Dead Ends

Disclaimer: Not mine. Just borrowing.

This is set mid-season 8 after the boys are happily back together, but before Remember the Titans. It's a short puff piece because I don't feel like drowning in angst right now.

Chapter One

Dean looked across the car and saw Sam jerk his head to one side to get his hair out of his face. At this point, it was nearly a tick Sam did it so often.

"Dude, if your hair gets any longer, you're gonna have Farrah hair."

"Let it go, Dean."

"I keep waiting for you to get one of those pick things from the 80s so you can feather it."

Sam looked up at him and scowled. He also twitched again to get his hair out of his eyes. "Dean, everything in your life is messy. You're a messy eater, you never put anything back where it's supposed to be, you don't do laundry until everything you own smells bad enough that even the waitresses start to complain. I cannot help it that the one thing you keep in military order is your hair."

"A barbershop is a manly place where men go to be men. It's a joy and a privilege." Dean cast him a sidelong glance. "Not that you'd know that. It's also a good place to get the local gossip for a case."

Sam rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Dean. Barbers can do no wrong. That's why you still complain about The Great Scalping of '97."

Dean put on a show of being horrified. "Dude, if that guy was a licensed barber, then donuts are bad for you."

"Donuts are bad for you."

"Long-haired Commie," Dean muttered under his breath, then gave his brother a low-watt glare. "Whatever. I looked like Telly Sevalis."

Sam grinned at the memory. "Dude, how old are you? Get a new reference. And it hardly mattered anyway. It took, what… two whole days for your hair to grow out again?"

Dean couldn't help it. He grinned too, although not for the same reason as Sam. He had his brother back, finally. It seemed like forever since things had been ok between them. He didn't have to watch his soulless, sociopathic brother for any signs that he'd decided Dean was too much trouble and was going to put a bullet in him. He didn't have to worry about the wall holding back Sam's time in hell. He didn't have to worry Sam was going to run off for the Apple Pie Life, or be an ass about Benny. It was a relief. Cause that kind of stuff got to wear on a guy.

Now he just had to worry that his brother was going to completely fry himself trying to close the gates of hell. So… pretty much business as usual. Watch out for Sammy.

"So, what's next on the agenda?" Dean asked. He'd called Kevin an hour earlier and been told in no uncertain terms to leave him alone to work. The kid had sounded frazzled and close to freaking out at the interruption, so Dean had decided to give him another day or two before bugging him again about results.

"Not much really," Sam said. "We can crash somewhere for a few days if you want." It was said almost hopefully, and Dean looked at his brother sideways. Sam had assured him he was fine after the first trial, but Dean knew that whatever happened after killing the hellhound had definitely knocked the wind out of his sails.

To be honest, Dean wasn't too excited about running into another hunt right away either. The hellhound had done more damage than he wanted to admit and hellhounds… well, it wasn't his favorite way to spend time. It brought up disasters and deaths and pain and… a lot of other things he really, really wished weren't permanently burned into his memory.

Dean cleared his throat. "Sounds like a plan. We can stop at the next town up."

Sam just nodded and looked out the side window. It was a pleasant silence, not their usual tension-filled, I-really-want-to-yell-at-you sort of silence, which had been the case far too often in recent memory. Dean almost felt like he was on vacation it was such a relaxing feeling.

The road stretched out ahead of him, but within a few miles clumps of houses began to appear. A town wouldn't be too far and hopefully they could find a nice, cheap motel that wouldn't look too closely at their cards.

Sure enough, a mile or so later a few fast food restaurants appeared, along with some other businesses that looked farm oriented, lots of tractors, seed, Get-Your-Overalls-Here, and co-op type signs. Directly past that was a small town sized hospital, which Dean always thought it was best to note ahead of time, given how things seemed to work for them.

Looking off to the right of the hospital, Dean immediately slammed on the brakes and turned in. There was smoke coming from a smaller building in the same complex, but not directly attached to the hospital.

"You calling?" Dean asked, glancing to see that Sam was way ahead of him and already had his phone to his ear to make sure the fire department was on the way.

Dean drove through the parking lot like a maniac, although he quickly stopped the car and parked it a good distance away so he wouldn't be blocking any fire trucks that showed up. He bolted out of the car and knew Sam was doing the same as they watched a handful of people staggering out of the front of the building, smoke billowing through the doors behind them.

"How many are inside?" Sam asked, stopping the first person they got to.

"Don't know," the man coughed out. "We were in the front… front lobby." He was far too thin and unnaturally bald and Dean had a sneaking suspicion he knew why. He looked up and saw that the front of the overly modern, glass and stucco building was emblazoned with "Marie J. Morgan Cancer Pavilion."

The man started to falter and Sam immediately put an arm around him, urging him to one side to sit in the grass farther from the building. The other patients were already doing the same, some managing to get farther from the doors than others. Dean saw a woman in a lab coat appear and headed in her direction.

"Is that everyone?" he asked.

"No." The woman shook her head, her eyes wide and panicked. "The infusion room!" She began coughing badly. "I couldn't get the door open and there are several patients in there!"

"What's the infusion room? I need to know what I'm looking for."

"Where the patients get their IV drugs!" she answered impatiently.

Dean ignored the attitude. "It's locked? Do I need a key card or something?"

"I tried!" the woman shouted. "I already tried mine and Cindy's!" She stopped again to cough. "The door won't open! I have to go around back!"

Dean didn't argue with her. He could hear sirens in the distance now, but he was already here and if he could do something he would.

"Sam, you got this?" he shouted, watching his brother moving from person to person trying to assess them as best he could.

"Yeah," he called back. He frowned worriedly seeing Dean heading toward the back of the building, but Dean waved him off and broke into a jog to keep up with the woman who was well ahead of him now.

"What are we looking for?" Dean asked when he caught up.

"There's a back door into the infusion clinic," the woman said, her coughing turning nearly to wheezing as she hurried.

"Lady, you're in no shape for this. Just point me in the right direction," Dean urged. Even as he said it, she faltered slightly and leaned against a nearby tree for support, coughing badly. She grabbed the badge she had clipped to her lab coat and waved for him to take it.

"Hurry. Tanks."

"I'm sorry?" Dean asked.

She coughed again and struggled to draw in a deeper breath. "Chemicals. Tanks. Patients." She put her hands together and made the universally acknowledged gesture for "BOOM."

Dean snatched the ID card from her hand and hoofed it.

So much for that feeling of relaxation.

A tiny little beginning. More soon…