Title: Isle of Lost Souls
Author: Disasteriffic Kaz
Info: New coordinates from Dad and a simple ghost hunt that becomes anything but on a small island off the coast of Connecticut. Post 1x06 "Skin" hurt/comfort/awesome!sam/dean
Author's note: I apologize for the unusual long delays with these chapters. Real life has a way of interfering when you least want it too. On the upside, you all know I always finish what I start. :D
Beta'd by the always awesome JaniceC678 :D – Friend and Muse's co-conspirator.
Do please Review once you've read. :D Every comment and vote of support helps keep me writing. Not to mention if I've pooched anything, someone can always tell me. :P
"Maybe we'll get lu…" Sam's words were cut off as vines dropped from the trees above them to look around his chest, arms and legs. "Dean!"
"Shit!" Dean shouted as he was wrapped up and yanked suddenly from his feet. They were almost at the edge of the trees. He could see the open space of the burial grounds ahead of them as the vines hoisted them both into the air.
Sam cried out as one vine wrapped tightly around his injured leg and more tightened across his abused chest, squeezing his ribs tightly. Spots exploded across his vision with the pain and he distantly felt another coil of vine wrap around his neck.
"Sammy!" Dean struggled against the hold of the vines. He craned his head and watched as Sam suddenly went limp; his shotgun falling from nerveless fingers to thump into the ground below. It made him tighten his own grip as the vines squeezed him hard, lifting him higher. He growled out his frustration and glared down at the dark shadow that appeared below them; the curse personified, he knew now. "I am gonna…enjoy…ganking your ghostly ass pal!" He shouted and then sucked in a breath as more of the vine closed around his neck.
Dean sucked in a breath past the constriction at his neck. Sam dangled unconscious in the grip of the vines beside him. They were a good fifteen feet up in the air, and he stared down at the shadow shape below, watching. He forced down the panic that rose up as his lungs burned for air. Instead, he worked to point the muzzle of the shotgun down against the pull of the vines, aiming for the shadow. He couldn't see the gun and had to guess when he had it aimed properly. A lifetime of weapons drills guided his hand and he squeezed the trigger. The gun echoed into the night as rock salt rained down on the shadow below, and it wavered and vanished with an outraged cry. The vines shuddered and suddenly released.
He hit the ground hard, the landing knocking the air from his lungs. Dean gasped in a breath and rolled painfully to his side. "Sam?" He crawled over to his brother and rolled him from his stomach into his arms, trying to ignore the way his arms and legs flopped bonelessly. "Come on, kiddo. Be there." A fresh ring of bruising was already coming up around his neck as Dean placed shaking fingers there. He dropped his head with a relieved sigh as he felt the steady thump-thump of his heart. He brushed Sam's over-long hair off his forehead and curved a hand along his face. "Time to wake up, Sammy." He looked up around them, but for the moment, they were alone. "Sam!" Dean rested Sam against his knee, supporting his head in the curve of his elbow and rubbed the knuckles of his other hand firmly into his sternum to get his attention.
Sam stirred, eyes crinkling in irritation. He came awake on a gasp as his eyes flew open. "Dean!"
"Easy! Easy, Sammy." Dean held him in place as Sam dropped back against him and groaned loudly, squeezing his eyes shut. "It's gone for now, but we gotta move. Anything broken?"
Sam took a mental inventory, surprised to not be dead up a tree. His leg was a burning pain and he figured it must have hit the ground first, but it didn't feel broken. "Think I'm alright," he said in a wrecked voice barely above a whisper. The vine had done a number on his neck. He raised a shaking hand to rub over it and couldn't stop the cough that dragged its way up his throat, making his chest hurt more.
"Alright, my ass." Dean sighed and shifted, pulling his knee out from behind him. "Come on, Sasquatch. See if we can get you vertical."
Sam wrapped his hands around his brothers' arms and let him pull him up. The world tilted dangerously and he did his best to lock his knees and not fall. "Crap."
"You good?" Dean asked and got a short nod. He peeled Sam's hands from his arms and bent to retrieve their bags and guns. "Here." He pushed the shotgun back into his brother's hand and pulled him in against his side. "We're almost there. You can do this."
"Yeah." Sam forced himself to move, but his first step on his left leg ended with him staggering into Dean and holding on to stay off the ground.
"Whoa!" Dean caught him hard and pulled him back up. "Leg?"
Sam nodded wearily. "It's ok. I'm ok."
"Uh huh." Dean wanted to find someplace to leave him but knew there was no such place as long as the curse was free. Sam's head hung down, his eyes closed, and he looked as though he was moments away from falling asleep. "Come on, Tiger. Head up."
Sam jerked his head up and aimed a glare at him. "Dude, I'm not five."
Dean snorted. "You look five right now." He grunted with the effort of holding him. "Sure as hell don't feel it though. No more Wheaties for you. Damn."
Sam made a Herculean effort to get his legs back under him and take some of his weight. "We should move."
"Don't make me carry you," Dean smirked and started forward again. Each step had Sam leaning heavily into him to avoid using his left leg as much as possible. His brother's raspy voice was doing nothing to restore his calm. They set an unsteady course out of the trees into the clearing. The earth was uneven, humped here and there with what were no doubt Indian remains.
"When the…Indians were driven…from the island…" Sam stumbled, breathing hard. "…settlers buried…buried their dead. Pissed them off." He groaned as he set too much weight on his leg and breathed through it. "Hence the curse."
"Awesome," Dean groaned and rolled his eyes. "So, geek boy, where do we start?"
Sam looked up and let his eyes roam across the open field. On the far side, the trees thinned and he could see the distant lights of Milford through the thin fog. He looked back to the field and followed the vague rows of burial sites. "There." Sam pointed with his shotgun. "That looks like an old foundation. Probably the…the church. If I were an Indian….Indian Shaman, that's what I'd have cursed."
"Let's hope so," Dean said softly and pulled Sam with him over the uneven ground. "Ok, down you go." He found a spot near the foundation and lowered his brother gently to the ground.
"Dean, no," Sam protested, trying to stay standing but unable to stop the slide to the damp earth. "I can help."
"And you're going to." Dean knelt beside him and clasped his shoulder. "You're not doin' any digging with that leg, Chief. You watch my back. Keep that thing off my ass until I find…whatever the hell it is we're looking for."
Sam groaned with frustration but stayed on the ground while Dean pulled the collapsible shovel out of his bag and walked the perimeter of the old foundation. He stretched his aching leg out in front of him with a soft moan. He'd be off his feet for days when they were done with this job; he knew it and tried to resign himself to the mother-henning he knew would also be coming. Sam smirked. Dean could be damn clingy in spite of his repeated rule about no chick flick moments when it came to his little brother being injured.
"Think I got something!" Dean yelled and crossed into the perimeter of the old church toward a mound smaller than the others. It didn't resemble the customary shape of a grave they were used to seeing, and it sat in nearly the center of the foundation. He stabbed the shovel into the long grass covering the mound and dug up a chunk, flipping it aside.
Sam wanted very much to give in to the urge to lie back and close his eyes. He gave himself a shake instead and sat up straighter, letting his eyes roam back and forth across the field. The smell from the charm around his neck made his nose itch. Its time in the salt water had made it more pungent, and he wished he'd tied it around his wrist like his brother had.
"Find anything?" Sam called as a brisk wind picked up, tossing his hair into his eyes.
"Maybe." Dean tossed another clod of dirt off to the side and grinned as the blade of the shovel cracked into something. "Yahtzee." He dropped to his knees and used his hands to clear more of the soil away.
Sam watched his brother and rubbed a hand over an odd oily feeling on his chest. "What the hell?" He pulled his shirt out and looked down. His eyes widened in shock and not a little fear. The charm around his neck was dissolving, its contents slowly seeping out of the little burlap sack to run down his skin. "Dean!"
"What?" Dean didn't look up, intent on his digging. "I've got something here."
"Check your charm!" Sam struggled to get his good leg under him, eyes whipping back and forth across the empty field. Without the charms they were sitting ducks for the curse.
"My what?" Dean looked up and saw Sam frantically trying to stand. He scowled and held his wrist up. Below the abraded skin hung the little charm bag and as he watched, dark liquid oozed from it to drip away. "Oh, crap. This mean what I think it means?"
"We're screwed!" Sam used the barrel of the shotgun to give himself a boost until he was standing balanced on his good leg. "Move your ass!"
Dean growled and bent to his task with renewed fervor. It was a box of some sort, covered in faded markings that he was sure Sam would tell him were Native American in origin. He felt along the edges as he moved the earth away and tried tugging it up from the ground but it held fast. "Dammit. Come on!"
Sam wavered on his feet and stumbled back a step as a phantom touch ghosted down his chest, freezing the skin under his wet shirt and stopping just above the waist of his jeans. "Hey!" He shuddered and kept the shotgun ready. "What is with the dirty pirates groping us?"
Dean chuckled and dug his fingers into the dirt along the box, trying to shift it. "I dunno man but - dammit you piece of crap - they're kinda disturbing!"
Sam growled as he felt invisible hands curving around his ribs. "Whoa!" he shouted, and staggered back a step, firing the shotgun out of reflex as the spirit of a long-haired woman became visible in front of him for just a moment. "Not pirates!" The rock salt banished the woman, but another foggy shape drifted in toward him. "They're women!"
"Ok. Now I feel less violated," Dean said with a smirk. The box came loose from the soil holding it and he rocked back onto knees. "Gotcha! I got it!"
"Dean!" Sam yelled and tried to run to him. Pain took his leg out from under him and sent him crashing to the ground. The dark shadow of the curse personified appeared behind his brother and reached down. "Dean, look out!"
Cold drove into Dean's back like a spear. He arched against the agony and dragged a breath into lungs that didn't want to cooperate and couldn't stop the strangled scream as he felt fingers flexing inside his chest. The box dropped from his hands. He heard Sam yelling for him and tried to fight the pain and pull away, but tumbled into darkness instead.
"Dean!" Sam raised the shotgun with shaking hands, ignoring the spots dancing in his vision, and fired into the shadow above his brother. It screamed and burst into shreds of dark fog. "Dean!" Sam crawled to him as he toppled, boneless, into the ground. Sam reached him and rolled him up into his arms.
"Come on, Dean. Please don't do this," he pleaded in a desperate whisper. He lowered his head to Dean's chest and listened above the pounding of his own heart while the coroner's reports played through his head - hearts crushed inside the victim's chests. He sobbed a breath in and out as he heard the stuttering sound of Dean's heart still beating and felt the gentle rise and fall beneath his cheek as he breathed.
"Ok." Sam raised his head and eased Dean gently to the ground. He patted him lightly on the chest. "I got this." He turned to the box Dean had dropped and gasped as his battered leg shifted wrong. It took his breath away and left him panting into the dirt, fighting the darkness tunneling into his vision. A feather-light touch running along his spine jerked Sam back into action and away from the brink of unconsciousness.
"Dammit." Sam crawled another foot and pulled the box closer. He took a moment to look at the symbols carved into the wooden surfaces. He recognized a few from his studies and they only had one use, to tie an angry spirit to a single place with a single purpose. The shadow's only driving force was to kill until they destroyed the box binding him to the island.
"Aw, man," Sam groaned when he saw Dean's bag several feet away. He tossed the box to land beside the bag and started crawling toward it. He had to go around his brother and briefly paused and laid his hand on his neck, making sure he was still breathing. Each foot he moved jarred new pain into his leg and up into his head. Sam was gasping by the time he reached the bag. He could feel the trickle of fresh blood on his thigh, telling him he'd pulled one too many stitches. He rifled through the duffel until he found the salt and lighter fluid, and set the box in a small depression in the dirt. A gust of cold air on his back gave him only a second's warning before something freezing reached in through his back.
Sam cried out and aimed the barrel of the shotgun over his shoulder, squeezing the trigger. It boomed in his ear, momentarily deafening him, but the sensation of the ghost's hand in his back vanished and he collapsed next to the box. "Crap," Sam pushed himself up and forced his steadily numbing hands to work. He poured salt over the box, dropped it, and took the lighter fluid, spraying it liberally over the top. His vision was fading in and out with the waves of pain from his leg and from his back where the cursed spirit had touched him.
Sam fumbled through his pockets for his lighter. He looked up and groaned. The pirate spirits had returned and were drawing close to the brothers as they drifted with purpose across the field. "No. No way." His fingers closed around the lighter. Sam pulled it out and spun the wheel. The flame burst to life and he dropped it onto the box. He threw himself backward as flames burst into the night air and roared up.
The shadow of the cursed spirit appeared above the box in the flames. Its arms reached out and down toward Sam; fingers grazing his head and a moment later it erupted in light and vanished with a screaming cry. The heat from the flames warmed Sam's chest and face uncomfortably as he watched the ghosts beyond, waiting. He managed to get hold of the shotgun again and raised it. The barrel shook his unsteady hands and he fought it. The pirates slowed their advance, each one staring at the flames.
"Sam?" Dean's voice sounded softly at his elbow, questioning. "Wha's goin' on?"
"Don't move," Sam told him softly. Relief at hearing Dean awake and speaking was almost enough to drop him. It weakened his arms. The spirits seemed to come to some unspoken decision finally, and Sam watched as one by one they faded out of sight. A last phantom hand drifted almost lazily down the side of his face and then that was gone as well.
Dean pushed up to his elbows with a groan. His chest felt like someone had kicked him or maybe hit him with a battering ram. He rubbed a hand over it and watched the ghosts vanish. "Nice one, Sammy." He said and coughed to try and clear his throat. Even for him, his voice was low and rough. As he watched, Sam gave a small nod and then slowly collapsed forward, face first into the ground beside the fire. "Shit. Sam?" He was far too close to the little bonfire for Dean's liking.
Getting to his feet was out of the question as Dean managed his knees and then doubled over himself. The pain seared into his chest and he decided he didn't want to know what kind of damage the curse had done to him. "Sam?" Dean called again and made his way over to him. He took the shotgun from Sam's hand and set it aside, rolling him over to his back. He was breathing, which was good, and his heart beat strongly beneath Dean's fingers. "Ok, kiddo. What the hell?" Dean ran his hands down Sam's chest and arms and found nothing wrong. He felt through the thick mop of unruly hair but found no evidence of him having hit his head. Dean frowned and ran a hand lightly over Sam's wounded leg and groaned. "Dammit." He could feel the blood and shook his head. Dean pulled Sam's head and shoulders up into his arms and moved him away from the flames. Sam's face was hot to the touch from being so close.
Dean sat back and panted for breath, holding a hand over his own chest and the ache there. He bent over Sam again and tapped his face lightly. "Sam. Wake up." The box crackled and fell in on itself in the fire and Dean grinned. He looked back down at Sam with pride in his eyes. "You did good, Sammy. Now, how about you wake up so I don't have to try and carry you outta here again?"
Dean jumped with the shout from back in the trees behind them. He scrambled to grab up the shotgun and spun, aiming it steadily as a dark figure emerged into the field. He tightened his finger on the trigger and then just as quickly eased off of it when he realized it was an actual person and nothing supernatural. "Uh…hello?"
"Hey!" A young man with a thatch of blonde hair broke into a jog and crossed the open expanse quickly. "Been looking for you!"
"Huh?" Dean lowered the shotgun and set it in the grass. "Who the hell are you?"
The man smiled and knelt beside the brothers. "Jeremy. My aunt called me a little while ago. Jan? You met her, I guess. She said she wanted me to come out here and find, and I quote, 'the two gorgeous idiots who didn't listen to me'." Jeremy chuckled. "She said she knew you were in trouble when she saw your car was still parked out there."
Dean snorted and then laughed softly. "I'll be damned." He sat back and rested a hand on his brother's chest. "How'd you get out here?"
"Coast Guard Reserve." Jeremy smiled proudly. "I sort of…borrowed the boat. He alright?"
"He's been better." Dean sighed and nodded.
"What are you two even doing out here?" Jeremy asked as he bent and expertly checked Sam's vitals, fingers circling his wrist and one practiced eye on the blood he could see even in the moonlight staining the young man's leg.
"Hunting," Dean said simply. "Little brother here's kind of an enthusiast." He smirked and brushed Sam's hair off his forehead gently. "Didn't exactly go as planned."
"You know, anyone in town could have told you there isn't much to hunt out here." Jeremy smirked and nodded to the shotgun.
"Right." Dean ran a hand through his hair and smiled. "Well, now we know."
Jeremy glanced around. "I've never been out here at night. Kinda spooky. Ya know, lots of legends around the area saying this place is haunted. Pirate curse or something. I mean, if you actually believe in that sort of thing. Not that I do, " he added quickly, "but I gotta tell you, wandering around earlier looking for you guys, I can see how those sorts of legends get started. Could almost feel some weird vibe in the air for a minute there. Then it was gone. Kinda freaky."
Dean made the appropriate "if-you-believe-in-that-stuff" face. "Ghost stories….every town's got at least a couple. Go figure."
"Come on." Jeremy stood and went around the other side of Sam. He bent and took hold of one of his arms. "Let's get him up and out of here. Oof." Jeremy grunted as he pulled Sam up so he was sitting. "Weighs a ton, doesn't he?"
Dean laughed and got to his knees. "You have no idea." He took the shotgun and shoved it into his bag along with the salt and lighter fluid, grateful that Jeremy wasn't asking too many questions and then went over to slide under one of Sam's arms. "Watch his left leg. He uh…hurt it last night. Tripped and knocked it around again tonight." Dean smirked as they made slow progress away from the field and toward the other side of the island.
"I can take you to the hospital once I get you back on the mainland." Jeremy offered but Dean shook his head.
"No, he'll be fine. I can handle it." Dean smiled to take the sting out of the refusal.
"Well, at least let me have a look at it when we get back." Jeremy waited until he got a slow nod from Dean. "Aunt Jan would hurt me if I let you guys walk away without at least looking."
"Wouldn't wanna make Aunt Jan mad," Dean said with a soft chuckle and pulled Sam's arm more securely over his shoulders.
Jeremy nodded. "Man, trust me. You really don't." He laughed and was satisfied to have gotten his way. "She scares me."
Sam woke and stared up in confusion at the ceiling above him. He'd been expecting a night sky or maybe trees; not the stained paint of the ceiling of the motel. "Dean?" He raised his head and found his brother beside him.
"Stay down, dude." Dean put a hand on his shoulder and pushed him back onto the bed.
"How'd we get off the island?" Sam asked and scowled. "When did we get off the island? What happened?"
Dean laughed. "Take a breath, Sammy." He took a glass of water from the nightstand and handed it to him. "You remember Jan?"
"The sweet lady with the dog?" Sam nodded. "Yeah."
"Apparently, she got worried about us and sent her Coast Guard nephew out after us." Dean chuckled at the look of surprise. "Guy was ok. He got us off the island on his boat, cleaned up your leg and helped me get your gigantor ass back in the car."
Sam handed the glass back and let his head thump back into the pillow. "Did it work?" He looked over at Dean and raised his brows. "Is the curse broken?"
"Looks like." Dean settled back into the chair he'd pulled next to the bed and clasped his hands behind his head. "All the ghosts just kinda went away after you burned that box." He rubbed a hand absently over his chest where the ache still dwelled. "I figure the curse was riling up the spirit activity and once you torched it, they all went back to whatever passes for normal for ghosts." Dean frowned down at Sam. "You don't remember that?"
Sam closed his eyes wearily. "Man, I can't really remember anything after lighting up the box. It's a little foggy."
Dean snorted. "Not surprised. You popped most of your stitches doing whatever after that damn ghost tried to pop my heart." He leaned forward again and clasped his brother's shoulder. "Thanks man."
Sam smiled but didn't open his eyes; they felt too heavy. "S'nothin'." He sighed. "We'll have to keep an eye on it, monitor the news until we're sure it really is over." His voice drifted off, exhausted, at the end.
"Go back to sleep." Dean ran his hand over Sam's forehead and smiled. His fever had finally broken an hour past. He didn't see the need in telling Sam it was the next day or that he'd spent the remainder of the night in fevered dreams alternately calling out for Jess and his brother. Dean was exhausted as well but had been unable to find sleep until he knew Sam was alright. He watched Sam's breathing even back out into sleep and smiled. "Night, Bitch."
Dean got quietly up from the chair and finally allowed himself to stretch out in his own bed with a muffled sigh of contentment, burying his face in the pillow. He snorted a laugh at the sleepily delivered 'Jerk.' from Sam's bed. "I said go to sleep."