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SPN Fic: The Other Side of the Story 2/4

A/N: Thanks to all who read the first chapter!

 

CHAPTER TWO

Everything hurt.

That was actually kind of normal--that sense of pain, of loss. A constant state, who he was, who he had become in the wake of Stanford. Because Sam's life was one of loss and emptiness, and every night he went to bed aching and every night he dreamed of a dark and gauzy world without hope, without happiness, without anything.

He'd left for Stanford to fill the voids inside of him. He'd left from Stanford feeling less complete than ever. And that hurt because it was a loss burned into his soul, into his very being, and it was a scar that would never heal, never, no matter how hard he tried.

So everything hurt. Every waking moment, every tortured dream. Every mile in the car that took him farther from his everything he'd worked so hard for, fought so desperately for. Every hunt from their father's journal that took him further from safe.

He wasn't safe anymore. Maybe he never had been.

And it hurt.

It hurt like he'd been gutted and seared on the ceiling, like he'd been eviscerated and burned alive, the ends of his nerves fraying with sheer agony as he bled and bled and bled until his body when hot and cold and then uncomfortably numb.

He gasped, his awareness rising in him with the bile in his throat.

And then, he threw up.

The acid burned up his throat, stinging through his teeth and in his nose until the acrid fumes took him over and he retched again. The process was painful, racking his body as he sought to expel the contents of his stomach in violent, measured bursts.

When it was over, Sam focused on breathing, in and out, in and out, aware of nothing beyond the pain.

It could have been seconds, it could have been hours, but suddenly Sam came into himself and startled.

His eyes blinked, a little frantic, and he realized he was face down, his own puddle of vomit mere inches from his face.

That would be enough to tell him that things were not going well, but when he moved, pain ripped through his chest. The world whited out again as he coughed, flopping heavily onto his back as he labored uselessly for a full breath of air.

When his vision cleared, he found that he was staring, his eyes fixed straight ahead--straight up, too, apparently, since he was splayed limply on his back now.

Straight up at...rock. Dark, craggy gray was domed above him, shadowed in the dimness of the...cave.

He was in a cave.

He started to turn his head and hissed, squeezing his eyes shut.

He was in a cave and in a lot of pain.

First things first, what the hell had happened to his body?

Blinking blearily, he craned his neck tentatively, trying to get a look at himself. What he saw made him want to throw up again.

It was a macabre scene, looking down at his own bloody chest. The fabric of his shirt and jacket were frayed and stained, dark and saturated with blood. He couldn't see much, but through the slices, he could make out the equally frayed ends of his own skin, the gore of his chest plainly apparent.

So, that explained why it felt like his chest was on fire.

But that still didn't explain what happened.

The last thing he remembered was being in the woods, following Dean. Dean had chewed him out for breathing too loud or thinking too much or both or something and he'd dropped back and then--

Then he'd been attacked.

Sam swallowed, feeling a sheen of sweat break out over his body. If shock hadn't set in yet, he was pretty sure it was starting to, and he felt woozy again. Throwing up took too much work, though, and his stomach thankfully obeyed his body's weary refusal to move any more than it had to.

It must have been the werewolf. Dean's damn werewolf must have gotten the jump on him--that certainly would explain the slices on his chest.

But...why no snarling? Why no fur? And where was he? Did Dean bring him here?

Something was missing, some vital piece of information, and it seemed like Sam should be able to figure it out--he was nearly a Stanford graduate, after all--but his memory wasn't quite working like it should and his higher reasoning skills were a little shaky at best and why was it so damn cold in here?

And where was here?

A cave, dumbass. Dean's voice rang through his head more clearly than anything else.

Sam scowled. Yes, he knew he was in a cave, but he still didn't know why or how he'd gotten here or if he needed to be thinking about running, which didn't seem all that practical. Maybe he could still find his gun or at least the knife that was strapped to his ankle.

He laughed. He couldn't help it. A short bark of laughter tinged with pain.

He was lying in a cave with his chest ripped open and he was thinking about how to get his knife out. Six months ago, he was worrying about the LSATs and classes and how he was going to afford to buy Jessica a ring.

The laugh cut off abruptly and he closed his eyes, trying not to cry. Winchesters didn't cry. They didn't. They were strong and capable and Dean would hunt down that werewolf's ass with or without his chest ripped to shreds.

Sam opened his eyes again, but his resolve was quickly shattered by a sudden movement above him.

Fast and white--just like before.

The movement stopped, crystallized, and then became the outline of a creature lingering above him with a look of malice on its flickering features.

Flickering wolfish features.

It was a werewolf...

Or had been a werewolf.

Sam muttered a curse. "You're a ghost."

The werewolf ghost tilted its head, its dead eyes appraising Sam with a cold madness. "Monster," it said, its voice rough like gravel. "You called me monster."

Sam tried to breathe deep, collect himself. So, this was a talking werewolf ghost. Which, sort of made sense. Though werewolves in their turned form were animalistic in nature, functioning solely on killer instinct, they were people by day. Honest-to-God humans. Sam couldn't be sure how much they retained of the wolfish alter ego, but that didn't change the fact that werewolves, by the light of day and most nights a month, had human fears and wants and abilities.

In death, who knew what happened to the two halves? Apparently, this one was both wolf and human now, a deadly mixture of the two.

"You attacked me," Sam said, rather pointlessly. But he needed to say something, needed to do something. If it wanted to talk, then Sam would talk. He was defenseless in every other way. Even if he could find his gun or his knife, the silver bullets would be worthless against this thing. Besides, movement seemed to be mostly out of the question for the time being.

"I kill because I have to. It's my nature," it seethed. "You--you kill because you want to."

Sam shook his head, swallowing against a surge of bile in his throat. "We just wanted to protect people--"

"Hunter," it said, then it leaned forward, looming close to Sam's prostrate body now. "Hunter. See what it is like."

Sam's lips twitched. "See what what's like?"

"See what it is like to become the prey," it said.

All ghosts had a motive, a reason behind their attacks. The monthly cycle of this one meant that it was still in wolf mode, but its dialogue, its reasoning. It had a human motive. "Is that why you killed the others?"

"They were in the way," it said. "Always in the way. Night after night, they come here, but they're not the ones I want. Not the ones who did this to me."

It paused, leaning forward and raising an ethereal claw.

"You're the one I want, hunter," it said. "I made it quick for them. I made it quick because I didn't want to kill them, but I had to. But you-I want to kill you. I want to kill my perfect prey."

Before Sam could ask another question, before he could even drag in another breath with his damaged chest, the ghost tilted its head, and Sam was flattened forcefully against the ground. Rope appeared out of nowhere and, in a movement faster than Sam's eyes could trace, it was slipped neatly around his feet as another piece wound tightly around his hands.

In mere seconds, Sam was trussed up, the bindings tight and unyielding, though he couldn't keep himself from trying.

Even if he had been able to move with any kind of agility, though, it would have been useless. The bonds seemed to be reinforced with a supernatural strength, one born of the ghost's sheer power and its frighteningly clear hunting instincts.

Sam swallowed, looking up from his bound limbs and letting his eyes flicker around the cave again, looking for something, anything that could help him. The edges were darkened with shadow, and the ground near his head was littered with a rusted metal cup and decaying cans of what had once been pork and beans.

And hair. Tufts of it, littering the ground like something had been shedding.

Something like a werewolf--

Sam's eyes raised again, to the looming figure.

The ghost was appraising him with a feral smile. "I came here to protect others," it said. "I can't fight biology."

This was its lair. Where it had lived when it was alive.

"I just wanted to be alone," it said, mouth snapping shut, flickering human and wolf all at once. "And you hunted me."

Sam wanted to speak, to explain, but there was no reasoning with a ghost. When it was alive, this place had probably been remote, abandoned. It--he had come here so he could turn into a wolf and not hurt anyone, and he'd been hunted and killed like the monster he was.

Ghosts were nasty things. Always about revenge. Reliving their deaths, righting their deaths.

Sam had a feeling he was suffering through both.

"Hunter, be my prey," it said, cooed almost.

Sam couldn't help but shake his head.

"My prey," it said again.

Then, it lunged at him, a fury of silent claws and fangs, and Sam scrambled to protect himself, to do something, but his hands were bound and his feet were tied and his chest hurt and he was so damn helpless. He didn't even have time to blink as the ghost slashed anew at his chest, his stomach now, its teeth bared, its eyes alight with a fatal fire.

A scream was wrenched from his throat, and he had to wonder if this was justice, if the cosmic scorecard knew how to keep track of the records of rights and wrongs, so that when a good person died, a bad person suffered because of it. Maybe, then, this wasn't so bad. Maybe he deserved this; this and so much more.

Sam couldn't be sure, not at all, but he remembered the tightness of his brother's hands around his throat, the tightening of a cord around his neck, the burning guilt of his own reflection bleeding out his sins, Jessica on the ceiling, Dean pulling him away, away, and away, and Sam following, helplessly and desperately, until the entire world was a memory of pain and loss and so much pain.

-o-

Supernatural bread crumbs.

The traces of EMF were enough to get Dean going in the right direction, feet landing steady and fast, one in front of the other, as he made his way quickly through the forest. The winding trail took him off the beaten path, sometimes into thicket, and Dean had to duck and dodge as he tried to avoid the tree branches and sticks that obscured his path.

"Stupid," he muttered, adjusting his course to keep the signal strong. "Stupid, stupid, stupid."

It might be nothing more than an errant electrical receiver, some piece of trash left out here or maybe even a cabin that wasn't quite as abandoned as people thought. Hell, it could just be a freakish anomaly--that kind of crap happened from time to time--his winding path through the dense forest just getting him farther from the werewolf's hunting grounds, where the attacks had taken place, where another one was likely to occur tonight if Dean didn't do something about it.

But Sam was gone--missing. If the wolf had gotten him, Dean would have heard it. He was almost sure of that. After all, Sam was good--Sam was really good. He may have been gone for nearly four years, but Sam couldn't avoid the fact that this crap was in his blood. His entire life had been geared around it for years. He couldn't forget that kind of thing, not even if he wanted to--no matter how badly Sam may have tried. It was just like riding a bike. A few glitches, a pothole or two, but Sam was too good to be taken down by some stupid werewolf in some stupid woods without even making a sound.

And even if could happen, he would have found Sam by now...

No, missing meant something entirely different. Missing meant blowing off what he thought he knew and follow this trail of EMF and hope like hell his instincts didn't fail him this time.

Because his instincts? Were pretty damn good. The same instincts that allowed him to cap a black dog while it was charging. The same instincts that told him when to keeping digging up a grave and when to pop a nasty ghost full of rock salt. The same instincts that made him go to Sam for help finding their dad after all those years, after all that they'd said, after all that had happened. The same damn instincts that had made Dean go back to Sam's apartment and pull his brother out from being burned alive.

So, yeah, Dean's instinct were a force to be reckoned with, and he couldn't shake that this wild goose chase wasn't really about some damn goose.

Suddenly, the device in his hand began vibrating, the reading nearly skyrocketing, bringing Dean to an abrupt stop.

It had to be here--whatever it was.

Dean turned, moving his flashlight carefully in an arc around him, looking for some sign, for any sign.

He made one full circle, heart pounding and brow sweating, before he saw it. A sloping hill to his right, venturing downward and away from his line of vision, lined with rocks and brush.

Dean had spent enough time in the woods to know what it probably was-a cave. And seeing as there was nothing else out here at the moment, a cave was his best option.

The device whined harder, and Dean turned it off, slipping it into his pocket and trading it for his gun. It may not be the right weapon if this thing turned out to be not a werewolf, but it was better to be armed than to go in without anything.

His steps were slow, cautious, and then he heard it-a quiet whisper on the wind, subtle and dark and chilling all the same. He'd missed it before, hidden behind the pitch of the EMF and the thundering of his own heart in his ears, but it was unmistakable.

He swallowed, hard, mentally preparing himself for, well, anything, when he heard something different.

A cry.

A human cry.

Pain-filled and garbled and sounding a hell of a lot like Sam.

It was all instinct now, moving fast. Dean leaped on the run, bounding down the hill with as much grace as he could muster. It wasn't too steep and it wasn't too long, but his momentum going down pushed him over and he rolled once, head over heels, before righting himself. The flashlight scanned the slope, looking, looking--and there.

The rocks coalesced to his right, coming together to form an outcropping, with a mouth underneath it. It was smaller than Dean had expected; Sam would have had to duck his head to get in, but then again, it was somewhat probable that Sam hadn't entered it under his own steam.

A light flickered from within, and the wind picked up as the temperature dropped and he heard a moan-he heard Sam moan-before a scream split the night.

Quicker now, Dean charged, running as hard as he could, gun up and ready, his flashlight all but an afterthought.

He saw the ghost first, a wavering form, hazy and lighting in and out. It was a tall figure, strong and limber and covered with hair while it hunched over something.

"Hey!" Dean yelled, even if it was a stupid move, because that wasn't just something, that was someone, that was Sam.

The ghost turned to look at him, cold eyes and a face deranged with the fury of the dead. It growled at him, all fangs and claws rising from Sam.

"My prey," it said. "Mine."

Dean fired, straight and clean, right through the thing's freaky head. The ghost vanished in a puffy whoosh of air and Dean's entire body was shaking. "No, he's mine, you asshole."

But time was of the essence. The silver round would deter it--but only for a minute. Dean could keep plugging it full of holes but the damn thing would keep coming back, and by the time he got the salt out of his bag, the thing would be back anyway.

No, it was time to book it and run. Whatever was going on here, they clearly weren't prepared, so he needed to get Sam and get the hell out.

One look at his brother, though, and Dean realized that might be harder than he'd anticipated.

Because Sam was limp, bound legs unmoving on the cold dirt ground. His arms, also tied in front of him, did nothing to mask the horrific amount of blood that stained Sam's entire torso.

Sam's head was turned away, the dark hair stringy with sweat.

All in all, the kid looked dead from a distance, but the grating wheeze of Sam's breathing was pretty powerful proof to the contrary-for the time being, anyway.

"Sam," he breathed, and he was moving without thinking, legs numb from the shock of it. He went to his knees. "Sam."

His brother flinched, just barely, and Dean could only hope that was a good sign.

"Sammy," he said, his voice a mix of big brother cajoling and drill sergeant command.

At that, Sam stirred, a shudder running up and down the length of his battered body. Closer now, Dean could see that Sam had been cut up-badly-and that the blood loss could be reaching dangerous levels.

Still, Sam was as stubborn as a Winchester could be, and Dean could see the kid trying to look at him.

It took a second, and Dean kept his grip on the gun unwavering in case their unfriendly ghost showed up again.

But Sam's head turned, his eyes cracking open.

"Dude," Dean said. "I know I told you to be a bit more quiet, but this is ridiculous."

The joke was lame, but just what they needed, and Sam's mouth twitched in a smile. But then his brother's eyes went wide, and Dean cocked his head, ready to ask what was wrong when he noticed the hairs on the back of his neck standing up and that Sam's gaze was fixed just over his shoulder.

Dean swore and turned, but was a second too slow, and then he was flying through the air.

-o-

It had to be a dream.

That was Sam's only explanation. After all, his father had been here, shaking his head, disapproving as ever, telling him how he needed to train harder, train better, be better, be the good son. And Jessica had stopped by, too, so beautiful, always beautiful, but with fire glowing in her eyes, condemning him, asking him why.

Sam was pretty sure even his mother had been there, someone soft and maternal, just shaking her head, almost like she was wondering how a son of hers could turn out like this. A failure.

It was an unfriendly parade in his head, and on some level, he knew it was nothing more than a method of disassociation. After all, he was getting torn to shreds by some kind of werewolf ghost. Ghost or not, the claws were real enough to do damage, real enough to kill, and Sam wondered if this would be enough to put the spirit at rest or if it would only ramp up the attacks. It was hard to tell with ghosts, because it could so easily go either way--not that it made much difference for Sam, of course, because he was pretty sure to die here no matter what, but he liked to think that his death could do something better than his screwed up excuse for a life had.

Still, disassociation or not, he sort of thought that seeing the ravenous ghost wolf fulfill its vengeful destiny might be a little bit less emotionally trying than being reminded of all of his worst moments, all of his most prolific failures in the moments before his death.

He really wasn't surprised when Dean showed up. His brother had issues with him, after all, just like Sam had issues with Dean. There was jealousy between them, quiet and understated--and resentments that lurked beneath the surface of their brotherly bond. That was part of it, Sam figured. Being so close, being with someone day in and day out, made it impossible not to harbor some things, but they'd spent too many years of good soldier and bad soldier, of bossy and whiny, of falling in line and always asking why, not to have some of Cain and Abel in them.

Who was who, well, that was anyone's guess, but Sam sort of figured it was a little of both.

Of course, that was entirely too deep a thought for someone who was about to die.

And Dean looked a little too afraid to be a hallucination. Sam's psyche, it seemed, was bent on self-flagellation these days, so a worried Dean? Didn't so much go with the current situation.

Except, it did if Dean happened to be real and not just a figment of his morbid and masochistic imagination.

Which meant-

His eyes focused and he gulped to awareness with a harsh, grating breath.

Dean had found him. Dean was going to save him.

Then Sam's eyes went wide.

Unless Dean got sliced to hell by the were-ghost hovering right over his shoulder.

Sam thought to warn him, thought to do something, but his throat was dry and his tongue was too big and it was hard bringing air past his damaged chest and he could do no more than open his mouth and blink.

It wasn't enough. Which was the story of Sam's life.

His heart picked up its pace, and a pervasive cold sweat swept over his body. The ghost had vanished from Sam's line of vision, but things were hazy around the edges, so there was a lot he could be missing. But what he knew for sure was that he couldn't see Dean anymore-he couldn't even hear him--and that freaked Sam out more than bleeding to death in the middle of the woods.

Frantic, he worked to get himself up, at least to improve his vantage point. Even with the surge of adrenaline he now had, moving significantly was pretty much out of the question, but he still needed to see where Dean was, to see if the ghost was around, to make sure that Dean was okay.

It seemed like a feat to prop himself up on his elbows, and his head spun with the slight increase of elevation, but it was enough.

And not nearly enough, all at once.

Because Dean was down--unconscious or dazed, Sam couldn't be sure-and the ghost was flickering above him.

"Hunter, hunter," it cooed. "I wanted one, but I will take two, my perfect, perfect prey."

Two was not better than one as far as Sam was concerned, but what was he going to do about it? Hope his way into an intervention? Blink his way into saving Dean?

Movement may have been too much, but surely he could create a distraction. His brother was crumpled on the ground, but was moving a little--which was more than Sam could manage. He couldn't see much beyond that, but if Dean was moving, then he was probably better off than Sam was, at the moment. His brother just needed a second to get his bearings before the ghost decided to introduce Dean more thoroughly to his claws.

A distraction. Surely, Sam could manage that. He had, after all, been called a distraction for the better part of his life, though in not so much a positive manner.

But now was not the time to dwell on his screwed up childhood. Distraction--he needed a distraction and he would never come up with it if he was so, well, distracted.

He swallowed hard, ignoring the spike of pain that rippled through his body. He opened his mouth to yell, or at least to call out, but no such luck. He coughed instead.

For once, luck was on his side.

If he called a malevolent were-ghost turning on him with its fangs bared and claws extended luck.

But that meant that it wasn't looking at Dean, which was really the whole point of this pathetic excuse for a distraction.

"Little prey, little prey," it said. "You bleed, you bleed. I will make you bleed. But cuts and scratches can kill the body but keep the soul intact. No, no, little prey, a silver bullet to the heart, cut off the head, slice it clean, and then burn it all until it's gone."

Sam had to give it credit: it knew how to dispose of a werewolf, and Sam had come equipped to do just that. Having it done to him? Was not quite so appealing.

He coughed again, trying to roll himself to a more defensive position, but he merely flopped flat onto his back again. His vision darkened for a moment and by the time it cleared, Sam could see the ghost standing above him once again. This was a familiar feeling, way too familiar, and he cringed before it even lashed out at him again.

-o-

The first thing that was clear in Dean's mine was that he was really tired of walls. Plaster walls, wood walls, stone walls--enough with the walls, already. He didn't really like feeling like a wet noodle in any situation, and while maybe the hunt wasn't the worst case scenario for that kind of thing, it certainly wasn't his first choice either.

At least a rock wall was less messy overall-no drywall in his hair to worry about, though that really did seem like kind of a secondary concern, with some pain-in-the-ass werewolf throwing him around.

Dean's memory came flooding back to him.

It wasn't just hanging around and throwing him into walls for a damn good time--it was after Sam.

That brought him around with a curse and a headache and his vision had cleared enough to see his not-so-good new friend moving back toward Sammy.

Only--that wasn't a werewolf.

Or was it?

Furry little bitch--check. Enough claws to give a manicurist a heart attack--check. Enough fangs to make an orthodontist salivate--check, check, and triple check.

But the damn thing was glowing, sort of iridescent-like, and the fact that a werewolf had Dean using that kind of vocabulary had to be some kind of sign that this hunt was not going to go well--at all.

Because this was not a werewolf.

Not with the glowy crap and the floating and the vengeful recitation. Hell, Dean could put this crap together. Add that to the fact that Sam had disappeared without a sound, that the freakin' EMF had been off the charts and, what did he have? A ghost. A damn, good for nothing, run of the mill ghost.

Well, okay, not run of the mill. Most ghosts didn't get the chance to fling him around or take Sam down, but the deck had been stacked against them. They hadn't prepared for a ghost. They'd prepared for a freakin' werewolf, after all, so this wasn't their fault, and his dad's look of disapproval could just get the hell out of his head.

After all, at the moment Dean had bigger things to worry about. Like how to keep his brother from getting filleted.

But a ghost--he needed salt or iron--and even that wouldn't be enough to keep the ghost away forever. Those were just quick fixes, and Dean wasn't sure a quick fix would tide them over long enough to book it the hell out of these woods until they figured out how to get rid of it for real.

One look at Sam, though, prone on the floor-bleeding-with the half-werewolf-half-ghost-half-pain-in-his-ass slashing and growling over him, and Dean knew a quick fix was better than nothing.

A silver round wouldn't kill it.

But it would buy him some time--buy Sam some time.

"Hey," Dean yelled, feeling the adrenaline tingling in his fingertips as he pointed the gun.

The ghost paused, looking back at him, and Dean fired straight and high. He wanted to take as few chances of hitting Sam as possible, and hoped to hell that there wouldn't be a ricochet.

With a snarl, the ghost vanished. Dean didn't know how long he had, but he would take what he could get. Heart pounding, his eyes fell on his brother.

Sam had been bad before. He was worse now. There was blood everywhere now--all over Sam, slicking the ground beneath him, staining the upper part of his jeans. And he wasn't moving anymore, his bound legs still.

Dean swore again, swallowing hard against the growing fear, and he scaled the distance between him and his brother in two steps, going to his knees, one hand still holding his gun, the other hovering hopelessly over Sam, not sure where to start.

Closer now, it was impossible to tell which injuries were older and which ones were newer. The tattered remains of Sam's shirt and coat looked like macabre confetti, and the thick blood seemed to be oozing from more slashes than Dean knew how to count.

Wincing, he used his hand to pull gently at the cloth, trying to get a better look at the slashes underneath. It was hard to get a full picture, but the rows of slices crisscrossed Sam's entire chest and abdomen. In the dimness, Dean couldn't tell how deep they were, but given Sam's unconsciousness and the sheer amount of blood, Dean knew they were deep enough.

Deep enough that they were in a lot of trouble.

At best, Sam was in shock, maybe bleeding out, and that didn't even entertain the possibility that there could be internal damage-nicked organs, perforated intestines, shredded muscles, broken ribs.

Even if, by some miracle, they were mostly superficial wounds, the sheer number of them was a debilitating factor. Given the blood Sam seemed to be losing, his brother would be bled dry before Dean could even finish stitching half of them.

So, a hospital. Really, Sam was probably overdue, and what was it their father had told Sam during his first ER trip all those years ago? That he'd finally earned his stripes?

Dean sensed it this time, his instinct going full throttle. The slight drop in temperature, the flicker of light reflected on the wall of the cave, and Dean turned in time to plug the thing full of lead.

It vanished with another snarl, and Dean reoriented himself. Assessing Sam was important--but getting Sam the hell out of there trumped that. Their good friend, the ghost with an identity complex, was out for blood, and Sam had already given more than either of them could spare. But Dean wasn't prepared for a ghost. This was a friggin' werewolf hunt, clean and simple, and he had his damn silver rounds and his machete and his lighter.

Even if he had been armed for this kind of crap, he didn't know what this ghost's shtick was. Where the bones were. If there were any. So, closing the case was kind of a no-go at this point.

Pursing his lips, he looked back to his brother, who was still breathing in shallow wheezes. Sam's face was pale, glinted with sweat and drawn with pain.

They needed to get out of there like yesterday.

"Sam," he called. "Sammy!"

His brother's breathing hitched a little, shuddering a bit, but the kid was out.

Lugging Sam's massive, bleeding frame through the woods would be damn near impossible under the best of circumstances. Trying to fend off a vengeful ghost with one hell of an overbite would be suicide for both of them.

Steeling himself, he reached down, patting Sam's face. "Come on, come on," he coaxed, feeling his heart hammering in his chest. "Work with me here."

Sam's eyelids twitched, the eyes beneath them darting back and forth, but beyond that, Sam was still unconscious.

The ghost came faster this time, in a rage of howls and slashing, back and to his left, and Dean almost missed it, winged it with the shot, but luckily, to a ghost, it was all the same.

And not so luckily, the shots were having less and less affect. He could shoot at the thing all night and it would just piss the thing off.

"Think," Dean muttered. "Damn it, think."

If he couldn't get rid of it permanently and if fending it off was a losing battle, he would have to trap it. Corner it off, keep it from moving. There were binding rituals for that kind of thing, but those took candles and herbs and long-ass incantations that Dean didn't have memorized. He could also put a ring of salt around Sam to keep them safe until he finished one, but that was time Sam didn't have.

Unless--

Unless the ring of salt was used to keep the ghost in.

Dean spun again, hitting the ghost with another bullet, as his mind reeled.

It would be tricky, luring the ghost into a certain area. He'd have to start the circle of salt but only finish it when the damn thing was across the line. That didn't sound so hard, but when the thing was slicing and gnashing teeth, Dean knew the stakes were a little higher.

He looked at his brother. Sam seemed paler now, a little more still. Dean was running out of time.

There wasn't time to second guess. Dean just had to act--now.

Frantic, he tore at his pack, flinging contents aimlessly until he found what he was looking for. Salt was a standard part of their gear; they never went anywhere without it. As a purifying element, it worked wonders in the craziest of situations, and Dean was suddenly glad that John Winchester could outclass those damn little boy scouts any day of the week. Be prepared? Try be over-prepared.

Pouring haphazardly, he made the circle large, encompassing Sam and himself and most of the cave. He didn't want to play hit-and-miss when the time came.

A roar to his left, and Dean turned to find the ghost lunging at Sam again. Its malice-filled eyes zeroed in on him before it dissipated once again.

Faster--Dean had to move faster.

He only needed to leave a fraction of the circle open. That would be enough to let the thing come in and the easiest to fill once they split. It would work-it had to work.

He tossed the rest of the salt just beyond the broken edge of the circle, flinging the rest of his gear over the line. Then, he went back for his brother.

Standing over Sam, he couldn't help but hesitate. There was no way to move his brother without exacerbating the injuries, and Dean had no way of knowing how to minimize the pain.

But pain was better than dying. The big picture. He had to focus on the big picture.

Leaning over, he scooped Sam under the shoulder, steeling himself against his brother's unconscious gasp. With hurried steps, he dragged Sam toward the edge, close to the entrance of the cave.

With both hands occupied, he didn't have time to block the ghost's next attack. The force flung him back, wrenching Sam from his grip as he smacked hard again with the wall.

It was sheer force of will that kept unconsciousness at bay. Dean found himself on all fours, panting and blinking furiously.

His eyes lit on Sam, now in the ghost's taloned grasp.

"The hunt is over for you, my perfect prey," he said, and Dean saw it lick its lips.

Big picture. Remember the big picture.

And Dean dove wildly toward the salt, fumbling as he poured it liberally over the broken line in the circle.

Taking another handful, Dean looked up to find the thing with its fangs buried in the nape of Sam's neck, his brother hanging limply in the unwavering ethereal grip.

"Hunt this, asshole," Dean said.

It was a blind charge, kamikaze style, except that he sure as hell didn't intend to die there.

Instead, when he was close enough, he flung the salt. Unprepared, the ghost hissed, shimmering into oblivion.

Sam fell to the floor with a muted thud.

Time was short. It'd be back.

But freedom was just a few feet away.

Quickly, he maneuvered one arm under Sam's back and the other under Sam's legs. Gritting his teeth, he hauled his brother up. It was a hold he could never sustain, but he didn't have to. Just five feet. Five feet--

It came back with a swirl of wind, angry and malevolent and too damn late.

He lunged, desperate and wild, and he hit the ground, Sam's weight coming down hard on top of him.

But looking back, he couldn't help but grin.

The were-ghost was there, alright. Fuming and raging and firmly on the other side of the line.

But the victory was short-lived.

Clumsily, he disentangled himself from Sam, lowering Sam gently to the ground. The were-ghost was cursing in the background, testing the boundaries and finding them as solid as Dean had made sure they were.

Still, he wanted to get out of there.

With shaking hands, he dragged Sam the rest of the way out of the cave, settling his brother on the forest floor. The light of the full moon filtered through the trees, enough to make out the uneasy rise and fall of Sam's chest.

Then, Sam groaned.

Dean almost didn't catch it, and did a true double-take when Sam's head rolled and his eyelids fluttered. The kid was coming to.

After all that crap in the cave, Sam was coming to now.

Dean silently thanked the world for small favors, and snapped himself back into full brother mode by the time Sammy had opened his eyes.

Next



 

Comments

Posted by: sendintheclowns (sendintheklowns)
Posted at: June 7th, 2010 12:54 am (UTC)

"Hunter, be my prey," it said, cooed almost.

Ack! Creepy. But cool.

I like how Dean tries to use humor even though he's appalled at the level of damage Sam has sustained.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: June 8th, 2010 03:32 am (UTC)
after school limp

Thanks as always for your support :) And it's always fun to take Sam to new depths of limp.

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