Season Two

Episode Thirteen: Extinction

By Kittsbud & Tree

Part One

Sunlight beamed through the window, clouds hung lazily in the spring sky, and birds chirped joyfully, accompanied by the occasional buzz of a passing insect. Surely, this was a perfect morning as Sam struggled awake, passing through that brief moment when sleep fought with consciousness, dreams colliding with reality. But as his eyes finally opened, crusted lids peeling apart, he realized that the sun wasn’t really shining, at least not that brightly. The birds weren’t singing and the buzz, well, that was his brother, snoring loudly in the bed next to him.

Sighing, Sam grinned. What had he expected after all? This wasn’t a storybook morning, the first day of the rest of his life. He was Sam Winchester after all, and there was nothing idyllic or storybook about his life, not now, not ever.

Surely the fact that he was living, breathing, and in one piece should have in itself been reason to celebrate, but add to that, his brother had apparently vanquished their life-long nemesis, Haris, then yes, this day was as perfect as he could ask for. Why, then, did he feel as though something was just a tad off?

Ignoring the whisper of a feeling, Sam stretched; extending his entire body, from the tips of his toes to the ends of every finger, feeling every joint pop, each muscle pull, every sinew twitch and then relax. There was some residual stiffness, some awkwardness in his body that felt foreign and reminded him of how close to death’s door he had come.

“Close?” he chided himself. “Hell, I went beyond close. I kicked the door open and was one foot and four toes inside.”

He lay there for several more minutes, listening to the sounds outside the motel room, but once again, the chainsaw respirations of his older brother caught his attention and he turned slightly to face Dean. Under any other circumstances, Sam would have already thrown a pillow or have shouted out to wake Dean and stop the noisy slumber. This morning, the snoring was simply another sign of a better day, or maybe even better days to come.

When was the last time that Dean had slept so soundly he snored? For that matter, when was the last time Dean had slept period? So focused on saving Sam’s life, getting him out of his deal with the demon, he had been operating on pure adrenaline and desperation until the night that he came back into Sam’s hospital room to find him alive and well instead of … well instead of what they had both feared.

So, Sam lay there and listened to Dean snoring; the cars as they sped by on the highway; the couple arguing in the room next door; the maid as she pushed her cart, one wheel wobbling raucously in the hallway outside; even the sound of his own heart beating steadily within his chest. Sounds of life, sounds that proved he was alive.

While the noises droned on, Sam’s thoughts began to internalize. With Haris out of the picture, what did that mean for him? All of his life had been focused toward this one task, this one goal, and now it was completed. Where did he go from here? What about his family? What did it mean for them? His father had certainly spent every waking moment and every last resource hunting this demon. What would he do now? For that matter, his father wasn’t even aware that his archenemy had been defeated. They should probably do something about that.

And then there was Dean. His older brother had never known a day without hunting, a moment without guns, or a life within the boundaries of normality. What would Dean want out of life now? Would he choose to still chase the many evil things that walked the earth or was this now finally the time that Dean had enough and would move on in favor of pursuing his own heart’s desires?

“Earth to Sam! You alright there, Sammy?” Dean’s voice broke through the haze of thoughts, dragging the younger man back to the small motel room and to the worried look of his older sibling.

Dean hovered nervously at the edge of his bed, hair still tousled by sleep, face creased from sleeping against the watch that still remained on his wrist from the night before. Despite his outward appearance, green eyes, however, were bright, alert and ready for action; muscles were taut and ready to spring into battle at the first sign or word from his brother that all was not right.

Sam smiled back at Dean, noticing the hunter’s tension and hoping that the gesture put his brother at ease. “Sorry, I’m okay, just thinking,” he then added.

“Yeah, well it looked a lot like you were just staring blankly at the ceiling dude. Can you warn me when you’re gonna be catatonic? I’ve been talking to ya for the past five minutes,” Dean complained, rising from the bed.

“Sorry man, I guess I just got wrapped up thinking about everything that’s happened lately,” Sam explained. “Besides, dude, you were sawing logs here a few minutes ago. Hell, you probably woke yourself up snoring as loud as you were.”

Dean looked back over his shoulder on his way to the bathroom, casting Sam a sideways glance. “Dude, I do not snore!” he challenged.

“Chainsaw, I swear! Wake the dead, worse than anything I’ve ever heard, maybe even Dad,” Sam teased, ducking as the empty pizza box from last night’s midnight snack flew at him from across the room like some miniature UFO.

“That’s low Sam. Nothing’s worse than Dad,” Dean huffed, storming into the bathroom.

“Maybe even worse than Bobby!” Sam shouted back, laughing loudly as the bathroom door slammed shut.

* * * *

Dean sat at the small motel room table, fingers gliding over the laptop when Sam emerged from the bathroom. Steam filtered in from the room behind him, evidence of yet another long hot shower. Sam had indulged in one nearly every day since being discharged from the hospital. He made no apologies for his lengthy pampering, feeling like for once it was nice to be relaxed and carefree. Dean never challenged his brother, content to let Sam enjoy whatever comforts he chose after his all-too-close brush with death.

Sam dropped down to sit on the nearest bed, toweling his hair dry with one hand while he absently picked at the frayed knee of his jeans with the other.

“So what are you surfing for?” he asked tentatively, slightly afraid that the few days worth of rest had already worn thin on Dean’s nerves and his older sibling was now off in search of a hunt.

Dean looked up, a twinkle in his green eyes, a flash of a smile that he just as quickly hid, his fingers tapping on the keys furiously as he answered.

“Um, nothing,” he stammered. Sam jumped to his feet, curiosity now more than piqued.

“Seriously, what are you doin’? Looking for a hunt?”

“Yeah, sure, but there’s nothing really out there,” Dean answered, his hands reaching to close the laptop just as Sam came to stand beside him. For all his haste, his reflexes were a fraction too slow as Sam caught a final glimpse of a scantily clad young woman flashing across the screen.

“Dude! Exactly what kind of hunt were you looking for?” Sam asked, laughing.

“Yeah, well, there’s nothing good on the TV and the ladies at the local bar, well, let’s just say that I ain’t been drunk enough for any of them to look good!” Dean replied, smiling easily back at Sam.

Sam clapped him on the shoulder, nodding in agreement. He knew his brother wasn’t all that particular when it came to the female persuasion, so for Dean to admit that nothing with two legs and boobs at the local bar had remotely caught his eye, well that was an all-time Dean Winchester first.

“Well, surf away, just don’t get anything on the keyboard,” Sam teased.

Dean glared in return, but couldn’t maintain any semblance of irritation. It had been far too long since he’d seen his younger brother appear so lighthearted and stress-free. There was an unfamiliar brightness to Sam’s eyes, fewer lines around them, less darkness. Sure, Dean could chalk all that up to more rest, more sleep, but he knew deep down that mostly it was due to the burden of that friggin’ deal being over, and oh yeah, Haris being buried at the bottom of the ocean or wherever demons went when they were destroyed forever.

Whatever the reason, he was just happy to see something that resembled old Sam back. The Sam he remembered from before the deal, from before he was possessed, from before there were visions and curses and mob bosses and hunters that all wanted them dead.

Dean watch silently as his younger brother dressed, going through the ritual of preparing for another day. Another day of what? Dean was bored. Truth be told, he needed action, a purpose, a hunt. As much as he had been trying to let Sam rest and recover, giving his younger sibling ample space and time to convalesce at his own pace, Dean was soon to jump out of his own skin if he remained inactive much longer.

He’d tried occupying himself with much needed maintenance on the Impala, but finishing that, he’d been left with only the weapons requiring any attention. Figuring that a bit too blatant a hint, he’d avoided bringing out the gear bag. So with nothing more to occupy his time than the TV or the laptop, he was desperate. Like a caged tiger, he could feel himself ready to pace the small confines of the motel room, walking the edge of the space seeking some small chance for escape.

When Sam tied his shoes but then flopped back on the bed against the headboard and proceeded to flip through the channels with the remote, Dean couldn’t stand it anymore.

“What do you think we ought to do today, Sam?” he asked tentatively.

“Huh?” Sam responded, looking up. “Um, I dunno.”

“Well, we’ve been sitting here, in Conneticut no less, for nearly a week. Not exactly the capital of fun, or ah, the best place for us to be to be hiding from one Luciano Ferinacci. I mean, hiding in plain sight and all might work in the movies, but I’d kinda prefer to put more than one state between us and him,” Dean stated bluntly.

“Yeah, mob boss, pissed at us, Alaska might not be far enough away,” Sam agreed.

“Look dude, we need a plan or something. I know you probably aren’t ready to go hunting and I’m not saying we have to, but we can’t just sit here. I’m thinking we need to head in some direction and I think we need to call Dad,” Dean rattled out, hoping that if he said it fast enough it might somehow sound more convincing.

“Yeah, I was thinking the same thing,” Sam readily answered. “He doesn’t know what happened with the Seal or me or Haris. We should call and tell him.”

Dean pulled the cell phone from the pocket of his jeans, weighing it in his hand before flipping it open. A hundred thoughts flashed through his mind. What to say? How would his dad respond? He thought now of the missed call from his dad, forgotten in the panic of the moment as he rushed to his brother’s side at St. James Hospital. He’d not thought to return the call that day, so overjoyed at seeing Sam alive and breathing. Then, as that day turned into the next and then the next, it simply became more convenient to act as though he had forgotten altogether.

His finger hesitated as he scrolled down through the stored contacts, stopping on the cell number for his father. Taking a deep breath, his thumb pressed the call button while he silently hoped for a reprieve in the form of a voicemail greeting.

“Hello?” The abruptness of the voice startled him and for a second Dean was at a loss for a response, never for a moment expecting his dad to actually answer.

“Dean? Is that you?” John Winchester’s voice boomed across the phone loud enough that even Sam could hear him from the other side of the room.

“Uh ye-yeah, yes sir!” he dutifully responded, unconsciously sitting up straighter in the chair, coming to attention even though his father was not physically in the room.

“I’ve been waiting to hear from you. What’s going on? How’s Sam?” John asked, his voice dropping to the coarse baritone reserved for those moments when he was especially angry or had some important point to make to one of his sons. “Where the hell are you two?”

Dean answered immediately, years of ingrained training eliciting a reaction just as sure as Pavlov’s dogs drooling at the sound of a bell. “We’re in Connecticut. Sam’s alright.”

“His birthday? The deal with Haris? Do I have to guess or are you gonna fill me in on what happened?” The elder Winchester demanded.

Dean took in a deep breath. So much had happened, how much to tell their Dad? Between the poisoned bullet, the Seal, Ferinacci, Gudrun and the demise of Haris, hell, it had been a pretty full week.

“We found the Seal, Dad. We found it and we used it against that yellow-eyed sonofabitch. Sammy is alive, free and clear, and that evil damn bastard is gone forever!”

There was a long silence as Dean waited, one hand absently playing at the silver ring on his right hand while he waited for his father’s response. Across the room, Sam chewed silently on the edge of his thumbnail, listening as he was to the one-sided conversation and waiting to see the look on Dean’s face to judge their father’s reaction to the news.

This time it was Dean who broke the uncomfortable stillness. “Dad, did you hear what I said? The demon, it’s gone! I killed it. It’s all over.”

While he hadn’t expected his father to heap praise, Dean certainly hadn’t expected what happened next. The verbal onslaught that exploded across the cellular caught the young man so by surprise that he nearly dropped the phone.

“HOW DO YOU KNOW? ARE YOU SURE? DO YOU HAVE PROOF?”

The questions coming at him in rapid-fire succession, Dean’s face betrayed him as he fumbled to answer. Across the room, Sam sat forward, hearing his father’s voice booming from the phone and noticing the sudden wounded expression wash over his older brother’s face. Sam had seen this scenario play out before and he was determined not to watch it again here and now, not after everything they’d been through recently. Spinning around on the bed, he sat on the foot nearest to Dean, his hand held out, fingers beckoning the cell away from his brother.

Dean shook his head doggedly, refusing Sam. Squeezing his eyes shut for a split second, his free hand rubbed across his face as he pulled the phone back up to his ear.

“Yeah Dad, skinned the bastard myself. Got the pelt hanging off the rod in the shower. Tell us where you are and we can send it to you. Should make a nice rug for in front of the fireplace someday.”

Sam’s eyes widened in disbelief, the start of a smile creasing his face as he listened to Dean’s sarcastic response. For years, he had watched his older sibling blindly obey every order that issued forth from their father’s mouth. He’d even criticized Dean for his obedience. But lately, he’d also seen another side of his brother; as though Dean had been discharged from the Winchester army; or perhaps a part of Dean was tired of being questioned or second-guessed by their dad. Whatever the change, Sam was hopeful that it was another sign of them moving on to another chapter of life.

“Yeah, I’m sorry too, Dad,” Dean replied softly after a moment. “It’s just that there was so much going on and you weren’t here. You ditched us in Nebraska even after you said we’d look for the Seal together. Sammy almost died, Dad. What was I supposed to do?”

Sam watched now, the defiance replaced by the soulful pain that was always reflected any time Dean let down his guard and mentioned Sam’s near miss with death. He knew the keen sense of responsibility that his older brother felt toward him, and saw it yet again as he choked out those last words over the phone.

“No, I don’t know where we’re going now. We haven’t really looked for a hunt,” Dean informed, glancing up at his brother but not missing the look that Sam shot him at the mention of the word “hunt”.

“We’ll be careful, Dad. I know we still got hunters on our trail. We have some … uh … other enemies now too,” the elder sibling answered, pausing briefly as he listened to his father’s reply. “We will, Dad. We’ll let you know where we’re heading as soon as we figure it out.”

Dean rose from the chair, closing the cell and sliding it back into his pocket with an audible exhale of air.

“Well, that went well!” Sam offered, rising to stand next to his brother. “I don’t know about you, but I could go for some breakfast.”

“Breakfast? Hell, dude! After that, it’s noon somewhere. I need a beer!” Dean replied, the keys to the Impala jingling in his hands.


* * * *

Despite his desire to drink the first meal of the day, in the end it was Sam that won out, convincing Dean that drowning his stress at the bottom of a bottle of beer at nine in the morning wasn’t the smartest thing in the world to do. Ending up at the same local diner that they’d eaten at for the past four mornings, Dean did nothing to hide his irritation when the same middle-aged, gravelly-voiced waitress strolled over and tossed down the greasy menus.

“Same as usual boys or are you gonna look at the menu today?” she asked, her accent as thick as the wad of gum she continued to chew as she spoke.

Dean casually glanced at the menu and muttered “Two eggs over easy, ham, toast and coffee.”

Sam cast him a disgusted look, already dreading having to watch his brother slop the runny yolks up with his toast. He’d never been able to stomach eggs cooked that way, and watching Dean eat with reckless abandon didn’t exactly help matters.

“Ham omelet, dry, and wheat toast please. I’ll have some orange juice today,” he ordered.

“Wow, going all out today are we?” the waitress replied sarcastically, writing the last of their order down on her pad before gathering the menus and walking back to the counter.

The brothers watched her leave, exchanging knowing glances, before both broke into easy laughter.

“We’ve got to get out of here, dude!” Dean began, becoming suddenly serious. “Look at us. Same freakin’ restaurant for four straight days, we’re predictable. Anybody could damn well track us down.”

Sam nodded, silently considering the paper napkin on the table. In his heart, he knew this moment was coming, long overdue in fact.

“So, do you have anywhere specific in mind?” he asked, still not looking up.

“No, not really. I mean, I’d like it to be somewhere that the rich and famous don’t throw bizarre parties where the guests dress up like something we should be hunting, and we don’t end up in a hot tub full of acid, but hey, other than that, no, nowhere specific,” Dean answered.

Sam smiled quickly, looking for the courage to voice the words that hung at the back of his throat. As he was about to speak, his reprieve arrived in the form of the waitress with his juice and Dean’s coffee.

When she walked away once again, Sam took a long drink, almost wishing in that instant that he hadn’t talked Dean out of the early morning trip to the bar.

“Dean, I’ve been thinking,” he began.

“Well, that’s never good,” Dean interrupted, laughing again, but when he saw the sincerity in his brother’s blue-green eyes, he quickly fell silent. “Okay, so Sammy has something serious rattlin' around in that giant brain of his. What’s going on, bro?”

Sam chewed on his lower lip, considering his next words as he watched Dean.

“I’m done,” he announced, hoping the finality of those syllables didn’t hold as much edge as they sounded in his head when he practiced them.

Dean blinked only once, hazel eyes never faltering, piercing into Sam’s before his mouth turned up into a smile and he shook his head slowly.

“That’s just ‘near-death’ talking. You’ll get back into the swing of things, get you a good hunt, like riding a bike,” he insisted.

“No Dean, not this time. I know I said this before, but Haris is really gone now. It’s finally over. After everything that’s happened, everything we’ve been through. I’ve had enough.”

“Sam, look, I know this one was really bad. I know that you were ready to give it all up and you were willing to do it for me. But just because we put one evil sonofabitch down doesn’t mean there aren’t still a hell of lot more of them out there to fill in the gap,” Dean implored.

“I want more! I’m tired of this life, Dean. I’m sick of what it’s cost us: Mom, Jess, nearly you twice now. How close have I come to burying you lately? And how about all the people along the way? How about all the Melissas and Lauras and Reeds out there that we can’t help?” Sam pleaded. “I’m sorry Dean, it’s just that we’re constantly surrounded by death. I just can’t take it anymore, and I don’t want to.”

Dean watched his younger brother, really looked at him as Sam lowered his head once again and focused on the paper napkin that he had decimated into tiny paper bits while he had spoken his peace. Dean wasn’t especially surprised by Sam’s revelation, not if he was being completely honest with himself. Hadn’t Sam pretty much said the same thing that night in Chicago before the confrontation with Meg, and then again in Salvation?

Part of Dean wanted to just blow this off, humor his younger brother, eat breakfast and then go back to the motel, pack and head the hell west towards the sunset. Yet, even as the thought crossed his mind, Sam’s words echoed in his head. Melissa, Laura, Reed, countless others, like Sam said, so many that they couldn’t help, hadn’t saved. Death surrounded them, followed them, haunted them, and all too often tried to take them.

“Okay. So where are you going then?” he asked, quiet acquiescence.

Sam looked up, trying to hide the shock from his face, unable to hide it in his voice when he stammered out “Really?”

“Yeah, I get it. I understand. I might not agree, but Sam, I told you a long time ago, I understood that you always knew what you wanted. I always respected that in you. It isn’t any different now. Besides Sam, these past few weeks, last week, nearly losing you, I can’t do that again. If keeping you safe means having you completely out of harm’s way, not hunting, then so be it. You name the place and I’ll take you there.”

Sam nodded, smiling and relieved, yet still feeling as though there was one more thing he needed to get clear.

“What about you Dean? What are you going to do now? Isn’t there something that you want?” he asked.

Dean started to speak, but the loud cracking of the waitress’s gum stopped him as she appeared with their breakfast in each hand. Instead, Dean merely grinned widely, shaking his head.

“Dude, I just want my breakfast served by a waitress that doesn’t ruin my appetite. Can we just eat and get the hell out of Dodge?”

Sam nodded back, acknowledging the Dean Winchester avoidance tactic when he saw it. He dug into his own breakfast, carefully trying to ignore the sloppy mess that his brother was making as he tore into the eggs on his own plate.

For Dean, the arrival of food was a godsend. So long as he kept shoveling the chow in, then he couldn’t be expected to answer any more of his brother’s questions or carry on any further discussion about Sam’s retirement from hunting. Likewise, he could also blame the huge lump in his throat on the large bites of food that he was cramming in. Yeah, the food! That was it!

* * * *

They finished breakfast with Sam chattering away, his relief exhibited in the rambling manner he moved from one topic to the next. First talking about Stanford, finishing college, and then even mentioning Sarah.

Dean remained silent throughout, forcing himself to smile, nodding occasionally, even telling Sam that it would be good to see Sarah and Kyle again. He’d been honest when he’d told Sam that he was happy to let his brother pursue his dreams and desires, but it still hurt. Just when he thought that their lives were finally going to take a turn for the better, suddenly he felt as though a part of him was getting torn out. Still, when had he ever really been able to deny his brother anything?

Following breakfast, they returned to the motel, packed the remainder of their belongings and pointed the Impala towards the west. Despite the motivation, despite the gnawing at his gut, Dean was happy that at least they were on the road.

Windows down, Molly Hatchet’s Flirtin’ With Disaster blared out of the speakers as the cool spring air caressed his face. Dean tried to focus on the road, tried to ignore all the thoughts that were going through his head, tried to tell himself that he could go back to hunting solo again.

Been flirtin’ with disaster,
Y’all know what I mean.
And the way we run our lives,
It makes no sense to me.
I don’t know about yourself or,
What you want to be - yeah.
When we gamble with our time,
We choose our destiny.

“Great! Even the music has to remind me,” Dean thought to himself.

He looked over to Sam, but his brother’s face was obscured by the long mass of brown hair hanging down as he continued to type away on the laptop. For the life of him, Dean didn’t know what Sam could still be doing on the computer all this time. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that whatever research Sam had been conducting, it had nothing to do with anything supernatural. Curiosity getting the better of him, Dean finally broke the silence.

“What are you up to?” he asked.

Sam looked up. “A little of everything, nothing in particular,” he answered. “I just don’t know, Dean. I thought I knew what I wanted, I thought I could just go back and drop right back into life at Stanford, but now, I’m just not sure.”

“Oh?” Dean replied casually, trying to contain the glimmer of hope that seeped into his heart from being reflected in his voice.

“Yeah, I mean, after everything that’s happened, after everything I’ve seen. Besides, I don’t know if I can go back there and not be reminded of Jess,” Sam admitted.

“I guess that’s to be expected,” Dean agreed. “I don’t suppose you can live the life we have and then just pretend that it’s never happened.”

“I know that. I don’t expect that. I don’t want to forget it, Dean. I don’t want to forget Jessica, but I do need to move on, and I don’t know that I can do that at Stanford. So I was thinking maybe I just need to go somewhere else, a different university.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah, so I’ve just been kinda looking around. See what other schools are out there. Maybe one close to Sarah?” Sam added, a smile crossing his face, his eyes nearly sparkling at the mention of the beautiful brunette.

“Well how ‘bout you be sure to let me know where the hell we’re going sometime soon okay? Gas ain’t cheap, dude. We can’t just be cruising across the U.S. while you figure out which is the best party school,” Dean snapped back.

Sam recoiled slightly at the sudden shift in his brother’s temper. He briefly considered saying something back to Dean, wanting to get him to explain why he had responded so vehemently, but he saw how the older man had already turned his focus back to the road, and Sam knew that he wasn’t going to get his brother to talk.

Sam supposed he didn’t really need for Dean to tell him what was bothering him. He wasn’t blind; he could tell that Dean was trying his hardest to be supportive, to hide behind those well-crafted masks and make Sam feel as though that no matter what, Dean Winchester was perfectly fine. But Sam knew better. He knew how important family was to Dean and he knew that there wasn’t anything Dean wouldn’t do to try to keep the three remaining Winchesters together. Unfortunately, remaining together also meant hunting for Dad and Dean, and that was something that Sam simply did not have the heart to do anymore.

Reluctant to say anything to each other, the brothers rode in silence, each consumed with their own thoughts, their own personal torments. The low rumble of the Impala’s engine and the hum of her tires on the road created a rhythm that lulled Dean and before he knew it, the sun was beginning to set as he drove them across the western Pennsylvania countryside.

He didn’t need to look at his watch to know that it was well past seven, his stomach already having grumbled its irritation at being empty several miles back. Slowing the car, he pulled off the highway and into the small town of Manns Choice, Pennsylvania. The small burg didn’t look like much: one long street, one motel, one diner, and most importantly to Dean, one bar. He was tired and it was enough.

Pulling into the motel, he quickly checked them in, returning to the car just as Sam was gathering their duffels. The motel only boasted ten rooms and the bored teenage clerk had essentially given Dean his choice.
Unlocking the door to lucky room number seven, Dean flipped on the light switch while unconsciously sweeping the space for any immediate threats.

Sam followed behind him, dumping his bag on the second bed, then quickly opening the laptop and plugging the AC adapter into the wall. Without a word, the younger, soon-to-be ex-hunter dropped into the chair beside the small table and immediately resumed his prior work on the computer. Dean bit back a comment, shaking his head.

“Dude, hungry here. We gonna go get something to eat before they roll up the sidewalks in this town?” he asked.

“Give me a few okay? I just want to request my transcripts from Stanford so I can maybe start to apply to other schools tomorrow.” Sam replied, holding up one finger.

“Ya’ know, forget it Sam. I’m not hungry after all. I’m going out for a beer,” Dean grumbled back, heading for the door before his brother could answer.

Once outside, he continued to mumble to himself, looking back over his shoulder towards the light coming from the motel room and the brother that he had just stormed out on. He crossed over the empty street to the bar on the corner, the flashing neon light advertising cold Rolling Rock beer a welcoming sign.

Walking inside, Dean noticed that the tavern was nearly empty. Beside the bartender, there was only the town drunk passed out against a corner table and a lone man, nursing a bottle of beer at the end of the bar. Dean strode up to the dark-stained counter, leaning against the edge as the bearded barkeep walked over to meet him.

“What’ll ya have?”

“Beer, whiskey chaser,” Dean answered, pulling out his wallet and placing several bills on the countertop. “Keep ’em coming, would ya.”

Dean wasted no time tilting back the shot glass, allowing the warmth of the alcohol to flood his body and momentarily dull his senses. The bartender dutifully refilled the small vessel as Dean chugged a large mouthful of the cold beer, his head slightly buzzed from the sudden rush of liquor on a relatively empty stomach. Taking a deep breath, he quickly threw back the second shot before dropping back to sit on the barstool behind him.

In his head, the voice of his heart battled with the voice of his conscience. He knew he told Sam that he would take him wherever his brother wanted to go. He could remember telling him that he understood his desire to move on to other things. But deep down inside, he couldn’t block out the ache that was gnawing at him.

It wasn’t the fact that Sam didn’t want to hunt anymore, although for the life of him, Dean couldn’t understand how his brother could possibly turn his back on that. It was the absolute fear of how he could ever watch out for Sam, protect him, and keep him safe if he was hundreds of miles away. It was the same nightmare scenario from when Sam had left for Stanford before.

Two beers, three more shots, and two and a half more hours of internal warring over what to do found Dean with nothing more to show than a head spinning and a stomach that was still rumbling for something more substantial than the liquid that the young hunter was currently filling it with. Still far from drunk, or that matter even from blissfully buzzed, Dean took a slight break from his own personal problems to eavesdrop into the conversation between the bartender and the older patron seated beside him.

The two were apparently debating the skills of the modern Navy, the older man having served in years past and passionately informing the bartender that while serving as a submariner, they had never managed to run “afoul” of any other submerged ships. Dean glanced up at the TV hanging in the corner, noticing the CNN coverage scrolling across the screen and the story of a Navy sub that had apparently hit some sunken ship out in the Atlantic. No one had been hurt, but the furor caused by the damage of a billion dollar military vessel by a scrapped piece of junk was apparently causing a stir.

“Slow news day,” Dean thought to himself.

As he was about to turn back to his beer, the door to the bar swung violently open, startling all of the occupants and even waking the drunk in the corner. The young man standing in the doorway would have been imposing even if it hadn’t been for his size. Standing nearly six foot six and easily over two hundred pounds, the newcomer looked to belong in a boxing ring. Still, worse than his size was the look in his dark eyes, a predator’s eyes.

He scanned the room, taking in all the occupants, sizing them up before striding confidently the remainder of the way into the establishment. His body never hesitated, never twitched, as he moved up to the older man seated at the end of the bar. With a wide sweep of his arm, the newcomer grabbed the older man by the throat and effortlessly tossed him across the room and into the opposite wall.

Dean immediately rose to his feet, stepping forward to meet the newcomer. A full head shorter and nearly fifty pounds lighter, Dean didn’t care. If the stranger was looking for a fight, then he came to the right bar on the right night. A week’s worth of inactivity coupled with the anguish of losing his brother to academia had left the young hunter itching to exert some pent up frustration.

The stranger never broke stride, advancing on Dean as though he were simply working his way through the room. As he closed the gap, the elder Winchester feigned surrender, opening his hands palm up. The stranger never stopped, his expression never changed as he continued forward. Just as he was about to reach out towards Dean, the hunter twisted forward and let loose with a combination of punches that landed twice to the stranger’s head and once to his abdomen.

It was like hitting concrete; only concrete might have been more forgiving. Dean stifled a groan, his right hand bellowing with pain from the abuse of the contact with the rigid bone structure of the attacker. He shook the tingling extremity, looking from his hand back up to the face of the man he’d just had absolutely no effect on. And then he knew why…

The face that looked back at him broadened into a wide sadistic smile. Dark eyes narrowed as the mouth opened to reveal a second set of teeth dropping into view. Fangs! Sharp, glistening fangs!

“Oh just great!” Dean moaned. “A friggin’ vampire! You gotta be kidding me!”

As the creature advanced on the hunter, the bartender reached under the counter pulling out a sawed-off shotgun. Dean spotted the weapon but knew it would be ineffective.

“Mister, trust me. That isn’t gonna do any good. Just get these people out of here as fast as you can,” he instructed.

The bartender looked perplexed, but then spotted the vampire’s long fangs and morphed face and rapidly heeded Dean’s advice. For his part, Dean had run out of room, having backed up as far as the limited space would allow him. Caught now between the wall and the pool table, he watched as the bartender helped the last of the patrons out the front door.

“Well, it’s just you and me now. Got the place all to ourselves. How ’bout a little eight ball?” he asked sarcastically. The vampire merely continued to glare at him, holding its position. Dean shrugged, “Oh well. Can’t say I didn’t try to be hospitable.”

In a fluid motion Dean grabbed one of the pool cues and swung it around, striking the vampire on the left side of its head. Without waiting to see what effect it had, Dean continued his attack, next bringing the stick up and under the creature’s chin, throwing the vamp’s head back with an audible crack.

The huge bloodsucker staggered back a couple of steps, a momentary look of shock on its face. It hadn’t expected to meet any resistance, much less in the form of a human so significantly smaller in stature. Fangs showing once again, it moved back toward the hunter.

Dean swung the cue stick once more, but this time the vampire caught it coming in with its left hand, snapping the wooden pole cleanly in two. Before Dean could react, the creature had him by the shirt and tossed him against the edge of the bar. A loud whoosh of air escaped Dean’s lips as his back was driven against the hard, unyielding counter. Still holding Dean, the creature slammed his body for a second time into the bar. His spine screaming in agony, lungs burning for much needed air, Dean knew he was losing this battle.

“What I wouldn’t give for a machete or some dead man’s blood! Preferably not my own any time soon,” he mumbled between gasps.

The vampire picked Dean back up by the throat, his feet dangling nearly two feet from the floor as the creature held him at eye level.

“I’m going to rip your throat out, human, and drain the blood from your body,” it sneered.

“Didn’t your mother ever tell ya not to taunt your food?” Dean snarked back, hands clawing at his neck, trying to break the vampire’s grip.

Carrying him over to the pool table, the creature slammed Dean down on the green felt surface. Dean’s vision darkened briefly, the vampire’s stranglehold on his throat constricting even tighter and threatening the blood to his brain as much as it was threatening the air to his lungs.

He weakly slammed the base of his hand into the vampire’s nose, hoping the soft tissue would give under the force as it would with any normal human, but it wasn’t to be. The vampire merely dipped his head down towards Dean’s neck, fangs dripping saliva like a hungry dog.

Frantically struggling, Dean’s hands flailed beside him bumping into something solid. One of the balls from the table rolled into his hand. Closing his fist around it, vision blurring, his eyes fighting to turn two snarling vampires into one, he poured every ounce of remaining energy into his right arm driving the black number eight ball into the creature’s left eye.

Blood cascaded from the damaged socket as the beast reared back howling in pain. It lashed out with one hand, managing to cuff a still gasping Dean on the side of the head.

Dean staggered sideways, grabbing hold of the pool table for support as he sucked in huge gulps of air. As his vision cleared, he saw that the vampire had also recovered and was advancing on him yet again. If the creature was bloodthirsty before, then it was definitely well beyond pissed-off now.

It tossed aside barstools as it made its way back towards the hunter, nearly snarling as its fangs were bared once again. Dean knew he couldn’t kill the thing, unarmed and certainly outsized. He felt the trickle of warm blood down the side of his face and the twinge of protesting muscles in his back. And then there was the present nagging problem with seeing two of the damn things when he knew there should only be one. He needed help, be it in the form of a weapon or in the six foot four frame of his now-reluctant hunter brother.

Dean spotted one-half of the discarded broken pool cue on the floor by his feet. Bending down, vertigo threatening to face plant him on the floor for good, he managed to grab the shard of wood and rise back again as the creature came to stand over him. Launching up from his knees, Dean never hesitated. He drove the broken end of the stick deep into the vampire’s chest forcing it through flesh, muscles and tissue, glancing past ribs until he could force it no further.

The towering creature, stumbled for just a moment, stunned by the impaled piece of wood protruding from its ribcage. Dean wasted no time, scrambling from underneath the startled vampire and heading for the exit of the now deserted pub.

The cool nighttime air chilled his face and exposed skin, helping to bring him back to some level of alertness. He glanced back over his shoulder to see if the creature was pursuing him before he turned and loped towards the motel.

The town was deathly quiet and for a moment, Dean wondered where the bartender had gone. Surely the man would have called for the local law? No matter now, nothing that Dean couldn’t take care of himself.

He reached the Impala, fishing the keys from his pocket and immediately rummaging through the secreted compartment until he retrieved his prized .45 and a sheathed machete. He considered the crossbow momentarily, but with no dead man’s blood, the weapon was relatively useless.

Continuing on to the motel room, he noticed that the lights were now off, assuming that Sam had already turned in for the evening. “Yeah, all that college research sure can wear you out, can’t it little brother?” he muttered as he slipped the key into the door.

“Wakey, wakey sleeping beauty,” Dean shouted, flipping on the switch to the lights. “Time to get up, Sammy! Work has found us!”

But as the light from the nightstand filled the room with an eerie glow, casting shadows on the walls like some macabre silent movie, Dean froze in the doorway.

Bending over his sleeping brother, fangs bared inches from his brother’s neck, the vampire looked up at Dean and hissed at him in defiance.


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The Winchester Chronicles

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