THREE OUT OF THREE
By: Karen B.
Summary: Season Eight Spoiler Warning. Short missing scene for 8X19 Taxi Driver. Hurt/doubting Sam. Angst/supportive Dean.
Disclaimer: Not the owner
~ And the world will be better for this.
That one man, scorned and covered with scars.
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star
"The Impossible Dream"
From MAN OF LA MANCHA (1972)
Music by Mitch Leigh and lyrics by Joe Darion
The intense pain of the second trial had knife-bladed straight through my little brother and brought Sam down hard and fast to his knees.
It'd been ten minutes and he still hadn't made a move. His chin pressed to his chest and eyes squeezed shut as he coughed and spat to the forest floor. I kept silent as he panted breath-to- breath. My hand anchored to his shoulder while standing guard, waiting for the kid to gain his bearings.
Crap. These trials had a stronghold and were obviously not for the faint of heart. I wondered what the final trial would bring. Certain it'd be no walk in the park. No piece of cake. No exotic hookup involving Sam in an Oyster bar snuggling up to Angelina Jolie and Scarlet Johansson. Nope. The last trial was going to be a doozy…not that snuggling up with Angelina and Scarlet in an Oyster bar wouldn't be.
A frantic feeling settled in my gut. We were two out of three into this thing and there was no chicken-out exit in sight. And even if there was…even as bad as I knew Sam was hurting…I knew there was no way he would take that out.
As if reading my mind Sam glanced up. "Sorry," he slurred.
"Just relax, dude, and finish taking your powder." I moved my hand up to knead the back of Sam's neck feeling the rigid tension in every muscle, sticky perspiration dripping from the nap of his hair.
Sam whimpered involuntarily, but didn't try to stand. Just gave me a small nod staying right where he was, dropping his head back down and coughing again.
I gnawed at my lower lip. Worried he might not be able to handle this. Each trial was obviously making Sam weaker. I was scared for him, for me, for us. But I had to play it cool. Play it brave. For Sam's sake.
I looked up. The forest was massive and the height of the trees was dizzying, the wind picked up and roared through their tops. The trunks creaking like a crossbow drawn back, arrow knocked. The branches swayed to and fro slowly and cast moving shadows along the ground, disfiguring everything. Rocks turned into weird faces and bushes became large furry bodies. Maybe they weren't just shadows. I had no doubt there really were real monsters lurking out there in the hundred-acre-woods. And they weren't bouncy, pouncy, flouncy ten-inch, pink-stripe shirted creatures searching for honey to fill their rumblee tumblees.
They were bloodthirsty and demonic. I stiffened, aware of my gun tucked into my waistband, but I didn't make a move for it.
Bring it bitches.
Bring on every evil, dead, flesh-eating, flying, belly crawling, blood splattering zombie, werewolf, vamp, dark shadow, or creepy, classic monster that was out there. I could deal with them. What I couldn't deal with. What I was really afraid of was losing Sam –again –for good this time.
But how could I protect Sammy when I couldn't even follow him into battle?
Attempting to close the gates of hell forever; gates that had probably been open since the whole Adam and Eve apple incident. This whole friggin' thing was thirty-one flavors of nuts. Even nuttier was the fact there was nothing I could do to help Sammy through this…nothing but standby and watch.
I took a step closer to my brother and bent down. Still gripping his shoulder, I loomed protectively over him.
Sam snaked a hand up, shakey fingers grasping the front of my jacket and cinching tight as he pulled himself straight up to his feet to face me. His legs trembled and he swayed side-to-side all wishy-washy and about as floppy as liquid paper.
"I got you." I clapped hold of his biceps bracing him.
"Dean," Sam barely whispered, his entire body now trembling, eyes darting away from mine.
I frowned. "What?" My head whipped around tracking every movement. There was nothing but the flat, harmless tree-cast shadows floating about. "Dude, there's nothing out there." I looked back at Sam.
He closed his eyes and murmured something I couldn't hear.
"What is it?"
"I…" Sam licked his dry lips and swallowed.
"Sammy, look at me and tell me what."
Sam opened his eyes. "I – I' m…" he shook his head, his breaths quickening.
"Just slow it down, bro." I curled a hand to the back of his neck, not liking the look of panic on his face as we stared at each other a few minutes.
Sam's eyes were large; his pupils larger still, face going stark-white. He was really freaking me out here.
"Damn it, Sam, if you don't tell me…right now…what the– "
"I'm scared," he blurted out.
I drew back, stunned. I knew he was scared. Hell I was scared. But for Sam to admit it to my face…he hadn't said those words to me since…
"Dean…I'm sorry... I'm…really…this time I'm really…s- scared," he gritted through every word. "Haven't been this scared since…"
"…since you first found out monsters were real?" I said softly, taking a hurried step back toward him.
"This is different," he explained, "than anything we've ever faced in hell or purgatory. It's…it's…omnipotent. "Sam shrugged uncertainly. "It's the word of God. The most invincible, almighty, unstoppable, all creating force there ever was." Sam rattled off.
"I know." Was all I could muster.
The eyes of a frightened nine-year-old boy looked back at me.
I wanted to hug Sam to me again. Go all Nick Sparks mushy on his ass. Tell him everything was going to turn out okay. Tell him how much I loved him. How proud I was of him. Then laugh like an idiot and drop the bomb. Let him in on the real truth. That he'd been Punk'd. That all this crap…all of it…from losing mom forward was just one elaborate, big, fat, stinkin' joke. The best and the worst damn prank any big brother ever pulled on his little brother in the world-wide-history of brothers.
I'd been kidding him all along. Monsters didn't exist. Monsters weren't real. Nothing ever went bump in the night. People didn't die bloody. They didn't die at all. There was no such thing as angels or demons. No such thing as purgatory or heaven or hell. We all just got to live and be happy…together. No fuss, no muss. Right the fuck where we were…the end.
"I can't." Sam struggled to pull away from me. "Dean, I don't have what it takes to –"
"Stop!" I gripped him tighter. "Stop right there."
"That's the problem, Dean. I want to stop. I'm not strong enough. I'm weak and I'm going to screw this up," Sam gasped for air.
"Man, you snap out of it right now," I steamed, shaking the crap out of him. "You listen and you listen up good! You're not allowed to do that," I scolded. "No little brother of mine is going to take the chicken-out-exit. You hear me, dude?"
Sam froze, his eyes wide, head cocked – perplexed – off to one side. His only movement was his chest heaving to damn-near-hyperventilating.
"Sam," I lowered my voice. "You're strong. Stronger than anyone I know." I paused. "You're stronger than me, Sam. That's why you're doing these trials. That's why you were chosen. You, Sam. You can do this."
Sam pressed his lips together, blinking nervously.
"Buddy, you got us this far."
Sam still hadn't moved or said anything else, mouth open as he continued to gaze at me looking dumbfounded and sick.
"You're going to do this…you won't falter and you won't fail…I know it," I continued with unfathomable certainty.
"How?" Sam sucked in a deep breath. "How can you possibly know that?"
"I'll tell you how." I wrapped an arm around his waist and swiveled him against my hip reigning him in and holding him steady. "Because I am your awesome big brother." I looked up at him. "And I don't care if you are taller than me," I gave a smug grin. "As your awesome big brother…I know you better than you know yourself."
"Dean." Sam's knees dipped and he gasped harshly.
"Hey, easy," I held him up, "One more trial, Sam, one more, man."
"I don't know if I can."
"Sam, all you need to know is that I'll be there for you. Those five words I swear to you. You understand me?" I asked, keeping my tone dead serious.
"I understand you just quoted Bon Jovi," Sam said, his mouth twitching into a half- smile.
"Shut up," I grouched. "Can you walk?"
Sam gave a small nod. "Just stay close."
We hiked back through the woods. The rustle of leaves beneath Sam's dragging feet and his huffing and puffing the only sound to be heard.
"Car's just another half mile, Sammy, you move, I move. Simple as that."
"Yeah, okay," Sam garbled. Breathing like a locomotive he stared over at me, his face pale and boyish. "I'm good. I can do this, Dean."
I nodded. That's my boy. We were going to make it. No fuss. No muss. Three out of three…the end.