You did it for her. You did it for Madison. It's a hard-nosed fact and you know it."
Sam looked at me like he didn't understand a word I was saying, his eyes grew heavy and his head wobbled.
"Sam!" I shouted at the top of my lungs and our eyes finally met. "You did it for her! Say it! Just fucking say it."
"I did it for her." Sam shivered, a piece of hair falling over his eyes.
I nodded. "You with me now, man?" It was a good question, but Sam refused to answer, so I tried a few better questions. "Remember where you are, who you're with, what just happened?" I shot off not taking a breath.
"You're doing it too fast, Dean." Sam eyeballed me.
"Dude!" I let go his chin and drew away from him. "That sounds vaguely kinky."
Sam took in a deep breath. "Yes, the prison, my jerk brother, we woke an echo." He wrinkled his nose, spying the goopy slim that clung to us both, not to mention everything else in the room. "Did I…did I throw up on you?" He asked, still looking really out of it, though I knew his injuries were more emotional than physical.
I smiled slyly. Whenever Sam got claustrophobic he almost always threw up. If I lied and said yes, let him think he puked all over the two of us, that'd earn me a week's worth of guilty-Sam. Guilty Sam did my laundry, made food runs, washed and waxed the Impala to a perfectly polished shine, and basically was my slave. Under normal circumstances I might have gone with that, but the kid had had enough guilt to last long into the next lifetime.
"No, you didn't puke on me," I said, lifting his arm so he could see the green goop dripping off him as well. "Echo juice. Waking the dead," I shrugged, "Never a good idea."
Sam thought about that a second. "That's one for the journal," he said. "I say next time we better not try waking one without a suit of armor."
"Right." I patted Sam's chest. I had a pretty good idea no hunters had ever woken an echo and lived to tell the tale. "You okay?"
Sam's eyes burned holes in me.
"What? What is it? Sam?"
Sam blinked hard.
"Sammy, tell me," I ordered a little too harshly, worried maybe he really was hurt physically.
"It's stupid." He took in a deep breath and sucked in his lower lip just as it started to tremble, little brother speak for 'I'm about to say something girlish' that you probably won't like.
"Hey." I gentled one hand to his shoulder, the other to his belly - steadying. 'Big brother speak for, go ahead bro, I'll allow it this time'.
Sam quietly studied my face just to be sure I meant it, and then blurted, "It scares me, Dean, what we do." He bowed his head as if in shame.
I wanted to be Marine tough, like dad. Tell the kid he needed to man up. Walking off the curb into oncoming traffic was kinda what we did. We took the hits and kept on taking them, never breaking stride. We didn't get back up on the horse, because we never fucking fell off the horse. Didn't matter if we were hurt or scared we sucked it up… never letting anyone know we were sucking it up.
I opened my mouth to say just that, but instead I shocked myself and said, "It's not stupid, Sammy."
Sam's head shot up.
"It's not easy, being hunters," I continued. "Our lives are a bowl full of dried-up cherry pits and most times we can't even pull a rabbit out of our asses let alone a friggin' hat."
Sam cocked his head, a 'what the hell are you talking about' look on his face.
I glanced away, swallowed, and then glanced back at him. I'd admit it to him, just this one time. "It scares me too, Sammy, what we do. It scares me too."
Sam let out his long held breath and sighed heavily. An uncomfortable silence filled the air, except for the flap, flap, flapping of the curtains.
"Want to try getting those clown feet moving?" I finally said, trying to joke my way out of the moment.
Sam's forehead wrinkled and he shoved me away. "I can do it." He pressed against the wall and pushed himself upward.
Sam swayed sideways a step and his knees buckled.
"Hey, hey, what was that?" I reached out, quickly digging my fingers into his arm and hiking him to my hip.
Sam smacked me away. "I know how to walk, Dean." He fell sideways again as if blown off his feet by the wind.
"Sam, stop." I grabbed hold of him. "Stop it. Just stop right now."
"No, no, I can do it." He took two steps away and nearly toppled over again.
"This is you doing it?" I wrapped a firm arm around his waist and yanked him back to my side. "I think I better give you a lesson in how' it's' done." I forcefully headed us toward the door.
"That sounded vaguely kinky," Sam grouched, finally allowing my manhandling.
I whacked the back of Sam's head for that comment.
"Owe. Don't hit," Sam squawked.
"Just walk," I squawked back.
"I'm not going to walk, Dean, if you hit me again."
"Alright, come on." I took a step careful not to slip on the slime, but Sam held back. "Come on, let's go, you big baby."
"Remember the last time you called me a baby?" Sam stared me down.
"Yeah," I snipped. "You cried." I winked. "Just like a baby."
Sam sighed and stared at the ground. "Whatever."
"You ready, now?"
"Dean, I just- I- ah-umm-I mean- thank-"
"My God, Sammy, you're such a freak." I smiled. "Just shut it. How many chick-flick moments can a guy take in one day?"
"Dean." Sam looked at me in shock.
"You're welcome, kid, now let's just get out of here okay?"
I snagged the gloppy weapon's bag as we made our way out of the prison with no more ghosts popping up in our faces and no more sappy displays of affection. I was, however, pretty pissed that my plan didn't go down well at all. Sam was on his way to wrapping his head around things, but still had a ways to go.
Sucking it up was one Winchester way, but so was sucking it down.
On to plan C. Find a motel, crack open some beers, and drink and drink and drink some more. Maybe even invite Jim and Jack along to help out.
It'd be a stomach churner for Sam. Babies could drink liquor from a bottle and hold the booze down better than my brother. I hated to put him through it, but it was the only other lame way I could think of to give Sam some reprieve from his pain.
He'd get all woo-woo- giggly and girly drunk.
Talk sappy and soapy and laugh at all my jokes.
He'd hug me close and honk my nose.
I'd have less personal space than a wad of chewing gum for a few hours.
But I'd do it for him, my brother. Besides, lightweight wouldn't last long before he'd pass out, dead to the world, wake up in the morning and puke up all that pain and guilt. Then we'd hit the road, hours later stopping at a diner. Sam would order the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, even if it was midnight, and snort it down like a starving elephant.
Short of plan C – open heart surgery to repair the break - this was all I could come up with. It'd be worth the effort to get Sam back up on his feet, get that devastated look out of his eyes.
Yep, that was the ticket. Get Sammy off-his-ass-drunk. Why didn't I think of that before we hit this stupid prison?
I staggered drunkenly out of the bathroom and paused in the doorway. The room tilted left then right then left again, sticking there. Kissing the bottle too long and too hard can do that to a guy.
I stared off into the horizon, across the blue ocean of wavy carpet. Sam was where I'd left him, slouched awkwardly against the headboard staring blankly at the TV. He looked fine. Had gotten off lucky with his wounds. A good disenfecting and butterfly bandage on the cut above his eye, and only four small stitches on his cheek, that I doubted would even scar. He held a full beer in one hand and a dozen or so -empties lined up nice and neat - toy soldiers awaiting the firing squad- on the nightstand next to him, a bag of pretzels by his side, and a bitchy look on his patched up, sober face. Sammy always was good at pretend play, and unless I was too drunk to tell, he sure didn't look drunk to me.
"You pissed with the door open," Sam grouched, trying to slur his words and not taking his eyes off the TV.
Nope. Not drunk. Damn!
"Could do worse things with the door open," I grouched back, tripping over nothing as I made my way to the cooler situated on the floor between our beds.
"Don't I know it," Sam said, taking a small pull of his beer, still not taking his eyes off the set.
I sighed and stared at him a few seconds. I knew a knock-off product when I saw one, and Sam was the biggest knock-off there was. I knew Sam better than anyone. I knew when he was faking. And believe me the kid did a lot of faking. He could fake sleep, fake laugh, fake sick, fake win, fake lose, fake left, fake right, hell, he even faked believing in Santa Clause an extra year to keep me and dad happy.
And right now, he was fake-drinking. No wonder he wasn't drunk yet and I was near comatose.
"What are you watching?" I opened the cooler and reached in digging through the melted ice. "The friggin' Flintstones?" I laughed loudly.
Sam flashed me a quick, tired smile, but behind those glassy eyes of his, I could see straight through to his pain; pain that slid into his heart like a knife. Even after he admitted he'd done the right thing, the kid was still in his dark place. I'd had enough of this, time to make another move. My only plan, same as before, distract, detour, and eventually derail. How I got that done didn't matter anymore. I just had to get it done. Obviously getting Sam drunk wasn't working, and I already was drunk, so I snagged a bottle of Jack from the bottom of the cooler, switching up from beer - and plopped down heavily onto my side at the end of Sam's bed. Crap this was going to suck, but for Sammy, I'd do it. That's what you did for family. You put your own head on the chopping block and hacked it off yourself.
I unscrewed the cap and downed three, huge gulps in fast succession. "You do know," I said, whiskey dripping off my chin, index finger waving radically at the screen, "Barney and Wilma were having an extra…an extramar…an ex…an affair." I glanced back at Sam and waggled my brows sexily.
"Barney is Fred's best friend," Sam said with a deep frown that wrinkled his forehead.
"My point," I snickered.
"You watch too many soap operas, Dean," Sam tsked.
"I watch too many porn's," I admitted.
"Everything always comes down to sex with you doesn't it?" Sam took another (fake) sip of beer.
I nodded happily, knowing damn well when Sam thought I wasn't looking; he was dumping one beer after another in the fake potted tree in the corner of the tiny room. That was so wrong, on so many levels, but it was also, so Sam – a complicated headcase. Kid would stew in his own juices for weeks, months even, right under my nose, with or without alcohol.
We didn't say anything more, both of us watching the Stone Age show, me slamming back mouthful after mouthful of whiskey, Sam fake-sucking on his beer. After a while I wasn't seeing The Flintstones. All I kept seeing was my baby brother, standing over Madison's executed body – a bullet in her heart. Tears and snot streaming down his face, blood spray painting the carpet, splattered on the wall behind her, splattered on Sam. It was a grotesque mob-style murder scene and only Sam and I would ever know it wasn't murder; though I wondered about Sam.
Knowing all he was seeing was that same image made me sick, and scared the hell out of me how it was torturing him. How it was killing him. The way Jess dying had almost killed him. More images filled my head. The heat of the fire, the smell of burning flesh, Sam helpless on his back, like a friggin' turtle flipped over onto his shell.
I shook free of the images, coming back to the motel room. The Flintstones were over, closing credits rolling. Before that cat could lock Fred out of his stony house for the night, I'd polished off the last of my whiskey and sat up. Intending to hit the head, I somehow ended down on the floor – spread eagle - staring up at the swirling ceiling.
I was good and drunk. Good.
"Hey." I stuck a fluttering hand in the air. "Little help."
"Sam, help me up."
"Help yourself up," he said from somewhere up on the bed.
"Dude, I'm drunk."
"No kidding." The bed above me squeaked as Sam rustled around. "I'm hitting the hay." There came the clinking of beer bottles, and the crinkle of the pretzel bag as my neat-freak brother cleaned up instead of helping me up.
I bit into my lower lip. No way was I letting him spend another night crying his heart out with his face in his pillow again, guilt ripping him to shreds. "Sammy, I thought we had this covered. I know-"
"You can't know." The bedside lamp clicked off.
My jaw clenched, and I turned my head to the side, looking away. He was hurting so bad. I could feel his pain in my gut and it was staggering. I couldn't stand it. It made me want to kill something. Sam tossed and turned a few times, and then I heard a single, strangled sob.
"Sammy," I spoke softly, "to do what we do as much as we do it-"I shivered hard clamping my mouth shut.
What could I say? The kid knows the job. Knows how it all goes down -miserable and sad.
I was just so worried Sammy wouldn't bounce back from this one. Whiskey and beer swooshed around in my belly and my head started throbbing as I stared under the bed. Damn, didn't housekeeping ever clean under these things. Rats were cleaner. My stomach gurgled and my throat tightened, a sick sour taste coming to my mouth. Son of a bitch, whose plan was this anyway?
Lips glued shut; I reached up, and grabbed a fistful of comforter, dragging myself up to my knees to peer down the length of the bed. "Sam," I called again softer still
"What?" Sam sat up, and flicked on the light, his hands wringing nervously in his lap.
I squinted at them, right off envisioning Madison's blood on his hands. "Sammy," I choked feeling the ache in his heart. I shook my head hard. "The ache in your heart," I stopped. "Poetry? Really, Dean?" I questioned myself. "Man, you really are drunk.
"Dean, I'm okay. Working through it. Okay?"
"I…well-" my voice trailed off and I gazed around as if the stale airspace between the four plaster-covered walls held some profound answer to the questions I already knew the answers too, because there were never any answers to the questions. "Huh?" I shook the dizzying profoundness from my head. Shit, this wasn't working. Neither was my brain. I glanced back at Sam, his fists clenching tighter. I was so sick of seeing him hurt. "Sammy," I swallowed hard, "I don't-" I swallowed again. "I just don't know what else- ugh."
"Gawd! You're going to puke aren't' you?" Sam scrambled to his feet. "Not on my bed, man!" he yelled.
Before I knew what was happening, Sam had me by the elbow and was hauling my drunk and dizzy ass across the wavy blue ocean to the john. If he hadn't jumped off the bed when he did, his hand to my back pushing and guiding me the whole way, pressing me down to my knees before the thrown of hell; I'd have undershot the porcelain by three days.
The moment I got a whiff of toilet water I let loose, vomiting for over a week. Okay, so in reality it was probably only twenty minutes, but it felt like a week and I felt like shit. As horrible as it was, my mission had been accomplished. Sam was there, fussing over me the whole time. Asking me if I was okay, wiping my forehead with a cold, wet towel, gripping the base of my neck, my shoulder, patting my back, flushing the toilet when it got too full, and wiping my forehead with a cold wet towel. Wait… I already said that. Shit.
"I'm good, I'm good," I grunted, and tried to stand.
"You're a jerk," Sam got his hands under my armpits and pulled me up, leaning me against his side. "You were trying to get me drunk on purpose weren't you?" he scolded, walking me through the bathroom door. "That your bright idea, Dean? You're way of fixing…of helping me." Sam dropped me unceremoniously to my back on the bed. "How'd that go over for you?"
I looked Sam up and down. Kid was stone-cold sober, while I was stone-cold drunk. "Yeah, "I swallowed down more sickness. "Didn't go over so well," I admitted.
"So what's next on your bright idea list, huh?" Sam grabbed a bucket from the corner of the room than came to sit on the edge of the bed.
I licked my lips. "How about a shopping spree, princess," I groaned. "I can watch you try on clothes like the old dude in that movie Pretty Woman."
That brought a smile to Sam's face. "Look." He drew the covers up over me. "How about my big brother just stays sober and stays close." He leaned over and patted my chest. "That's help enough."
"Ugh," I shoved Sam away, "Not that close, man. Not unless you want a face full of vomit." I sat bolt up and gagged but nothing came up.
Sam grabbed the bucket and held it under my chin. "Take it easy, Dean."
"You suck," I groaned.
"Dean, I'm holding your puke bucket what more do you want me to do?"
"You could have faked being drunk."
Sam cocked his head in that lost, puppyish way everyone but me always fell for. "Then who would hold the bucket?" He asked in all seriousness.
I thought about that as I dry heaved a few more times. "True," I said, wiping the back of my sleeve across my mouth. "Least I've only been this drunk one other time."
"Ten times," Sam corrected.
"Twelve actually, "I admitted, trying to count on one hand and running out of fingers.
"Are you done now?" Sam took hold of my hand.
"Hey, I lost my count," I pouted, closing my eyes
"Right." Sam set the bucket on the floor. "Let's just lay down."
"Can't," I whined.
"Lay back." Sam pushed me down to the bed. "Leg off the side," he nudged my thigh, "One foot on the floor."
"Sam, that crap remedy doesn't wor-" I peeked open one eye and the world stood still. "Hey." I smiled up at him.
"You're welcome." Sam dropped down to lay next to me, body stiff as a board, hands clenched at his sides, staring blankly up at the ceiling.
I wanted to pass out, but forced my eyes to stay open, staring up at the ceiling along with Sam.
"Okay, Dean." Sam's breathing picked up and his body began to tremble. "I'm ready to really talk about it now."
I nodded. "I'm here, Sammy," I said softly. "Just keep that chum bucket close."
With one foot on the floor to steady me, and one hand on Sam's chest to steady him, I listened.
His heartache was my heartache and the things we hunted, they were our heartache too.
AN: Ohio State Reformatory – Mansfield - is a real place, and truly said to be haunted. Warden Glattke was one of its many Wardens. I twisted the facts purely for entertainment and the purpose of this story.
The' supposed' true story of Warden Glattke and his wife Helen :
Visitors and employees have reported experiencing strong paranormal events in the administration wing where Warden Glattke and his wife Helen resided. The story is Helen, while reaching for a box in the closet, knocked a gun off the shelf to the floor, causing a bullet to discharge into her chest. She was rushed to the Mansfield General Hospital where she died as a result of her injuries.
Rumors ran rampant that Warden Glattke was responsible for Helen's death, but there was never any proof to substantiate such rumors. Ten years later Glattke suffered a heart attack and died at the same hospital where Helen died.
Thank you for your time and care in reading!