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Devastation and Reform 7/15

March 9th, 2008 (09:06 am)

 

A/N: And it's action! Craziness, I know. Anyway, love to Rachelly and 

sendintheklowns and geminigrl11 for the yaks and the encouragement and more yaks, respectively :)  And Tyranusfan for the patient beta.  Previous chapters here.

 

-o- 

Chapter Seven

His awareness had abated to a distant hum but it hadn’t left him completely. He wasn’t sure how long he laid there, but slowly he became aware of the noise and the movement awry around him.

Dean blinked and was surprised to find his eyes working.

There was a haze of papers, swirling and slicing through the air, the sheets covering the floor and obscuring his vision. It was nearly blinding--the white in the dimness--and it took Dean a long minute to orient himself in the surreal snowstorm.

He heard someone yelling. Someone who sounded familiar--someone like Sam.

His concern for his brother ratcheted him to full awareness and he jolted up, a sharp pain spiking through his skull.

Everything blackened for a moment, but he pushed it away, shakily trying to get to his feet.

Then he saw Sam—his brother was moving to the other end of the warehouse, moving toward the cops, which just seemed so like Sam. The kid was always doing selfless things like that—helping the very people who were trying to arrest him. Most of the time Dean respected Sam's bleeding heart--no matter how much he teased him for it--but did it really have to assert itself in the middle of a hunt? When a giant puma-like thing was attacking said cops? Especially since it meant Sam jumping between the giant puma-like thing with massive claws and a bad attitude.

So there was only one thing to do. Dean had to be the bigger hero.

There was only one catch with that plan, though. Dean's head was throbbing, he was still dizzy, and Sam was already on the other side of the room.

Well, there were two catches. The second being that the puma was fast. And Sam was far closer to it than Dean.

Dean was moving, albeit slowly, and even with hazy vision he had a perfect view of what was happening.

The younger cop was cowering, clearly terrified, his partner lying limp a few yards behind him.

Sam was charging in. To do what, Dean wasn't sure, but mostly likely to just get himself killed, which Dean did not want to see.

Sam yelled something—Dean couldn't make it out—and he saw the puma turn, its gleaming eyes fixed on his brother.

Everything happened so fast.

Sam was up, and then Sam was down, in a morbid stop action sequence that turned Dean's stomach. He saw it all happening, so slowly but too fast, and he was too numb to act, too numb for anything except to watch, his mouth opened in a warning that never formulated.

The sound of Sam's yell was guttural and loud, and it broke Dean's trance.

The room was in chaos, cops yelling, things flying. But Dean's focus was singular. He had to get to Sam.

Sam was limp now under the puma's massive paws, and the puma raised its head, blood dripping from its jaw.

He couldn't see how badly Sam was hurt—he could just see the blood staining Sam shirts, which were all partially shredded, revealing his chest beneath. Sam's face was twisted in pain, arms and legs writhing slightly as the paws gripped him, holding him down in a nearly human-like way.

Though the puma was clearly focused on Sam, it did not seem to have much problem keeping the warehouse in disarray. The boxes were flying in earnest now, lids spilling off and papers flying with enough velocity to cut, which Dean knew from the searing slices on his exposed face.

Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the fallen cop tended to by the other, who was yelling frantically into his walkie-talkie. Backup was on its way; this was Dean's only window of opportunity.

He didn't think about strategy, but merely rushed ahead, sweeping by their scattered supplies and yanking the rock salt filled rifle and aiming as he charged.

The beast merely looked at him, opening its jaws in a massive roar as he went down for another bite.

He fired—once, twice. At first, it merely flickered, its claws still firmly embedded into his brother's skin, but the second shot made it roar powerfully before flickering out completely, its corporeal body finally dissipating from on top of his brother. The cacophony in the warehouse did not abate, though, and Dean surged forward, still trying to reach Sam.

Going to his knees, he skittered across the floor, using his arms to deflect the flying debris from his face. He didn't know how long he had until the puma came back, until the backup got here, but he needed to go.

There wasn't time for anything—no time to gather their supplies, to check the puma, to see where Sam was hit—

He just had to go. Now.

Abandoning everything but his revolver, he bent down and reached for Sam. Pulling hard on his brother's arm, he dragged Sam to his feet. His brother's body leaned hard into him, and Dean maneuvered Sam's arm around his neck.

He grunted," Come on, Sam." Tightening his grip around his brother, he held Sam up, anchoring Sam's hip hard against his, willing him to help out.

Sam's head lolled and he muttered something hot and unintelligible against Dean's neck.

"We gotta move," Dean said again, unnecessarily, as he began moving them forward.

There was yelling, getting louder and more intense. Apparently the backup was here. Dean just hoped that their primary concern would be their own. He just needed a small opportunity to get away.

His mind raced as he and Sam moved heavily toward the back exit. The Impala was out front, undoubtedly surrounded and well covered. He'd have to leave it.

A crash and a yelp came from behind. Then a roar. Dean didn't spare a glance back, but let Sam lean against him as he looked discreetly out the door.

A few rusted cars. A dumpster. A thin row of shrubs and then a street beyond.

There was a wail of sirens in the distance. He had to get Sam out of here—now. Soon the cops would be mobilized enough to pursue them. He didn't want to think about what would happen when the FBI did show up. No, he needed to be long gone by them.

He looked at Sam, who was nearly collapsed against him. He could feel the tension in Sam's muscles, the shallow and rapid breaths he took. Gently, he nudged Sam, trying to lift his head.

"We're going to have to run for it," he whispered harshly into his brother's ear. "They're still preoccupied with the puma, so we don't have much time. You think you can stay up?"

Sam didn't reply, didn't even look up, but Dean could feel his brother moving, and that was answer enough.

With a steadying breath, Dean moved out, dragging Sam along with him.

Sam was moving, but barely, and Dean could feel Sam's weight drooping against his. By the time Dean finally reached a street, Sam was all but limp.

The street was quiet and thankfully not well-off. The houses were small and decrepit, the yards mostly browning and some littered with trash. Less people were likely to be looking as he hauled his limp brother from the scene; even fewer would be tempted to do anything about it.

Panting, Dean hoisted Sam against him, trying to control his brother's flailing limbs. He faltered and Sam nearly fell to the ground.

This wasn't going to work. Dean's mind reeled. None of this was going to work. He had no escape plan, no backup plan, no car, and a little brother who was probably bleeding to death. Not to mention the cops back at the warehouse and the promise of feds.

They were screwed.

But there was no time for that now. If he wanted to keep Sam--and himself--out of prison, he needed to move. Now.

He needed to get them off foot. Sam was in no condition to run and Dean certainly couldn't carry him much farther. Without the Impala, they were limited, but growing up a Winchester had taught him about more than destroying ghosts.

He eyed the first car he saw on the street, thankful it was a nondescript car and definitely not new. No security alarms and whoever missed it wouldn't have much chance of finding it.

Carefully, Dean dragged Sam to the car, laying him next to in the grass. He spared a moment to take his brother in—the pale, sweaty features, eyes blinking dazedly, chest heaving with exertion.

And blood.

Stark redness all over his torso, in the folds of his slashed shirt.

He swore. "Can't do anything the easy way, can you, Sam?" he murmured, letting his hand linger on Sam's uninjured shoulder.

Moving away from Sam was hard—it physically hurt and his stomach turned violently—but it had to be done. He made short work of the locks before opening a back door and dashing back around the car to where Sam lay.

"Okay, Sammy," he murmured, gently grasping Sam's good arm and pulling him upright. He eased a hand behind his brother's back and hefted him softly. "We need to go for a little ride."

A soft grunt emitted from his brother's lips, and Dean took that to be a good sign.

Carefully, he maneuvered Sam to the car. "I know it's not our usual digs, little brother," he babbled. "But beggars can't be choosers. Besides, no sense having you bleed all over our seats."

The joke was in poor taste, and Dean knew it, but Sam was too out of it to care, and Dean knew that the inappropriateness would be more reassuring than anything else were his brother still coherent. Getting Sam into the car was an awkward process—too many limbs, too much blood, and not enough space. Dean climbed into the car before his brother, pulling him in, mindful of Sam's injured torso.

Once Sam was to the far end of the seat, Dean opened the door and slid out. "You okay, Sammy?" he asked, kneeling at the door to peer into his brother's face.

Sam's eyes were open, barely, slight slits that reveals wedges of dilated pupils.

"Sam?"

Sam blinked and his eyes widened momentarily. "Dean?" he breathed.

Dean cracked a grin, fumbling around the foreign car for something to take care of the bleeding. He came up with a t-shirt--it looked dirty and ragged and probably not nearly sanitary enough, but it would have to do. He ripped it quickly. "I just need to put some pressure on these," he explained.

Sam was staring at him, staring through him, wincing slightly as Dean looped one of the strips under Sam's back, tying it tight over the rest of the shirt, which he had wadded up over the worst of the slashes.

It was crude work, poorly done, but it was better than nothing. He glanced nervously over his shoulder before looking back at his brother. "We've got to get a move on," he said. "You up for a car ride?"

The lucidity in Sam's eyes faded and his eyelids sank. Dean gave Sam's hair a tousle before he carefully shut the door.

Running to the other side, he lifted Sam's legs, molding them to fit into the car. He had to bend his brother's legs, setting them awkwardly against the door, but Sam was simply too big and Dean was out of time.

Closing that door too, Dean made his way hurriedly into the driver's seat, pausing only to catch his breath. Adjusting the mirror, he made sure he could see Sam in the backseat.

With a deep breath, Dean gathered his wits. A lot had just gone on, more than he could even process, but he couldn't let that get to him now. Not yet. Not until Sam was safe.

Sam was his priority. Now and always.

Solidified, Dean bent over and yanked the console free, exposing the wires. A few careful clicks later, the engine roared to life.

Sparing his brother one more glance, he swallowed. "Let's get out of here," he said.

No reply came from the backseat. Just Sam's labored breathing.

Dean put the car into gear and resisted the urge to peel out from the curb.

-o-

Dean waited until they were well outside of town before he pushed the pedal to the floor and sped. He hadn't wanted to arouse suspicions, but the road was lonely and vacant, and he needed to put as much distance between them and the FBI as possible. There was no telling how far reaching their net had gone.

Under normal circumstances (the thought of normal almost made Dean want to laugh) he probably would have driven for a day straight, two days, maybe three, until his facial hair grew in enough that with a hat and glasses he was nearly unrecognizable.

But these weren't normal circumstances. Because Sam couldn't afford to ride around for two days, or even one.

Nervously, he glanced at his brother.

Sam was splayed against the seat, head lolled back and face turned toward him. His lips were parted and at a glance, Sam looked almost normal, like he usually did when sleeping in the seat.

But Sam's lips were pale and his chest was visibly rising fast and shallow. Sweat made his bangs cling to his forehead. And he didn't even twitch. That didn't even begin to cover the blood that stained Sam's shirt, soaking through both layers so that the fabric stuck tight to his torso.

It wasn't ideal, but he had to hole up. He had to clean Sam's wounds, stitch them, bind them. Of course that meant a higher risk of getting caught, but if he didn't...

If he didn't, there was a really high risk that Sam would die.

That wasn't a risk he was willing to take.

He sighed, reaching his arm back and snaking Sam’s wrist. Pressing two fingers to Sam's pulse point, he felt for the beat, reassured by its presence, even if it wasn't steady or strong.

"Just hang on, Sammy," he murmured. "I'll get us out of this."

-o-

He checked them in to the Grand View Inn, which was nothing special, and a bit off the highway, hopefully far enough to not be the first place someone would look. Checking in was a hurried affair, though Dean did take enough time to distract the motel owner out of the building while he swiped the gleaming First Aid Kit from the wall behind the counter--he'd need something to deal with Sam's injuries, and he had a feeling that he wouldn't find much more than pocket change in their stolen means of transportation.

He parked behind the motel, in a dingy lot. He would have ditched the car altogether, but he couldn't leave Sam alone, not for that long, not like he was.

Getting Sam inside would be a chore. He’d managed it before, but his adrenaline had been pumping then. Now, he just fell raw and tired, jittery with nerves. When he leaned over and tried to rouse Sam, pulling the kid into a seated position, his brother's eyelids fluttered and something unintelligible came from his mouth.

"Come on, Sammy," he encouraged, picking up his brother's right leg and swinging it outside the car.

Sam groaned.

"Can you work with me?" Dean asked, moving his brother's other leg outside the door. Once both feet were aligned, he maneuvered himself alongside his brother, wrapping Sam's arm around his shoulders.

Sam's head lolled against him. "Dean?"

"Yeah, kiddo," Dean said. "You with me?"

Sam's head tipped forward, his chin falling against his chest.

"Take that as a no," Dean quipped humorously. "Up we go."

With a grunt, he pulled Sam to his feet, snaking his arm around his brother's waist to stabilize him. Sam listed heavily, clearly not supporting his own weight and Dean felt them nearly tumbling to the ground.

Carrying Sam was a project on a good day—his brother was bigger than he was and the lean muscles that hid underneath Sam's layers of clothing were a force to be reckoned with.

Big brother concern was also a force to be reckoned with. It was the kind of concern that led people to lift cars by themselves, to overcome impossible odds to save a loved one.

Getting Sam into the motel room, in comparison, was no contest, and Dean, for his part, barely remembered the struggle.

Inside the room, it was hot and musty. He lowered Sam to the first bed before flipping on the air conditioning while running to the car to get the first aid supplies he'd taken. Home surgery was not a foreign concept to the Winchesters, and Dean knew he would have to work fast and carefully. It would be a long and bloody night no matter how he looked at it.

He raided the bathroom for towels, wetting a few in preparation.

Supplies gathered, he sucked in a steadying breath, and took a good look at his brother.

Sam was exactly where he'd left him, sprawled out on top of the cheap motel bedspread. His head was turned slightly to the side, and Dean could see that he was panting for breath. The blood was everywhere and had clearly soaked through the bandage he'd hastily applied. Therein was the problem.

Swallowing back his trepidation, Dean opened the kit, pleased to find it well stocked. Though it was not up to his usual standards, it did have a variety of painkillers and bandages, even a few coveted pressure bandages. While the motel lacked much in the way of cleanliness, it certainly seemed to be ready for temporary triage in case of a medical emergency.

First things first, he needed to see just how bad this really was. The blood spoke volumes of the severity, but Dean needed to know just how severe it was. As in, did Sam already have one foot in the grave or would time and rest and fluids do the trick?

Carefully, he unbuttoned his brother's shirt, pulling it away. He took scissors to Sam's t-shirt—the thing was ruined anyway. The thought of lifting Sam more than he needed to was not appealing—he didn't want to disturb his brother more than he had to—any additional jostling would only encourage more bleeding anyway.

Peeling the shirt to the sides, he got his first good look at Sam's injuries.

He blanched.

It was worse than he had anticipated, even worse than he'd dared to fear. Long slices crisscrossed Sam's abdomen and chest. Some were mostly superficial, but one set, nicking the upper abdomen and cutting long across his chest, was deep.

As bloody as those were, they were nothing in comparison to the shredded state of Sam's shoulder. A chunk of flesh was simply missing, the meat around it ground up and hanging grotesquely.

For the first time, he was glad Sam was unconscious, because that had to hurt like hell.

Swallowing hard, he forced his nausea away. He didn't have time for such luxuries. Sam needed help—and he needed it now.

His hands were shaking as he took a wet towel and wiped down the wounds, mopping up the blood. Blood welled in the wake, but it wasn't as much now, and that much made Dean feel better. Some clotting had occurred.

Next he had to clean them—make sure they didn't get infected. He was liberal with the antiseptic, and even threw in a dose of holy water for good measure—he'd rather be safe than sorry, and truthfully, he didn't know enough about the merging of spirits and man to know if the wounds they inflicted could have supernatural consequences.

Sam tensed, muscles bunching, but he didn't move, a low moan grumbling from his throat.

"Easy, Sam," he soothed, keeping his hands gentle and sure. Sam was in enough pain; Dean did not relish inflicting more.

Only three slashes on his chest would need stitches he decided, and there wasn't enough of the outer layer of skin on Sam's shoulder to stitch—he'd just have to put a pressure bandage on and hope for the best. Maybe later, once things settled, he could get Sam to a clinic, something more low-key to check it out, but for now—for now he'd just do what he had to do.

Before he could patch the shoulder, he'd have to stitch up the chest wounds. He'd sewn stitches before, more times than he'd like to remember, and he almost wished that Sam would respond more as the needle dipped in and out of the tanned skin of Sam's chest. But Sam was out, deeply lost in the pain and held under by the blood loss. He made a note to check for shock—Sam's blood pressure would be low, no doubt, and he didn't have the means to do much more than sit and monitor it.

That took care of the slashes, which left the shoulder. Washing it carefully, he did a deeper inspection, worriedly examining the torn flesh. It was deep enough to hit muscle, and that would prove problematic for recovery, especially if Dean didn't get Sam to a facility soon.

Dean suppressed an urge to panic. Sam needed a hospital. But Sam also needed to stay out of jail.

Numbly, he put on the pressure bandage, then proceeded to wrap all of Sam's chest in a hope to completely stop the bleeding. He'd have to check the injuries every few hours, change the bandages and clean the wounds, and just hope that the incident blew over soon enough to get the injuries dealt with properly.

When Dean had finally finished with Sam's wounds, his brother was still asleep, pale and unmoving on the bed. Dean sighed heavily, rubbing his hand through his hair, oblivious to the dried blood which cakes his fingers. Blood still seeped and the bandages were crude, but for now, it was enough. It would have to be enough. He pulled the blankets over Sam before flopping back, exhausted, onto his own bed.

Weariness crept through his body, but his mind would not give in to sleep. There was too much at risk. And in the back of his mind he could always hear the distant wail of sirens encroaching on his consciousness.

No, he had to stay awake, stay alert, just in case.

Resigned, he turned on the TV to find the local news playing. He was greeted with his own mugshot hovering next to the blonde anchorwoman who read seriously off her cue cards. He cursed aloud as he turned up the volume.

"...authorities are looking for this man, who is wanted in connection to a robbery in Minnesota last month and a string of murders in Missouri last year. The man and an accomplice were said to have had an altercation with local police today, which led to the death of one officer. Another is critically wounded and still in the hospital at this time. If you have any information about this man..."

This certainly wasn't the kind of press he wanted to get. The last thing he needed was everyone and their cousin looking for him, trying to make a buck and take a shot at fifteen minutes of fame at his expense—at Sam's expense.

But, he had to admit, it was nice that at least they had a picture that looked like him this time. Though he would have liked to look less sweaty—shine did nothing for his pores.

There was a gasp from the other bed, and Dean turned his head in time to see his brother take a rattling breath. The younger brother’s chest heaved as he settled back, his stillness resuming. The hint of fever was beginning to creep into Sam’s cheeks, and Dean felt his heart rate quicken.

Shiny pores or not, the picture was good enough to get him ID’d. Good enough to get him caught. Good enough to condemn both himself and Sam to a lifetime in prison.

He couldn’t let that happen.

He just didn’t know how to stop it.

-o-

The room reeked of body odor, faintly tinged with the scent of blood and sweat. The four small walls seemed to close in on them; Dean hadn't left in over a day, and Sam certainly hadn't either. They couldn't risk it. The news had been flashing both their pictures, and Dean could only hope that his low-slung cap had been enough to cover his face from the kid at the desk when they'd checked in yesterday. He'd paid up for a week, told them to forget maid service, but he was nervous just the same. Because Sam was getting worse, and Dean was running out of options to get them out of this.

He took to pacing on and off, long strides up and down the room's scant interior. He tried sitting, but his legs felt restless, moving him to stand once again. He lingered by Sam's side, checking the bandages and checking Sam's temperature, knowing that both were becoming a problem.

The red flush of fever laced Sam's cheeks and sweat beaded on his brow. It wasn't dangerously high—yet—but Dean knew that he'd be out of Tylenol soon, and that without proper treatment the wounds would only get worse.

His brother had stopped fully rousing to his touch, and that unnerved Dean more than anything else. He was left alone to the silence of the room and the muted whimpers that came from Sam.

He started pacing again.

It was so suffocating that Dean could hardly breathe. On the bed, Sam shifted marginally, and Dean paused, watching his brother.

But Sam merely moaned and twitched before falling eerily silent yet again.

Sighing, Dean resumed his course. It'd been a few hours since he'd checked the bandage, but he knew what he'd find. Bloody bandages were discarded about the room, and though the wound had clotted somewhat, it still seeped. He'd have to change it soon.

But Sam was running out of blood.

And Dean was running out of options.

His phone taunted him from the dresser.

It was a last resort. A desperate chance. It would cost him everything—his freedom, maybe his life—

But it would save Sam. It was Sam's only hope.

Dean clenched his teeth and let his head drop down. Because he knew. He couldn't let Sam die. He'd give up everything, if only Sam could live.

It was his only hope, too.

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