One: Ashes To Ashes
Kittsbud & Tree
moved, neither responded, neither seemed to
be alive as John knelt between them, one hand reaching
out to grasp, to cling to each son, as though his physical
touch might anchor them to this life.
know, your sons were a royal pain in my ass,”
Ferinacci - Lucifer admitted ruefully, looking
down at the still forms of the young men at John’s
feet. “But, I gotta respect them. Tenacious damn
bastards, right to the end. That little stunt they pulled
in New Jersey, I would have killed them if it wasn’t
for the fact that I needed them. I guess it was good
thing I kept them around, huh? But take pride in the
fact that you raised them right, John, trained them
John’s head rose
slowly, tears uncontrolled streaming down, cutting furrows
in the dried blood and dirt that stained his haggard
face. He made no move to wipe them away, but instead
chose to display the tears as an external symbol of
the wound that was hemorrhaging within his chest.
“I failed them. I raised them only to lose them.
All I ever wanted to do was protect them, to save them…”
he replied, his voice trailing off as he verbalized
his grief to the demon.
Lucifer laughed, his voice
booming across the open field, bouncing off the rock
of the daunting tower that seemed to be carved by his
very hand for some evil purpose. Eyes glowing like flares
on a pitch black night, he leered down at the hunter,
reveling in the anguish, absorbing it like it was ambrosia.
“Oh John, they were
never yours to protect or save. They were never yours
“Well, they aren’t
yours either you sonofabitch! I’ll be damned if
I saved them from that yellow-eyed bastard all this
time to lose them to you,” John hissed in defiance,
rising up to stand before the still forms of his sons
“Such pathetic posturing.
What do you seriously think you could do to stop me?
I could crush what’s left of their pitiable little
hearts with nothing more than a snap of my fingers should
I chose to, RIGHT NOW!” Lucifer’s voice
exploded, his eyes firing red as he reared toward the
John met him defiantly,
standing his ground and even taking a half step forward
as he positioned himself between the Prince of Hell
and his boys. Lucifer leaned back against the rocks,
arms folded across his chest as he smiled again.
why should I waste my time with any of you? I have much
more important things to do. But, I must admit, it would
be fun watching you suffer as the vultures rip those
two whelps of yours apart piece by piece.”
From the hard-packed soil
beneath his father, Sam stirred alert to the sound of
voices. He would have groaned had not the effort to
make the noise been as painful as every other miniscule
movement of his body. Even the feel of the dirt against
the skin of his crushed hand and arm was nearly unbearable.
Unable to find the strength
to rise up from the ground, Sam concentrated his remaining
energy on forcing open both eyes and then getting them
to work in unison. From beyond the legs of his dad’s
dust-covered jeans, he spotted the red-eyed demon, his
mind struggling through the haze of confusion to understand
why the creature looked so familiar.
“But really, John,
if you ever get to New Jersey, feel free to look me
up for old times sake…”
Jersey? Luciano Ferinacci… Lucifer…
It seemed so simple, how
could he not have seen the connection between the sadistic
mobster and the demonic lord. But why? Revenge for his
and Dean’s little escapade against the gangster?
Or was this part of some larger evil plan?
was drawn back again to the demon and the hunter as
his father spoke.
kill me, kill my sons, but get it over with and quit
boring me with the wiseguy taunts,” John threw
“Hmmm, I see where
Dean’s smart mouth and defiance came from. But
that would be too easy wouldn’t it, letting you
off the hook like that? No, John, like I said, it’s
more my style to let you suffer. You know, if I were
you, I’d quit wasting my time trading smart-ass
snipes with me and maybe say your goodbyes to your boys.
As for me, I’ve got places to go, souls to torment,”
Lucifer jeered, breaking into near-maniacal laughter.
“Have a nice life, Winchester. I’ll be seeing
Through pain-fogged eyes,
Sam watched as the demon blinked out, disappearing in
a flash of fire straight out of the pits of Hell itself.
He raised a shaking hand to block the glare from his
eyes, the motion bringing forth a grunt of pain.
John spun around at the
noise, instantly dropping down to one knee and quickly
wrapping an arm around his youngest’s back to
just sit still. I gotcha,” he said softly.
“Dad, that demon,
it was…” Sam began,
“Yeah, it was,”
gone, Sam. Dean killed him.”
Sam twisted around; despite
the vertigo, the blood loss and the absolute agony of
his abused body that threatened to plant him on his
face. He fought the darkness that sought to drag him
under, forcing his eyes to find the all-too-still form
of his brother.
On his knees, Sam began
to crawl over toward Dean, not cognizant of the patches
of dirt that turned into mini blood-pies as the gunshot
wound in his side continued to leak. Within inches of
reaching him, Sam felt a gentle tug at his shoulder
and the strong grip of his father’s hand pulling
John cautioned, his voice cracking as he fought to spare
Sam from seeing his older sibling, not wanting him scarred
by the memory of Dean dying in his arms.
Heart-crushing pain, more
primal than any of the physical wounds scouring his
body, ripped through Sam as he tore away from John’s
grasp and closed the final distance to Dean. His uninjured
hand made contact with the flesh at his brother’s
neck, desperately seeking some glimmer of hope there.
“NO! Dammit, you
don’t get to do this. Not for me!” Sam wailed,
shaking the cold, limp form.
don’t…” John pleaded softly, coming
to pull the grieving young man away once again.
The young hunter turned
toward his father sharply, lashing out verbally. “How
could you let him do this? You knew what would happen
to him without the amulet. You selfish sonofabitch,
you cared more about killing that yellow-eyed bastard
than your own son?”
“Sam, it wasn’t
what all the secrecy was about wasn’t it? Even
back in Minnesota? Damn you both!” Sam cried out.
it was Dean’s decision. He wanted to do this.
Don’t you think that if there had been any other
way to destroy that bastard without the amulet I would
have done it? I looked high and low. Hell, I looked
for every way possible to see if there was a way to
break the binding between Dean and that damn amulet,
even Bobby went to look…”
amulet! Desperation clicked the gears into working
in Sam’s brain. Could it really be that simple?
Ignoring every nerve ending
that screamed out in a unified chorus of misery, Sam
pulled himself over to Dean’s outstretched leg.
Yanking up the frayed bottom of the jeans, he fumbled
for the knife that he knew his older brother always
kept tucked into the top of his boot.
Sam pushed up to his feet,
swaying precariously until John caught him under the
arm. He cast a quick glance back down at Dean’s
still body, his mind racing. He couldn’t accept
losing his brother now, not after everything they’d
been through, not after everything they’d survived.
And now, after finally killing Haris, losing Dean would
make the entire crusade a catastrophic failure.
Stumbling across the hard
Wyoming soil, Sam pulled away from John, too focused
on the task at hand to let his father slow him down,
especially now, when Dean had precious little time to
spare. His steps faltered but he forced himself to remain
upright as he made his way over to the still smoldering
corpse of the demon.
Dropping to his knees
beside the remains, Sam fought down the urge to gag,
the smell emanating from the charred husk overpowering
his empty stomach. Despite the pieces of burned clothing
that stuck to bits of blackened and cracked tissue,
Sam couldn’t help but notice the yellow irises
that still gazed upward at him. Ignoring the flies that
were already buzzing about the body seeking out a place
for their larvae, Sam moved with exactness to the scorched
area of the creature’s chest.
Using the edge of the
knife, he picked away at a large piece of eschar, exposing
violently raw meat underneath. With as much skill and
care as a starving man cutting into a well-done steak,
Sam dug into the tissue of the dead demon, plunging
the tip of the blade deep into the remains. Twisting
the metal around, the edge grated against bone as Sam
frantically continued his bizarre surgery.
His heart pounding from
desperation, Sam continued the probing until the reverberation
of the tip striking another piece of metal echoed back
to his hand. He anxiously dug a second longer, but when
the action didn’t produce the desired result,
Sam tossed the knife down to the dirt and plunged his
fingers into the gaping wound.
The sucking sound of blood
and pulp being squished between his fingers assaulted
Sam’s ears, but despite the sickening noise and
the constant attack of the now-swarming flies, Sam continued
his gruesome task. Just when he thought he had nearly
dug through the entire chest cavity of their former
nemesis, his fingertip grazed something solid.
From above him, John watched
in disbelief as Sam triumphantly withdrew the amulet
bullet, raising it between a bloody index finger and
thumb. “Sam… what are you…”
the elder hunter began, torn between going back to keep
his promise to Dean the he would not let the young man
die alone and curiosity as to what Sam could possibly
hope to gain by obtaining the bullet.
Sam ignored him once again.
He didn’t care what his dad thought anymore, he
didn’t care about anything except the single-minded
purpose laying on the ground before him.
Stumbling back to Dean’s
side, he nearly fell to the dirt, his body betraying
him even though his heart had not given up. Reaching
out, he gently took Dean’s hand, trying to pretend
the coldness that ebbed from his brother’s flesh
was nothing more than the result of the chilling Wyoming
night. Almost reverently, he placed what remained of
the amulet into Dean’s palm and closed his fingers
around it. Sam finished by wrapping his own undamaged
hand around his brother’s as though the connection
might convey warmth, strength, and life.
on, Dean, please,” he whispered, the words coming
out as a breathy prayer. “You can’t give
in to that bastard reaper, you just can’t.”
Precious seconds ticked
by, but Dean didn’t respond as Sam became more
frantic. Letting go of his brother’s hand, he
grabbed a handful of Dean’s jacket and shook him,
pouring all the heart-wrenching agony pent up inside
into the action.
“Dammit, Dean. Open
your damn eyes now and look at me!” Sam ordered,
the words leaving his mouth and eerily reminding him
of another time when he held his bleeding brother in
his arms and fought to keep the reapers at bay. That
night, like this one, before the crash of the Impala,
Dean had put himself between the yellow-eyed demon possessing
their father and Sam, trying to distract the thing’s
attention away but ultimately paying for it as the hellspawn
ripped him apart from the inside. History seemed determined
to repeat itself and Dean seemed determined to help
Tears flowing freely down
his bruised and bloodied face, Sam’s effort to
rouse his brother became weaker. His own battered body
forgotten, he pulled Dean closer to him, his brother’s
short hair coming to rest against his leg as he ran
a trembling hand through the sandy spikes.
he begged, watching as his brother’s chest rose
in one exaggerated gasping breath.
Sam screamed out in denial,
burying his head against his brother’s body, his
good hand pounding against Dean’s shoulder. John
moved in, kneeling beside his sons, placing a hand on
Sam’s shoulder even as he reached out to touch
Dean’s still body.
“Sam, come on,”
he somberly spoke. “This isn’t what he would
Sam snapped in return, spit flying from his mouth as
he clung to his brother like a child clinging to a security
“I know you can’t
understand this right now, but it was what he wanted
“What? You expect
me to believe that he wanted to die? Why don’t
you feed that line of bullshit to someone who doesn’t
know any better ’cause I ain’t biting. Really,
what did you expect, Dad, he always did every damn thing
you wanted, anything to please you. What did you have
to tell him? Huh? Sacrifice yourself to save Sam? Or
was it some larger, grander carrot that you dangled
in front of him?” Sam challenged, his eyes reddened
by free-flowing tears and unrestricted rage.
John remained silent,
knowing the vehement words were spoken out of grief
and on a certain level knowing he deserved them. He
took the verbal assault as he would have a physical
one, allowing the attack to continue until the energy
was expended so he could console his son.
Sam waited for his father’s
response, wanting him to try to defend his actions,
needing him to say something so he could lash out again.
Deep down, he knew his dad hadn’t coerced Dean
into anything, knowing full well that his brother had
likely jumped on the opportunity to kill Haris, despite
the cost to him personally.
with this, all of this. No more excuses, no more vendettas,
it's all over, Dad, none of this was ever worth…”
Sam’s words were cut off abruptly by a single,
sighing breath emanating from the otherwise still body
in front of him.
Sam’s eyes widened
as the breath was followed by another, then an even
deeper one as Dean’s chest began to rise and fall
in something resembling a normal rhythm. John scrambled
to the other side of his eldest as his breathing became
punctuated by ragged coughing, supporting Dean’s
head and back as the young man fought for air.
Father and son looked
on in disbelief as a soft glow emanated from Dean’s
open hand. The bullet that minutes ago had been deformed
from firing and covered in blood and gore, was now before
their very eyes liquefying into a golden pool within
the hollow of Dean’s palm.
Within seconds, the radiance
subsided and Sam stared in amazement as the golden-horned
face of the amulet peered back at him from within Dean’s
limp hold. His brother sputtered, eyes fluttering as
fingers moved to grasp the amulet more tightly.
“The amulet, it
recognizes its guardian,” Sam announced, a broad
smile crossing his face as he took as much satisfaction
in his theory being right as his brother still breathing.
Across from him, John
grimaced slightly at the mention of Dean’s “guardianship.”
As he watched his oldest son struggle to regain consciousness,
he couldn’t help but despise the fact that the
very thing that had apparently saved Dean’s life
had been the thing that nearly killed him. Had he to
do it all over again, he would have never taken Dean
to meet the crazy Shadrack Mann all those years ago.
I do it? Did I kill that yellow-eyed sonofabitch?”
Dean’s voice rasped as he weakly attempted to
“Yeah, yeah you
did,” Sam replied, his voice cracking with emotion
as he nodded. “And you damn near killed me too,”
he quipped a moment later, gingerly touching the still
oozing wound at his side.
With his dad’s help,
Dean’s pushed up from the dirt, teetering like
a drunken sailor as his body refused any semblance of
coordinated muscle movement.
“Ah, quit your whining,
Sammy. It’s barely a scratch, I’m better
than that,” he refuted.
“Dude, you shot
me. Well, you shot through me. What the hell were you
shrugged. “I, um, it probably wouldn’t make
any sense,” he replied, fumbling to make the thoughts
that still rambled through his head coherent. The
Guardian and the Quatre Yeux … you’re stronger
together than apart… It was always in Sam’s
blood to either join me or destroy me…
matter. I mean, Haris is really dead, right?”
Dean asked, his eyes peering past Sam’s shoulder
to the charred remains of the demon.
dead, son,” John assured, lightly patting Dean
on the shoulder. “You really did it.”
“I guess I can’t
believe it,” the young hunter muttered back. “All
these years, after everything we’ve been through,
it seems almost anticlimactic.”
Sam huffed. “Anticlimactic?
You should have been where I was sitting. You simple
ass, you were almost dead.”
“Aw, stop being
such a drama queen, Sammy…”
try that crap, Dean. If I had the energy right now,
I’d take a pound out of your ass for what you
and Dad did,” Sam threatened.
“Sam, look, I know
you’re pissed, and maybe we shouldn’t have
kept it from you, but it was the only way to put that
bastard down. And honestly, Sam, had we told you, what
would you have done?” Dean challenged.
“I would have told
you it wasn’t worth it, Dean. Nothing was worth
your life,” the younger sibling argued, not sparing
his father a venomous glare.
Dean shook his head. “It
wasn’t your call and besides, I’m hardly
dead now am I? Which, by the way, not that I’m
not grateful, but…”
“It was the amulet,”
Sam replied simply, gesturing down to the talisman resting
in his brother’s hand.
Dean opened his hand,
his eyes widening in surprise as he took in the piece
of golden jewelry. “What? How?” he asked,
lifting the amulet for closer inspection.
“Sam figured it
out,” John interjected. “Somehow he knew.
Dug the damn thing out the demon.”
you melted it into a bullet. I saw it,” Dean insisted.
“And we watched
it reform in your very hand, Dean. Granted, there’s
a lot we don’t know about that damn amulet and
however you’re tied to it. But, for whatever reason,
it saved you again today, and I for one can just be
happy enough with that for now,” John stated.
bobbed up in agreement as he considered the amulet a
moment longer. He could feel the familiar tingle against
the skin of his hand, the slight warmth the thing seemed
to emit whenever it was near his flesh. Was he really
so shocked by what his father and brother were telling
him had happened? Hadn’t he seen the amulet resist
every one of Haris’ attempts to remove it from
him when he was held captive at the compound? Hadn’t
it seemingly protected him from being fully possessed
by the demon’s spawn? Was it so far-fetched to
believe that the thing was able to reform itself after
serving its purpose?
He reached up and rubbed
at his temple, a dull throbbing begging to make itself
known in response to the strain of trying to make sense
of the whole “amulet-guardian” deal. Dean
glanced back at Sam, seeing reassurance in his younger
brother’s face and then something more.
Dean’s eyes scanned
up and down Sam’s seated form, quickly cataloging
the younger man’s condition. Beyond the bruises
and dried blood, Sam carefully guarded his right hand
and arm, tucking the extremity close to his side, but
there was no mistaking the strange angulation or discoloration
that marked the underlying fractures.
And then, just behind
the injured arm, the steady ooze of blood as it seeped
from the gunshot wound in Sam’s side caught Dean’s
attention. Like a red cape to a bull, the blood demanded
the older sibling’s action and Dean struggled
against his own still weak body to peel away Sam’s
shirt and assess the injury he’d created.
His brother groaned quietly,
trying to flinch away from Dean’s inspection but
knowing it was a losing battle. Sam feebly swatted at
Dean’s hand, but even that miniscule movement
jolted both his damaged hand and injured side, making
him pale for the briefest instant.
voice rose in concern as he rolled over on his side,
edging closer to his brother and sliding an arm up underneath
I’m good. Like you said, just a scratch,”
Sam insisted through clenched teeth.
“Yeah, right. Try
that on someone who hasn’t perfected the line,”
Dean shot back, trying to stand, but immediately dropping
back down to the dirt as his knees collapsed underneath
“Enough, both of
you,” John intervened, placing a firm hand on
his still struggling to rise eldest. “You’ve
both been through the wringer and I seriously doubt
that between the two of you, you could get the upper
hand on roadkill right now.”
John looked around the
darkening landscape and then down at his sons. Sam was
hurt; bleeding and with an arm that was definitely broken
in one if not more places. And Dean, despite his best
effort to appear recovered, had hovered far too close
to the brink for John’s comfort.
were never yours to protect or save. They were never
yours at all…
The seasoned hunter shuddered
as the words echoed in his mind. What had the demon
meant? He had thought that his sons would be safe now
with Haris gone; Sam at the very least since he had
resigned himself to Dean’s sacrifice. So now,
with both of them alive and still drawing breath, he
was more determined than ever to keep them that way,
demon’s taunts be damned.
Rising to his full stature,
John trotted over to the edge of the clearing. He returned
just as quickly, pulling open a canvas backpack and
handing both boys a bottle of water. Rummaging through
the bag some more, he then retrieved a small first-aid
kit and handed that to Dean.
“Can you patch up
Sammy? I’ll go back down to get the Impala and
bring it up this way,” John announced.
Dean nodded, instantly
pulling out a wad of bandages from the box and carefully
lifting aside Sam’s blood-soaked shirt. The younger
man remained ominously silent while Dean tended to the
various wounds covering his body. When the silence became
overbearing, Dean bridged the stillness.
“Ya know, you scared
the crap out of me, disappearing like that back in Phoenix,”
he began, eyes still focused on the length of gauze
he was wrapping around Sam’s side. “I mean,
when I thought that mind-blasting bitch was back and
had got you somehow, dude, that was bad enough, but
then Haris showed up…”
had no right, Dean,” Sam interrupted.
Dean paused, sensing where
the conversation was heading. “I’m not going
to discuss that with you, Sammy…”
“Yeah, you are,
you’re gonna listen to me, for once. After all
the crap you gave me for what I did to get you free
of Haris’ kid, and then you go and serve yourself
up like that?”
the same, you don’t understand,” Dean argued,
trying to avoid making eye contact.
“Oh, I understand
perfectly, Dean. It was Dad, and his goddamn vendetta
and you bought into it hook, line and sinker. What did
he sell you on Dean? Kill Haris, save Sam, be a good
little soldier like always and obey orders?” Sam
said mockingly, pain and anger filling his eyes.
Dean stopped his ministrations,
tossing the remaining medical supplies back into the
kit and glaring up at Sam. “He didn’t have
to sell me on shit, Sam. He didn’t want me to
do it at all, didn’t even want to tell me about
the amulet or how it could kill the demon. I forced
him. And do you know how hard it was for him to have
to do that? To have to melt that friggin’ thing
down, knowing that he might lose one son to save another?
Do you think a parent ever wants to have to make THAT
choice? Do you think he did?”
Sam shook his head, refusing
to give in so easily and allow his brother the justification
of his near-martyrdom.
“And what makes
your life worth less than mine, Dean?” he asked
“What makes it worth
any more, Sam?”
Sam sat there, mouth gaped,
speechless as he searched for the words to continue
his argument. He knew it was futile, knew that Dean
carried self-sacrifice for his family deep in his genetic
Sammy, Haris is dead. We’re finally done looking
over our shoulder for that bastard. And… we’re
alive to tell the tale. Let’s just be happy about
that, okay?” Dean asked.
The younger hunter’s
eyes narrowed as he glanced nervously over his shoulder
to the mound of rocks just at the edge of the clearing.
“Dean, before you,
well, while you were still out of it, I saw and heard
something,” he began.
“Well, I was still
kinda out of it too,” Sam paused, chewing his
lower lip, unsure of how to tell his brother what he
Dean asked impatiently.
pretty sure I saw Luciano Ferinacci here.”
“The mob guy from
Jersey?” Dean burst into laughter. “Dude,
have you lost your mind?”
Dean. He was here. Standing on top of that outcropping
of rocks, right after Haris went down. It was like he
was checking out what happened. Dean, he was talking
to Dad.” Sam insisted.
what in the hell would Ferinacci be doing out in the
middle of Wyoming much less talking to Dad?”
“He told Dad he
was Lucifer, Dean.”
“Lucifer? Are you
Prince of Darkness, the Keeper of Hell. I mean think
about it, Luciano Ferinacci… LUCI… FER…
it's not a stretch. And remember all that strange crap
that was going on back at his mansion that night?”
Sam explained. “Even Eli, the demon that held
me here, said he was working for someone bigger than
Haris, someone more powerful.”
“But Lucifer? Really
Both young men turned
as John rejoined them, Dean looking up at his father
in disbelief. John sighed, bowing his head slightly
and running a hand through his hair stopping at the
back of his neck to rub at the stress-induced knots
that corded up the muscles there.
“I don’t know
this Ferinacci character, but it was definitely Lucifer
that appeared after Haris died. He used you both to
get to Haris. Whatever plan old yellow-eyes had going
on apparently wasn’t sanctioned in Hell and he
managed to have Lucifer himself pissed off at him. But
Sam is right, the big guy was here and he said…”
demanded when John’s voice trailed off.
not important. He’s gone, Haris is dead and I
gotta get you boys back to civilization and patched
up. That’s all that matters right now. I’ve
brought the Impala up as close as I can get it. Can
you make it with some help?” John asked looking
between both young men.
Dean readily nodded, pushing
off from the ground and managing to get to his feet.
He turned to offer a hand down to Sam, preparing to
help his younger brother up when his own still-weak
muscles dictated otherwise. He swayed forward, trying
to act as though the movement was planned, but both
Sam and John knew better, with the Winchester patriarch
reaching out a steadying arm.
you just work on getting yourself to the car. I’ll
help, Sammy,” John ordered in a voice that left
no opening for argument.
As they began to make
their way towards the waiting Chevy, Sam couldn’t
help but look back at the remains of the other young
men and women. Their broken and mutilated bodies were
scattered about the clearing, left behind like carelessly
tossed litter. Despite his father’s strong grip,
Sam pulled up short. He felt certain the others were
all dead, had heard their screams of torment, their
dying gasps of breath.
“Sam, come on. Let’s
get out of here,” John quietly directed, following
Sam’s gaze but trying to distract his son away
from the carnage.
“Dad, wait, please,
we gotta check.” Soulful eyes peeked out from
under blood-encrusted bangs, beseeching the elder man.
you and Dean taken care of first. I promise I’ll
come back and take proper care of these kids, okay Sammy?”
Matt Teller. Over there,” Sam pointed excitedly.
“He was still alive. Go check, please.”
looked skeptically at his son, acquiescing only when
Dean moved up and hooked his arm under Sam’s good
He slowly walked over
to the first victims, grimacing at the mangled bodies,
his stomach threatening to revolt from the sight and
He came across the crushed
remains of David Mitchum. The young man from Oxford,
Nebraska was barely recognizable from what was left
in front of him now. John felt for a pulse despite the
futility of the maneuver, glancing back toward his sons
and shaking his head sadly.
He continued on, coming
finally to Matt Teller. The pyrokinetic lay deathly
still, both legs splayed out at sickening angles, while
white shards of bone burst out of his flesh like a bloated
carcass left in the sun too long.
John was about to reach
for the young man’s carotid when his eyes flashed
open and he let out a loud gasp of pain, startling all
The low rumble of the
Impala did little to comfort Dean, especially since
he was relegated to riding shotgun and since the only
other noise in the interior of the car was the occasional
groan from Sam when the Chevy struck a bump in the road.
He had hoped to jump behind the wheel after they dropped
Matt Teller off at the ER in Gillette, but his father
had adamantly refused when he caught Dean nearly face-planting
outside the hospital entrance.
Admittedly, the young
hunter didn’t feel ready to tackle a wendigo,
but he was reasonably certain that a few miles behind
at the helm of his “baby” and a couple of
hours of Zeppelin or Metallica, would go a long way
to improving his health. Add in a cheeseburger and a
couple cold beers and Dean was pretty sure that he’d
be back in shape in no time.
Glancing over his shoulder
as Sam groaned again, Dean knew it was going to take
more than a hearty meal and a couple of Budweisers to
get his brother back on his feet. Despite Dean’s
best effort to staunch the flow of blood from the gunshot
wound he’d inflicted, the torture suffered at
the hands of Lucifer’s minion had taken its toll
on Sam. His right hand and forearm, now crudely splinted,
was purpled and swollen, misshapen and clutched tightly
to Sam’s chest as the younger sibling lay huddled
in the back seat of the Impala.
“Hang in there,
Sammy. We’ll get you fixed up soon,” Dean
promised, looking from his brother back to his dad expectantly.
here, actually,” John announced, slowing the car
to a halt in front of a small, rustic building.
Dean looked up, eyes widening
as he spotted the sign hanging from the post on the
“You gotta be friggin’
kidding me? I know he’s a Sasquatch, but seriously,
a veterinarian?” he asked in disbelief.
John killed the engine,
turning to face Dean and throwing him a haggard look
that silently warned the young man.
“Well, thanks to
you, it’s not like we could take Sam to a real
hospital. Not unless you think the cops will understand
that you put a .45 slug through his side because you
were killing a demon,” John snarked back as he
stepped out of the car.
Dean quieted, the guilt
for the pain he was causing his brother apparent in
his downcast eyes. He moved to the back door, opening
it and offering his hand to his brother. John came around
from the other side, waiting at the foot of the steps
as he stared up at the sign.
“Garrett Wade and
I served together in the Corps. He was a medic back
then but after a tour during the Gulf War, he got tired
of seeing how people could blow each other apart,”
he began. “I guess he decided that taking care
of animals somewhere out in the middle of nowhere was
more to his liking, so he became a vet and moved out
“Does he know what
you do now?” Dean asked.
“Yeah. He kinda
had a bit of a run-in with a Yelandooshi a few years
back when he thought he was taking care of an injured
coyote. Turns out the damn thing was actually a skinwalker
taking on that form. Damn thing came around, tore him
up pretty good while it was going back and forth between
shapes,” the elder hunter explained. “Anyway,
he’s helped out hunters before, but I haven’t
seen him in a while.”
“Just tell me he’s
got something for pain,” Sam groaned.
“Hey, maybe we can
get you groomed while you’re here, Sasquatch,”
Dean teased. “Clip some of that fur you call hair,
a little flea-dip, maybe even a couple of those cute
bows they put in poodles ya know?”
Sam threw him a dirty
look. “Yeah, and maybe they’ll even toss
in neutering you for free, Dean. Save the women of the
world all the grief of having you chasing them like
a dog all the time?”
interrupted, irritated as he knocked on the door. “Look,
Garrett is a great guy, but I should warn you. He’s
not quite… well, he’s used to being by himself
a lot, so none of your nonsense, okay?”
quite what, Dad?” Sam asked, suddenly curious
about the man that his father had brought him to.
John was about to answer
when the clinic door swung open revealing a man taller
than even Sam. It was hard to tell much about the newcomer
since the long hair that cascaded past his shoulders
blended in with the scraggly beard obscuring nearly
all his facial features. He hovered warily behind the
edge of the door briefly, before a wide grin broke on
Well I’ll be damned!” the shaggy man exclaimed,
holding out his hand toward the seasoned hunter.
John replied, taking the offered hand and shaking it
eagerly. “I’m sorry to land on your doorstep,
but I need a little help for my boy here.”
The ex-medic turned vet
eyed Sam up and down, spotting the makeshift sling as
well the bloodstains on his outer clothing. He looked
out past the threesome suspiciously before nodding and
motioning them inside. Once the door closed, Garrett
immediately turned the deadbolt and pulled down the
Dean watched the man curiously
as he continued throughout the small office, pulling
down the blinds and bolting any remaining locks. The
young hunter could understand, even appreciate, the
need for secrecy and discretion, but Wade was bordering
on paranoia, especially with all the locks. For a moment,
Dean wasn’t sure if his dad’s old friend
was going through all the motions to lock something
out or rather to lock them in. Unconsciously, his hand
moved to the .45 in the interior pocket of his jacket
and thumbed off of the safety.
be dead long before that pistol would ever do you any
good,” Garrett mumbled over his shoulder as he
moved towards the large metal desk in the corner of
warned. “Stand down, dude. I told you, Garrett’s
Dean raised his empty
hands out of deference then leaned over towards Sam.
“I guess our overgrown
Cousin It must have pretty damn good hearing underneath
all that hair. I sure the hell hope his eyes are as
good when he’s patching you up,” he whispered.
“Just shut up, Dean,”
Sam hissed back.
“Okay, John. Bring
your boy back to the treatment area,” Wade instructed,
rising up and motioning to the door behind him. He turned
toward the brothers and added, “And by the way,
my eyesight’s even better than my hearing.”
Sam glared at his older
brother as he followed the vet to the back room. Dean
shrugged, but tagged along, still not comfortable with
Garrett despite the man’s long-time association
with his dad.
Garrett motioned Sam to
sit on a raised exam table big enough to hold a small
pony. The tall man then pulled a pair of scissors from
a nearby cart and set about cutting the splint away
from the injured arm.
you broke the shit outta that arm,” he exclaimed,
once the appendage was exposed. “I ’spose
we should get a film of it before I take a crack at
Dean repeated, looking over to his father as if to say
"seriously Dad, is this the best you could do for
Sam?" Instead, what he got back was the patented,
"Shut up now, Dean" glare from John.
“Oh and what’s
this? A gunshot wound?” Wade asked as he peeled
away the bandages from Sam’s side. “Let
me guess, smart ass over there probably did this. He
strikes me as a lousy shot.”
Dean lurched forward in
retaliation, but John restrained him with an arm, pushing
him toward the doorway even as Garrett chuckled.
Propelled toward one of
the waiting room chairs, Dean half sat, half dropped
into the worn naugahyde seat with a huff of air. It
wasn’t that he didn’t trust his dad’s
choice of friends, he just didn’t generally trust
anyone when it came to providing medical care to his
brother. Ultimately, he realized he’d screwed
himself big time since not only was Sam at the mercy
of the strange animal doc, but Dean had been kicked
out of the room and couldn’t even watch over him.
Annoyed at being excluded,
Dean fumbled through a stack of magazines on the table
next to him. Never one to enjoy even the easiest reading,
the current offerings in the vet’s office did
little to entertain him. Electing to skip the latest
article on housebreaking puppies in favor of the most
recent trends in back country hunting, Dean tried to
distract his attention away from the closed door.
The magazine worked for
about ten minutes, until the sound of Sam’s yelp
of pain seeped out from the treatment room. Dean was
immediately on his feet, magazine dropping to the floor
as he headed toward the door in a rush. He barely crossed
the threshold when John met him, barring his entry and
assuring him that Sam was okay before shutting the door
Grumbling and more than
pissed, Dean paced the empty waiting room, casting glances
toward the blocked entry while muttering curses under
his breath. Time passed at a snail's pace as the hunter
wore a path in the hardwood floor of the clinic.
As the half hour passed,
he first considered putting his fist through the drywall
once or twice, and then considered going outside and
driving the Impala through the small office. In the
end, it was a final pain-filled yell from Sam that made
Dean pull the .45 from his pocket and storm towards
Just as Dean’s free
hand touched the doorknob, it swung open and Garrett
strode out. The manic vet raised one eyebrow as he spotted
the pistol in the young hunter’s hand.
“I bet you’ve
been out here playing with that thing the whole time
haven’t you?” Wade mocked. “Probably
sleep with it under your pillow. I’ve known plenty
of soldiers like you, all thinking they’re tough
shit with a weapon in their hand.”
“You just better
have taken care of my brother or you’ll find out
how good I am with it, smart ass,” Dean threatened
in return, straining to see past the older men and into
the adjoining room.
With his back turned and
his attention diverted, he didn’t see Garrett
whirl back around. Instantly, the ex-Marine medic grabbed
Dean’s right shoulder, spinning him around while
he grabbed his wrist and twisted the entire arm up and
behind his back.
Wade drew up close behind
Dean’s head, never relinquishing his grip on the
young man’s arm. “Your daddy should have
taught you better, son. You pull a pistol out on a man,
you damn sure better use it,” he whispered intently
by Dean’s ear.
Dean glared at him over
his shoulder. The pain in his arm was excruciating and
his hand was nearly numb, but he refused to give in
to the older man even as Wade forced the arm upward
a millimeter more.
meant what I said about my brother. You might take the
.45 off me, you might even break my arm right now, but
I guarantee you, friend of my dad’s or not, if
you’ve hurt my brother I swear I’ll find
some way to plant your ass in the ground permanently,”
Dean promised through clenched teeth.
Garrett laughed but still
did not release his hold on Dean’s arm even as
John reentered the room.
“Should I even ask?”
the elder Winchester posed as he took in the scene.
The veterinarian laughed
once again. “Your boy here doesn’t know
how to respect his elders, much less his betters,”
“Yeah, well you’ve
already put one of my sons' arms back together. How
’bout if we don’t go for two?” John
suggested, a hint of warning to his voice.
Garrett looked at his
former comrade warily then slowly released his hold
on Dean’s arm. He patted the young man’s
shoulder good-naturedly, smiling back at John.
“No offense, Winchester,”
he offered apologetically.
Dean shot back, swinging around and driving his still-numb
fist squarely into Wade’s jaw, sending the vet
sprawling to the floor.
Without looking back,
Dean walked past his dad and into the treatment room
to check on Sam. He found his brother lying flat on
the oversized table, eyes closed and unmoving.
For the briefest moment,
Dean panicked, his mind getting carried away with every
negative thought even though he knew Sam was alive.
He pulled up close to the exam table, careful not to
touch his brother as he took in the swathe of bandages
that covered Sam’s side and the massive white
cast that encased the lower half of his right arm. In
fact, lying against the sterile metal, his upper body
exposed, Dean could finally see the total ravages his
brother’s body had suffered at the hands of the
Dean bit back another
curse, his own fingernails digging into the flesh of
his palm as he clenched his fist tightly in anger.
Dean startled alert, looking
back up to Sam’s face as the younger man’s
voice signaled that he was now awake.
“Of course you will.
A couple broken bones and a few bruises, hell, that
ain’t crap. I’ve had a lot worse,”
Sam groaned and Dean immediately
rushed to his side. The younger man waved him off, struggling
to sit up, then realized that he wasn’t going
to accomplish the maneuver without help. Without another
word, Dean gently placed an arm behind his brother’s
back while Sam swung his legs over and off the side
of the table. Brows knitted closely together, Dean watched
warily, hands ready to reach out and grab Sam if he
tilted even the slightest towards the floor.
When several minutes passed
and Sam appeared able to maintain an upright position,
Dean relaxed and drew around to face the fatigued younger
man. He carefully lifted Sam’s freshly casted
arm and helped eased the appendage into the sling that
had been left on the Mayo stand, grimacing sympathetically
even as Sam loosed a soft grunt of his own.
Sammy,” he offered quietly.
Dean. Not your fault,” Sam returned.
Dean shrugged, “Yeah,
but, what if…”
Dean. You made the right call.”
“I know that I guess.
But seeing you now, dude, I was supposed to be saving
you, not shooting you. It happened so fast, I didn’t
even think, I just pulled the trigger,” Dean stammered,
absently fumbling with a leftover piece of cast padding.
Sam sighed shaking his
head. “You said it yourself, Dean. Haris is dead.
We’re still alive. Let’s just be happy about
it. You’re the best damn shot I know, Dean. I’d
trust you to hit anything you aim at.”
The younger Winchester
dropped from the table to his feet, his face screwing
up in pain as the impact reverberated through his side.
time, can you maybe go for winging me instead?”
Sam added teasingly.
Dean laughed nervously,
looking up as John walked back into the room.
“Well, I take it
you two are in good enough shape to get back on the
road?” he asked. “Considering Garrett probably
isn’t exactly out there thinking about asking
Dean to stay for dinner.”
Dean readily agreed. “Besides, even if he did,
he’d probably serve up Kibbles and Bits or something.”
John chuckled, shaking
his head. “He’s a good man, Dean, and beggars
can’t be choosey. Just because you decided to
get into a pissing contest with him, doesn’t make
him all that bad.”
“Where we heading,
Dad?” Sam interjected.
“Bobby called while
I was out there trying to keep Wade from coming after
Dean with a syringe full of animal tranquilizer,”
up with him?” Dean asked, eager to hear about
the junkyard owner slash covert demon hunter.
“Well, once he got
over the initial idea that we were all dead, he was
actually pretty damn happy to find out that the Winchester
clan was still this side of Hell. He offered for us
to hole up with him while you two get back on your feet.”
ready to go,” Dean insisted.
debatable, but your brother isn’t,” John
“Uh Dad, where are
we gonna stay at Bobby’s? His place is kinda nothing
but ash?” Sam asked.
John chuckled, running
a hand through his short beard. “Yeah, well, like
I said, he was pretty happy about us being alive. Seems
he figures the Winchesters owe him a new house. He’s
got an old Airstream that will hold us till we help
him get the new place built.”
“I don’t know
how much help I’m gonna be with this,” Sam
offered, raising his casted hand.
“Yeah, and Dad,
I’m way better with burning things than building
them,” Dean whined.
“Boys, we owe him,
and we pay our debts. Besides, the beer is cold and
you know there’ll be plenty of Bobby’s own
version of holy water to fill the flasks,” John
Dean looked back at Sam
and shrugged. “Well, what are we sitting here
for? Hey, do you think we should ask Cousin It for one
of those plastic cone things before we go? You know,
to put over Sammy’s head so he doesn’t gnaw
on his cast or stitches or something?”
Sam swung out to punch
his brother in the arm but missed as Dean sidestepped.
Still slightly off-balance, the older sibling stumbled
over the legs of the Mayo stand before catching himself
on the edge of the treatment table with a grunt.
John bit back a disapproving
grumble and settled for a harsh glare, even though inwardly
listening to the good-natured banter and the familiar
physical exchange was a welcome sight.
driving,” he insisted.
Dean whined as he righted himself. “It’s
at least five hours to Bobby’s.”
“I call shotgun,”
Sam quickly put in.
Dean looked back and forth
between his father and brother, groaning in disgust
as he followed them out and through the waiting room
to the exit. “I so should have shot him through
the ass instead,” Dean mumbled as he watched Sam
head for the passenger’s side door of the waiting
He fumed in the backseat,
impatiently waiting while his dad finished talking with
Garrett on the clinic’s small porch. The vet smiled
and shook the elder hunter’s hand, nodding toward
the car then scowling when he made eye contact with
Dean. He handed John a small bag, then nodded once more
before scanning the horizon and bee-lining back inside
the small building.
It was just beginning
to drizzle when John dropped into the driver’s
side of the car. He paused for a moment, glancing into
the rearview mirror at Dean and then over at Sam who
had already begun to shimmy his long body into the corner
of the front seat and door.
Turning the key, the low
rumble of the powerful engine echoed through the metal
framework of the car and up into the very muscle fibers
and bones in Dean’s body. He closed his eyes,
allowing the low hum to envelope him like the pounding
bass and drums of a heavy metal band. It was soothing
and electrifying both at the same time, but to Dean,
ultimately it was lulling and despite his protests and
assurances that he was quickly regaining his former
vitality, he was swiftly following his brother into
slumber as the Impala pulled out onto the back roads.
short time later, John glanced once again across the
seat. Sam, asleep, his casted arm stark-white in comparison
to the bruises that marred a face that twitched in response
to haunted dreams. He then stole a peek in the rear
view at Dean. His older son lay against the back seat,
arms wrapped protectively around himself as he snored
softly. To the unknowing eye, he looked merely asleep,
but on closer inspection, even his closed eyes were
still too hollow, too dark.
John sighed. They were
alive, what more could he ask for?
were never yours to protect or save… they were
never yours at all…
The demon’s words
still haunting him, John tried to focus on the road
ahead of him, determined that the road behind them all
was just that; the past. So preoccupied with Lucifer’s
taunt, the experienced hunter didn’t noticed the
black SUV that hung several hundred yards behind the
Impala, always far enough away to be inconspicuous,
but just close enough to keep the black car and the
three men inside within sight or striking distance.
the episode here