Author's Note: Inspired by a Tumblr prompt that went something like 'Wouldn't it be scary if you had a clock on your wrist counting down until the moment you die? What if it could be altered- one day you have seventy years to live, but you make a bad choice and have only ten minutes left?' First in my Final Countdown 'verse. No spoilers or tags to any episode. Lastly, I do not own Supernatural.
Sam remembered the first time his clock ran out. He was nine; it was his second Hunt.
He'd always been a little preoccupied with watching the years on his wrist tick slowly down, second by second, minute by minute, the tiny numbers continually in motion. Always drawing him toward the day of his death. It didn't scare him though; the numbers helped ground his ever-changing world and remind him that he had years left to live. More than enough time to escape the family business and live his own life.
For some reason Dean always kept his numbers covered up by a jacket or long sleeve shirt or even a bunch of braided bracelets. Sam had long ago given up on asking to see his brother's clock.
A vengeful spirit- that's what the Winchesters had been Hunting. Common enough fare for the family, and sure to be a quick and easy job. Thanks to several hours of research, Dean and Sam had discovered that the spirit was tied to an antique rocking chair he had crafted before his death. Whenever he claimed another victim, the chair was passed along to a different family member, who shortly suffered the same fate.
The rocking chair was residing in an antique shop. John had picked the lock on the door, let himself and his boys inside, and told Sam to stand lookout. "Just let me know if any police come poking around, okay, son?" The young boy nodded, hazel eyes wide and maybe a little scared. He crouched by the door, sweeping the sidewalk and street in front of the store with quick glances. Nothing. Not even staggering drunks coming home from the one bar in town.
From the back room of the shop, he could hear his father and brother moving furniture around, cursing the owner's lack of organization. They had a picture of the rocking chair, but to be honest, Sam thought it looked like every other rocking chair in existence. He hoped they would find the chair soon, and get rid of the spirit who had already killed six people.
Sharp needling pain shot through his left wrist, and Sam jumped to his feet, cradling his arm against his side. A red-hot glow was emanating from his numbers, shining brightly even through the thick fabric of his second-hand jacket. His fingers trembling, he rolled up the sleeve and his heart skipped a beat. Less than five minutes of time were all he had left.
Sam abandoned his post without a thought, running back to where John and Dean were searching for the chair. He knocked into a heavy wooden trunk, shattered a porcelain bowl onto the concrete floor, and nearly broke his nose on a low-hanging chandelier before his father snapped, "Sam! What the hell are you doing? Is someone out there?"
"Dad, De', my arm…something's wrong!" His voice was shrill and panicked; Dean was at his little brother's side in an instant.
"What's wrong, Sammy?"
Wordlessly, Sam turned his arm so his wrist was facing up, the glowing numbers casting stark shadows on his brother's face. The pain intensified until it felt like his whole arm was on fire, and the young boy almost collapsed.
"Shit! Dad, its Sam's time…" Dean's voice broke, and that's when it hit Sam that something was seriously amiss.
"It has to be wrong, right? De'? I had years left this morning, something has to be wrong with it, right? I'm not really dying." He was begging for another answer, any explanation other than that his life was already ending. He couldn't die! He was only nine years old. He just couldn't leave his brother and dad.
John's eyes zeroed in on the rapidly fading numbers on his youngest son's arm, and he paled. "It's the spirit. It has to be. We need to find the chair now, before it shows up," he ordered sharply. "Now!"
The brothers instantly went into motion, moving in opposite directions to frantically search through the store's clutter. Sam's eyes kept going back to the time on his wrist- now less than two and a half minutes remained. "Am I gonna die, Dean?"
"No! You aren't going to die until you're old and fat and you have ten grandkids, alright?"
"Alright." From the trembling of his voice, Sam obviously didn't believe his big brother, but he wanted to. Death was such a big and frightening concept that he couldn't even begin to wrap his mind around it. What would Dean do without him? What would his dad do?
"Found it!" John shouted triumphantly from the back room of the store. "Clear out a space so we don't burn the whole place down."
Dean grinned widely at Sam. "See? Everything's gonna be alright." They worked together to move furniture and knick-knacks from the middle of the floor, creating haphazard piles of antique goods.
Their father charged out of the back with the rocking chair dragging behind him. He had already poured copious amounts of lighter fluid on it, and was trying to ignite his lighter, but it stubbornly refused to spark.
Abruptly, the room cooled by twenty degrees, Sam's breath a white cloud as it exited his lungs. Less than thirty seconds were left on his arm, and the pain shooting through his body was excruciating.
He felt like someone, something, was watching him, and he slowly turned, sweeping his gaze through the darkened room. The figure of an old man, his body strangely transparent and insubstantial, was watching the Winchesters with an absent smile on his ruined face. He seemed to chuckle at the sight of John's lighter refusing to work before moving toward Dean, ignoring the older man totally.
"De'!" Sam shrieked. "Watch out!" Without thinking, he shoved his brother out of the spirit's way.
His time was up, the red numbers fading to black.
"So much like my own sons," the spirit mused, its voice crackling like a scratched record. "All dead now, of course. Much like you will soon be." An ice-cold hand wrapped around Sam's throat, slowly squeezing til he was no longer able to breathe.
Vision going black at the edges and dancing with stars in the middle, he tried to wheeze out," Goodbye, Dean." But all he could utter was a tiny, pained groan that faded into silence as his world went dark. Faintly, distantly, he could hear the whoosh of flames, of the chair catching fire. The hand was gone from his windpipe and the spirit screamed thinly.
Strong arms wrapped around his torso, lifted him from the ground. "Sam? Sammy? Oh God…"
"De'…" he rasped weakly. His eyes were heavy, but he managed to crack them open ever so slightly. Dean had tears tracking down his cheeks, his chest heaving with silent sobs.
Dean smiled slightly, his lips still trembling. "Don't every do that to me again, bitch."
Sam looked at his wrist, and saw Dean doing the same. Nearly sixty years, the numbers read- fifty nine years, two months, thirteen days, five hours, and ten…nine….eight seconds. "Told you that you're gonna live to be an old man."
John Winchester watched his sons with tears in his eyes, remembering each and every occasion his own time had run out, and knowing that this wasn't the first time Sam's life had almost been lost. He wondered how many more times his boys would go through this before their numbers truly came up. Mary, he thought, I'm so sorry for bringing Sam and Dean into this life. Please forgive me.
Final Note: Thanks for reading! Please leave a review; tell me what you honestly think of my story, whether you have any questions, or if you have a prompt you'd like to see me write. Feel free to point out any grammatical errors, as I am un-beta'd. Thanks again and have a fantastic day, friend!
About prompts: if you want to give me a request, please write a short paragraph explaining what you want to see. Specifics are always good; tag it to an episode if you wish. I'm willing to do a chapter over most any character, so ask away!