Summary: Exploring the ruins of Bobby's burned-out house was not one of Sam's better ideas.
AN: For chaos_slave 's prompt at the ohsam tripleplay challenge: 1. Bobby's house after it's destroyed 2. Jody Mills or Bobby 3. Sam falls through the top of the panic room after it starts to rust and the iron weakens while looking to salvage what they can from Bobby's house.
On another note, it's been a while since I've written anything this angsty, but it feels good to get back into it. Also, this is un-beta'd so pardon my mistakes, please. :)
Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down
There wasn't much to see – not anymore, at least. The house had never been a mansion, and really, it had never even been anything less than an eyesore, but for Sam it had been the closest thing to a home that he had ever known.
Sam surveyed the ruins, his heart heavy with grief and memories flooding his mind. He looked to his right – the couch used to be there; an old threadbare thing that smelled vaguely of wet dog and spilt whiskey, but arguably the most comfortable place in the house to take a nap. Looking to his left was where one of the many bookshelves had been. He could remember lazy summer afternoons sitting against that very bookshelf, digging into Tolstoy, Tolkien, Asimov, Bradbury, or pretty much anything he could get his hands on to read. The adventures that one bookshelf alone had given him were too numerous to count; taking him to foreign lands, fantastical worlds and even to the outer reaches of space and the future.
Sam did another turn and saw more than just the burnt-out shell of the house. He saw the home's owner there – he saw him in the kitchen, fixing his 'best damn chili in the world', he saw him in the living room, chin to his chest and napping in the lazy boy, he saw him in the library surrounded by ancient books, yelling at him and his brother for being 'idjits' once again. Bobby was everywhere in this place, even now that both the house and the man were gone.
Feeling his eyes begin to burn and a clenching in his throat, Sam turned his eyes away from the wreckage just as he heard the sounds of car tires crunching over the gravel of the driveway. A white police cruiser pulled up next to Sam and Dean's 'borrowed' car for the week and came to a halt. As soon as the engine was stopped, a dark haired woman emerged from the driver's side and walked confidently towards him.
He extended his hand to greet her, "Sheriff Mills –"
"Dammit, Sam. How many times do I gotta tell ya to call me Jodie?" She grinned, grabbing his hand and pulling him into a hug rather than returning the handshake he offered.
"It's good to see you, kiddo." She said into his chest before she backed up and held him at arm's length, her face turning from pleasure to sadness in the space of a beat. Her eyes glistened with tears, but she resolutely refused to let any fall. "I'm so sorry, Sam … about Bobby …"
"Yeah …" Sam nodded, swallowing hard and looking out again towards the ruins house that had once meant so much to the man he had considered to be more of a father to him than his own had ever been. It was still too hard to believe that he was gone and that it had only been a week since he and Dean gave him a proper hunter's funeral – it felt so much longer, like the world had kept going while his and Dean's had come crashing to a halt.
Sam was no stranger to grief, but this loss was a heavy one. Bobby had been the one man that he and Dean could turn to without fail and losing him was like losing the ground beneath their feet – like there was nothing to hold them up and keep them stable anymore.
"Where's Dean?" Jodie asked. Sam turned back to the sheriff then pointed off towards the rusting piles of cars.
"He's in the garage. He said he wanted to find some tools, but –"
"Yeah, I know. It's not easy being out here." She sighed, "But I'm glad you guys came. There was something important that Bobby entrusted with me and wanted me to personally deliver to you guys just in case … well, you know … the worst happened."
Sam nodded, finding no words.
"Anyway …" Jodie reached into her coat pocket and pulled out an envelope. "I would have come to you guys, but I couldn't leave work, so … this is it."
Sam took the envelope and turned it over, "What is it?"
"I don't know. You'll have to open it to find out, I guess."
"I should probably get Dean for this," Sam said, starting to walk off, but Jodie grabbed his arm and held him back.
"No wait … I'll get him. I wanted to talk to him anyway."
Jodie gave Sam a quick squeeze and pat on the arm and then headed off towards the garage. Sam didn't follow as he had a feeling that she wanted to have a private conversation with his brother. Instead, his feet began to lead him almost unconsciously into the rubble of Bobby's house.
He carefully stepped over what used to be the threshold of the front door, his eyes scanning the ground and looking for something – anything that might have survived the fire. Part of him knew that it was pointless, that everything in the house was ruined, yet another part – the hopeful part wanted to know that not all was lost.
Charred planks and blackened debris broke and crunched under his feet as he delved further into the rubble. Even now, months after the house burned down, the smell of smoke and destruction lingered, climbing up Sam's nose and reminding him of all that the forces of fire had taken from him. First his mother, then Jess … it was enough to make him curse Prometheus for ever daring to bring humans fire in the first place.
Sam was still scanning the remnants of the house when his eye caught on a sliver of metal glinting in the setting sunlight. Unlike everything else, it stood out amongst the soot-covered debris. Hurrying over to it while trying to be careful and not get injured by the sharp pieces of wood and metal littering the home's footprint, Sam reached the odd piece of metal. It seemed to be smooth and curved, almost like a pipe, but too shiny to have belonged to the house's structure. Bending over, his feet burying themselves in rubble, Sam grabbed the piece of metal and pulled. As he tugged, Sam realized that the thing was attached to something bigger and more curious now than ever, he pulled harder at the thing. It moved very little being wedged between some cinderblocks and broken wood, so he backed up and grasped the metal with two hands, planting his feet firmly as he gave a mighty yank.
Breaking free, the entirety of Sam's find became apparent. The metal pole was attached to a seat and four half-melted and corroded wheels.
Sam stepped back, panting a little from the exertion and feeling another little piece of his heart break. Of all of the things he could have found – this was the one thing to survive the fire? Bobby would have never needed the thing in the first place if it hadn't been for Sam breaking the final seal and letting Lucifer out of his cage.
Bobby had told him that it wasn't his fault that he had ended up in the chair for all of those months, but Sam had always felt otherwise. The demon that had possessed Bobby wouldn't have come to kill Dean and Bobby wouldn't have turned Ruby's knife on himself and been paralyzed if it hadn't been for Sam's actions. The guilt in seeing Bobby stuck in that chair every time he saw him had nearly eaten Sam alive and seeing it now brought back all of those feelings again.
He couldn't understand why the thing was here. Bobby had hated the thing, so why had he kept it?
Then again – Bobby never really threw anything away, did he?
Sam backed away from the chair, not bothering to look behind him, wishing it had been destroyed along with everything else. His left foot slid under a pile of broken wood and encountered something hard as an ominous cracking noise issued from below. More of the debris shifted and he tried to move his foot, but tripped instead, his other foot flying into the air. His backside landed hard on the broken wood which instantly gave way under his weight and everything- planks, metal rods, and Sam himself began to be sucked into the hole as if the earth itself had opened up to swallow a meal.
For the briefest of moments, Sam felt weightless, suspended in the air until gravity finally took a firm grip on him pulled him down into the dark depths.
Jodie found Dean rather easily – all she had to do was follow the sounds of banging and swearing coming from inside the derelict garage. The place was musty smelling and hadn't been touched since the fire, but it had escaped any major damage from the fire. The Leviathans, it seemed, were more interested in wiping out Bobby's home and hadn't bothered with the garage.
Not unlike a child having a major temper tantrum, Dean was standing at a work table, hammer in hand as he bashed at a rust-covered length of exhaust pipe. Sweat beaded on his brow as he pounded away with abandon and cussed loudly and colorfully with each successive clank of metal against metal.
She cleared her throat noisily, but Dean didn't seem to notice or hear her. Sighing, she marched towards him and stopped before the workbench, sternly putting her hands on her hips until Dean finally became aware of her presence.
"Did the pipe do something wrong to deserve such punishment?" She asked. Mid-swing, he stopped and looked up at her, mildly surprised at first and then slightly annoyed at being interrupted. He dropped the hammer on the table with a clang and then wiped the sweat from his face.
"You could say that. Damn thing is from the P.O.S. Sam jacked for the ride here. Frickin' muffler's louder than an atomic explosion whenever you step on the gas." He grumbled, dropping to sit on a stool behind him.
"Jacking cars? You know I could have you arrested for that." She joked.
Dean snorted humorlessly, "Trust me … we were doing that car's owner a favor by stealing it." Dean pulled a silver flask from his back pocket and chugged a few swigs of whatever rot-gut he had in there. He then sat there, avoiding her eyes and staring thoughtlessly at the exhaust pipe.
Now it was Jodie's turn to sigh, "Listen, Dean … I'm so sorry about –"
"Don't." Dean turned his hardened eyes towards her slowly. Though his face was a mask of barely restrained anger, she could almost feel the grief emanating from him. "I don't need your sympathy. I know Bobby was your friend too, but he's gone now and no amount of 'I'm sorrys' will bring him back. The only thing I care about now is killing the son of a bitch that shot him."
Jodie nodded slowly. Dean had a fire in his eyes that was scary to see, but she understood his pain – she hadn't felt such a loss so keenly since her son had died. She wanted Bobby's killer dead as well, but with Dean it went much deeper than just ridding the world of the Leviathans or getting revenge – No, for Dean was a man on a mission and he wasn't going to stop until either Dick Roman was dead or he was.
"How can I help?" She asked, knowing now that this was what Dean needed more than a shoulder to cry on.
"You don't need to get involved. It's dangerous enough just knowing me and Sam and this is not your fight."
"Not my fight?" She repeated, incredulous.
"Look … I appreciate the fact that you want to help, but you're not a hunter. It's better that you just stay out of this and let me and Sam do the work."
"Dammit, Dean! I may not be a hunter, but this isn't my first rodeo, you know."
"NO … if you get involved in any way those Leviathans will be on you faster than a flea on a dog and I won't have you getting killed for us."
Jodie narrowed her eyes, a little pissed that Dean saw her as someone that needed his protection. She was a goddamned sheriff for Christ's sake! "Dean Winchester …" She began angrily, using the same commanding voice she used for hauling criminals off to spend some quality time in her jail, "if you think for one moment that I'm going to sit back on the sidelines while those monsters turn the entire human race into ground chuck, then you've seriously have got a screw loose. You and Sam need help, now more than ever and don't you dare deny it. So, tell me … What. Do. I. Need. To. do?"
Dean's features began to soften and then his shoulders slumped a little in defeat, "Fine … you wanna help, then here –" Reaching into his pocket, Dean pulled out a folded slip of paper and the slid it across the table towards Jodie.
She picked it up and unfolded it, reading the seemingly random set of numbers listed on it. She looked to Dean in confusion, "What is this?"
"Bobby wrote these numbers down just before he died. I've been staring at them for days trying to figure out what they mean, but so far … I haven't a clue."
"Well … I can try several differently police databases that might help give us some clue as to what they refer to, but …"
"I know … it's a long shot, but Bobby thought they were important enough to die for, so they have to mean something, right?"
Jodie silently agreed. She would do what she could for these boys not just because they were possibly mankind's only hope in defeating those monsters, but because she owed it to Bobby. These were his boys and she knew he would want her to do whatever she could to help them.
Jodie folded the paper back up and placed it in her pocket for review later and then stood up straight, "I'll do whatever I can Dean. I promise. Now … you think that pipe has had enough abuse for today because Sam is waiting for us by the house."
Without waiting for Dean, Jodie began to exit the garage and after a few seconds, Dean had caught up to her. They walked side-by-side back to the burned-out home, but Sam wasn't where she had left him.
"Where is he?" Dean asked.
"I dunno. He was right here when I went to get you."
"He probably went to take a leak." Dean muttered, pulling his phone out and dialing. Jodie stood by as Dean shoulders began to tense. "Dammit."
"I got his voicemail."
"Maybe he's just out of range. Cell service out here isn't all that great, you know."
"Yeah … maybe." Dean stated, not at all convinced. He started to walk towards the piles of cars and Jodie followed behind.
"Sam?!" He called out. The salvage yard merely echoed back Dean's voice, all else was silent. Dean yelled several more times for his brother, but still there was no response.
"Where the hell did he go?" he whispered.
Jodie too was beginning to feel Dean's apprehension. She had only left Sam alone for a few minutes and there weren't too many places he could have gone in that short amount of time. But knowing the trouble these two brothers found themselves in on a regular basis, she couldn't dismiss the feeling that something bad might have happened.
"Why don't we split up?" She suggested. "You take salvage yard and I'll check around the house."
"Okay." Dean agreed, already moving off. "Call me if you find him."
Awareness, unfortunately, never left Sam. He hadn't been fortunate enough to hit his head at all and he had felt every second of the panic and terror that engulfed him as he fell and heard every snap and crack as he impacted hard onto the unyielding, debris strewn, cement floor. For several moments, shock overrode any pain and his lungs refused to work, all of the air having been forcibly knocked out of them. It was only when the need for oxygen had become so great that the possibility of passing out arose that his body finally remembered how to breathe.
He sucked in great breaths, each one coming in with a stab of pain darting through his chest. Cracked, possibly broken ribs, he figured, but that kind of pain he could handle – he'd broken ribs countless times. The pain in his back, however, was another story.
He was certain he must have landed in hot lava, because his back was on fire. He could still feel the bumpy, uneven pieces of wood and rubble underneath him and he moaned pitifully trying to move off of them, but that only caused the pain to flare and make stars flash before his eyes. He scrunched his eyes tight, jaw locking down tight as he rode out the wave of agony.
When the pain had passed into marginally tolerable levels, he realized that the sharp, stabbing sensation in his back was concentrated in one spot just under his left shoulder blade, radiating up and down his arm like something was stuck deep in there. As he laid there trying to even his breaths out, he could feel the back of his shirt growing increasingly wet and he didn't have to see it to know he had landed on something sharp and was bleeding profusely. He stayed as still as he could, knowing that it he moved, he'd only make things worse.
Sam opened his eyes, finding that it was only slightly less dark with them open. At first he couldn't tell where he was or why he had gone down, but as he looked up and saw the hole from which he had fallen, he knew instantly what had happened. Dangling from the hole was the remains of a large, broken fan and the ventilation grate that had been used to hold it. A few steaks of sunlight streamed down from the ceiling and now that his eyes were adjusting to the dark, Sam had an even better idea of how he had managed to end up in this situation. He was looking up at the ceiling of Bobby's panic room. The fire must have weakened the grating for the ventilation fan in the ceiling and when Sam had tripped and fallen on the piles of debris up above, he must have broken through.
Sam cursed. He'd been so stupid. He shouldn't have walked into the house at all, what had he been thinking? Why hadn't he just stayed put?
Shit – Dean was going to kill him.
Dean. Sam felt his spirits lift a little. He just needed to call his for brother. He wasn't far – he'd be sure to hear him if he yelled loud enough. He'd get him out, patch him up real quick and all would be fine. Sure, Dean would never let him live this down, but getting a tongue lashing from his brother sounded much better than being stuck down in this pit.
Sam opened his mouth and attempted to shout, but that too had been just as bad of an idea as moving had been. Pain lanced through his chest and back and all he managed to get out was a weak-sounding squeak.
Okay – yelling was out.
Sam would have to find another way to get Dean's attention. His slow and pain-addled brain finally reminded him that he had a phone on him and that calling his brother was probably the best solution to his predicament.
The only problem was that Sam had put his phone in his left back pocket along with envelope Jodie had given him and whether or not it survived the fall was his first worry. His other worry was that he would have to move in order to reach it with his right hand since his left was numb thanks to whatever was stuck in his back. He was not looking forward to jarring his injured back in any way, but he could see no other choice.
Taking a few shuddering breaths, Sam rolled a fraction to his left and was instantly met with breath-stealing flames racing through his back and arm as pressure was put against his wound. He stifled the scream his throat wanted to let loose as he used what remaining wits he had left to force his right hand under his but to reach his left back pocket. Seconds of agony went by before his hand finally reached into his pocket and pulled the phone free.
He rolled again, relieving the pressure on his back by moving a little more onto his right hip. Gasping, his heart thumped wildly in his chest and he breathed so hard that he could feel each and every sore and cracked rib. His back continued to send endless pain signals to his brain, but in this position, it lessened and he could feel his heart begin to slow in relief.
With the phone firmly grasped in his trembling hand, Sam pushed the power button and to his immense joy, it came to life having somehow escaped any damage other than a small crack in the screen. Relief again poured through him and Sam wasted no time dialing Dean.
He placed the phone to his ear, ignoring the shaking in his hands and waited for it to ring. He waited several more seconds, but after a few more, an ominous beep issued from the phone. He pulled it away from his ear and felt his stomach drop.
Not one single bar.
Sam moaned, his eyes blurring as he stared at the screen and then looked at the walls of the panic room in frustration, realizing that the thick iron walls that had been built for protection were blocking any signal from getting through.
Closing his eyes, Sam dropped the phone onto his chest, defeated.
Dean came around another pile of cars and cursed his little brother once again. How was it that a over-grown, 6 foot 4 inch, pain in the ass could get himself lost in the space of only a few minutes? Sam couldn't have gone far, and there hadn't been anyone for miles to kidnap his brother, but the possibility was still there in the back of Dean's brain – after all, Sam had once been snatched away from him in the blink of an eye and transported hundreds of miles away to Cold Oak by the yellow-eyed demon. Dean shivered at the thought of that place and tried to cast the idea of another demon taking Sam, but the fact remained that while Crowley hadn't bothered them in a while, he wouldn't put it past him to pull something like that.
Growing frustrated, Dean once again took out his phone and tried Sam's number and then cursed again as it went straight to voice mail. Sam never shut off his phone and was rather obsessive with making sure it was charged at all times. The possibility that Sam had deliberately shut it off was almost laughable – the guy used his phone for everything from researching to listening to his emo-craptastic music, to playing Angry Birds on long car trips.
Jodie seemed to think that bad service might be the cause for Sam not picking up his phone, but that hardly seemed likely to Dean. The two had been texting each other not long after they arrived. Sam had been bitching about Dean hanging out in the garage while they were supposed to be waiting to meet Sheriff Mills, but Dean couldn't stand the thought of standing around the burned out shell of Bobby's house with too many reminders of the man they had just lost surrounding him. He hadn't even wanted to come on this trip, but when Jodie had called after learning of Bobby's death, Sam had agreed (without Dean's permission) to meet with her. After thoroughly chewing Sam out for making such a decision without his input, Dean reluctantly agreed to go.
At first, Jodie had suggested meeting in town, but both of them knew that it was too public to meet her there where the possibility of a Leviathan seeing them was greater, so it had finally been decided that they would meet her at Bobby's salvage yard where people and prying eyes were virtually non-existent.
So, that left Dean with only a few possible reasons why he couldn't reach Sam. Either he had lost his phone or Sam was physically unable to answer it. Neither option was one he wanted to dwell on and Dean resolutely began searching the yard again, calling Sam's name over and over.
Dean had just gone between another stack of cars when his phone began to ring and Jodie's number popped up on his screen. Hoping that she had found Sam, he quickly answered.
"Hey – you found him?"
"Sorry, Dean. I looked everywhere, but I just don't know where he is."
"Crap …" Dean spat. "Keep looking, I'm coming your way."
"Okay … I'll –" Dean heard her feet crunching along the gravel through the phone, but suddenly they stopped and she made a noise that sounded an awful lot like a 'huh?'
"I dunno. I thought I heard something …"
"Like … like music? I'm not sure, but it sounds like ... video game music? Wait – I know it – it's -" he heard her snapping her fingers "it's that damn bird game my deputy is always playing in his phone."
Dean's feet were already running. "I'll be right there!"
Sam hated this room. Okay – maybe hate was a strong word, but he could say with absolute certainty that he didn't like it. It wasn't the room's fault really – it was just a room and Bobby had built it with his own hands to serve as a place to ride out any supernatural storm. It was supposed to be a place of safety, but Sam had never really felt there and the stark walls surrounding him only served to remind him all that he had gone through within this room.
Twice he had been locked in this place, left on his own to detox from demon blood, screaming at hallucinations, shaking with fever, and puking into buckets. Admittedly, those times he had been forced to purge the demon blood from his system had been a blur, but all the same, the feeling that nothing good ever happened in this place lingered with him.
Groaning, Sam tried not to think about the room that had and was now again serving as his prison. He had bigger worries and he still needed to find a way out of there. For now, at least, the pain had dulled somewhat to a slow, simmer, even if he was starting to get more than a little light-headed and nauseous. His stomach was warning him that he might be seeing his lunch again soon, but he fought the sensation with everything he had – throwing up would only hurt so much worse and he knew that being anywhere near the smell would only make him more nauseous.
Staying awake was also an issue. Sam may not have hit his head, but he knew that falling asleep would be bad. He didn't know how much blood he had lost, but given how crappy he was feeling, he knew it wasn't insignificant.
What he needed for now was a distraction – something to keep him from puking or sinking into unconsciousness. At first, he tried reciting pi, but after the first fifteen numbers, he started to get confused and mixed them up. After abandoning that idea, he remembered that while his phone couldn't call out of this pit, it was still working and he had a wide range of apps that he could use to keep him alert.
Picking the phone up from his chest, Sam turned it on, the light from the screen illuminating the dark space around him. He flipped through his apps, he thought about doing a crossword puzzle, but he ditched that idea pretty quick, he couldn't think straight enough for a word puzzle and Sudoku was right out. He finally settled on Angry Birds since it was pretty simple to play and the bright colors would help to keep him alert.
He pressed on the app's icon and the familiar, albeit annoying music started up. The tinkling sounds of the music reverberated across the iron chamber. At first, Sam was going to turn down the volume as the noise hurt his ears and made him slightly more nauseous, but when he realized just how loud it was at only half-volume he got an idea that just might get him out of there.
Dean was always harping on him to turn down his game when they were in the car, even when the music from the radio was blasting Zeppelin, but he knew Dean would recognize the tune and with the way the sound was echoing off the walls down there, it just might be amplified enough for his brother or Sheriff Mills to hear from above.
Sam grinned wearily as he sought out the volume button and raised it to 100%. Finally, he had some hope for getting out of this blasted room.
Dean sprinted towards the sheriff who was looking out into the wreckage of Bobby's home, still trying to pinpoint the source of the music she was hearing. He came to stop beside, breathless and strained his ear to listen.
It was faint, but he heard the distinctive tones of that damned game emanating from somewhere near the center of the house. Without any thought for safety, Dean charged into the rubble, tripping on broken debris along the way and ignoring the cuts and scrapes made on his hands when he grabbed for purchase.
The sounds of the game grew louder the further he went in. "Sam!?" He shouted, but all he could hear in response was the music.
He kept shouting, but paused in between each time to listen for either Sam's voice or the game and soon it seemed like he was right on top of it, but he still could not see any sign of his brother. He was vaguely aware of Jodie's presence beside him, but when she called out to him to stop, he quickly found out why.
There was a hole only about a foot or two away from him next to the charred remains of Bobby's old wheelchair. It wasn't a large hole, but it was certainly big enough for even a behemoth like Sam to fall through.
Dean got on his knees and crawled to the hole.
"Be careful, Dean." Jodie demanded. He gave her a rather annoyed glare before peering down into the space below the hole.
"Here –" Jodie offered, handing Dean the flashlight from her belt which he used to light up the underground space. He beam landed directly on Sam who was lying on his back, on top of the planks of wood and broken pieces of metal that must have fallen with him.
Sam's hand went to his face as the light shined in his eyes and Dean let out a great whoosh of air to see that Sam was conscious.
Sam looked up, his face covered in soot, but just as relieved to see Dean as he was to have found his wayward brother. "Thank God … Dean –" Sam called back weakly, his voice wheezing slightly and face scrunching up as if speaking was causing him massive pain.
"You okay?" Dean knew this was a stupid question. Sam must have fallen at least twelve feet – he was lucky to still be awake and aware.
"I'm –" Sam coughed and then groaned in pain.
"I'll take that as a no." Dean called back, "Just hold on, I'm gonna get you out, okay?"
Sam just nodded and lay limp on the floor, but thankfully had the presence of mind to shut off the video game so he wouldn't have to try shouting over it.
Dean looked up at the concerned sheriff who seemed to be reading his mind, "I've got a rope ladder in my cruiser. I'll be right back."
She turned quickly and started picking her way out of the house while Dean stuck his head back into the hole, illuminating the room with the flashlight. Sam looked up, trying to grin, but failing miserably. He was pale and sweaty and his hands were visibly shaking. Dean had seen shock plenty of times to know that Sam needed to get out of there and quickly.
"How you doing, Sammy" Dean called down. "Anything broken? You think you can climb out?"
"Uh …" Sam spoke, his breathing quick and shallow like he was having a hard time getting any air in. "Maybe … some ribs. But …" he panted, "My back … I think I landed on something. Dunno … think climbin's not gonna happen."
"Bro, you landed on a whole bunch of crap. But don't worry. I'll come down there and get ya, okay?"
"Like … you could … carry me." Sam joked lamely, wincing the entire time he spoke.
"Hey, you might be ginormous, but I'm still way stronger than you."
"Yeah … right." Sam muttered sarcastically and then coughed again, his face turning even paler as he grimaced.
Dean tried to keep the worry that was racing through him from showing on his face at how hard it was becoming for Sam to speak or to even keep his eyes open. He wanted to keep Sam alert, but at the same time didn't want him to strain himself by talking. Thankfully, Dean could hear Jodie returning and he looked up to see her coming towards him, a first aid kit strapped over her shoulder with the rope ladder and what looked to be a portable, folding stretcher in her hands.
Winded, she handed Dean the ladder and dropped the kit.
"This will probably be the first and last time I'll ever say something like this, but thank god you're a cop."
Jodie started to unfold the stretcher and smiled back, "Cops don't just arrest people, Dean. We can also be useful in emergencies from time to time." She stated dryly.
Dean went to work with the rope ladder and tossed roll down the hole, allowing it to unfurl as it fell. He then sought out something to anchor it to that would support not only his weight, but Sam's as well, but there was nothing that looked even remotely up to the task.
"Give it to me, I'll hold it." Jodie offered. Dean cocked an eyebrow at her to which she rolled her eyes in offence. "Trust me. I'm stronger than I look. Now give." She demanded.
There really wasn't much point in arguing with her, so Dean handed her the end of the ladder. She promptly grabbed it and then bent down, placing one foot and then the other between the space created by the first two rungs. She lifted the rope up and over her legs and thighs, managing to squeeze her petite frame in all the way up to her waist. She then sat down and grabbed the next rung, hooking it into her elbows. Dean grinned at her ingenuity, she would be supporting the ladder with her entire body weight which he hoped would be enough for him to get both he and Sam out.
The first test would be to see if she could at least handle Dean getting down into the panic room alone, which he didn't hesitate to do after Jodie nodded to him that she was ready.
Carefully, Dean stepped onto the ladder and began his descent. Thankfully, Jodie held his weight without any complaint and he made it to Sam's side quickly and easily.
"You okay down there, Dean?" Jodie shouted.
"Yeah. I'll tug on the rope a couple of times when we're ready to come up." Dean called back, flicking on the flashlight and lighting up the dark room.
Knealing, Dean tapped Sam on the face, finding his skin somewhat cold and clammy. It seemed that during the course of getting the ladder set up that his little brother began to drift out of awareness. His eyes were closed but at Dean's touch, they fluttered and opened sleepily.
"Hey Sammy. You ready to get outta here?"
"Okay." Sam mumbled, his eyes drooping.
"Alright bro … I'm just gonna sit you up, okay?"
Sam feebly protested as Dean lifted his head. "Nuh …"
Dean gently pulled Sam up by the shoulders, but got Sam up only a few inches when his little brother's eyes open wide and he cried out, his whole body shaking and wracked with pain. It was then that Dean saw why. The back of Sam's shirt was soaked with blood, wound just under his shoulder blade bubbling with fresh blood while a sharp spike of a metal shard under the spot Dean had just lifted him from glinted in the light from his flashlight, covered in red.
"Shit …" Dean whispered at what he had done. He had just lifted Sam from that thing and in doing so had pulled it out, probably making things worse for his brother as new blood poured from the wound. He needed to stem the bleeding and fast.
He lifted his head and yelled up to hole, "Sheriff! Toss me the first aid kit! Hurry!"
Gently, Dean rolled Sam away from the protruding metal and laid him on his uninjured side. Sam moaned and Dean rubbed his arm, offering what little comfort he could. "Hold on, Sammy. Gonna patch you up real quick then get you outta here, okay?
Sam mumbled something that Dean couldn't make out while at the same time the bag with the first aid kit came flying down the hole. Scrambling, Dean grabbed the bag and pulled it towards Sam, unzipping it and rifling through its contents. He found a pair of scissors and quickly cut the back of Sam's shirt away, peeling the soaked fabric from his skin. A pressure bandage came next and Dean apologized to his brother for pressing into the wound and causing Sam to jerk in pain.
It took several minutes, but eventually, the blood seeping from Sam slowed and Dean became satisfied that a regular bandage would do until he could get them both back up the ladder. "Okay, Sam … got anything else sticking out of you?" Sam didn't respond verbally, but shook his head, shivering and panting. "Good. Then let's get outta here."
Getting Sam back to the top was no easy feat. First, Dean climbed up the ladder by himself, carrying the first aid kit with him so they could use it once they had Sam someplace where they could treat him. Next, he had to lever his little brother so that he was draped over his shoulder in a fireman's carry and then came the awkward task of climbing the wobbly ladder with nearly 190 lbs. of added weight. Dean struggled as he began to climb, muscles straining and burning, sweat pouring down his face, and breathing like he had just run a marathon. He could here Jodie up top grunting and straining to hold them as well, but she had been right – she was much stronger than she looked and somehow, one slow rung at a time, Dean managed to reach the top.
Together, Dean and the sheriff loaded Sam onto the stretcher she had prepared and made their way back to her police cruiser, carefully depositing Sam into the back seat before taking off at speeds that made Dean glad for once that he was riding in a cop car.
Sam woke up to light streaming in his face. He blinked and tried to toss his arm over his head to block out the light but found that his arm had been tightly bound to his chest, immobilizing it. And that's when the pain hit, radiating from his back and down his arm.
He groaned, trying not to whimper while a reassuring hand pressed down on his other shoulder. "Hey dude … try not to move, okay?"
Sam turned his head to see his brother sitting next to the bed he was laying in, his face scruffy with stubble and hair sticking up at odd angles like he had just woken, which he probably had considering the dark rings under his eyes.
"Dean." He breathed out, looking around the room he was in, not recognizing the cheery, yellow walls and flowery bedspread that covered him. "Where are we?"
"Sheriff Mills' house. She's putting us up until you're good enough to travel again."
"Oh …" Sam replied somewhat lamely. "What happened?"
"You fell, remember? Did a Greg Louganis into the panic room and skewered yourself in the process."
Sam remembered. He didn't really want to, but he did. "You got me out?"
"Duh … you were pretty out of by then, but I managed to carry you heavy ass out of that hole. Which reminds me … we need to start getting you back on salads again."
Sam snorted which quickly turned into a moan as he jarred his injuries. Dean picked up on his pain and reached for the nightstand beside the bed for a bottle of pills, dumping a couple into his hand and then grabbing a glass of water. He handed the pills to Sam which he gladly accepted, downing them with his unbound hand before taking and drinking the entire glass of water in almost one gulp.
"How you feeling?" Dean asked.
Sam just gave his brother a scathing look, "Right … stupid question, huh?"
"Nah …" Sam shook his head. "I was the stupid one. I shouldn't have gone into the house."
"Damn right, you shouldn't have." Dean came back, a little sharply. His harshness born more out of worry than anger, "What were you thinking going in there? The place is a death trap."
Sam sighed and looked away, focusing his attention on the flower-patterned curtain across the room from him where bright daylight was filtering through. "I dunno … I guess I was just – looking around, ya know?"
"Looking around? For what?"
Sam felt his throat tighten a little as he thought back to his feelings before he entered the burned-down house. "I was looking for Bobby." Sam replied quietly.
Dean was silent, his head down as he fought with his own emotions over the loss of their surrogate father. Sam continued to explain, "I just miss him, man, ya know? I suppose looking around at what was left that I might find something of him in there, like if I could find some tangible reminder that he had been in there then he wasn't really gone. Pretty stupid, huh?"
Dean shook his head sadly, and turned his eyes towards the flask sitting on the nightstand. "Nah. I get it, Sam. I really do."
Silence hung over them like a shroud for several moments before Dean perked up a little and reached into his pocket, pulling out a familiar looking envelope. "Oh … I found this in your pocket. Jodie says that this is what she needed to give to us from Bobby, but I didn't want to open it until you woke up. This is what we came here for, so maybe we should see what's inside?"
Sam nodded and watched Dean open the envelope and pull out several sheets of folded paper. He opened the stack and grinned a little. "It's a letter… from Bobby."
"Read it." Sam said hastily. Dean looked up at Sam a little hesitantly, and then looked back down at the paper shaking slightly in his hand as he began to read aloud.
"Dear Sam and Dean … If you're reading this then that means I've finally kicked the bucket. Now don't get your panties all in a bunch over this, I've been a hunter for more years than you've been alive and this way of life was my choice. I knew from the very beginning that I'd probably get killed by something one of these days and now that it's happened, I don't want you guys to get all maudlin and angsty over it. I lived a good life and it got even better once I met you two, so don't go crying and moping just because I'm not around anymore – you guys will be just fine without me. Anyway, I'm not gonna get all sentimental and sappy, so I'll get straight to the point. I've enclosed a few things for you to have now that I've gone to the great beyond. Inside this envelope are the deeds and titles to my land and everything on it. I know it ain't much of an inheritance, but everything I've ever had is yours now to do whatever you want with. Hell … maybe you'll want to quit hunting one day and take over my salvage yard, Dean. Or Sam … maybe you'll want to rebuild my old house and start a family. Either way – the choices you make are yours and I hope you both make good, long lives for yourselves. Well … that's just about it. I'll be seeing you idjits again one day, but hopefully not for a long-assed time. –Bobby."
Dean stared at the letter for few, long moments before flipping through the other papers. "Look at that, Sammy …" He spoke, his voice husky and raw, "Bobby's gone and made us landowners. Sounds almost respectable, doesn't it?"
Sam didn't really know what to say to that and he wasn't sure how to handle the emotions pouring through him as the empty hole Bobby had left inside of him grew. Bobby had given them everything – he had given them a father when they needed one the most, he had given his time and even his own life for them. Mostly – he had given them love and that was something they would both forever cherish.