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

Title: Happy Birthday
Season: 3
Category: General, Action, Horror/Ghost
Warnings: Winchester whumpage. Set between the Season 3 episodes The Magnificent Seven and The Kids Are Alright
Tagline: Tension mounts between the brothers – is it just Dean’s deal or is something more sinister at work...
Total Word Count: 52,583
Total Chapters: 9
Chapter 4 word count: 5160
Beta: [personal profile] ziggyuk 
Story Banner: Chasidern

Chapter 4

Dean waited half an hour before calling his wayward sibling – thirty long minutes of fidgeting, stuffing Sam’s scattered belongings haphazardly back into his duffle, pacing back and forth across the room, and mulling over what the hell had gone wrong. The whole scene so wasn’t Sam – the sudden rage, emptying the duffle all over the bed, and especially the last comment about making the wrong deal.

“Something’s wrong – I can feel it in my gut,” Dean muttered darkly. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and sat on the edge of the bed, nervously jiggling one leg up and down while he waited for Sam to answer.

The call went to voice mail and Dean shook his head. He stabbed at the buttons, dialling the number again. And again. After the sixth unanswered call he shoved the phone into his jeans pocket, pulled on his jacket and grabbed the keys to the tow truck parked outside.

He climbed into the driver’s seat and tapped his fingers against the steering wheel, deep in thought. He knew his little brother like no one else – even when Sam was so pissed he didn’t seem to be acting like himself. Dean figured his brother had enough time to calm down after his little meltdown.

“Kid’s probably down at Ernie’s, hiding in a corner suckin’ on a beer and getting all emo about how much crap he’s gotten himself into. That’s probably why he’s not answering his cell.” I hope, he added silently, trying to ignore the nagging little voice inside his head. Are you sure that what you brought back… Dean shook his head sharply in annoyance, banishing the thought before it had a chance to fully form.

The drive to the bar took only a few minutes, with Dean keeping a watchful eye out for his missing brother the whole way. He didn’t think that Sam would head back to Elm Road – not without weapons. And he was so going to drag that whole sordid story out of his moody sibling before the night was over. Hoping to find the young hunter with his long face stuck in a beer glass, he parked the truck and headed inside, scanning the crowd with narrowed eyes.

“Hey – Dean!”

Dean glanced up in surprise, seeing the smiling face of his friendly neighbourhood mechanic. He quickly strode over to the table. “Hey, Dave – have you seen my brother?”

“What – tonight? No, man. Why – what happened?”

“Ahh – he kinda got pissed and took off. Said he was gonna go for a drink. This is the only bar in town, right?”

The mechanic’s face abruptly sobered. “No, it’s not. But he wouldn’t be at the other one.”

A cold hard knot formed in the pit of Dean’s stomach. “Why not?”

“The Snake Pit’s a rough joint, Dean – real rough. Even the sheriff’s boys make sure they’ve got backup before they go in there. I think your brother’s got enough sense to stay away from that place.”

“Freakin’ great!” Dean pressed his lips into a thin line. “Knowing our luck lately, that’s just where he’s gone. Damn it! That kid finds trouble like no one else I know – except maybe me.” He ran a hand through his hair. “Can you tell me the quickest route to this Snake Pit?”

Dave got to his feet and dropped a twenty-dollar bill on the table. “I’ll do better than that – I’ll show you. I’m comin’ with you.”

*    *     *     *     *

Sam stood alone at the end of the scarred and pitted bar, idly turning his fourth beer between his fingers while his cell phone rang repeatedly. He ignored the muttered comments from the two hulking men a few feet away, and concentrated his gaze on the circle of condensation around the bottom of the beer bottle. Finally the ringing stopped, and the taller of the two men nudged his companion, a sloppy grin on his rough-hewn face.

“Looks like Pretty Boy’s little boyfriend’s stopped callin’. Maybe he got a better offer, huh?”

The young hunter’s lips tightened fractionally.

“I said, maybe he got a better offer, huh, Pretty Boy?” One of the men moved a step closer. “Hey – I’m talkin’ to you, boy!”

Sam raised the bottle and took a long swallow. Turning his head, he eyed the man coldly before dropping his gaze back to the bar.

“Think Pretty Boy needs a lesson in manners. Whadda ya say, Ben? Teach him how to speak to his betters?”

The hunter put his empty bottle down on the bar and turned, his hands hanging loosely by his sides. Anger simmered through his tall frame, hot and uncontrolled. If the bruiser was spoiling for a fight, Sam decided, then he was just in the mood to give the guy one. “Oh, this should be good. Emily Post as taught by Homo sapiens neanderthalensis.”

“By what?” The hulk’s craggy face twisted in confusion. He glanced quickly at his friend, who shrugged helplessly. “You dissin’ me, boy?”

“It means Neanderthal. Want me to spell it for you?” Sam sneered, his fingers twitching in anticipation.

The hulking man flicked a lightning glance sideways. Seeing the move, Sam ducked instinctively, feeling a breeze stir his hair as something swished through the air above his head. Lunging upright, he bent his left arm and drove it out to the side, hearing a pain-filled grunt when his elbow connected with a whiskey-soaked stomach. Twisting around to face the threat, Sam curled the fingers of his right hand back, driving the heel of his palm into the man’s solar plexus.

Letting out a startled squawk, the man reeled backward, his skinny arms flailing, the empty whiskey bottle dropping from his hand. He tripped, falling onto his butt and clutched at his chest as he fought for air.

One down, two to go, Sam thought, spinning away from the bar to give himself room to manoeuvre. A meaty fist crashed into his bruised side and he gasped, staggering back a few paces. The fist swung again and he twisted aside with desperate speed, his breath rasping in his throat. Spinning back, he whipped up his right arm, catching the second assailant across the throat with his forearm. His left fist stabbed out, pulping the man’s lips against his teeth. Sam raised his hands in a defensive posture and danced back out of range of the man’s wildly swinging arms.

Boring in, the third brute swung his fist in a looping roundhouse swing that would have taken the young hunter’s head off at the shoulders. In a move almost too fast to follow, Sam slapped the man’s hand aside and glided forward, burying his own fist almost wrist-deep in his opponent’s overhanging gut. Jack-knifing at the waist, the man staggered backwards and sank to the floor, green-faced and retching.

Sam stepped back, and found himself slammed against the bar as the first antagonist waded back into the fray. Throwing his arms around the tall hunter, the man trapped Sam’s arms against his sides. Before Sam could recover, rock hard knuckles smashed into his mouth, splitting his lip. He spat blood and staggered forward, straight into a vicious left hook that made his ears ring. Sagging in the skinny man’s grip, he ducked under the next blow and swung around until his back was to the bar. Sam drove himself backward, crushing the skinny little man between his two-hundred-plus pound frame and the unyielding surface of the bar.

Hearing a breathless wheeze and feeling the arms drop away from his torso, Sam spun to one side. The shorter man slid to the floor with a gasping moan and lost all interest in the proceedings.

Continuing the spin, Sam lashed out with a booted foot, missing the second hulking assailant by inches as the man frantically back-pedalled. He leapt forward, only to be driven to his knees by a blow to the kidneys. Gasping in agony, he felt the room spin around as another blow caught him on the chin, snapping his head back. A fist tangled in his hair and he let out a pain-filled yelp as he was hauled to his feet. Whipping his arm up and back, he heard a satisfying crunch as his elbow smashed into the man’s nose.

Sam launched another kick at the second hulk before risking a glance behind him. The fourth man was leaning against the bar, blood gushing from a broken nose. Looking up, the assailant snarled, baring blood-smeared teeth. Sam’s fist drove out; hard knuckles crashing into the man’s jaw, spinning him around and dropping him face first onto the floor.

A splintering crash sounded behind Sam and he twisted around, his eyes growing wide as he saw the Neanderthal wielding a broken bottle. Breathing heavily, he tensed, his eyes locked on the deadly points of glass as he balanced on the balls of his feet.

“That’s enough!” A deep voice barked from the doorway. The occupants of the bar froze, turning to see who dared stop the fun.

*     *     *     *     *

“There it is,” Dave tapped Dean’s shoulder, pointing to a long, single storey building styled like an old fashioned log cabin, nestled in the middle of a dark parking lot. Trucks and a few old SUV’s were parked outside, their battered conditions giving the anxious hunter a clue as to what kind of clientele frequented the place. As if he needed the hint, he mused bitterly – Dave’s warning had been more than enough information.

Quickly pulling into the parking lot, Dean swung the tow truck as close to the door as he could get. He jumped from the cabin, wincing at the sounds of fighting coming from within. “Crap!”

Dave reached behind the seat, and the hunter’s eyebrows shot toward his hairline when he saw the worn old shotgun in the mechanic’s calloused hands. “Let’s go.”

Tensing slightly, Dean pushed open the door, slamming to a halt in shock as he viewed the devastation. Two guys were down for the count, and as the astounded hunter watched, his brother launched a pile-driving punch that laid the third man out on the sawdust-covered floor. He flicked a rapid glance over the bar patrons at the scattered tables, identifying at least five more potential threats to his rampaging sibling. Dean’s mind raced – he had to get his brother out of there, and fast. Even with Dave and his shotgun as backup, there were just too many of them to take down without risking serious injury. As he settled on his course of action, the fourth assailant smashed the neck of a beer bottle and moved toward Sam’s unprotected back.

Dean saw Sam spin around at the sound of breaking glass. The young hunter didn’t notice the new arrivals – his gaze locked on the broken bottle as he tensed, ready to spring. Sam’s face was a mask of rage – hot and uncontrolled, and Dean decided he had seen enough. It was time to get his brother the hell out of there before someone got killed. “That’s enough!”

The combatants froze, and all heads turned toward the door. Dean spread his hands out from his sides in a non-threatening gesture; his gaze locked on the hulking brute threatening his little brother. “Time out, okay?”

The huge man grimaced, the hand holding the bottle lowering slightly. “You a cop? I don’t recall seein’ you around.”

“No, I’m not a cop.” Dean stalked forward, flicking a warning glare at his sibling. Sam quivered with pent-up fury, his eyes flicking between the Neanderthal and his brother. “But I do have a stake in this.”

“What stake?”

The hunter jerked a contemptuous thumb over his shoulder. “Him.” Keep your mouth shut, Sammy, for God’s sake, Dean prayed silently. I’m tryin’ to get your stupid ass out of here in one piece.

“You stickin’ up for him? Maybe you’re Pretty Boy’s little boyfriend, huh? Want a piece of this fight?” The battered face twisted into a leer as the man eyed the lithe hunter up and down.

“Yeah, I want a piece – of him. I owe that smart-mouthed son of a bitch one hell of an ass-kicking. He booked on me before I could give him what he deserves.”

Bushy eyebrows arched in surprise. “Yeah? Must be his night for pissing people off.” The hulk stared at the tall young hunter. “Maybe I’ll leave some for you – after I get through with him.”

Dean bit back a curse. This was not going to plan. “What did he do?”

“Kid came in here mouthing off –”

“You lying bastard!” Sam curled his hands into fists and started forward, only to be halted by his brother’s hand against his chest.

“You pipe down! I’ll get to you in a minute!” Dean shoved his pissed off sibling back a step and glared at him in a silent warning. Turning back to the hulk with the bottle, he raised his hands in a placating gesture. “Okay – so you’re sayin’ he came in to cause trouble, is that right?”

The bartender waded into the discussion, leaning one elbow on the bar. “He sure did – started callin’ these good people names for no reason at all.”

Sam growled low in his throat, his body trembling in rage.

Dean held out a hand palm up, a sympathetic smile gracing his lips. “Hey man, I get it – I do. But I think you can see my point – I got a prior claim. I just want five minutes, all right?” In his peripheral vision, Dean could see Dave heft the shotgun, keeping the crowd under observation while the hunter bargained with who he guessed was the ringleader. “I mean, come on, man – he insulted my girlfriend. I owe him big time.”

“Your girlfriend?” The brute stepped back, his craggy features settling into a smug grin. He waved his empty hand magnanimously at the young man in front of the bar. “Well, since you put it that way, be my guest, man.”

Dean turned his back on the bottle-wielding thug and stepped closer to his brother. “You and me, asshat. Outside. Right now.” He glared into the stormy hazel eyes, as he stood practically chest-to-chest with his taller sibling. Come on, Sammy – do as you’re told for once.

“My fight’s with that bastard first.” Sam loomed over his shorter brother; his jaw set stubbornly, his eyes blazing. “Just butt out till we’re done.”

“Okay. Have it your way.” Raising his hands, Dean glanced down and made as if to step back. He waited until Sam’s gaze flicked away before launching a short but savage uppercut to the tempting target of his brother’s outthrust jaw.

There was a loud click like two billiard balls coming together. Sam’s head snapped back, and he hung for a breathless second in mid-air.  Dean held his breath, fearing for a moment he’d hit his brother too hard. The taller Winchester’s eyes rolled back and he crumpled bonelessly to the floor, out cold, his head just missing the brass rail at the bottom of the bar.

Barking out a savage laugh, the behemoth with the bottle stepped toward the downed hunter. “Thanks, buddy – we’ll take it from here.” He swung his foot back, preparing to drive his boot into Sam’s ribs, when he suddenly found himself being dragged backwards. Powerful hands grasped his shoulders and swung him around as if he weighed no more than a baby, pushing him back against the bar.

The soft lights of the bar glinted off the razor sharp blade of a bowie knife before it disappeared from the brute’s view. Cold steel rested against his throat, and the broken bottle was forgotten as he stared into a pair of merciless green eyes.

“You touch him, and I’ll kill you.”

Never in his life had the bully heard such concentrated venom in a human voice. A cold shiver ran down his spine and he pressed back against the bar, not daring to even swallow as the knife’s blade pressed against his Adam’s apple.

Cursing savagely, the bartender darted a hand underneath the bar. A sinister double click froze him in his tracks and he glanced up, swallowing nervously as he stared down the yawning bores of the young mechanic’s shotgun.

Dave swung the barrels of the gun in a threatening arc as he eyed his fellow citizens coldly. His gaze centred on the bartender. “Call them off, Snake, or I’ll tow that precious Dodge of yours out to Clifton’s Leap and let it go.”

The bartender grimaced, his eyes widening in concern. “Stay the hell out of it, damn it!” he hissed, darting a lightning glance at his patrons. His gaze returned to the determined young man by the door. “You wadin’ in on this, Dave?”

Nodding to the knife-wielding hunter, Dave grinned mirthlessly. “You will too, Snake. This dude fixed your flat spot.”

“He works for you?”

“He sure does.”

Snake let go of the baseball bat he’d grabbed, spreading his hands out from his sides. His gaze slid to the white-faced behemoth pressed up against the bar. “Wilt – back the hell off.”

Grim-faced, Dean stepped back, sliding the knife back into its sheath without taking his eyes off the Neanderthal. The man dropped the bottle, letting it smash on the floor as he made his way on unsteady legs toward the exit.

Dean bent down and gently slipped a hand under Sam’s neck, making sure he wasn’t seriously hurt. He glanced around at the three men groaning on the floor, shook his head, and pulled his unconscious brother across his shoulders in a fireman’s carry. With one last withering look at the bartender, he strode out to the waiting tow truck.

Dave lowered the shotgun and followed his friend into the night, catching up with the laden hunter as Dean reached the passenger door. “Is he all right?”

“He’s just out cold – give me a hand with him, will you?” With the mechanic’s help, Dean got Sam settled in the cabin of the truck and handed Dave the keys.

“I saw Wilt Meyers take off like the devil himself was on his tail. And I don’t think it was just Snake callin’ him off that made him high-tail it. I couldn’t hear from where I was standin’ – what the hell did you say to him?” Climbing in beside the unconscious hunter, Dave turned the key in the ignition while he waited for Dean to squeeze in on the passenger side.

“Let’s just say I persuaded him to re-think his next move.” Dean didn’t bother to add that the next move would have been the man’s last if he’d followed through with that kick. He eyed his rag-doll limp sibling in exasperation. “What the hell is wrong with you, Sam?”

“Not the bar-fight type?” Dave queried, his gaze on the road as he headed for the motel.

“Sammy? No way, man. He’s all ‘let’s talk this out and be friends’. He’s the last guy to come out swingin’. This so isn’t him.” Dean chewed on his lower lip, falling silent as he contemplated his brother’s bloodied face. Are you sure that what you brought back…is one hundred percent… Gritting his teeth, Dean pushed the traitorous thought from his mind.

“Well, somethin’s got into his head, man. Hell, he could have been crippled bad by those good old boys.” Dave shook his head, pulling into the motel parking lot as Sam began to stir.

A cold shiver made its way down Dean’s spine. Something’s got into his head all right – but what? And when? Are you sure that what you brought back… Sam moaned softly and Dean shifted on the seat, forcing his fears to the back of his mind to glare at his sibling.

Sam’s eyes fluttered open and he gasped, wincing as a dozen aches and pains made their presence known. His head spun, something obscured the vision in one eye, and he generally felt like he’d been run over by a truck. He wondered vaguely if he was coming down with something. Memory returned in a rush and Sam shifted his blurred gaze sideways, encountering his brother’s furious green eyes. He groaned aloud. “Ah, crap…”

“That all you have to say?” Dean shook his head in disgust when his sibling hung his head, hiding his eyes behind the long chestnut bangs. He snorted angrily, sliding from the truck as soon as Dave killed the motor. “Come on.”

Moving like an eighty-year-old, Sam manoeuvred his battered frame out of the tow truck, swaying for a moment before his arm was grabbed and hauled over his brother’s broad shoulders. I am so in deep crap, he thought foggily, focussing his gaze on the nearby entryway. Wisely staying silent, he leaned against his brother, hoping Dean didn’t drop him on his ass and leave him in the parking lot.

“You okay with him?” Dave inquired, an amused grin tugging at his lips.

“Yeah, we’re good.” Not, Dean added silently. “Thanks, Dave – seriously. That could have gone real bad real fast back there.” You listening, you stubborn ass? I could have lost you again…His hand tightened involuntarily around Sam’s wrist.

The mechanic waved a hand in dismissal. “Ahh, that’s okay. Hey, Snake’s your new best friend – you fixed his precious Dodge. You won’t have any more trouble with that crowd.”

Dean paused in the entryway, hoisting his brother’s arm more firmly across his shoulders as he turned to face the mechanic. “Were you serious – you know, about towing the Dodge out?”

Dave’s face lost its easygoing smile. “Yeah, I was. And those guys know it.”

“Aren’t you kinda worried they’ll torch your garage or somethin’? That was a rough crowd.”

Jabbing a thumb at his chest, Dave shook his head and barked out a short laugh. “Nope. I’m the only mechanic for miles. They play nice, or they don’t get their trucks fixed.” He winked, the smile returning, and gave the battered young hunter a mock salute. “Stay out of trouble, Sam. See you in the morning, Dean.”

“Uhh….thanks.” Sam mumbled, waving a hand vaguely in the mechanic’s general direction. He winced, stumbling over his own feet as Dean swung him back towards their room. Sam concentrated on the arduous task of walking; saving his breath for the argument he could feel brewing between himself and his brother once they got inside.

Dean unlocked the door and flung it open, steering Sam inside. Stretching his foot back, he kicked the door closed, casting a sideways glance at his too-quiet sibling. Sam’s face was canted toward the floor, his bangs flopping across his eyes. Dean could feel the tension creeping into his brother’s tall frame, and decided to try to keep a lid on his temper for both their sakes. He shot a quick look at the weapons bag, wondering briefly whether he should have left it in the trunk of the Impala.

Sam let out a tiny sigh of relief when he was lowered onto his bed. Sagging wearily, he kept his gaze on the floor between his boots, trying desperately to keep his temper under control. He knew Dean was pissed – he could tell by the little glances his brother kept flicking his way when he thought Sam wasn’t watching. Long hair came in handy sometimes, he mused grimly, especially when you wanted to keep an eye on someone without them noticing.

The young hunter closed his eyes, unconsciously curling his hands into fists. He could hear the soft thump of Dean’s footsteps heading into the bathroom and then returning. Something dropped onto the bed beside him and he opened one eye, squinting as he watched his brother’s strong hands flip open the first aid kit. Drawing in a deep breath, he waited for the inevitable shouting match.

Dean noticed his brother’s fists pressed tightly in his lap and gritted his teeth. Taking out a gauze pad, he soaked it in antiseptic before brushing Sam’s hair off his brow. “Look up.”

Sam raised his head, anger churning in his gut at the sound of his brother’s deep, commanding tone.

“A bar fight? What the hell were you thinking?” Dean kept his voice low as he cleaned the cut above Sam’s eye. “You could have been hurt – badly hurt. Crippled – or worse. Where the hell was your head tonight, Sammy?”

The shaggy haired hunter stared straight ahead, lips pressed tightly together.

“And what’s with that wrong deal crap, huh? After – after what I did to bring you back, do you really think I’d rather have you dead and Dad alive? Huh?”

Sam’s throat constricted.

“That wasn’t you tonight, Sam,” Dean went on quietly, trying to reach his sibling. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was getting a little nervous of this cold stranger in his brother’s body. “Come on, man – talk to me. What’s this all about?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothin’?” Shaking his head in frustration, the green-eyed hunter turned his attention to Sam’s split lip, dabbing gently at the cut with a fresh gauze pad. “It isn’t nothin’, Sam. You deliberately put yourself into a situation where you could have gotten seriously hurt or killed. Twice in one day.”

Sam’s eyes narrowed, flicking to his sibling briefly before resuming their examination of the far wall. “I didn’t put–”

“You went on a hunt without telling me – then you got your panties in a knot and got yourself in a bar fight – in the roughest joint in town. Not exactly thinking with your upstairs brain, there, Sam. Come to think of it, even your downstairs brain wouldn’t have come up with that kind of buckets of crazy plan.”

“I don’t –”

“You’re pissed at me. I get it, okay? I’d have to be blind, deaf and stupid not to get it.” Dean rolled his eyes and tossed the bloody swab into the lid of the first aid kit. “So – is this payback? You’re so pissed that you’re gonna get yourself killed again just to get back at me for making that deal?”

Sam stiffened, his breath catching in his throat. He clenched his jaw so hard it hurt, pressing his fists against his thighs. Faintly, through the pounding of his pulse in his ears, he heard his brother sigh before leaving the room. Slowly, the tenseness melted out of his body, leaving him feeling washed out and empty. He slumped, his shoulders bowing, his fingers uncurling to lie limply across his knees.

Dean returned to the room, glancing quickly at his brother as he strode to the small kitchen area. He put a bucket of ice on the cupboard, scooping a handful into the hand towel he’d grabbed from the bathroom. Heaving a tiny sigh, he walked back to the beds and sank down onto his own. He leaned forward to grasp Sam’s hand, slapping the ice pack into the younger man’s palm and guiding it up to press against the reddened mark on Sam’s jaw.

Sam’s eyelids lowered, his sooty lashes veiling his troubled gaze. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

“So it’s not payback?”

“No.”

The elder hunter spread his hands. “Then what? ‘Cos I’m telling you, Sam – I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do, here.”

Shifting uneasily under his brother’s scrutiny, Sam kept his gaze on the floor.

Dean sighed in defeat. “Where else are you hurt?”

“It’s –”

“Don’t tell me it’s fine – just tell me where you’re hurt,” the elder Winchester murmured tiredly. “I’m done fighting with you, Sam, okay?”

Blistering rage spiked through Sam’s frame. He flung the ice pack down onto the floor as he shot to his feet, glaring down at his shocked sibling. “I’m sick of you bossing me around!”

What the hell…? Dean slowly raised a hand to rub at the back of his neck, avoiding his brother’s burning gaze while his mind raced, wondering what to do about Sam’s abrupt mood swings. A solution came to him – temporary at best, and Sam would be pissed as hell about it, but it would at least give both of them a few hours break from the sudden bouts of rage. And hopefully time for Dean to do some investigating, and try to find out why his little brother was acting this way.

Keeping his movements deliberate, he reached out for the first aid kit, palming two pills from a bottle buried under a packet of gauze. He got to his feet, moving wordlessly past his fuming sibling to the kitchenette, where he filled a glass with water. Holding the glass out as he approached, he kept his voice low and soothing. “Take the painkillers, Sam. Please.”

Sam opened his mouth to refuse, closing it abruptly when a sharp pain stitched along his bruised side. Giving his brother a jerky nod, he took the pills and washed them down with half the water before handing the glass back. He waited tensely, but Dean merely put the glass on the nightstand and sat back down without another word.

The seconds dragged on into minutes. Dean kept his gaze on the toes of Sam’s boots, lacing his fingers together and resting his elbows on his thighs. He could hear his brother’s ragged breathing above his head, and risked a glance at his watch from the corners of his eyes. Any second now, he mused silently, lifting his head.

A wave of exhaustion swept over the taller hunter and he swayed, his eyelids becoming impossibly heavy. He blinked slowly, his gaze blurring, and shook his head. A curious numbness was creeping into his limbs. Feeling his legs give way, he toppled, to be caught by powerful arms and lowered onto his bed. Helpless to do anything but stare groggily up at his sibling, he frowned in confusion as Dean looked down at him, regret in his wide green eyes.

“Sorry, Sammy,” the elder hunter murmured, stripping off his brother’s jacket, boots, jeans and long sleeved shirt. Pulling Sam’s tee shirt up, Dean checked his ribs to make sure nothing was broken. He pulled the blankets out from under Sam’s lax frame and covered him warmly.

“Sleeeeepllls….” Sam slurred, his eyelids falling shut. His head lolled on the pillow and his breathing evened out into a deep rhythm, the frown fading away as he succumbed to a drug-induced sleep.

“Sleeping pills,” Dean confirmed. “Sorry, kiddo, but I had to do it. I don’t know what the hell’s wrong with you, but I promise you – I’m gonna move heaven and earth to find out. Even if it means drugging you to protect you from yourself.” He brushed the long dark bangs from his brother’s forehead before grabbing his cell phone from his pocket.

“Are you sure that what you brought back – is one hundred percent pure Sam?”

Swiftly, the troubled hunter called up a number and held the phone to his ear. “Bobby? Man, I need your help.”

*     *     *     *     *

 

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