Disclaimer: I don't own the boys.
AN: So I have a bunch of unposted one-shots. I'll be getting them up as I can. *g*
Thanks to Cheryl for the beta.
Summary: A young man wakes up in an abandoned house with a headache, no memories, and a tall companion who doesn't remember anything, either.
This Still Remains
Every cliché dictates that when I wake up with a throbbing head and nothing but a vague fog in my brain, my first question should be, "Who am I?"
Instead I ask, "What the hell?"
A groan is my only answer.
I open my eyes and the headache promptly doubles.
I'm lying on my back on the floor of an old house, looking up at a crystal chandelier. Somewhere near me, I hear the groan again.
"Hello?" I ask.
There's a snuffle and a soft, bitten-off curse. It comes from my right. I push myself up on one elbow so I can look.
There's a really tall dude with a mop of floppy brown hair lying a few feet away. He's wearing a suit, just like I am, with a light blue tie that's gone askew. His shirt's torn in a couple of places. He's got his right hand clamped down on his left shoulder. Blood's leaking through his fingers.
For a moment I wonder if we were fighting each other, if I did that to him, if he's some kind of gangster who kidnapped me and brought me here. If that's the case, I should get out of here, find the nearest hospital, and maybe not tell them about any of this.
Pain-filled hazel eyes meet mine, and I feel a sudden rush of fierce protectiveness.
No. No, that's stupid. I don't know who I am, and whoever this guy is, he's obviously the kind of guy who'd be found bleeding from a shoulder wound on the floor of an abandoned house. He must have kidnapped me and brought me here to hold me for ransom or something.
I should just leave him and go.
"Hey," I say instead, crawling over the short distance between us. "What happened to you?"
He squints up at me. "Who…?"
"Never mind." My brain's working enough to know I shouldn't reveal my memory loss to random people who might or might not be the cause of it. "Let me see your shoulder."
There's no resistance when I pull his hand away from his shoulder, though there is a grimace of pain when I prod the injury. It doesn't look bad – it's bleeding like a bitch, but a couple of stitches should take care of it.
I wonder how I know that. Maybe I'm a surgeon.
"You'll live," I tell him. "Get to an ER and get it sewn up."
"No." His eyes are suddenly wide. "No, no, no hospitals."
"Hey." I pat his chest, not sure why that terrified voice is breaking my heart, not sure why I feel the irresistible urge to kill whoever it is who's scared him so badly. "Hey, calm down. Calm down. Look at me." He does, still scared. "It's OK. What's your name?"
His eyes widen. "I don't know." He sounds like a frightened child, and I find myself stroking his head without thinking about it. "I don't know, God, I don't know. I don't know."
"It's OK," I say, although it totally isn't.
"What's your name?"
"I don't remember either," I confess, though a moment ago I was telling myself to keep that secret. "It's OK. We'll figure it out. Can you sit up?"
He can, with my help.
"Do you have anything in your pockets?" he asks. "ID?"
I curse myself for not thinking of that.
I find is FBI badge and a wallet with a driver's license. Dean Johnson.
Is the other guy a criminal? Was I bringing him in? That would explain his injured shoulder and the obvious signs of a fight in the room – the overturned furniture and scattered books – but it doesn't explain the weird protectiveness I feel for the guy.
"You have anything?" I ask.
He digs in his pocket, locating another FBI badge and his own wallet. Sam Smith.
"Oh. You think maybe we're partners?"
"I guess that explains this," Sam Smith says, pulling a gun from his jacket. It's a Taurus. I don't know how I know that. "Do you have one too?"
I reach into my jacket and find a small Beretta.
"Huh. Looks like we are partners."
"But what are we doing here?" Sam asks. "And why can't we… remember anything?"
"I don't know. But we should get out of here. If whoever we were fighting comes back… Come on." I put his right hand on his shoulder again. "Keep pressure on it. Should slow the bleeding down until we can get you patched up."
"No hospitals," Sam says again.
"I don't think we have a choice. Besides, maybe someone at a hospital will be able to help us with this memory loss thing."
"No!" Sam sounds alarmed. "No, you can't. Please. They'll… I can't… Please."
I don't know what it is about Sam Smith that's making it impossible for me to resist his wide, pleading eyes. It's stupid. He's hurt, I don't know a damn thing about him, and considering that I don't remember anything, I certainly can't take care of him.
"I'm sorry," I say, although it makes me feel like I'm stomping on a puppy's tail. "It's not life-threatening but you're losing a lot of blood. You need a doctor."
"I'll go with you." I wrap an arm around his shoulder to heave him to his feet. "Come on. You won't be alone, OK? I'm coming with you. I'll stay there until they let you go. You won't be alone. You're going to be fine."
Now that we're both standing I realize just how tall Sam is. He's bigger than I am – and I don't seem to be exactly short, either. He must be like eight feet tall at least. And he's built like a freaking tank.
Right. That settles it. I definitely can't take care of him. What if he gets violent on me?
I lead the way outside. Sam follows, looking at me so sadly that I almost relent. But I don't – I can't. Maybe there's a part of me that knows him, but that's a part I can't reach right now. And I can hardly take responsibility for some random dude.
Except that I just did, by promising I'd stay with him until the doctors said he was fit to go.
Outside, there's a sleek black car – a '67 Impala, and how weird is it that I remember that when I don't remember my own name – by the front steps. We get into it, Sam sliding into the passenger seat, and as our doors shut in perfect unison I get the feeling we've done this before.
As soon as I pull out of the driveway I see a sign for a hospital. It's just a mile away, so I turn the car in that direction.
"Please don't," Sam whispers.
I glance at him. "Why not, man? You're hurt. You need a doctor." Sam shakes his head, trembling. I feel like a bully, hauling him someplace that seems to upset him so much. "Look, tell me why you don't want to go and we won't, OK?"
Another shake of his head. "I don't know."
I roll my eyes and drive to the hospital.
Sam gets increasingly nervous as we near it, to the point that he won't even go in without me. I don't know why he thinks my presence makes it bearable – he clearly remembers me as little as I remember him – but I'm still gratified by his trust. I park and help him out, keeping a guiding hand on his arm till we reach the ER doors.
There the nurse diagnoses Sam's injury as non-lethal, so we're probably in for a long wait. She gives me a form to fill while we're waiting.
Sam and I find a couple of (very uncomfortable) chairs and I pull out a pen.
Sam Smith, I write.
Date of Birth.
"When's your birthday?"
"I don't know."
"Check your driver's license."
He does. "June 4, 1983."
"June 4?" I ask. "That doesn't sound right. Are you sure that's what it says?"
"Yeah," Sam mutters, showing me. "I haven't forgotten how to read, dude. And how would you know, anyway? You don't remember any more than I do."
"Yeah, whatever." I write it and move on to the next question. "Address?"
I copy it from the driver's license Sam hands me, although that seems wrong, too. I shrug the feeling off and answer the next few questions, mainly by checking boxes at random.
"Emergency contact?" I ask when I get there.
"You," Sam says, like it's the most obvious thing in the world.
It shouldn't make me feel warm inside – it shouldn't, because it's not like Sam knows anybody else whose name he can put there – but I still get a tingly feeling of rightness as I put Dean Johnson down.
I don't know my phone number, of course, so I take the cell phone out of my pocket and scroll through the contacts list till I come to Sammy.
I look at the man next to me. He's the size of a freaking bulldozer. He's definitely not the kind of guy you call Sammy.
Then he looks back at me, eyes wide under the mop of brown hair, still scared of being here but trusting me to take care of him although he doesn't have the faintest idea who I am, and I realize that the truth is that he's not the kind of guy you call Sam. Not when you get to know him. And since he's my partner, I must know him.
"Heads up," I tell Sam – Sammy – dialling the number.
His phone rings in his pocket. He pulls it out.
His eyebrows lift. "Apparently I know you pretty well."
I take the phone to see. My name's showing up just as Dean, but there's a photo with it. A photo of me asleep and drooling on somebody's shoulder.
"Yeah, well, apparently I call you Sammy," I tell him, ending the call and copying my number from his phone.
"Nobody calls me Sammy."
"I do. Sammy."
By silent mutual agreement we don't want to say anything about our memory issues to anyone, so I skip the questions about mental health. "Allergies?" I ask.
Sam shrugs. "Not a lot we can do to verify, is there?"
"Yeah, but…" I hesitate. He's right. There's nothing we can do to verify it now, and if he does have allergies it'll show up in his medical history. Still, something in me doesn't want to trust Sam's safety to a computer, the same something that's making me feel horrible about being the one to force him to do something that so obviously scares him. "Fine. But you feel weird, you tell the doctor right away."
The nurse comes to take Sam inside. All it takes is a pleading look from him and I'm following.
The ER surgeon shakes her head, warns us against getting into bar fights, and tells Sam to take off his jacket and shirt. Then she steps out, drawing the curtain.
I turn away to give Sam privacy, but a soft, pained sound has me turning back and helping him get his jacket and shirt off.
The doctor comes back. She doesn't bother to ask me if I'm staying. She just nods and says, "Hold him still. This is going to sting a bit and he's a big guy."
I do as she says, though the way Sam's shoulder tightens under my hand when she cleans out the cut has me wanting to go out there and kill the person who hurt him. I expect it to get worse when she stitches, but Sam just grits his teeth and squeezes his eyes shut and doesn't move though I'm sure it has to feel pretty horrible to have the needle going through his shoulder.
"Thank you," he says softly when we're outside again. "I know you didn't have to stay."
"Don't be stupid. What was I going to do, leave you there alone?"
"Anybody else would have. You don't even know me."
"I know you well enough to call you Sammy," I point out, opening the car door for him. Sam shoots me a weird look, like he's offended and touched at the same time, and gets in. "Hands inside the vehicle." I shut the door.
"Where are we going now?" Sam asks.
I get in, shut my own door, and hold up a motel room key that has the name and address of the motel printed on the back. I found it in the glove compartment. "Looks like we're going to Pine View Lodge."
"Dude, that sounds shady."
"We're here from out of town to investigate some crime that had us fighting someone in that creepy abandoned house. I'd say the shadier it is, the likelier it is we're staying there." I glance at him. "Or at least I'm staying there. Maybe you're staying at the Ritz."
"Don't think this town has a Ritz," Sam says gloomily. He takes out his cell phone, presses some buttons, and lets me see the screen. "Here. Our route to Pine View Lodge."
Pine View Lodge is as shady as the name sounds. We're in Cabin 12, which is the furthest back from the road.
I pull up outside and open the door.
The room looks like it's the headquarters of some kind of Satanic cult. There's a thick line of some sort of white powder across the doorway – I nudge it with my boot, hoping to God it's not some kind of illegal drug – and weird symbols on the door and the ceiling.
"What the hell?" Sam asks next to me. "Dude, are you some kind of whackjob?"
"Hey, this could be your room, too." I step inside, over the line of white powder.
Sam kneels, picks up a little of the powder, and, disregarding my shouted warning, tastes it. He makes a face and looks at me. "It's just salt."
"Just salt?" I hiss furiously. "Are you out of your mind? What if it had been something poisonous?"
Sam flushes and mumbles an apology.
"I don't want you to be sorry," I tell him. "I want you to be careful. Seriously, that could have been anything. Literally anything. What if it had been cocaine? Or arsenic? You think about that?" I point in the direction of the bathroom. "Now go shower, and don't get the bandage wet. You need help?"
Sam flushes, shakes his head, and disappears into the bathroom.
Taking a moment to cringe about how much I sounded like his mother, I go to the duffel sitting on the far bed. I have a feeling that might be Sam's.
I'm right, and I know it when I discover shirts that are far too big for me or any other normal-sized person. I grab the biggest one I can find – Sam doesn't need anything chafing the bandage, even if it is a minor injury – and leave it hanging from the bathroom doorknob.
I don't spend too long thinking about why I'm so concerned about a man whom, technically, I don't even know. Or why I'm not freaked out at the thought of spending the night in a motel room with him.
I wake up first the next morning. A glance tells me Sam's sleeping, curled up under the blankets, head resting on his loosely-clenched fist like a child.
I don't want to wake him. He looks so peaceful.
But I can't resist reaching out and pushing a strand of hair off his face.
Sam stirs, mumbles, "Dean," and goes right back to sleep.
God. That shouldn't make me feel all warm and protective like I'm going to shield him from all the evils of the world just through sheer willpower, but…
I run a hand gently down his back. He sinks deeper into his pillow.
"I'll be right back, kiddo," I say softly.
I'm just going to get breakfast and a newspaper and maybe clear my head a bit, so I don't leave a note. It's only when I'm on the road that I realize I've left my cell phone on the bedside table.
I wind up taking longer than I expected, because there's a line at the diner and a pretty girl to flirt with, so it's over an hour before I'm opening the motel room door again.
Sam's hug hits me so hard I almost drop the coffee and bagels I brought him.
"Hey," I say carefully, hoping he isn't insane. "What's up?"
"You were gone," Sam says, voice muffled by the way his face is pressed into my shoulder. "You jerk, you were gone. Without your cell phone! And I thought – I thought –"
"Wait," I interrupt, when it's clear Sam's not going to release his death-grip on me. I put the takeout bag on the nearest bed, push the door shut with my foot, and wrap my arms around Sam.
"What's got you so freaked?"
I keep my voice gentle, but Sam still pulls away like I snapped at him. His eyes are damp and it wrenches at something in my gut, but before I can say anything he flicks on the TV.
It's the local station, and it's showing a burning house.
The house we were in yesterday. It's down to its skeleton, just the uprights and a few rafters still standing, and I can see a body bag being hauled out on a stretcher.
"I thought – I thought maybe you went back and they – whoever was there yesterday – they knew – I thought…"
I swallow. I know what Sam must've thought.
What I don't know is why it upset him so much. After all, he barely knows me. Just like I barely know him. If Sam were missing and I saw a news report that made me think he was dead, I would –
I would have my arms around him, which all of a sudden I do, and I would be pushing his head down on my shoulder, which I am, so I could hear his breathing.
"We're OK," I murmur into Sam's hair. "We're OK, Sammy."
What the hell is going on? Sam might be my partner, and I'm sure we're good friends, but this can't be normal.
"Don't do that to me again," Sam whispers.
"Sorry, Sammy. I just went to get breakfast." I pat his back. "C'mon. You like bagels?"
Later, Sam goes to the opposite wall, which I only just notice is covered with… stuff. Photographs and newspaper articles tacked up, lines drawn between them, notes in what's probably Sam's handwriting because there's no way mine is that illegible.
"There's a picture of the house," he says. "Used to belong to someone called Elmer Jackson. Abandoned when the owner's sons were both killed in World War II and it fell into disrepair."
"Yeah, it definitely felt like it hadn't been lived in for years," I say. "Anything else?"
"Haunted house, so they say. People… Oh." He glances at me nervously. "People who go in tend to come out with their memories wiped. It says when Elmer Jackson left it he laid a curse on it. Heartbroken because of his sons' deaths and all that."
"Curses I don't know about," I mutter, going to stand next to Sam. "But there's been something weird going on there. Must've been, to warrant FBI intervention."
"Yeah, about that," Sam says slowly. "You think we should be checking in with someone? In the FBI? Maybe they're looking for us."
There's something in his voice. "You don't really mean that, do you?"
Sam shrugs. "Look, I was poking through our stuff while you were out –"
"You were poking through my stuff?"
"I was trying to figure out where you could've gone! Sue me!" He shakes his head. "Anyway… I found this." He goes to his bag and pulls out a pouch, which he empties onto the bed.
My breath catches. It's ID cards – for both of us – for the FBI, for the US Marshals, Press passes, AMA cards…
"Crap," I hiss. "What the hell are we? You think… You don't think we were doing that to people, some weird drugs or something, and it backfired?"
"No," Sam says dismissively.
I nod. He's a gentle kid; I know that much already. No way he'd be part of some weird cult to mess with people's minds.
"What do you think?"
"I think we were after them, we got close, and they got pissed."
I nod. It makes sense. "So what now?"
"We go after them again. We were close." He waves his hand at the wall. "We have all the clues. We can still take them down."
"Then we'll see," Sam says simply. "I really don't see us going our separate ways, do you?"
No. No, I don't, because the thought of Sam being somewhere without me, maybe with another injury bleeding out without me to drive him to the hospital, is enough to make me go crazy.
After a few hours' work we narrow it down to either Colin Teague, who owns the next property down from Jackson's, and has apparently been trying to buy Jackson's but the current owners – kids of Jackson's cousins – won't sell, or Marie Long, whose grandmother may or may not have been Jackson's illegitimate daughter and who apparently views the house as her birthright.
Teague is closer, so we take him first.
Sam averts his eyes from the still-smoking ruins of Jackson's house as we pass them.
Teague is big and burly and says coldly, "You again, agents? I thought I answered all your questions last time."
I find myself standing between Sam and Teague, though it's ridiculous that I'm trying to protect Sam when he's got about three feet and a hundred pounds of pure muscle on me. But it's there, and I don't try to fight the urge, and Sam seems willing enough to hang back and glare threateningly at Teague over my shoulder.
My phone rings. I turn away to answer it.
The connection's bad; I can barely hear the person on the other end. I make out the words 'Agent', 'news' and 'call'.
Maybe it's important. Maybe whoever it is will know what the hell is going on.
"Excuse me," I say brusquely. "I need to take this."
I go outside and call the person back.
"Agent Johnson!" It's a girl's eager voice. "This is Emily Banks. You asked me to call you if I remembered anything else."
Emily Banks. One of the people hit by the memory loss.
"Yeah?" I say encouragingly.
"I saw that man – he was on the news for wanting to buy the Jackson property and turn it into a nightclub? I saw him when I was there, just before – just before I forgot everything."
"Thanks, Emily," I say.
And that's when I hear the roar of fire from above.
The world stands still for a moment, one horrifying moment when I look up at the room where I left Sam and Teague and see smoke and fire shooting out the window.
Then memory hits me like a wall.
A warm bundle thrust into my hand, an order to take Sam and run. Sam, held close, smelling of soap, the only thing that kept me sane in the months after Mom died when Dad seemed to be in an endless tailspin. Sam leaving me for Stanford. Sam at Stanford. Fire in Sam's apartment –
I'm running for the house. I leap up the steps and wrench open the door –
And oh thank God, Sam's there, running down the hall towards me.
I grab him and pull him out, shoving him in the Impala. I remember everything, and I know we shouldn't be here when the cops get here.
"What happened?" I ask.
"Colin Teague," Sam gasps, voice hoarse from the smoke. "He had it all set up. I don't think he's sane anymore, Dean. I don't… Crap. I don't know. He seemed like a man possessed."
The word possessed makes me turn to him sharply. "You remember anything?"
"No." Sam, still breathing harshly, cocks his head. "Do you?"
I wait till we're back at the motel, till I've checked Sam over and made sure he's not hurt, till Sam, exhausted to the bone and still having trouble breathing, has lowered his head to rest on my shoulder. It's not like this morning: then he was relieved to see me, and now he seems like he's just too tired to lift his head.
"Easy," I say, running a hand through his hair. "I've got you."
"What do you remember?" Sam asks wearily.
I might as well start with the big one. "I'm your brother."
I don't know what I'm expecting, but I'm startled – and a little put out – that there's no reaction other than a drowsy, "Oh."
Sam shrugs, a barely-there movement of his shoulders. "You feel like a big brother."
"Moron." His breath hitches, and I squeeze the back of his neck to calm him. "Easy, Sammy. Breathe. Slow and easy."
"Not a kid," Sam mutters.
I feel like saying You're my kid but I don't. Instead, I tug Sam closer and let myself feel the relief of his presence. I didn't lose Sam to fire.
I didn't lose Sam to fire.
I didn't lose Sam to fire, and I also remember what Sam told me right before we went into the Jackson house yesterday. Colin Teague isn't our problem. He's an arsonist, mainly because he really wants the Jackson's property, and it's up to the police to deal with him.
Our problem – the weird memory loss incidents – has a different cause.
"Trust me?" I ask instead.
"Sure," Sam says easily.
"We need to desecrate a grave."
Sam sighs. "I knew it would be something creepy like that. Fine. But we can't do it in daylight. I need sleep."
"That's it?" I ask. "No argument?"
"I told you. You feel like a big brother."
Sam insists on staying curled against my shoulder until he falls into an exhausted sleep, and the fear of losing him is still near enough that I let him.
I wake him in time for dinner, and then we get our stuff and get in the Impala and drive to the old cemetery, abandoned since the 1960s. Elmer Jackson has a tomb in his family vault, not a grave, and that's going to make this so much harder.
We manage to break in – after fumbling at the lock for freaking ever, I'm filled with the renewed determination that picking locks is going to stay Sam's job. As soon as we've salted and burned this son of a bitch and restored his memories.
We find the tomb and I tell Sam to open it – that muscle has to be useful sometime – while I keep watch.
It's a routine job, which means we routinely get thrown around the vault, hitting tombs and walls and the freaking ceiling, before we're done.
I hear the thud of Sam hitting the floor, a soft groan that tells me he's probably cracked a rib, right before I drop the lighted match in the grave.
I don't wait to watch the body burn. I dive for Sam.
"Sam? Sammy? You OK?"
Sam's eyes meet mine in the orange glow of the fire.
"Grave desecration, huh?"
He tries to push himself up on his elbow, fails, and falls back with a soft gasp. I hold him down.
"Stay still, idiot. You're probably concussed. I'll have you up in a moment. Did it work?"
He grins. "If I say it didn't, do I get a hug?"
"Sam," I warn. "Don't joke with me about this. I have absolutely no sense of humour when it comes to your safety."
Sam sighs, but the grin doesn't fade. "Yeah, I know. I'm sorry. I remember, Dean. It worked."
"Good." I sit Sam up carefully. For a few moments he stays slumped in my arms, breathing heavily. I'm relieved enough to have him alive with his memory intact that I don't push him away.
"Come on," I tell him. "Time to get you out of here."
And if he spends the drive back to the motel leaning on my shoulder, I don't say anything about it. Kid's had a rough day.
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