Characters: Dean, Sam
Rating: PG-13 for language and themes
Spoilers: This story is set in Season 1 after 1.16, Shadow
Summary: In an attempt to save a disillusioned hunter from himself, Dean and Sam are caught in a spell that sends them to 1870 Texas. Surviving the old west is hard enough. Escaping it could prove to be impossible.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. More's the pity.
Dean pulled his weapon and nodded. Raising the barrels of their weapons skyward, they each fired off a round. That was all it took for several of the horses to utter high-pitched, terrified whinnies and charge the gate, pushing it open with their bodies and spilling in a flood of equestrian mass out around the main house, across the wide porch, churning Earth and men and weapons beneath their powerful, pounding hooves.
Sam held onto the now-swaying corral, keeping Dean against him, and waited until the last horse had charged from the corral before slinging Dean's arm across his shoulders once more. He felt Dean holster his weapon, then move with him out of the paddock area and across the now-ruined land to the bunkhouse wall.
"Zeke?" Dean gasped.
"Didn't see him," Sam panted, searching the darkness for their horses.
"No," Sam shook his head. "Maybe Zeke got him."
"Maybe," Dean nodded. "Where's our horses?"
"I think they joined that mosh pit we let loose," Sam said as they reached the cluster of trees where they'd ground-tied their mounts.
"Sam…," Dean groaned softly, his legs finally buckling beneath him.
"Aw, no," Sam shook his head. "You son of a bitch, you don't do this." He knelt next to his brother, propping him carefully against one of the trees. "You said this is your fight, too."
"I know," Dean said, closing his eyes and swallowing hard. "I know…I did."
His hands on Dean's chest, Sam imagined he could feel his brother sinking, hollowing out, disappearing inside that hole he'd spoken of, fire from his fever replacing the fight that had always been the core of Dean.
"You can't stop fighting 'til the fight's done, then," Sam insisted. "Isn't that what Dad says?"
"He…stole that…line," Dean whispered, "from The Untouchables."
"Oh," Sam stood, rubbing a hand over his face. "Well, doesn't mean it's not true."
The distant thunder of the charging horses was fading and was replaced by incoherent shouts of men working to make sense of what had just happened. Sam peered through the darkness toward the bunkhouse.
It's not gonna take those guys long to figure out what direction we went. He looked down at Dean, slumped against the tree, eyes closed, body visibly shaking from whatever the fever was doing inside of him. I gotta get him outta here….
He heard a branch snap behind him and turned, bringing his rifle up swiftly. As if emerging from the shadows of a dream, the gray mare stepped forward, reins trailing behind her, head lowered.
"Son of a bitch," he heard Dean whisper and lowered his rifle to turn and see Dean lowering his Colt. He hadn't even heard his brother draw the weapon. "What do you know about that?"
"She stayed," Sam whispered in awe.
"Or came back," Dean said. "Either way, she needs a better name than Bitch."
"You got any ideas?" Sam said, approaching the horse slowly, empty hand out, unsure if she'd shy away from him. The mare stayed still, allowing Sam to grab her reins and slide the rifle into the empty scabbard on the back of the saddle.
"I'll…think…of something," Dean promised, trying to get to his feet.
Sam heard a shout that sounded way too near and led the mare toward his brother. "Here," he said, bending low. "Grab on to me."
He felt Dean's hand fumble across his shoulder, grab for a hold and end up anchoring on his suspenders. A hand around his brother's narrow waist, Sam stood, bringing both of them to their feet. He took a breath.
The way Dean was shaking, there was no way he was going to be able to hold on behind Sam all the way to the Mission.
"Get on," Sam ordered. "I'll help you."
"Wh-what about y-you?"
"I have a plan. Kinda."
To his credit, Dean tried valiantly to push his foot into the stirrup, but Sam saw quickly he lacked the strength.
"I gotcha, man," Sam said, awkwardly boosting Dean upward.
It took every bit of his strength as Dean was more or less dead weight, but he got his brother's right leg over the saddle. Using his shoulder and hands, he shoved Dean up and over, steadying him once he was in the saddle, sending a wordless benediction to the horse gods for keeping the mare silent and still through the whole ordeal. Dean slumped forward over the horse's neck and Sam took another breath.
"If we get out of this," he said to no one in particular, "I swear I will never again complain about driving everywhere."
Without the aid of Dean's arm to boost him, Sam swung up behind the saddle, fumbling for the mare's reins. He pulled Dean upright, resting his brother against his chest as his arms acted liked a frame.
"I miss the Impala," Sam confessed as he used his hips and thighs to nudge the horse forward.
After a few moments, he realized that steering her was going to be a challenge and scooted as far forward as he could. It was then, though, that Dean's body gave in to the abuse and he felt his brother go boneless in his arms.
"Dammit!" Sam swore. He shook Dean roughly. "Dean! Wake up. Just for a little longer, man. DEAN!"
Dean was heavy against him, dead weight in his arms. Sam craned his neck to look down at his brother's slack profile and the absolute lack of expression on Dean's face was terrifying. Even in sleep, Dean always held a modicum of awareness, enough that Sam knew he'd come to at a moment's notice. Now, though, Dean was all-but gone; Sam felt the heat of his fever, burning through him with an unnatural patience, and he was suddenly afraid. It was a mind-numbing terror the likes of which he hadn't felt in years.
This is wrong…this is all wrong.
For one moment, Sam froze. He needed someone else here, someone better than him. He needed Dad. He needed Dean. He needed—
Three quick pops of gunfire snapped him free of the paralyzing fear. He needed to move.
"C'mon, you Bitch," he snarled. "Move your ass!"
The mare whinnied and danced a bit, but somehow managed to pick up on Sam's instinctual thrusts and began to run. Sam hung on, one hand gripping the reins, the other the saddle horn, both arms holding his brother against him. Dean's fever radiated through his body into Sam's, breaking out a sweat along Sam's chest.
After what felt like forever the Mission came into view. Sam willed the horse toward the building, having no idea if he was actually doing anything to steer her. Pulling back on the reins as they reached the empty paddock area, Sam practically sat the mare on her haunches to get her to stop running.
"Zeke!" he shouted.
Dean listed against Sam's right arm, his head falling forward. Sam shifted him up, resting him once more against his chest, looking desperately between the Mission and the barn.
He didn't see another horse in the yard, but that didn't mean Zeke hadn't hidden Hooker in the barn. Sam was trying to figure out how he was going to get both of them off the horse without dropping Dean in the dirt when a thin, dark-haired man wearing long black robes appeared in the doorway.
"What's the trouble, my son?"
Sam felt a strange rush of fear and relief. "Are you Father Ramirez? Pablo Ramirez?"
"I am," Ramirez stepped out, grabbing the mare's bridle and steadying the horse.
"I don't have time to explain, but my brother needs your help." Sam eased Dean forward until he was slumped over the saddle horn, his arms hanging limply on either side of the mare's neck.
"You called for Zeke," Ramirez said. "Did you mean Ezekiel McAdams?"
"Yeah," Sam nodded as Ramirez reached up and steadied Dean's still form. He slipped off the horse's flank and found his footing on shaky legs. "He was supposed to meet us here."
"He hasn't arrived," Ramirez said.
"I was afraid of that," Sam muttered, reaching up for Dean. Ramirez released Dean's arm and Sam let his brother slip sideways, staggering a bit as Dean's full weight filled his arms. "Jesus, he's heavy," Sam grunted.
"Take him inside," Ramirez instructed. "Up to the front. I'll be right behind you."
Sam carried Dean in an awkward, staggering gait into the Mission; his head hung over the edge of Sam's arm, his legs swayed with the movement, one arm flung outward, the other tucked up against Sam's body. Sam made it up to the front, nearly dropping Dean as he laid him on the stone floor beneath the altar filled with burning votive candles. Breathing heavily, he looked around, realizing this was the same place Dean had struggled with Jake just yesterday.
Yesterday…and a hundred years from now.
"Tell me what is needed," Ramirez said as he entered the Mission.
"Holy Water," Sam said, running the back of his hand across his grit-covered face. "Lots of it."
Without question, Ramirez nodded and disappeared through a stone archway. Sam unbuttoned Dean's shirt, exposing his brother's sweaty, bare chest. The bandage Zeke had wrapped around Dean's middle was soaked through with pus and blood.
"God, Dean," Sam whispered, dragging his hands down his face, willing his nausea away.
Ramirez returned, a deep basin of water in his hands. "My guess is, God had nothing to do with this," the priest said.
"You got that right, Father."
"Cut away the bandages," Ramirez said as he removed his rosary from around his neck.
Sam patted his pockets, finding nothing, before it occurred to him that Dean was still wearing his own boots. He reached into the hidden pocket of Dean's left boot and pulled out a small throwing knife, quickly slicing the sharp blade up through the bandages and parting them. The smell that wafted up from the wounds on Dean's side had Sam gagging, then turning his face away and breathing through his mouth.
"We haven't much time," Ramirez said, and began to rapidly whisper a blessing as he moved his fingers quickly along the beads of the rosary.
Sam moved around so that he could pull Dean's head and shoulders into his lap, and reached down for his brother's limp hand. The fire in Dean's body shook him, causing his shoulders to vibrate against Sam's legs violently enough that Sam felt his eyes burning with barely-restrained tears.
"You must hold him," Ramirez said. "Very tightly."
Sam nodded, not worrying about how this man knew what to do, or why to do it. All that mattered was that he was doing it.
Ramirez lifted the basin and Sam gripped Dean's hand, the other digging into Dean's shoulder. As the first drops of blessed liquid poured on Dean's wounds, the smell intensified and Dean bucked, his jaw tight as if holding in the pain.
"Easy," Sam whispered, unable to restrain his tears. He felt them spill over, run down his cheeks, drop onto his brother's face to mix with Dean's sweat. "Easy, man, I gotcha. I gotcha."
Ramirez, Sam realized vaguely, was praying as he poured. The ugly, swollen wounds began to bubble up as the poison and infection escaped. Another pour and Dean started screaming. His neck arched, shoving his head further into Sam's lap and the tendons along his neck popped out, tense and tight. His face was red, his voice hoarse, and still he screamed.
Steam began to rise from the wounds and Dean began to beg, his eyes open, unseeing, searching everywhere, landing on nothing.
"Stop! God, Dad! Sam! Stop…make it stop!"
"I can't, Dean, I'm so sorry, man. I can't stop it."
"Fuck…no, no more…ah…God…."
His pleas were incoherent; Sam knew he wasn't truly conscious. The fever was too hot, the pain too much. He was simply reacting, doing everything he could to maintain control and keep the scream that had all-but ripped him apart at bay. It was, Sam knew, instinctual for Dean to show as little weakness as possible. Even now.
"I gotcha, big brother. I'm here. I'm not gonna let go."
"'s so hot…so fuckin' hot…."
Sam lifted panicked eyes to the priest, tightening his hold as Dean's seizure-like jerks nearly pulled him free of Sam's grasp.
"It is the Holy Water," Ramirez hastily explained. "It is burning the poison out of him."
With perfect recall, Sam suddenly remembered the liquid fire that had poured down his face just before Dean had bandaged his cheek. Looking at his brother's steaming wounds, he nearly stopped breathing.
"Son of a bitch…I wanna go…Sammy…let's go home…."
"We will Dean, I swear to fuckin' God we're going home. Just hang on, okay…just hang in there. I'm right here…I'm here…."
He held onto his brother as Dean thrashed, kept speaking, low and soft, into his brother's ear, losing himself in the hellish sound of Dean's pain, losing track of where his tears ended and Dean's began.
It felt like years when Dean's cries finally quieted, his body beginning to still.
Sam looked up to see Dean's eyes roll closed, the lines on his face smoothing as unconsciousness took him completely. Sam was hollow, spent; his hair was clinging to his face with sweat, his eyes swollen and burning from exhausted emotion. The last few drops of Holy Water spilled onto Dean's side and Ramirez sat back on his heels, breathless, his eyes also filled with tears as he looked at Sam.
"It's over," he said. "It's done."
Sam looked at Dean's side and saw the swollen, putrid skin was now smooth, pink. The wounds were still there, but now resembled mere scratches much like the wounds on their faces had looked just before they'd slipped through time. Dean still trembled, but it felt more like aftershocks than the frightening vibrations of the fever burning him from the inside out.
"His fever?" Sam asked, his voice raw.
"Will subside," Ramirez said. "I will give him something to help. He will be weak from this ordeal, but he will recover."
Sam sagged over Dean, his forehead on his brother's sweaty shoulder, his tears escaping from him without shame. He felt a hand on his back and brought his head up, sniffing.
The saloon owner's face was wet and dirt-streaked. There was a cut on his forehead that had bled into his eyebrow. His eyes matched Ramirez's in relief, weariness, and wonder.
"I saw," Zeke said in a choked, heavy voice. "I saw what you…what you risk…doing what you do."
Sam watched as Zeke's eyes tracked down Dean's limp body.
"I saw," Zeke repeated, as if he couldn't quite absorb that reality.
Sam looked past him. "Jake?"
Zeke shook his head. "I couldn't find him," he confessed. Licking his lips, he looked at Ramirez. "We were at…Ivers' place. Looking for a friend of theirs." He looked back at Sam. "One of his men—a real fat bastard—grabbed me. I thought I was done. And then…," he looked back down at Dean, his eyes wide and slightly shocky, "someone turned the horses loose."
"That was us," Sam said.
"I kinda figured."
"So, Jake's still there?"
Sam looked at Ramirez. "Ivers is coming after you," he said, feeling weak, his head spinning dizzily as he stayed curled over Dean in instinctive protection. "He's…he's a bad…bad bad guy."
"He is a demon," Ramirez said calmly. "A fact which I'm sure you know."
Sam nodded. "Yeah, but…how do you know that?"
Ramirez took a breath, his calm eyes on Dean. "Let's take your brother to my rectory," he said. "I will tell you more there."
"Let me help," Zeke said, moving to Dean's feet.
Sam wasn't sure he could stand; he'd been sitting on his folded legs after riding the mare. He looked up at Ramirez, trying to figure out how to ask for help.
"Please," Ramirez said. "Allow me."
Sam eased Dean's head down to the stone floor and scooted out from beneath him, using one of the nearby wooden benches to pull himself shakily to his feet. He watched as between them, the priest and the saloon owner gently lifted his brother and carried him through the stone archway. Sam followed, glancing back at the mess of water and blood—Dean's blood—they left behind on the Mission floor.
"You will find a towel in the wardrobe there," Ramirez said as he turned away from the bed where they lay Dean. "Some water and bread here. Please, rebuild your strength."
Sam nodded his thanks, slipping his suspenders from his shoulders and pulled off the wet, collarless shirt, the long underwear still covering his sweat-chilled body. He used the towel to rub down his face, wiping the sweat from his brow and the back of his neck.
Ramirez eased Dean out of his shirt, then used the blade of the throwing knife to cut another towel into strips. Zeke carefully wrapped Dean's torso with the tied-together strips, protecting the healing cuts from the dust that permeated the air around them. Ramirez wiped Dean's sweaty face and neck with the edge of a wet towel, carefully dabbing at the cut Jake had administered in this very building.
Sam watched them with detachment, his body thrumming wearily. He felt himself shaking from the inside out—after-effects of the battle he'd just fought for his brother's life. He was so tired…so tired. All he wanted was to lie down and sleep for a week.
But they weren't safe, and Dean was still vulnerable like this, so Sam simply sat heavily on the foot of the bed. Dean's boot rolled to rest in the small of Sam's back. Sam had to smile at the comfort contact with his brother brought him, even when Dean had no idea.
"He's gonna be okay?" Sam couldn't help but ask again.
"He's gonna be fine, Sam," Zeke said. "Those cuts look almost healed."
"He will be very weak," Ramirez cautioned. "His spirit has been battling the demon that wounded him. Such a fight weakens even the most stalwart of souls. He needs time to heal. On the inside."
"Yeah, well," Sam sighed, eyeing his brother's profile, "Dean's the toughest person I know."
"You must listen to me," Ramirez said. "He needs time to regain his strength. And you cannot go up against this demon alone."
"You're a…hunter?" Sam asked. He was unable to mask his surprise, though he'd instinctively known the truth the moment Ramirez began to bless the water.
Ramirez looked at Zeke.
"He knows," Sam said.
"I know," Zeke nodded, dabbing at the blood on his forehead with the edge of a towel.
"But do you know the dangers of this life?" Ramirez asked, his voice soft, serious.
Zeke looked at Dean's pale, still face. "I do now," he said.
"This isn't a job, Zeke," Ramirez said. He moved over to Dean and laid a damp cloth across Dean's forehead. "It isn't leaving the life of a physician to become a saloon owner. This is who you are. You become a hunter, you are never anything else."
Sam listened, hearing the truth in the priest's words, and feeling his stomach turn to ice in reaction. Echoing in his head as if stemming from a different person, he heard his own words to Dean in the motel room in Chicago.
What if this whole thing was over tonight? Man, I'd sleep for a month. Go back to school—be a person again.
He looked over at his unconscious brother.
It's never gonna be over. There's gonna be others. There's always gonna be somethin' to hunt.
"Listen, I said I know what they do," Zeke was saying to the priest. "I didn't say I wanted to do it."
"But you need to understand their purpose if you are to help them battle this demon."
"Uh, Father?" Sam broke in. "Listen, no offense, but…right now I don't know if I care about Ivers. I just want to get my brother home."
Ramirez frowned. "Those wounds on your brother, they were from a demon," he said.
"Yeah, you're right." Sam nodded. "But Ivers didn't do it. It's, uh, kinda more complicated than that."
Ramirez sat back. "Tell me."
Sam and Zeke exchanged a look.
"Tell him," Zeke prompted. "I could handle it. So can he."
Sam looked down, feeling his heart twist inside of him as he was forced to once again go against every instinct that screamed: run, hide, be silent, be still.
"Father," he started, swallowing, "we're hunters, you're right about that, but, uh…we're not from…here."
"That much I determined for myself," Ramirez replied.
"I mean, we're really not from here," Sam looked up, meeting the priest's eyes squarely. "We got…trapped in a spell and were, uh…transported here."
"From when actually," Sam said. "We're from 2005."
"The year two thousand and five," Ramirez repeated slowly, folding his arms across his body, his mouth bowed in thought.
Sam nodded. "This guy…Jake, the one that we were looking for…he's convinced there's something here. Some weapon or something. He performed a ritual to send him back in time and…my brother and me got caught in it when we tried to stop him."
"This is very troubling," Ramirez said, looking at the ground. "Every life you've encountered since you've been here has been shifted off its path. Including my own."
"I know," Sam said softly. "Believe me…we didn't want this."
"This man who performed the ritual," Ramirez said, his eyes resting on nothing. "Did he know about the demon?"
Sam shook his head. "I don't know. I mean…it's possible. But…I think he just wants this weapon."
"What kind of a weapon?"
Sam shrugged. "I don't know that either. Could be a book, or an amulet, or a sigil, or…hell, an actual weapon weapon."
Dean shifted, a soft moan slipping free; Sam felt a tremor run through his brother's body and he rested his hand on Dean's leg. Dean went still with that contact and Sam reached up to remove the cloth from Dean's face, noting that it had sucked up the heat from Dean's body.
Dipping the cloth into the basin Ramirez had used, he wrung out the excess water and laid it gently across Dean's forehead once more before returning his focus to Ramirez. He kept his hand on Dean's leg for both assurance and support.
"There are rumors of such a weapon," Ramirez said softly, turning back to the wardrobe and lifting out several heavy-looking, leather-bound books. "Tom O'Maera spoke to me about it before the demon took his life."
Zeke blinked, surprised. "Tom? Tom was one of…of them?"
"A hunter," Ramirez nodded, setting the books down on a small, bare desk positioned near the head of the bed. "Yes. He tried to leave the life, to be simply a rancher with Kate and his children. However," Ramirez looked back toward Sam and Dean, "evil recognizes good as surely as good recognizes evil."
"Ivers knew about Tom?" Sam guessed.
"It is why Tom stayed in Sulfur Springs," Ramirez said softly. "He learned of Ivers and he wanted to protect the gate."
"The gate...," Zeke muttered. "Ivers said something about a gate when he attacked Dean."
"You mean back in the saloon?" Sam asked, glancing down as his brother shifted on the bed, his mouth turning down in a frown.
"He called Dean a hunter and said something about being close to opening the gate."
"He is," Ramirez said, opening one of the books and pulling out a sketch of a map. "This," he pointed to a spot on the map, "is Ivers' ranch. This is Sulfur Springs. This is Tom O'Maera's ranch. This is Dawson's old place."
"Sheriff," Zeke reminded him. "Not that that matters much."
"And here," Ramirez pointed to another spot on the map, "is the fifth location." Using a narrow piece of charcoal he fished from his pocket, he connected the points on the map, then drew a circle around it.
"Hey, I know that," Sam said, tilting his head as he looked at the symbol. "My dad…he keeps a journal. I saw it in there."
Ramirez nodded. "It's called a Devil's Trap. The gate is at the epicenter."
"The…gate to…what, exactly?" Zeke asked.
Ramirez looked over at him. "Hell."
Zeke's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "Oh."
Sam rubbed his face. "This just gets better and better."
"What's stopping him from just…doing what you did? Drawing it out on a map?" Zeke asked.
"He knows where the gate is. For this gate to open, he must be in possession of the points of origin," Ramirez explained. "Or so it's been written. Therefore, all he need do is find a way to possess the fifth location."
"What's there?" Sam asked, almost afraid to hear the answer. "Another ranch?"
Ramirez shook his head. "San Jose de Valero. This Mission."
"How does he…get possession of the Mission?" Sam asked, his voice closing around the edges of his words.
Ramirez sighed, the lines on his face smoothing out, and Sam knew. He knew why Ivers wanted Ramirez gone.
"He has to get rid of you, doesn't he?" Sam asked.
"This is just…all kinds of crazy," Zeke sighed. He began to pace in the small confines of the room. "I mean, I thought I knew crazy, y'know? Grew up with Abigail McAdams, for one. Survived a war. Own a saloon in Sulfur Springs, Texas, but this? This takes the cake."
"I think your friend found this weapon," Ramirez said to Sam, smoothly bypassing Zeke's frenzied ramblings, "in his research, but what he didn't realize, perhaps, is that the reason it is here, now, in this time…is to protect the gate."
Sam sighed. "Well…all I know is, I've been doing this all my life, and I've never heard about a gate to Hell being opened in Texas in 1870."
"So, that means Ivers won't be successful," Zeke concluded, smiling as he tossed his hands up as if to say there, you see.
"Unless we do—or did—something that screws that up," Sam sighed, resting a hand on Dean's leg. "Like you said, Father, us just being here has already messed with people's lives."
Ramirez continued to flip through the pages in one of the books. "You never really know what God has planned for us. Perhaps you and your brother are the very reason Ivers fails. Perhaps your presence has had a ripple effect through the town that results in a revolution."
"A revolution?" Sam scoffed. "Against a demon?"
Ramirez looked at him. "If properly armed with knowledge, people can accomplish amazing things."
Sam looked down. "Something tells me that defeating Ivers isn't going to be enough to get us home."
Sam felt Dean shift again and realized suddenly that his brother was awake. Dean hadn't made a sound, but the increased pressure of his leg against Sam's back told him that one some level, Dean had been listening, absorbing the information saturating the air around them.
Sam turned, half leaning toward his brother. Dean's hooded eyes were dark, sunken into his face. His skin was grayish with splashes of color across his cheeks, and his lips were dry, but he was awake, aware.
"Hey," Sam said softly, watching Dean's heavy eyes blink back at him. "You're okay, Dean. You're safe."
"Holy Water?" Dean rasped.
Sam nodded, leaning forward, his fingers curling into Dean's grip and anchoring him. His hand was still hot, the fever slow to abate. "Yeah, Father Ramirez…he blessed the water. Saved your ass."
Dean's eyes didn't move from Sam's face. A shiver worked through him and Zeke moved in quietly to remove the damp cloth and cover Dean's bare chest with a thin, coarse blanket. He tipped a cup of water to Dean's mouth, holding the back of his head until Dean had taken a couple of sips.
"Thanks," Dean whispered, looking at his brother.
Sam felt Dean curl his fingers in their grip. The tears that had flowed freely as Dean thrashed from the pain of healing threatened a return and he swallowed them back. "We're okay," he said, unable to find any other words inside of him. "We're okay, man."
Dean's eyes closed once more and Sam sniffed, keeping his hand in his brother's heated one. He knew Dean wasn't asleep; he could feel the tension in his brother's body.
"Defeating Ivers might not be the key to your return," Ramirez said softly. "But I believe I found something that will."
"What is it?" Sam asked.
"There is a ritual in this book," Ramirez told him, "that speaks to a journey the likes of which you described."
"A book?" Sam repeated, incredulous. "Jake and his friends tortured a demon to get the ritual…and you found it in a book?"
"It's a very old book," Ramirez replied with a shrug.
"Sam…," Dean whispered. Sam looked at him, closing his mouth on his retort. He understood his brother was asking with that one word to know what they had to do next.
Sam nodded, his shoulders sagging a bit. "What's that very old book tell you, Father?"
"Blood of the innocent brought you here," Ramirez said, his finger training down the words on the page.
"Yeah, the dude cut my brother," Sam growled.
"Blood of the guilty will send you back," Ramirez said.
"Guilty?" Sam frowned.
"Jake," Dean said, his voice a harsh punch of sound. Three sets of eyes turned to face him. "He means Jake."
Ramirez nodded, smiling softly at Dean. "The spell is countered only by blood from the one guilty of the sin."
"So…no suprachiasmatic nucleas?" Sam asked.
Zeke looked at him, surprise plain on his face. "How the hell do you even know what that is?"
"I read a lot," Sam replied. "What about the herbs and the skin from the calf and all of that?"
"Good Lord," Zeke breathed, running a hand through his hair and causing it to stick up in a short Mohawk.
Ramirez was shaking his head. "Your hold in this time is tenuous. It hinges only on the blood of the one who triggered the journey. It is only as strong as his resolve. With his blood, you return."
"So…," Sam looked at the three other men. "What does this mean?"
"It means," Dean said, slowly, his hooded eyes pinned to his brother, his voice aged, worn. "It means…we're going back to that place…we're getting Bird's family out of there," he paused to take a steadying breath, "and we're gonna kill Jake."
"Dean, no," Sam breathed, shaking his head in denial. He looked to Ramirez. "Jake didn't have to kill Dean to make it work the first time…are you…are you sure?"
"I am not certain, Sam," Ramirez said sadly. "It simply says that the blood of the guilty will release your hold in this time. I'm afraid that it implies…if you are to return home, this man must die."
"But, Dean," Sam leaned forward, curling his fingers tightly into Dean's grip. "Your blood was innocent because you've never killed a human before."
Dean leveled weary eyes on him and Sam saw something shift in the green depths. Where for so many hours there had been pain, resolve began to reemerge, and where he'd seen glimpses of true fear, Sam now saw something close to cold fury.
He felt a slow shiver build from his gut and wrap around one thought: he was glad Dean was on his side.
"That's gonna change," Dean said simply.
a/n: Thanks for reading! The woods get a might darker and deeper from here…
Continued in Part 7 here: http://gaelicspirit.livejournal.com/84575.html