Chapter 25:

Here I am, On the Road Again…

"Zoommm…Zoooommmm. Speeding around the corner, heading towards the tunnel…but oh, the enemy has blocked it off…and crash!"

"Errrrrkkkk! No! We survived, swerving to the side. Coming around again…waiting for the opening. Waiting. Waiting. Praying that it'll open up…and No! Crash again!"

John watched with amused interest while his eldest baby-fed his youngest. There was a permanent glare etched over Sammy's wan face, the look intensifying when Dean made more childish sounds like "Choo-Choo" and "Chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga", pretending the spoon of lemon-lime Jello was a train this time instead of a racecar. Sam pressed his lips together each time the spoon came close.

This time Dean created a "swoosh" sound resembling an airplane, waving the spoon back and forth. "Open up Sammy. The plane is Go for take-off. If you don't open up, it'll crash and burn."

The glare never faltered. John surmised if it were at all possible, Sam would have deep-fried his brother by sending down a bolt of lightning. And he had to admit it was highly entertaining.

Evident by the hardened stare, Sam would have preferred if he fed himself. But as both hands were weighted down in tubes and wires, and he hadn't fully regained back his strength, there was only one option left. No doubt Dean loved the teasing. It was only fair that Sam was plotting his downfall.

"Come Sam," Dean whined as the block of gelatin fell off the spoon. "If you don't try to eat something, they're going to come in here and shove a tube up your nose. And I hear they do it while your awake. Do you want that?"

And still the glare remained.

"I won't make any more noises, I swear," Dean compromised, lifting the spoon again, now with a new block of gummy goodness. Finally the pursed lips relented and split open, allowing access for the spoon to enter. Sam clenched his mouth tight as Dean started to pull away.

"Sam. Let go. Sam?" Dean wiggled the utensil. He smiled. "Let it go. You're not eating the spoon. Give it back."

Sam shook his head.

"Oh really," Dean grinned menacingly before clamping a tight fist around the stick and pulled, yanking and forcing it from side to side. Sam's head went with the motion, his head pulled in the direction Dean took it, but yet he wouldn't let go. Part of Dean's left eye twitched and he felt he had to bring out some reinforcement. Cheating, he tickled his brother's right side ultimately winning the victory by taking the spoon.

Laughing at his brother's mock-torn face, Dean waved his victory-stick around gloatingly. Sam chuckled at bit, rubbing away the throbbing action from the invasion of personal space on his side. He pointed a sharp finger at his brother and said, "Cheater," to which Dean merely replied by shrugging with his infamous shit-eating grin.

The brothers then went into a round of uncontrollable giggles and snickers over their antics. They guffawed and teased, smacked each other amiably and laughed some more. Dean more so since Sam had to stifle his laughter to a point. Sam was about to retaliate with a smartass retort when accidentally he slammed his hand down on the edge of the tray of food, and the rectangular container took flight.

Nothing was more hilarious at that moment for Sam than Dean's shocked expression as a vast amount of uneaten food came hurling in his direction, and landed with a great 'splat' on his clothes and face. It was beyond impossible to hold it in. Sam turned beat red, letting out ear-splitting cackles as Dean blinked away some of the chocolate pudding sliding down his eyes and nose.

"Yeah. Yeah. Laugh it up," Dean growled, wiping off the muck.

Sam had to clench his side, the pain doubling as he continued to produce cacophonous whoops. Dean stood up and watched as the remnants of Sam's lunch fell to the ground. Taking up the towel stationed on the bedside table, he wiped himself off shaking his head at his sibling's chortles. He looked up sensing that the other side of the room was strangely quiet. His Dad wasn't participating in the laugh fest, but staring absent-mindedly away.

"Dad, are you okay?"

Sam's thunderous laughing ceased to an abrupt halt and he peered at his father, also catching the same zoned-out look. "Dad?" he coughed.

"Dad?" Dean called a little more loudly.

"Huh?" John snapped out of his trance at being summoned. He looked to both boys questioningly, "What?"

"Are you okay?" Dean asked again.

John sighed, now kneading his hands together. There was no mistaking it: something was obviously troubling the Great John Winchester's mind. "No, I'm not. I need to talk to both of you boys."

"Uh oh," Dean stated with a forlorn apprehension. "What's going on?"

"I was thinking…maybe," he sighed again.

That entire wall of suspicion grew to another length and Dean became severely agitated by it, not knowing what to conclude. He took a gander at his little brother who appeared just as leery as he was. "What is it Dad?"

John's gaze hardened on his two boys and he found his courage. "I was thinking I should skip out for a while, give you guys a break. Maybe take you to Pastor Jim's or Bobby's or…"

"Dad no," Sam protested. "We don't want you to leave. All of this can be forgiven—"

"Sammy stop it," John ordered immediately hushing his youngest. "I nearly got you killed," he said with such conviction, it was stunning. "I was overconfident and arrogant. I put my needs first before yours and look what happened. No father has the right to do that, and it will forever haunt me. So just for a little while, I'm giving you guys a break. At least until I get my priorities straight, okay?"

Sam said nothing but continued to stare in astonishment. Dean simply sat back down refusing to say a word.

John smiled a little. "Nothing to worry about. You guys get to have a vacation. Enjoy the sights if you want. I figured I'd take you to Pastor Jim's house for the remainder of the month and then Bobby can take you in for the rest of the summer. I've already made all the arrangements. Once your doctor gives the all clear, then we'll head out of here. I know it's not something you want to hear, but…it's…" he trailed off.

"It's just what Dad?" Dean urged.

The troubled father sighed and licked his lips, unable to come up with any other answer. "…It's just something I gotta do. And I won't have any arguments about it either."

Two days later and Sam was given the all clear. Though sluggish and with hardly any mobility still in his legs, his excitement skyrocketed way over the moon and for the first time in a long time a pleasant smile adorned his pale face. Weak from the past week and a half, having suffered through the last awful phase of pneumonia and its crippling coughing, it wasn't a surprise when Big Brother had to literally pick him up and place him into a wretched wheelchair.

Grudging from having to be rolled out –according to his brother, in style- a meek frown quickly replaced his beaming smile when Dean began pointing out in high volume at his presence.

"Sick kid brother coming through…."

"Clear a path people or he'll cough on you…"

"Adios compadres! Pneumonia survivor making his way downtown…DooowwwnnnnTooowwwwwnnnn. Come on. Move it. Move it. Move it!"

Sam clenched his eyes shut and prayed when they opened again, he'd be in the Land of the Dead…anywhere was better than the land of Humiliation and Shame and Annoying Brothers. The cheery whistles of birds and the buzz of the bees sounded, and the warmth of the radiating sun set on his skin, alerting his temporarily shutdown brain he was at last on the outside. Prying his eyes to slits catching the gleam of the black paint and the noxious fumes of car exhaust, that hotter-than-gold smile found its way back.

There she was: the Impala. His getaway. His companion…his home.

Dean rolled the wheelchair on up to where his Dad had the backdoor swung open. "Here ya go Sammy, your chariot awaits."

Sam said nothing in reply, but continued to stare heartwarmingly at the beauty. Taking a stand on jelly-like legs, Dean came around and took up his arm, leading him to the car one staggering step at a time.

Dean smirked. "Don't worry there Sport, you'll get back to your wobbly self in no time. Remember the Pastor has all those trails and hike areas in his backyard. You'll be able to meditate and do whatever Yoga crap all you want!"

Sam found no room for a comeback as all energy and concentration was put into walking the very few steps to the car. When finally he managed to sprawl onto the backseat where a blanket and pillow was already waiting for him, he drawled out, "Yeah sure, whatever!" He took one concerned glance at the floor. "Dean?"

Dean chuckled. "Gotcha covered Sammy," he said pulling out a flashlight. Clicking it on, he replaced it under the floorboard, and finished patting down the overused army blanket over his brothers skinny legs. Sam breathed out a sigh of relief, now finally at peace and ready for the long haul to Blue Earth.

For good measure, Dean slid a flashlight under his own seat before nodding his head to his father, giving the cue "Let's Roll!" Within minutes, the Impala was screeching out onto the asphalt putting Greenton way behind in the rearview mirror.

Not too long into the journey, Dean turned to his Dad once more. "Hey Dad," he began rather sheepishly, "Could you do me a big favor when we turn in tonight?"

"What?" John turned a sharp eye on him, intrigued.

Dean licked his lips, wondering if he should ask this, perhaps feeling a little old for worrying—but after this experience, he instantly realized he was never too old to worry about something like this. "Could you please check under the bed?"

"Mine too," Sam piped from the back.

A small smile lit up on John's face as he shook his head in exasperation, "Boys!"

One hell of a pounding headache erupted throughout his skull resembling close to a Ted Nugent mosh-pit bouncing around. His head shook with the throbbing and he gritted his teeth. The stink of a musty, decaying odor infiltrated his senses, and he wondered if that was the culprit behind the zealous headache. A certain nauseating feeling eroded his stomach, his gut instinct screaming in protest violently waking him up.

Groaning, Willis pulled himself into a sitting position. The insides of his brain cavity still shook, threatening to collapse and he grabbed the back of his head, feeling a small protruding bump at the tips of his index and middle fingers. He opened his eyes and gasped at being completely consumed in darkness. Before any other rational thought became prominent, only one declared dominance over all others: how the hell did he get in the dark?

There wasn't much to remember. After the Winchesters took off, hoping for a useless miracle that their dead son and brother would come back to life, he left without another word or action. The witch he intended to snuff quickly vanished within the blink of an eye, leaving no reason to stay. It wasn't long until he found himself in a small bar outside St. Louis, soaking up the establishment's quantity of alcohol like a sponge. And that was the last place he could recollect in being.

Nothing else came to mind on how he happened to be in his current whereabouts. All that registered was that he was chatting with some pretty, drunk-off-his-ass, and reeking of whiskey and booze. The next minute he was waking to complete darkness and a horrible vomit-inducing smell. He couldn't complain; he had woken up in fouler places.

He searched around for the lighter he usually kept stashed in his back pocket. Patting around his jeans, one thing did occur to him: he was unarmed. His pistol was missing, along with his switchblade. That screaming instinctual vibe struck a cord and he tensed, feeling awkward and vulnerable.

Relief befell a small part of him as he found his silver lighter where he left it. Flicking it on, the orange glow lit up his surroundings and he jumped to his feet in fright. His surroundings consisted of wooden walls, all short and unkempt, covered in splinters and broken pieces. But on those walls, at the base of them, on the floor, and well, all around, were skeletons, and among those dry bones were decaying corpses. Some old. Some fresh. The smell increased ten-fold once he found the source and he gagged.

His instincts started to sing soprano now, and he backed away, realizing he was standing in a pile of bones. The light flickered and wavered and Willis nearly cried out as he searched for an exit. The walls were tight, boxing him in. Confusion and downright unadulterated terror invaded his senses, taking him hostage. A nasty wave of claustrophobia also added into the mix and he felt his breath hitch.

Not finding any way out, he took a look around and gagged some more. Some of the bodies he recognized. With his torch burning away, Willis approached one corpse in particular. Keeping the light at a distance, he peered closely at it, acknowledging that it was a red-haired girl he had killed in Missouri. Shot down like the rest of her family and swept away in the current of the river, he'd thought he'd never see her again. Stepping steadily closer, his quivering gaze fell upon the girl studying her pale flabby skin, dirt spots and alga/seaweed intertwined within the reddish strands, and the torn clothing obviously as a testament to the river's brutal mercy.

He peered closer. The young woman's dull lifeless eyes suddenly shot his way.

He jumped back in horror, his eyes widening, in disbelief at what he just witnessed. However, his jaw dropped and he stumbled backwards yammering like an idiot as the corpse now began to move, creepily coming to a stand and began to stumble towards him. Automatically he reached for a weapon that wasn't there, and that's when, in the flickering light, everything began to move.

All once motionless and still heads turned in his direction, and along with the redhead began to move, lumbering towards a newfound target. Willis backed up to a corner of the boxed in walls. Some of the skeletons' hands clawed at his pants, climbing up the legs. He batted at the things, crying out. Looking up, more of the corpses were up, staggering his way, reaching with bloody and green hands and arms. He fought, swinging a fist, kicking and shoving. However the dead continued, beating, clawing at him with spiny fingers.

Suddenly the light went out and all Willis could do was scream.

Anya stood with a menacing smirk before the closed trunk, the boogeyman's humble abode, holding a lit match. She waved her hand and chains magically wove around the box, locking it tight. Her emerald eyes gleamed with mirth and satisfaction, relishing at the hunter's screams and she blew out the match.

And then all went black.

There I go, Turn the Page…