Season Two

Episode Twelve: Valhalla

By Irismay42 & Kittsbud

Part One

 

Abandoned Hangar,
Teterboro Airport, NJ.

“He said you’re gonna die, Sammy.”

Sam pulled away slightly as Dean repeated the death sentence apparently imposed upon him by the mysterious sniper who had been shooting at them only moments earlier.

The cavernous hangar that had once housed Ross Air Freight but was now largely unoccupied save for a few rats and the odd pigeon up in the rafters, seemed suddenly small and oppressive, crushing Sam with its nearness, restricting his airflow as he tried to drag in shallow breaths.

“Sam?”

Dean steadied him with a hand on his shoulder as the world suddenly lurched sideways, Sam’s ears buzzing as he tried to focus on the anxious face of his big brother.

He was going to die...

After everything. After the Deal, after Haris, after making it to his birthday...

He’d been shot and he was going to die.

Just a flesh wound...

Who would want to shoot him? Who would want to poison him?

You’re going to die, Sammy...

“But it’s not gonna happen.”

Suddenly Dean’s voice was loud and determined in his ear, grip tightening on his shoulder as he dipped his head to look into his younger brother’s dazed eyes. “You hear me, Sammy? It's not gonna happen. I’m not gonna let it.”

Sam’s world slowly began to right itself, Dean coming back into focus as the walls of the hangar started to recede.

“Sam? You’re not gonna die. Because I’m not gonna let you.”

Sam held Dean’s gaze for a long moment, the absolute conviction in the older brother’s eyes almost frightening in its intensity. Sam took a slow even breath, still not breaking eye contact with Dean, feeling his firm fingers still gripping his shoulder, finally beginning to feel some semblance of control seeping back into his brain.

“I believe you, Dean,” he said slowly.

Because in the end Dean was all Sam had left to believe in.

Dean managed to smile at him a little hesitantly before gritting his teeth and clapping him on the shoulder. “You’d better believe me. Because you know I’d never lie to you, Sam.” If Sam heard a slight tremor in his voice he didn’t acknowledge it. “Now come on. Enough of this chick flick crap we gotta –”

He was interrupted by the distant wail of police sirens, and it took a second before he realized the sound was getting closer. His brow furrowed in confusion. “What the hell?” he said. “I never got the chance to call the cops.” He began to clamber to his feet, carefully pulling Sam up with him as if he might break if he pulled too hard.

“Maybe – maybe someone heard the gunshots?” Sam hazarded, abruptly listing to the side as the world made another bid for horizontal.

“Whoa there, Sammy!” Dean caught him before he could fall, carefully avoiding his injured arm as he braced him with one shoulder before grabbing him around the waist, eyes darting around the hangar as he tried to keep his brother upright. “Maybe try a little more water with that next time…” His focus shifted to the gantry where he’d secured Ferinacci’s sniper after knocking him unconscious, swearing copiously when he noted the broken cable ties dangling from the railing and the gunman nowhere to be seen. “Goddamn it!” he burst out. “I thought those damn things were supposed to be inescapable? Who the hell was that guy? Houdini?”

“Dean, we need to get you out of here,” Sam reminded him as the sirens drew ever nearer. He inclined his head toward Haris’ former host who lay dead at their feet, unseeing eyes still raised to the ceiling. “Who d’you think the cops are gonna blame if they find us, a dead dude, and no actual bad guy?”

Dean shrugged. “Yeah, I guess I’m the original usual suspect these days,” he agreed, shifting slightly to better distribute the burden of Sam’s weight against him. “I think it's time we got the hell outta Dodge –”

He began to push Sam in the direction of the hangar doors, but Sam resisted, body stiffening as a little strength began to return. Dean looked up at him questioningly as an incongruous grin crept across the younger brother’s face.

“Sam –?” Dean glanced over to the partially-open hangar doors where blue and red lights flashed against the concrete outside and the blare of the sirens was now way too close for comfort.

“It’s my birthday,” Sam pointed out.

“I’ll buy you a cake later, dude, let’s just –”

“Haris has gone and I’m still alive.”

A shadow passed across Dean’s face and he swallowed hard. “Damn straight,” he said, not sounding quite as confident as he would have liked – not sounding quite as confident as Sam. He squared his shoulders and raised his chin a little, the look on his face reminding Sam of when they were kids and he’d watched his big brother stare down schoolyard bullies twice his size. “And we’re gonna keep it that way,” he insisted, voice strengthened by the expression of absolute faith in Sam’s eyes.

“Yes we are,” Sam agreed wholeheartedly. “’Cause I’m not ready to go just yet.”

“And I’m not ready to go to jail,” Dean agreed. “So maybe we oughta – y’know – get the hell outta here before we find ourselves up close and personal with half of New Jersey’s Finest.”

Sam jerked his head toward the rear of the hangar. “Back door,” he said, grinning again. “Spotted it earlier.”

Dean sighed audibly. “And you never thought to tell me?”

“You never asked.”

Dean frowned at him, reaffirming his grip around Sam’s waist before trying to propel him toward the rear exit. “You’re a pain in the ass, you know that right?”

“Yeah I know,” Sam returned, leaning into his brother as he tried to force his legs to obey commands.

“A heavy pain in the ass,” Dean added as Sam stumbled. “Man, you so gotta lay off the Gummi Bears –”

Sam snorted. “You wouldn’t have me any other way.”

Sam meant it as a joke, but Dean just stopped dead and looked sideways at him, expression completely unreadable. “No I wouldn’t,” he admitted. “And I’m gonna get you out of this.”

Sam swallowed. “I know you are,” he said softly. “I know you are, Dean.”

“But we’re gonna do it together this time,” Dean added, push-pulling Sam with him as he made for the exit. “Right?”

Sam nodded, not entirely sure whether Dean was supporting him or he was supporting Dean. “Right,” he agreed. “Together. We can do this together.”

Sleep EZ Motel


Dean didn’t really remember the ride back to the motel. He didn’t recall getting in the Impala, turning the keys and hitting the gas, or the fact that he’d run at least two red lights in his haste to get his brother to safety.

Safety.

What the hell was that, anyway? It was a word that no Winchester seemed to carry in their vocabulary, of that the elder hunter was sure. He didn’t quite know why they deserved such special treatment from the powers that controlled the universe, but it seemed like if there was a short straw to be given out, the Winchester boys were right at the top of the list.

Not that Dean really believed there was any higher force at work. Not really. How could there be when the likes of Haris were always allowed to escape, always given second chances when the good guys weren’t?

Second chance; now there was an irony if ever there was one.

Sammy had been given his second chance, only to have it snatched away again by Ferinacci and his freaky poison. The bullet wound he could have gotten over, but the thing now traveling through his veins, eating at his system, Dean wasn’t sure there was any getting over that. Not if the sniper was telling the truth.

“Okay, Sasquatch, can you work with me here?” Dean carefully moved his brother’s arm over his shoulder in an effort to pull him from the Impala. “Dude, I don’t think we got all day…”

Sam flinched, finally hearing his brother’s words. The trip from the airport had been a silent one. A time for him to reflect, to think about what had happened, and now it all seemed like a bad memory, far away in the distance of time and space. A bad memory he could forget.

It was his birthday.

He was alive.

He didn’t really need to worry about all the details, did he? The small insignificant stuff that had happened out at the airport had gone now; he was free.

Some part of Sam knew it wasn’t true, that he had bigger problems now, but it was easy to just gloss over them for the moment. Easy to just want to flop onto his bed and sleep.

“Sorry,” he slurred slightly, looking into his brother’s hazel eyes as he pushed up from the Chevy’s bench seat, teetering a second until he steadied himself on the door. “Long day, dude.”

“Yeah, too long, already,” Dean admitted, taking Sam’s weight as they crossed the small lot to the still wide open door to their room.

Casting a cautious glance inside, Dean checked for any obvious signs of Haris’ cult buddies before easing Sam over the threshold and onto the nearest bed.

The younger hunter collapsed down onto the aging mattress and let his body crumple back until his head met the soft, inviting pillow. He could have slept right away, letting the past few hours fade into oblivion. Hell, his body wanted to, needed to. His muscles were screaming already with a strange kind of ache that told him he’d been asking too much of them recently.

Or had he?

Reflecting back, Sam couldn’t really remember doing anything out of the ordinary. Getting kicked around was just a regular day at the office for a Winchester, so why did every sinew in his lanky frame suddenly burn until even his hands had begun to tremble?

“He said you’re gonna die, Sammy.”

Just a flesh wound...

Sam ignored the word “poison,” ignored the sniper’s less than veiled threat, because big brother was here, right? Dean wouldn’t let anything happen to him. Dean would patch him up, hand him a few painkillers and they’d be back on the road again in under a day.

“C’mon, big guy, time to stick Humpty Dumpty back together again.”

Sam opened one eye just a crack until light from the bare bulb above the bed illuminated his brother’s stocky form hovering over him, first aid kit in hand. Dean’s eyes had dark rims under them, and it wasn’t from lack of sleep – the hunter was far too used to that particular hindrance to let it bother him.

And yet, something was bothering Dean, the light reflected in those hazel eyes and long lashes held no mirth. There was no sarcasm in his voice, no witty cracks.

Just a flesh wound...

Sam still wanted to believe it as he tried desperately to haul his body into a sitting position, frustration mixing with an abrupt fear as Dean had to put a hand under his back and give him much needed support.

“Dean, what happened back there? Why the hell would a sniper be after my ass?” Sam wasn’t really sure he cared. He just felt the need to talk, to talk until he couldn’t talk anymore. It was something to focus on, something to think about other than, other than…

“He was one of Ferinacci’s goons,” Dean clarified as he cut away the remains of his brother’s shirt sleeve to reveal the garish, purple-edged bullet wound – a wound that had spiky tendrils of discoloration around its perimeter, still seeping further and further outwards from the original puncture.

The hole Dean could clean and fix, but the toxin – well, that was way beyond his skills. He suddenly found he had to look away from the sight of its presence, leeching into Sam like some demonic time bomb.

Sam saw his brother flinch as he attempted to clean where the slug has torn through his arm. Funny, how it didn’t even seem to hurt anymore. “Okay, so Haris’s goon said Ferinacci put a hit on us; that, I get. But why didn’t he finish us? He only winged me, and he missed you more times than I can count. I’m so not buying Ferinacci employs someone who shoots that bad. And Haris? Why would some mob boss put a hit on him?”

Sam ran his good hand through his hair, letting his mouth run in overtime mode rather than accept some of the answers his own brain was offering up. “And the thing that gets me the most?” He let his eyes lock with Dean’s. “When the sniper broke free of those ties, why didn’t he come after us again? He had to know we still have the Seal, but he never once tried to take it. Oh, and not to mention why did Haris just leave?”

“The Seal business, I got no clue, Sammy,” Dean admitted, dropping the blood-soaked swab he’d been using into a bag. “But the whole letting us go thing…”

The hunter turned away, quickly rubbing a hand over his mouth as the truth finally sank in. The truth that Sam still wasn’t accepting what had happened – the truth he was going to have to break all over again until Sam understood they had a new deadline.

The clock was still ticking, and Jack Bauer wasn’t coming to save their asses.

“Sam, Ferinacci’s guy let us go because he’d done enough.” Dean turned back, watching his brother’s reaction, watching that pale puppy dog face take the reality of it all in for the second time in just an hour. “I saw the bullets, dude. Hollow points…even had some weird satanic mumbo jumbo markings etched into the casings…”

Dean felt moisture begin to fill his eyes again like it had back at Teterboro. He was hard, dammit, but not when it came to Sammy. He fought the urge to turn away again, to not let his little brother see him crack, but Sam needed to see it, needed to accept it before they could make any kind of plan.

The broken, soul-shattering look that seemed to drain Dean’s features of all color was enough to bring Sam crashing back down to earth. Enough to make him see that if Dean was reacting this way then maybe he needed to stop all the stupid denial and acknowledge the facts.

I’m dying, and nothing can stop it.

“Haris left because he didn’t need to kill me…Ferinacci took me out of the equation for him, didn’t he?” Sam put a hand on his stomach, abruptly feeling nauseous. Was it the poison taking effect already? Or the shock to his system that he had hours, maybe less, to continue drawing breath?

“Pretty much,” Dean agreed, his voice low, docile, somber. “He doesn’t need to finish the deal if you’re gonna…” He inhaled deeply, biting his bottom lip, but refusing to finish the last part of the sentence. “If you’re gone there’s no one to be a potential leader to oppose the yellow-eyed bastard’s plans.”

Sam’s hands began to shake again, this time the tremors snaking all the way up his arms as muscle tissue began to uncontrollably spasm. He tried to hide it, tried to stop the shuddering sensation that was rapidly spreading through every part of his body.

“So, I mmmake it to my birthday after all,” he stuttered pensively. “Onllly for some pissed off mob boss to take me out because he lost face. Man, even Bufffy has better luck than m…me on her birthdays…” He groaned, finally succumbing to the pain the rogue muscle contractions were causing as he slouched back onto his pillow. Compared to this, the still undressed bullet wound was like a paper cut.

“Don’t talk like that, Sam,” Dean snapped out the rebuke before he’d even thought about how it sounded. He hated seeing Sam this way, hated watching his brother give in all over again. “Now you listen to me,” he barked, not caring that his abrasive tone made Sam start. “We’re gonna fix this, just like we always do.”

Sam swallowed, head flopping sideways to stare at his sibling. “How, Dean? How?

And Dean didn’t know.

Ghosts he could deal with. Zombies he could kill. Demons he could exorcise, but an honest to God medical problem and he stood no chance – even if the toxin hadn’t been something special.

Special.

Just what the hell did that mean? The sniper had hinted the poison in the bullets had some supernatural taint, and the markings on them supported that, didn’t they?

“No human doctor can save your brother, Dean Winchester.”

No human doctor. Did that mean there was something out there in the dark that could save Sam?

That was when it hit.

When Dean realized without a shadow of a doubt what they had to do. What he had to do.

“We have to find Haris again.” Dean was frantic, his heartstrings torn to shreds a thousand times more viciously than when he’d first found out about the deal. “Sammy, we have to offer that mother what he wants. He sent the cult dude after us for the Seal. We have to trade him, swap the damn ring for your life.”

Sam didn’t know how, didn’t know where he was drawing the unexpected strength from, but he jerked spasmodically upright, anger helping fuel his fading body. “No, Dean! Making deals is what put me here.”

Dean tossed the dressing he’d unwrapped onto the bottom of Sam’s bed, angry that his sibling wasn’t prepared to listen, wasn’t prepared to try anything. But then, was this about what Sam wanted, or was it really about what Dean wanted?

“Dammit! He’s the only thing out there with the power to save you. What am I supposed to do? Huh, Sammy? What am I supposed to do? Just go take his ass out knowing I’m destroying your only chance?”

Sam’s face remained stoic, unyielding even for Dean. “If killing Haris means I have to die too, then yes.” The young hunter licked his lips, his boyish features suddenly taking on the age and wisdom of Methuselah. “Besides,” he added, observing his brother’s pain, “the Seal is supposed to have healing properties. Once you can his ass…”

“Are you freakin’ real?” Dean didn’t let Sam finish. For some reason his brother still didn’t seem to understand they had no way of knowing how fast acting the poison was. What if Sam only had minutes left?

Dean had read the reports on the poisonings in the New Jersey restaurant, and Sam had already lived longer than those poor bastards had. What if he was already running on borrowed time? Just like I was back in Nebraska…

Firmly grabbing his brother’s shoulders, Dean fixed his eyes on Sam’s. His pleading, desperate, panicked eyes. “Sammy, we don’t know how the hell to use that damn thing, or how long we’ve got. To hell with killing Haris, I don’t care anymore. Let the bastard go. If it meant saving your life, I’d let the fiery-assed freak escape a thousand times over…”

And Sam knew without doubt, without even a tiny reservation that Dean meant it.

“No more deals.” Sam closed his eyelids, listening to the silence that instantly enshrouded the room. It was Dean’s turn for denial, Dean’s turn to try and make the best of a no win situation when there really was only one true answer. And knowing Dean, it was going to take a lot to convince him of what he needed to do.

“You’re not thinking straight.” Dean ruffled a hand trough his already tousled hair and began to pace. “Hell, we’re not thinking straight. I should have taken you straight to the nearest hospital, not brought you here. What if there is a cure? What if that jerk was just screwing with us?”

“Poison tipped bullets that don’t carry a fatal load? Kinda redundant, Dean.”

Dean took a breath and scooped up the Impala’s keys, determination filtering back into his uptight timbre. “Dammit, Sam, we have to try. Maybe you didn’t get the full dose. The bullet passed through –”

“Leave me behind while you sneak off and make the deal, you mean?” The look of disappointment on Sam’s face was unmistakable. If anyone had the strength to kill Haris, it had always been Dean. He was unyielding, relentless, and now he was going to shy away from the task just to save his dying brother. “No hospitals, Dean.” It was a statement, not a request, and it produced yet another moment of silence from the elder Winchester. In the end, his brother’s solemn mood was more than Sam could take. “I’m so not gonna die in a hospital where the nurses probably aren’t even hot, anyway.”

Dean scratched his head and huffed, a small, strained smile playing over his face as he remembered the all-too-familiar line he’d once tossed at his brother in a similar situation. Trust Sammy to turn his own one-liners against him. “Okay, no hospital,” he mumbled unsure how much more he could promise and actually go through with.

“And no deals, Dean.”

“Sam –”

No deals. Promise me, Dean.” Sam emphasized the word “promise” so heavily there was no way to misinterpret his meaning. He had to make his brother understand that this was more than just saving one life. More than just saving his life. “If you trade the Seal with Haris he can continue his plans, continue with a war against humanity we probably can’t win. I’d rather die than risk that. If that ring can give a mortal the power to control demons, what the hell might it do for that freak?”

“Maybe it won’t work for demons like Haris,” Dean weakly argued.

“And maybe it will. Dean, don’t you see you could be handing Haris exactly what he wants?” Sam swung his legs over the edge of the bed, feebly trying to reach for the dressing Dean had tossed in temper.

Seeing his brother’s weakness, his pain was more than Dean could take, and he hurried forward, snatching up the dressing to finish off the job of bandaging Sam’s arm. If only he could bandage everything so easily. “No doctors,” he acquiesced. “And no deals.”

“Promise me, Dean?”

“I promise.”

Sam leaned forward, carefully peering behind his brother’s back with one brow raised.

“I got something pinned on my ass here?” Dean frowned, sticking the last of the dressing in place and looking curiously over his shoulder.

“Just checking,” Sam smiled, wincing as he flexed his arm and felt a tight twinge in his muscles. “Thought you might have had your fingers crossed like the time you swore you never stole my bike.”

“Dude, you were freakin’ five! And besides, I needed wheels!”

“And now I need yours.” Sam’s face wrinkled as he tried to stifle another fit of tremors, his whole body shuddering with the effort. “We need to find Haris, Dean. Not to make any deals, but to use the Seal to finish him.” Sam drew in a ragged breath and fumbled with two tiny pictures he’d tugged from his wallet. One of his mother, creased and tattered with the passage of time, and one of Jess. “Consider it my last wish.”

“Dude, don’t talk like that.” Dean began to chide his brother, but when he saw the look on Sam’s face he cut short the rebuke. Sam wasn’t ready to die, but he wasn’t ready to carry on living either.

They’d been through so much together, seen so much together, and now, this final hunt was maybe all they had left. Just a few short hours to kill the thing that had ruined their family. Just a few hours to find Haris and make him pay for everything he’d done.

Pay for Sammy. Pay for Mom and Jess.

And the bastard will pay. If I have to die right along with Sam to make it happen.

Because really, Dean didn’t care anymore, not without Sam.

Dean picked up Sam’s laptop and stuffed it into his brother’s holdall. Swinging it over one shoulder, he held out a rough palm to Sam, offering the ailing hunter a hand up. “Okay, Samantha, let’s go kill some demon ass.” He smiled, keeping up the façade, the cheery front, even though his insides felt like Haris had torn into him, like Missouri all over again.

For Sam, Dean would be strong and he would try to keep his promise. But when he finally faced off against the demon, for once in his very tormented life, he really wasn’t sure what he would do.

* * * *

“You remember my tenth birthday?” Sam asked suddenly, eyes never straying from the laptop even as Dean took a corner a little faster than was strictly necessary and Sam was shoved against the Impala’s passenger door with a thud.

Dean frowned at the non-sequitur, scowling up at a traffic signal that had the temerity to turn red on him, causing him to hit the brake a little too hard. He glanced sideways at Sam, who was still staring fixedly at the laptop, the sickly glow from the screen causing his face to look even paler than it actually was, a thin sheen of sweat coating his forehead.

“You might have to narrow that down for me,” Dean replied, trying to ignore the way his guts twisted at the sight of his brother’s pasty complexion.

“We spent the whole day in some stinking Louisiana swamp while Dad hunted an ‘evil spirit’ that turned out to be marsh gas. Remember?”

Dean smiled slightly at the memory. “You tripped and went head first into the ooze, right?”

Sam nodded, chuckling weakly. “You tried to make me feel better – swore it’d stop me getting pimples later – and then Dad yelled at you for letting me get so messed up.”

“Hey, I did you a favor. You had absolutely no dress sense back then…” The sudden image of Sam’s hideous purple t-shirt with the whippet – or whatever the hell that thing was – emblazoned across the front popped into Dean’s head and he snorted. “Some things never change.”

Sam made to swat him with an annoyed hand, but the half-hearted movement only revealed how weak he was becoming. He frowned and turned back to the laptop as Dean gritted his teeth and pretended he’d not noticed. “Anyway,” Sam said awkwardly. “I always thought that would be my all-time worst birthday ever.” He glanced up at the light as it changed to green. “Guess I was wrong.”

Dean turned back toward the road, jaw clenched so hard it hurt. “We’ll find Haris,” he insisted, stomping on the gas and causing the Impala to roar away from the lights with a squeal of tires. “And when we do, we’ll figure out a way to force him to heal you. Before we can his ass. We will. You just – you just need to get into Geek Research Mode and figure out what the hell we’re supposed to do with the Seal when we do find that yellow-eyed bastard.”

“Dean,” Sam said quietly, still staring listlessly at the laptop. “We’ve been looking for – for hours–”

One hour,” Dean corrected him.

Sam frowned, glancing quickly at his brother. “One hour? That’s it? Feels like we’ve been driving around for days!”

“Well, finding a demon when you have no clue what he even looks like ain’t exactly child’s play,” Dean pointed out defensively.

As if to reinforce the point, the EMF meter lying between them on the bench seat remained conspicuously silent.

Sam shook his head tiredly. “It’s like trying to catch vapor,” he said. “Literally. Haris could be anyone. Anything. He might not even have taken corporeal form again. Dean, we’re never gonna find him. Not before –”

“Sam.” Dean’s tone held an implicit warning: Don’t mess with me right now because I’m not talking about this.

Sam took a breath, unable to pretend to be looking at the laptop anymore.

“We’ll find him,” Dean said finally. “We have to. Look, he’s always hanging out with those damn cult weirdos. We find them, we find him.”

“And how do we find them?” Sam demanded. “Dean, you’ve got to start being realistic –”

Sam.” Dean was clearly losing his patience, fingers gripping the steering wheel so tightly it was a wonder his knuckles didn’t break. “Look. You worry about finding out what the hell we’re supposed to do with the Seal. Let me worry about finding Haris.”

“We’re not dealing with him,” Sam insisted stubbornly.

“Your big brain figures out what to do with the Seal, we won’t have to,” Dean replied. “He’ll have to heal you. He won’t have any choice.”

“That’s always supposing he can heal me.”

“Sam, would you stop being such a Negative Nancy for one second?” Dean snapped, turning sideways to glare at his brother, who returned the look with a surprised glare of his own. Before suddenly bursting into a snigger.

Negative Nancy?” he echoed.

Dean shrugged. “Nelly. Norah. Nadine. Take your pick.”

“Better than Frances I guess.”

“I’m in a benevolent mood,” Dean returned. “It’s your birthday after all.”

“Gee thanks.”

“Don’t mention it. Now. The Seal. Look, even if Haris can’t fix you up, he’ll know some supernatural freak who can, right? He’s a demon for crying out loud! What kind of pansy-ass demon can’t rustle up a little healing mojo?”

Sam sighed loudly. “Yeah, I guess,” he agreed at length, retrieving his cell phone from where Dean had left it on the dash after Sam had abandoned it in the motel room.

Dean cast a quick glance in his brother’s direction. “Who you calling?” he asked uncertainly.

Sam sighed, hitting the speed dial and only half-listening to the phone ringing in his ear. “Well I’m not getting anywhere on the ’net so I figure maybe we need some human help.”

“Bobby?”

Sam nodded. “For starters.”

“And then?”

Sam purposely didn’t look at him. “Dad,” he said. “If Bobby can’t help us, then maybe Dad…” He trailed off and Dean’s shoulders slumped slightly.

“Yeah,” he said slowly. “Maybe.”

An awkward silence filled the space between them as Sam waited for Bobby to answer. “Come on, Bobby, you’re not telling me you’re tucked up in bed at one in the morning!” He frowned as Bobby’s voicemail kicked in, ending the call quickly without leaving a message.

His finger hovered over the button that would speed dial his father, hesitating for just a second before punching the digit. Three rings and John Winchester’s gravelly voice cut in, “This is John Winchester. If it’s urgent, leave a message…”

“Dammit!” Sam tossed the phone over his shoulder and onto the back seat in impotent frustration, hands balling into fists at his sides. “How come he’s never there when – when we – when I –” He broke off abruptly, raking a hand through his hair as he chewed on the inside of his cheek.

“He called,” Dean said quietly. “After you left. I checked your messages.”

Sam didn’t reply, just nodded tightly.

“Sam, if he knew – if he knew what you’re… He’d be here. I know he would.”

Sam turned angry eyes on his brother. “Like he came when you got electrocuted?” he snapped. “Like he came when you were dying?”

Dean whipped his head back toward the road, gritting his teeth to avoid saying something he’d regret. “That was different,” he said quietly.

“How? How was that different, Dean? You were dying – just like I’m dying –”

“You’re not dying, dammit! I told you! I won’t let you –”

“So you have some dominion over life and death thing going I don’t know about?” Sam’s eyes flashed angrily. “Because if you don’t then as far as I can see I’m going to die], Dean!”

Dean slammed his hand against the steering wheel. “Goddammit Sammy will you stop with the dying crap? For the last time, you are not gonna die! If I have to –”

“What? Make some kind of deal with Haris? Like I did? You’d do that? After all the crap you gave me about doing that?”

“Sam.” Sighing, Dean yanked the car over onto the side of the road, shifting into park before turning to face his brother. “Sammy, listen,” he began slowly. “Panicking isn’t going to help us here.” He reached out a tentative hand and touched his brother’s arm. “I know this looks bad, man –”

“Yeah, it looks bad,” Sam agreed, voice calmer, a little more subdued, staring darkly through the front windshield.

“But we still got time,” Dean insisted. “Look, we didn’t even think you’d be around a minute into your birthday, let alone an hour!” he said.

Sam turned to face him. “So I’m living on borrowed time,” he pointed out, eerily echoing Dean’s earlier thought.

Dean squeezed his arm. “Maybe,” he said. “But at least you’re living. That means we’ve still got a chance. There’s still hope. We can’t give up. You can’t give up. Not now. Not yet.”

Sam took a slow breath, eyes drifting slowly back to the laptop. “Yeah,” he muttered, trying to concentrate on that, trying to concentrate on breathing. “Yeah, okay.”

Dean nodded. “So we just have to figure out what we have, what we know, and what we can do with what we’ve got. Most importantly, we’ve got the Seal. Haris wants it; Ferinacci wants it. But we’ve got it. So what do we know about it?”

Sam took another breath. “Well,” he began carefully, voice shifting almost imperceptibly into Research Mode. “We know that Solomon, and others he allowed to wear the Seal, used it to command demons, right? Trapping them, banishing them, enslaving them – generally forcing them to yield to his will. Hell, he even got them to build a temple for him.”

“Cool,” Dean commented, nodding appreciatively. “Next time the Impala needs detailing I’ll make sure to summon old Yellow Eyes for the job. What else?”

“Well,” Sam continued, eyes flicking to the screen of the laptop, “Solomon was supposed to have ordered a whole legion of demons into a copper bottle which he then sealed with lead and stamped with an impression of the ring. The bottle was then thrown into a lake to ensure that the demons, or djinn, couldn’t escape. That’s where the whole ‘genie in a bottle’ myth’s supposed to have come from.”

“A whole legion, huh?” Dean sounded impressed.

“Well that kinda depends on which version of the story you believe.” Sam inclined his head a little apologetically. “Other sources only mention a single djinn.”

“Well,” Dean said, “I only need to control one demon and I only got one wish, so that all sounds pretty good to me. Apart from the whole ‘copper bottle’ thing. Don’t happen to have one o’ those lying around in the trunk.”

“Another myth has Solomon just throwing the Seal at a demon in order to brand it and render it controllable.”

Dean blinked disbelievingly. “So we just throw the thing at Haris? Why didn’t I think of that before?” He shook his head. “Somehow, Sammy, I don’t think that’s gonna work. Even though I do still have a pretty good pitching arm.” He sighed, scrubbing a hand across his face before frowning as something else occurred to him. “And besides, if the bastard’s still smokin’ how the hell would the Seal brand vapor?

Sam shrugged. “Hey, don’t shoot the researcher,” he protested. “It’s not like I invented the damn myth!”

Dean snorted wryly. “Yeah, well, fascinating as all of this stuff is, we’re still left with the slight problem of finding the sonofabitch before we can do anything to him. Which would be a helluva lot easier if you’d just let me summon the sucker –”

No. No summoning,” Sam protested immediately. “Dean, you promised me. It’s too dangerous. We gotta figure out exactly how to use the Seal to control Haris before we try to take him on. That’s the only way to go. We’re not gonna make a deal with him. We’re not. Not even if it means…” He didn’t finish the sentence because he knew the effect the words he hadn’t spoken would have on his brother. “If we want him to heal me, then we gotta use the Seal against him. It’s the only way.”

Dean nodded reluctantly. “Yeah, okay Sammy. Your way or the highway, I get it. But don’t you think –”

The sentence remained unfinished as Sam suddenly let out a heart-stopping scream before reaching up to grab his head with both hands. “No! Dean! No!”

Dean froze for a split second as Sam started to thrash around in his seat, the laptop sliding sideways onto the floor as his whole body stiffened and his long legs began kicking out at the dashboard.

“Sam!”

Dean tried to grab Sam’s flailing arms to at least stop him hurting himself, but Sam swatted him away as if he wasn’t even there, eyes scrunched tightly shut, as if he was watching a movie playing out on the insides of his eyelids.

A movie he really didn’t want to see.

“Dean! No!”

“Sam, I’m right here!” Dean tried to reassure him, making another futile attempt at stilling Sam’s jerkily desperate movements. “I’m right here, man!”

“You have to – no! It’s not – it’s gonna – it’s gonna sink! You gotta – you gotta get out! Dean! You gotta get out!”

Dean glanced around himself in something approaching panic, little voice in his head screaming at him to get Sam some help now. But the nighttime streets were deserted, the only moving thing a black cat sniffing around a couple of overflowing trash cans on someone’s front lawn.

If this was a vision, then it wasn’t like any vision Dean had seen Sam get before, the violence of his movements and his seeming insensibility to the real world around him causing Dean to wonder whether maybe this was something else; something to do with the poison invading Sam’s system.

He needed to get Sam to a hospital.

Right now.

“Dean?”

Dean hesitated at the sound of Sam’s voice, the tone suddenly less frantic and more confused than anything else. He paused, fingers still reaching for the Impala’s ignition, as Sam’s breathing began to even out, unfocused eyes blinking open in disorientation.

“Sam?” Withdrawing his fingers from the Impala’s key, Dean placed a tentative hand on his brother’s shoulder, squeezing slightly as he tried to gauge his condition. “You with me, man?”

Sam blinked, eyes struggling to fix on anything as they failed to adjust to the murky darkness surrounding them. “Mmm…” he managed uncertainly, jaw clamped shut as his fingers tensely gripped the edge of the bench seat.

“Vision?” Dean asked, voice breaking slightly as he tried to fight back the fear welling deep inside him. “Or – or something else?”

Sam shook his head slightly, narrowing his eyes as he managed to slide them over in Dean’s direction. “Not like – anything –” he whispered breathlessly. “Not like anything I’ve ever…” He trailed off, and Dean suddenly realized his brother was trembling.

“Hey,” he muttered, voice lowered soothingly. “Its okay, kiddo –”

“No.” Sam was suddenly looking at him. Really looking at him. “It’s not okay, Dean.” His eyes had widened, pupils blacking out his irises. “It’s not okay.” He raised both palms to his face, pressing the heels against his eye sockets. “It’s not okay…”

“What did you see?” Dean asked hesitantly, not even sure he wanted to know the answer.

Sam gingerly removed one hand from his eye before cautiously removing the other. “Not so much ‘see’ as ‘feel,’” he managed with a deep sigh. “I’ve never had a vision seem so – so real before. Like – like I was actually there. Like I could have reached out and touched you –”

“Me?” Dean interrupted. “You had a vision about me? A – a death vision?”

Sam blinked at him. “The poison,” he stalled. “Maybe the poison’s making me – hallucinate – or – or – something…”

“Sam.”

Sam raised his eyes reluctantly to his brother. “Yes, I had a vision about you.”

“And?” When Sam didn’t answer, Dean added, “Sam?” impatiently.

“There – there was a lot of water,” Sam managed at length.

“Doesn’t sound so bad.”

“And a ship –”

“Better than a plane –”

“And it was sinking.”

“Oh.”

“And you were on the ship, Dean.”

Dean swallowed. “I was, huh?”

“The ship that was sinking.”

“Yeah, I got that part.”

Sam fixed his brother with a shaky gaze, drawing in a ragged breath before managing, “I saw you drown, Dean.”

 

 


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The Winchester Chronicles

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