I originally wrote this story under the penname Guiltypleasure, so that it would be separate from the thread that starts with What Goes Around, Comes Around.
-This story takes place somewhere after the St. Louis incident; the brothers have been running from the law for some time. Dean is stalked and caught by a woman with a grudge, but her need for revenge is a tool that a demon finds useful.
Sam had just finished gassing the car up and had buckled himself in. Dean, returning from the can; came in with a look of pure disgust. "Man, I really hope that graffiti was just brown crayon on the wall in there. That one tops my list so far."
"Of the grossest gas station cans in the US. I figure triple-A or some travel agency will pay big for that kind of heads up."
Sam snorted. "And pardon the pun."
Dean's feet were obscured by the detritus of their last two days of travel. Coffee cups, fast food bags, candy wrappers, newspapers... There was too much of it to stuff it all under the seat. He grumbled, gathered his arms full and exited again, dumping the lot into the nearest garbage can. He walked back to his open door, dusting off his hands, when he heard a shout—
"DEAN WINCHESTER! Freeze! Put your hands up! NOW!"
He froze in his tracks for a mere second, staring in shocked disbelief at the state trooper training her revolver straight at his centre. Then he snapped to action. "Shit! Sam, gun it!"
Still in neutral, the engine roared to red-line as Sam pulled the parking break and stomped the gas in bewildered panic. It spent precious seconds revving stationary.
Dean dove toward his seat as the trooper opened fire. He slammed against his open door, and stumbled to the pavement as the window shattered above him. "Go! Go! Go!" he shouted, pulling himself in all the way as the Impala lurched forward with smoke spewing from the skidding rear wheels.
Sam floored it, and the Impala defied her age and bolted forward, eight cylinders screaming as she pulled far ahead of the patrol car. "Dean, where now?" he barked, still shocked and turning to his brother in a frantic appeal for direction.
He nearly double footed the brakes then. Dean had both hands clutched to his left side. Blood streamed over his fingers, and more was spattered on the door and dash.
Dean's face was contorted in agony.
"Don't slow down!" Dean yelled. "Turn right; here!"
Sam did and they hit the dirt side road in a choking cloud of dust, fish-tailing momentarily before the wheels found their footing in the gravel. "Jesus, you're hit! We have to stop-!"
"No we don't! Keep going; left here; now!"
Sam did as he was told, trying to keep the car on the road in the loose, dry stones as he glanced over in shock.
The reality of what had happened was fast making itself apparent to Dean. Adrenalin had given him the brief burst he needed to throw himself into the car, but now he could hardly breathe, as the pain intensified. He held his side tightly. He didn't know the damage yet; only that it hurt beyond words as he curled away from the cold wind blasting through his shattered window. He pressed his feet hard against the floor to stay upright. "Sonofabitch-" he ground out.
"Dean, dammit; let me pull over-!"
"Just keep driving!" he said between gasps. "We have to at least get over the state line or we're screwed!"
Sam drove like a jackrabbit zigzagging ahead of the fox. Dean barked directional changes every few minutes so that they managed to stay under the radar on back roads. As long as they weren't picked up by air surveillance they were safe so far. After twenty-odd minutes of desperate and convoluted travel they crossed into the adjacent state and Sam searched for a safe zone. They finally ground to a halt in front of a derelict barn. It stood alone in an overgrown pasture, poplar saplings sprouting from it's foundation. Sam hopped out and checked around, and when he was sure it was abandoned, he kicked the rusted gate open, sprinted down and pulled open the sagging doors to peer inside.. Satisfied, he raced back to the car, drove it through the field and eased it into the barn. At least it was shelter for the moment, and they were hidden.
Once safely inside, he shut the car off and pulled the doors closed behind them. He breathed for the first time, it seemed, since the gas bar. He opened the passenger side and eased Dean's seat down.
Dean was still holding his side and groaning through his tightly clenched teeth. "Cops...how'd they know?" he shuddered, as Sam pushed aside his jacket and hiked up his sodden tee-shirt to assess. "How could they-"
Sam shushed him. He saw the extent of the wounds fully now. "Aw man... Dean, this is not good."
Dean's midriff was awash with blood. One bullet had carved a vicious trough across his left side; a second had struck lower, between his last rib and hip. Sam felt for an exit wound, finding none. He rooted around and found the first aid kit and applied the most useful looking bandages. He bound a tensor wrap as tightly as he could around Dean's torso, but was dismayed as he watched them quickly soak through. "Dean, if we don't get to a hospital you'll-"
Dean rose up in panic. "NO! No, Sam! We're all over the freaking radar by now; you can't go near one or you might as well just drive me straight into Leavenworth!"
He grimaced and groaned again, fighting the waves of pain as they washed over him.
The prison was an ugly threat, but the alternative... "Well what, then? Tell me what to do!" Sam cried in panic. "You're bleeding too hard; we can't wait around here!"
Dean barely heard him. "I..I don't know..." he gasped, blacking out. "But no hospital...please-"
"Dean? Dean!" Sam shook him, terrified he was dying in front of him. He felt for his pulse, relieved to find it rapid but still strong.
—calm down, think!- he berated himself, trying hard to calm down. He knew who he should call. He punched the number with shaking hands. Bobby, he always knew what to do. He prayed for him to pick up. It did, but his momentary relief evaporated.-The customer is not available-please try again- He hung up and turned back to Dean. He was unresponsive, and Sam rechecked his pulse, alarmed by his pale skin. He knew Dean was right; any hospital in the vicinity would be on high alert for a gunshot victim; it was a sure thing that he'd be arrested. But if they didn't get to one...
He wished doctors still made house-calls. None of them did that anymore, and walk-in clinics were too public as well; no doubt they'd be warned to watch out for them too. It didn't leave him with many options. He called info again and got the numbers of clinics in the area anyway and took a chance calling the first.
It was as he'd feared. They never went out to the patient, and he was sure her manner changed when he vaguely described Dean's injuries. The nurse suddenly began asking very pointed questions. He stammered, then hung up; afraid they were on to them.
Dean shifted and moaned in the car. Sam put his hand to his bandaged side, hoping the bleeding had slowed. It was saturated and warm. His heart sank, knowing they were in serious trouble now. Sam's eyes pricked with tears of panic and frustration. He wracked his brain, settling on a last-ditch and desperate route. -Bleeding is bleeding— he thought. It's all treated the same. He made one more call to information.
Armed with new doctor's name, he called the number he'd gotten. He reached a paging service. Explaining that it was urgent and it was an emergency, he left his cell number. Then he waited in heart-pounding anxiety for them to call back. It felt like an eternity, but at last his phone rang.
"Dr Macy, here. What's the problem?" an efficient-sounding female voice queried.
Sam stammered his reply. "I was…uh...trail-riding. My horse went down; I think he was shot. He's bleeding from his side." He didn't have to feign the distress choking his voice; he was suffocating with it.
She asked him more questions about the animal's condition, got some directions, and assured him she'd drive out immediately. She explained what he needed to do in the meantime. He thanked her, and hung up. He crouched beside his brother, waiting and listening for the sound of her vehicle. Twenty minutes, she's said.
It was the longest twenty minutes of his life. He checked Dean's pulse obsessively; it was all he could do. He kept his hand pressed hard against his brother's wounds, hoping to keep his life from draining out while they waited. Dean moaned and frowned tightly, rising from his semi-conscious state. He curled up against the pain, but Sam held him flat against the seat, fearful of releasing the pressure. At last he heard the crunch of tires on the gravel at the roadside. Forced to leave Dean's side, he peeked out through the gaps in the barn siding, making sure there were no flashing lights. When he read the wording on the van door, he left the safety of the barn and jogged out to meet her.
She shook his hand firmly. "I'm Beth Macy. You called about a horse that's down?"
Sam nodded tensely. He introduced himself, and explained that he'd gotten the horse into the barn.
"Looks like he's bleeding pretty heavily." she said, noting his red-smeared shirt and hands. "But you got him up and into the barn; that's a good sign. And you think he was shot?"
"Yeah, pretty sure."
She frowned, hauling her field kit out from the van. "Bloody hunters! Every deer season it's the same damned thing; if they're not out proving Darwinism by accidentally shooting each other, they're taking out livestock left, right and center. You're lucky you weren't hit yourself."
He went ahead and pulled the door open slightly, allowing her to enter the barn first. He followed closely, pulling the door closed again behind them.
She stopped when she saw the car. She looked around warily, and realized with alarm that there was no horse apparent. "Ok; what the hell's going on here? Where's that animal?" she demanded.
Beth Macy was a strong woman. She was tall and square-built, and had no trouble looking out for herself. But this was different; she'd been lured to the sticks, alone, and now things were apparently not what she'd been told. She pulled out her cell and almost completed 911 when Sam convinced her to drop it.
Well; his gun did most of the convincing. The shaky hand holding it was less persuasive, but there was no arguing with the weapon while it was pointed at her chest.
"You stupid bastard!" she snarled. "What is it? Drugs? You thought I'd come with a shit-load of tranquilizer or morphine or something?"
"No! No-" Sam stammered. "It's really an injury! I really do need your help!"
"Then why the gun?"
"I had to! Look; he's hurt, I couldn't go anywhere else, and I couldn't take the chance you'd run." Sam gestured towards the car. "I wasn't lying about him being shot. He's bleeding badly, please—"
She glanced at the car, and saw the figure of another young man slumped in the passenger seat. She stared back at him, incredulous. "You must be kidding-!"
Sam pushed the hair from his eyes with a trembling hand. "I'm not. He's been shot, he's bleeding, and you can help him."
She couldn't believe she was hearing this. "You're nuts! I'm a vet, not a bloody doctor! Get your buddy to a hospital, for god's sake!"
"I can't!" Sam roared back. "He's wanted! He'll go to prison if I take him there!"
"So you're some kind of criminals, then! You lie to me, you hold a gun on me, tell me you're wanted; and you expect me to help you?"
Sam could see the hostility; the set of her jaw, her arms crossed. He was screwing this up, and it would cost his brother's life. "Look, I'm sorry...I'm sorry... Please, here, take it." Sam pleaded, tossing the gun to her. "I was never gonna hurt you, I swear. But right now you're the only one who can keep my brother from dying! I'm begging you-" he said, his voice breaking, "Help him!"
She stared at the gun in her hand with a momentary fascination; more than a little surprised at this turn around. …It wasn't even loaded. She glared at him, then dropped it into the straw and sighed. "Well, I can take a look at him. Get him out of the car, I need more room." She began to haul a few straw bales down, and lay them side to side, forming a raised bed of sorts. It was cleaner at least, than the filthy barn floor...but still rough. "Do you have anything like a blanket in that car?"
"A sleeping bag, in the trunk. I'll get it." He retrieved it and handed it to her, and she unzipped it, laying it over the bales.
Dean was lying back against the lowered seat, half-conscious. Sam woke him gently, telling him they had some help. He turned and nodded, moaning slightly.
Sam carefully pulled him up and slid his arm under his shoulders, then lifted him forward and out. Dean staggered, but couldn't stand, collapsing against him with a cry, Sam anticipated it; he scooped him up under his knees and carried him over to the straw bed.
The vet watched them. She opened her kit and laid her implements out. "Why are you wanted anyway?" she asked coldly. "What did you do?"
Sam sighed and crouched beside Dean, making him as comfortable as possible. There was no point in dodging her question. "My brother, Dean…he's wanted for murder. And now I'll tell you what every fugitive says, so I don't expect you to believe it, but he's innocent; he didn't do what they're accusing him of."
Dean groaned and shuddered as Sam lifted his shoulders and pulled off his jacket. Sam laid his hand gently on his damp forehead for a moment. "He was shot by state troopers a couple of hours ago. At a gas station, in-"
"In Bonneville." she finished for him. "It's all over the news. You Winchester boys are famous."
"Bonnie & Clyde." Dean murmured.
She raised an eyebrow, looking at him. –smart-ass; even now- Must be the oldest. The other one; he seemed softer...she didn't miss the tender concern he showed his brother.
Sam brought Dean up to speed. "Dean, this is Doctor Macy. She's gonna check you out, ok?"
Dean groaned and opened his eyes, trying to focus. "You're a doctor..?"
"That's right. Well, technically. Dr. Beth Macy, DVM." she said, smiling wickedly, relishing the impact that little revelation would have.
Dean's eyes opened wider. He looked at Sam like he was some sort of assassin, and struggled to sit up. "DVM? She's a freaking veterinarian!"
"Easy, Dean…" Sam pushed him back down, his firm but gentle hands holding him still.
"Kinda picky aren't you, considering-?" she said, snapping on a fresh pair of gloves. "Don't worry, I'm not going to neuter you." She turned to Sam. "Get that tee-shirt off him."
Sam pulled it over his head as Dean grimaced. She stripped away the sodden bandage and stopped. When she saw his wounds, she immediately regretted her offhand manner. This was serious; his life could well be in danger.
"Aw, honey...this is just insanity! You really need a hospital-!" she said, dismayed.
Dean shivered in the cool air. "Please—" he said, his voice barely above a whisper. "Just...just stop the bleeding. At least we can keep going then-"
She was horrified. "Just stop the bleeding-? What do you want me to do; stuff a cork in it? It's not that simple; you have to get that slug out along with whatever it dragged in or infection will kill you before you're even out of state!" she argued.
Dean tried to reply, but he closed his eyes and moaned as a fresh wave of pain radiated through him.
"Doc, please—" Sam asked softly. "You were ready to work on the horse you thought I had, when I told you it was shot. Is this really so different?"
She shook her head, thoroughly appalled. "Do you know what would happen if your horse died, Sam? We'd dig a deep hole behind the barn and shove it in. Are you prepared to do that with your brother here?"
Sam had no answer. His eyes brimmed, and he looked down. But Dean spoke up. "C'mon, doc; just think of this as your once-in-a-lifetime chance to…work on a person, instead of fixing another housecat." he panted. "No harm, no foul...if I croak, Sam will just cart my dead ass away and…you'll never have to think about it again."
"You really are nuts!" But despite his forced glibness, she could see that he was in terrible pain as blood trickled steadily from both the wounds. She relented; time was running out. "Fine. I'll do what I can. But you remember; this was your choice, not mine!" She saw his taut features relax a little with relief. -Be careful what you wish for- she thought grimly, —you just might get it-
She slipped on a headband with a bright light attached. Thank god she was prepared for field surgery; there was no power available in the barn. She double-checked that everything she needed was laid out. She pulled Sam aside. "Ok; you, Sam; you're going to have to hold him down, keep him as immobile as possible; and it's not going to be easy once I start poking around in there. Lay across his chest and hold his arms down."
"Well wait, I mean can't you knock him out...or something?"
"Sam, I can safely tranquilize a horse based on an estimated weight, but an animal like that is a minimum three times an average man's weight. I have no idea what dosage to inject into a person, or even if it would be safe in any amount. It'd be more dangerous than his getting shot, understand?"
He was shocked, he hadn't even considered that. He cast a worried glance but nodded.
When she was ready, Sam crouched beside Dean, leaned across his chest and pinned him with his own weight, holding him as instructed. There was no point in warning him.
"Wh-what are you doing?"
"It'll be ok, Dean. It won't take long-"
It dawned on Dean that he was going to have a front row seat at this little show. "Aw, no! Sam, jesus; come on! At least give me some whiskey or something!" he whispered fearfully.
Sam released him, nodding and returning to the car.
Dean turned his eyes to Beth. "Seriously doc...would it help if I said sorry?" he pleaded.
She looked at him, and her expression softened with sympathy. "I'm not punishing you, honey. I don't want to hurt you, but I just can't safely sedate you. I'll try to be quick, but you still have the hospital as the better choice."
He knew he didn't. He groaned a curse and shut his eyes.
Sam returned with a bottle, lifted his head and let him drink what he wanted. Whether it would help remained to be seen; but to Dean's thinking it sure as hell couldn't hurt. He felt the warmth of the bourbon radiate in the pit of his stomach and it was comforting.
Beth urged them, "Come on, boys; we need to do this."
Sam glanced at Dean, who winced and nodded. Once again Dean found himself immobilized by his brother's hands and weight.
"I'm going to poke around a bit to see what's going on, and then I'll try to remove the slug. After that, we'll deal with the other wound. Sam; remember what I said-"
He pressed a little harder, making sure Dean couldn't squirm away.
She addressed the patient again. "I'm giving you a few shots of a local; you'll feel a couple of pricks." Unfortunately, that was more for his psyche than anything else; she knew it would have minimal effect once she started in. When she felt it had taken effect, she mopped away the blood obscuring her view and pushed a probe and tiny mirror into the wound. The second Dean felt the cold steel enter he lurched violently, tensing and choking back a yell. His abrupt and strong resistance caught Sam off guard and he pinned him now as hard as he could.
"Sam; sit on him if you have to. I can't work if he's jumping around!"
"I've got him now." he said grimly, watching with anguish as tears welled up in Dean's eyes and slid away. "Hang on, Dean; it'll be over soon." he whispered lamely.
She had to sit on his hips to keep him still. Once again she probed, this time Dean couldn't go anywhere as he felt a searing pain and cried out again. She had to make sure there was nothing damaged by the bullet's path; if he'd even nicked any vitals, she'd stop immediately and force them to go to emergency. But he was lucky, if you could call it that. It seemed clear in that regard. She soaked up the blood again and gave him a minute to recover.
He panted, eyes shut tightly. His skin was covered now in a sheen of sweat. She saw that Sam was holding his hand, and saying nothing as he bore the crushing grip Dean exerted.
She hated causing pain. But she'd warned them, and she was committed now. "Ok Sam-" she warned softly. He nodded and tightened his grip.
The forceps were more invasive. She pushed them along the path of the slug. It tested Sam's strength to the limit to keep his brother still; his fingers were turning blue in Dean's grip.
Dean gasped small ragged breaths as he felt the surgical tool push deeper. "Wait, stop...stop, please-" he sobbed.
But she didn't stop. She forced it further; there was no point in delaying, he wasn't going to feel it any less. She felt the hard lead of the slug scrape against the tip, and widened the forceps to grip it. He let loose a strangled scream as she grasped the projectile and drew it out. She examined it in the light, making sure it wasn't fragmented. Dean buried his face against the warm flannel of Sam's shoulder and wept, cursing weakly.
Dr. Macy retrieved Dean's tee shirt, smoothing it out and peering at it carefully. At the center of the blood were two holes. She pressed the fabric edges down precisely, noting with a frown that there was a tiny section of cloth missing from the lower one. "Sorry, Dean; bit more to go."
Bullets go in sterile; bits of fabric don't. If left behind it was a sure source of infection. She returned to exploring the wound until the foreign bit of black fiber was visible. She glanced at her unfortunate patient. The veins in his neck stood out like rope, she could feel him try to twist away as she worked. He crushed Sam's fingers involuntarily, but this time his scream cut short. His taut resistance relaxed, and she saw with relief that he'd passed out. She wished he'd done that ten minutes ago.
Sam extricated his hand from Dean's, sitting up and shaking feeling back into his fingers.
"He still with us?" she asked.
He checked Dean's pulse again and nodded. He watched her now as she completed cleaning and suturing both wounds. He kept a hand on Dean's chest just in case he bolted again, relieved at feeling the strong beat of his heart through his palm. A few moments later she applied adhesive bandages and sat back, watching Dean's now peaceful face. –Handsome, for a bad boy- she thought. -what a waste.- She reached out, brushing his forehead. "Sorry, kiddo. That wasn't very pleasant, was it?" she said softly. She turned to Sam. "How's the hand..?"
He smiled ruefully. "It's ok. The feeling's coming back." He rubbed his other hand over his face wearily. "God, that was rough. ..Do you think… he'll be alright?"
She sighed and stretched, trying to lessen her own tension. "All I can tell you Sam, is that as far as I could see, his vitals were ok, and I'm pretty sure I removed everything that shouldn't be in there. So hopefully he'll avoid serious infection. He lost some blood, that's for sure. But he's young and strong. Obviously it's not his first time getting hurt either, judging from those scars. But so far he's still with us…right?"
"Yeah...so far." He wiped away the tears clinging to his lashes.
She leaned over and squeezed his arm. "You did well there, Sam. Still should have gone to the hospital, but good job."
He nodded in weary misery.
"Now where's that bottle I saw?" she said.
He found it and handed it to her, waiting while she took a long draught. She gave it back and he did the same.
"Dr. Macy...I can't thank you enough. We were so, so desperate, I didn't know what I was going to do if you..."
"It's Beth…and you didn't exactly give me much choice. Now I think you owe me an explanation, at least."
He offered a modified version of the events in St. Louis that led up to their becoming targets, wisely leaving out the shape-shifter detail.
She was silent for a while. "So this other guy came and killed the girl before your brother arrived for their date… I guess it would've looked pretty damning when they saw him with her blood on his hands, his finger prints everywhere, and this bastard having a similar look, according to witnesses." she mused. "Sam, you're not bullshitting me here are you? He really is innocent?"
Sam snorted. "Dean's hardly innocent. He's a pushy, erratic, carpe-diem pain-in-the-ass. Half the time I want to just drive over him with that damn car of his. But the other half of the time he's my absolute hero. He'd throw himself in front of a train to save the puppy on the tracks. He didn't hurt that girl. And he'll never, ever be able to prove it." He took another draught. and handed it to her. "We've been lucky so far, managing to stay a few steps ahead of the law. I don't have a clue how they identified him at the gas station. Trigger-happy jerks; he hardly had a chance to raise his hands before they shot him."
She glanced for a moment at the figure asleep on the straw, then turned back to Sam. "What about you? Why can't you get out of this?"
"My involvement with him is...complicated, at the moment. We were actually searching for our Dad, originally. He'd gone missing and Dean showed up at Stanford, asking me to help him look. I was in pre-law out there. I hadn't seen either of them for a few years..." He sighed. "And there's the aiding and abetting a fugitive, for starters; that alone would give me a few years in a cell. But he needs me right now. If he was alone when he was hurt today, I think he'd have just driven until he couldn't anymore, found a nice place to park, put on some Zeppelin and just let himself bleed to death, instead of going to prison. He's helped put a few guys in there; he knows it would be hell for him if he did get put away. God I wanted to drive him to Emergency this afternoon, but he was dead-set against it. I owed him that much to at least try to keep him out of jail."
"But you can't keep running, Sam."
He sighed again. "I know. I don't know how or where this goes, ultimately. But I guess I'll go with him anyway."