mizpah1931: Latin Exorcism - don't leave home without it (Default)

Title: The L Word
Season: 1 – sometime after the episode Faith
Category: General, Action
Warnings: None
Tagline: Some things are just too hard to say
Total Word Count: 11,374
Total Chapters: 2
Chapter 1 Word Count: 4964
Beta:

[personal profile] ziggyuk 
Story Banner: Chasidern
Award Banner: deny1984
Winner:  SN.TV 2008 Awards – Best Short Story

 

This originally started as a one-shot, but I never know when to shut up so it became a two-shot. Oh, well...

Sincere thanks goes to Danrac1066, a fellow author from Supernaturalville. She very graciously reviewed my facts, sent me reams of data on hypothermia and treatment, including a blow-by-blow description of an ICU room, and checked the final draft before I sent it to the wonderfully patient Ziggy to be beta-ed. Angela, thank you, and bless you heaps.

This takes place in Season 1, sometime after the episode Faith, in a time when things were a lot simpler for the Winchester boys. No demon deals, no dead and dying siblings, no apocalyptic war, no FBI chasing their bums ragged all around the countryside.

Disclaimer: this is purely for fun, not for profit, and no breach of copyright is intended.  Bless you, Mr Kripke.

 

Part 1

“So, come on, say it.”

“Shut up!” Dean Winchester threw his jacket onto the chair as he stormed into the motel room, shooting a glare at his smirking sibling.

“Why don’t you just say it, Dean? It’ll make you feel better.”

“No, it won’t. I’m not gonna say it. I don’t have to say it. It doesn’t need to be said.” With one last warning glare, Dean grabbed his nightclothes and stormed into the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.

Sam’s smirk was still firmly in place when his brother emerged ten minutes later. “You know, it won’t kill you to say it.”

“Yes, it will, now shut the hell up!”

Come on, it’ll be painless. Just say it.”

“Shut up, Sam, seriously. I’ll shoot your ass with rock salt if you don’t quit it.”

“Repeat after me – I…lo….” Sam broke off as a pillow hit him full in the face. He let the pillow fall to the floor, and shook his head in mock sorrow. “It’s only a word, Dean. How can it possibly hurt you to say it? It’ll be liberating.”

“I’ll liberate you in a minute, if you don’t quit bitching at me,” Dean growled savagely, throwing himself onto his bed and jamming his remaining pillow over his face.

Sam sighed, and grabbed his duffle from the floor. Pulling out his nightclothes, he disappeared into the bathroom without another word.

Dean rolled over onto his stomach, and glared at the closed bathroom door. “You are so not gonna make me say it, bitch,” he vowed quietly. He closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep as he heard the door open a few minutes later.

Casting a glance at his sibling, Sam let his shoulders slump as he saw that Dean was asleep already. He turned off the lights and slid beneath the covers, vowing silently to continue the discussion with his emotionally repressed big brother in the morning.

*     *     *     *     *

Dean woke the next morning to the sound of soft, staccato tapping. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and glanced across the room as he flicked the covers back. “Don’t you ever sleep?”

Jumping slightly as his brother’s voice broke the quiet, Sam spared his sibling an annoyed glare before turning back to the laptop. The screen bathed his lean, tanned face in pale light, accentuating the dark smudges beneath his eyes. “I slept.”

“For how long?”

“Long enough,” Sam growled, and glared a silent warning to his sibling.

“Another nightmare?” Dean scrubbed his hands across his face, and appraised his little brother.

Sam’s glare faded and he glanced away, his shoulders twitching guiltily under his big brother’s scrutiny. “Thought I’d get an early start on this gig.”

Dean took the hint and switched to the hunt, making a mental note to nag his brother about his chronic insomnia at a later time. “So – this ghost.” He headed for the kitchenette, and the pot of coffee steaming on the bench top.

Sam ran his hand across his gritty eyes and blinked a few times to refocus his blurring vision. “Uh, yeah – so, about a month ago, the night shift foreman reported that there was something funny going on in the basement of the local meat packing plant. Lights would flicker, some of the workers heard banging noises coming from one of the cold rooms, that kind of thing. Then one night, one of the workers didn’t clock out. They found him the next morning locked in the cold room, frozen to death. The temperature had been turned to maximum, and the door was locked from the outside. Then two weeks later, same thing happened again – one of the workers failed to clock off at the end of his shift, and was found dead the next morning in the same cold room.”

“What’s in the police reports?” 

“Not much. All the fingerprints on the outside of the door match the workers’, so there weren’t any strangers around. The cops investigated everyone who was in the building on the late shift, but everyone came up clean. All their alibis checked out.”

“So, poltergeist? Angry spirit?” Dean raised his brows as he sipped at his coffee, leaning over his brother’s shoulder to scan the newspaper reports displayed on the laptop’s screen.

“Could be either one. I’m not sure, yet.” The younger hunter rolled his head from side to side to ease the stiffness in his neck. “I’m gonna have to go to the local library – see what I can find out about the history of the building.”

Dean pursed his lips as he finished off the coffee and dropped the empty cup in the sink. “I’ll go talk to the manager – see what I can dig up.”

Grabbing a suit from his duffle, Dean used the motel iron to get the creases out, and headed into the bathroom. When he emerged half an hour later, he found Sam still at the laptop, his fingers resting lightly on the keyboard as he scrolled through yet another newspaper article.

Sam glanced up as his brother straightened his tie. “So – you gonna say it, or am I gonna have to keep asking till you do?”

“I’m not, and you’re not, unless you really want to be sitting on a pillow for the next week.” Dean levelled a warning finger at his sibling. “’Cause I swear to God, Sam, you keep asking me and I will shoot your ass.”

Dean stormed from the room, banging the door shut behind him. Sighing in defeat, Sam grabbed a change of clothes from his own duffle. He peeled off his nightclothes and stepped into the shower, hoping that there was at least some hot water left. As the near icy jet of water hit his warm skin, he rained a string of colourful curses down on his big brother’s head.

*     *    *     *    *

The pair made a startling contrast when they met for lunch in the local diner. Dean loosened his tie as he slid into the booth, grinning faintly at his sibling’s faded jeans and loose hoodie. “Dude, I look like some up and coming professional taking his poor college-kid brother out for a meal.”

Sam raised a sardonic eyebrow. “Yeah? So?” He shook his head as Dean’s grin grew wider, and went back to perusing the menu. Sam smiled politely at the hovering waitress, ordered a turkey sandwich and handed the menu to his brother. Reaching for the laptop satchel, he withdrew a sheaf of papers, tapping them against his hand until the waitress walked away.

Dean settled back against the worn vinyl seat and appraised his younger brother. The dark rings under Sam’s eyes had been accentuated by fine worry lines, and a frown drew his brows together. The hazel eyes that peeped from under his unruly dark bangs were glassy, and slightly bloodshot. Dean shook his head and frowned in concern. “Dude, seriously – you look like crap. When was the last time you had a full night’s sleep?”

Shrugging, Sam chose not to answer, opting for pushing a printed copy of a grainy black and white photo across the table instead. “Found our guy,” he stated quietly, tapping a long forefinger against the photo.

“Huh.” The elder hunter studied the photo of a slightly stooped, middle-aged man standing by a hanging beef carcass, a wicked looking knife in his hand. “So, what’s the story?”

“So, his name was Jackson Mandeville. He was the meat processing plant’s night shift foreman when the plant first went into operation in the sixties. On the Tuesday morning after the Fourth of July weekend in nineteen sixty-six, he was found frozen to death in one of the cold rooms in the basement.”

Dean pursed his lips. “Let me guess – the same cold room where the last two deaths occurred.”

“Yeah.” Sam nodded his tousled head. “According to the coroner’s report, he suffered a blow to the head, probably caused by a fall in the cold room. Official cause of death was hypothermia. The authorities labelled it as an accident, figuring that he went into the cold room, slipped, knocked himself out and froze to death.”

“Was the door locked when they found him?”

“No, it wasn’t.”

The elder hunter took a deep breath, his gaze on the photo. “So, nothing to suggest foul play?”

“Nope. Not a thing. The coroner didn’t find anything other than that bump on his head, and he stated in the report that the blow wouldn’t have been severe enough to kill him.” Sam shuffled through the papers, his eyes narrowing in concentration. Finally he plucked a photocopied document from the pile and handed it to his sibling. “Here’s the report.”

Dean quickly scanned the document. “Huh.” He fell silent as the waitress returned, and favoured the woman with his charming grin while she set their meals down on the table. Dean waited until she walked away before leaning slightly toward his brother. “Nice work, Sherlock.”

“So, what did you get out of the manager?” Sam picked up his sandwich and took a tiny bite.

“Struck pay dirt, actually.” Dean arched his brows and leaned across the table, tapping a forefinger against the sheaf of papers by his brother’s elbow. “I got a possible connection to the victims. Those two who died? Their fathers both worked at the plant in the sixties. I bet if we went through the records, we might find that they were both employed in nineteen sixty-six.”

“You think that something really did happen to Mandeville? That he didn’t just slip?”

“I think if you found out where he was buried, we do a little digging tonight and find out. We can salt and burn the bones anyway, just to be sure.”

Sam took another bite of his sandwich and chewed thoughtfully for a few moments. “But why now? What’s changed to disturb the ghost? The building hasn’t been renovated or anything.”

Shrugging, Dean shoved the papers aside and gave his attention to his double cheeseburger and fries. “I don’t know. And I don’t really care. We salt and burn old Jackson, scan the building to make sure it’s clean, and the job’s done.” He pointed his fork at his sibling. “And since we’re digging tonight and I need you sharp, you better get some sleep this afternoon, huh?”

Sam’s jaw tightened stubbornly, and he dropped his gaze to his half-empty plate. “I don’t…”

“I don’t want to hear it, Sam, okay? I know you haven’t been sleeping. You’re exhausted, and that’s dangerous on a hunt. Try following orders for once, instead of bitching at everything.”

The young hunter raised his head, his eyes glittering as he glared at his sibling. “Was that an order?” he asked quietly, an undertone of anger in his soft voice.

Dean glared back at his rebellious brother. “Yeah. It was.”

A tense silence fell between the two young hunters. Sam dropped his gaze to his plate once more, his hands clenched in his lap. Dean concentrated on his food, acutely aware of his sibling seething in anger on the other side of the table. He heaved a quiet sigh, and let the silence continue.

*     *     *     *     *

The shovel blade broke easily through the rotted remains of the coffin, and Dean blew out a relieved sigh as he wiped the sweat from his forehead with his shirtsleeve. He peered into the coffin, frowning as he studied the skeleton lying inside. Glancing up, he waved a hand at his sibling. “Hey – come here.”

“What?” Sam leaned over the excavated grave.

“Shine that flashlight down here for a minute, would you?”

The younger hunter redirected the bright beam at the head of the coffin, watching in curiosity as his brother moved the skull to one side with the edge of the shovel. “What is it?”

“Huh.” Dean straightened up, tossed the shovel onto the heap of dirt and dusted his hands on his jeans. He grasped Sam’s outstretched hand and climbed out of the grave. “That blow to the head that wasn’t enough to kill him?”

“Yeah?”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Mandeville must have been one tough son of a bitch. The whole side of his skull was caved in.”

Sam’s mouth dropped open in surprise. His gaze shifted to the pile of bones at the bottom of the grave. Now that Dean had moved the skull, Sam could clearly see the jagged hole in the side, just above and behind where the man’s right ear would have been. “Holy crap. So he fell harder than they thought?”

“Or he was murdered, and someone covered it up. That’s good grounds for becoming an angry spirit, right there.” Dean arched his eyebrows and pulled the salt canister from the weapons bag, tossing the lighter fluid to his waiting sibling.

Sam caught the container in mid-air. “But – that would mean that the coroner was in on it.”

“Yahtzee.”

“Yeah, but why?”

“Don’t care. It’s not our job to solve a forty year old murder.” Dean waved an impatient hand at the open grave. “So come on, shag ass and let’s get it done.”

Together, the brothers salted and doused the remains. Standing at the edge of the grave, Dean pulled a matchbook from his jeans pocket. He struck two matches, lit the matchbook, and dropped the burning pack onto the prepared bones. Dean sat back on a nearby headstone until the flames died down, and motioned for his sibling to help fill in the grave.

Sam drove the shovel into the mound of dirt, his brows drawn into a frown. “Still doesn’t explain why the ghost would become active all of a sudden.”

“Well, we’re done with the bones, so the spirit’s gone. We’ll do a sweep of the plant to make sure it’s clean, and head out first thing in the morning. Guess it’ll just have to be one more unsolved mystery.”

The young hunter shook his head slowly. “I don’t know, Dean – something tells me this isn’t gonna go exactly to plan.”

“Ahh, you worry too much, Sammy.”

“It’s Sam.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

Working in concert, the boys soon had the grave filled and tamped down as best they could. Packing up their equipment, they gathered their jackets and headed back to the car. Dean noticed that his sibling was still brooding about something.

“What, already?”

“What?” Sam’s eyes widened as he glanced at his brother. “Nothin’. It’s just – I don’t know – a bad feeling, I guess.” He wrapped a hand across the back of his neck and massaged the tense muscles as he rolled his head.

“Huh.” Dean unlocked the trunk, tossing the shovel and weapons bag inside. He shrugged into his jacket and slipped the EMF meter into the inside pocket. Pulling two shotguns from the weapons stash, he loaded both with rock salt cartridges and placed them on the back seat within easy reach. “Well, let’s go, Haley Joel.”

“Funny, Dean.” Throwing himself into the front seat, Sam sat huddled against the door, saying nothing until they pulled into the parking lot of the meat packing plant. His gaze swept across the lot, his eyes narrowing as he made out a late model Ford parked against the fence in the far corner. “Hey – someone’s here.”

Dean grunted softly, turning in his seat to reach for the shotguns. Handing one to his sibling, he slid out of the Impala and quietly closed the door. “So not convenient right now,” he murmured, leading the way into the building.

The brothers exchanged a puzzled glance as they found the staff entrance door unlocked, and Dean cautiously pushed it open, sliding around the edge as he brought the shotgun to his shoulder. Using hand signals, he directed Sam to take the ground floor while he checked the basement.

As he descended the stairs, Dean gradually became aware of a rhythmic thumping and he frowned as he turned his head, trying to pinpoint the source of the sound. His gaze swept over the deserted conveyor belts and stainless steel trolleys, finding nothing out of the ordinary. As Dean moved deeper into the basement area the thumping noise grew steadily louder, and he realised with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that the sound was coming from one of the cold rooms.

Tucking the shotgun under his arm, the hunter sprinted for the door of the nearest room. He turned the handle and flung the door open to peer inside. A row of frozen beef carcasses met his gaze, and he moved swiftly toward the next room. A white, terrified face stared back at him through the glass panel set in the upper half of the door and Dean cursed, laying the shotgun on the floor beside his feet.

”Okay, okay – I’m gonna get you out!” he shouted, and the trapped man nodded frantically, his eyes never leaving the tall hunter. Stepping back, Dean studied the door and cursed again as he saw the padlock snapped through the handle. Drawing his .45 from his waistband, Dean took careful aim and fired, hitting the centre of the padlock and shattering it into pieces.

Quickly, the hunter grasped the remains of the lock, pulled it free, and wrenched the door open. He caught the man as he fell through the open door. “Whoa, whoa. It’s okay, you’re okay.”

“D-did you s-s-see him?” the man stuttered, clinging to the lapels of Dean’s jacket with shaking fingers.

“See who?”

“M-m-mand-e-v-v-ville – he w-w-was h-here…” The man’s eyes rolled in their sockets as he searched the shadowed basement for his attacker.

Dean grasped the man by the upper arms. “Mandeville? You saw him? How long ago?”

“T-t-t-ten min-utes a-a-go – he g-g-gra-b-bed me – sh-shoved m-m-m-me in h-h-ere. L-l-left m-me to d-d-die.”

The hunter scooped up the shotgun and wedged it against his right hip. Reaching out with his left hand, he grabbed the shivering man’s bicep and hustled him toward the stairs. “Son of a bitch – this is so not good.”

Keeping a wary eye out for the ghost, Dean made it to the door with his charge and breathed a sigh of relief as he slipped out into the parking lot. He steered the shocked man down onto the steps, forcing him to sit. “Okay, now tell me what the hell you were doing here.”

Blinking rapidly, the man stared up at his rescuer. “Got a ph-phone call – on m-m-my cell – telling me t-to come h-h-here.”

“From who?” Dean demanded.

“The p-p-p-plant manager.”

“And who are you?”

“Josh Al-l-len. I’m the c-c-county coron-ner.”

Flipping his cell from his pocket, Dean hit the speed dial for his brother’s cell. It answered on the second ring. “Sammy? Heads up – I think your bad feeling just became a reality. Mandeville’s not gone yet.”

"How do you know?"

“’Cause I just pulled the county coroner out of one of the cold rooms before he became a Popsicle. He said Mandeville shoved him in there. Stay sharp – I’ll meet up with you in a minute.”

“All right.”

Dean shoved the phone into his jeans pocket, and eyed the middle-aged man shivering on the steps. “County coroner, huh? Took over from your dad?”

Allen glanced up in surprise. “H-h-how did y-you know tha-at?”

“Lucky guess.” The hunter strode quickly to the Impala, popped the trunk and grabbed a blanket. Returning to the coroner, he draped the blanket around Josh’s shoulders and back. Dean drew in a deep breath and pinned the shivering man with a steely gaze. “Okay, Josh – you better tell me everything you know about this Jackson Mandeville, and fast. And no bullcrap or so help me God, I’ll put you back in that cold room myself.”

*     *     *     *     *

Sam disconnected the call and slipped the phone back into his jeans pocket. Re-settling the shotgun against his shoulder, he moved on silent feet through the ground floor, every sense alert for the ghost. His bad feeling had been right, but he took no satisfaction in it. Someone else had almost died at the hands of the vengeful spirit. If they hadn’t come straight back to the plant to check the building, the guy would have been dead by the time the morning shift came in.

Swallowing determinedly, Sam made his way down a dark corridor between the despatch office and the loading dock. Mentally he reviewed the facts he had gathered, sifting through them rapidly as he searched for a clue as to why the ghost wasn’t gone, and why it had suddenly appeared after forty years. He got to the end of the corridor, coming face to face with the huge loading dock door, and let out a tiny sigh.

Fatigue swept through Sam’s tall frame, and he took one hand from the shotgun to rub his gritty eyes. He rolled his shoulders, easing the stiffness in his muscles. Taking one last look at the deserted loading bay, Sam let the shotgun sag toward the floor as he turned to walk back up the corridor.

An ice-cold hand grasped the young hunter by the throat and he gasped, almost dropping the shotgun in shock. He aimed the weapon straight up the corridor and pulled the trigger, drawing in a ragged breath as the unseen hand fell away. His chest heaving, Sam swept the muzzle of the shotgun in an arc across the corridor as he pressed his back up against the cold steel door. Taking one hand off the gun, he reached for his cell phone.

Suddenly, the air around Sam turned frigid as a dark figure materialised directly in front of him. The shotgun was wrenched from his grasp, almost breaking his index finger, and the second barrel discharged harmlessly into the wall to the right as the gun clattered onto the floor. The spirit’s hand whipped out, wrapping around Sam’s throat and lifting the shaggy haired hunter off his feet.

Jackson Mandeville’s ghost leered at the struggling young man. “If I can’t have him, I’ll have you instead,” he growled, and slammed his captive against the loading bay door. The young hunter went limp in his grasp, and he grinned as he dragged his prize down the corridor toward the basement stairs. “And this time I’ll make sure there are no last minute rescues.”

*     *     *     *     *

Josh Allen took a deep, shuddering breath and wrapped the blanket more tightly around his slender frame. “Like I s-said, I got this ph-phone call from the plant manager – he asked m-me to come around – he said he found s-something weird in the cold room where the victims we-were found.”

Dean folded his arms across his chest. “Did he say what it was?”

“N-no. He just said for me to g-get my butt over here.”

“And what’s your connection to this Mandeville dude? Besides the fact that your father lied through his ass on the autopsy report.”

Josh blinked in surprise. “He w-what? I don’t…”

“Jackson Mandeville was murdered, and his murder was covered up. His head was caved in. Your father had to have been in on the cover-up.

The coroner’s face paled as he stared up at the tall hunter. “I don’t know an-anything about that – I swear!”

Dean sighed in frustration. “Then who the hell does?”

*     *     *     *     *

Sam came to with a start, jerking into a sitting position and flailing out his hands. He struck a frigid, unyielding surface and gasped, drawing his hand back as full consciousness returned. The young hunter pushed himself to his feet, his breath burning in his throat, and felt a chill ghost down his spine that had nothing to do with his surroundings as he realised where he was.

Sam gazed in horror at the frozen carcasses hanging from the ceiling before turning toward the door. He pushed against it, rattling the handle, but the door was locked. Frustrated, the young hunter threw himself bodily against it, hoping to spring the lock. He rebounded from the metal door, rubbing at his shoulder as he fought down his rising panic. Shivering uncontrollably, he dug into his jeans pocket for his cell phone.

Fumbling as he tried to wrap his freezing fingers around the thin casing of the cell, he finally pulled it from his pocket and held it up, squinting at the screen. “Dean,” he murmured, almost dropping the phone as his shaking fingers skated over the buttons. He bit his lip, and cursed as the phone fell from his hand. “Damn it!”

Dropping to his knees on the frost-covered floor, Sam crouched down, placed his rapidly numbing hands either side of the dropped phone and slowly brought them together. “Please, please,” he begged, carefully scooping up the phone between his palms. He sat back on his heels, cradling the cell in his hands, and slowly moved his thumb across the buttons. It took him a few tries to get the right one, and he almost sobbed in relief as he saw Dean’s cell number flash across the screen.

Sam pressed the call button and pushed the phone against his ear. “Dean – Dean!” Static answered him and he groaned, staring at the screen in dismay as the signal bars disappeared. His shivers growing more violent as the heat was steadily leached from his body, Sam threw himself again and again at the unyielding door, screaming his brother’s name.

*     *     *     *     *

Dean’s cell phone began to ring and the green-eyed hunter grabbed it, frowning at the screen as it displayed Sam’s number. “Sam? Sam – Sammy!” A cold chill ghosted down his spine, as he got only static in reply. He shoved the phone back into his pocket and hefted the shotgun. “Josh, you stay here – I’m going after my brother.”

“Like hell! I’m sticking with you!” Josh gathered up the blanket, and followed the hunter back inside the plant. “I’m not sitting out there waiting for Mandeville to grab me again.”

Dean sighed in annoyance. “Okay, but stay close. I don’t have time to keep rescuing your sorry ass all night.”

The pair headed for the ground floor, and made short work of searching the maze of corridors and offices. Dean found Sam’s discarded shotgun near the loading bay door, and his heart sank as he saw that both barrels had been discharged. “Sammy…” The hunter sprinted for the basement stairs, his heart thudding against his chest in sudden fear.

Dean jumped the last few steps and hit the floor running, heading for the cold room he’d gotten Josh from. Sliding to a halt, he flung open the door, but found no one inside. Quickly, he moved to the first cold room, his heart racing frantically as he again found it empty of human occupation. He turned to the coroner as Josh reached his side. “How many cold rooms are down here?”

Josh pointed off to the right. “There’s another one just around that corner.” He ran after the swiftly moving hunter, reaching the corner as Dean threw himself at the door set into the wall about halfway down the wide corridor.

The handle turned easily under Dean’s hand, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t open the door. The chill in Dean’s spine settled into a cold hard lump in his gut as he realised that Mandeville’s ghost must have somehow jammed the door.

“Sammy!” Dean hammered on the glass. A pale face appeared on the other side of the door, too-wide eyes peering from under frost-dusted bangs. Dean could see Sam’s mouth moving, but he couldn’t hear his brother’s voice. He pulled at the door with all his strength, but it still wouldn’t budge. “Sammy, can you hear me? Sam!”

Sam guessed what Dean was asking and shook his head, his face twisting in panic.

Dean placed his hands against the glass, framing his brother’s face. “Sam,” he began, speaking slowly and carefully so that his brother could read his lips. “Listen to me – I’m gonna get you out. But you gotta do something for me – you gotta keep walking – keep moving. Don’t lie down, and don’t go to sleep. Understand?” Dean waited for his brother’s confirming nod. “That’s my boy.” He laid his palm flat against the glass, smiling as his sibling did the same.

Turning to the stunned coroner, Dean beckoned him over. “Josh, you ever used a shotgun before?”

“Yeah, I’ve hunted a little. Ducks, mostly.”

Dean nodded, and handed the coroner his shotgun. He dug into his pockets, pulled out four shells and placed two in the elder man’s hand. “If Mandeville comes back, you shoot him. The shells are full of rock salt – they deter spirits.” Quickly, Dean broke open the barrels of Sam’s empty gun and reloaded it. Snapping the gun closed, he cast one last look at the cold room door and his little brother’s worried face, and squared his shoulders in determination. “I’ll be right back.”

*     *     *     *     *

Sam watched his brother stride rapidly away and wrapped his arms around his torso, trying to keep a hold on his fear. He began to walk back and forth between the hanging carcasses, his eyes on the door, his teeth chattering violently. Stumbling a little as the cold numbed his feet and legs; he continued to walk, because that was what Dean had asked him to do. Sam began to count out loud as he took each step. “One, two, th-three, four, f-five, six, se-sev-…” He frowned, his eyes clouding in confusion. “Five, si-six, s-s-s…fi-five, six…five…”

His stumbling growing more pronounced with each circuit, the young hunter struggled on, doggedly determined to keep walking. Just like his big brother asked him to. “Fi-fi-ve….s-s-six….f-five…”

*     *     *     *     *


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