Title: From Yesterday
Characters: Dean, Sam, and OCs
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity. Title is from a 30 Seconds to Mars song of the same name. Rated very much PG-13 for language (mostly Dean) and a couple of mature scenes
Summary: See Prologue.Part 2: Chapter 10-A
That brought Dean's head up. He turned around and mirrored Sam's position against the couch.
"What was it Castiel told you to say?" Rufus asked him.
"Lonsa el balt cnila," Dean recited. "The power of righteousness is safe in the blood."
Rufus pressed his index finger to his lips. "How much do you boys know about blood rituals?"
Dean lifted a shoulder. "Enough."
Sam sighed. "We've used it to banish angels, summon demons…."
"Have you ever used it in a spell? Specifically a binding spell?"
Sam glanced at his brother who met his eyes with a look of growing horror.
"Lonsa el balt cnila," Rufus said slowly, "is part of an Enochian binding spell. Look." He opened his notebook and pointed to pages of notes.
Sam moved forward, peering down at them. On one side of the page were symbols that looked like ancient runes, the words next to them translating the meaning. He scanned the full spell and its translation twice before meaning fully sank in. Rufus had verses written in Enochian, notes in the margins of the pages with connections and translations, arrows drawn to make connections between the words and meaning.
It looked like years of work shoved into just a few months.
"Cas gave you a spell?" Sam asked, incredulous.
Dean pushed away from the couch. "What are you saying?" he asked Rufus, ignoring Sam's question.
"Blood symbolizes life's essence. A blood bond – if not executed properly – can be eternal. Providing a connection between lives, through consciousness…even after death in some cases."
"And this…binding spell," Sam asked, feeling his world tilt a bit, as if he wasn't getting enough air, "it's the reason Dean and I are…connected?"
Rufus took a breath, pressing his lips out and resting his hands on his hips. "You two have always been connected. Bobby always knew it; I didn't really get it until River Pass."
Dean huffed. "War."
"Yeah, War," Rufus echoed. "Damn Horseman about took out an entire town and if it weren't for you two…." He shook his head. "I saw it then. I see it now. There's something deeper than family that connects you. Maybe it was being raised as hunters, seeing all this shit from the crib, I don't know. But it's there."
"So, what about this—" Sam waved his hand in the air between himself and Dean.
"I don't think the binding spell connected you and Dean," Rufus said, keeping his eyes on Sam. "I think it connected Dean and the amulet."
"Wait, what?" Dean scoffed.
"When I was here before, we said it fused with you," Rufus said, as if trying to find another way to explain what he meant. "I think we were onto something without really realizing it at the time. According to what I found here," he gestured to the papers in Sam's hands, "whatever power that charm had in it – God beacon, anchor for the righteous man, protection, sacrifice, you name it – it's in you now, Dean."
"That's bullshit," Dean shook his head, taking a step back.
But as Sam watched his brother pull in, retreating from Rufus' words, he realized that Dean had already known this on some level – he'd known from the moment the amulet lit him up from the inside out. He'd known and hidden from the truth, unable to process what it meant.
"It's not," Sam said, wonder softening his voice. "Don't you see? It's the only thing that makes sense."
Dean shook his head, another denial poised on his lips, but Sam stepped forward, cutting off anything he might've said.
"The light in your eyes? The way your hand won't heal?"
"There's gotta be some other—"
"It's the amulet, Dean! It's part of you, now. That heat you dream about? It's because you can't keep the power shoved down when you're asleep."
"Now you're just talking crazy," Dean took another step back, away from Sam. The tremble in his hand seemed to travel through his body as he retreated. "There's nothing…supernatural…about me. No…no powers."
Sam felt his anger flair up at the way Dean spat out the word powers. "Then you explain it! You explain how I see your memories every time I touch you. You explain how your eyes scare off ghosts. You explain how you lit up like a fucking angel and kept me from falling into that Pit!"
"I can't!" Dean yelled. "I can't, okay! But it…it doesn't make sense!"
"Why? Because it's you?" Sam threw at him.
They both stopped at that, breathing hard.
"Yes." Dean repeated, softer this time. "It should have been you. Or Dad. You were supposed to give the damn thing to Dad."
"But he didn't," Rufus broke in. "And your Dad didn't make a deal for Sam's life."
"He made one for mine," Dean shot back, his voice breaking. "The man spent a century in Hell because of me and he never broke. Never once. Only took me thirty fucking years to climb off that damn rack."
Sam frowned as Dean's breath caught on those words. He could see a sheen of sweat break out across Dean's face and heard his brother's rough breath, as if he were caught in a waking nightmare. Sam didn't get Dean's fight against this; it seemed to make so much sense!
"Dean," Sam said, rubbing his face tiredly. "Cas told you that the righteous man who began it was the only one who could end it. You believed that…why can't you believe this?"
Dean swallowed audibly and shook his head, his eyes hot, his right hand shaking. Sam took a step forward, but when Dean backed up, he stopped.
"What about the connection, then, huh?" Dean rasped. "How do you explain me seeing nothing and you getting a 3-D image of my melon?"
"Maybe I'm not seeing into your head," Sam suggested slowly, finally vocalizing the fear that had gripped him for months. "Maybe I'm seeing into you…your soul."
"So how come I can't see yours?"
The words fell between them, practically splattering the walls with implications.
"No, Sam." Dean cut his left hand across the air as if dismissing the notion. "You aren't going to shove some bullshit about me fusing with the amulet down my throat and then expect me to believe that your soul is one big, black…void."
Sam turned to Rufus. "How—"
Rufus held up a hand. "Hey, this is new to me. I just found out about your whole demon blood thing."
"Oh, my God, that's it," Sam breathed, dizzy with the realization. He took a couple steps back, needing the couch for support. "The blood."
"What blood?" Rufus asked.
But Sam was looking at Dean. "Gallons of it, man. More than I ever drank from all my time with Ruby."
Dean's frown was fierce, but he seemed to be listening.
"The power of righteousness is safe in the blood." Sam repeated. "You fused with the amulet, but you were holding on to me. I had the demon blood keeping Lucifer from burning through me."
"So…you're saying if I drank demon blood, I could see your dreams, too?"
"Hell, I don't know, but it makes sense, doesn't it?" Sam looked at Dean, pleading with his gaze for his brother to accept this.
"About as much sense as the rest of it," Dean allowed.
"It's all just theory, though, unless…," Sam sighed.
"Unless what?" Rufus spoke up.
"Was just going to say…unless we could ask someone. But the only one to ask would be Castiel."
Dean huffed. "Some guardian he turned out to be."
Sam frowned. "Guardian."
"Oh, right, uh," Dean rubbed the back of his neck. "The night Cas gave me the amulet…he told me he was our guardian angel. Had been watching us our whole lives. Even before we were born."
Sam blinked at him. It was both disconcerting and reassuring to hear that they'd been watched over. "And you didn't think to tell me this?"
"Well, it was kind of a big night, Sam," Dean grumbled. "It just never came up."
Sam slumped a bit. "Doesn't matter. It's not like knowing that would help us figure out how we're supposed to use this. We need an angel and I'm pretty sure they've all headed for the hills."
Dean looked away, his body coiled as if at any minute he'd run.
"What?" Sam asked, frowning.
Dean looked down, rolling his bottom lip against his teeth. "That…morning. Back at the McMahon house."
"I knew what would happen when I touched you. And I did it anyway."
Sam tilted his head a bit. "And?"
"It was black, just like every other time. And I felt the jolt. Just like every other time." Dean chewed on his lip a moment before looking up. "But this time, I forced myself to tunnel the dark. I…pictured light. And it…," he shrugged, helplessly, "was light."
"Have you done anything else like that?" Rufus asked.
"Well, that same night," Dean said, tucking his trembling right hand beneath his arm, "I was able to keep a spirit away from me just by looking at her."
"The light," Rufus guessed, "in your eyes."
"All this time," Sam exhaled. "All this time we've just been letting it happen to us. Just reacting. What if we started trying to make it work for us?"
Dean became restless again, scowling as he shook his head.
"To do what, Sam? How is some kind of amulet heat going to help me be a better mechanic?" He rubbed the back of his head with his good hand. "How is you seeing into my dreams going to make your life any better?" He closed in on the kitchen table, grabbing up a handful of papers. "We're not hunters anymore, remember? There aren't any angels or demons out there that are supposed to matter to us, so what good is any of this?"
He threw the papers down on the table, scattering the research and mixing Sam's with Bobby's. Sam blinked in surprise, watching as Dean shoved his good hand through his hair, his breath rasping as if he'd just run a mile, his right hand shaking against his pant leg.
Turning, Dean stomped past Rufus, grabbing his coat.
"I need some air."
Sam and Rufus watched helplessly as Dean exited, slamming the door behind him. They stood quietly in the mess of papers still falling slowly to the floor around them, not looking at each other.
"So, not hunters anymore, huh?" Rufus finally asked with forced casualness.
"I told you," Sam muttered. "We're retired."
"I see Dean's taking to a regular life real well."
Sam glared silently at the older hunter before bending down and gathering up the papers, stacking them on the table in two stacks, separated by handwriting.
"I don't know what to do about him," Sam confessed as Rufus stood and watched him. "He says he wants a normal life – promises to try – but it's like…all or nothing. Even the hint of something from that life and he can't find his place in this one."
"There's nothing normal about your brother's life, Sam," Rufus said quietly. "There's nothing normal about either of you." His eyes on the door, he said with quiet seriousness, "Dean's a soldier without a war. Even I can see he's hurting."
"What about this, then, huh?" Sam shook the stack of papers at Rufus. "The whole Hero's Journey? What about that forth threshold, the freedom to live?"
"Nobody said freedom would be a normal life," Rufus pointed out, "least ways not the way you're defining normal."
Sam rubbed the scar on his hand. "I don't want to make him miserable."
"Then don't force him into a mold he can't fit."
Sam looked at Rufus. "I don't want to lose him, either."
Rufus sighed and took out his flask. "Don't forget about the third threshold."
Sam dropped his eyes to the papers beneath his hand, one word standing out as if highlighted: Sacrifice.
After a few hours of Dean's absence, Sam called his brother's cell, but got his voice mail. He gave Rufus some blankets to let the man sleep on the couch and attempted to go to bed himself, hoping that Dean had just found a dive to hole up in and process this latest news.
He didn't realize how dependent he'd become on the music he kept playing to help Dean through the worst of his nightmares until he tried to go to sleep without it. Lying awake, he tried not to think about where Dean might be, tried not to worry about what Dean might be doing.
When his cell phone finally rang, he was almost relieved."Dean?"
"Naw, son, it's Mason."
"Mason? Where's Dean? He okay?"
"He's here with me, at my shop, but…think you better come down here."
Sam glanced at the digital clock on his nightstand. It was one in the morning.
"Yeah, I'll—oh, wait. Dean took the Impala."
Mason sighed. "It's too damn cold for you to walk."
"I can get a ride," Sam said, already hating himself for waking Stella…but he knew she'd come through for him. "Be there soon."
He hung up and pulled on his jeans and shirts, grabbing his boots and shuffling out to the living room, forgetting about having to sneak out past a sleeping Rufus.
"Where is he?"
The voice came from the corner of the room and Sam gasped in reaction. "Jesus, man, you scared the shit outta me!"
"Heard the phone ring," Rufus replied. "He in jail?"
"What? No," Sam shook his head not sure if it should surprise him that jail was Rufus' first guess. "He's down at the mechanic's shop where he works. Guy he works for is kind of a friend. I guess."
"Well, yeah, I mean…he's teaching Dean how to shoot left-handed. Helping him build up his strength on the heavy bag. That kind of thing."
"Sounds like a friend to me," Rufus grabbed his coat. "I'll give you a ride."
"Kid, just get your damn boots on and get in the truck."
Sam did as he was told and directed Rufus to Mason's shop.
"Wait here," Sam instructed. "Not really sure what's going on in there."
"All the more reason for me to have your back," Rufus replied, shutting off the engine and following Sam to the door.
Mason opened the door at Sam's knock, flicking his eyes to Rufus then back to Sam before letting them into the warmth of the shop.
"Mason, this is Rufus," Sam said, gesturing behind him. "He's a friend of ours."
Mason shook Rufus' hand, then turned his attention to Sam.
"Has your brother ever been in a war?" he asked without benefit of preamble.
Sam looked at the dark-haired mechanic with naked surprise. "What?" he looked around the shop quickly. "Where's Dean?"
"Ever been deployed? Seen combat?" Mason plowed forward, not addressing Sam's question.
"Why do you ask?" Rufus interjected.
Mason stroked his ever-present stubble. "He came here just as I was closing and asked to work the bag. Didn't see any harm in it, plus Tommy's out with friends, so I let him back there. Just as I was wrapping up, though, I got a call. Someone had hit a deer out on K-10 and it messed up their grill somethin' fierce. I told them they could haul the car here and asked Dean if he wanted some overtime."
Sam was frowning, not connecting the dots. Rufus, however, had tipped back on his heels, his chin up as if he'd been hit square in the jaw with a realization. Sam scanned the interior of the shop, looking for Dean, trying to mentally complete the puzzle of Mason's story.
Mason started walking toward a red Dodge Charger, continuing his story. "At first, I didn't really get it. Car's red, see? Blood kinda…blends in."
Sam followed Mason over to look at the front grill of the Charger and saw blood on the hood. When Mason lifted the hood and exposed the engine, he could not only see the blood on the grill, but also bits of hair and what appeared to be bone. The smell had him drawing his forearm across his nose and mouth.
"I just started in on the job when the car got here," Mason said, flicking on a shop light he hung from the underside of the hood. "Inspecting the engine, making notes of what would need replaced, what we could repair. Dean was standing right where you are now and all of a sudden it was like…he wasn't here anymore."
"Wasn't here?" Sam asked, panic at not yet seeing Dean starting to ratchet up his pulse.
"He started muttering – couldn't figure out what he was saying," Mason straightened and turned, his back to the gory engine, his eyes tragic. "He couldn't stand still, kept wiping his hands on his jeans like they were wet, or covered with something. I've, uh…I've seen behavior like that before."
"You're thinking PTSD." Rufus guessed.
Mason nodded. "My nephew. Back from Afghanistan last year. Physically at least."
Sam looked at Rufus in shock. "PTSD?"
Rufus lifted a shoulder. "You mentioned nightmares," he said. "And I could tell even back when we buried Bobby he wasn't handling things well."
"You didn't say anything," Sam accused.
"Dean's strong," Rufus said. "Coulda easily worked his way through it. No reason for me to say anything. But when I saw him tonight," Rufus just shook his head.
"Dean was never deployed," Sam said, frowning, thinking of the months of nightmares, the lack of sleep, the way Dean rarely left the house for anything outside of Mason's garage. "But he's seen combat. We both have."
"Yeah, well," Mason glanced at the engine. "Don't think this is something can be fixed by burning some bones."
Sam caught Rufus' surprised look, but ignored it. "Where is he?"
"He's in the back room, but…Sam? Be careful." He held out his left arm and pulled back his sleeve. Sam gaped at the red mark that would turn into an ugly bruise by morning. "I tried to get him out of there, thinking I'd take him home, and he turned on me. Called me something."
Sam felt his brow pull together. "Something specific?"
"A name. Sounded like…Allissa?"
Sam's heart bounced against his shoes. "Allistair?"
Mason nodded. "Yeah, that was it."
"Dammit," Sam sighed, carding a hand through his hair. How could he have been so blind? He'd seen how Dean was reacting to the news about the amulet, to the memories of the rack. He'd seen him sweat, seen him shake, just as if he were trapped in one of his nightmares. How had he just let Dean walk out like that?
"I take it back. He's been deployed. Just nowhere anyone else usually comes back from."
Mason frowned, but didn't press. Instead, he headed to his office, opened the door and reached inside, grabbing something out and handing it to Sam: Dean's hoodie.
"It's cold in that back room when I don't have the space heater on, which I don't because I was closing up. He was shivering pretty badly when I left him."
Sam nodded, then let his eyes dart between Rufus and Mason. "I got this."
Rufus nodded. Sam turned to head through the garage toward the back room and heard Mason ask Rufus where Dean had been deployed.
"Hell," Rufus replied.
"Something tells me you're not speaking metaphorically."
Sam didn't wait to listen to Rufus' answer as he cautiously opened the door. Mason was right: it was freezing in the back room. A single bulb was hanging from the ceiling by its wiring, swinging slightly. A cot was positioned off in one corner, a brown heavy bag in another. A green wrestling mat covered most of the floor, and in the center of the mat, finishing a detailed Devil's Trap, sat Dean.
It looked as if he were using grease to paint the sigil: his arms were streaked with a greenish-black substance. His right hand was still shaking and Sam could smell his brother's sweat even in the cold of the room. Sam watched as Dean stood up, wiping his hands on his jeans vigorously, even after the grease was all-but gone.
"Dean?" he said his brother's name cautiously, afraid to startle him.
"The hooks dig in." Dean said, as if continuing a conversation from earlier, explaining something matter-of-factly to an invisible listener. "There's no getting away from it. It's just BAM, pain. And then they tug and that's the fucking end, right there. When they pull on those damn hooks."
Sam swallowed, watching as Dean paced unsteadily, looking around at his handiwork and wiping his hands on his pant legs. He was still in his jeans, though he'd shucked his shirts and boots. Sam assumed that had been for when he'd been working out earlier.
He could see gooseflesh across his brother's skin and, when Dean rotated, the four inch scar down his back where the screws had been inserted to keep his ribs in place. He'd put on a little weight and muscle so that his bones didn't stick out any more, but he was still a lot slimmer than Sam was used to seeing.
"Dean, man, let's go back home, okay?"
"And there's this…this cranking sound." Dean continued as if he hadn't heard him, his left hand rotating as if turning a handle. He wasn't looking at Sam. He wasn't really looking at anything. "On the rack. When they'd tighten it up I'd hear it cranking and I knew how many clicks, how many turns until my shoulders went out." His eyes darted along the floor, his left hand clenching and unclenching while his right one shook. "I could count it. And man that pissed him off."
"I bet it did," Sam said, moving around the Devil's Trap until he was once more facing Dean. "You got under his skin, didn't you?"
"And then he peeled off mine," Dean replied, nodding.
Sam felt bile surge, burning the back of his throat. He swallowed it down and took a step forward, registering how Dean's eyes widened when he was able to cross the barrier of the Devil's Trap.
"Saw 'em out there," Dean said quietly. "The bodies. The way they were shredded."
Dean did look at him then, and Sam felt his heart trip slightly at the empty look captured in eyes that were mainly all pupil. The fact that Dean hadn't fallen apart long before now didn't really register with Sam – it was that it had taken a dead deer to turn his brother inside out.
A deer and news that he was now unwittingly bound to an angelic talisman and the reminder, once again, of how he'd broken in Hell.
"It was a deer," Sam said softly. "It wasn't a person."
Dean looked at him, his face blank.
"Someone hit a deer, Dean." Sam pressed forward. "It's okay."
Dean shook his head. "I did that," he whispered.
Sam pulled his brows close. "No. You didn't do anything."
"I did," Dean insisted. "I buried my knife. And I twisted. And I tore. And I let them scream."
"You survived. You lived."
"I broke," Dean rasped, stepping backwards as Sam moved closer. "I broke apart and all the blood left my body and I was empty." Tears filled his eyes and Sam felt his heart clench. "I am empty."
"You're not," Sam said, keeping his voice low, calm, quiet.
On an inhale, he realized what he had to do – what Dean had done in the McMahon house. Carefully reaching out, he kept his eyes on Dean's eyes, watching as his brother's pupils constricted, then blew wide once more, seeing something Sam would never see.
"Come back, Dean."
With that, Sam grabbed his brother's bare shoulder, right where he remembered the scar of Castiel's hand had been. He felt Dean jolt just before his own world collapsed around him. He was aware of going to his knees, dragging Dean with him, but outside of that all he saw were horrific images, distorted faces, blades and chains and hooks and fire…so, so much fire. Sam was shaking from the heat of it, from the pain that seemed to build from his bones outward.
He heard screaming and couldn't tell if it was coming from inside Dean or from himself. He knew he had to stop this, to channel it as Dean had done.
Dean had pictured light and light had appeared.
Sam focused on the fire and turned it into light. Light became heat. The faces began to melt, sending shock-waves of horror through him as they disintegrated, but the heat stayed. It filled him up, burning white-hot and clean.
And then the heat amplified as if it had plugged into a power source. It swept through him like a blast-wave, knocking him back and away from Dean, sprawling them both on the mat in the center of the Devil's Trap. Gasping, sweat causing his hair to stick to his face, Sam rolled to his side, searching for his brother. Dean lay on his back, his chest heaving like he'd just ran a marathon, arms splayed out as if he'd been dropped from the sky.
Pulling his unexpectedly sore body into a sitting position, Sam realized that they weren't alone: Mason and Rufus stood just inside the doorway, twin looks of confusion and anxiety on their faces.
"We…we heard screaming," Rufus explained.
So, it had been him, Sam realized, embarrassed. But he'd only been screaming because of what he'd felt, what he'd seen. Because of what had been inside of Dean. He crawled forward, pausing at Dean's hip, and wiped the sweat from his own eyes with the back of his hand.
Dean was looking at him.
"Heat," Dean rasped.
Sam nodded. "I used it."
"Fuck yeah, you did," Dean groaned, closing his eyes. "I think you melted me."
Sam shook his head. "I melted the nightmare."
Eyes still closed, Dean asked, "What did you see?"
"Hell," Sam replied. "Hooks, the rack, blades, faces—"
"Yeah, okay, I got it."
"We lost you there for a minute, Dean." Sam told him, watching as Dean rolled to his side, sitting up groggily.
"Lost me?" Dean's voice was rough, confused, but the distracted conviction that had been present when he was talking about Hell was gone.
"You remember the car? Hit a deer?"
Dean shot a look toward the door, seeing Mason, then looked back down. "Red car…the smell was…."
"Yeah," Sam nodded. "I think that…plus our conversation before, it just…." He snapped his fingers.
Dean sniffed, dragging a hand down his face. "Guess that's what happens when you don't sleep."
"Honestly?" Sam sighed, pushing his sweaty hair from his face. "I'm surprised this hasn't happened before now."
"What are you talking about?" Dean grumbled, rubbing his eyes with the heel of his hand. "I'm the picture of mental health."
Sam shook his head ruefully, then handed him the hoodie he'd managed to keep in his grasp. Dean slid his arms into the sleeves and zipped it up. He looked up at Sam, his eyes tired and sad.
"We're gonna be okay," Sam told him.
"You sure about that?" Dean asked quietly, though his question seemed to bounce off the walls and hit all four people in the room.
Sam nodded. "Absolutely." He pushed to his feet, then reached down for Dean's forearm. Once on his feet, Dean wavered slightly. "Easy, I got ya."
Dean nodded once he had his balance, then looked down and around himself. "Aw, damn, Mason," he said apologetically. "I'll clean this up."
"Eh, you're pretty much the only one who uses this room anyway." Mason waved at him. "Tommy won't care. Leave it if it makes you feel safer."
Dean gave his boss a tired smile. "I'll help you with the car tomorrow?"
"Let's give it to Tommy," Mason suggested. "A little…glad you're out of jail present."
"Remind me not to open anything you give me," Dean teased.
They turned and headed out of the back room, through the shop, Sam carefully steering Dean toward the back of the Charger, rather than the front, and to the door. Dean gravitated toward the Impala, but climbed in on the passenger side before Sam had to say anything. Rufus headed toward his truck.
Sam turned and shook Mason's hand. "Thanks for calling me.""Not a problem. Everyone needs a friend once in awhile." He glanced at Dean's silhouette in the Impala. "Even the ones who think they're better on their own."
"Last time I saw the sky look like this, the world was ending," Dean commented, wiping the sweat from his lip with his forearm, his hands still encased in the boxing gloves.
Since the night he'd cracked – as he thought of it – Mason had been watching him more carefully, training him with a sort of precision Dean assumed the older man saved for those he was really invested in: relatives or special-interest cases. His days were evenly divided up between work, the heavy bag, the gun range, and errands for Sam.
Anything to keep him busy. To keep things normal. To keep his promise.
The nights were another matter. Lately, even the music wasn't keeping the shadows away, and the heat that had before been simply part of the images playing around in his brain was starting to manifest itself into a physical sensation, causing him to wake drenched in sweat, gasping for breath, his skin hot to the touch.
"Not funny," Mason grumbled, staring out through the open hanger door at the angry, green-tinged horizon. "Last time a tornado hit Lawrence it took out a couple apartment buildings on the south side of town."
"You really think a tornado is going to hit?"
"I take green skies seriously, kid," Mason informed him. Just then, a siren wailed loud enough they heard it over the roar of the wind. "Get those gloves off and get home. We don't have a basement here."
Dean frowned. "We don't have a basement, either."
Mason stared at him. "Bathroom then. C'mon, you're from Kansas. Tornado safety 101."
Dean raised an eyebrow and pulled at the Velcro strap of his right glove with his teeth. Mason headed into the garage yelling for Mia and Tommy, pulling the hanger door shut behind him. Tossing his gloves and sweaty wraps into a pile in the corner of the back room, Dean grabbed his hoodie and boots, pulling both on as he made his way through the garage to the back door.
"Be careful," Mia called to him with worried eyes. "Don't take chances."
He waved to her, wondering exactly when he became the cautionary tale of Mason's garage.
The moment he stepped outside, he knew Mason had been serious. The wind pulled at him, kicking up dust that peppered his eyes and was washed away by a fine mist that pretended to be rain. He grabbed his cell as he slid behind the wheel of the Impala and called Sam.
"I'm at Stella's," Sam replied to Dean's barked where the hell are you question.
"Does she have a basement?"
"Yeah, you want to come over?"
"My alternative is our bathroom, Sam."
"Hurry, it's getting crazy out there," Sam told him.
"No shit, Sherlock," Dean grumbled, turning down 6th street to Vermont Street and pulling up in front of Stella's house.
Exiting the car, Dean felt the pressure building against his ears, the world around him suddenly resembling a giant vacuum cleaner. He felt the air pull at him, a sound like a freight train off to his left. Looking over his shoulder, he saw what looked like the sky descending, clouds black and heavy falling to earth. It happened so rapidly and with such perceived force, he expected to hear the impact.
He rushed forward, but then the rain started, pelting him with drops so large they took his breath away.
He heard Sam shout his name and made it to the edge of the porch before the wind knocked him flat. He reached out to grab the banister and realized belatedly that it was with his right hand. Cursing, Dean pulled himself to his knees, grabbing the stairs that led to the porch with his left hand, then looked over his shoulder once more, shocked to see the sky clearing.
"Get the hell in here!" Sam yelled.
"What do you think I'm trying to do?" Dean yelled back.
Sam darted out onto the porch, grabbing Dean's jacket and pulling him the rest of the way inside. Dean had only a moment to nod thanks to Sam before his brother was propelling him toward a door beneath the stairs. He stumbled, hearing Sam close the door behind him as he rattled down the stairs to the dimly lit basement.
"Okay, so this looks like the setting for every horror movie ever made," Dean commented.
"Right?" Stella stepped out from the shadows, handing him a blanket. "I hate coming down here. Except in weather like this."
"Any word on if it's touched down?" Sam asked her.
She turned back to an AM/FM radio she'd left on a bench as Dean pulled the blanket closer around his wet shoulders, using a corner of it to dry off his face and rub his wet hair.
"Lots of wind damage to downtown," she said. "No reports of touching down yet—"
Stella broke off as a static-filled voice announced that an F4 tornado had made land impact north of the river. The listened carefully, waiting until the voice ended. After several moments of silence, Sam spoke up.
"I don't hear the siren anymore."
"I don't hear anything," Stella echoed, climbing up on a workbench next to the radio to peer through the small window near the ceiling. "I can't see anything either."
"I'm heading out," Dean declared, dropping the blanket from his shoulders and turning toward the stairs.
"Sam, it hit North Lawrence," Dean shot back. "Mason's there."
"And our house," Sam reminded him.
Dean hadn't forgotten about their house, but he couldn't get the image of Mason getting everyone out of the garage from his mind. He had to make sure the man was in one piece. He paused at the bottom of the stairs and looked back.
"Come on, then, if you're coming."
Sam helped Stella down from the bench, then pulled her in for a quick kiss. "I'll be back," he told her.
"Be careful!" she called after them.
"I'll be back?" Dean teased his brother as they ran up the basement stairs. "You sure that's the line you want to go with?"
"Shut up," Sam replied.
"You should have gone with come with me if you want to live," he quoted in a dramatically deep voice.
"Yeah? Well, then she'd be with us right now."
Dean paused on the porch, looking around at the downed limbs and debris. "Right. Your line is better."
He hurried to the Impala, breathing a sigh of relief when he found her in one piece. He pulled some small, broken branches from her windshield, and they got in. Dean made as tight of a U-turn as he dared, heading back up to 6th street and crossing the bridge.
"Jesus, look at the river," Sam muttered.
The normally full Kansas River was nearly dry, trees and trash lining the rocky riverbank. Dean chewed on his lip, as they pulled off the bridge and onto Elm. The garage was still in one piece. He parked, but didn't turn off the engine as he bolted from the car and ran inside.
"Yeah – I'm here," Mason hurried to the front from the back room. "I'm okay."
Dean exhaled, feeling his shoulders sag with relief. "Tommy and Mia?"
"They got to Abe & Jake's Landing," Mason told him, referring to a restaurant one block up. "They're okay."
"Anyone you know isn't okay?"
"Dean!" Sam stuck his head and shoulders inside. "Just saw a bunch of rescue vehicles heading toward our block."
"Let's go," Mason said, grabbing Dean's arm and turning him around as they headed to the Impala.
The streets between the garage and their house were eerily empty. The rain had stopped, the wind having died down to an anemic breeze. It only took a glance down their street to see that the rescue vehicles hadn't stopped there. Dean kept driving, the tension in the interior of the car palpable as everyone kept their eyes outward.
"Oh my God," Sam breathed. He pointed forward and a bit to the West. "There."
Dean pulled over to the side of the road. A strip mall that had once housed the Bureau of Motor Vehicles as well as a few other state-run offices had been flattened; the tin roof had been ripped off and was now lying sideways in the abandoned parking lot. He got out of the car, hearing Sam and Mason exiting behind him.
"Dean, wait, maybe we should—"
"There are people trapped in there, Sam," Dean told him.
"How can you tell?"
"Listen!" He shot his brother a look over his shoulder.
"The rescue workers are—"
"Looking in the wrong place," Mason interrupted.
Dean looked at his boss. "You hear it, too?"
"No," Mason shook his head. "But if you do, that's enough for me."
Dean took off, Sam at his heels and Mason close behind. They reached the far end of the building and started pulling smaller pieces of debris free. Mason called to the rescue workers, waving them over as Sam handed broken bits of wood to Dean, the brothers working together to push away a torn section of aluminum siding.
"Hey!" Dean called. "Can you hear me?"
"Help! Help us!"
Dean heard a man calling to him, followed by murmured tones and someone crying.
"We're working on it," Sam shouted at them. "Where are you?"
"Right below you," the man called back, sounding breathless. "I can see your legs."
Dean looked at his brother. "We need some rope."
"Right!" Sam turned and sprinted across the lot toward the closest fire truck.
Dean turned back to the building. "Hang in there," he called down to them. "You hurt?"
"Not really," the man replied. "Just…rattled."
"Yeah," Dean exchanged glances with Mason. "A tornado will do that to you."
"Luckily this place had a lower level. My daughter…is getting her license today," the man informed them.
"Yeah? You get her a car?" Dean asked. They heard a decidedly female scoff. "Okay, I take that as a no."
"We aren't used to this weather quite yet," the man informed him.
Dean tilted his head at that. The accent sounded oddly familiar.
"Where are you from?"
"Back east," the man said.
"Where all we have to worry about are hurricanes," his daughter chimed in.
"Here comes Sam," Mason told him.
Dean looked over his shoulder and saw that his brother not only brought a rope, but three firemen.
"Hey, here comes help!" He called down to the man and his daughter.
Sam tossed the rope to Dean who caught it in his left hand and echoed Sam's grin.
"How 'bout we let these guys do their thing first, huh?" Sam suggested.
"If you insist," Dean shrugged, stepping out of the way.
They paused, watching as the firemen yelled to the two people trapped inside to duck and cover, then used a saw to cut away pieces of the crushed aluminum siding in a shower of sparks. When the opening was clear, Dean tossed the rope to the closest fireman, who anchored it and used it to pull up first a teen-aged girl, disheveled and puffy-eyed from crying, but in one piece, and then her father.
"Son of a bitch," Dean muttered when he saw the man emerge, unscathed.
"What? You know him?" Sam asked.
"Uh…yeah," Dean rubbed the back of his neck. "There's something I should have told you."
Before he could say anything else, though, he saw the fireman point toward them and the man came over.
"Sorenson." Dean nodded at him.
"I have to admit, you're the last person I expected to see." Sorenson smoothed his black hair in a nervous gesture.
"Yeah? Why's that?"
"Well, Sergeant Jackson made a rather strong case for why you couldn't be questioned regarding Stull."
Dean frowned. "He say I was in a mental ward or something?"
Sorenson shrugged. "He…inferred a fair amount of…mental trauma."
"Right," Dean sighed, looking first at Sam, then at Mason, both of whom looked back at him with open curiosity. "I'm sure I can find some time to come answer your questions."
"No need at the moment," Sorenson lifted a hand. "There hasn't been enough evidence in either case as of yet to warrant opening your file. And your transcripts are intact."
Dean nodded. "That's…good?"
"Well, not if we ever want to actually solve the case," Sorenson laughed nervously. "But until I get more evidence, it'll do. I just have to keep digging," he muttered, somewhat distractedly. Just then, his daughter stepped up, slipping her hand into the crook of her father's arm. "Yes, well, we must be going. Her mother will have paced a groove in the rug by now."
"Glad you're both okay," Sam smiled at them.
"Thank you," Sorenson held out a hand and shook Sam's. "Really, thank you. We are in your debt."
Dean shrugged, tucking his hands into his pockets before Sorenson could extend a handshake. "It was nothing."
As Sorenson and his daughter headed across the parking lot with the EMTs, Sam turned to Dean.
Dean managed a nervous laugh, rubbing the back of his neck once more. He started to explain, thought better of it, then attempted to choose different words.
"It's really not a big deal."
Sam crossed his arms over his chest.
Wrong different words.
"He's heading up the Cold Case division," Dean explained, waving his hand in the general direction of where Sorenson had gone. "Some cops started asking questions and he thought he might open up the Stull case, but it's not a big deal because Jackson headed him off."
"Apparently by making him think you're a nutcase."
"Which, really, if you think about it—"
Sam made a slicing motion in the air, his jaw set. "Why were cops asking questions in the first place, Dean?"
Dean darted a look at Mason, who held up his hands in a gesture of surrender and started to back to where the Impala was parked. Dean took that as his cue and started walking in that direction as well. He heard Sam huff as he turned to keep up.
"Probably because Tommy got drunk," Dean hedged.
"Tommy," Sam repeated, outdistancing him and turning to walk backwards so he could keep his eyes on Dean's face.
"Yes, Tommy, you long-legged freak." Dean sped up. "He got drunk, I tried to haul him out of the bar, he started a fight, and we ended up in jail."
"Wait, what?" Sam stopped dead still and stuck his hand out. Dean skidding to a halt. "When were you in jail?"
Dean licked his lips. "Day before my birthday. But I was only there a few hours."
"And then what?"
"Charges were dropped, and I headed home."
"And you didn't think to tell me this?"
Dean frowned at Sam's accusatory tone. "Dude, it was nothing. Seriously. And…besides," he dodged Sam's arm and continued walking toward the Impala, "you dropped the whole surprise, you're thirty-two on me that night."
"Oh, so this is my fault?"
Dean mentally paused, pressing his lips together in thought. "Yeah, sure. Let's go with that."
They reached the Impala, and Dean slid behind the wheel. Sam rolled into the passenger side all indignation and hot air. He turned to Dean and pointed at him.
"Listen," he started. Dean stared at his finger with disdain. Sam curled it back into his fist, dropping his hand. "No more I forgot to tell you shit, okay? From now on, you tell me. I don't care if you find out you won the lottery later that same day."
"Boys," Mason called from the backseat. "Can we head home now?"
"Sorry, Mason," Dean sighed. "Thanks for coming along."
"Hey, anytime you guys want help taking care of our town," Mason said, meeting Dean's eyes in the rear-view mirror, "count me in."
Dean cast a quick glance at Sam, noticing his brother's half smile. Our town. They headed two blocks down where the buildings were intact and the streets debris-free.
"The weather always this weird in March?" Dean commented, relieved to see that downtown appeared mostly intact.
Mason leaned back. "This ain't weird," he said. "This? This is normal."
"A tornado is normal?" Sam asked, looking back over his shoulder at the mechanic.
"Yeah," Dean muttered. "Sounds about right for us."
"Just remember, you were the one who said we should go in," Dean panted, leaning heavily against the wall, a torn-open container of Morton Salt held aloft in his left hand.
"I didn't think it was real," Sam offered lamely. "It sounded too…." He shrugged.
"Cliché?" Dean supplied.
"A ghost is just a ghost, Sammy."
"It's Stella's mom, Dean. I couldn't—" He broke off as a drawer full of thread spools and pincushions flew toward his head. Ducking, he glanced up at Dean, apologetically.
"Sure wish I had a weapon about now," Dean griped, tossing his brother a glare.
"How many more times do you want me to say I'm sorry?" Sam grumbled.
"Twelve," Dean snapped. "Twelve more times."
He ducked as a lamp came from the same direction as the drawer of sewing supplies. It crashed against the wall behind him and Dean looked over at Sam.
"I'm sorry, okay?" Sam bleated. He glanced back over his shoulder through the front door where Stella stood on the lawn, arms wrapped around her mother, who was burying her face in her hands.
"How do you want to do this?" Dean asked. "Since this is your girlfriend's mom's house and all."
Sam chewed his bottom lip, looking around. They were barricaded in the front hallway, just outside the kitchen. Stella's mother had called her daughter and claimed she was seeing objects floating around her living room. Stella had at first thought her mother was losing her mind – Dementia? Alzheimer's? – and had gone to investigate herself. After witnessing a drawer of fabrics open and shut on its own several times, Stella had called Sam.
At first he'd wanted to laugh, but quickly realized Stella was serious and this was a pivotal moment for them. Either he trusted her and asked his brother to help him do something he'd been working to avoid for months, or he denied her and risked negating all the truth he'd asked her to believe. In the end, the choice had been easy; dealing with Dean's reaction, however, had not.
He'd expected Dean to be elated, or at the very least relieved. Instead, Dean's resistance had almost stopped Sam from investigating further. Ultimately, it had been Stella's frightened call while the brothers were debating how a just this one time argument could fit into their six month deal that had prompted Dean to agree to at least check it out.
It had only taken them a few pointed questions to discover that Stella's mother had purchased an antique trunk from an auction roughly a month ago and strange things had started occurring since that time, growing in intensity every time she opened the trunk to store items within.
Which she did to illustrate what she meant. And unleashed chaos.
"We have to get that trunk outside," Sam stated.
"Want me on point or distraction?" Dean asked.
Sam frowned. "Why are you asking me?"
"This is your rodeo, man," Dean said, peering around the corner of the kitchen. "I've kept my promise."
"I know you have," Sam sighed. "Okay, fine. You play distraction and I'll go in for the trunk."
Dean nodded. "Got salt?"
Sam held up his container. "Good thing she's not a health nut, huh?"
"Low sodium freaks," Dean muttered in agreement, coiling for his run at the spirit.
"Hey," Sam caught his arm. "This gonna be one of those things we have to discuss later at the car?"
"You bet your ass," Dean replied, then launched into the living room where Stella reported the trunk was located.
Sam waited until he heard Dean swearing and saw salt flying before making his run for the trunk. He'd just managed to grab the handle when something cold hit him at the base of his spine, flipping him around and slamming him against the wall behind the trunk. For a moment he couldn't breathe, and then when he did, the breath he gulped down was ice.
Searching the room with blurred vision, Sam panicked when he couldn't find Dean. Then he realized he couldn't really see anything; it was as if he was looking through the spirit. Choking, he felt cold fingers closing around his throat and he cursed his own poor judgment or rotten luck that landed him in the exact spot he'd been begging Dean to avoid.
Just then, a cry of rage seemed to shake the air around him. He felt the sting of salt on his skin and the hold on his throat disappeared. Sam slid to the floor, coughing, thirsty for air, shivering uncontrollably. He looked up, spent, winded, unable to move, and saw Dean grab the trunk by the handle and haul it from the living room, down the hall, and, presumably, out the front door.
Dimly, as if from the bottom of a hole, Sam heard his brother barking orders at whoever stood outside, and then the door slammed once more.
"Sammy! Sam. Hey!"
Dean was crouching in front of him, Sam knew, but he could barely see him, the tunnel surrounding him pulling him further into the cold.
"Goddammit, Sam," he heard his brother swear. "You're practically blue."
"Sp-spir-spirit," Sam chattered, his breath rattling as hard as his teeth.
"Yeah, I know it's the damn spirit," Dean grumbled. "You hang on, okay? Just hang on."
And Dean was gone.
Sam tried to reach out for him, to call his name, to beg him to come back, but the cold was pervasive. Complete. And all he wanted to do was sleep. Time seemed to fold in on itself. All he knew was cold and the bone-breaking ache that came with it. He closed his eyes, letting himself sink, searching the darkness inside for some comfort away from the cold. Some kind of numb—
As abruptly as the cold overtook him, heat chased it away.
He saw a room burning, felt a weight, small, but incredibly heavy, placed in his arms, saw his father's face looming over him, brown eyes large and scared. He saw fire and felt heat and then suddenly he wasn't shivering anymore. The fire became simply light. The light cut out everything else and it grew to enfold and surround him until all he saw was its brilliance and all he felt was its warmth.
"Sam? You okay?"
That wasn't Dean, he realized, and opened his eyes. It was Stella. She knelt in front of him, her hands on his face.
"Hey, there you are!" She smiled, her eyes shining with unshed tears. "I'm so sorry, Sam. I didn't know, I swear I didn't know."
"Where's Dean?" Sam croaked.
"Right here," Dean moaned.
With the cold gone, Sam was able to push himself upright, leaning against the wall. He saw that Dean was sprawled near him, his leg touching Sam's in the small hallway. Stella would have had to step over him to reach Sam.
"Wasn't the trunk," Dean said, sitting up slowly. "It was a doll. Inside the trunk."
"You mean like…Chucky?" Sam asked, his mind clearing.
Dean nodded. "I got the trunk out, but you were still pinned." His eyes slid to Stella. "Guess there was a doll inside the trunk when Stella's mom bought it."
"Kinda forgot about that," Stella said, apologetically.
"What'd you do?" Sam asked, eyes darting between Dean and Stella.
"He…he fought the doll," Stella said, her voice trembling with what sounded like barely-suppressed hysteria. "But the doll didn't win."
"She's kinda funny, Sam," Dean said, recovered enough to push to his knees.
"Did it get you?" Sam asked, comfortable sitting with Stella close, one hand still on his neck, her skin warming him.
Dean shook his head. "No. You did."
"I got you?"
"You wouldn't wake up," Stella told him. "And Dean grabbed your hand and I thought—I mean, he went stiff and then started shaking and I thought…hell, I don't know what I thought."
Sam looked at his brother. "I felt the heat."
"I knew it would work."
"It zapped you good, though," Sam commented, noticing the way Dean sagged against the wall.
"The doll did most of it." Dean waved off Sam's concern. "Creepy-assed thing."
"Where is it?" Sam asked, letting Stella help him to his feet.
He felt fine, but he liked having her close. Warming him from the inside out. Grounding him with her touch.
"Um," Stella looked up at him. "Your brother…burned it."
"Good," Sam nodded. He reached out a hand and steadied Dean as his brother got to his feet. "Stella? You're gonna have to help your mom understand…all of this. I mean, it's better for everyone if she doesn't say anything. Think you can do that?"
"Right. Sure." Stella rolled her eyes, tightening her grip on Sam's arm. "Just like I got her to understand my obsession for Metallica back in high school."
"Only difference is," Dean grinned. "Metallica won't kill you."
"Says you," Stella retorted. She widened her eyes dramatically, and pitched her voice low, "It's the devil's music."
"Just see if you can stop her from sharing the story at her…," Sam nudged the pincushion that had nearly blinded him with the toe of his boot, "quilting circle."
"I get the picture, Sam," Stella told him. "Thank you, by the way."
"Maybe don't go buying mysterious trunks at random auctions from now on," Dean suggested.
"Or bring salt and Holy Water with you if you do," Sam countered. "No reason to stop living…just be prepared."
"I can't believe this is my life," Stella shook her head.
"It's just life, sweetheart," Dean told her, stepping out through the front door and heading toward the Impala.
Sam paused, pulling Stella close. "You going to be okay?"
"You do this all the time, don't you?" Stella asked, her dark eyes tracking past his arm to the wreck of a living room.
"Not anymore," Sam said. "I'm retired."
"Right," Stella nodded carefully. "But…if you hadn't been here…what would that doll have done to my mom?"
Sam frowned at the thought. "I was here, though."
Sam didn't reply.
"Hey, Sam?" Stella asked, resting her forehead on the front of Sam's shirt. "You ever think maybe some people are born to a life because they're the only ones who can handle it?"
"You mean like destiny?" Sam said, his voice accidentally hard.
Stella brought her head up, meeting his eyes. "I mean like…purpose."
Sam kissed her forehead. "I'll call you later tonight," he said, side-stepping her question. "I gotta go get a lecture from my big brother."
Stella grimaced. "Sorry about that, too."
"Don't be," Sam tugged on a strand of her hair, then pushed open the door. "This one is all on me."
wwwPart 2: Chapter 10 continued here in Post 11-C