Title: This is Christmas.
Description: Separated at the holidays. Uh oh.....
MarquessaS. - January 10, 2010 05:38 PM (GMT)
Hey there. Merry Belated Christmas.
A little past due now...I'd intended this to be finished over the holidays, but somehow other things pre-empted it, lol.
This is Christmas.
"What? I didn't hear you, you're mumbling."
Sam re read the email in silence. Adam, and Sandy. Markus. Jamie. All his friends from Stanford, all begging his return for the holidays. It seemed a world away...a lifetime. After a third read, he answered.
"Nothing. I mean...well, not nothing, just...." He didn't elaborate.
Dean shot a look of alarm at his younger brother. "bull, Sammy! What's up? Who's it from..?"
Sam sighed. It had been so long. His travels with Dean had pushed his Stanford experiences to the dark corners of his mind, where he'd filed them away safely, so that he could access them when the time was more suited to it. A time far away from today.
He cleared his throat. "Just...old friends. From school. Just keeping up."
"Well what do they want?" Dean felt instantly threatened. He could battle anything, he would shrink from nothing. But this was different, these were Sam's peers---intellectual cream floating disdainfully on top of the regular slop. They were better, smarter, than Dean, destined for success, wealth, and for greatness. They had a connection with his little brother that was foreign and exclusive. He couldn't compete with that.
Sam knew how it made Dean feel. He knew Dean felt inferior to his educated friends. He knew it made him jealous, made him feel small. There was no reason for it, he'd never worked to create that line, but it was there. It was a delineation that seemed set in stone, one that Sam in no way fostered, but a chasm seemed to be carved between his life on campus and his other, older world. They would never find common ground.--What do they want... "Uh..well, the're asking me if.." He paused, uncertain.
"If what? Christ, Sam---spit it out!"
Sam wasn't sure how to phrase it without hurting him. But the reality was, they never did much at Christmas anyway. Dad started that charming little tradition of non-observance, with his many AWOL Christmas Eves, his sons holed up in some shabby motel room, waiting anxiously, hopefully, for John to return, arms laden with brightly wrapped boxes, a christmas tree in tow. It never happened, regardless of how hard they prayed that this year would be different. And now that they were adults, it seemed hollow and pointless to even acknowledge the season.
"It's my friends from school. They want me...they want me to come up and spend Christmas with them. My buddy Markus..I met his folks. He's asked me to stay with them at their house. He knows that Dad's gone. He was a good friend of Jess. He says..I should spend the holidays with friends."
Dean's hackles rose. But he was aware of it, and he swallowed his emotion for his brother's sake and spoke levelly. "So..what do you want to do? We're not far from there, only a few hours. When do they want you to come out?"
It was the twenty third. Two days 'til Christmas. Or more accurately, in their world, it was two days 'til Friday. Things had been so bland, so grey, for so long. Sam was road weary. And if truth be told, he was Dean-weary as well. Hours, days, weeks, in the confines of the Impala, watching pointless miles vanish behind them. He loved Dean, he'd do anything for him...but he was deadly sick of the routine that ruled his life. He suddenly realized that he longed for other, different company. Not instead of, but in addition to. He felt an acute need for other perspectives, other outlooks. Other realities.
"Today, basically. As soon as possible. They want me to stay with them for the holidays. Markus has a little memorial planned, for Jess. They want me to..uh...do Christmas with them."
Dean absorbed that. The reference to Jess was hard. Even if they had planned something seasonal themselves---which, naturally, they hadn't; he could hardly stand in the way of the ghost of Sam's one true love. And Christmas was crap anyway, it meant nothing to him. He forced his confusingly irrational wounded feelings away.
"Well, you should go then."
Sam stared at him in surprise, he'd expected an argument. "Dude, are you serious? I mean, it's Christmas! We should, I dunno..."
"We should what? Sam, you and I both know this is different for us. We aren't like all the rest of them, Santa never came for any Winchester kid, did he? To be honest, I didn't even know it was this close. Hell, if you can score yourself some turkey dinner and some pie, go for it. Only thing I ask is...bring me a slice."
Sam wasn't sure what to do. Dean seemed nonplussed by this new development. Supportive, even. But if he accepted the invitation, it meant Dean spent the holidays alone. But the so-called holidays were for regular people, if they had been together for that time, they wouldn't have done anything to mark the day anyway. Just a normal Friday, nothing to mourn. He stared at his brother for a moment. Dean's expression was a mask. Nothing indicated anything other than his non committal shrug at the thought of their separation.
"Really? You don't mind if I go? I mean, what will you do?"
Dean laughed. "Exactly what I would have done, with or without you. Find me a nice watering hole, and a nice bouncy blonde with a set of epic gazongas, and...well, I don't have to draw you a picture, now do I?"
Sam laughed in response. "Uh, no---please don't. But seriously...you don't mind? I mean, I can ask if both of us can come.."
Dean snorted. He knew how Sam's friends regarded him. "No, that's okaaay. I prefer my brand of entertainment. Go, Sam...knock yourself out. Be Stanford Boy for a while, if it makes you happy. I can entertain myself, don't you worry your pretty little egghead."
Sam chose to take his brother's nonchalance at face value. "Wow. Well, that's...that's really great, Dean. Thanks. I'll tell them it's a go."
Dean nodded. He quashed the painful vacuum that suddenly opened in his centre. "Do that. But I'm warning you, if you don't bring me me doggy -bag, I'll be seriously pissed!"
Thanks for reading---mal
UKsnfan101 - January 10, 2010 05:51 PM (GMT)
Hey I am reading and reviewing this story on the other site, but pleased to see you are posting here as well. I think I wrote "Hey a new story from you...brotherly angst and everything...when is this story set? great start, looking forward to more..."
My favorite line was this "Dean nodded. He quashed the painful vacuum that suddenly opened in his centre." poor dean...
MarquessaS. - January 11, 2010 05:46 PM (GMT)
Thanks, Lisa. I don't get a lot of traffic on this site any more so I appreciate your reviews, here and on the other site ;) I'm going to compress this a bit by putting two chaps here---mal
Sam confirmed via email, and then phoned. Dean tried to ignore the conversation. Sam was animated, laughing frequently and easily, in a way that Dean hadn't heard for a long time. I made him feel a bitter jealousy, and and even harsher guilt. After all, it was he who'd torn Sam away from that world. Yeah, things were different now...Dad wasn't in the ground a year yet, and there were factors at play that Dean had no part in creating. But just the same, he felt his jaw tighten in a mix of unhappy emotion. It was good that Sam get away for a few days. Somehow, Dean was sure that this would have been a particularly un-merry christmas this year.
When Sam hung up, he glanced over. Dean had already dropped the mask in place.
"All organized then?" Dean asked mildly.
"Yeah. man, Markus is so juiced, he hasn't heard from me in so long. We used to hang out all the time, he just kills me---he's such a funny guy. He has this real sharp wit, you know?---nothing ever got by him."
..Yeah. Dean remembered Markus. He remembered that wit: he was the butt of it the one time he'd met him. Arrogant jack-ass. Dean wasn't an idiot, but he'd mumbled a lame and dull response to the ribbing. It left him with a vicious week-long case of I-shoulda-said. He smiled and nodded. "Good. Great. You're all set then. Just give me directions. Do you need to pick up anything...like a gift, or wine or something?"
Sam watched him for a moment. Dean turned to him in annoyance. "What?! What are you staring at me for?"
"Nothing---I mean, I wasn't.." He paused, then added, "Seriously, Dean, is this really ok? It feels kinda crappy, abandoning you like this."
Dean's face crumpled. He turned the corners of his mouth down in a parody of grief and blubbered, "No, Sammy. It's not okay.... I'll be all alone, and it's Christmas. I'll be so sad and nobody will be there to hug me. Sniff sniff."
He quit it, and rolled his eyes. "What, do you just live on a steady diet of guilt? Why can't you ever take anything at face value?! I told you--if you can score a nice dinner and hang out with your buddies for a change, go for it. I hate to tell you, Sam, but I wasn't really planning on playing Santa. This is just another weekend to me, alright? And with you gone, it's a helluva lot easier bringing some hot little thing back to the room. You're the fifth wheel, Sam, and I gotta get me some soon or I swear to god it'll-
"Okay-- I got it!" Sam was a little hurt, but Dean seemed determined to pursue some alone time. Maybe he was right---maybe it would be good for both of them.
"Finally. So give me the damned directions already, the sooner I drop you the sooner I get laid."
Sam sighed and mapquested what he needed. When he had the map, he relayed the route. Dean nodded, and switched the radio on, finding a station that suited him and cranking it high. Conversation was over.
An hour or so later, they pulled up in front of an impressive gate. Dean shut the car down and took in the vista with all the sour mistrust of a leper at the palace gates. "Seriously, Sam? Maybe we should we go find the service entrance."
Sam sighed. He expected this. "Relax, Dean, it's fine. They're nice people. Don't freak out or judge them just because they have the perks of their success in life. It doesn't reflect on you."
Dean mumbled something that Sam chose to ignore. Sam got out and pressed the buzzer. When he got a response he spoke briefly to the voice on the other end and the gate lock released with a metallic clank. He got back in as the shiny wrought iron pulled open. "Go ahead...go through." Sam instructed.
Dean's frown deepened along with his unease, but he drove the short manicured lane and pulled up in front of a fine house. A tall, sandy-haired young man jogged down the steps to greet them. Markus. ..yay. Sam got out and embraced his old friend, both smiling broadly. Dean turned a deaf ear to their boisterous greetings, waiting impatiently. Finally he barked, "Sam, hurry up and get your stuff, I gotta go!"
Markus looked up and came over, greeting Dean through the open window. "Hey, It's Dan, Right? How are you?"
Dean smiled acidly. "Dean. It's Dean. Just like last time. And I'm good, just got places to go. Thanks for taking my brother off my hands for the holidays. Real nice of you."
Markus returned the smile with equal warmth. "No problem, man. Hell, maybe we can convince him to stay longer. Gotta be better than touring around in this old piece of crap." he winked, slapping the door post.
Dean had no comeback. He just nodded and looked past him., calling out "Sam. I'm heading out. Are you sure you have everything?"
Sam replaced Markus at the window. "Yeah, Dean, I'm ready. Thanks again for this, I really appreciate it. Make sure you have a good time without me, ok?"
Dean snorted. "Don't worry. Seeya. Merry christmas and all that crap." He put the car in gear and pulled away. He stopped for a moment and leaned out his window. "Keep your phone handy, Sam. Give me a call at some point." He didn't wait for an answer, he revved it hard and drove away.
Sam stood for a moment, watching the car disappear. A sharp pang of something constricted his insides...guilt, hurt, a spasm of doubt. Markus clapped him on the shoulder. "Come on, Sam. We got a room set up for you, and you probably want to grab a shower before dinner. After that, the rest of them will be waiting for us downtown. I figured we'd hit all our favourites, and end up back here. I'm so glad you came out, this is gonna be great!"
"yeah...." Sam nodded absently, then added with more conviction. "Yeah, absolutely, you bet!"
Dean drove without purpose. He drove fast, and pushed the car hard, clenching his teeth unawares until he felt his jaw ache and a headache threaten. Neighbourhoods flew by, landscaped, tidy---perfect. Many had lights or decorations on their lawns, the latest inflatable santas and snow globes, or snowmen waving, out of place in their impossibly green and temperate settings. It didn't bring him the cheer they were supposed to spark. It took all his self control to keep from driving over and popping them under the wheels. Finally he decided he needed different scenery to break out of his mood.
Snow. That's what he needed, snow. Crisp, perfect, winter wonderland, everything opposite from what surrounded him now. He wasn't going to find what he sought here. He turned off at the next exit, and headed east, toward the mountains.
After settling in and washing the effects of his road weariness away, Sam spent some time with Markus in his family's study. Markus handed him a beer, and sat opposite his friend.
"So, Samuel. How are you? You look like a f~cking hobo. Seriously, are you ok?"
Sam smiled and shook his head. "Aw man..don't get deep on me already, Markus. I just walked in the door. Right now I'm just glad to be parked on some seating that isn't worn, black and sticking to my ass. Man, this is comfortable!" He leaned back into the overstuffed suede wing chair and laughed.
Markus leaned forward. "Sam, I know I shouldn't pounce on you right off, but I can't help it. You have promise. Jesus christ---you're smarter than any of us. Jess knew it---it was the thing she loved most about you. And so I gotta ask you....why are you wasting your life touring around pointlessly with your brother? You belong here. You know it, I know it. And Jess knew it.. And I think your brother knows it too. I know he thinks I'm a dick. But if it comes down to my efforts to convince you to come back here, then I'll take him on. I have nothing against Dean. But I just think he's holding you back." He paused then, and searched for the words to persuade him. "Sam, I know family is important. But sometimes you just have to cut loose, for your own sake. I mean, what the hell do you want?"
Sam was broadsided. He knew this was coming, he just didn't expect it so soon. But Markus had thrown it out there, and he had no choice now but to try to explain.
"oh god...what I want.." He sighed and stared at his hands for a moment. "Markus, there's crap going on that I can't even hope to explain. But the reality is, Stanford just isn't going to happen for me right now. And before you say any more, it isn't Dean keeping me away, ok? My Dad's dead. Jess is dead. I just need some time to figure out why all this happened...what it all means. I'm not turning my back on it, or on you guys. But Dean's my brother, and he's all I have left, and he's as deep in this as I am. I need him...I need his perspective, his uncomplicated way of cutting through the crap and dealing with what’s in front of us. I can see your doubt--it's written all over your face. But you've got to get past his rough edges. He's not really like that. Not only like that, anyway. Yeah, he's different. He's crude, and wild, and unpredictable. But he’s also strong and reliable and....loyal.
He grew up fast and hard, thanks to my Dad, and what happened when we were kids. But he was more of a father figure to me than my old man ever was. Markus, I don’t know if you can even relate---you grew up so differently than I did. You had a mom and dad there, you had stability, money, comfort. We never stayed anywhere for more than a few months. My mom was gone, and dad was obsessed and bitter and gone half the time. Dean looked out for me every minute of every day. If it was cold out, he made sure I had mitts, even if they were his. If I was hungry, he got me something, I never asked where it came from. And if I was getting picked on, he stepped in and took the bullies on. He took the punches that were meant for me, and he never once complained. We moved around, constantly. Neither one of us ever made any friends---we were never in the same place long enough. He did his best to keep me from being alone. I learned every thing from him. Hell, he's the one who gave me the "talk", not my old man. I can't tell you how awkward that was. And he's the one who tried to fill in all the gaps that my Dad left. It wasn't always a success, but he tried. He gutted himself to give me some piece of childhood that he never had. And I owe him for that, more than I can say."
He sighed. "Nothing about this is perfect right now. I'd love to be back at school; christ---I can't even tell you. But this is where I am right now. I have to figure a few things out, and I need my brother to do that. And he needs me..." As he heard himself speak, he was cut by a deep guilt. And here I am having Christmas without him...
Markus nodded. Whether or not he was convinced, he let it drop for now. "Well. I guess there's always screwed-up angles to everything. How about we lighten up and go stuff our faces? My mother’s been fussing all afternoon because you were coming. I swear to god she'd trade me in for you in a heartbeat. It ought to be a good spread." He stood then, and Sam did too. "Come on, Winchester. You're going to get fattened up whether you want to or not!"
Relieved at the thought of a distraction, Sam grinned. "Bring it on. She can try all she wants, I’m up to it!"
Dean stopped when he found a coffee joint. He needed to stretch his legs---he hadn't been out of the car since long before he'd ferried Sam to his destination. He entered and looked over the meager donut offerings left on the wire racks behind the counter, settling on an apple fritter that didn't look too stale, and an extra large coffee. When he'd paid, he carried his feast back to the car, and sat for a while, consuming them, and thinking.
He hadn't been wholly honest with Sam. He did have a little gift, to mark the season. Nothing much, just a little thing to include his brother in the club, as it were. He sipped at the bitter coffee, frowning at it's ashen overtone, and he leaned forward and popped open the glove compartment. He rummaged and retrieved a little cardboard box. He flicked the lid off with his thumb and picked up the thing it held. It was a band. Silver, size ten, plain but for a simple incised groove running down the middle. It was a beer opener ring, almost identical to his own. He'd seen it by chance, a few months ago, at a pawn shop. At the time, it seemed like a perfect little thing to give him. Now he wasn't so sure. What the hell was he thinking? He was giving his brother a ring, for god's sake. That was just weird. He probably wouldn't even wear it anyway, his tastes were hardly like his own. Feeling stupid, he squashed the lid back down and tossed it back into the glove box.
When the remnants of his coffee had cooled, and it had lost any redeeming qualities it might have had, he dumped it out and threw the cup onto the floor beside him. It had started to spit rain, and it irritated him. He was more determined than ever to head toward snow country, and once again he pointed the Impala eastward.
He didn't know exactly how far he'd have to go. The area was new to him, nothing inhuman had needed killing out this way yet. He scanned the roadside for signs, and finally saw something directional. "Twain Harte--45 Miles" Twain Harte? Well that was too weird to ignore. He’d never heard of the place, but the name was intriguing. And it was straight east of where he was, which meant foothills, cooler temps and hopefully a break from the damned rain that had plagued him for the last half hour. He wanted his snow. Snow like the kind that kids picture when they think of winter---big fat flakes, sparkly with perfect crystals. He figured he deserved that, at the very least. He decided to make Twain Harte his goal. Hell, how bad could it be? Anything was better than the jarring combination of palmetto fronds and green grass with leering Santa cut-outs and seizure-inducing flashing light strands that assaulted his senses on the coast. Snow made sense at this time of year. It made you appreciate things because it reminded you that it could always get colder and harsher.
As he drove, he found his mind drifting to past Christmas fiascos. Like one of the many times that Dad had been a Christmas Eve no-show, and Dean had taken it upon himself to pilfer a proper Christmas from a nearby house. Turned out he’d stolen gifts that were decidedly girl-oriented. He remembered Sam’s crestfallen face. He remembered the pain of disappointment, the uncomfortable weight of failure. They laughed about it, years later. But it still hurt anyway. He spent so much time trying to explain to Sam that it was all ok, because Dad was really a hero, and he was saving the world. He wished the world could have taken a back seat every now and then.
He shook the ghosts away, and realized that the weather had changed during his bitter reverie. The rain no longer obscured his view, instead, snow came now in hypnotizing vortexes that rushed past his wipers and swirled away into the trees at the roadside. Good. At least something was gonna go his way for a change. The oaks that he’d been driving through had given way to thick conifers as the elevation rose steadily. The snow had only just started, but already it was collecting on the feathery, needled branches. It was pretty. He found himself enjoying the scene, and his sour mood lightened. He slowed down, careful of the increasingly treacherous road conditions. But he started to hum to himself. When he realized what the tune was, he smiled a little and sang the words under his breath, at least the ones he knew. Oh the weather outside is frightful, something something Delightful, and hmm hm hm hm hmm, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...
By the time Twain Harte greeted him, the road was white and thick with the stuff. The wind was gentle, and the branches of every tree hung heavy and crystaline. He hoped there was some place to grab dinner, the donut hadn't been half-satisfying and he was starving, and he needed gas, not to mention some facilities. He admired the streetscape as he passed. The houses were set back amongst the trees, and lit up, but quietly, much more demure than in the place he’d left Sam. He hoped his brother was busy scarfing down some fancy dessert about now. He hoped to do the same himself soon enough. His wish showed promise of being granted when he came up to a restaurant. The windows and eaves were twinkling with tiny multi-coloured lights. It was well surrounded by cars and trucks, and there were people standing around the entrance, laughing and clearly enjoying themselves...festive. It looked to be suitable for his needs. The sign said McLaren’s Landing. Smaller text advertised Bar & Grill. The order of words was just about perfect, Dean turned into the parking lot, buoyed by high hopes for his evening.
The salmon wasn't the only thing grilled at dinner. Howard and Leslie Matthews simply could not understand why Sam would let his educational opportunity slip from his fingers. And he certainly couldn't tell them the truth. After an hour of dining and squirming, Sam finally had to promise that he would reconsider. Markus's mother beamed at her victory, and after more discussion, they were finally able to retreat and escape to a quiet corner of the vast house.
"Sorry about that, Sam. Man, you just got gunned at from every direction, didn't you?"
Sam shook his head and groaned, slouching in his chair. "Markus, I love your folks, but you know that was just to shut them up, right..?"
"Yeah, I know. And thanks, by the way. I thought we'd never get the hell out of there. But you're not off the hook yet, just so you know. You've got the rest of them just waiting to pound some sense into you. Or else they'll just kidnap you and to hell with your brother and everything else. --Aw, don't make that face! I'm just kidding you...mostly. So, are you ready to hit the strip and meet up with everybody?"
Sam stretched away some of his tension. He did want to see his friends, but he was tired, after all the driving, and the big dinner, --not to mention the third degree. For a moment, he felt a pang of loss. It would have been good to go out with Dean and have a little fun. Their lives had been too grim lately, they so rarely did that. But Markus didn't let him wander down that path.
"Oh don't think you're bailing on us tonight, Winchester! I've had this thing planned for ages. Come on, I don't care how whupped you are---you're not pussying out on me--we're partying tonight.." Markus hauled him out of his comfortable chair and the two made their way down to the garage, pausing only to grab their coats. Sam pulled his jacket on, and hung back.
"Hang on, Markus. I just want to give Dean a quick call--" He punched the speed dial and put the cellphone to his ear. Markus snatched it from his hand and snapped it shut.
"Not tonight, buddy. Big Brother can just chill for a while. You don't have to report in every hour, for christ's sakes. Cut loose from the leash, will you?!" He didn't wait for an answer, he tossed the phone onto the seat of a hall bench and pushed Sam out the door. Sam's protests fell on deaf ears, and Markus directed him toward a gleaming sportscar, distracting him from his purpose.
"You like?" Markus grinned. It was a Solstice, cherry red and almost brand new. The top was down, and Sam leaned over the door to admire the slick interior.
Sam whistled appreciatively. "Oh man...beautiful! Tell me it isn't yours, you spoiled, snotty bastard!"
"Sorry, dude. Mine. A little easier on the eyes and arse than that junk-yard escapee your brother drives, isn't it? Come on, get in. We're late."
Sam shook his head as he stepped over the side and plunked down in the passenger seat. "Markus, may you choke on your silver spoon, you lucky sonofabitch."
Markus laughed. He revved the engine as the garage door lifted, and peeled out into the street. Once on the highway, he opened it up and Sam felt the bracing wind whip his hair back. He laughed out loud at Markus's running commentary as the scenery flew by. A feeling overwhelmed him, something exquisite and rare and dangerously exhilarating. It was freedom.
thanks as always for reading-------------mal
UKsnfan101 - January 12, 2010 09:26 AM (GMT)
Oh dear I feel that Dean is going to get into trouble...hmm wonder how I know that! :D
great stories as always...I am sorry that your stories on this forum don't get the attention that they deserve...I think you are a great writer and always enjoy your stories...
aislinn - January 12, 2010 02:33 PM (GMT)
Wow, I have to agree with Uksnfan101. This story is very good. Please update soon.
cutiedean - January 13, 2010 01:14 AM (GMT)
hope you update soon can't wait to see what happens
MarquessaS. - January 14, 2010 01:25 AM (GMT)
I'm pushing this through fast because of the Christmas theme. In a little while it just won't be topical any more. Thanks, all, for reading and commenting....mal
Dean had eaten his fill. Roast chicken platter...it was damned good, and as close to a christmas turkey as he could hope to get. And it was worth every penny---apparently McLaren's Landing knew their chicken. He chased the crumbs of his apple pie around the plate, but they could not escape him. When they were gone, he took his draft refill and settled at the bar. At the far end of the room, a band was tuning up on a raised stage. He saw no cowboy hats, and his hope was that maybe they were more classic than country.
"They any good?" he asked of the bartender.
The man laughed ruefully. "Well they start out half decent, usually. But the thirstier they get, the more it kinda falls apart."
Fair warning. Dean wasn't sure how long he'd be staying in the establishment. Maybe he'd escape and find a motel when they started to really lose it. "Hey, any half decent motels here in town?"
"You're kidding me, right? Hell, it's Christmas! Nothing's available now. You'd have to go back down the highway, probably all the way to the city. Everything, including the B&B's, are booked up. You don't have family to visit?"
..That stung. The barkeep hadn't meant anything by it, and Dean half-smiled. "Nope. Sent my brother off to hang with his college geeks for the holidays. I sorta forgot it was Christmas. I guess I should settle up then, if I have to get back on the road. I think it's still snowing."
"Well that's a shame. But you oughta stay here at least for the party. We do it every year, our Christmas Eve-Eve bash. That way we can all take the day off on the real Christmas Eve to nurse our hangovers before the inlaws show up and all the beeping and flashing kiddie toys come out of the boxes."
Dean laughed. That made good sense. He turned and looked around the place. It was packed with noisy, happy people., laughing, talking. The band was near ready to start, and a dance-floor was cleared in front. Silly, over done christmas decorations were everywhere, big fat silver garland, giant red tissue ornaments of the kind that opened up like accordions, and festoons of fake spruce greenery. And at least a half dozen christmas trees, all the real thing. Dean was loath to leave the warmth and fun of the place to go back out to the cold car and drive away from his chosen winter wonderland. Especially if it meant going back toward the place he'd left Sam. And there were a lot of pretty women. Who knows...maybe he would find a pleasant accommodation after all...
He nursed his beer, absorbing the festive atmosphere, and for a moment he was tempted to check in with Sam. But he decided to wait. His brother and he had only been apart for a few hours, he didn't want to come across as needy. Besides, Sam was probably enjoying himself, and he didn't want to interfere with that. It was the point, after all. He glanced at the couple sitting beside him. A fit, stocky guy, average looking. And a girl, maybe mid twenties. She was slender and had long loose blondish hair. Dimples formed when she laughed. She reminded him of Jo Harvelle, and she had the same slight build that probably hid a confident right hook if she ever needed it. She was cute...too cute for the guy she sat with. He tuned in to their conversation.
They were arguing good-naturedly about cars. He sat and listened for a little while, keeping to himself.
"Ugh, Ryan. You are seriously nuts. I never have to add anything to my car. Nothing ever falls off. I never see any warning lights. If god-forbid I do have some issue, it'll more than likely be under warranty. I get twice the mileage you do, and I can park on a postage stamp and turn on a dime. Why would I give any of that up?!"
The one named Ryan laughed and shrugged. "Apples and oranges, Stace. Or maybe more like iron vs tin-foil. How long do you think that thing of yours will be reliable? Assuming you would keep it 'til it was done and not trade it in every two years."
She laughed, rising to the challenge. "Why would I even need to think like that?? You're missing the point, as usual. The whole benefit is that I can trade it in every two years. It will still be worth it, and I'll have a brand new, up-to-date model every time. But you---you're stuck with the same rusting dinosaur forever. You spend every weekend under the damned thing, calling and hoping the wrecker has some pieces to replace what you left on the highway, and if he doesn't, you either have to make something out of left over duct work or you're screwed. You drive around, belching blue smoke and rumbling like a train, looking for new parts to cannibalize just so you can keep it on the road. What's the point there?? Stubbornness? Nostalgia? Defiance? Step into the new millenium, Ryan. That beater will do nothing but cost you time and money and sleep. No thanks!" She laughed.
Ryan looked wounded. "Well...chicks dig it. What kind of real woman wants a guy who drives around in some gutless little foreign shoe-box?"
She snorted. "Sorry to burst your bubble, babe, but chicks do not dig those things. --Strickly a dumb guy thing, trust me."
Dean was intrigued by the exchange. Ordinarily he'd have just sat and minded his own business, but he couldn't let her end with such a profound wrong. He leaned forward and added his two cents. "Uh...sorry to interrupt, but I overheard your debate here. Are we arguing old vs new when it comes to wheels...?"
Ryan regarded him with a friendly expression. "Depends. Who's side do you plan to defend..?"
Stacy leaned over and smiled, meeting his eye. "Better think about your choice, hun. " she teased.
He smiled back. "Sorry, sweetheart, but I have to throw in with this guy here. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever compare to an old school American muscle car. Sure, you can talk all you want about the benefits of your shiny new fibreglas shitbox, but nothing can beat the lines, and power and solidity of a real classic. My car might take a bit of upkeep, but she can outrun any tricked out foreign job, and I can plow into a brick wall, drive away, put a ballpean and a spot prime and a touch of paint to her and be back on the road in a day. But you---if you tried the same thing, they'd be shipping you and your car back in quarter sized bits. Thanks, but no thanks. I don't need wipers on my headlights and heated seats. I just want to get from A to B in one solid piece with a little style and power, and maybe do the same tomorrow, not to mention in ten years. The right car's a part of you. You shouldn't change your wheels like they were a pair of shoes."
Ryan hooted loudly and clapped Dean's shoulder. "Oh yeah! That's it! That's exactly it! Stacy, enjoy your little plastic wind-up toy. Me and buddy here will be still driving our iron dinosaurs when we're sixty, while you keep trading your Cracker-Jack prizes in for smaller and smaller models 'til you're pedalling your Barbie Smart Car to work. If that's what you want, then more power to ya!" he laughed.
She punched his arm and snorted. "Ugh! Hopeless! And now you have an ally here! A poet, no less!" But she liked the look of the newcomer. She let them win.
Ryan offered his hand to Dean. "Well congrats. You managed to shut Stacy Anderson up. No small feat, let me tell you! I'm Ryan...Ryan Anderson."
Dean shook his hand. "Dean...Winchester. So...you and her are..married?"
"God, no. She's my little pain-in-my-ass sister."
Dean glanced back at her. She met his gaze and pouted, but her eyes sparkled with humour. She really was arranged nicely. He almost regretted which side he'd chosen..
"Ah." he acknowledged, raising an eyebrow with renewed interest. Ryan saw it and snorted. "Good luck there, buddy! You're on your own!"
Dean liked him. Ryan was plain, solid-sounding, and he had an easy smile. He wore a tee shirt with Twain Harte FireFighters insignia embroidered on the front. His short cropped hair was failing in a shiny circle on top, but he didn't seem like the type to care. And he clearly had taste in cars. Dean asked him- "So, what is it you drive?"
"Mustang. '65 fast-back. Summer anyway, I take her off the road when they start salting. Right now I just drive a winter beater truck."
Dean nodded appreciatively..
"How about you?" Ryan asked, ordering a round of draughts for the three of them.
" '67 Impala.....black four door."
Ryan whistled. "Nice. Hey Stace, why don't you tell Dean here what you've got?"
She rolled her eyes and leaned past her brother. "Something a lot prettier. And shut up. So Dean, what brings you out here? Are you here to see family for the holidays?"
The pang that time went all but unnoticed. He was busy checking out the way her blouse was tight in just the right places. "No. Pretty much the opposite. I dropped my brother off on the coast to see his friends from Stanford. Not my crowd, so I decided to tour around a while. Figured since it was christmas, I should find some snow."
Stacy perked up. "Well, good choice--we have tons of it as usual. But you're not going to be alone for the holidays, are you..?"
He shrugged. "I don't mind. I don't usually do much for it anyway. My brother and I are the only family left, so...it's pretty quiet for us. And we're not kids anymore...no point in pretending."
Stacy regarded him for a moment. Sure, he said it, but he wore a wistful expression while he did, and she didn't buy it for a minute. It was sad. "Well, at least you're here tonight. This is the place to be. Christmas Eve-Eve is the highpoint of the holidays around here, isn't it Ryan?"
He nodded and raised his glass to amen that. He was about to add something, but a clamour rose behind them by the entrance. Three men who had just arrived were already in a loud argument with other patrons. Ryan groaned and rose. "Great. The sainted Sadler brothers have made their grand entrance. Guess I'd better go talk to them." He left them, and made his way to the problem.
Dean turned to Stacy. "Does he need a hand?"
"No. He's used to it. He always gets asked to act as security at this thing. And those two idiots and their buddy are usually the biggest problem. But don't worry, they'll smarten up. As long as they aren't half-tanked already."
They both watched as Ryan talked them into behaving. He returned and reclaimed his seat, shaking his head. "Jack-asses."
"Are they going to settle down?" Stacy asked.
"Probably. Hopefully. Gary's pretty loaded, but Len's still sober enough. I don't know about Mike Harvey...he's looks like he's in a mood for trouble. We'll have to keep an eye on the three of them."
Stacy caught Dean's questioning look. She made a face that radiated her disgust. "They're the village idiots. The Sadler brothers and their shadow Mike Harvey are a rough bunch of louts and they're always getting into it. Can't ban them from these sort of things, all we can do is hope they have something better to entertain them. They like to get drunk and they like to bully people. It's a charming combination. But what can you do, right..?" She shrugged.
Dean could think of a few things. But it wasn't his place, and he had no argument with them. And it looked like Ryan could handle himself. He pointed to the logo. "You're a firefighter?"
"Paramedic. I work out of Station Two here in town. How about you?"
Dean had faced similar questions before. He had a ready answer. "Mechanic. I have a shop in..uh...South Dakota. I work with an old friend of my Dad's."
"Handy line of work, then. if you keep an old car on the road. And your brother's in school at Stanford?"
"Sort of. He was studying law. He's taking some time off, hanging out with me. He had a rough time, a while back. Lost his girl in a fire, and then our dad died, after...an accident. He needs to get his head straight about it."
Neither had anything they could say. It didn't matter, as the band had started up and conversation was nearly impossible. A raunchy version of some old rock tune filled the place. Stacy grinned and leapt to her feet. She grabbed Dean by the hand. "Come on--dance with me!"
He laughed, but was secretly mortified. He had no clue how to, and he wasn't about to try. "Catch me for a slow one-" he compromised. She promised, and headed out to join the throng of people. Dean and Ryan immersed themselves in discussion about their common interest, at times practically having to shout. They took turns picking up the tab for draughts, Ryan nursing his own much more slowly, as he was on security detail. Dean glanced at the dance floor several times, tracking Stacy. She was surrounded by her friends, and she moved so nicely that he really wished he had the guts or skill to join her. Later...he thought. Slow songs he could handle, and they could get nice and close...and he could hint at what he was very good at...
He was feeling a pleasant buzz. The beer was going down well, and he would have to slow down soon if he planned to drive at the end of the night. Ryan had been describing the restoration he'd been doing on his Mustang, but Dean had turned again to look for Stacy. When her brother's eyes followed where he was looking, he smiled. "Christ, Dean, you are sure a sucker for punishment."
Dean was going to say that he liked a challenge, when he saw one of the Sadlers making a bee-line for her. He stiffened and alerted Ryan with a look of concern. They watched tensely as the one named Gary grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him. They couldn't hear the exchange, but Stacy did not take it lightly, and told him so. The man was belligerently drunk now, and he refused to let her go. Dean stood up, ready to intervene. But Ryan held him back.
"Give her her chance." he said. "She can take care of herself. Watch--"
She proved him right. Both were ready to step in, but Stacy Anderson had the situation well in hand. They witnessed as she yanked her arm free and pushed him back with a sharp rebuke. He reached out and grabbed her again by her shoulder and she spun, and delivered a lighning quick punch to his jaw. At that point he retreated. Ryan and Dean were poised to leap, but the lout glowered and stumbled back to where his own group stood hooting and pointing, and she returned to them, laughing a little shakily.
"How was that, big brother?" she said, still flushed from her altercation.
"Perfect. Let me see--" Ryan examined her hand for any hurts, but her knuckles were only reddened. "Good job. Manicure's still perfect."
She sat down and explained to Dean, who was still standing and looking perturbed. "That's Gary Sadler for you. Can't take no for an answer. I made the stupid mistake of going out with him once last year. You'd think he'd have learned from that."
Dean was attracted to her now more than ever, although it was tempered by a healthy respect. "You're ok? Should Ryan and I go talk to him..?"
She giggled. "Oooh, such chivalry! No, it's ok, relax. I think he got the message."
Dean sat down again warily. "Good. As long as you're sure.." He turned to get a look at the one in question. The man defined as a jack-ass was staring daggers in their direction. Dean didn't like it, he was a good judge of character and he was fairly sure that Gary Sadler would have more to say before the night was over. He wanted to warn as much, but his voice was drowned out. The frontman was announcing a song, the had band slowed their tempo and they began to play something better suited to Dean's comfort zone. Stacy didn't wait for him to ask. She nodded toward the floor with a smile, took his hand and they joined the rest of the half-cut romantics swaying clumsily to the music. As Dean pulled her closer and breathed in her softly perfumed warmth, he tuned everything else out, and thought that it was turning out to be a fine holiday after all. Merry Christmas, Winchester---he smiled to himself.
denise69 - January 14, 2010 01:36 AM (GMT)
Love your stories!! I'm following this story on another site so I'm hoping you're updating that one!! can't wait to see what happens!!
Is always great to read your stories! :cheer
MarquessaS. - January 15, 2010 11:58 PM (GMT)
Thanks, all you readers, and thanks Lisa and Denise69. And Aislin and cutiedean. Was getting echo-y around here. :yawn
Sam could hardly get a word in edgewise, they peppered him with questions about what he'd been doing, and more pointedly, when he was coming back. He wished he had an answer for them. But the company was wonderful regardless. And of course, his money was no good---his friends bought dinner, they picked up the bar-tab no matter where they went or how long they stayed there. Sam was feeling fairly loaded by the evening's close. For hours, he'd forgotten all about the other side of his life. It felt like home, back amongst his friends, talking and laughing and remembering things that were so beautifully opposite from his current reality. There wasn't time to feel guilty, no spare moment to wonder what Dean was up to and how his 'weekend' was shaping up.
He missed this. Not the partying, which was great, no argument. But he was surrounded by people now who all thought so highly of him, who wanted him. Here, he wasn't a screw-up little brother with an ugly past, a shabby present, and murky future. He was a peer amongst smart, funny and forward-moving people. And he wasn't a poseur, he'd earned his place amongst them through his own intelligence and efforts. This was his, and his alone, and he tried to draw it all in to bolster him against the times that he knew would come, times when he was less, when he was suspect.
He felt the stab of realization that it would end. He would have to return to that other place, sentenced to spend his days confined within the space of the Impala, with Dean. That place was a day to day, hand to mouth existence. Here, it was different, he had a future.
It was easy to believe, for a moment. But reality shattered the illusion as soon as it intruded into his thoughts. He was as much that other person as he was the one feted here. More-so. He knew he couldn't escape what ran in his blood. All he could hope was that someday, he could be purged of that curse, and maybe he could meld his two worlds into one better one. And Dean was his only hope. Dean would do everything he could to change their future. Sam knew he couldn't do it on his own. And he knew his brother would die trying, if it came down to it.
Suddenly the happy din around him felt oppressive and false. He was drunk, more than he'd intended, --the beer and shots that kept appearing in his hand had gone down so fast, and he wasn't accustomed to it. The surroundings suddenly became stifling, and he felt groundless, like he was thrust amongst strangers that meant nothing to him and who would discard him like trash if they learned the truth about his heritage. Dean would never do that. Dean would stand beside him when the wolves came. He wished he were here, now, and he had the overwhelming need to hear his voice.
"Hey! Why the long face?" Markus demanded. "You're not allowed to think about anything except that beer in your hand and that trio of hotties over there at the bar that are eyeing you up and down.!"
Sam tried to shake off the gloom and smiled. "Sorry, man. Just thinking about...well, never mind. God, I'm trashed. Hotties, you say---?"
Markus nodded toward the group. "Check those out, Sam. They look like they're hungry for a Sammy sandwich. You better get your ass over there or I'll beat you to it."
Sam snorted "Like you'd have a chance! Buddy, you're a gargoyle next to me. You'd scatter them like pigeons!"
Markus hooted. "Strong words, Winchester! Care to wager something, or are you just full of crap--?"
"Twenty bucks says you strike out, right now. " Sam challenged.
"You're on!" Markus smoothed his perfect hair a little and sauntered toward the girls at the bar. Sam took his chance while he was occupied and he went in search of a payphone. He found what he needed in the hallway by the restrooms, and he dialed quickly.
It rang and rang. Dean's voicemail came on, and Sam tried to leave a message over the noise of the club. "Hey..it's me. Just checking on you. Hope you're having a good time--call you later." He hung up. He was disappointed, but he still felt a relief. It was almost enough just to hear him in the recording. Sam took a deep breath to clear his head. He was here now, and these were good people. He vowed to lighten up, and he returned to his friends.
Dean hadn't a hope in hell of hearing his phone. The band had gotten louder and louder as the evening passed, egged on by the patrons and fueled by the alcohol that was always a part of payment for the gig. And his attention was fairly focused on the girl sitting next to him. Ryan had been called away for the moment, he and the other bouncers had to dissuade some hot-heads from taking swings at each other and probably nailing some bystanders in the process. It was a little easier fror Dean to telegraph his intentions while Stacy's big brother, no matter how easygoing, was absent.
She was awfully cute. He couldn't keep his eyes off her, she was getting him a little hot under the collar.
She caught him., and she smiled coyly. "Ok hun...you've been staring at me like a kid with a nickel in his pocket in front of a locked candy store. Is there something you want to say to me?"
He looked down and shook his head a little, embarrassed. "No...it's just. God, this sounds like such a crappy line--but you remind me of someone. Sorry...best I can do."
She smiled widely, choosing to believe him. "But the one I remind you of...that was a good thing, right?"
He returned her smile, albeit crookedly. "It sure could have been...."
She shifted closer to him. "Ooh. Sounds like alot to measure up against. No girl can compete with a ghost, you know."
He smirked at her choice of words. Honey, you have no idea. "Nope, nothing to worry about. Nobody ever managed to bed and wed me yet."
She leaned forward and offered him a tantalizing glimpse. "Nothing to worry about... Hmmm, which part?"
Oh, he had an answer for her. It just wasn't polite. She watched him bite back his response and she flashed a white, even smile at his guilty smirk.
"Awww, you're blushing. That's just adorable!" she teased.
Even if he hadn't been, he did now. "..Think you're pretty good at this, don't you?" he accused.
She laughed. "About as much as you think you are. But I want to know more about you. Tell me about your family."
That caught him off guard. He had to shift gears and it took him a moment. There were so many damned secrets... "Like what?"
"How about your brother, for starters?"
"A few years younger than me. His name is Sam. He looks nothing like me and stands over me a good two inches, the bastard. Lousy taste in music....He's brilliant and stupid, in equal parts. Drives me nuts."
"Ok, how about your folks?"
He sighed and looked up to the ceiling. It wasn't truth or dare. Better keep it normal. "My mom died when I was around four. I don't remember much, except her smile. Her name was Mary. My dad was John. He died last year, after we got T-boned by a transport truck. He was a mechanic too."
--We. She blinked when she realized what he'd said. "Oh my god...you were in the car too... when it happened?"
He nodded. "The three of us were. I nearly checked out, but they managed to pull me back from the light. Sam was ok. Dad seemed so too, at first, but I guess there were other issues. He died a few days after the accident. Sam and me...we stayed at my honorary uncle's place until we were healed up enough. After that, he needed some time off, and so did I, I guess. So we're doing a driving tour of the country. We'll go back and pick up where we left off, I guess...some day."
His story left her speechless. He saw the effect and regretted telling it. "Aw crap. Stacy, I didn't mean to be such a downer. How about we dance some more?" He had taken a chance with that. But his luck held and the band launched into a nice, easy ballad. She swallowed hard and smiled, and he led her out to the floor.
She clung to him as they danced. He liked it. He hoped it was a long song, if they were standing any closer to the band he'd have slipped them a twenty to make sure the next one was a slow dance too. But no luck there, they lauched into something deafening and she looked at him and shrugged helplessly, laughing. He shook his head with a grin and took her hand, leading her back to their seats. He'd almost made it off the floor when some one brushed by him and put a shoulder into his own, knocking him off balance. For a moment he thought it was an accident, but it changed when he saw who had done it. Gary Sadler met his eyes.
"Buddy--you don't want to start this." Dean warned. He gently pushed Stacy away, but she stepped between them and gave Gary an earful.
"Gary, quit being such a jerk! I already told you that one date was enough, so leave us alone!"
Gary reeked of rye. "Shut your mouth, bitch!" he slurred. "You still owe me for the dinner I bought you. And who's this piece of crap?!" He shoved Dean hard.
Dean shoved him back, but before it could escalate, Ryan appeared with his crew of bouncers.
"Last chance, Sadler. Either shut up and be civilized or get out!"
Gary took a swing at him. But Ryan had expected it and he stepped aside and another of the bouncers hauled the aggressor to the floor. Never alone, he was joined by his brother and the third lout, and it was a melee for a moment. The one named Mike Harvey got the better of Ryan, delivering a solid hit to his left eye that staggered him. He was about to hit him again when Dean winded him by burying a fist in his paunch. Harvey went down, and another of the security detail pinned him there. The older Sadler, Len, who was mostly a mouthpiece, had already been contained. The three were solidly built and used to fighting, it took the six of them, and Dean, to drag them out the door. Once they were thrown into the snowy parking lot, the manager, Phil, waved his cordless phone.
"I am one second from calling the cops. You hear me, you stupid bastards?! Get your fat asses out of my parking lot now, or we'll make sure you're waiting quietly when the paddy wagon comes. You sure don't want that, Harvey, now do you? Not with your probation. And how about you, Gary? You want to spend Christmas in jail again?"
The three men got up and dusted the snow from their clothes, swearing and grumbling.
"I said, Do you hear me?!" Phil demanded.
Len answered for them. "Yeah! Fine, take it easy, for christs sake, we're gone!"
They backed away and turned to head toward their car, hurling epithets over their shoulders. Gary wheeled around to stare at Dean as he retreated. He made a hand gesture that suggested it was far from over between them. Dean flipped him the bird and spat on the snow.
When they'd squealed out into the darkness, there was a collective sigh of relief. "Come on, boys." Phil said. "Grab a drink. It oughta be a nice party now."
Ryan walked beside Dean. "Thanks, by the way. You probably saved me some dentistry there."
Dean laughed wryly. "Too bad I couldn't have saved you the shiner."
"What, and ruin tradition?" Ryan snorted. "I always get decorated on Christmas Eve-Eve, --ask Stacy. I'm married, remember? I need the shiner for the pity-sex!"
The tension was broken. They all laughed at that and rejoined the celebration.
UKsnfan101 - January 17, 2010 08:17 AM (GMT)
ah the plot thickens and we can see the bad guys...who knows what they have in store?
hee hee good update
MarquessaS. - January 18, 2010 04:42 AM (GMT)
Here's another installment to read in bed. As always, Thanks for reading.
He couldn't shake it. Her questions had reminded him, Dean was really enjoying his evening, and somehow, he wanted to share it with Sam. He knew his brother was likely immersed in his own fun, and he didn't want to intrude on that. But still, despite his own reticence, he wanted to share the christmas cheer, --he certainly felt it, around these great people. He didn't know how Sam was making out, but he figured a quick and positive call could only augment it. He took his phone out several times, he fiddled with, but slipped it back into his pocket each time.
Stacy cocked her head and smiled her question.
He shrugged. "I was just thinking...I should give Sam a shout. But he's probably in the middle of his own fun.."
"Well it would be a shout if you try to call from here. Is it me or are they getting louder and louder?"
Dean laughed. "Your bartender warned me they'd get interesting as they got thirsty. I can't even tell what song this is."
She rolled her eyes. "Some mullet-rock thing, I think."
"Uh oh...you're not a fan of the classics..?"
She snorted. "Not exactly."
"Damn. And here I thought I had the perfect woman. 'Course you do have crappy taste in cars, but I was going to overlook that. But bad taste in tunes...well, that's just unforgivable!" he teased.
She laughed, pleased at his assessment of her. "Sounds more like you're looking for my brother in a dress."
He shuddered. "Ugh, thanks a lot. I can never un-see that now."
She leaned forward then, and impulsively planted a soft kiss on his lips. "Does that make up for my flaws..?"
He grinned, his eyes sparkling. "I dunno, I'm on the fence about it...better try again."
She didn't because Ryan returned from whatever had pulled him away. "I saw that." he said sternly. But he was grinning. "So--what are we on about now?"
Stacy sported some high colour on her cheeks. "None of your business. And don't you have peace to keep somewhere?? I thought you were straightening some things out."
"All straight. Peace is kept. Sorry, Stace, your chaperon is back."
"Yay." she grumbled.
Both she and Dean shelved their attraction for certain exploration later, when the time and place were better suited. Stacy winked at Dean and they picked up the conversation at the point it had been left earlier. The evening passed at a flying pace, the way it always did when it was pleasant. And Dean's thoughts turned once more to sharing his good feelings with his brother.
"Honey...You obviously want to. Go. Call your brother. Christmas is all about family. Tell him we're looking after you and not to worry."
Dean realized he was spinning his phone absent-mindedly on the shiny bar surface. He grinned sheepishly. He knew she was right. If he didn't get it out of his system it would drive him crazy, and he deserved to be at peace as much as anyone. He decided now was as good a time as any. But it was more than obvious that he'd never be able to have a conversation while the band was howling its beer soaked and comically improvised lyrics. Dean picked up and waved his phone and indicated that he'd step outside to try. She nodded and he left to do so.
Pushing through the people crowding at the entrance, he walked a little distance, leaving the din behind. The snowflakes still wafted down lazily, catching the ambient light in flashes of sparkling colour. They collected in his hair, and on his coat. He speed dialed his brother, as he meandered back and forth in the parking lot. It rang several times, and was shunted to the voicemail. Dean listened to the familiar voice. When the beep came, he left a message. "Hey, it's me....just calling in. I'm in some place called Twain Harte. Just letting you know that I'm having a great time. It's snowing out here, which is nice. I've got a cute chick waiting for me to go back in, so I guess I should go. Just wanted to say...you know...hope you're having a good time. Merry Christmas... and, um.... Call me later."
He wished he'd been able to connect, but he guessed that Sam's situation was similar to his own. If he was out with his friends, then more than likely he couldn't hear the ring. He'd try again later.
He turned and walked back towards the rear entrance, rubbing the snowflakes from his hair.
They were waiting for him. When he glanced up toward the door, he was met by the elder Sadler brother. Leonard stood with his arms crossed, an ugly parody of a smile distorting his face. Dean tried to step around him, but he moved to block his way.
Dean stopped. He sighed. "Look, buddy. I have no problem with you. Just get out of my way."
Sadler said nothing. Dean saw his eyes flick past him, too late. Someone grabbed him from behind and drove him into the bricks beside the door. He hit the wall hard, and a flash of stars exploded in his vision. He slid down and crumpled for a moment against the snow.
"F~ck--" he swore, struggling to regain his equilibrium. Before he could get back to his feet, rough hands dragged him up and back around the shadowed corner. He struggled hard, twisting and kicking, but they grabbed his hair and pulled his head back so tightly that he had to stop. Safely out of view, he was hauled up to his feet and held between two of them. He blinked and shook away the cobwebs. He was out-numbered, and they's suckered him. It didn't give him much to work with, so he tried his only hope, which was to reason with them.
"Guys, come on..." he started. "You have no beef with me. This is nuts---it's christmas, we're all here for a good time-"
Gary Sadler hauled back and pounded his ham-fist into his cheek. It nearly knocked Dean silly, his head snapped aside with the blow and he sagged. Before he could recover another blow drove hard into his gut, leaving him doubled over and gagging. Gary pulled his head up by the hair. "What were you saying? Something about how we got no argument--?"
Dean had to catch his breath before he could answer. But he was experienced enough to know that words were pointless now. Counting on the element of surprise, he used his captors' grip on his arms as a pivot, lifted his feet and drove his snow covered boot into Gary Sadler's groin. Gary doubled over with a strangled howl. The other two were so shocked that their grip loosened long enough for Dean to twist away from one of them. He pulled an arm free and spun, delivering a punishing right hook to Mike Harvey's face. His nose exploded in a burst of blood, he let go and Dean stumbled away from them.
He struggled to run in the slippery snow as Len Sadler reached out to grab him. Dean slipped through his grasp and glanced back. Mike Harvey was a bloody, cursing mess. And Gary Sadler, having puked up his dinner, was a snorting bull. He lunged toward Dean and caught up with him, hauling him down hard onto the snow. Dean squirmed free and would have made it to the door, but for Mike Harvey's effort. He reached out and caught Dean's ankle, and threw his considerable weight on top of him, knocking the wind out of him and pinning him. Dean had no chance to wriggle out from under him, Gary Sadler aimed a kick at his temple that sent a dark veil over his world.
There was nothing for it but self preservation from then on. Dean had no advantage left. Groggy, he rolled onto his stomach and covered his head with his arms as they viciously put their boots to him. He felt them connect, repeatedly, with his ribs, his arms, his back. Sharp and sickening pain shot through him as he tried to avoid the blows, but he was surrounded. They stopped once, letting him slowly get up to his hands and knees. For a moment, as he swayed there, panting in agony, he thought it was over. But they toyed with him. Another solid kick crunched against his collarbone and sent him rolling in the snow. They were relentless, the three of them, feeding off each other's violence. When a foot knocked his wrist away and connected hard behind his ear, he was delivered into oblivion.
They kicked at him until he was still for some time, but it was no longer any fun if he didn't yell. He didn't feel it when they stopped and grasped his feet to drag him out of view. He felt nothing of his rolling descent down a bank toward the cold slushy water at the ditch bottom. Dead stalks and thin saplings whipped and snapped as he rolled, finally halting his momentum. He never heard their laughter.
Ryan returned from the can and slid onto his barstool. "Did Dean leave?" he asked, disappointed.
"No no. He went out to the parking lot to call his brother. Too loud in here."
He nodded and sipped his flat draught. Then he turned a sly eye to her. "So...Stace...are ya sweet on him..?"
She blushed a little. "What, are we in some 50's western movie here? 'Sweet on him', sheesh." But she smiled. "Yeah, I like him. What's your take on him..?"
"Seems like a good guy. Great taste in cars. No so much in women, though.."
She pinched his arm and he yelped. They waited for Dean to return. Stacy went back to the dancefloor for a song or two, and escaped when another ballad started. She turned down a couple of requests to dance, hoping to lure Dean back out. But he still hadn't returned. Stacy scanned the crowd, but he wasn't amongst the revellers. She was about to ask if Ryan thought Dean had left for good, when she saw the odious Sadlers make yet another unwelcome entrance.
"Ugh. They're back. I can't believe those jackasses! Thought we all got lucky there."
Ryan turned and got up.. "Jesus, can't those bastards take a hint?!" The trio stood at the back, boisterous, laughing and celebratory. Mike Harvey looked a little worse for wear, he had an eye swelling shut and his nose was a mess. Gary Sadler was holding a handful of packed snow to his knuckles. It was turning pink with blood.
"crap. Looks like they got into something.." Ryan rose and stared tensely at them, assessing the situation.
Struck by a horrible thought, Stacy suddenly clutched his sleeve. "Oh Ryan,---Dean!"
"Stay here--" he warned grimly. "Go get Phil and tell him they're back. I'm going outside."
Stacy hurried to find the manager as Ryan slipped out the door.
He stood in the parking lot, peering through the darkness. The quiet was deafening now, after the noise inside. His feet crunched in the fresh snow, and he headed toward the car that he knew had to be Dean's. It was blanketed with snow, undisturbed for hours. There was a faint set of footprints, they seemed to circle the car, and he surmised that Dean probably walked around to check on it as he was calling. Other than that, there was nothing amiss. He followed the tracks back to the building, they led to the rear door. There, the snow was flattened and scuffed by the comings and goings of patrons. Cigarette butts littered the area at the wall beside the door in a typical pattern.
He bent down, there was a spot that looked odd where the snow had been quite disturbed. The litter there was scattered around as if something had dragged through it. The soft falling snow had been steadily accumulating, it obscured the marks, but he was sure something odd had happened here. He squinted at the white-blanketed ground, trying to discern any differences. A faint, wavy trail led around the perimeter, and he jogged around the building to the rear.
There was no sign of him. But here, he found evidence of an altercation. There were dark spots on the snow, spattered here and there. He knelt and touched his fingers to one, smelling it. Blood. The back of the building had a passage around it for deliveries. Beyond that, a deep ditch, filled with brush. Ryan fearfully scanned the edge, and found what he was hoping would not be there. The snow had been knocked off the branches at one spot. He went to the edge and looked down.
There was a figure there, almost at the bottom, lying still in the darkness.
"Aw, no! Aw christ!" He skidded down the bank and crouched beside him. Dean lay on his side, his back propped against the slender trees that stopped his roll to the bottom. Ryan's training took over, and he checked him over quickly before attempting to revive him. Dean stirred and groaned at his touch, and he instinctively tried cover his head with his free arm. Ryan pulled it away gently and checked his pupils.
"It's ok. Dean..it's me, it's Ryan. Dean, can you hear me?"
His eyes fluttered open and he nodded.
"Do you know who I am?"
Dean turned slightly, focussing on Ryan. "yeah." he whispered Then he shut his eyes in relief, sure for a moment that it was one of the Sadlers again.
Ryan could see that he'd been beaten, his face was cut over his cheekbone and his nose had left a bloom of blood on the snow. Dean cleared his throat and tried to push himself up from where he lay. He yelped when his right arm would not support him, and he rolled onto his back, rocking as he clutched his shoulder, and cursing in a whisper. Ryan tore off his own coat and tucked it under his head to protect him from the freezing snow. He wiped the ice and blood from the side of his face as he questioned him about his state and what had happened.
"..jumped me, outside the back door" Dean said.
His breathing was ragged, it seemed to cause him significant hurt. Ryan opened Dean's coat and ran his hand over his chest and sides. He felt a mushy give to his right collarbone, and Dean's sharp intake confirmed what he suspected. Even in the dim light he could see the bruises on his body, bruises only the hard-edged sole of a workboot could deliver. Dean groaned again, shivering violently. Ryan covered him again and comforted him, "I'll call an ambulance out, buddy. We need to get you to a warmer bed for the night." He pulled out his two-way radio which was always with him and Dean panicked.
"No-" he choked, pulling himself up. "don't call--"
"Whoa there!" Ryan grabbed him gently and Dean sat, propped on his left arm as Ryan supported him.
"I'm ok...don't have to call....just help me get to my car-" Dean gritted quietly.
"You sure as hell aren't! Christ, Dean, you look pretty worked over, you need to be checked out!"
"No! Don't, Ryan-" Dean gripped his friend's shoulder and pulled himself up to his knees. The effort cost him and he nearly blacked out. "I don't have any coverage." he coughed. "--I'll be fine, I just...need to get to the car."
He stopped talking and groaned as nausea swamped him, he pushed himself away from Ryan's grip and vomited onto the snow until he was empty and shaking. He wiped his mouth with a cold handful and swore. Ryan held him, but he stayed up, and after a moment he sat back on his heels and took a few steadying breaths. When he was able, he said haltingly, "Seriously. I don't need a hospital. I've had worse. I just need to get to my car. You can lead me to a motel if you want." He reached his hand up, motioning Ryan to help him to his feet. Ryan frowned but carefully pulled him up.
"Pretty sure you cracked your collarbone." he said, holding him until he steadied.
"Yeah...that and a few other things." Dean winced.
Appalled, Ryan demanded, "For crap's sake, then why the hell aren't I taking you in??!"
Dean kept a tight grip on the other's shoulder, clutching his right arm to his side. "C'mon, man--we'd be waiting for hours in emergency, and you know all they'll do is tape me anyway. You can do that. Same with my shoulder, they'll only give me a sling. You have all that in your kit, right? Just find me a room, and patch me up, I'll be fine."
It was true. Ryan knew it. And Dean was standing on his own now, and seemed determined. It went against everything the medic felt, but Dean was capable of making his own choices, even if they were stupid.
Ryan cursed his stubbornness, but he gave in. "But I can't take you any place that isn't booked solid now. You'll just have to come back with me. Just shut up and don't move, I need to give my wife a heads-up." He found his phone and pressed the number, explaining it quickly to her and hanging up.
Dean was intensely uncomfortable with the arrangement. He was a stranger, he was a mess, and it was Christmas. An unexpected house guest, especially one like him, was the last thing a wife needed as she's trying to get everything ready. But he had the sense to realize it was his only choice. He let Ryan hook his good arm over his shoulders and the two of them made their way up the snowy bank and back onto level ground. They rested for a moment at the rear wall. Dean was struggling to stay on his feet. His shoulder was screaming, and the effort of climbing the bank made his ribs ache sharply as he pulled in each frigid breath. Sons-of-bitches, he thought bitterly. Merry freaking Christmas.
"Still want to forego the hospital?" Ryan asked.
Dean nodded, resting heavily against the bricks. At that point, Stacy rushed to join them.
"Oh my God! Oh, Dean--" She fussed over him, horrified at the blood that still coated his face. Her questioning look to her brother was met with a frustrated gesture.
"He won't let me take him in to the hospital. I'm going to take him back to our place. What's going on inside?"
She kept up her ministrations while she answered. "Phil called the cops. Mike went nuts and started attacking the bouncers, and Gary Sadler got involved. One of the band guys knocked him senseless with a mic stand and Len went after him, just big-mouthing the whole time. Phil clocked him. They managed to herd them into the furnace room and Phil jammed a chair up under the latch. Police should be here any minute."
Dean raised his head. "Can we go, then? I'd like to get out before the crap hits the fan, if you don't mind." He also wanted to get to his car before he couldn't do so anymore under his own steam. His strength was failing, he groaned and felt the bricks slide away from under his shoulder as he sagged to the snow. Stacy was standing closest, she caught his weight as he went down.
He was there already. He scooped Dean's arm over his neck again and held him up. "Stacy, call the damned ambulance-" he said quietly.
Dean protested weakly and shook his head. "No....please, just get me to my car...I can't leave it here." He fished the keys clumsily from his pocket, but they fell from his hand and Stacy caught them.
"Ryan, you drive it. I'll follow in your truck."
He grudgingly agreed. They switched keys, and as Stacy hurried in to inform Phil, Ryan slowly helped Dean to the Impala.
"You know you're being a stupid ass, don't you?" he grumbled.
Dean grimaced. "uh huh...kinda my thing."
Ryan managed to get the passenger side open without letting Dean slip to the snow. He got him settled and slid behind the wheel. "Any quirks I should know about?" he asked before starting her up. Dean shook his head. Ryan eyed him worriedly. His passenger had a sheen of cold sweat and was squeezing his eyes shut. Ryan waited for Dean to get a grip on the pain before he did anything. The walk to the car, and getting in, was hard on him. But after a moment, he relaxed a little and turned to Ryan with a wan smile.
"At least you got a Christmas wish out of this. You miss driving your car? Well, you can't get much better than this. Fire it up, but give her a good warm up. Then you can see what she can do."
Ryan almost forgot the circumstance as he ran his hand appreciatively over the dash. The rumble of the engine grew smooth and even as it heated up. --Oh baby--he thought with delight. "That is nice."
Dean smiled a little at his reaction, but it was short-lived. His comment caught in his throat when he shifted in the seat, and the pain of his injuries lanced through him. It dizzied him, he put his head back against the headrest and swore softly.
"You alright--?" Ryan asked.
Dean nodded unconvincingly, growling. "Sons-of-bitches better hope they get hauled behind bars tonight! There's a couple of fat asses there just begging for my boot--"
Ryan shook his head and put her in gear. His new friend might not be particularly wise, but he sure had a set of brass balls.
aislinn - January 18, 2010 06:39 PM (GMT)
Oh, I can't believe I missed three updates. I really like Stacey, although I have to side with Ryan and Dean about the cars. And, Ryan, what a sweetie. Why is that trouble always finds Dean and I can almost feel the weight of the guilt Sam will be feeling at having wanted to spend Christmas away from Dean. As for rushing because it's Christmas themed, no need on my part, it's a Supernatural story and the brothers are always relevant.
UKsnfan101 - January 20, 2010 02:31 PM (GMT)
good thing Ryan found him and that he can take care of Dean...well at least Dean will be warm and be taken care of this christmas...
FireDancr2 - January 23, 2010 06:56 PM (GMT)
Just found this story. Holy cow, great job so far! Love the action and the angst.
Poor Dean, just can't seem to find peace and happiness during the holidays without something going wrong.
And now Sam is going to feel even more guilty because he'll hear Dean's message and think things are fine, when they really aren't.
Oh boy *slapping a hand to my forehead*
Can't wait to hear more soon.
MarquessaS. - January 24, 2010 01:03 AM (GMT)
Hey. ---So I'm posting on a Saturday night, Waddya want, I'm 44 and married!
Sam spent the rest of the evening trying to live in the moment, past and future be damned. He knew, desperately, painfully, that there were facets to his life that were so contrary to his Stanford world. Stanford was all about privilege, about education...social standing. It was an oasis of what looked, at least on paper, as the best of humanity. Yet here he was, a product of ugly origins and even uglier destiny, trying to fit in with this better class of people. He accepted everything they bought him for the rest of the night, he drank hard to forget that truth.
But it was good, too. No matter how he analysed it, these were still his friends. They were Jess' friends too, and Jess was some one who was part of both his worlds. He'd lifted the curtain, slowly, carefully, when he was sure about her. She knew about him...she knew enough, anyway. And she had still loved him.
Sandy, who sat here now, vivacious and fun and straight-forward, had been her best friend. He wondered how much Jess had told her about his past. Girls always confided, Dean had warned him. She must be privy to some of it. But still he was welcome....
It brought him back to Dean. He never worried with his brother. Dean accepted everything about him; even, apparently, if it excluded him. Dean didn't add any requirements, he didn't demand that he play any other role other than Sam Winchester. And he didn't define who Sam Winchester was supposed to be. That was clearer now than ever.
Markus shoved him to snap him out of his reverie. "Sam, jesus, how loaded are you? Didn't you hear anything I said??"
Sam smiled and shook his head. "You keep handing me these bloody shooters! What do you expect? Hell, you're lucky I remember where I am, for shits sake. Humour me and tell me again."
Markus shook his head and laughed. "I said---do you want to hear what we want to do tomorrow? For Jess?"
Sam switched gears and dragged his heavy mind into the present. His expression telegraphed his distress.---Jess.---"Right, the memorial thing. What's the plan then..?"
Markus rolled his eyes and started over. "Ok...now focus, Winchester. Sandy wants to have a luncheon in her honour tomorrow afternoon. It'll be at Cabotto's, which you know was her favourite. It won't be long, we all have family crap to do on Christmas Eve. But she wanted to mark the day in some way that would be good, and fitting. You know how close they were....she was really, really happy that you came, Sam. She's got Jess's mom and dad, and her sister to come. It would have been missing a really huge part if you weren't here."
Sam nodded. He had no words to add.
Markus continued. "Anyway, you look a little walleyed right now. I'm thinking---it's late, you're kinda wrecked. Maybe we should call it a night. I just wanted to know you were ok with this thing tomorrow....I didn't want to spring it on you, I know it must be really, really hard."
..Hard wasn't nearly adequate. It was brutal. The images were still burned in his brain, as they would always be. Jess, laughing, teasing, happy...beautiful. And her eyes dark with terror and pain, her body pinned to the ceiling, as flames burst forth... They would never know the whole story to it. Only he and Dean would...
He wiped his eyes and sighed. "Well you're right. I'm damned close to getting seriously f~cked up. Thanks, Markus, for everything. I'm...I'm really glad to be back with you guys. But get me to a bed for christ's sake, before I go totally emo."
Markus didn't laugh this time. He wore a look that Sam could have hugged him for. He sighed, and smiled with sympathy. "Ok.... You're an embarrassing pussy, Winchester, but ok. I'll say the good-byes for us."
Ryan's wife Connie was anxiously waiting, and she had made things ready for their unfortunate guest. They took him to a spare room that had a futon set up. Stacy came in a moment later, and spoke to Connie in greater detail about what had happened. Connie was a practical soul, an unflappable mother of two young children. It took a lot to rattle her, but the sight of her husband helping a bloodied stranger into their house at such a late hour was unnerving. But she would never deny him anything, she trusted her husband fully and if Ryan knew what he was doing, then she supported him.
She popped her head into the room as Dean was settled. "Can I do anything?" she asked with genuine concern.
Ryan looked up. "Yeah, hon---get me some towels and a bowl of hot water. Some ice packs.... Maybe throw the kettle on for some tea. And keep Stacy out of here, I need to check him over and I don't want her to see this."
She nodded and closed the door. Dean sat hunched and holding his sides. He was almost regretting not going to emergency, he was in danger of puking on the nice soft taupe carpet. "Sorry, man...for complicating your home life.." he mumbled.
"Don't be. You looked out for my sister and you saved me from getting my face rearranged. I owe you. Now shut up." He carefully removed Dean's jacket. It was torn and bloodied, he threw it toward the trash can. "Alright, Winchester. Our relationship is moving to the next level, I'm gonna strip off your shirt and pants." He hiked up the tee shirt and manoevered Dean's right arm through the sleeve, then pulled it the rest of the way off.
"Sweet Jesus!" the medic breathed in dismay. Dean's torso was a mosaic of black and blue. Swellings were showing over his ribs in several places, and his collarbone was abraded and raw where Gary had kicked him. But it wasn't just the recent marks. Ryan was shocked by the countless scars Dean bore. He wasn't kidding when he said he'd had worse. Ryan concentrated on the latest. Connie came in and delivered what Ryan needed. She gasped when she saw. Ryan took the things, adding, "Dean, this is my wife Connie. She runs the place, so you better behave."
Connie knelt in front of Dean. "You poor thing! Stacy told me what happened--it's just awful!" She dipped a washcloth in the hot water and dabbed at his face, trying to keep her eyes away from the rest.
He apologized again for intruding. She shushed him. "You got in this mess because you were defending my family. You are our guest, so no more about it!"
He thanked her wearily and gasped at Ryan's probing touch. Connie had finished cleaning his face, but she guessed that he probably needed privacy now. "I'll leave the pro to do the rest." she said, hurrying out.
"You can swear now. " Ryan smiled.
Dean did. Over and over, as Ryan's fingers assessed the damage. Ryan sighed unhappily as he took what he needed from his kit. "Well...definite break to your collarbone. But it's not displaced, so I'm going to put you in a secured sling. As for the rest, several possible cracked ribs, maybe fractured, but I can't tell if you won't let me get you X-rayed. Some real nice bruises. I'll bind you up, but it'll hurt like hell for a while."
Dean nodded. He knew the drill. When Ryan had finished he dealt with the cuts on his face and head. He didn't think stitches were necessary, he applied butterfly strips. But the goose-egg on the back of his head was alarming. "Ever been concussed before?"
Dean snorted, and winced. "a few times."
"Well, my guess is you are. Any vision issues? Headache? Dizziness? Nausea?"
..check..check..check..check. But the last thing he wanted was someone waking him every few hours all night. "No. I'm ok."
Ryan stripped him of his cold wet jeans and got him into a set of warm, soft sweats, emblazoned with his station crest. Dean was still deeply chilled and shivering after lying in the snow. He tugged and arranged the stack of pillows Connie had added, and helped him settle back on them, covering him up. "Ok. Now...Connie's got tea ready. You need something for pain."
Dean wasn't arguing. Ryan went out and returned with a bottle of tablets and a steaming mug. "Do you want me to call anyone? Your brother..?"
Dean hugged the hot mug to himself and shook his head. "I'll call him...maybe later. I'm not dying, and I don't want to freak him out. Right now I just want to crash for a while."
"I hear you." He shook out some pills and watched to make sure they went down all right. "Those oughta help. Listen, Stacy's out there wringing her hands raw. Can I let her in for just a sec? She's worried.."
"Sure. And Ryan....thanks."
Ryan smiled. "You sure go about it the hard way when you're looking for a bed, buddy. Hope you feel better soon." He left, and Stacy slipped in before the door could even close.
She sat beside him, all business. She'd vowed that she would keep her emotions in check, but it was a hopelessly weighted battle. She'd never seen anyone who'd been in a fight, let alone someone who meant something to her. She wanted to ask if he felt alright, if there was anything she could do to alleviate his pain. She wanted to thank him for sticking up for them against the Sadlers, who were strangers to him...almost as much as she was. But the words caught in her throat and she reached out and stroked his mussed hair, and tears began to slip down her cheeks.
"I'm ok." he whispered.
"Liar." she sniffed. She tucked him in more securely and took his empty mug from him. She sat with him in silence for a while, struggling to get a grip on herself and embarrassed that she couldn't. Finally she found her voice. "What did Ryan say..? What did they do to you? Are you sure that you shouldn't get checked out? Maybe you should-"
He raised his good hand and pressed his shaky fingers to her lips. "It's just some dents and bruises. I've been through this before, ok? Stop fretting, Stacy, please. Ryan checked me out, and all I need now is to sleep."
She stared at him, but nodded. Ryan was a health professional, after all, She had every faith that he knew what he was doing. But as god was her witness, she was going to grill her brother as soon as she had seen to Dean herself. She nodded again, mollified a little, and she faked a smile. "Well...you owe me a kiss, Dean Winchester. I'll be claiming it tomorrow, just so you know."
He smiled a little, as much as he could. He was already fading, his eyes growing heavy with the drug. It was a blessed relief. "Go to bed, raccoon-girl." he whispered.
She wiped at her running mascara. "I'll check on you."
She kissed his forehead and left when his eyes closed and his taut face relaxed.
He startled awake. Surrounded by darkness, lying in a strange bed, and a cool hand now touching his brow, Dean shut his eyes hard against the pain his abrupt movement brought.
"Sssh." a soft voice soothed. "Easy, Dean. You're at Ryan Anderson's house, in Twain Harte. It's ok...you're safe." She switched on the lamp.
He grimaced and pried his eyes open to focus on the speaker. He worked to beat down the panic that made his heart race. "Stacy. Stacy..." he whispered, as his cognizance returned.
"That's right, sweetie. You had a nightmare. You're ok, you're safe and sound."
He swallowed hard, parched and still anxious. His head pounded with a raging headache and his ice-pack had long-since softened into tepid uselessness. Stacey put a cup of water to his lips and he took a few sips. "Sorry...did I freak you out?" he asked with some embarrassment.
She smiled wearily. "Nope. I was awake. Ryan thinks you're full of crap. He says you have a concussion and that we need to monitor you."
Dean smiled guiltily. He should have known Ryan would see through him. "Ok...busted. So how'd you get roped in to babysitting..? Don't you have your own place to sleep?"
She shook her head. "Oh man, you definitely got your brains rattled. I told you, I'm just here for the holidays. I live in Houston."
"Houston." Right, that's what she'd said before. Just visiting for the holidays. "Right...of course."
She peered at him with concern. "I volunteered to do the concussion watch. Ryan's beat---he had a full day at the station, and then his bouncer routine at the dance. He was fully willing, but I sent him to his bed. Should I be getting you to count fingers and recite your birthday and stuff?"
He snorted. "If you really want to help, you can find me some whiskey and help me get to a can."
That flustered her. "The bathroom is just one door down....do you need..uh...help?"
"Just getting there."
"Phew." She carefully followed his lead as he sat up slowly and held out his left arm. He swung his legs to the floor and they stood together. She didn't miss his stifled gasp and the way he stiffened when she brushed against his side. "Are you ok..?"
It took him a moment. He was sweating profusely, and trying desperately to hide how much pain the movement caused him. "Sure." he said in a strangled tone. "Nothing to it....piece of cake."
His stupid bravado pierced her to her soul. She helped him to the bathroom, and when he was finished, she got him carefully back into his bed. He was pale and drawn by the thin light of the lamp, and clearly stressed. His cuts looked dark and angry, and his fractured collarbone and god-knows what else obviously a source of acute pain. When he had settled a little, she took his left hand and began to methodically massage his fingers, working her way up his forearm. He closed his eyes and groaned again, this time with pleasure
Stacey kept up her attentions. She could see the beneficial effect it had, Dean was relaxing. "Dean..?"
"Tell me about Sam. You...you called for him, a few times. Do you miss him now..?" She sat and watched him until he grew uncomfortable. Finally she explained quietly, "You've had a rough sleep, sweethheart."
He groaned, knowing already what she was going to say. "Yeah...I dream, when I'm loaded with painkillers. Hell, who wouldn't? It's nothing."
She sat quietly. She brushed his hair back with a sad smile. "Sure. Nothing, I get it. Just dreams." She pulled his covers up a little. "Can I get you anything?"
He wanted to say no, it was all ok. But it wasn't. And he knew she knew it. "I could use a few of those pills from the table there." he said wearily. "What time is it, anyway..?"
She reached for what he needed. "About two-thirty."
He'd only been down for a couple of hours. He swallowed the tablets with the water she offered. Again she noted his strained pallor, and frowned. "What can I do for you, Dean? Ryan told me how they hurt you. I wish I could...make it better."
He tried to laugh, but it sounded wrong. "Jesus, Stacy, you've gotta to watch what you say...guy could get the wrong idea."
She smiled indulgently as she looked him over. "Oh, please! Could you even? That would really be impressive."
He had to admit that that kind of activity was probably outside the scope of his abilities at the moment. All he could do was smile apologetically. "Raincheck..? Assuming we're talking about the same thing.."
She smirked and patted his hand. "We'll talk." She fluffed his cushions and pulled up his comforter. He sighed then, keenly and unhappily aware of his limits. She sat beside him in silence, watching him struggle with the hurt that was etched in his features. She finally asked the question that was burning in her brain.
" I know I asked you already, but...do you want me to contact your brother? I know what you said already, but...when you were out of it...you seemed to really...need him to be here, with you."
He groaned then. "Look...Stacey...I'm loaded up with painkillers. I told Ryan I'd call Sam later. Yeah...he's my only family. But we don't really do christmas like everybody else. We're not that sentimental. I'm happy he had somewhere to go this time. Better for both of us."
She had to accept that. She sighed in defeat. "Ok hon. Your call. So, first stage of concussion-watch is a pass. I guess I'll see you in two hours." She tucked him in until she was satisfied. He smiled at her attentions. "Sorry I can't get you that whiskey, hon. Ryan 's kind of a tee-totaller at home."
He wasn't surprised. He figured his paramedic friend might be on call regularly, and would be concerned about crisis-readiness. "It's ok.. The pills are doing it."
"Good." Stacey yawned, unable to stifle her tiredness. She looked at him again, making sure he was satisfactorily comfortable. "I guess I'll crawl back in then. I'll be back in a couple of hours, ok? Don't take a swing at me when I wake you."
"I might grab you, but that'd only be the painkillers, I swear."
She rolled her eyes but smiled softly. "Ok, I am duly warned." She squeezed his hand and left.
Dean lay in the quiet dark, feeling the uncomfortable sting of embarrassment. He hated the words that came unbidden when his walls were down. It was always humiliating. He chastised himself for his weakness. John Wayne would never have cried in his sleep.
---Oh god...kill me now--- Sam was hung over. He cringed like a vampire at the light that filtered through the curtain, pulling the cover over his head to shield his bruised senses. He wanted to bury the clock radio that illuminated the time in a nauseating acid-lime green light. It was damned close to hell, he was sure of it. The last defiant flashes of it had driven home the hour. Six thirty. He didn't know why the hell he was conscious, other than some sort of divine retribution. He was sure he could have slept at least until noon. He groaned and turned for the hundredth time, trying to find a new position that would welcome sleep. But nothing he tried was effective. When his eyelids refused to close, he stumbled out of bed and made his way to the bathroom.
The shower brought some humanity back. He still had a rodent on his tongue, but some mouthwash caused it to flee to safer depths. He dressed, and returned to his room. He tried to read for a while, but it angered his headache, and he abandoned the book and lay on the bed again. It was more than the previous nights consumption. He was nervous, nervous as hell. His emotions had turned into shards of glass that churned mercilessly in his stomach. They would all be there, all the people Jess loved. He didn't know how he was going to face them. He got up again and got some cold water, dreading the coming day.
thanks for reading...ml
aislinn - January 24, 2010 03:25 AM (GMT)
Yay, an update. I love Stacey, Ryan and Connie. I like Marcus as well. It would be nice if the boys could stay in these places surrounded by friends and homey comfort, but alas, it's not mean to be.
FireDancr2 - January 25, 2010 01:23 AM (GMT)
That was amazingly done. Dean's being taken care of, but he's still trying to let Sam have a good Christmas. But Sam is going to feel so bad when he finds out that Dean is hurt since he doesn't have a car to get to Dean and take care of him. These boys need to get in touch with each other to find out what's really going on and how much pain each one is in. They need the support of each other.
Can't wait to see more.
MarquessaS. - January 27, 2010 02:50 PM (GMT)
Hey all. Thanks for the words back. Here's the next chapter. Have a fine wednesday.-----mal
Dean awoke to the sound of whispering. Little voices, hushed so as not to be caught and shooed away. He raised his head and opened an eye to focus on them. A boy, maybe four or five, in Transformers print pajamas. And a smaller girl, maybe three, in fuzzy pink from head to toe. They stood at the partly open door, staring in awe at the stranger in the den.
"Hey." Dean whispered with a tired smile. "What's your name, kid?"
"Eric." He pulled his younger sibling through the door. "That's my sister Bethany."
Dean waved his fingers at the two of them. He dropped his heavy head back down, wanting anything but to be awake. Nice to meet you. Now go away for a couple more hours, kiddies, he thought.
But Eric crept forward, fascinated by this man who had appeared for all they knew out of the blue on Christmas Eve. He was sure that this newcomer had to be special, he wasn't an uncle or a cousin, he was new and different, like he imagined an emmissary from the North Pole might be. Eric knew it was Christmas Eve, and Santa was watching all kids today. He stood, rapt and starry-eyed, waiting for Dean to say more.
Dean sighed and raised his head again. The movement hurt like a bitch, but he kept it to himself so as not to scare them. "Umm...do your mom and dad know you're in here..?"
Eric didn't answer. He stared at Dean, grinning shyly. "My daddy has a purple eye too."
..I bet he does. Dean thought for a second. "Well that's why you should never throw snowballs at your sister. Your Dad and me had a snowball fight. He hit my eye, and I hit his."
It was just the type of thing that one of Santa's helpers would say. The boy nodded solemnly. After a moment he spoke again. "Bethany wants to let you sleep with her bear. 'Cuz you had a nightmare."
Dean's eyes flew open. He groaned inwardly at the thought that he was talking again, or worse, in his sleep. "No no, it's ok, I was just...dreaming." He was horrified that he could have said anything that was loud enough to be heard beyond his door. He touched his hand to his eyes, his eyelashes felt damp. He never knew what the hell came out when he was hurt and drugged. He wondered how long the kids had been watching.
"You were saying Sam. That's her bear's name. You had a bad nightmare. She wants you to sleep with him so it will go away." The little girl nodded and held her stuffed animal out.
Dean was touched and embarrassed in equal measures. He figured the best thing was to accept her offer, then maybe they'd go away. He held out his left hand. Bethany shyly handed over her well-worn source of comfort and he hugged it to himself. "Thanks, Bethany. I'll give him back after I sleep, ok?"
She nodded, beaming. At that moment, a weary- looking Stacy entered. She sent the little ones out with an experienced tone, and they scurried back to bed. She sat down beside Dean. "I'm sorry, Dean...did they wake you? They're just so excited, you know, Santa coming and all. How are you feeling...?"
He hugged the bear closer. "Better." he lied.
She smiled at the toy. "Wow...Bethany must really be impressed with you, she never lets go of that thing."
He looked at it. "She said I could borrow it so that the nightmares would go away." He sighed and forced himself to ask... "Anybody else hear me?"
Stacy assured him no one had. "The kids were up early. They were curious, they think you are somehow connected to the North pole, so they were hovering by the door. Don't worry, you didn't wake the household."
He closed his eyes in relief. "Good."
She stared at him for a moment, a sadness softening her expression. But she'd already asked him, and he didn't seem to want to talk either to, or about, his brother. "I put coffee on...do you feel like having a little breakfast?"
He realized then that he was hungry. Thanks to the Sadlers, he'd given up his dinner the night before, and he felt hollow now. He brightened. "God, yeah, I'm starving."
She got up. "I'll get you a cup. Connie was already getting up when I came down, she'll be making breakfast soon. Back in a sec."
"Thanks." As soon as she'd left, he steeled himself and pulled up to a sitting position. It made his eyes water, and brought a hiss to his ears. He gripped the mattress edge hard with his good hand and counted to ten, desperate to have the pain subside. It was always this way, when he broke ribs. The stomach-turning pain took it's sweet time downgrading to mere discomfort, sometimes weeks. He swore under his breath. And with his arm strapped to his body, he knew he wouldn't be able to drive for a while.. He hated playing passenger.
When he opened his eyes again, she was kneeling in front of him, frowning with worry. He hadn't heard her soft entry.
"Honey, are you alright? You're as white as a ghost!"
He nodded with a thin smile. "Just hurts...a little. Nothing lethal, just takes a while with this kind of stuff." He saw the steaming mug she held. Her hand was shaking. He reached out and relieved her of it. "Stacy, you're not gonna cry on me again are you?"
That did it. She blinked away tears. "I hate that your Christmas was ruined by us. It just sucks!"
He put the cup down and brushed away a trailing drop from her cheek. "Ruined? Sweetheart, this is the best time I've had in a long time! Apart from getting the snot thumped out of me, of course. Last night was awesome. I met some great people, I actually danced..sort of, I got a kiss from a hot chick... And now I'm here in a warm house with a couple of adorable kids in bunny slippers thinking I'm somehow related to Santa Claus, a real proper christmas tree, somebody out there in the kitchen humming carols, and I swear I can smell something cinnamon baking! Do you want to know what I probably would have done? I'd have picked up a fifth of scotch and a big bag of M&Ms, found me some mouldy motel room, ordered pizza and porn and spent the night alone. And on christmas eve, I probably would have found the one seedy bar that stayed open for all the left-over losers. I would downed a bunch of candy-cane flavoured shooters, hit on the waitress, pissed off her boyfriend and probably ended up lying in the snow after a fight. So...I think I did alright this time."
She blinked. She didn't know if he was serious or not. She shook her head and laughed.
He knew their hearts were in the right place. But the last thing Sam wanted to do was publicly memorialize Jess. It was too damned fresh. And even more significant, he and he alone had the horror of what happened that night burned into his memory. He could never discuss any of it. They were all saddened, all grieving her loss. But with him, it was so much worse. He was responsible. His family ties were responsible. If she'd never met him, she'd be happily alive today.
He felt sick. Markus glanced at him as he drove, and saw his pallor. "You ok, Sam? Still hung over..?"
Sam drew in a settling breath. "Partly. But it's not just that...I mean, it's Jess. It's her mom, and dad, and sister. It's everybody. I don't know what to say to them. Markus, I don't know if I can do this.."
Markus felt for him. He should have thought this through a little harder, he should have known how raw this still was for Sam. "Look...Sam, this isn't a gauntlet for you to run screaming through. It's just a fun little lunch. A christmassy thing. We'll do more laughing than crying, I promise." He paused, and added, "Everyone there knows how you feel. Alot of them think...well they think that you blame yourself and that's why you dropped out. So natch, they'll be working it hard to convince you to come back."
Sam wished to god that were the only reason. He groaned, realizing he was going to have to disappoint them all again. They would try their best to wheedle and cajol and beg him to return to Stanford. And he'd have to refuse. How the hell was he going to do that without being able to tell his real story?
But he sighed again, and turned to Markus with a wry smile. "So this really is going to be hell then?"
Markus grinned. "Oh buddy, you have no idea. We have pictures. You and the late, great girlfriend got a lotta 'splainin' to do!"
It was a gauntlet after all. But it was a gentle one. But true to his word, Markus made sure it wasn't only a bombardment. They all tried to change his mind, but no one ruined the mood by pushing too hard. They had great food, a lot of beer and wine, and many happy remembrances. The pictures; Sam had no idea where they came from, were a hoot. They were shots of he and Jess, at various locations, different seasons...some were a little embarrassing, considering that her parents were there. And other pictures showed a little blond girl with an impossible halo of frizz, and shots of her at various points in her interrupted life. They were beautiful, all of them. Sam was very glad he hadn't bailed on the event
Only once did one of his friends disparage Dean. Adam, always outspoken, and probably the one most aware of his social status, took Sam aside. He'd met Dean once and dismissed him then as trash. "Sam...hear me out, ok?"
Sam groaned. "Adam, don't. Just...don't. You don't know the whole story. Trust me-"
"I know what I see, Sam. Look--you were in your element here. You were going somewhere. Jess's passing was a terrible thing. But you have the rest of your life to consider. I see you now, and it makes me crazy. You're throwing all this away for what? To hang out with your brother?! He's a loser, Sam. He's got no future and he's stealing yours out from under you by demanding your time. You've gotta see that--"
Sam's hackles rose. Fine, Adam meant well, but this was going too far. "Adam. You and I were good friends. You're a stand-up guy and I respect that. But you don't know what the f~ck you're talking about. My brother is not a loser. He is who he is because he gave up every opportunity that came his way to me. Do you hear what I'm saying? Don't judge my brother. If it weren't for him I would have never even made it this far, and if you say one more crappy thing about him, we won't be friends anymore."
Adam stared at him for a moment. Then he shrugged. "Your choice, Sam. Go ahead and slum. Whatever you want." He turned and walked back to the group.
Sam stood at the bar for a moment, his emotions strangling him. Markus joined him. The two said nothing for some time, and finally Markus broke the silence. "So what did our resident Royal say to you?"
Sam didn't look at him, he stared at his hands. "Pretty much what you did, earlier."
"Ah." Markus felt awful then. He had heard the emotion in Sam's voice when he'd defended Dean to him before. It wasn't lost on him. He might not fully understand it, but he knew that brotherhood meant something, and that Dean Winchester might come across as a boor, but he was everything to his friend, at a time when Sam had lost too much to bear alone. He said something then that he never thought he would. "Don't even think about it, Sam. Your brother's a good guy, we know it. And Adam's a douchebag most of the time. We all want to deck him on a regular basis."
Sam snorted a laugh. He glanced up at Markus then. "Thanks."
"Yeah, yeah. Now we'd better quit our little romantic tete-a-tete here and get back to the table or, you know-- people will talk."
Sam laughed, his anger fading. "Dream on, I am so out of your league!"
aislinn - January 27, 2010 03:03 PM (GMT)
Aww little Bethany giving the stranger her teddy bear and Eric in awe of the visitor who had to be from the North Pole. Wonderful chapter, as usual. Stacey, dear Dean told you the truth, and you know it's really sad that that is the truth. Thanks for the update. Trying to calmly wait for the next.
MarquessaS. - January 30, 2010 04:41 PM (GMT)
Hi again. Some saturday reading for you.
They let Dean sleep most of the morning. By the time Stacy had returned from checking on the status of breakfast, he was out of it. Considering the interrupted nature of his night, they thought it was best. It was just before noon when Ryan checked in on him and found him awake.
"Hey, how are you making out?" he asked, sitting down beside the bed and checking him over.
Dean yawned and struggled up. "Ok, considering. Ooh, nice shiner--!"
"Ditto. How's the noggin?" He turned Dean's head and had a peek at the goose egg. It was reducing already.
Dean assured him it was well within his tolerance. He shrugged off the attentions. "Would you cut it out?!. I'm ok, this isn't new to me. God, you and your sister--"
"--are concerned about you. Quit squirming!" He finished his checks. "Well, Dean Winchester...it's my official medical opinion that you look like crap. But before I get you some breakfast, I want to know a few things."
Dean waited, warily. Statements like I want to know a few things were rarely in his favour...
"Ok then. Number one: and you might as well tell me the truth this time, --are you experiencing any vision problems still, or headaches, or anything concussion related?"
Dean sighed. "Yeah, I have a freaking brutal headache. I have a pushy medic in my face and I'm hungry like I haven't eaten for a week."
"Good. Hungry is good. But what about the rest ?"
"Fine. Ok. Half-decent." He sighed when he saw his new friend's obvious skepticsm. "My shoulder hurts like hell, and so does my side. C'mon, Ryan...I got the crap kicked out of me. What do you want?"
Ryan sat back with his hands on thighs. He smiled with gentle wryness. "Dean...look, it would really kinda wreck my holidays if you croaked on my futon before Connie lays out the Big Feast. So don't do that, ok?"
Dean promised gravely. But the invitation wasn't lost on him.. "So...what are you saying...I can stay then, for Christmas dinner?"
Ryan laughed. "You don't even know if Connie can cook."
Dean smiled. "Yeah, but I know I can't. And my brother's in Palo Alto, so he isn't exactly going to make me Christmas KD either. So Connie's my best shot."
Connie had walked in at that moment, bearing the fruits of her morning efforts. "Don't let him scare you off-" she admonished. "I haven't killed anybody yet." She set down a tray heaped with a delicious breakfast. It seemed to have everything he'd smelled earlier, including the cinnamon, which manifested itself in a sticky and steaming chelsea bun. His eyes sparkled with such genuine pleasure that she had to laugh. "So as you know, I'm Connie, chief cook and bottle-washer. And you are our special Christmas guest, ok? Stacy said you were feeling badly about being here, so I'm officially ordering you to quit that right now." She was smiling as she said it, but Dean felt it was best he should comply.
He glanced at Ryan, who simply grinned. "Don't look at me for back-up--I'm afraid of her too!"
Dean scratched his hair shyly. "Well...uh...ok. really nice to meet you, Connie. And thanks for everything, seriously!"
She smiled at him. "I'm just glad you're feeling a bit better. And I want to thank you officially for saving me from having to deal with husband who looked like a Picasso painting. Geez, it's hard enough already--"
Ryan faked a why-I-oughta and Connie rolled her eyes. She helped Dean get arranged so that he could effectively deal with the tray. He glanced surreptitiously at his hostess. Connie was on the plain side. She had a no nonsense short haircut, and a figure that didn't hide the fact that she had two little ones. She wore no make-up, and dressed for comfort rather than style. She was genuine, and he liked her immediately.
She left to attend other things, leaving Ryan and Dean alone. Dean picked at his meal, a little disappointed that he wasn't as hungry as he'd thought.
"So, what happened after we left last night?" he asked through a mouthful.
Ryan frowned. "Well, they got the bastards locked into the furnace room at the restaurant. Phil called the cops, but by the time they got there, they'd kicked out the window and both Sadlers had wormed their way out of it, god knows how they even fit through. The other one, Mike Harvey, was left behind because his ass was too fat to jump up and squeeze out. He's down at the cop-shop now."
Dean was furious. Under better circumstances, he'd have liked to deal with them personally for what they'd done to him, but he'd hoped at least that they could have spent the holidays behind bars. Now it looked like the worst of them got off scott free.
Ryan sympathized. "Yeah, that sucks. But at least one is in the clink. And knowing Harvey---he'll turn on the Sadler brothers the second they offer him a plea. So don't worry, their days of freedom are numbered."
Dean nodded. He was hardly listening now. He pushed the tray away apologetically. "Sorry, man. Tell Connie it was perfect. I just...I dunno, I can't eat any more right now."
Ryan put it aside. "You didn't eat much. And you're sweating, are you feeling sick?"
"A little. It just sorta hit me. I'm still pretty sore, that's all it is. I'll finish it later, don't throw any out, ok?"
Ryan nodded. It was understandable, considering what he'd experienced. "What do you need?"
Dean sighed and leaned back with eyes closed. "Couple more of those pills, I guess. And some water. I suppose I should finally give Sam a call before he panics. Would you mind getting my phone out of my coat?"
Ryan got him what he needed and searched through the torn garment. "No phone here. Are you sure it isn't in your car or something?"
Dean remembered. "No. I had just finished leaving Sam a message. Pretty sure I put it in my pocket, but they threw me into the wall right after."
Ryan checked again. "Nope. I'd guess it fell out at some point after that. I'll check the driveway and the car in a minute. But you can use mine--"
Dean shook his head. His stomach was rebelling against what he'd eaten. "No...later, thanks. If I don't put my head down right now I'm gonna hurl for sure."
Ryan leaned forward and peered hard at him. Dean continued to sweat, and his colour was ashen. "Should I get a bucket..?"
"Only if you value your carpet."
Ryan set him up with his just-in-case necessities. But Dean had settled somewhat by the time he'd arranged it. The latest pills were making his eyes heavy. He assured Ryan he was ok, just tired. Ryan made sure he was as comfortable as he could get and left him to sleep some more.
As Markus had promised, the luncheon was over fairly early. It was, after all, Christmas eve, and everyone had their own family plans. When all the tearful hugs and handshakes were over, they finally got onto the highway.
"So....was it as bad as you thought it would be?" Markus ventured.
Sam sat with his head pressed against the headrest, shutting his eyes to the world. He smiled wearily. "No. And yeah. I never thanked you, for doing this, Markus. It was hard, but it was really good."
Markus nodded. "Well, you did fine. You're a slippery little weasel though, I noticed you managed to squirm your way out of any real commitment to come back. You really would make a damned good lawyer."
Sam snorted. "Yeah, it would come in handy."
Markus was quiet for a while, but finally he had to bring it up. "Sam...I know Adam wasn't exactly a diplomat back there....but I just have to ask you again. Why, when you see all you had here, when you hear all these people begging you to return to what you should be doing, why are you just wasting your time driving around with your brother? I mean, I understand the trauma, I understand the importance of family. But the time has to come when you look at things from an objective place, nevermind emotions, or your screwed up sense of duty. You've got to see that it isn't good for you." He winced as he finished, waiting for Sam's anger. He wasn't trying to antagonize him, Dean was a sore point between them. But he liked Sam. He didn't have a brother, but he felt his bond with Sam had to be something akin to that. He wanted what he thought was best for him.
He didn't get angry. To Markus's shock, Sam covered his eyes with his hand and stayed silent, as the tears he couldn't stop slipped down. Markus watched, mortified, until his friend's shoulders stopped shaking, his hitched breathing settled again. He spoke to Sam quietly, "aw..man, I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to screw you up more. Christ!"
Sam shook his head, still silent. He rubbed away the moisture, embarrassed, and laughed a little. "No, it's ok, I'm just a basket-case, that's all." He gathered himself and explained. "Markus, I hear what you're saying, and I really, really appreciate your friendship. But what I need is your support, and to give that, you just have to trust me right now. Dean is not the one holding me back. I know how he seems to you. But he wants me to have a life as much as I want one. He's tried all his life just to make sure of that. But my Dad's gone, and even if we never had a good relationship, it still threw me into a tailspin. It was even harder on Dean, I mean, he and Dad were so alike. I left school because he'd gone missing, and Dean needed help finding out what the hell it was all about. And with Jess gone now, and the way it went down, man, I just can't do the student thing right now. I can't go into a whole lot of detail, but there are still alot of unanswered questions there, around Dad, and around my family. Dean almost died in that crash. Technically he did, before they got his life signs back. And Dad was banged up, but up and around, like me. We didn't know if Dean would make it.. And then all of a sudden, Dean unexpectedly snaps out of his coma, and Dad is laid out dead on the floor. I need to figure out this crap before I can ever just let it all go and get back to my other life. They're not separate things, unfortunately. I can't just stuff the past in a box and leave it behind. Some things just have to be laid to rest before I can restart."
He knew his story oversimplified it all, but it was the most he could say, and Markus deserved some sort of explanation.
Markus was stunned. "I...I never knew it was all so bad. I mean, the crash, and your brother...you never told me about all that. Jesus...man, I am so sorry--"
"Yeah...me too." Sam said quietly. He sighed. "It took both of us a while to get back on our feet. I wanted to call you, but after Jess, I just couldn't bring myself to talk about this with you guys. I figured I was like a walking curse, and you people didn't need that crap on your doorstep. So I am really glad you invited me down here. It was so great to reconnect. And Dean was pushing me to go, even if it meant he was by himself at Christmas. I feel like a selfish jerk for leaving him alone. He called me from someplace called Twain Harte, saying he was having a great time, he went looking for snow and found it. I tried to call him before, but I just get voicemail. Anyway, I hope he's ok, wherever he is."
Markus finally shook his head. "Wow." He didn't know what to say beyond that.
Courts - January 30, 2010 05:35 PM (GMT)
:clap I love it so far! Awesome work!
aislinn - January 31, 2010 10:21 PM (GMT)
Another great update. So the Sadlers got away, I hope that doesn't spell more trouble for Dean, Ryan and Stacey. Oh, and poor Sam, being unable to explain to his friends exactly why he can't come back, it's tearing him apart.
MarquessaS. - February 1, 2010 11:27 PM (GMT)
Sorry for the quick post, but I'm caught up now to the chapter I'd posted on the other site, and from now on I'll be posting at both sites simultaneously.
thanks for reading, ml
"Damn. Damn damn damn."
It was the seventh try. Yet again, Sam got his brother's voicemail. He was tired of leaving messages, he simply hung up.
"Still not home?" Markus asked. They were relaxing by the fire, having a beer. Markus's mom was fussing over dinner, and they'd taken the opportunity to retreat to a quiet corner.
"No. Not answering, anyway." Sam downed his dregs and sat brooding. It wasn't normal for Dean to remain incomminicado. He was always the one who was militant about staying in contact. He would have been furious if Sam had stayed out of reach so long. It didn't feel right.
"You know, he might just be occupied. I mean, you said he went looking for some fun, right? If he found it, then I wouldn't be surprised if he was, you know...busy---"
Sam nodded, but his distracted manner didn't fool his friend. "Yeah,...I guess." Sam allowed Markus to pour him a refill. He played with it, swirling it without realizing, his brow furroughed.
Markus groaned. "What? What now?! Jesus, Sam, can't you cut the cord for a little while?? It's Christmas eve! Dean's out doing whatever it is that turns his crank. And you're here. You two can actually exist as separate entities! I know you have a deep connection, but come on!"
Sam shook Markus's lament off. "No...you don't get it. Sure, we can both go off and do our own thing, I mean we're not conjoined, for shits sake. That's not the issue. The problem is communication. Don't look at me like I'm some needy freak! Dean's the one who's a psycho for staying in touch. And the fact that I haven't been able to reach him since we separated is just not normal...for us, anyway." Sam swore under his breath and downed his drink.
Markus sighed. He was an only child. The whole brotherhood thing was new and alien territory. But he had known friends with siblings. None were so connected, for better or for worse, as Sam and his brother.
"Are you sure you're not...I don't know, channelling some crap of your own here? Sam, I heard everything you said to me about the two of you. But I also heard that Dean was trying hard to make sure you had your time with your friends. It sounds to me like he's cutting you loose for the holiday."
Sam thought about that. Markus had an objectivity that he lacked. "It's possible. It could be that way I guess..."
"Sure. Sure it is. Look Sam....It's Christmas eve. He knows you went out here for Christmas. Dean is just making sure that you take full advantage of your separation for a few days. You said so yourself---he wants you to have your own life."
Sam listened. He nodded. It sounded right. Markus always had a way to cut through the crap and distill the real heart of things. But he knew that he and Dean were different. But before he could worry further, dinner was announced. He rubbed his eyes, tired and vexed by a vague and anxious feeling. The two of them made their way to the dining room.
It was well past lunch time. She was drawing figure-eights across his cheek. When he finally realized it, he blinked at her, and whispered "Hey. Bored, are you?"
She snickered. "No! I just got tired of re-reading Santa's Toy Shop. The kids are finally satisfied. They're parked in front of the tube watching the Grinch again.. How are you..?"
He knew the question wasn't rhetorical. He was finding it increasingly hard to hide the pain he was in, as it had been steadily building in his left side and he was at a loss for a comfortable position. "Do you need something in point-form like your brother, or just general..?"
She leaned close. Her expression was earnest. "Just give me the truth."
She meant business now. He groaned softly and shifted to sit higher. "I hurt. It's a natural progression after being whumped. How 'bout you, did you have a good day?"
Stacy didn't answer right away. She stroked his hair, saying nothing for several moments. "I said hello to every one that I needed to. It was good...seasonal, you know?"
He nodded, having no real idea. "What time is it..?"
"Five-ish. Are you hungry?"
He shook his head. "Not really. Maybe later." He rested back again against his stack of pillows. She didn't like his colour, and his lack of focus. He caught her expression, and tried to reassure her. "It's fine, Stace. Don't worry."
She leaned forward and planted one lightly on his damp forehead. "You might be able to snow Ryan, but I'm a whole different animal. You look like oatmeal."
She tugged at the pillows to make them work better. "So talk to me, stupid."
He wanted to play the hero. He wanted to prove to her that it was all ok, just a matter of time. But he couldn't. He pushed himself to sit up fully. "..just bruises, Stacy. I can't make that heal up any faster. please, just..."
She swore, and it caught him off guard. "Stop bloody protecting me!" she hissed in frustration. "I'm not blind or stupid!"
He looked away, and sighed angrily. "What do you want from me?"
"Just a bit of honesty." She swiped at the tears that betrayed her. "Tell me if you want some chicken soup, or if you need to be under serious care, or ..."
He realized that she was anxious and frustrated because he refused her mothering. He smiled and pulled her hand away from her face, enveloping it in his own.
"I --Am--Fine. Do you hear me? I'm warm and comfortable, got a hot chick fussing over me and a constant offer of a hot meal. This is just what it looks like, so stop imagining all kinds of horrors. I'm not dying, it's just a couple of bruises, maybe a cracked rib. And yep, broke my collar bone. And it hurts, but it's only been a day, and it all goes away eventually, ok? Stacy..please...quit crying over me. I makes me really uncomfortable. I swear I feel like I'm laid out in a freaking morgue."
Stacy got a grip and pulled herself together. "Fine." She wiped away her tears. "You are a bona-fide typical stubborn male. I get it. I'll shut up now."
He wasn't sure this new resolve on her part was a good direction after all. "Well, good. But...it still hurts, I mean, I still need comforting...."
She snorted and kissed his face. "You're an ass, you know that?"
"I've been told." He pulled up his comforter and lay back. "So cold...wish somebody would warm me up..."
She grinned coyly. "Well., unfortunately..." she whispered in his ear, " Right now I don't think you could handle the kind of heat I can generate."
He groaned. "god, you know you're killing me--"
She giggled. "Yeah. It's kinda fun. But in the meantime, I think you could use a bit of a wash. Do you want me to get some hot water and make you a little more civilized?"
He blushed slightly. "That bad, huh?"
"Not so bad." she smiled. "Just a little sweaty. Stay put while I get some towels and things."
He watched her go. Oh yeah she was cute. On any other day, this would have been exactly what the doctor ordered. But he was tired, and in more pain, it seemed, by the hour. He didn't know quite what her expectations were but he was fairly sure he's have to delay any kind of strenuous activity.
She returned with what she needed. She dipped a fresh wash cloth into water to which she'd added a frothy squirt of shower gel. It smelled of grapefruit, and greenery. She stroked it gently over his eyelids, his cheeks, his hair, his neck. He closed his eyes and sighed in appreciation.
"Nice." he whispered. He didn't even wonder where the others were at the moment. It really didn't matter.
She continued down, rinsing and refreshing the cloth as she bathed his skin. She paused over the well defined scars above his heart, claw-marks that had been dealt to him by the demon inhabiting his father not so long ago. But she said nothing. She lightly dabbed at the abrasions that defined his collarbone, careful to keep from pressing too hard. He tried, almost successfully, to remain quiet.
"Can you sit up all the way? I want to change your wrap."
He smiled unconvincingly, thinking she had no idea what she was asking. "Sure. Give me a hand..."
When he was up, and supporting himself against the bed edge, she unclipped his sling and gingerly unwound the tensor bandage. She'd coached herself already, and when his scarred and freshly bruised middle was revealed he saw her expression freeze. But again she said nothing. She rinsed her cloth again and stroked it slowly and lightly over his skin. He groaned.
"I'm hurting you--" she fretted, pulling away.
"No--" he whispered. "You're not. Keep going..."
She blushed a little, but she continued her ministrations. The tension she felt in him seemed to melt away. She washed his chest, his back, and arms. She stopped at the waistband on his shorts, and he gave her a petulant look of disappointment.
She caught his eye and chuckled. "Get real."
He stared at her for a moment, a smokey darkess in his eyes. But she was right. He leaned forward to touch her face, but the motion rewarded him with such an excruciating spasm that he immediately abandoned his intentions. He swore quietly, screwing his eyes tight. She pulled him close to rest against her for a moment, stroking his hair until he was able to relax again. "I'm officially offering you a rain-check." she whispered. She felt him nod, and he settled for nuzzling her hair.
Ryan, always a master of timing, entered the room then. "Hey! What did I tell you kids? None of that nonsense!"
Stacy laughed with embarrassment. Dean shot him a sheepish look.
Ryan took the opportunity to check Dean over. Stacy retreated and allowed her brother to do what he needed to. Ryan checked his blood pressure, satisfied that it was only slightly at the low end of the range. And he examined the places that looked painful. "So far so good. Anything you need to tell me about?"
Dean shook his head. "Broken bones. Ouch. Big surprise."
"Uh huh." He put his equipment aside and leaned forward. "What about your systems..?"
Ryan frowned with annoyance. "Don't play stupid, Winchester. Are you feeling any congestion? Or passing any blood?"
"Nope." Dean lied.
"Good." Ryan wound a fresh tensor firmly around him. "Because I'd drag you in right now if you were. You can't screw around with stuff like this, Dean."
Dean nodded. He did know. He'd been in the situation more than once. But there was something much more precious to him at stake now. He was, for the first, and perhaps only time in his life, going to experience the real deal. Christmas. Just like the one in the carols, just like the books. Like the ads, only better. His father had been a good man, he'd done his best and Dean had lionized him...but this area was one of his worst failures, a constant source of hurt for his boys, year after year after year. And even Dean had found it hard to forgive. He needed to be here. He needed to see the excitement, the thrill, and the happiness that the little ones would show. He wanted, just once, to see all the silly Christmas eve wishes of a couple of normal kids come true. He didn't care how he felt physically, he needed this more.
"Connie will have supper ready soon. Can I bring you something?"
Dean shook his head reluctantly. "Maybe later. Right now I don't think I could."
Ryan frowned. "You ought to try something. You need the strength. How about some toast, or-
On cue, Stacy came back in with a mug of steaming soup. She set it down beside him. "How is he, doc? Should we amputate anything?" she asked of her brother.
"Nope. Pathologically stubborn, but I think he'll live." He rose and stood by the door. "Listen, let me know if you feel anything different, I'm serious. You have a couple of wicked bruises, I'd be surprised if you didn't have any internal issues. Nobody gets booted like that without feeling some deeper aches and pains. Don't ignore them, ok?"
Dean nodded. Stacy sent him off to eat dinner with his family, while she stayed with Dean.
"Are you not hungry, Dear?"
Markus's mother had noticed that Sam was picking at his meal. He glanced up and smiled apologetically. "Sorry, Ma'am. It's really good...I just have a lot on my mind."
She looked at him with sympathy. She knew what they'd done that afternoon, and she guessed it had brought back many painful memories. "I can warm it up for you later, if you'd like to retire. You look world-weary, Sam. Markus, you should go easier on the poor thing."
"No, no, it's fine. It's delicious as always, I'm just distracted." He proved his words by digging in with more enthusiasm. He was anxious for dinner to be over---he knew he wasn't very good company, and he wanted to try Dean's cell again.
"Don't fall for his sob story, mom, he's just hung over. Poor Sam's been away from school so long he's out of practice." Markus grinned. Sam shot him a look.
She tsked and shook her head. "Well, I have a lovely raspberry torte for dessert. How about I wait and we'll have it with coffee later?"
That was greeted with unanimous approval, as they were already full to bursting. Markus's father stood and announced that he had to finish the duties his wife had assigned him, and they were excused.
Back in Markus's room, Sam tried his brother again, with no luck. He lay back on the bed with a heavy sigh of frustration.
"What..?" Markus demanded.
"Dean. Still can't reach him."
Markus rolled his eyes. "Did we not go over this?! He's out doing what he should be, enjoying himself. He's probably getting it on with some bleached blond barfly as we speak. Of course he's not going to answer!"
Sam sat up. "Hey---give it a rest! This is serious, ok? You don't understand how things work with us. This silence is just not normal. I know you think it's stupid, but trust me, for Dean to be away from his phone for any length of time is a bad sign. You don't understand, you don't have a brother. And maybe it's weird, or too clingy to you, but it is what it is. And now I don't know what the hell is going on."
Markus growled something. He got up and left, returning with their coats, and jangling his keys with impatient annoyance. "Ok, you big neurotic pussy. It's only six, if we go there right now we can find out that everything's exactly as I said it was, you can give your brother a Christmas kick in the ass and we can get back here before it's midnight. Will that satisfy you?!"
Sam smiled sheepishly, but he was greatly relieved. "You're the best, dude. I promise it'll be quick. I kinda already mapquested the place, it's only a couple of hours."
Markus stared at him, then smiled and shook his head. "Asshole."
aislinn - February 2, 2010 12:06 AM (GMT)
Did I read right...did you apologize for a quick update? Apology accepted, except it's not needed. Thank you for the quick update. I'm really enjoying this story and am now even more anxious for updates than usual. I hope Sam isn't going to accidentally ruin Dean's attempt at a normal Christmas. I hope that his going there doesn't land him in the crosshairs between the Sadlers, Stacey, Ryan and Dean.
Bec - February 2, 2010 12:27 AM (GMT)
I'm really enjoying it too. Keep them coming :)
FireDancr2 - February 5, 2010 05:13 AM (GMT)
I agree to all of the above. More please! This is great.
MarquessaS. - February 5, 2010 02:07 PM (GMT)
Well thanks! Nice to know you're all enjoying this. Here's the next chap.
He finished the soup. It was more for her sake than his own. Well, that wasn't totally accurate; he knew she would harass him relentlessly unless he'd eaten something. His side ached sharply now, more than anything cracked or broken. For the first time, he began to worry a little. But he swept it aside for now. "Mmm." he pronounced.
She relieved him of the bowl and spoon. "Good job, you'll learn to be a lefty yet." She watched him for a moment or two. He didn't look well. "I'm not going to end up wearing it, am I?" she half-teased.
He shut his eyes. "No..no. I'm alright...I think." Beads of sweat shone on his brow as he spoke. But after several dicey minutes, he relaxed. The soup wasn't going to abandon him after all. "Thanks, Stace."
She nodded. "Good. Cuz that'd be a serious blow to our relationship." She tucked him in a little more and waited for him to talk. When he didn't, she started. "Hey...Dean..?"
"Tell me something. Tell me a Christmas story about you.."
He was still fighting faint nausea. This was hardly the avenue that would alleviate it, but he tried anyway. "I need parameters. Give me a date or an age or something."
She lay down beside him. "I don't know. How about a milestone. Ten."
..Ten. Had to be ten. He sighed, there would be a lot to weed out. "Well. Sam and me were in...Wisconsin, I think. We were in the Blue Dolphin Motel. Yeah, I don't get the name either. Dad was out, working, Christmas eve. Sam was crying. He was mad because we were just moved to this shithole. We had no friends, of course. We were watching tv as usual, but this time it just wasn't doing it. Sam was getting worked up, he did that sometimes. And out of the blue, he starts asking me questions. About Mom, about how it was before she died. He wanted to know what she looked like. How she sounded, how she felt. How she smelled, for god's sake. So I did my best. I was only a little kid when she died, I didn't have that much to offer, you know?" He stopped. She had to prod him gently to continue. He did, after a time of silence.
"I told him she was a blond angel. I told him we had Christmases like in the movies. She had a laugh that sounded like...happy music. She...made things, out of paper and cereal boxes and stuff....She drew things for me, and I added the colour. She told me stories that had happy endings."
His eyes grew moist. His voice grew strained, and trailed off. After a moment he cleared his throat and continued. "It worked. He settled down, and went to sleep. Dad got in pretty late, I pretended to be asleep.. I figured he would have forgotten again, like he did most years. But for once, he remembered it was Christmas, and we were just little kids. He actually brought us a few things that time. I still have the little red metal race-car he got me...keep it in the glovebox for luck."
She didn't pry any further. She snuggled down beside him, hiding her own tears, stroking his hand as he lay in silence. She stopped when she heard his breathing change to the evenness of sleep.
It was the children who woke them. Bethany was ready for bed, as was Eric. The little girl was beside herself. She'd lent her precious bear to the pleasant stranger, so he could sleep in comfort. But enough was enough. She pushed the door open tentatively. Stacy raised her head. "Hi sweetie. Is it bed time?"
Bethany nodded. "Santa's coming." she stated. That phrase had punctuated pretty much everything she'd had to say all day. This was one time there would be no complaints from the the little ones at bedtime. They were eager to bring tomorrow on. She turned her gaze to the toy still tucked under the blanket. Stacy smiled and retrieved it.
She gave the precious thing back to the tiny waiting hands. "Here you go, Bethany. Our friend Dean is sleeping now, and I think it's because you were so nice to lend him your Sammy Bear. But you can have him back now. Thank-you, honey."
Bethany smiled with a wisdom that belied her age. She kissed her auntie and toddled off to bed.
The Sadler brothers were not happy men. They'd spent a cold and bitterly uncomfortable night up at an aquaintance's hunt camp, afraid to start a fire for fear of being seen. Both had suffered injuries, first from the unexpectedly skilled defensive hands of Dean Winchester, and later in the melee that saw them caught in the utility room. Gary sat in the grimy, ragged easy chair, holding a failing icepack to his face and shaking the persistent ache out of his right knuckles. His brother Len nursed the scrapes he'd acquired in their tight squeeze out of the tiny furnace room window. The hunt camp was their sanctuary at times like this; times when they were best kept out of the public eye.
"I should have kicked his head in!" he growled.
Len spat on the cold floor. "Little late now. Maybe you should have just left the bastard alone in the first place."
"What?! You shut the hell up! You saw him with that bitch, she was all over him! She wouldn't lower herself to give it up for me, though, would she? Stuck-up little whore!"
Len snorted. "Hell, Gary, half the sluts in this town wouldn't give it up for the likes of you. You aren't exactly any white knight. And why'd you have to go back there anyway? After we thumped that guy, we should have just gone and hung out someplace else. They were all on the lookout for us. Your god-damned ego's screwed everything to ratshit again!"
Gary rose and stood over his brother. "I didn't see you off in the corner crying for everyone to just get along! You were right in there with us! Hell, it was your boot that rolled him down the damned ditch! So why don't you just shut your mouth! "
Len recoiled against his chair back, feeling the aura of threat his brother exuded. "Well, what do we do now? Assuming he's not still lying there, you think he'll go to the cops?"
"How the hell should I know?!" Gary shouted. He turned in a fury and kicked over the crate that functioned as a table, it splintered against the wall and scattered the can of cigarette butts and empty bottles that had graced its surface. He paced back and forth in the shabby cabin, his rage mounting to irrational levels. He realized, too late, that the sonofabitch from the dance was going to be a big problem. He should have stood on his neck until he was blue and dumped him somewhere far and safe.
Len wisely toned his own manner down. They might be blood, but Gary had a temper that didn't recognize such trivialities when it was stirred up to the boiling point. "Look, he was kind of a hard-ass, from what I saw. He's not from around here, he didn't look like he was with anybody before the Andersons got to talking with him. Maybe he'll just lay low and have a quiet holiday instead of wrecking his Christmas by spending it in a hospital."
Gary sat down, his expression ugly and sour. "Well, we can't go find that out, can we?! Cops are out looking for us. If we set foot anywhere near downtown we'll be back in jail with Harvey."
Len swore. Gary was right, and he hated that. "And what about Harvey? He's still in the station, probably opening his big yap."
"Screw that fat ass! There's nothing he can tell them that they don't already know. The one to worry about is this bastard. If he does go to the cops and he presses charges, we're f~cked. But you know, we might have just got lucky if he didn't get checked out yet. There's no evidence that we ever did anything if he just disappears, just a lot of people saying crap that won't matter. I got too many priors, and you aren't exactly citizen of the year either. If he fingers us for the beating, we aren't talking county minimum here, we're talking hard time now. And I don't know about you, but I can't afford to just take off and leave right now 'til things cool down. " He stood up and resumed his angry pacing. "Naw, we gotta go get this guy, and now. We've got a window here, but it'll close as soon as he goes to the cops!"
Len's guts tightened as his eyes widened. "What are we saying here, Gary? You want to take him out? That's a whole different thing, now! We never done murder, and I don't want to get my balls fried off in the chair for something you caused in the first place, you stupid jackass!"
Gary whirled and without warning, he drove his fist into his brother's gut. Len dropped like a ragdoll, and Gary gathered his collar and growled into his face. "You scabby yellow piss-ant! You know the drill, it's f~cking California! Three strikes! I already got two, but it isn't just me. Christ, can't you freaking count?! You're right there too! You have two felonies already, it doesn't matter how long ago it was done, it's still your name on that record!" He dropped him back onto the garbage-strewn floor. Leonard Sadler coughed, fighting to keep from puking. He crawled back up onto a chair and glowered at his younger brother. "You hit me again and I'll blow the back of your head out through your filthy mouth!" he panted.
Gary sneered. "Sure you will. Now shut up and let me think. Where do you figure that guy would've ended up?" Without waiting on Len's answer, he turned away and punched a number on his phone. When someone answered, he had a brusque few words and hung up with a curse. "Bruce was there yesterday and he said that Anderson bitch's brother found him and took him somewhere. We pounded him pretty good, he probably is in the hospital."
"Can't go there now either."
Gary shot him a look of raw irritation. "I know that! But they have a phone, you idiot! Here-" He tossed the cell to him. "Try to sound like you're not a retard for once. Ask them about a guy about thirty, brown short hair, who might have come in after a fight. Say you're a witness to it and you want to know how he's doing."
Len glared at him, but he cleared his throat and made the call. He spoke with a falsely pleasant charm that Gary was incapable of, worming the information out of the person on the other end. When he was done, he shook his head. "Nobody came in like that. And she said the only thing cops came to the hospital for yesterday was a domestic and a pile-up on the highway, and she checked twice."
Gary Sadler swore and rubbed his bruised face. He thought for a moment. "That Anderson is some kind of medic, isn't he? Works out of the fire station."
"Paramedic. So what?"
"So maybe he took care of the sonofabitch himself. Probably figured he owed him one after the guy stepped in when Mikey hit him. I'd bet my last buck he's over at his place."
Len shook his head. "No, that guy was too done in to just paste on a few bandaids and go sleep it off somewhere. They had to take him to a doc or something."
Gary looked at him like he was a moron. "It was too damned late, Len----way after business hours for any clinic or office. And nobody would be open today except the hospital. Where the hell do you think they could have gone?! Anderson has the skills and the supplies. He's looking after him, I guarantee it. So all we have to do is find out where he lives."
"And then what? Haul the whole f~cking family out and shoot them all in the snow on Christmas eve?! You're nuts!"
Gary didn't answer. Len had a point; that was pretty damned messy, even for them. Not to mention that mass murder would render the whole three strikes issue moot. "I don't know. We'll just play it by ear. We gotta find him first, if we can get him alone or something, we'll figure out the rest."
Markus pushed the limits with the Solstice, it was a miracle they weren't pulled over. Conversation was thin during the trip. Markus wasn't thrilled to be spending Christmas eve this way, on a prodigal brother hunt instead of relaxing by the fire, eating and drinking all the goodies the season offered. But it was for Sam, and he would do almost anything for his friend. Within reason, of course. And Sam was still wound tight. He kept calling, with no success. When they finally saw the sign for Twaine Harte's outskirts, Markus pulled over. "So...now what?"
Sam didn't know. Somehow, just the fact that they were going out to where Dean was had seemed enough, the reality hadn't occurred to him that despite being on the doorstep, he could still be no closer to finding him. "Aw crap...Markus, he never said exactly where he was, I just don't know..."
Markus could see that Sam was tired and discouraged. His friend was verging on panic. He took a leadership role. "Ok, now relax, Sam, and think. He said he was, what, at a dance or something? And it was noisy, right?"
"Uh, yeah. He had to go out to the parking lot to call."
"Ok, so we're talking some place decently large, with parking, that's good. This place looks like Santa's village; hell, how many buildings can there be around here that fit? We'll drive around a bit. If we don't see anything, we can stop somewhere and ask."
Sam nodded. He sighed and smiled a little, realizing he was being a useless emotional twit. He pulled it together. "Right, yeah, good idea. This looks like it could turn into the main drag, might as well stay on this road."
"You got it." Markus revved the car and they sped on through the sparkling winter wonderland.
aislinn - February 5, 2010 03:28 PM (GMT)
Oh, another great update, yet again. Those Sadler's ugh, ugly little rodent's aren't they? Love, love Stacey, she's the kind of girl I'd like to see Dean be able to settle down with. And, Bethany, aww poor sweetheart needing her Sammy bear back. Uh, uh, you don't think the Sadler's will get to Markus and Sam and try to use them as a way to get Dean by himself? Ouch, I've been biting my nails here and there's nothing left. Thanks for the update.
UKsnfan101 - February 5, 2010 07:36 PM (GMT)
jeepers don't check your e-mail for a day or so and you miss all sorts of updates...great update as always...love teh teddy bear and Dean...and especially the part where the little girl wants it back...adorable...
denise69 - February 5, 2010 11:37 PM (GMT)
Yeah :cheer we have an update!!! I'm between both websites checking which one you update 1st!!
Can't wait to see what the brothers plan to do to Dean!! Poor Dean he's sick and i think he has a feeling that it's not good!!
Sammy to the rescue and hopefully more Dean Whump :cry
MarquessaS. - February 8, 2010 05:50 PM (GMT)
Can you believe I actually thought I would finish the story on Christmas day???
Turns out I'm incapable of writing a short story. lol. Thanks for hanging in there despite the timing.
They didn't have to drive far. "Markus, right there--" The large brick building fit the bill perfectly. "McClaren's Landing. Restaurant and Banquet Facilities. Gotta be it"
Markus pulled over. The place was dark and quiet, the parking lot devoid of cars. Sam got out and stood in the empty expanse, staring at the building. Markus joined him. The silence was interrupted only by the occasional soft swoosh of snow falling off branches. "There's something on the door" Markus pointed out. Sam walked up and read the colourful hand lettered sign. "Welcome to the Fifth Annual Christmas Eve Eve Bash. Tickets $5"
"Bullseye. Looks pretty dead now, though."
Sam agreed. He peered through the glass into the darkened interior, but he couldn't see anything except the faint red illumination from an exit sign. He sighed and reached for his phone again. Markus walked around the side of the building and stood, scanning the surroundings. The rest of the nearby businesses were equally abandoned. No surprise, it was Christmas eve after all. Anybody with any sense was with friends or family now. He wondered where the sainted elder Winchester actually was. Better be lying in a ditch somewhere---he though uncharitably, after the wringer he put his kid brother through. He glanced over at Sam, who had walked to stand under the street light, cellphone to his ear. Markus frowned, and was about to walk back toward him when he stopped. He cocked his head, listening. A sound, soft and muffled, reached his ear. It sounded like a bad transistor radio, poorly tuned and unclear. When he turned toward its direction, it stopped. He looked back at Sam. He was putting his phone away, with a familiar frown of disappointment.
"What's your brother's ring tone?"
Sam looked at him in momentary confusion. "I don't know, some old metal tune I think. Why?"
Markus scanned the white sparkling expanse ahead. "Call him again."
Sam hit the number. The moment he did so, the sound floated to Markus's ear again. crap. He began to sift through the loose powder, moving toward a place from which it seemed to emanate. But it stopped again before he could find anything. "Are you on voicemail now?" he demanded.
Sam lowered the phone. "Yeah...how did you know?"
He ignored that. "Hang up and call again!"
Sam didn't know why he should do so again, it was hardly successful so far. But he did what he was asked. The moment he connected again, Markus seemed to bolt to a particular place by the wall. His friend bent down and rooted through the snow cover, and in a moment, he stood, triumphantly holding something in his hand. It was still bleating the ridiculous, tinny tune that identified Dean's cell. Sam's eyes widened.
Markus tossed it to him, grinning. "There you go, Sam. Mystery solved!" For a brief moment he was thrilled by their success, but his smile faded when he saw Sam's expression, and he realized the implications. "Aw jesus--"
Sam caught it and stood like a statue. He held it for a moment, and then he put it to his ear and retrieved the messages. They were all there. He heard his own voice, over and over; casual at first, then plaintive, annoyed, and finally, beseeching. He shut it off and caught Markus's eye. He could have dealt with the fact that his brother had indeed been ignoring his calls. He could have accepted that he'd been away from his phone due to entertainment reasons. But this was different. This was what he'd dreaded from the beginning. Despite everything he'd ever espoused regarding communication, about remaining available, about the danger of being unreachable, Dean was inexplicably separated from his lifeline.
Grumbling at having to attend to something like this on Christmas Eve, Phil, the manager, drove out to the restaurant. He had a roll of heavy plastic and some red tuck tape on the seat beside him, so that he could weather proof the broken furnace room window, something he'd forgotten to do earlier. He'd have left it, but the insurance company demanded that it be secured, and more snow was coming. He pulled in to the parking lot, surprised to see that there were a couple of people standing there. He got out and gathered his things, and headed toward the door. "Sorry guys, you're a day late. " he said to them. " The party was yesterday."
Sam realized that he must be someone connected to the place. "Hey--" he said, jogging to meet him as he unlocked the door. "Hey, I'm looking for someone, my brother. He was here last night, I think. Short brown hair, brown leather coat..? I'm trying to get a hold of him--"
Phil paused. "Lotta people here last night." After what had happened, he was cautious. He eyed the young men. The one who'd asked looked genuinely crestfallen. He decided they were reasonably normal looking. "Are you looking for Dean?"
"Yeah!" Sam said eagerly. --at last-- "Dean Winchester, I'm his brother Sam."
Phil remembered that name. He took out a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote down a phone number. "Here. Call Ryan Anderson at this number. He'll know what happened to your brother after the fight. He's a good guy, he and your brother hit it off."
Sam stared at the piece of paper. "Fight?"
Phil was under the gun to get back home. He answered over his shoulder. "Call him--he knows all about it. He can tell you where he is and how he's doing. And tell him Phil and the staff wish him well, ok? Hope he feels better soon." He disappeared inside, leaving Sam standing, and feeling a mounting panic.
Markus had heard the exchange. It angered him that he'd been right. Dean, just as he'd predicted, had gotten into some sort of stupid bar brawl. And here was poor Sam all worried over him on Christmas eve. He wasn't worthy of the angst being spent over him. He moved toward the car. "Come on, Sam. Call from the car, it's freezing out here."
They got into the Solstice and Markus cranked the heat as Sam made the call. After a short conversation, he had an address, and he relayed the directions.
"So what's up then?" Markus asked, putting it in gear.
Sam was grim. "Not sure yet. This Ryan Anderson said it was good that I come out. He didn't say much other than that Dean was hurt and staying at his place. Hurry up, ok?"
Markus nodded and floored it.
The Sadlers had their evening laid out for them, and it was hardly church or singing carols . The brothers were now in serious jeopardy through their own unthinking violence. Dean Winchester was a threat to their continued freedom, and he had to be found and he had to be vanished. Time was running out. They had Ryan Anderson's address, and they drove out to the house. It was a winding drive, Ryan had built a beautiful lodge style home on a few acres outside of town, where trees separated each lot and the terrain was rising. The snow was falling again, and Gary was cursing the conditions, his old car was clad in tires that were so bald they had wire poking through and the heater was intermittent at best. He finally found the address sign, and he parked up the road a little. They got out and stealthily made their way through the woods.
"There! That's it!" Sam barked. Markus pulled into the driveway. The house was several hundred feet beyond, set back amongst the young pines. If he wasn't convinced already, the sight of the Impala parked beside the garage was further proof that they had the right place. Markus found a place to park, and Sam barely waited for the wheels to stop rolling before he was at the door and knocking. Markus joined him as Sam introduced himself.
Ryan had met him at the door. He shook his hand and ushered him in. As the two young men stood in the foyer, Ryan introduced Connie, and bade them to come in further.
"Heard a lot about you, Sam." Ryan said. "Your brother's a big fan of yours."
Sam coloured a little. "What happened here, Ryan? I've been trying to reach Dean since yesterday. And then the guy at the restaurant said there was a fight.."
Ryan showed him to the den. "I'll let your brother tell it. I can fill in any blanks after. He'll be really thrilled to see you."
Sam nodded. He opened the door quietly and felt a rush of relief to see his brother finally. Markus followed.
They stood quietly, looking him over. "Dean--?" Sam questioned softly. Dean didn't stir. His eyes were closed, and he had clearly seen better days.
Markus patted Sam's shoulder and stepped back outside the spare room door, and stood waiting impatiently. Sam's 'hero' looked rough, he thought. His face was painted with typical bar-brawl colours. He wondered how someone could have turned the most peaceable of holidays into something tacky and violent in such a short a period of time. The big brother was so, so different from the younger. He turned back toward the foyer, passing the kitchen. Ryan was at the table, peeling and cutting apples at Connie's behest. He glanced up at Markus's snort.
Markus just wanted to get the hell out of there. These people meant nothing to him, and he'd accommodated Sam out of friendship, but it seemed that Dean had behaved exactly as his character would dictate, and Markus needed to get home to his own family. His assumptions made him forget his earlier sympathy for Dean, and he slipped for a moment back into his old prejudices. He nodded toward the closed guest room door. "What did he do...get loaded and take a swing at a bouncer or something?"
Ryan paused what he was doing and assessed him coolly. College kid, dressed expensively. Haircut that cost more than a fiver. Fancy car. He could see why he and Dean might not have common ground. He corrected him. "Actually, no, pretty much the opposite. He arrived at our pre-christmas bash at the restaurant, just looking for a decent dinner. We met, and talked, he and I have a thing for old cars and were having a great time. But then a local guy---a vicious sonofabitch, started harrassing people. He grabbed my sister, and I was volunteering as one of the security that night. I got into some difficulty, trying to get the jackass and his buddies out the door-" He pointed to his own shiner. "And Dean stepped in to give me a hand. We got them out without much incident. Unfortunately, the guy took it personally, and the three of them waited outside, and later, when Dean went out to call Sam, they jumped him in the parking lot. He didn't stand a chance. I found him about an hour later, unconscious in the snow. They broke him up pretty badly. If he hadn't stepped up to help me, he'd be fine right now. And if he hadn't gone outside ahead of me to call his brother, it would have been me lying in the ditch." He went back to peeling.
Markus was duly chastised. "Oh." he finally stammered He looked down, not knowing what else to say. --crap. He was overwhelmed by an uncomfortable shame, having done it yet again. Without even inquiring as to the facts, he'd automatically thought the worst of Sam's brother, and once again he'd been wrong. Here it was, Christmas Eve, and instead of having a nice holiday, the guy was lying hurt, and the circumstances were such that he'd obviously gained the loyalty of these decent people, who had started out as strangers mere hours ago.. And the poor bastard really had been lying in a ditch. He felt like an ass. He cleared his throat and mumbled, "I guess I should go out and ...uh...see if there's anything Sam needs from the car." He didn't wait for an answer, he turned quickly and made his escape. Ryan glanced at Connie and smiled a little.
Sam sat beside Dean. He looked him over unhappily. Dean was sleeping, but his face was still pinched and pale. Sam carefully pulled the blankets away and examined his bound torso. He knew what it meant. And he understood the significance of the sling, and how it was secured to his body. He counted the ugly, defensive bruises on Dean's arms, and extrapolated what he couldn't see. He sighed. "Got into it again, did you..?" he said softly. Dean frowned a little, but didn't respond. Sam was torn, wanting to wake him and hear what had happened, but also loathe to tear him away from the relative comfort of sleep. He decided that he was better off unconscious, he could get the details from this Ryan Anderson. He covered him up again and retreated.
Ryan filled him in as he sat at the table. When he'd finished the telling, he added, "I owe your brother, Sam. These Sadler boys are a rough bunch. I was in over my head and Dean was the one who paid for it. I feel just lousy about it."
Sam listened, and smiled wryly. "Well, don't. That's just Dean's way, and I doubt you could have said or done anything that would have changed his mind. He'll always leap headfirst into the fray if the cause is good and he thinks he can make the difference. This isn't the first time, and I guarantee it won't be the last." He sighed. "I really appreciate that you guys gave him a place to stay. I can find us a room now, wherever something's open. I hate to impose any longer, considering it's Christmas eve and all-
Connie spoke up with a vehemence. "Oh no you don't! Dean's intervention probably saved my husband some hospital time. Sam, we have two little ones. If Ryan was hurt, they would have been devastated, especially now. He saved their Christmas too. I can't thank him enough for that. I am absolutely sure those Sadler idiots would have been gunning for Ryan too. It was just your brother's bad luck that he was the first out the door."
He nodded unhappily. Dean and bad luck were synonymous.
Connie continued firmly. "He is our honoured guest. And so are you, Sam. Ryan and Stacy and I all know how close you boys are. Your brother made that plain. If it makes it better for Dean that you are here, then we are more than pleased to have you. Before you argue, it is not a burden in any way. We're delighted at the company. It's what it's all about this time of year, isn't it?"
Sam thanked them. He still felt like a beggar at the door, but he wasn't going to drag Dean from this welcoming place and dump him in some fleabag motel room in the next town when these good people would have it otherwise. He turned to Ryan, asking quietly, "What's the damage? I saw he was taped, and the sling.."
"Well, since he wouldn't let me take him in, I can only make an educated guess. But I'm a paramedic, and my professional opinion is a simple collar bone fracture, some suspect ribs and nasty bruises. And a concussion, for sure."
Sam frowned, his anger rising.
Ryan continued. "They suckered him, and then the three of them put the boots to him and dumped him down the ditch behind the restaurant. We might not even have known, except they came back bragging and showing the signs of a fight. At least your brother managed to get in a decent shot or two. The rest of the guys ended up corralling the bastards and calling the cops, but two of them broke out a window and got out. The third is in custody, he was too fat to get through."
Sam clenched his jaw at the image. "So they got away with it..." He glanced up as Markus returned. "But one of them is in the station?"
"Yeah-" Ryan confirmed. "At least one of them will be held accountable."
Sam stood up, his expression thunderous. "I think I need to talk to this guy. Can you give me directions?"
Ryan nodded. He understood what Sam was saying. He glanced at Connie, making sure she was out of earshot. " I can show you, if we go now. You might need some help."
Outside, Sam spoke to Markus. "Man, I really appreciate all you did. I'm sorry I screwed up the plans, but I really need to stay here now. And you need to get home yourself. It's Christmas eve, and your mom would kill me if I kept you away much longer."
Markus would have agreed, but he saw the expression his friend wore. "What's going on, Sam? I understand why you're staying, I kinda figured you would already. But you look like you're ready to kill somebody. Are you ok?"
Sam shook his head, and relayed what Ryan had told him. "I'm going over to the police station. I'm gonna talk to this sonofabitch. I swear he's gonna tell me where the other two are, or else--" He didn't finish the sentence, but Markus could fill in the blanks.
Markus made a decision then. "Not alone, you aren't. If you're going to take on these guys, I'm in. You don't stand a chance by yourself, and I'll be damned if I'm going to see you both laid out tonight. Come on, let's do this."
Sam had never seen his usually even-tempered friend so aggressive. He almost wanted to laugh. "Dude---seriously, I appreciate the offer, but this isn't your fight, and...uh...you really don't know what it can be like. The bad guys hit back, and damned hard. And you're fairly pretty....are you sure you want to risk it?"
Markus straightened up a little taller, his ego bruised. "I can take care of myself, Winchester. I could kick your ass if I wanted to!"
Sam smirked. "Hey, whoa, relax! Didn't mean to suggest you were soft. Actually, I'd feel better with some back-up."
"Well...good." Markus said, a little nervously.
Ryan was standing by his truck, grim and ready. Sam approached him. "Listen...Ryan, you've got a family, little kids who are counting on it being a perfect christmas morning. I can't have you getting hurt. Markus is coming with me. We'll see how it goes, but I just couldn't live with myself if you ended up in a hospital tonight, not after everything you did for my brother. And besides, Connie would straight up kill me."
Markus, already thinking like a lawyer, agreed. "I'll make sure this doesn't get too far out of hand. And you can't be in a position of getting arrested for assault---not with your profession."
Ryan was torn. He didn't want to feel like he was abandoning them, but with Connie and the kids, he did have other considerations. Before he could say anything, Sam cut him off.
"You've done more than enough. Please, just keep looking after Dean. I can't tell you what that means to me. Keep him from finding out and trying to take care of it himself. Tie him down if he argues."
But Ryan had known the Sadlers for years and he knew just what these boys were up against. It made his decision. "No. You're going to need me. There's two of them, and they're mean buggers. If I tell Connie what we're doing she'll flip out, so I'll just tell her we're going to the police station. She and Stacy will look after Dean."
Sam reluctantly agreed.
The Sadlers were none too happy to see the visitors. A car had driven up to the house, and two people had gone in. They stood in the snowy cold, shifting their freezing feet and hugging their coats tightly. "What the hell now?!" Gary grumbled
"Family probably. It's Christmas, remember?"
Gary said something unseasonable. They had no choice but to wait. The alternative was to abandon their intent, and Gary had no intention of doing so. All he could do was hope that they weren't over-nighters. The only way they would end up in the clear was if they could get the bugger alone. If the house was full of Christmas well-wishers, they were screwed. He was really hoping that the Andersons would leave to spend Christmas eve with some inlaws or something. He cursed a lengthy blue streak and lit a cigarette for warmth. They settled in to wait.
Len was so cold that he was at the point of heading back. But their vigilance was rewarded.
"Wait--they're leaving!" Gary hissed. But it wasn't the Anderson family, it was Ryan and two men he didn't know. He cursed. It meant that the wife, at the very least, was still home. When the two cars were safely out of sight, he nodded to his brother. They knew Anderson had a couple of kids, and they were young, and more than likely asleep already. They counted on that not being a problem. Gary found what he was looking for, and he quickly cut the phone line where it entered the house. The two crept around the building, stopping at every window and peering carefully in to locate the occupants. Gary found the room where Dean lay. He stood for a moment at the window, assessing his quarry. He thought he was asleep at first, but he saw Dean shift and cough. He ducked back. Stacy, in a stroke of good luck, had retreated to the bathroom. When he returned to his hiding place, Len was there. "Anybody?"
Len nodded. "The wife, in the kitchen. Nobody else."
"What's she doing?"
"I don't know, cooking or something."
"What about kids?"
"Didn't see any. Probably in bed. I checked all the rooms on the first floor, didn't see anybody else."
Mike Harvey was not expecting visitors. When the cops told him there were people wanting to speak to him, he had no idea who they could be. He was ushered into a room, where at least one recognizable face was waiting . The other two were strangers.
"What the hell do you want?" he said, surly and aggressive.
Ryan spoke first. "Hey Harvey. These boys are relatives of the man you beat the crap out of last night. They have some questions."
Mike Harvey surveyed the other two. One looked a little soft, hardly a threat. But the other one was a big unit. And he looked pissed. "Like what?"
Sam leaned toward him, resting his knuckles on the table. He kept his voice low and even, his gaze unwavering. "How about like what the hell were you thinking, you piece of soggy crap?! And do you really think this is the end of this? You hurt my brother, you sonofabitch. I'm gonna wait outside the door of this joint until you make bail or get transferred. Either way, you won't be walking to your next accommodation!"
Mike Harvey stared at this huge young man. The stranger's manner was grim and ugly; he clearly meant every word he said. Mike was already nursing wounds that the brother had dealt him in the fight. If this one, who was younger and bigger and apparently a lot meaner, had his way, Mike knew he was in for a world of hurt. And the god-damned Sadlers weren't worth the sacrifice. He glanced at the attending officers. They were looking the other way, in such a manner as to show that he was most definitely on his own. His florid, oily face began to shine with sweat.
"You can't threaten me...I got rights..." he tried weakly.
Sam crossed his powerful arms and stared at him in silence. He didn't need to say any more, Mike Harvey's imagination was already filing in the blanks. He crumbled predictably.
"What the hell do you want from me?"
"Where are the Sadlers?" Sam demanded.
Mike Harvey swore. He turned away, briefly, not wanting to be labeled a squealer. "Gone. Probably out of state. None of this was me, ok? It was All Gary, and Len. I got no beef with that guy, Gary was the one who wanted him hurt bad."
"Why?" Sam demanded. Markus looked up, intrigued.
"On account of that Stacy Anderson bitch. She was hanging all over that guy, and Gary couldn't get nowhere with her. He was jealous."
Sam's expression hardened. "Where are they now?"
Harvey wiped the sweat from his brow. He glanced again at the officers, but none made any eye contact. It was Ryan's contribution. Solidarity. Police, fire fighters, paramedics. They all looked out for each other in Twain Harte.
Harvey spilled. "Don't matter where they are. You gotta worry about where they were headed."
Sam leaned forward. "And?!"
Mike Harvey had made his choice. He knew the Sadlers would never do or say anything that would benefit him if it jeopardized their own necks. "Gary Sadler is on the verge of being labeled a habitual felon. His brother Len's probably in the same boat. So they beat the crap out of your brother, right? That's aggravated assault. Third strike. But only if he goes to the cops and presses charges. Gary knows that. If they can get to him and he disappears before he comes here to talk to the cops, there's no proof. So think about it, asshole....where would you go if you were them?!"
Sam turned to Ryan. They were both struck with the realization at the same time. Dean was at Ryan's. The Sadlers would be gunning for him there.
They tore out of the station in a skidding haste.
aislinn - February 8, 2010 07:36 PM (GMT)
NOOOOOO, you can't leave it here, you can't! Pleeeeaaassseee, please. :cry Update soon.
denise69 - February 8, 2010 09:03 PM (GMT)
You really need to come back to update this awsome story!! You know that you can't leave us hanging like this :cry
poor Dean, what are the brothers up to??? I am sure it's not the end for Dean and getting hurt :evil
Sammy to the rescue :jedi and brotherly moments :wub:
FireDancr2 - February 9, 2010 01:59 AM (GMT)
Nooooooo! I can't believe you left it there. Dean's hurt and asleep and the bad guys are gonna bust in at any second!
Hurry Sam, you gotta go protect Dean! :uzi :uzi
I love protective/angry Sammy!
Great job. Don't leave us hanging too long.
MarquessaS. - February 11, 2010 04:24 AM (GMT)
There---not so long, eh?
Stacy opened the door quietly, glancing at Dean to see if he was sleeping. He wasn't. She was shocked to find him crouched tensely beside a dresser, holding his trembling hand outstretched toward her. Before she could speak, he made a motion for silence, and urgently whispered that she should get down. Bewildered, she did so. She tried to speak again, but he clamped his hand over her mouth and shook his head. He turned then and switched off the bedside lamp, throwing the room into moonlit darkness. Stacy came forward and crouched beside him, wide-eyed and fearful, worried that he'd lost his mind. He pointed to the window. A shadow passed, evidence of a figure trying to see in. Stacy glanced at him in alarm. He waited until the shadow was gone before whispering.
"--find Connie, go upstairs and get the kids, and lock yourselves in the bathroom. Act normal, don't show anything's wrong--"
She mouthed the question of who?, and he whispered. "I don't know--but I can guess, and they're trying to find a way in. Go!"
She clutched his good arm, "--what about you?!"
He shook his head angrily, and hissed "Nevermind! Get everybody safe behind a locked door, now!" He shoved her toward the door and she hurried out, shaking with uncertain fear.
It was the best decision, they would be contained out of harm's way. Dean didn't want to have to worry about them, he had to focus on meeting the threat alone, and he needed every ounce of strength he had. But it also galvanized the Sadlers to action. All they needed was to be able to get in quickly, silence him somehow and take him without alerting anyone. From their vantage point, they saw Stacy take her sister-in-law by the elbow, wearing an artificial smile, and usher her quickly out of the kitchen. A light flicked on upstairs for a moment, then a door closed and it was dark again. They waited until they saw no one for several minutes, and took the opportunity.
Dean let his eyes adjust to the darkness, and he scanned the room in desperation for anything he could use. It was a typical den, with a desk, and the futon he'd lain on, and decorated with all sorts of fire-fighter themed collectibles, Connie's efforts on behalf of Ryan. A bookshelf held a number of objects and a set of encyclopedias. The was something there that could be useful, an antique axe, long-handled and spike-ended. He crept forward and reached out to lift it. It was heavy, much more than he'd anticipated. The motion shot a flash of agony through his side, and he dropped to the floor with a gasp, cursing silently on his hands and knees, unable to move until it ebbed. He could hear sounds from outside, the crunch of feet in the snow by the wall. No no no no...he thought in panic, Don't do this to them, don't let them get hurt---
He vowed that he would protect them at all costs, and he steeled himself and changed position so that he could take the axe from it's place without passing out in the process. When he had it firmly in hand, he let it drop head first to the carpet and he used it as a crutch to rise.. He bit his lip to keep from groaning, and once he had gotten past the threat of blacking out, he hefted it with his left hand. While it was a formidable weapon, he still found it far too heavy in his state. Two-handed, sure--- but he didn't have that luxury. But there was nothing else, with the exception of a gleaming copper fire extinguisher, which was far too bulky. He had to make the axe useful, and he wiggled the head, relieved to find it loose. He planted his heels on it and pulled, and the head pried off, shedding dusty splinters and a small brass wedge, and leaving him with a good, stout club that he could handle. He was glad to have it, but he wished his gun was under his pillow, the way it always was when they stayed in their roadside dives. There was no way he could get to the car to retrieve it.
He stood up fully and stepped silently toward the door, listening. He unclipped and discarded his sling. Sweat was beading on his forehead, it trickled into his eyes, he wiped it off on his bare shoulder as he tried to breathe in silence. It was hard, he felt like roaring against the pain, but he focussed on what he knew would come. There was a soft complaint from upstairs, and a muffled voice consoling the sleepy children. At least he knew that Stacy had done what he'd asked. The footsteps outside had moved off, and he strained to hear over the hiss that was building in his hearing. After a tense few moments, he heard it. The soft click of the latch on the front door. They were in. If it was the Sadlers, as he expected it would be, he knew they'd already seen him through his window. Their move would be predictable...they would head right to his room, and he would be waiting. He held his breath behind the door, clutching his makeshift club in his sweating hand.
Terse, angry whispers outside his door. Dean's fingers flexed and tightened on the smooth old hickory, and he blinked several times to clear his vision.
The knob on his door turned slowly. The door pushed open with all the stealth a practiced thief. When it was wide enough to pass through, a head peeked past it's edge. Dean didn't wait for an introduction. He drew a deep breath, growled and swung the axe handle as hard as he could. He felt it connect with a soggy crunch against flesh and cartilage.
Gary Sadler dropped the knife he held and stumbled against the door frame. He clutched at his face and uttered a strangled howl. Dean hauled back and hit him again, with all his desperate strength, finding the hard solidity of Gary's skull in the darkness. Gary dropped, stunned and swearing, onto the carpet. Dean kicked him in the gut for good measure and leapt over him, already concentrating on the other threats.
Len was still in the living room. Dean didn't wait to craft any element of surprise this time. Fuelled by adrenalin alone, he ran at him and bowled him over, and the two crashed heavily into the wide, fragrant balsam that twinkled with coloured lights and whimsical glass ornaments. It toppled on to them as they struggled, scattering glittering decorations and wrapped boxes. Len was older, but had the advantage of decent health, and he punched and kicked until he was free, and he staggered toward the door. Dean was beyond feeling his limits, he was in a blind rage, and he scrambled after him and grabbed his ankles, pulling him down again. Len fell hard, but he reacted like a panicked cat, clawing at Dean's hands and kicking hard at his attacker, and grinding his heel repeatedly into Dean's chest and shoulders until he had no choice but to let go. Len had had enough, he stepped back from the ruined room, panting hard, and fled back out the open kitchen door.
His timing was exceptionally poor. Two vehicles had roared into the driveway, a red Solstice and a green pickup that had seen better years. The car braked hard with a spray of snow and quickly spilled two occupants. The truck didn't. Len ran straight into the path of Ryan's grill. He careened off the bumper and was thrown backwards into the snowy ridge at the side of the driveway. He sprawled there, almost comically, until a large and heavy body landed on him and pummeled him into stillness.
Dean fought the black wall that rushed at his senses. He crawled toward the kitchen, in grinding agony now. The car. He needed to get to the car...get his gun. He knew his keys were on the counter by the front door. He made it, and gripped the edge with a blood slicked hand and tried to pull himself up, but he slipped back down and nearly succumbed. But his panicked mind refused to let him; he'd bashed Gary Sadler good and hard, but he knew he would come to his senses any second.. He got back up to his knees, clutching his badly shattered clavicle. He threw his elbow onto the surface and hauled himself up with a strangled cry, and resting heavily against the edge, he snatched the keys. Sucking in a breath, he pushed away and lurched toward the door.
Sam stood up from his silenced quarry and threw his wild gaze up the long driveway toward the house. "Dean?" he shouted. There was no answer. He turned to Markus. "Sit on him!" he yelled. "Keep him down!" Without waiting for an acknowledgement, he ran toward the house.
Ryan took one frantic look at Markus and the tangle of Sadler beneath him, and bolted toward his family and home. A step ahead, Sam held him back before they reached the door. "Wait!" barked.
Ryan struggled like a cat. His children were in there, his wife- "No!" he ground out against the restraint. But he was held fast by the sturdy grip Sam contained him with. Sam was not about to compound any tragedy tonight, he shoved him back so hard he landed on his backside.
"Stay there!" he shouted. "Stay out of my way!" He turned toward the house, but the light spilling from the door was suddenly blocked as a figure emerged.
Dean, bloodied and clad only in his tensor bandage and the pair of sweats, stumbled through the entrance. He got past the steps and collapsed onto his knees, unaware that there were others running toward him.. He heaved in painful gasps, trying to adequately draw in the frigid air. He rose again, stepped a few paces, but fell again to the snow. Before Sam could leap toward him, another man lurched through the doorway.
Gary Sadler could hardly see through the veil of red that obscured his vision. It clouded his reason even more. He was enraged, and he wanted only one thing, and that was Dean Winchester's blood on his hands. He reached Dean first. He flattened him, and yanked his head up by a handful of hair. He had a knife gripped in his hand, it shone briefly in the silver light as he pressed it under Dean's adam's apple oblivious to his audience, and blind to the consequences. The blade touched Dean's throat for less than a second.
Sam was a streak of motion that defied physics. He threw himself at the hulking body that threatened his brother, and rode him sideways and away from Dean where he lay. Gary barely had a chance to perceive the threat, let alone react to it. The knife skittered away, and Sam was instantly on him. Gary threw up his arms in defense, but it was useless. Sam was a tiger, he laid into him, his fists a blur. He pounded his opponent over and over and over, a raging fury, until the snow around them was spattered red, and someone managed finally to pull him off.
Markus did his best to pull Sam back to reason. He yelled at him repeatedly to stop, he took a serious risk to his own person and held his wild-eyed friend's arms to his sides to pin him. Sam growled and struggled fiercely, he was a frantic animal, thinking only of destroying the threat that had laid his brother out. But Markus held fast, and talked him down. Markus did what he promised, he controlled the situation. Gary was already finished, and he lay still and groaning. .
Dean was simply still.
Ryan had gotten up and raced into his house. He saw the chaotic livingroom, the bloody smeared handprints on the counter. "Connie!" he yelled, frantically running from room to room. He found his wife and sister and his children frightened but unharmed in the bathroom. As soon as he had ascertained that they were alright, he radio'd for help. "You're ok for a minute?" he demanded.
Connie answered, shaken but in control. Her eyes were brimming but her voice was steady. "Yes, go and see to Dean! I'll put the kids down again, they shouldn't see this-"
He nodded, beyond relief, and planted a hurried kiss on her cheek before returning to the driveway with his kit. Stacy was right behind him. When he reached the place where Dean lay, he had to use force to push his brother out of the way. But Sam stepped aside and let him attend to him, and he concentrated on securing the Sadlers before they thought to try to flee. He asked Ryan for duct tape, and Stacy ran up the drive to retrieve it from the garage. When she handed it to him, he and Markus trussed the battered men as securely and uncomfortably as they could, finishing with a band of tape over each of their mouths. Sam stood up and wiped his bruised and bloody hands on the snow.
"Got your phone on you?" Markus asked, nursing what felt like a broken hand after he'd had to convince Len Sadler to stay put.
Still heaving from the exertion and emotion, Sam asked why.
"Take picture of them tied, together. For Dean."
Sam nodded. He dragged the junior Sadler over and dumped him beside his brother in the snowbank, and took a very unflattering shot. He smiled grimly at Markus and both returned to where Dean lay.
Ryan and his sister had moved him off the snow and onto an emergency blanket. Another covered him against the cold. Ryan tried to keep him immobile until the ambulance arrived, but Dean was writhing weakly, and moaning. His throat was bloody, the knife had cut him, but only slightly, and Stacy held a cotton pad against it as she talked to him through her tears in a gentle, calming tone. Ryan could guess at what was hurting him now, his tensor wrap was pulled and torn, and his chest and collar bone had received some serious abuse from Len Sadler's frantic heel.
"He's inside--" Dean coughed, trying to raise himself. "in the house...go get the kids, the girls--"
Ryan held him still. "Easy, buddy...they're tied up now, Dean.. It's ok, the kids are fine. Everybody's safe, thanks to you."
Dean heard the words, they floated down from a distance, muffled and distorted Relief washed over him, it was all under control. He let go then. The approaching sirens and the reassuring voices blended into white noise, as light melted into a velvety black. After several moments, the cold and pain faded away.
Bec - February 11, 2010 01:32 PM (GMT)
aislinn - February 11, 2010 03:14 PM (GMT)
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for not making us wait to long. Wow, Sammy, way to go, I bet those boys will think twice now. Glad Markus was there to keep Sam from doing something stupid, like I don't know, killing them; although no one could have blamed him.
Dean, pure adrenaline rush, pure survival instincts, pure protective drive. Gosh, I love that man.
Markus, take a picture for Dean... :rotfl , he'll appreciate that.
Great update. Canz we haz more?
denise69 - February 11, 2010 11:32 PM (GMT)
SQUEEEEE :lol: Can't believe you updated!!!!!!
It's sad but every single day I look to see if you updated!! It's an addiction :wub:
Loving every minute of this great story(should be a Supernatural Episode)!!
Thanks for the update :cloud9
Can't wait to see some brotherly moments and I am sure Dean is hurt more than what we think???!! :nurse
FireDancr2 - February 15, 2010 10:00 PM (GMT)
Yyyyaaaahhh! Way to go Sammy! Saving Dean at the last second. Gotta luv it!
And Dean is such a hero. There is no quit in the man.
Ivy - February 16, 2010 09:37 PM (GMT)
Not impatient just curious: When will you post the next part? I love your story so far. :bow :D