Author: Cheryl W.
Disclaimer: I do not own Dean, Sam or any rights to Supernatural, nor am I making any profit from this story.
Trying to give Wade as much of the circle's space as he could, Strongeagle stood on the west side of the ring, tried to make himself as thin as possible. Felt immeasurable relief when, by some miracle, Wade's leap arched perfectly, had the medic touching down inside the circle. Trouble was, Wade didn't stick the landing.
Realizing too late that crossing the distance was only the first hurdle, Wade tried to stall out his momentum, to put the brakes on the staggering steps that were propelling him across the circle's small circumference…and right toward the ice on the other side. In a last ditch effort, he let his legs crumble under him but even as his knees hit the ground, he was pitching forward, knew that the hand he had instinctively thrown out to brace himself, it was going to land somewhere outside the magic circle.
Not confident that he had the strength or the leverage to derail Wade's descent, Greg didn't try…simply dove to the ground…right under the falling medic.
When his chest slammed, not into the cave floor but onto Strongeagle's back, Wade arched his back, hastily diverted his bracing action and jerked his hands up so they didn't hit the ice. Felt like a trained dolphin in his frozen, no, scratch that, still but mercifully unfrozen position with his nose only hovering inches above the misty lake of ice.
Slowly, to not unbalance his precarious balance, Wade reached his hands behind him until they found Strongeagle's back then he levered himself up, pushed away and carefully eased back onto his hunches. Meeting Greg's eyes with raw gratitude, he said, "Thanks."
Silently nodding a response, Greg sat up and accepted Wade's hand up to regain his feet. Turning Wade's hand palm up, he let the ash pour from his clenched hand into the medic's. "This is all you have to work with.."
"It's enough,"' Wade briskly assured, eyes worried going to Nathan, whose breath was labored like an asthmatics and his hair was turning white with frost.
Sam could do nothing, had no weapons to stay Paytah's hand, had no latent dark powers to call upon, had only the resilient fortitude he clung to to not lose his brother. And then there was Dean's crazy, just-now-improvised plan Z, a plan that Sam gamely took up because he believed in Dean, had faithfully followed his brother in every suicidal plan he had ever concocted before and he wasn't going to stop now.
"You're not a judge, you're a tyrant!" Sam acidly accused Paytah, was encouraged when the Indian's gaze left Dean's and slammed into his. "You don't decree if someone's in the right, you just punish those who disagree with you! What, you'll kill my brother because he dares to give you advice?! Talk about self-confidence issues?!" He tacked on a forced laugh of derision, knew he was taking a page out of Dean's book and hoping it paid off and spared his brother's life.
Pulling his hand from Dean's chest, Paytah stepped toward Sam, whose eyes apprehensively flickered to Dean as his brother weakly sank to his knees. But Dean was still alive, was rubbing at his chest but there was no gaping hole there.
Incited that the younger sibling wasn't even looking at him, didn't fear what he would do to him, Paytah grabbed the man's jaw, forced him to face him. "I was given the power to do what seems right in my eyes."
"Your eyes? Yeah, that's going to be fair. Your wounded pride blinds you," Sam venomously shot back.
Kneeling on the ground, Dean ignored the ice seeping over his calves and up his legs, knew it was time that he rejoined the fray. Thankfully, Sam had caught onto his plan, had led Paytah to the edge of where they needed him but it was up to him to push him over the abyss, let Paytah unknowingly seal his own fate.
"Course Sam thinks it's about pride…yours…mine," Dean scoffed, leveling a look of contempt at Sam. "It's easier to not feel guilty for betraying me if you think it's about my weakness, not yours. That it's about anger…not about loyalty." Then he shifted his gaze to Paytah. "If your people were here… your tribe, they would condemn Wanikiya, they would find him guilty of their deaths. I'm pretty sure they hate him as much as you do."
"They do," Paytah confidently endorsed. Releasing his biting hold on Sam's face, he turned to his little brother who was climbing off the ground to come to a shaking stance. "Each member of our tribe would condemn him to a thousand lifetimes of torment."
"So let them…" Dean quietly suggested, drawing Paytah's startled attention. "Wanikiya thinks your anger is not justified, so I say you shove it down his throat that it is. That he's no savior. Prove that you're the one the tribe idolizes. Let your people decide Wanikiya's punishment."
"No!" Wanikiya protested, stumbling closer to his brother. "They seek to trick you, Paytah."
"To what gain?" Paytah smugly drawled. "The only one facing judgment is you."
'Yeah, not quite,' Dean guiltily thought, knew the trap he was springing…it would pass judgment on both of the brothers, make one pay for the sins, or perceived sins of the other. But he shut down the regret, tuned out his empathy, and knowingly committed himself to cross over the line of right and wrong, to do what had to be done, even if it wasn't honorable. But he had done worse to save Sam's life, even to save his own. Knew that this time, both their lives were on the line. Especially if he took Sam's we-either-leave-the-cave-together-or-not-at-all seriously, which Sam was. The seething look he had shot his way when he had tried to incite Paytah to kill him to give Sam a window to make an escape proved that.
So they were both all in, meant it came down to his and Sam's life, or Wanikiya and Paytah's life. And there was no way on earth he would ever put anyone's survival ahead of Sam's, not his own, not even all of mankind's. He had done that once before…and would never do it again. The friggin' world wasn't worth that. Like he had told Bobby, maybe they should stop trying to save the world. That if it wanted to off itself, it could go right ahead. 'Just leave my brother out of it this time.'
Wade tried to map out his route to Nathan across the icy cave floor like he would a mountain ascent. To figure out the toeholds he could attain, the trajectory of each of his leaps, the length of rope he had …ie supply of magic fairy dust Strongeagle had scrapped together. And he had to take into account the return trip. Because getting Nathan de-iced was only step one, step two was getting him out of the ice age to somewhere he could thaw out.
It was the thing Oliver always cautioned him on, that he was so hyped to get to the top…that he didn't think about how he was going to get back to planet earth. 'I'm learning, Oliver. I'm learning. But if I don't get to Nathan as quickly as I can, there's no use even planning a return trip.'
As if sensing his best friend's desperation, Nathan stuttered through his chattering teeth "Be care….ful." Would have launched into the whole the-best-plans-are-methodic, don't-let-your-emotions-rattle-you, you-have-to-keep-yourself-safe-before-you-can-save-others speech if he thought he could get the words past his shiver fest. Just prayed his two word warning conveyed to Wade that him being reckless with his life wasn't acceptable to him, at all.
"Yeah, like you have room to judge me about being careful. I'm not the one becoming Jack Frost," Wade retorted, his worry turning his tone sharper than he intended. Shamed eyes coming up to meet Nathan's, he quietly apologized, "Sorry, I know this wasn't on your to-do list today."
"Yesterday's list…not today's," Nathan quirked, felt a little calmer when Wade gave him an affectionate smile. But he knew the next breath that his directive was going to go unheeded when Wade's expression morphed into a mask of unrelenting determination.
Taking advantage of his, albeit, limited space to get a running start, Wade took a few steps back, mentally gauged where he estimated his landing would be and then he bolted for the edge of the circle, launched himself into the air at the last second. Only released a few sprinkles of the dust in his right hand when he knew exactly where he would make landfall in the seconds to come.
As it was, the dust barely dispersed the ice before Wade's feet made contact. And unlike last time, he stuck the landing, came down with both his feet and didn't move a millimeter forward. He didn't take time to relish his gymnastic prowess, was already planning his next hopscotch move. Without the benefit of a running start, he knew that leaping before he looked, or in this case, dusted the floor with Strongeagle's mojo mid-air wasn't going to work. He instead leaned forward and tossed the dust a few feet away, waited onto it cleared a small section of the unwelcome ice before he made his leap. Entering the de-iced zone with a one foot landing, he swayed a moment before he managed to snuggly slip his other foot in the toehold of dry ground.
If he calculated right, he could get to Nathan in two more jumps. Looking up to tell Nathan the good news, the words caught in his throat: Nathan's expression was suspended mid-worried scowl, his eyes unblinking, his face unnaturally white, all preserved behind a clear layer of frozen water.
Now, from head to toe, Nathan was swathed in ice, like a psychopath's version of art.
"The fault was not mine! You were their leader. When will you accept the weight that should be yours?!" Wanikiya shouted back at his brother.
"Let your tribe decide who they blame for their deaths," Sam reasonably recommended.
"It is not their place to judge, it is mine," Paytah refuted now that his head could be on the chopping block as well as Wanikiya's.
Sam brandished a smug smile. "Don't tell me you're afraid they will find you responsibile for their deaths. After all these years blaming Wanikiya…." He gave a dark laugh. "So who is the coward now? Your name means "fire", right? Has fear snuffed out your flame, Paytah?"
Afraid Paytah would kill Sam right then and there, Dean goaded, "Prove them both wrong. Call on your people, let their decree rule, don't let Wanikiya hang onto his pride, make him drown in shame like you have. Hurt him like he has hurt you."
"Nathan!? No!" Wade shouted in horror. Hastily tossing some of the dust ahead of his leap, he didn't care that his foot got a little freezer burned on the landing, was already bounding forward again, didn't even steady his wobbly stance before he threw a good portion of the dust right into Nathan's face and held his breath.
Though the dust probably worked as fast on the ice on Nathan as it did on the cave floor, it seemed an eternity to Wade before Nathan's face was free of ice. But when Nathan's head limply fell forward, Wade feared the utmost worst …. until his best friend drew in a ragged, gasping inhale of air.
Anxiously, Wade reached out, cupped Nathan's face with his hands and tilted his friend's face up to meet his gaze. "Nathan, can you breathe ok? Can you talk? Do you know where you are?" he asked, his medic training overriding his bubbling fear.
Every breath burning in his lungs, Nathan could only nod in the affirmative. He knew he was in the cave of wonders, was with Wade and that he wasn't a man-pop. And all that was good enough for him.
Drawing encouragement from not only Nathan's nod but the lucidity in his friend's gaze, Wade heaved out a wearily, relieved exhale and tenderly patted Nathan's face with his right hand. "Ok, alright, I'm getting you out of here." He felt his chest tighten with affection and humility when Nathan responded to his pledge with a unreservedly trusting nod.
"I'm going to free up your feet and then we're going to head for warmer climates," Wade lightly charted their plan of action even as he crouched down, sprinkled Nathan's boots and the ice surrounding them with the dust, watched in relief as the ice disappeared. Wasn't prepared when Nathan started to topple over like a pushed ice sculpture when its foundation came unmoored.
"Oh crap," Wade exclaimed as he started to spring to his feet but had to hastily wrap his arms around Nathan's waist mid-rise to stop his friend from doing a stiff face plant into the icy floor. But in the process of his heroic save, Wade's cheek connected with his best friend's still unfrozen chest and stayed stuck.
Cursing silently but fervently at having gotten himself into the embarrassing vulnerable-body-part-stuck-to-ice situation, Wade slid his hand around Nathan's torso which left a trail of pixie dust in its wake until he could press his hand against his friend's chest, start the thawing process there. In a moment, he felt the ice slip free of his own face though the painful bite of cold didn't fade away. Pulling back, he straightened but kept a supportive hold on Nathan, met his friend's gaze with a steely glare, "We are never ever talking about this, got it?'
"Deal," Nathan hoarsely managed to wheeze out, certainly didn't want the story brandied about the police station or the hospital. But the next moment, Wade did something nearly as humiliating: picked him up and tossed him over his shoulder like a fragile damsel in distress. But he didn't have time or the breath to resist as Wade started his deadly hopscotch game back to Strongeagle's magic circle. Staying as unmoving as he could, Nathan prayed that he wouldn't undermine Wade's innate sense of balance.
Before Paytah could react to Dean's urgings, Wanikiya drew closer to his brother, entreated, "We don't need anyone to judge us or the past. We can find a way to peace on our own."
"Someone sounds awfully afraid to face his tribe," Dean mocked from his kneeling position on the ground. "Thought you were their hero," he threw at Wanikiya.
His anger nearly palpable, Wanikiya advanced menacingly toward Dean, snarled, "You know nothing of our brotherhood. You have no right…."
Abandoning his place of safety, Sam made his own running jump across the frozen landscape, threw out a hand to Dean's shoulder to steady himself as he claimed his rightful spot, not only at Dean's side, but in the shielding line of fire of anyone looking to do harm to his brother. So he was the one who wrathfully disputed Wanikiya's claim. "…I have every right. Your brother's made it his business to make me pay for your sins. To think I'm like you, that the brotherhood that Dean and I have is as breakable as yours was. Its time you two settled things between you."
With Sam finally turning on Wanikiya, Paytah smiled, goaded his sibling, "Even this selfish one will not stand with you. And neither will our people," he stated with conviction, his eyes seeking out Dean. "I will beckon my tribe, but I do not know if their spirits will come."
"Strongeagle can help with that," Dean reassured, jerking his head toward Greg. He didn't let his sudden flurry of doubt show now that his improvised plan was actually moving forward. Because two pissed off ghosts in the cave, like Sam would say, was a friggin' dance party, and now he was inviting some twenty more spirits to join in? His plan was going to work or it was going to fail, either way, it was going to be epic.
Hearing his name, Greg stopped tracking the progress of Wade and Nathan's hazardous return trek and looked across the cave's expansion. It wasn't reassuring to realize that he was indeed the focus of Dean, Sam, Wanikiya and Paytah's attention. "I feel like I missed something," he nervously ventured, didn't like the hot glare Wanikiya was lancing into him and wasn't all that comfortable with Dean's hopeful look, Sam's dubious expression or Paytah's blossoming respect.
Standing by his kneeling brother, it was Sam who clued him in on his newly assigned duties. "Strongeagle, we need you to call the spirits of Paytah's tribe."
"You want me to do what now?" Greg incredulously sputtered before Sam gave him the bug eyed, keep-playing-your-part glare. 'Right, play a part I'm not equipped to even understudy for.' Because him getting Wanikiya's spirit to come visit seemed to surprise him more than it had Dean or Sam. And now, with one success under his belt, they wanted him to just call down a score of spirits?! "I…I don't …." realizing his voice nearly squeaked, he cleared his throat and tried to ooze confidence as he started over, "I need someone that has a connection to them," his eyes scanning his audience's range of expressions, he clarified, "someone that wants them here."
Paytah stepped forward as he declared, "I want them here. I will call on them to come, to pass judgment upon my brother's cowardice that has cost us all so dearly."
But Strongeagle's eyes darted to Sam, waited until Sam gave a virtually imperceptible nod that this was all part of the plan before he agreed, "Ok, I will beckon them." Sinking down into the circle, he began silently asking the spirits to come to him. He hoped that the spirits wouldn't get furious when…if, he managed to disturb their peace and drag them there to settle a brotherly dispute that had raged on for over a buck fifty years.
It was a victory of sorts, for Wade to reach the perimeter of Strongeagle's circle with Nathan securely flung over his shoulder. Would have been even better if he knew they could cross into the circle without breaking either Strongeagle's concentration on summoning the tribe's spirits or the hocus pocus that embodied the circle.
From his helpless upside down position at his best friend's back Nathan noted Wade's stillness that spoke of indecision, whispered, "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Wade whispered back, didn't need Nathan upping his heart rate while his body continued to fight the hypothermia that had a hold over him.
Knowing that 'nothing' meant something Wade didn't want to talk about, Nathan tried to get a sense of their current trouble but from his vantage point he could see little but he could see down, saw that the dry island Wade was standing in was being overrun by ice, quickly. Forcing words from his too tight chest, he frantically warned, "Wade, you gotta move…. or dump more fairy dust down. Your feet …are almost ..stuck."
Dropping his gaze down to the cave floor, Wade cursed. "I think I'm going to have to take one for the team." Because there was no more dust to hold back the ice or hew a new trail to the tunnel and distracting Strongeagle now by tumbling into the circle could undermine everything. So yeah, he was going nowhere. And sadly, neither was Nathan. 'At least this creepy ice will have to go through me to get to him again.'
"What? Why?" Nathan wheezed out in protest, didn't want Wade to suffer the same fate he had rescued him from.
Instead of boring Nathan with the details, Wade offered up a philosophical anecdote. "It's just like our hockey tournament pep speech. Whole team's heart has to be in it. We all win or we all lose but we're doing it together."
"You do know… Chief Fox …probably got that…from a Disney sports movie… right?' Nathan taunted even as he appreciated and treasured his friend's sense of loyalty.
Huffily Wade retorted, "Hey, I liked it. It inspired me."
"Nike commercials …inspire you," Nathan quirked back but he gave his friend's back an affectionate pat. Nathan knew that if he was going out standing side by side with anyone, well, draped helpless over someone's shoulder, he couldn't have picked a more worthy friend than Wade…or heroic group of men who made up their ghostbuster click.
Both men fell silent as Strongeagle's lilting Indian song echoed through the cave.
Dropping his eyes to Dean, Sam read the same anemic strand of hope in his brother's green depths. But there too, hiding almost out of detection, was a well of remorse. If the tribe did find Wanikiya guilty, the younger sibling's peace would be revoked and he would be condemned. And though Paytah deserved an eternity in a torture chamber, it didn't seem like Wanikiya did.
Wondering if Sam saw the parallels between him jumping into the cage to condemn the Big Bad and their present situation, Dean silently berated himself, 'Another great plan, Dean. Sentence the good to the same fate as the wicked. Real humanitarian of you.' And he almost told Strongeagle to not do it, to stop calling the other spirits…but didn't, couldn't. Not when it could mean the difference between life and death for Sam. For Nathan, and Wade and Strongeagle and who knew how many present and future brothers in Cooper Flats.
No, it was down to saving the people he cared about or rearranging Wanikiya's hereafter lodgings, was about the mathematics of one soul's condemnation versus dozens of lost lives. Was about the hard choices that no one wanted to make, about the choices he didn't want Sam to have to make. Tearing his eyes from Sam's, he looked up to Wanikiya, thought about warning him about what was to come…or apologize, but did neither. Remembered what the 2014 version of him had said about wasting one of his own soldiers before he turned into a croat: 'I didn't see the point of troubling a good man with bad news.' For Dean, it wasn't all that reassuring that he was taking another step on the path to being that cold-hearted version of himself.
Part of him deflating at the stark reality of his choice, Dean sank back on his hunches, didn't have the strength or enough self-worth right then to worry about giving the ice covering his legs a quicker route to the rest of him. His head jerked up when Sam's hand returned to his shoulder and gave it a squeeze to match the encouragement shining in his brother's eyes. And it helped…and yet it didn't that Sam knew the cruelty of their, no his plan and wasn't revolted by him, was faithfully following his lead.
'Sam, following my plans already led you to Hell once, don't let it lead you there again,' Dean morosely thought he knew Sam was picking up his brooding vibes when his brother's forehead wrinkled with concern. He shook his head, attempted to dismiss his brother's worry. He could bear this weight. After all, there wasn't much more you could do wrong once your weakness kicked off the friggin' apocalypse.
Sam's apprehension didn't abate with Dean's false guise of being alright. He knew his brother better than anyone, knew when he was in physical pain…and emotional turmoil. And Dean was in both right then. Stalwartly, Sam vowed to take the lead from here on out, to not let his brother heap more of either type of torment on himself.
There were no pebbles left for the spirits of the tribe to occupy but that didn't stop them from reaching out to Strongeagle, from starting to materialize all around the room. Breaking off his song mid-note, Strongeagle had to swallow down a ball of fear before he spoke to the spirits he had summoned. "Thank you for honoring us with your presence and wisdom."
Paytah, however, ruthlessly cut across Greg's words of ceremony. "My people, I have called upon you to return to this life to pass judgment on the one who betrayed us all. To allow you the honor of punishing Wanikiya for robbing us of life…and our tribe of peace."
The next moment, Sam's commanding voice claimed the spirits' attention. "Or to punish Paytah, if you find him to blame for what happened in your village instead of Wanikiya." Holding Paytah's incensed glare, Sam realized that he didn't feel one shred of remorse for what judgment might reign down on the ghost who tried to irreparably separate him from Dean. Coldly, he instructed Paytah's jury of peers, "Lay a feather in front of the man that you find guilty. And if you find neither man at fault for the destruction of your tribe, then toss your feather to the side."
The cave fell into shocked silence and Sam exchanged an uneasy look with Dean, both fearing that, instead of the spirits taking vengeance on either Indian brother, they might decide to reenact the Battle of Little Bighorn on the living white men (and contemporary Indian) in their midst.
But then an Indian man broke from the ranks, his long grey hair, lined features, and ornamental headdress marking him as an elder esteemed tribal council member of the remnants of the gathered tribe. Steadily meeting both Paytah and Wanikiya's gaze, he pulled a feather from the headdress he wore…and placed it in front of Paytah.
"You old fool!" Paytah wrathfully railed at his accuser, only some latent respect for the position in the tribe the elderly man once had holding him back from making a physical assault. "I died defending you! He was gone…left you to die!" he shouted, pointing to Wanikiya.
But the senior Indian didn't cower under his former leader's wrath. "I had no need of a warrior, for it is a leader who is worth a hundred warriors….if his heart is dedicated to his tribe. But you, Paytah, let your heart wander further from our tribe than Wanikiya's steps ever did. Always, you thought of your honor and not the honor of our tribe." Turning away, he rejoined his tribe but his actions set the ball in motion, led to man after man coming forward, placing their feathers condemningly in front of Paytah.
"You can't condemn me, I'm your leader! You don't have the right?!" Paytah furiously spat, hands fisted at his side, aching to tear apart the blind fools that could not see the real evil in their midst.
His condemnation did not stop the next brave from laying his feather at Paytah's feet, before daring to hold his former chief's hate filled eyes. "Even the greatest of us must pay homage to our customs."
In awe, Sam watched as their plan, Dean's plan, actually seemed to be working, that the tribe was condemning Paytah's soul, would send the ghost's spirit from the cave, Cooper Flats to wherever damned Indian souls went. 'And Wanikiya's soul right along with his,' came his guilt-ridden comprehension. Shamed, he inconspicuously observed Wanikiya…and detected the younger Indian's understandably tense stance. A stance that was rapidly even smugly easing with each guilty verdict leveled against his brother. 'Like he's surprised by the turn of events, fully expected to be condemned. And now he's arrogantly reveling that he's getting off scott free.' And that reaction, it smacked of guilt to Sam.
Suddenly a weathered brave with a ceremonial headdress that trailed down his back pushed to the front of the crowd, turned, not to his Chief and his infamous warrior brother, but to the gathered tribe. "Paytah told the council of my vision, how I saw the war and death that would come if Wanikiya left our tribe. But I had another vision, a vision where the spirits that I am now a part of whispered in my ear, showed me with clear eyes what was to come." Then he turned, not to Paytah but to Wanikiya. "While we still walked among the living, I was bound to keep all I had seen through your eyes unspoken but I will keep silent no more."
Sensing that there might be salvation for him in the wićaśa wakan's (medicine man) words, Paytah commanded, "Tell me now the vision you saw."
Before the wićaśa wakan could speak, Wanikiya advanced on him, snarling, "Don't speak lies! You misinterpreted the vision to help my brother control me!"
"I did not. But our people can judge that too," the man of vision countered before he raised his voice so all could hear but his eyes remained locked onto Wanikiya. "Wanikiya came to me, asked to see his true destiny. But he did not heed what I saw, what the spirits showed to me." Turning to Paytah with a chagrinned expression, he offered apologies to his Chief, "Forgive me for keeping this from you, for honoring our heritage to hold a man's vision sacred. I did not know I would be sacrificing our future." Not waiting for Paytah's response, he revealed, "The vision Wanikiya and I alone saw was of an owl flying overhead, an Ojibway arrow in the center of our village…and blood coating Wanikiya's hands."
Stunned murmuring erupted across the gathered crowd of long dead Sioux, only heightened when the medicine man decisively laid his feather at Wanikiya's feet.
Paytah faced his little brother with tangible contempt. "The sight of the owl, it meant not just battle, it warned of great waves of death to come. And the arrow?! You knew who would bring war against us, murder our braves, steal our squaws and children! But you told me none of this, turned your back on me, our village, our tribe. And even the spirits warned you that if all that happened, it would be your fault, that every drop of blood shed would taint your soul…and still you did not stay. Left us to all die."
"An old man's ramblings, that was all it was?! You probably ordered him to tell me those things. You wanted to control me, push me into staying, wanted to turn our people against me," Wanikiya thundered, stepping toward his brother, wishing to land a blow, to silence Paytah forever.
However much blame Paytah had lain at Wanikiya's feet, it didn't equate to the amount that he realized his little brother truly deserved. Tearing his headdress from his braided hair, Paytah tossed it at Wanikiya's feet, decreeing his own public condemnation of his brother. Then he unexpectedly turned and knelt before his tribe, spoke to them with a voice hued with shame and regret, "My loyalty to Wanikiya and my selfishness and my hurt murdered every one of you. I happily take your condemnation…as long as my brother's fate is the same as mine."
A little dazed at the turn of events, Dean watched as another wizened brave, wearing a headdress similar to Paytah's, came forward out of the ranks of the tribe. Whoever he was, his appearance evoked a strong reaction from the callous Wanikiya.
Stumbling back a step in utter surprise, Wanikiya stammered, "Father."
Head snapping up at his brother's utterance, Paytah couldn't believe that it was truly his father's spirit standing before them. "Father I…" he began but didn't say more when his father raised his hand, ordered him to silence.
With his reproachful look skewering both of his sons, he spoke. "You have dishonored our name and broken the unity of our tribe. I condemn you both to aimlessly wander the inbetween land until you make peace with one another. Then you will come before our tribe so we may pass final judgment on you."
Eyes slipping to Wanikiya and filled with nothing but hate, Paytah indignantly questioned, "And if there is no reaching peace between us?"
Sam noted the clench in Paytah's father's jaw. But there was no hesitation in his unswerving verdict.
Meeting both of his sons' gazes, he decreed, "Then you will forever be lost to all…but each other's company."
"No! You can't…I didn't murder anyone!" Wanikiya hysterically protested.
But his father's expression didn't reflect compassion but humiliation at the legacy his sons had left in their wake. "Murder by your hand, you may not have done. But you selfishly chose to save no one, my son."
Reaching forward, Paytah picked up the one of the Winchesters' lost knives and came to his feet. He bowed to his father and the tribe before he turned with cold, menacing purpose to Wanikiya. "Come brother, let us find peace." Then, with a blood curling Indian yell, he charged for his brother, tackled Wanikiya at the waist. That sent them both careening toward the Winchesters who, thanks to the ice, had no way to dodge out of the way.
"This might hurt," Dean muttered, tilting his head away and closing one eye as he braced for impact.
But Paytah and Wanikiya disintegrated seconds before they collided with Sam and Dean, left the Winchesters sputtering on the ash that swirled in their wake.
Goodbye Paytah! Don't know about your guys but I'm hoping he and Wanikiya don't make peace anytime soon. As always, I really appreciate each and every review for last chapter and want to thank everyone still out there for reading this story.
The final chapter is in the works!
Have a great day!