Previously: Dean, Jenna, Tyler and Caitlyn run from the demons but Darksuit catches them and kills Caitlyn to prove a point. He tells them the demons all have binding marks to keep them from being exorcized but Dean slices through it and Jenna pulls the smoke into her and out into a Devil's Trap. They all run but they lose Tyler and since Dean got hit in the head, he collapses so only Jenna makes it to the fire tower where Sam and Quinn are waiting.
CHAPTER 11– Out of the Woods
Sam lifted the trapdoor and Quinn practically jumped down onto the ladder. He took the time to drop her duffel and sling his own over his shoulder before following her down. Hitting the ground running, his longer legs allowed him to catch up with Quinn and they both reached Jenna at the same time.
Jenna didn't even spare him a glance as she launched herself into a fierce hug with Quinn, mumbling incoherently into the older woman's ear. Quinn returned the hug just as emphatically but pried herself loose when she caught Sam's urgent eye over Jenna's shoulder.
Sam was glad Jenna was safe but he couldn't see Dean anywhere and desperately needed answers.
"Jenna," Quinn said calmly, "You okay?"
The blonde nodded, out of breath and still gripping her friend's arms. "Yeah," she panted, "but Dean…"
Sam's heart skipped a beat. "What about Dean?" he jumped in impatiently.
Jenna turned towards him, giving him a quick once-over. "You Sam?"
Sam nodded, the sympathetic look in her eye making him swallow with dread at what she was about to say.
She tilted her head towards the trees behind her. "He's hurt. There are… demons after us. They're close… they're everywhere. Come on." She took a few steps, beckoning him while she tugged on Quinn's sleeve. "We need to go get him."
They followed her without hesitation, both carrying their duffels of weapons slung over their shoulders and keeping a sharp eye out for demons.
"Tyler, too," Jenna panted as she ran. "We lost him."
"Tyler?" Quinn asked. "Is that one of the others who escaped with you?"
Jenna nodded, her face going slack for a second. "There was Caitlyn too but…" She looked to the woman running next to her and her voice wavered. "They killed her, Quinn. They killed her."
Quinn's lips drew into a tight line but she hooked her hand under Jenna's elbow in a reassuring gesture as they kept moving.
Jenna was clearly pushing herself and extreme weariness was evident in her stumbling stride. Sam would have offered to slow down but his worry for Dean was too great so he urged her on, running a few steps ahead and turning frequently to check which direction.
It took a half hour to reach the area Jenna claimed she had left Dean and fortunately, they encountered no demons. The tree cover was less dense in this part of the woods, the trees smaller, offering less shade and allowing more dense undergrowth. Jenna claimed she had left Dean awake but suffering what she suspected was a concussion, hiding in a large patch of the shrubs with the yellow buds.
But she couldn't quite remember exactly where that was. She kept apologizing and backtracking then staring indecisively at random landmarks. Sam tried to hide his mounting frustration.
"It might be down here a bit," she said finally, stopping with her hands on her hips to breathe. She threw Sam an apologetic look. "But it could be around the hill a bit that way," she pointed. "Ahhh, sorry; it all looks the same and I..." Her voice trailed away.
Sam bit back a short-tempered remark, trying not to think of the possibility that they couldn't find him because the demons already had him. "I'll go that way," he offered. "You two go down that way. Call if you find him."
"No, Winchester, we should stick…" Quinn started but Sam cut her off.
"Dean's hurt, Quinn. We need to find him now." With that he tore off through the brush, his eyes roaming frantically for any signs of the yellow-budded bushes. They seemed to grow in clusters where the trees were more sparse and sunlight reached the forest floor, so he steered himself in the direction that seemed vaguely brighter.
A long ten minutes passed before his phone rang. He let out an audible gasp of relief when Quinn informed him they had found Dean. She said he was unconscious but assured Sam hastily she was certain he would be fine. Sam made his way quickly in the direction she had given him, worry and relief tumbling over themselves in his gut as he ran.
His approach along a narrow animal path was quiet and the women didn't hear him coming. He could make out Jenna and Quinn both kneeling over what he guessed must be Dean and despite his worry, found himself smiling at the conversation they no doubt thought was private.
"He's kinda beautiful, isn't he?" Jenna was saying in a hushed voice.
Quinn chuckled and rocked back on her heels. "Well, I'll give you that much." Her gaze shifted upwards to the smiling blonde and she frowned. "Aw Jen, no, tell me you're not falling for a hunter."
"What? No, of course not. I mean… well, he's…" Jenna grinned at her friend. "Why not? You did with Jason. What's wrong with a hunter?"
Quinn groaned. "Nothing. But if he's even half as good as his brother, I'm gonna have a bitch of a time kicking his ass when he breaks your heart."
"What makes you so sure he'd break my heart?"
A sad sigh escaped the darker-haired woman. "Coz he's a hunter."
Leaves rustled beneath Sam's large foot and both women turned to see him step through the cluster of bushes. He dropped to a knee next to Dean.
"Pupils are a bit dilated," Quinn assessed. "Jen says he took a bump to the back of the head but his breathing's even and smooth and his pulse is good. No blood in his ears but we should get him to a hospital anyway."
Sam nodded, knowing from years of experience how serious a concussion could be. He couldn't help but reach forward and place a palm on the side of his brother's face, the knot in his gut loosening slightly in relief of at least having Dean back, if not unharmed.
Jenna caught Sam's eyes and winced apologetically. "The demon kept banging his head on the ground. He was slurring so at first I thought he was fucked up but then he got up and ran so I thought he was okay…"
Sam managed a chuckle. "Yeah, that's Dean for ya."
"Alright Winchester," Quinn directed standing up. "Pick up sleeping beauty here and let's get going. If I'm not mistaken, the car's south of here."
"What about Tyler?" Jenna stammered, stepping back so Sam could hoist his brother up into his arms. "We can't just leave him here with the demons."
Quinn shook her head. "He could be anywhere, Jen."
"Dean needs a hospital," Sam reminded the blonde, grunting as he stood up bearing his brother's dead weight. "Now."
He barely saw the sympathetic look Quinn directed at Jenna before he was striding away through the trees, trying hard not to jostle Dean as he walked. He felt bad leaving an innocent in the woods to fend for himself, especially another psychic kid like him, but his brother would always come first. Jenna gave no further argument and he heard the women falling in behind him.
"We haven't seen any signs of anyone, demon or otherwise," Quinn pointed out. "If Tyler's heading for the tower like you were, it's salted and warded and I'll come back for him myself as soon as we get you and Rip Van Winkle here outta danger, okay?"
Sam didn't like the thought of Quinn coming back up here alone and had no intention of letting it happen but decided the argument could wait until Dean was safe. He also knew Dean would be tearing him a new one as soon as he woke up for leaving this Tyler kid to fend for himself. He felt guilty but… but this was Dean.
They walked quickly but quietly, Quinn in the lead carrying both duffels and using her GPS to locate the car. They came out onto the ATV trail just a few hundred yards up from where they had hidden the stolen Range Rover and were making their way down to it when she lifted an arm, stopping Sam and Jenna in their tracks behind her.
Sam saw the glint of the sun on metal around the corner up ahead and was sidestepping into the trees with Jenna and Quinn within the span of a heartbeat. He lowered Dean to the ground carefully, wincing when he got a groan out of the unconscious hunter. He hushed his brother softly as they hunkered down, the sound of heated voices soon drifting their way.
The demons up ahead seemed to be stopped and were arguing. The glint had come from the sun on the windshield of their SUV, parked in the road not a hundred yards from where the hunters had hidden the Range Rover.
"We got one of 'em. We should just call it quits and let the Hellhound finish the rest."
"We've only got the mindreader," the second voice snapped back, this one female.
"They mean Tyler!" Jenna gasped in barely more than a whisper.
The female demon continued. "We really need the recruiter. She's the most useful right now. It would be a waste to let the Boss's pets rip her to shreds."
"Yeah well, that bitch sent Cole back down to the pit. I say…"
"And that bitch can bring him back! Try to think for once in your life."
"Come on," the male demon whined. "The kid here says they were headed for the falls down in the river valley. Let's at least go there instead of wasting our time here."
Sam felt a renewed pang of guilt upon hearing that the captured psychic kid he was willing to abandon was bravely steering the demons away from the tower and their getaway road.
"Yeah, alright," the woman agreed after a long pause.
Sam crept a step forward to peer through the leaves at the demons up ahead and glanced sideways to see Quinn doing the same. He could make out the female demon, a redhead, pushing herself off the hood of their car and dusting her ass off.
"Two demons," Sam observed in a whisper. "And I think there's a kid in the back seat; looks like a teenager."
"Tyler," Jenna interjected, her fingers wrapping tightly around his bicep from behind. "We have to help him."
Quinn ignored the blonde and gave Sam a questioning look. "What do you think?"
Sam was surprised the normally bossy hunter was letting him make the decision. He bit his lip, not liking their chances here but hating leaving this Tyler kid. "I'm not sure. You?" he put the question back to her.
She shrugged. "It's your brother. Your choice."
Sam's eyes fell on Dean, who was lying still, his head lolled sideways on a soft patch of grass and his features relaxed and peaceful. He shook his head.
"We can't take them on right now," he decided. Jenna had informed them the demons now all bore binding links, effectively preventing them from being easily exorcized. The likelihood of winning a fight against two of them weren't good. And he just got Dean back.
He saw Jenna's eyes widen and her jaw move as if to argue but she glanced down at Dean and never said a word, instead closing her mouth quickly and nodding in acceptance. Sam decided right there and then he liked her.
"We'll get Tyler back later," Quinn assured her and Sam wondered if leaving Tyler to his fate was bothering Quinn as much as it was bothering him.
The demon's SUV started up and pulled a seven-point turn on the narrow road before slowly rumbling away. The hunters emerged from the bushes, Dean once again cradled awkwardly in Sam's arms and they made their way to the Range Rover without further incident. Sam put his brother on the back seat where Jenna immediately cradled his head gently in her lap. Sam gave her an approving nod and jumped into the passenger side up front. Quinn started slowly down the road, taking care not to catch up with the demons.
As they drove, Jenna filled them in on her and Dean's capture and subsequent days of captivity. Her voice wavered when she explained what the demons had made her do and that she had taken it one step further in the woods with Darksuit. She avoided eye contact with Sam and Quinn both, instead keeping her head down and her attention focussed on her fingers tracing the lines of Dean's face in her lap. Quinn's grip on the wheel tightened so much her knuckles were white but the reassurances she gave her young friend sounded calm and convincing.
So much so Sam found himself fleetingly wishing Dean could be just as supportive with Sam's visions.
They were on the homestretch when two things happened. First, Dean let out a soft groan and his eyelashes began to flutter.
"Dean?" Jenna whispered softly and Sam immediately draped himself over the back of the seat to get a closer look at his brother.
He was halted in his efforts, however, by an urgent cry from Quinn. "We got company!"
He snapped his head around to see a Park Ranger truck headed towards them on the dirt road.
"Crap – demons or humans?" he wondered out loud.
"No idea," Quinn admitted tersely, tightening her grip and not slowing in the slightest. Sam spared a second to think he would hate to be caught in a game of chicken against her.
The approaching truck swerved abruptly, pulling to a complete stop across the narrow road and blocking their path.
"I'm gonna go with demons," Sam mumbled, rooting about in the duffel at his feet. Weapons were unnecessary, however, for Quinn just pressed harder on the gas. "Uhhh, Quinn?" he stammered.
"Hold on!" Quinn ordered, heading straight for the truck.
"Ahh fuck," Sam cursed under his breath, bracing himself for impact against the dash.
Quinn managed to veer to the side, putting the Range Rover's passenger wheels into the ditch, just enough that they barely clipped the back end of the truck and avoided a full-on collision. The vehicle still jerked and lurched forcibly upon impact and again as she tried to get back up onto the road. Sam was quick to turn and check on his brother, who let out a ragged groan – a good sign, he told himself. Jenna had her arms around his shoulders, trying to hold him onto the seat through the jostling. Sam was about to help her pull him back up but there was a loud pop and a cracking sound. Shards of tempered glass sprayed inwards as the back window shattered.
"Jen! Get down and stay down!" Quinn barked.
Sam dropped the shotgun he had retrieved and reached instead for his Glock as his eyes watched the Ranger's truck skid back onto the road behind them. He glanced over at Quinn and frowned. "Can't you just once manage to not hit something?"
She grinned at him. "Stop side-seat driving and shoot his damn tires out already."
He twisted himself around and got onto his knees in the seat, rolling down his window and leaning out. He wasn't going to risk firing over his brother, after all. He waited until the truck was almost on their ass before firing several rounds in rapid succession, smirking when both front tires popped. The truck swerved and kept coming but was losing traction and speed and the hunters soon managed to pull ahead enough to lose him.
"Not bad for a civilian," Quinn quipped.
"Shut up and drive."
Ten minutes later they were charging past the Ranger Station at the Park entrance and out into the streets of Montecito. They decided Santa Barbara was the closest hospital and Sam didn't want to take any chances with his brother by trying to go any further. It was the running family joke that Dean had a hard head but… well, it wasn't really the funny kind of joke.
Dean became more alert before they got there. Sam knew it didn't mean he was fine or even close to fine, especially when he didn't struggle to get up but instead remained lying with his head resting feebly in Jenna's lap. Sometimes after a head injury, the brain renders the person unconscious to allow itself time to heal itself and deal with the trauma and Sam was hoping that was the case here but... Dean had been out a long time.
"Who's that?" Dean asked groggily, glancing up at the back of Quinn's head.
"Quinn. She's my friend," Jenna supplied.
"Where's Tyler?" was his next question, deep creases lining his forehead.
"We had to leave him," Sam explained.
"Sammy, no," Dean argued from his prone position in the back seat. "No, we can't. He's just a kid." He frowned again. "The demons got him… I remember."
Sam nodded, still twisted over the seat. "We know. We saw him."
"And you just left him there?" Dean's voice was accusatory and he tilted his head enough to look upwards. "Jen? That true?"
"Hey, we didn't have a choice," Quinn interjected defensively on Jenna's behalf. "It was you or him."
Sam knew what Dean was about to say – that they should have chosen Tyler - and cut him off. "Dean, we'll find him. Let's just get you checked out first, okay?"
They pulled up to the hospital and Sam quickly exited the dented, beat-up Range Rover. Jenna slid out also and announced she would run in and grab one of the wheelchairs for Dean but an indignant snort from the injured hunter stopped her short.
"I can walk," he groused, his eyes lifting but fleetingly to meet his little brother's. Sam caught the unspoken plea and immediately grasped Dean's arm, allowing the stubborn, prideful fool to lean heavily on him as they made their way inside.
Quinn left to ditch the stolen car and fetch the Impala, a favor asked with silent looks from Sam as he slipped her the keys behind Dean's back. By the time she returned twenty minutes later, Dean had been taken away by the ER nurse - in a wheelchair much to his chagrin. Sam filled Quinn in, explaining that the doctor had been extremely concerned upon hearing how long his patient had been unconscious and had immediately ordered Dean taken for a CT scan to determine if there had been any hemorrhaging or swelling of the brain. Sam had been told it would be a couple of hours for the results and was instructed to fill in the appropriate paperwork while he waited.
"He got insurance?" Quinn asked, looking skeptical.
"Dean Kilmister does."
"That works. Listen, I called the guys that I asked to watch Reagan while we were in the park," she said, her forehead creasing. "She's secure."
Sam just nodded, finding it hard to really care what had happened to the traitor Reagan right now. A nurse came up just then to inform him that Dean was out of the scanner and had been taken to a room but wouldn't stay put and was demanding to see his brother. Sam nodded and hurried off after her, knowing full well how difficult of a patient Dean could be – well, unless the nurse was hot, then he was all charm. This nurse resembled a male lumberjack who hadn't shaved in week.
He managed to get Dean to agree to at least wait a little while, maybe even until the results came back, though the doctor's recommendation that he spent the night for observation was out of the question. To distract him as much as anything else, Sam filled him in on what had happened on his end since he had dropped Dean off at the diner almost three days ago.
Dean looked tired as he lay quietly on the bed in the hospital pinney and listened, frowning in overprotective concern at every part of the story involving demons. At the end, he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose for a long minute and let out a deep sigh. Sam knew his brother well enough to know he was stalling while he buried his anxiety, fear, and loathing of Sam's psychic abilities and the fact that the demon target painted on Sam's back just got bigger.
"Alright," he said in his infuriatingly dismissive manner that meant he had stowed his emotions and pulled his impervious facade back on. He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed. Sam opened his mouth to protest but Dean cut him off. "So, dude, that Quinn chick's hot. You hit that?"
Before Sam could answer, Dean laughed at his own joke. "Of course you didn't. That would involve you actually touching a girl." He smirked facetiously and pointed at his clothes, which had been folded and placed on the counter by the door, gesturing for Sam to pass them over.
Sam rolled his eyes but didn't bother correcting his brother's mistaken assumption regarding him and Quinn. He did, however, move himself in between Dean and his clothes, his brows pulling into a determined frown. "No, Dean. You're staying here. At least until the results of your CT come back."
"Dude, I'm fine," Dean scoffed. "It's not exactly my first concussion."
"People have died from less."
"Other people. The doc can call us with the verdict."
"If you're still alive to take the call."
"Just hand me my clothes, would ya? We got things to take care of."
"Dean?" Both brothers turned at the voice to see Jenna entering the room followed closely by Quinn. "How are you doing?" the blonde asked, her face full of concern.
Dean's challenging scowl disappeared and a smile spread across his face. "Never been better. Sammy here was just gonna pass me my clothes so we can get out of here." He threw Sam a pointed glare.
Sam rolled his eyes, realizing there was no way to stop Dean short of cuffing him to the bed. He gave his brother his best bitchface but handed him the clothes. The women headed back out into the hallway for a moment to give Dean some privacy to change. Sam tried to help but got batted away and griped at for his efforts.
Two minutes later found them all heading down the back stairwell and out into the hospital's rear parking lot. Upon reaching the Impala, Dean took a moment to sweet-talk and fondle his baby, oblivious of the three hunters staring at him, the two women with weirded-out looks and Sam just plain embarrassed for him.
"Uhh, I hate to interrupt," Quinn said finally. "But can you dry hump the car later?"
Dean threw her an indignant glare but moved to the driver's door, only to be intercepted by Sam.
"I'm driving," the younger Winchester said, his tone leaving no room for argument this time. "You and your concussion can ride shotgun."
They were barely out on the freeway before the argument broke out. Quinn ordered Sam to head towards the motel where she left Reagan, an order that was immediately countered by Dean, who insisted they head back to the mansion to get Tyler.
"We're not going back there," Quinn said flatly, clearly not used to being challenged. "That's suicide."
"Well we're not leaving an innocent kid in the hands of demons," Dean barked back.
"So you want to hand Sam and Jenna over to them instead?"
"This ain't my first rodeo, sister. Nobody's getting handed over."
"Yeah, coz that worked so well for you last time."
Dean shook his head in growing annoyance. "Thought you were US Army, sweetheart. You forget your little mantra about leaving no man behind?"
"There's no way we're getting back in that house! There were dozens of demons in those woods. Now that you're out and they've stopped searching, where do you think they've gone? Back to that fucking house, that's where!"
"Not for long now that hunters know about it," Dean pointed out. "They'll be clearing outta there soon and once they're gone, we may never find Tyler."
"We got other ways. The girl, Reagan..."
"Reagan's a traitorous bitch!"
Sam decided to intercede before things escalated further. Dean wasn't used to being challenged either. If Dad or Bobby weren't there, he was in charge. That was the way he liked it and Sam had quickly figured out Quinn was not one to take orders from someone who hadn't yet proven themselves to her.
"Wait, Dean, Quinn's right," he cut in.
"You taking her side?" Dean shot him a disgusted look. "Look, I get it. You two didn't meet Tyler. But you gotta trust me he's a good kid and we don't abandon good people."
"We're not saying abandon Tyler," Sam placated, knowing exactly how to handle his brother when he got heated and protective. "We're just saying let's play this smart. The house could be crawling with demons. If it's not, then chances are Tyler's not there either. Reagan can find the other psychic kids with her mojo. We have her stashed in a motel room in Montecito. We get her to find out where Tyler is, or rather where he's going to be, and then we go get him when the numbers are more in our favor."
"And when the demons aren't expecting us," Quinn added.
Sam could see the logic of the new plan working its way through Dean's thought process. His brother finally nodded and his shoulders loosened, though his face remained tense. Patience had never been Dean's strong suit, especially when someone he cared about was in trouble.
They arrived at the motel ten minutes later and Dean quirked an eyebrow as they pulled up the stone-laid driveway past the neatly manicured garden beds. This definitely wasn't a motel of the usual Winchester low standards. Then again, this was Montecito. Quinn directed them to the end 'cottage' that had an old Ford pick-up parked outside and told them to hang back as she went up to the door, knocking sharply.
Dean stepped up next to his brother as they waited at the end of the walk. "Sammy, your girlfriend is a pain in the ass."
Sam rolled his eyes and huffed. "She's not my girlfriend," he refuted meekly.
They watched as Quinn greeted a shady-looking man who answered the door wearing baggy jeans and a white muscle shirt, large numbers tattooed up his arm. The two spoke quietly for a moment before the ex-Army hunter pulled a wad of cash from her pocket and handed him a number of bills. He stuffed them in his own pocket then disappeared back inside for a moment, only to come out a few seconds later followed by another equally shady-looking man. Quinn gave the second guy a quick handshake and the men strode down the walk towards the Ford, giving the Winchesters an unimpressed look as they passed.
Dean raised an eyebrow, heading quickly up the path to the cottage door. "That's some upscale company you keep," he said sarcastically as he followed the brunette inside.
Sam groaned inwardly as Quinn spun to glare at him. "Really?" she challenged. "You live in a fucking car and you're gonna judge?"
"In case you didn't notice, sweetheart, the seven-six-nine tattooed on dude's arm is a gang tat. And not a-bunch-of-punk-kids-selling-dope type gang."
Sam remembered the five weeks he and Dean had spent in a high school in a low-rent neighborhood of Los Angeles. Dean had briefly dated a girl whose younger brother had been pulled in by a local gang and when the young hunter had tried to play the hero, he got the shit kicked out of him by a few of the members for his trouble. Dean had been known to hold a grudge.
"Yeah, well his brother's Army and I trust him," Quinn fired back, pointing to Reagan, who was sitting with rope binding each wrist to the arms of the chair and duct tape across her mouth. "Efficient and dependable. See?"
As the bickering continued, Sam stood just inside the doorway next to Jenna. "I really thought they would get along," he said with a sigh.
Jenna giggled. "Nah, I totally saw this coming." She tilted her head up to give him an apologetic look. "I swear, she's different once you get to know her. She's actually kinda... gentle."
Sam smiled. "Yeah, I know."
A/N: Not even a cliffie! Yay! I was trying to get this to the next action scene but things have been hectic so I decided to post this much. Not a big action chapter – sorry. More next chap, I promise, as the gang tries to rescue Tyler.