Tethered

Author: Cheryl W.

Disclaimer: I do not own Dean, Sam or any rights to Supernatural, nor am I making any profit from this story.

Author's Note: Sorry for the delay in posting. Just to prove I'm still kicking and so is this story, I'm going to give you what I have written so far.

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Chapter 28

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"Brother, I have missed you," Wanikiya greeted in earnest, knew that whatever bad blood there was between he and Paytah, it could not truly tarnish the irrevocable bond of their brotherhood.

His belief in that falsehood almost had him reacting too late to block his brother's knife point from piercing his heart.

Catching Paytah's wrist with both hands, Wanikiya strained to best his brother's strength, gritted his teeth as he felt the press of the knife increase against his breastbone. "Paytah, I am not your enemy."

"No, an enemy I would have foreseen his betrayal, you were something far worse," Paytah rancorously spat, trying to overthrow his brother's strength, had forgotten that Wanikiya's lithe form always did contain formable physical power. He growled in fury as his brother levered the knife back, then slammed his arm against his raised knee, causing the knife to slip from his grasp. Weaponless, he tackled Wanikiya, would best his brother any way he had to.

Sam and Dean watched as Paytah's tackle sent both Indians crashing through the makeshift wall to tumble to the main cave floor. Paytah went in for a chokehold but Wanikiya knocked his brother's hands loose, and, realizing the seriousness of the situation, finally landed a left cross to his big brother's jaw.

Tearing his eyes from the fraternal prizefight going on a few yards from his feet, Dean looked across the cave to Strongeagle, hoping to get some sign that they were on track with their plans. Because, right then, Wanikiya might be holding his own but Dean knew strength oozing from revenge took things to a whole other level. Knew that particular rush of adrenaline first hand, was counting on it when he finally got close enough to spit at Dick Roman. Had faith that his blind, soul decimating fury would sway the impossible odds in his favor.

Interpreting the look Dean shot his way, Greg snatched his cell phone off the ground, demanded through the still open line, "Chief, is it done?"

"Hold your pants on. You said the pipe had to burn to ash, it's only charbroiled," Chief Fox groused from the cellphone's tiny speakers.

Cursing, Greg met Dean's eyes and gave an over the top shake of his head, could read the scowl in Dean's features from across the cave. Taking that as a scold directed at him, he agitatedly snapped to the Chief, "Put more lighter fluid on it! Do something!" forgetting, for the moment, just who he was trying to bully.

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"Kid, you're two seconds away from getting stuck in the drunk tank…for a week!" The Chief threatened, even as he doused the already three foot flames with more lighter fluid…and nearly lost some eyebrows in the process. Still had enough natural reflexes at his age to dodge back and avoid being part of the inferno.

But he was secretly glad Wade wasn't there anymore, had dashed off to return to the cave. Didn't see his near miss and couldn't regale Nathan with the tale over beers some Saturday night. And wasn't there to give him that 'Are you out of your flipping mind' look as he pulled 'Plan B' from his goodie bag.

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Turning to Sam, Dean murmured so his voice wouldn't reach Paytah, "Chief needs more time," saw that his brother's attention hadn't swiveled from the vicious wrestling match that was ensuing on the ground.

Wincing as Paytah went for an eye gouge, Sam muttered back, "Don't know how long Wanikiya's gonna last."

Dean saw Wanikiya retaliate with a punch to his brother's gut that knocked the breath from Paytah. But Wanikiya didn't press his advantage, instead he shoved his brother off him and scampered to his feet. "Playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules ain't gonna cut it," he criticized, felt Sam's surprised look and defended, "I'm not stupid, I know about the rules…I just don't follow them." Pointed to Wanikiya as he got a knee to the groin. "And that's why." Raising his voice, he shouted to Wanikiya, "Come on Wanikiya! Stop pussyfooting around. He's out for blood! He'll kill you if you let him!"

Eyes slipping to the white man he had had a vision quest with, Wanikiya breathlessly growled as he backed away from Paytah's advance. "He is my brother! I can not hurt him!"

And that was the one defense that Dean couldn't refute. He would be the biggest hypocrite on earth if he did. Because he had lost track of the times that he had stayed his hand from hurting…killing Sam, even when it meant the difference between life and death, not only his life but the survival of the entire human population. Obviously it was the same for Wanikiya. 'Which means we're totally screwed.'

"Others will die if you don't stop him," Sam harshly announced, knew about being on the flip side of this type of confrontation, being the one that needed to be stopped, at all costs. And sometimes….love wasn't enough, wasn't strong enough, deep enough to break the hold evil had on a soul. Like Dean's love for him had been. "Some have died already," he stressed, had to show Wanikiya the full cost of the choice before him. "All because of his anger at you."

"I didn't betray him…" Wanikiya denied, turning to Patyah and raising his hand. "Brother, I was returning to you, even before I knew the Objiway were attacking. Knew that the circle of my life would forever be broken if we did not have peace between us."

Patyah halted, seemed to contemplate his brother's words, and shrewdly asked the right question. "And if you had come back, if we had made peace between us, would you have never left the tribe?"

Wanikiya had the good grace to shuffle on his feet, to drop his gaze from his brother's.

"Ah crap," Dean grumbled, knew that the stuff was about to hit the fan.

"I can not say what would have been," Wanikiya hedged.

But Patyah stalked forward, inferred with an edge of anger, "You know what was in your heart."

Raising his head, Wanikiya held his brother's eyes and spoke the truth. "I was coming back…but my heart was restless still. I knew that I would not be able to silence that ache forever, that someday I would leave …..and not come back."

The stale air in the cave seemed to die on the vine, left the occupants holding their breath.

And Dean hated that he suddenly felt a pang of sympathetic pain course through him for Paytah. Because, regardless of all Dean's denials, Paytah had been right all along. Dean did understand the hole it ripped into you when someone you loved contemptuously rejected you. He hadn't been good enough for Sam to stay with him, was left behind, was discarded, by both Sam and his Father. And if Jess hadn't died, if his Dad's chase for the Colt hadn't crossed with his own hunt…would he have remained alone? Left to fight a hopelessly losing battle all on his own.

'Like Paytah had in the village?' And it galled Dean, that the lines were blurred, that he couldn't root for Wanikiya wholeheartedly anymore. That his own speck of embedded hurt couldn't be smothered.

Sam swallowed down the lump in his throat, wished he hadn't looked to Dean at Wanikiya's frank admission, hadn't been selfish enough to want to gauge his brother's reaction. And it was all there for him in black and white: Dean's pain. Pain he had scored across his brother's soul and, no matter the years in between, no matter how many times he came back to his brother's side, it couldn't erase the devastation that his indignant departure at 18 from his family had left in its wake.

Some things couldn't be forgotten, even if they were graciously forgiven.

And part of him didn't even condemn Paytah for his next words.

"I am ashamed that I once called you chikalya ciye, (little brother). Just like the spider does not care if friend or enemy gets ensnared in his web and dies, so you care nothing for the hurt you cause all others."

But Wanikiya shook his head. "No. I may not have stayed forever but I came back when you needed me, Paytah."

"When our enemies came, you were not there, when our woman and children tried to run for their lives, you were not there," Paytah bitterly recalled before reaching out, hand cupping the side of his brother's face. "When I fought for the lives of our people and lost….you were not there."

"I tried to return, brother," Wanikiya insisted, eyes going to Dean. "This man knows I tried, that I sacrificed my life trying to return to you."

Paytah's hand slipped from its tender touch of his brother's face to roughly fist some of Wanikiya's long hair in his grasp. With that leverage, he savagely yanked his brother's head back and snarled into the pained face. "If you had not left, you would have been there for the tribe, for me. If you had heeded the waayatan's vision…"

Anger flared in Wanikiya's eyes for the first time. Shoving free of his brother's vicious hold, he growled with derision, "This vision you speak of…you twisted for your own purposes! To hold me to you, to our village, like a squaw captured from our enemy. You forget, I was there, knew the waayatan's true vision, that it was not a warning to me…but to you. To warn you that war would come to us…"

"Yes, Wanikiya, if you left our tribe."

"No brother," Wanikiya heatedly contradicted. "That was not the way of the vision. The waayatan saw a fierce battle which our tribe would lose…and he told you that I would not be there to fight at your side. You are the one that contorted his words, told the elders that I would be condemning the tribe if I left."

"You were not at my side…and the battle came. The vision was right," Paytah rigidly maintained.

"It was not like a ripple in the water from a dropped pebble, brother. One did not cause the other to happen. My leaving did not doom our tribe. You did. By your refusal to move our tribe to a place where we could defend ourselves from attack, your stubborn pride that would not allow us to make peace with our brothers in the other villages, who dared insult and deny the hunting party of Ojibway who asked for refuge in the harsh winter storm. If anyone sealed our tribe's fate, it was you!"

Giving a guttural shout of fury, Paytah swept his hands out toward his brother…and a raging fire lighted at Paytah's feet and swept hungrily across the ground toward Wanikiya.

Though Dean and Sam had stood on the sidelines watching the verbal battle, they knew that they couldn't sit back and watch Wanikiya burn, at least not until Chief Fox finished binding his soul to Paytah's. Wordlessly, the brothers moved, took on the brother closest to them.

The column of fire was mere inches from Wanikiya when Sam sacked into him like a linebacker, the momentum taking them both out of the fire zone and crashing to the ground.

Dean darted left, dropped to his knees, snatched up the shotgun he or Sam had lost somewhere along the way and emptied a round of rocksalt into Paytah. Felt a momentary wave of relief when the Indian dissipated in a swirl of black ash…until he felt a hand latch onto the back of his jacket, a hand that he knew wasn't Sam's.

With just a one handed hold, Paytah effortlessly yanked Dean off the ground, slammed the hunter's head against the cave wall and discarded the limp body on the ground, didn't know or care if the man still lived, only knew that the elder had stood in the way of his revenge. Then Paytah was stalking toward the pair of disloyal younger brothers who had yet to pick themselves off the ground. Felt anticipation course through him. 'Soon I will vindicate the blood of my tribe, will wipe the shame from my family.' And when he utterly destroyed Wanikiya's spirit, his own spirit would finally be free to seek peace.

Sickened at the sight of Patyah flinging Dean's motionless body to the ground, Sam couldn't draw his eyes from his brother, could see the blood blossoming on Dean's face, dripping onto the ground. Wanted to abandon his protection duty of Wanikiya and go to his own wounded brother's side. 'But that's not what we do, is it?!' Sam sneered to himself, hated the selflessness his father had instilled in them and Dean had perfected. They put other lives before their own. Hunted things, saved people…but not necessarily themselves. 'Someday I'm going to say screw it to that motto…' he venomously thought even as he knew today wasn't that day.

"Come on, get up!" he commanded Wanikiya even as he was climbing to his feet, pulling the Indian up with him. Then he stepped in front of Wanikiya, became his shield. Sparing a glance to Strongeagle, he shouted, "We're running out of time!" because if there ever had been a slim chance for an intervention, it had passed. There would be no more brotherly talks. Now Paytah would be interested in only one outcome: his brother's destruction.

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Nathan had always been a strong believer in letting the professionals handle things. And that was all good and fine, until said professionals were about to grace an obituary page. Without wavering on his course of action, he raised the rocksalt loaded shotgun and emptied a round into Paytah. He didn't even flinch when Paytah materialized only seconds later, still doggedly heading for Sam's location. Instead he sighted his target again and pulled the trigger. Didn't let himself rejoice when Paytah didn't automatically show up again, just methodically reloaded the gun. Used those shells each time Paytah showed his face.

Nathan had a bad feeling in his gut when the ghost unexpectedly stayed gone.

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Hearing the gunfire through the cell phone speakers, Chief Fox knew that his plan B had better work or there was no guarantee there would be anyone left at the cave. Well, not anyone who wasn't a ghost. "Here goes nothing," he muttered before he pulled the pin out of the hand grenade.

Tossing it onto the fire, he yelled, "Fire in the Hole!" as he took off at a run, hoping to escape the blast zone.

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Eyes darting around the cave, Sam waited in dread for Paytah's return. And he jumped right alongside Nathan and Strongeagle when a boom erupted from the cellphone.

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Snapping into existence behind Wanikiya, Paytah slid his arm around his brother's throat and, with a shove of his other hand, he sent his brother's "protector" sprawling onto the ground.

Caught off guard, Sam hadn't been able to brace himself, hit the ground full on, his wounded shoulder taking the brunt of the impact. Choking back a cry of agony, he couldn't move, his every nerve ending flaring in pain. 'Get up, stop Paytah from killing Wanikiya. Do something!' he silently shouted at himself and yet his body was mutinying on him, had nearly endured its limit of abuse.

Pressing his forearm harder against Wanikiya's windpipe, Paytah hissed into his touted brave brother's ear, "Not such a great warrior now, are you?"

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Gaining his feet and dusting himself off, Chief Fox stiffly made his way back to the ground zero of the grenade explosion. Breathing a sigh of satisfied relief, he raised the cell phone he still had in hand and spoke over Strongeagle's bewildered, "Chief?! Chief?! Are you there?! What was that?!"

"It's done. Pipe's no more."

Even in Strongeagle's one word reply of "Okay!" the police chief detected the well of the man's gratitude before the call was disconnected. His part done, Chief Fox felt his legs nearly give out of him, found himself unceremoniously crashing to the ground, butt first. Sitting there, his knees draw up, he ran a trembling hand through his hair and prayed that all the hocus pocus paid off in the end.

A shotgun blasted the quiet, nearly finished off his ticker, which was already under way too much strain.

Jerking his head to the source of the shot, he saw Judge Preston on his front porch, all set to play vigilante with the trespassers on his front lawn. "Oh, this'll be fun. So much for my re-election," he muttered before he raised his voice, "Hold up Judge. It's Chief Fox. I've just…I've just run some cult nuts off your property."

Then he stood up, had the smarts to raise his hands as he approached the house, all the while the embers of the fire/explosion behind him continued to smolder, were hopefully dispelling the last of the spell's weird and gruesome ingredients.

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Sam was sliding his hands under his weight, levering himself off the ground into a upright position when a whistle brought his head snapping around to Strongeagle. The modern Indian gave him a big nod of his head and Sam knew that the Chief's part was done, that Wanikiya and Paytah's souls were now bound together. Well, they were if the spell wasn't all crap.

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Indignant at his brother's taunt, Wanikiya tilted his head back to meet his brother's eyes. "You were always jealous of me, of my favor in the eyes of our people. You were the great leader…but it was my strength, my skills as a warrior that they admired most."

Infuriated, Patyah pressed his arm harder against Wanikiya's throat, cut off more of the younger Indian's oxygen. "If that were true, they put their trust in a coward," he contemptuously spat.

That was more than Wanikiya could stomach. With a war cry, he snapped his head back into his brother's face, enjoyed the surprised grunt of pain it elicited from Paytah. Then he flipped Paytah over his back, didn't give his brother the chance to reclaim the breath knocked from him at his impact on the ground before he was there, straddling him, his hand coiled around Paytah's throat.

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Though the tide seemed to be turning in Wanikiya's favor, Sam didn't trust that it would stay that way. And when his eyes traveled to Nathan, he saw that the deputy was crouched on the ground, his hands rummaging through his pack, was dedicated to following through on their plans. When diligently Strongeagle gathered the pebbles holding Wanikiya's soul off the ground and silently passed them to Nathan, he knew none of them were putting too much faith in Wanikiya coming out on top of the brotherly bout.

As if he sensed the attention, Nathan's gaze found Sam's, waited for the hunter's go ahead. Nodding, Sam watched Nathan determinedly nod back before he pulled the welding torch, goggles and gloves from his pack and sat them on the ground.

Assured that Nathan and Strongeagle didn't need his supervision, Sam looked behind him, saw that Dean had yet to stir. His stabbing fear conquered his weakness, drove him to his feet, had him staggering across the distance that separated him from his brother. Crashing to his knees at Dean's side, he beckoned, "Dean?" as he gently rolled Dean until his brother's head came to rest in his lap.

Dean's earlier head wound was a scratch compared to the deep gash that now disfigured his brother's forehead. A gash that was still free flowing dark blood, which was obscuring half of Dean's face. Pressing his one hand upon his brother's chest, he drew in a starving breath of air when he felt the thump of his brother's heart under his fingers. 'Just hurt. He's just hurt,' mantra instantly started to run through his head on a loop. But that reassurance wasn't smothering all of his anxiety, knew only Dean waking up and grousing at him for putting his hands all over him could do that.

Accepting that his next actions were part necessity and part selfishness, he gave a light tap to his brother's unbloodied cheek and summoned his brother to return to the land of the conscious. "Dean, Hey? Dean!"

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Still pinning Paytah to the ground, Wanikiya easily put down his brother's struggle to dislodge his strangle hold. Had always won their sparring matches since they were boys, remembered how it had infuriated his elder brother that there was something he could not best his little brother in. Leaning over his brother, he hissed, "I gave you the respect you deserved as leader but you never could praise me for my own strengths. You used me, yes, commanded me and my warriors to do your bidding, but you never were proud of me."

His left hand gripping Wanikiya's hand, hoping to stay the crushing grip that sought to steal the last breath from him, Paytah wheezed out, "I was proud of you, told all that would listen that you were the best warrior of all our tribe, that you were my brother. I let your words of advice sway me like I let none other, I let you command your own raids, I let you leave for weeks without complaint. But it was never enough for you. Still you wanted to leave and never come back. Still our village, our home, our people were not worthy of your devotion."

Paytah's right hand, having found its prize, struck out, sank the knife he had recovered from the ground into his brother's side. Relishing his brother's cry of pain, he ruthlessly twisted the knife before pulling it free and pushing his brother off him. Climbing to his feet, he stared down at his brother, watched in satisfaction as blood oozed from his brother's side. Knew it was not a death blow and that was as he intended. He didn't want Wankiya's suffering to be over too soon, for his centuries' long ache for revenge to be sated too quickly.

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Shoving a few of the pebbles deep into a crevice in the cave's east wall, Nathan tried really hard not to think that the small round stones contained a soul. 'Sure, Wade comes up with this brilliant plan to smelt a freaking soul and where is he now: sitting safe and sound topside with the Chief," Nathan groused as he sparked the blowtorch to life and directed the flame toward the stashed pebbles.

But instead of the cave wall heating up red under the intense heat, a sheen of ice formed.

"What the…." Nathan marveled, found that his breath was coming out in puffs of white, and when he inhaled, it hurt, felt like he was sucking in subfreezing temperatures.

It was part for the course that his blowtorch's flame suddenly snuffed out.

Ripping off his goggles in frustration as the lens frosted over, he grumbled, "No, this shouldn't be happening," giving the malfunctioning blowtorch a rough shake. But he stilled as he took notice of something more alarming: like the wave of frost migrating down the cave wall and beginning to ripple across the floor … toward his boots.

Warily, he stepped backwards, tried to not panic when the frost quickly covered the patch of ground that he had just vacated and kept advancing. Pretty sure that frost wasn't just frost in this instance, he cheerlessly announced, "Strongeagle, we have a problem." Backpedaling faster to keep out of reach of the tide of ice, he wasn't expecting to hear a worrisome crack under his boots. Stumbling to a halt, he looked down to see that he had backed right onto the ice expanding from the wall behind him, and worse than that, he couldn't move either of his feet, at all.

Eyes shooting to Strongeagle, Nathan urgently commanded, "Greg, don't move!" to derail the younger man's obvious intentions to come to him.

And Greg saw then what Nathan had even amid his own peril, that his circle of ingredients were keeping the cold front out, were safeguarding him against whatever else was happening in the cave. But his friends weren't that fortunate, Nathan had proved that and the Winchesters…. "Sam, get off the ground!" Strongeagle shouted in panic across the cave, because the two hunters were on the ground …and directly in the path of the fast moving flow of frost.

Eyes snapping up from Dean's slack features, Sam searched for the danger Strongeagle detected. He found that the cave had started to go into a prehistoric freeze when he wasn't looking. The air was rapidly dropping in temperature, the walls were coated in ice, inches thick, and the ground was reenacting a miniature tsunami…. of frost. A tsunami that was ominously roiling their way.

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TBC

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Thanks for reading and all your words of encouragement! Ok, yeah, I slipped another cliffy in there on you. Anyone feeling cold right about now?!

Have a great day!

Cheryl W.