newcomer was tattooed all the way down the right side
of his face, wore a red-checked bandana, and had a scowl
to match the rest of his scar-covered features. “Trying
to take a little trip with our merchandise, bucko?”
He spat through chipped, unkempt teeth.
shrugged. “Heard you had a special offer on gifted
kids and didn’t want to miss the sale.”
He kept the forty-five pointed at the goon, but backed
up towards the door they’d just exited, unsure
if he was toying with a man, or a demon.
edged back too, noticing the man at the window was not
their only problem. “Dean…” From the
side room, another bad guy had appeared, and this time
the corroding blade in his hand made him all-too familiar.
took a chance and took his eyes momentarily from his
the killer moved into the light, both brothers gaped
as at last their foe’s features became visible.
Never once had Sam seen the mystery murderer’s
face during the visions; had he, things would never
have gotten this far.
set us up right from the get go, you sonofabitch!”
Dean felt his finger tighten on his weapon’s trigger
and he kept it aimed at the man before him rather than
the minion at the window.
eyes flashed and dull laughter filled the room. “One
special kid as an offering got me brownie points, but
two? Hell, I think I just moved up the corporate ladder
a little, don’t you?” Nick lifted the knife
in his hands and twisted it in front of him. “Course,
I would have enjoyed gutting you freaks a whole lot
more, but the master has plans.”
knew back at the bar who we were?” Sam recalled
now where he’d seen the man, or rather demon,
before. “Did you make me see the visions too?”
scoffed. “Your little friend there provided those
free of charge. He lured you here with the best of intentions,
and I let him.” He chuckled, eyeing Dean with
a sadistic smirk. “And you thought I was just
some brainless brawn back at the bar. You people will
smirked back cockily. “Yeah, well I got the brainless
brawn right. Two outta three ain’t bad.”
Shit! How the hell do we deal with these freaks
without the Colt!
seemed to read his mind. “You don’t. You
belong to us now.” He took a step forward. “Shame
for you that the master is only interested in Sammy
boy. Looks like I get to add another skull to my collection
‘follower’ appeared behind the fake bartender
like some kind of demonic bodyguard. He held an old
but probably very effective shotgun in his hands, but
at this point didn’t attempt to take aim. The
room now had three bad guys, one of which at least was
pretty much unstoppable.
for a tactical retreat, Sammy!” Dean let of four
rounds straight at Nick’s kneecaps. If Nick was
possessed then the human part of him would live, but
hopefully the move would knock him off his feet right
now and buy precious seconds.
plan half worked, and the demon stumbled forward, his
followers unsure how to proceed until he barked a command.
the distraction, Sam backed completely into the barricaded
room and settled Matthew back on the floor, then returned
to the doorway. In the half a second he’d been
away, ‘bodyguard dude’ had advanced on Dean
and was just asking to take a slug.
considered another leg shot, but hesitated just long
enough for Sam to get there first.
pulled his salt-filled shotgun from beneath his jacket
and gave the six-five behemoth attacking his brother
both barrels. The goon took the salt right in the gut
and was blasted backwards with the impact. His momentum
carried him arms flailing straight into his boss’s
gruesome, fly infested altar.
Dean spun around, checking where the first bad guy had
gone. Instead of catching a glimpse of his quarry, he
soon realized that ‘knee capping’ the demon
hadn’t had a very lasting effect.
rather cumbersome form sprang from the motel room floor
with surprising agility, his rage making him forget
just what and who he was here for. In a fit of uncontrolled
wrath the bartender slashed out with his recently sharpened
weapon and only Dean’s panicked cry saved Sam
from a fatal stab wound.
jerked back intuitively at his brother’s yelp
and Nick’s knife caught the side of his jacket,
merely slicing at his flesh instead of plunging right
through into his stomach.
The blade glanced off his ribs, causing a thick red
welt on his t-shirt where the blood instantly soaked
through. Sam ignored the stinging sensation and expertly
dodged another lunge whilst digging a hand deep into
had one last weapon, and it might buy them another minute.
“Time for a bath, dude.” Sam retrieved the
holy water he’d gotten from the Impala’s
trunk and sprayed it straight into Nick’s eyes.
recoiled, grabbing at his boiling, scab covered flesh
but he didn’t run. Behind him, the two other goons
were regrouping. The only way out through the window
was now cut off, and the Winchesters' only sanctuary
was back into the tiny barricaded room.
in here…” Matthew’s quivering voice
called to the younger hunter and Sam sensed backing
up truly was their only option.
we go back in there and we’re walking into our
own graves.” Dean shot his brother a look of despair,
but knew there was no place else to go. “Hell,
no way is that freaky sonofabitch bleaching my skull
for his next party trick!”
squeezed on his trigger repeatedly, emptying his clip
into Nick’s legs until the demon was thrown back
against his buddies. Instead of reloading, Dean stuffed
the auto in his jeans and tugged out the Remington.
he gained a tight grip on the butt, he backed up until
he was inside Matthew’s ‘cell,’ keeping
an aim on the bad guys until Sam managed to tug the
no way can we keep this door closed on our own,”
Sam shook his head and swiftly looked around for anything
in the shadows they could use. Because the door swung
outwards, other than their own weight on it, there was
little they could do. There would be no wedging a dresser
up to stop anyone entering- not that there was a dresser
in the room anyway.
you can do it…” Matthew struggled to sit
up, but his fatigued muscles wanted to sleep forever.
“I’m too tired…so tired…but
you’re stronger.” He coughed, “I know
you’ve done it before…”
shot the kid a look and couldn’t help but feel
compassion. He stole a glance to the door and didn’t
quite know whether to cradle the dying kid in his arms
and comfort him, or make a last ditch effort to stop
the bad guys entering. In the end, he decided surrender
of any kind wasn’t an option and joined Sam to
try and hold the door shut.
what the hell is he talking about, little brother?”
Dean put a hand over Sam’s and felt the door straining
against their grip. The demon’s underlings were
already swinging on the door handle to open it the other
side. Once Nick recovered from the holy water he would
probably blast it open with sheer wrath.
knew what Matthew expected, but he couldn’t do
it. His gifts were weaker, less trained. He couldn’t
hold off the demon with the power of his mind alone.
I can’t do it. I don’t know how!
Matt hacked again, this time bringing up congealed blood
that had drained down his throat. “You have to
concentrate…think about what you need to do. Focus
on the door…nothing else matters but the door.
I’m too weak…” With the last strength
ebbing from his body, Matt’s head lolled backwards,
but he still remained conscious- barely.
can’t control it,” Sam begged, shaking his
head in misery, “the only time I’ve ever
moved anything was in blind panic for someone’s
life. I never had power over anything.”
felt the door shudder and then whoever was on the other
side seemed to suddenly loosen their grip. If they weren’t
trying to yank the door open, that probably meant one
other thing. “Sammy, duck!”
brothers took a swan dive for the floor just as part
of the door exploded in on them. Shards of rotten wood
and splinters rained down as buckshot blew away the
lock section and part of the framework.
say those blind panic powers ought to be kicking in
right about now, dude, because we’re about to
get our asses kicked by the demon bartender and the
waiters from hell,” Dean winced and put a hand
to his brow as he noted a sliver of wood had cut into
his temple. Damn, near scalped me already…
scrambled up until he was resting back on both arms,
staring wildly at the half-demolished door.
Sammy!” Dean barked out the order and hoped he
sounded enough like their father to jog Sam into action.
Sam might not be the obedient soldier Dean was, but
he still respected John’s training and what it
Dean snapped his orders, Matthew seemed to stir. He
swallowed hard, trying to get out words through blood-clogged
sinuses. “You can do it, Sam. Just feel it…you
have as much power as they do if you can just harness
to the kid.” Dean had no clue whether Ismay was
even in his right mind he looked so sick, but if Sam
believed, then maybe that was enough. As he watched,
Matt’s eyes rolled back and the hunter feared
their failed rescue was too late anyway.
Sam and the doorway for just a moment, Dean rolled across
the floor to the kid’s side, Remington in hand.
“Hey there, buddy,” he soothed, rolling
Matt’s head onto his lap. “You gotta stick
with us, ya hear? I haven’t kicked butt all afternoon
for you to just give in, okay?”
eyes opened and lit up for the briefest of moments and
a smile played across his greying lips. “The floor,”
he whispered, letting his gaze roll sideways, “the
floorboards are loose. Tried to pry them up when they
first brought me here…you can get out, under the
wood… under motel…”
followed the kid’s gaze and spotted the raised
wood. The flooring was old, just like the motel, and
maybe, just maybe with his strength he could finish
what the kid couldn’t. “You gotta hold ‘em
off, Sammy, while I get us out of this roach motel.”
scrambled across the bare floor to the raised, rotting
planks, glancing once to see if his brother understood
him. Sam didn’t acknowledge he did, but instead
scurried into the far corner, tugging something from
his pocket in his panicked race against time.
hoped Sam’s move meant he had a plan, and so he
concentrated on his own task at hand. Looking at the
planks he spotted what looked like tried blood on the
edges, probably where Matthew had scraped with his fingers
until they’d become raw. The elder brother grimaced
but flicked out his hunting knife and wedged it under
the raised edge.
the adjoining board as leverage, he quickly broke the
insecure piece off and grabbed at the next plank with
his free hand. He yanked back hard, putting all his
strength into tugging the next section of board away
from the nails that held it. In the end, the wood lice-infested
piece of lumber snapped, its far end crumbling under
repeated the procedure until there was a hole big enough
for even Sam’s towering frame to squeeze through.
He peered down beneath the motel and wondered just how
many rats were living in the darkness. Damn, I hate
shotgun blast hit the doorway, forcing Dean to look
up from his escape route. This time, the buckshot had
obliterated what was left of their protection. Only
the topmost half of the door and its hinges remained,
swinging helplessly from the attack, and that too would
soon be gone.
remnants of the door abruptly blasted inwards as if
some unearthly zephyr had caught it unawares. Dean held
a hand up to instinctively to protect himself, knowing
that this was the demon’s work. When it was safe
to move his palm from his eyes, Nick stood before him
where the door had once been.
demon’s face still held the scars from the holy
water, some having burnt deep to the bone, but he still
managed a small leer as he entered the make-shift prison.
He looked around, at first only seeing Dean and his
eyes narrowed, zeroing in on the escape route Dean had
made in the floor. For an instant, he even considered
the fact that perhaps Sam had already fled the scene.
demon’s momentary hesitation was enough.
pounced from the shadows, eyes fixated on his target.
He didn’t have the physical strength to toss Nick,
but Matthew had convinced him he had the mental power
to do it, just like he had at the hospital in Missouri.
howled as his legs tore unexpectedly from beneath him
and he was slammed into the motel wall like a doll.
Sam winced, realizing his ‘aim’ was a little
off, and tried again.
time, Nick was almost ready for him, and a psychic tug
of war ensued. One minute Nick was pinned to the wall,
suffering a taste of his own medicine, the next he was
mentally tossed into the gloom where Sam had scrambled
only seconds earlier.
watched, awestruck at what his brother had achieved,
and when Nick didn’t reappear from the darkest
reaches of the room, raised a brow.
gave me the idea.” Sam sat on the floor, panting,
but couldn’t help a small smile at his brother.
“Roach motel,” he grinned, holding up a
small piece of chalk he’d had in his pocket.
squinted but still couldn’t see Nick. He could,
however, hear the depraved cursing coming from where
the demon had been trapped inside Sam’s improvised
protective circle. “I would say impressive, but
I don’t want your head swelling any bigger than
it already is.” He whirled towards the doorway,
sensing company. “Not to mention it ain’t
over ‘til it’s over…”
two goons where waiting. One didn’t appear to
have a weapon, but the other still held the shotgun
from earlier. Neither man seemed sure what to do until
their ‘superior’ began spitting vile comments
their way from where he was held out of sight. Each
comment made it clear what would happen should they
fail in their mission for ‘the master.’
off, dudes, I’m not afraid to use this thing,”
Dean still gripped the Remington, but knew its rock
salt load would only slow the men down. He glanced to
his still bleeding brother. “Sammy, get the kid
out while I baby-mind the Olsen twins here…”
appeared dazed, his body and mind’s strength sapped
from overexertion. Eventually, he gulped and clambered
on hands and knees to Matt’s side. The eleven
year-old appeared unconscious until Sam tried to lift
him. As Sam’s arm curled under his back, Matt
stirred. “I knew you…could do…it.
There’s so much we can do, Sam…”
okay,” Sam shot Dean’s escape ‘tunnel’
a glance and wondered if he should use it or try to
brush past the goons while Dean held his weapon on them.
The lead bad guy fidgeted under Sam’s gaze. He’s
gonna try something… “You can tell
me later,” he finished as he scooped up Matt and
carefully began to clamber down the small opening in
still invisible in the darkness, realized his quarry
was escaping and what his fate would now be. His father,
the master, never took kindly to failure. There was
no compassion among demons, only allegiance or deceit.
“Kill them or you’ll burn! You’ll
all burn!” More tainted language followed, and
as Sam’s head vanished beneath the floor of the
motel, the lead goon finally decided he wanted to keep
his skull a little longer.
saw the move coming and emptied two shells into the
aggressor before he could get close. The bad guy dropped
his own weapon and clutched at where the rock salt had
bit into his flesh making a terrible burning sensation
under his skin.
Dean’s attention was taken with goon number one,
the second bad guy decided for a full frontal assault
even though he had no weapon at all. He charged like
a bull, and before Dean could get off another shot,
the two crumpled to a heap on the floor.
by the collision, Dean dropped the Remington momentarily
and was forced to reach out, struggling to reaffirm
his grip before the bad guy got the upper hand.
He grabbed the wooden stock with the tip of his fingers;
only to lose contact again as his foe slammed a right
hook straight to his jaw. Dean took the blow with a
grunt and brought his knee up straight into his enemy’s
gut. To the guy’s credit, he faltered only briefly
and then tried slugging Dean in the face again.
yanked his head to the left so fast it hurt, dodging
the punch before finally snatching his shotgun's barrel
with his outstretched hand. There was no time to turn
the weapon and aim, and no room to maneuver it anyway.
He simply brought the Remington down hard on his opponent’s
head and hoped he hadn’t done too much damage.
man tottered, lurching forward until his unconscious
mass slumped down on top of Dean.
groaned, ignoring Nick’s now desperate screaming
as he shoved the dead weight away and made a mad dash
for his escape route. The first bad guy was stirring,
and he really didn’t want to be around for a second
fist fight with Olsen number one.
darkness enclosed him, Dean could hear Sam up ahead
frantically talking to the kid he was now being forced
to almost drag in the cramped conditions. There was
little room beneath the motel, and definitely no room
to actually carry Matt.
fumbled in his pocket for a Maglite as he shuffled along
on his stomach. Once he’d retrieved the tiny flashlight
he twisted the lens, illuminating under the Melrose
his right, an inquisitive rodent cocked its head, nose
twitching before scurrying away into a hole in the woodwork.
Great, rats, I knew it!
hurry!” From somewhere ahead Sam’s voice
beckoned him on.
pushed his elbows and knees to work faster until he
could see the opening Sam had exited via. It looked
like the longer-legged Winchester had actually kicked
his way out through a mite-infected section of decking,
and he was now looking around for the company that would
Ismay still lay in his brother’s careful grasp,
but Dean noted Sam seemed to be struggling to bear his
weight. Blood from the cut to his side had turned his
brother’s t-shirt a glaring shade of crimson,
and that coupled with exhaustion from the visions was
finally taking its toll. As he watched, Sam seemed to
sway on his feet, his eyes blinking desperately as he
tried to stay in control of his muscles.
tugged free from the motel’s underbelly and didn’t
waste time trying to brush away the dirt and cobwebs
that had covered him. Instead, he took stock of the
far as he could tell no one was following- yet. That
didn’t mean they wouldn’t once the ‘Olsens’
freed Nick. All he and Sam had to do was make a dash
across the open ground to the Impala and hope they made
it first. Looking at Sam, that might not be so easy.
you look like…”
crap, I know,” Sam countered, tired of the insinuation.
“Now can we just get to the car?”
offered up the Remington he’d recovered and gently
took Matt from his brother’s arms. “You’re
bleeding, man. Let me take the kid.”
reluctantly let go his grip on the now unmoving eleven
year-old and tried to break into a jog at the side of
his brother. Any life that had been left in Matt seemed
to have waned away as they’d escaped, and Sam
now feared he wouldn’t even make it back to the
hospital. Everything they had done would probably be
for nothing. He didn’t care about the cost to
himself, but Matt had suffered, both at nature’s
hand with the tumor, and now the demon too. Why?
Why were we given these gifts? All they bring us is
shot landed at their feet as they ran, kicking up dusty
sods of earth and making it all too apparent they were
being pursued again already. Sam didn’t seem to
notice, his mind was already foggy with defeat and his
body weary. He glanced back and was thankful their followers
were at least the human kind. Perhaps Nick was still
bound inside the protective circle.
picked up the pace, hoping he wasn’t jarring Matt
too much as he lengthened his strides towards the Impala.
Another shot rang out, ricocheting from the Chevy as
it took out a chunk of metal from the passenger door.
“Sonofa…” He reached the hood and
turned, looking for his brother.
was trailing behind, hand clutched to his side where
the rusted blade had nicked him. “Go! Start the
nodded, yanking the rear door open and placing Matt
carefully across the seat. He left the door ajar, knowing
Sam would want to travel with the youngster.
bullets bounced off the ground, but Dean ignored them
and jumped behind the steering wheel, keys at the ready.
As he cranked the ignition and floored the gas, Sam
dived into the back of the car, his legs still dangling
outside as Dean pulled a one-eighty and headed back
for the open road.
two okay back there?” Dean dared to glance in
the rear view as Sam tugged himself into a sitting position.
He knew damn well neither of them was ‘okay’
but he needed to know that neither had been clipped
by one of the bullets that had been flying around.
shook himself and eased Matt’s head onto his lap.
He checked for any new injuries, but all that he could
see was a fresh stain of blood from the kid’s
nose. He slid a finger to Matt’s neck, feeling
his pulse. It was weak and thready. “Nothing new,”
he said morosely. “But he’s dying anyway.”
checked his mirrors again and swallowed hard. He’d
never really known the kid, and yet he felt a connection,
maybe not to the extent Sam did because of the shared
gifts, but a connection nonetheless. He didn’t
want to see Matt die, not here, not anywhere. “Never
give in, Sammy, you should know that. Did you give up
on me back in Missouri?”
thought back, recalling Dean lying bloodied in his arms
just like Matt was. It was something he’d never
wish to experience again, but here he was, and all
because of the damn demon.
Somehow, Matt’s eyes fluttered open.
here,” Sam offered sensitively, holding the kid
as the car bucked over rough spots in the road.
feel bad, Sam. You tried,” Matt’s expression
was one of happiness, even though he knew what was happening.
“Better for me to die free than with the…the
the mention of the word Sam recoiled, thinking of his
mom, Jess, the skulls, and the horror Matthew had probably
witnessed. “Why? Why are we so important to them?”
He couldn’t help but ask.
Matt inhaled sharply and then began to cough. Each hack
becoming deeper and more intense 'til his body shook
with the effort. When the bout finally abated he trembled
in Sam’s grip, desperate to answer before succumbing.
“The balance, Sam…we’re the balance…without
us…” His eyes slid gently closed, and even
though his chest still rose and fell pitifully slowly,
Sam knew there would be no more answers.
does that mean? The balance between what? Why couldn’t
I understand the visions sooner? I could have stopped
this, had the answers I need, saved a life… My
fault… Sam was jarred back to reality by
his brother spitting out cuss words as he glanced behind.
Dean hit the Chevy’s brakes and pulled the car’s
steering wheel hard to the right, forcing the Impala
to lean heavily, its frame groaning with effort. “We
got a tail. It’s the Dodge, and he’s catching
thought this thing was supposed to be fast for a classic?”
Sam turned, momentarily taking his attention from Matthew
to the vehicle chasing them. Dean was right, the Ram
was definitely gaining.
Dean shot a pained look at his brother for daring to
insult his ‘baby,’ “This thing was
built for comfort not superspeed. Besides, he must have
got a booster to be catching us up this fast…”
what?” Spooks, Sam could deal with, but he was
no stunt driver. “We don’t have time for
any detours, we need the hospital!”
took another tight turn and almost growled at his younger
sibling, “Maybe you wanna come up here and drive?”
He rolled his eyes. “On second thought, maybe
not…” He slid the car onto the main highway
and began to pray under his breath.
was not a friend of the law. How could he be when he
was not only officially dead, but also an officially
dead suspected murderer? However, on this occasion he
was willing to bend and actually seek out a cruiser.
tended to pick their spots for speed traps, and of course
Dean knew how to best avoid them. Right now, he was
searching one out like the Impala was a ‘cop seeking’
raven black missile.
glanced at the speedometer needle and whistled. “Man,
that overhaul worked wonders.”
are you..?” Sam asked, bewildered at his brother’s
driving tactics. Suddenly, it all became clear. “Dean,
we got a cop on our tail!”
Dean’s face cracked into an ear-to-ear grin as
the cruiser’s siren began to wail and its lights
began to whirl in a kaleidoscope of color behind them.
“Let’s see if the ‘Olsens’ want
to follow us now…” As he watched, the Dodge
slowed and inconspicuously slinked off onto a side road.
“Guess not,” he shrugged brashly.
peered through the rear window. “So now what?
How do we get rid of the cops?”
don’t,” Dean answered somewhat smugly. “Consider
them our escort. Hell, everyone gets out of the way
of the cops, right?”
Ten Minutes Later…
kept his foot on the gas until he hit the outskirts
of town and then slowed somewhat, knowing that he had
to be more cautious wherever there was a chance of causing
cruiser behind him matched his speed but didn’t
try to intercept, the driver all-too aware of what the
consequences might be in a built up area.
the sight of the children’s hospital emergency
entrance, Dean slowed more, hitting the Chevy’s
horn to let people know he was coming in fast, and that
he had someone who needed help on board.
Sam glanced back at the cop car as the Impala ground
to a halt and then pushed open the heavy rear door to
try to carry Matt into the E.R.
ignored Sam’s plea and the wailing police siren,
and scooted to the back of the car, plucking Matt from
his brother’s arms with the intention of carrying
him inside. Sam protested, but was in no shape to fight
off his sibling.
take it from here, Sammy.” Dean glanced at his
brother, bleeding and forlorn, and he knew Sam thought
there was no hope for Matt. Maybe he’d even seen
it. “Sam, you need to get that cut checked out…”
just nodded dolefully, but didn’t attempt to move.
He’d had enough fighting demons to last him his
entire life, or at least that’s how it felt right
now. Kids, why does it always have to be helpless
wanted to console his brother, to tell him it was normal
to feel that way, but he was out of time. Two of Wisconsin’s
finest had exited their cruiser, guns drawn, and if
he wanted to get Matt inside first he had to move.
a quick glance at the cops as they shouted him to stop,
Dean bounded through the hospital doors and up to the
duty nurse. Some of the already waiting patients shot
him a dirty look as he ‘jumped the queue’
but Dean didn’t care.
me, miss, I need some help here.” The elder Winchester
felt Matt’s weight move just a fraction in his
arms and it gave him hope that maybe there was still
a chance. “He has a tumor…you should have
his records…” Dean had never felt so powerless,
so unable to fight off what was happening, and it hurt
just as much as if it were Sam he was gently cradling.
“Matthew Ismay,” he explained, “I
think you might have him listed as deceased…”
young nurse took one look at the spindly child in Dean’s
arms and immediately pushed away the shameless thoughts
she’d had the moment she’d set eyes on the
hunter. “Bring him through.” She hopped
from her seat, frowning, and ushered Dean into a cubicle.
While he set Matt down, she vanished, reappearing a
second later with a doctor.
can take it from here, young man…”
nodded absentmindedly, but didn’t want to move
until he had answers. He stepped back through the curtain
grudgingly and then remembered he had another injured
party to deal with.
was still probably in the Impala, bleeding all over
the leather. Why don’t I just get the interior
redone in red, it would save me a helluva lot of cleaning.
Dean shrugged as he recalled how he’d bled all
over it himself back in Missouri.
he had to ditch the cops, and then he could work on
getting Sam cleaned up and looking half-human again.
it right there, buddy.” Dean turned, knowing his
police ‘escort’ had finally caught up with
him. Both patrolmen had their weapons trained on him,
and the people in the waiting area were looking decidedly
raised his hands, wondering if he should slip out one
of his fake detective I.D.s and ‘wing it’
or admit the truth- he’d been speeding to save
a life. “Dudes, chill,” he smirked, “I
can explain everything…”
* * * *
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin,
The Next Day
is psychic boy gonna tell me just how he tossed the
demon yesterday?” Dean stole a glance at his brother
as he maneuvered the Impala through an automatic barrier
at the hospital. “I mean, pretty impressive, dude,
even for you.” For once, he wasn’t kidding.
gifts never ceased to amaze the elder Winchester, but
sometimes he held back on discussing it because he knew
it freaked his brother out. Sometimes, it freaked Dean
out too. That was why he’d waited until now to
bring the subject up; because it was obvious Sam was
still sulking over Matt’s condition. Heck, knowing
Sam he was shouldering the blame all to himself for
not finding the kid fast enough.
wound down the side window and peered out, abruptly
feeling smothered by the subject. He’d moved things
before- even tossed a demon once, but never because
he’d actually planned it. The gifts had
come spontaneously, at least until the previous day.
Matt Ismay had helped him focus his abilities and use
them as a weapon against the bad guys. The only problem
was, without Matt, Sam wasn’t sure it was something
he could repeat. The kid had knowledge and intuition
he just hadn’t learned about his fledgling powers
yet. If Matt lived, Sam suspected even though he was
only eleven, he could easily end up being some kind
of mentor. The tumor had advanced his abilities growth,
who knew what he’d also managed to learn about
the demon? We’re the balance…
shook himself and turned back to his brother as Dean
expertly tucked the Impala into an empty space. “I
don’t think it was me,” he finally admitted,
rubbing his temple as if another headache was about
to set in. “At least, not all of it. I think Matt
helped me channel whatever it was, kind of like a guy
with a limp needs a crutch, I needed Matt…”
nodded at the idiom but didn’t speak. He could
tell Sam was having a hard time, and that was nothing
new. No matter how hard he tried to put some fun or
humor into their lives, no matter how hard he tried
to shield his brother, Sam would always end up feeling
low like this.
climbed from the Chevy and checked out the charges for
the hospital lot. Maybe if he got some good news about
the kid for Sam, he could drag ‘dimply smile’
back from where it had been hiding. He groaned as he
saw the fees but still slipped a hand into his pocket
to sift through his loose change. Man, it’s
expensive to be sick in this town!
my turn at questions and answers.” Sam cupped
his hands on the Chevy’s roof, “Are you
going to tell me how you ditched those cops, or not?”
He looked on impatiently as his brother checked the
coins in his hand and then looked up, smirking.
you, Sammy, I’m charmed!”
huffed, teasingly. “Dude, no offense, but no way
you’re any match for the Halliwells.”
least I’m not a boring ‘Gilmore Girl,’”
Dean chuckled and spun around to lock the Impala. As
he slipped the key in the lock he spotted a red sixty-nine
Charger two cars up and whistled. “Whoa, check
out those lines…she’s got the most gorgeous
Sam groaned, cutting his brother off from further thought.
“It’s a car, not a pin up.”
just a car,” a familiar voice offered. “It’s
a classic, right, Dean?”
brothers turned to see Val smiling at them, hands on
nodded, suddenly speechless, and gawked further when
the pretty nurse headed for the gleaming V8. “She’s
yours?” He asked incredulously. “You threatened
the Impala with the crusher and you drive that?”
Val hunched her shoulders in a swift shrug and quickly
opened up the Dodge. “Cars I get, people are just…”
Dean grinned, finally admitting he and the brazen nurse
were on the same wavelength. “So,” he cleared
his throat, trying to become a little more serious.
“Is there any news about Matthew? The doctors
said it might be this morning. We came as early as we
face visibly changed. She’d been happy to hear
the kid wasn’t a ghost at all. Not only did it
prove her theory that ‘the hereafter’ didn’t
exist, but it also meant the youngster might survive.
Now it looked like that wasn’t going to happen.
made it through the surgery, but it didn’t go
well. He’s in a coma and the doctors don’t
hold out much hope he’ll ever wake up. I’m
sorry. I know how hard you two worked to save him, I
really do.” Val watched as both brothers shared
a look. They were clearly upset, but she wasn’t
sure of their reasoning. Was it simply just another
ghostbusting case to them? Where they upset because
they couldn’t interrogate the kid about how he’d
convinced her otherwise. His soft, almost tearful voice
cracking as he begged, “No chance at all?”
wished I could say I believe in miracles, but I really
don’t,” Val admitted, climbing into her
car and tossing her purse onto the vacant seat, “I
don’t believe in miracles, and I don’t believe
leaned on the Charger’s door, peering in through
the open window, his face perfectly serious. “How
can you be so sure? In your job don’t you see
miracles every day? There has to be something more out
there than us, right?”
patted the Dodge’s steering wheel. “This
car? It belonged to my husband. He idolized the damn
thing just a little more than he even loved me.”
The nurse screwed up her face as bad memories brought
moisture to her eyes. “One day he was driving
home from work when a truck shed its load. He never
even knew what hit him. A steel sheet slammed straight
through the windshield…”
think we get the picture,” Dean consoled, “but
if brings so many bad memories why did you keep it?”
smiled. “Because it was Tony’s, and for
awhile, like you, I believed if his will was strong
enough, Tony could come back. I waited; I waited so
long, but nothing. Not even in this damn thing that
he adored!” She was angry now, angry at a world
that would deny her even one last vestige of hope that
love could live on after death.
she’d said two much in front of two relative strangers,
Val plucked a tissue from the glove box and rubbed at
her streaming eyes. Eventually, when her vision cleared,
she looked to Sam, hoping to change the subject. “How’s
your side? Hopefully not too sore?”
Heck, he pulled through three stitches last night trying
out a new yoga move!” Dean answered for his brother,
wiggling his eyebrows with just a little too much fervor.
that was so not yoga…” Sam looked sideways
and then crossed his arms resignedly. Dean would never
let the whole yoga thing drop, even if he had partaken
in it himself since the accident in the Impala.
Dean exaggerated, “Some martial arts crap or something.
brothers’ mirth brought a smile back to the nurse’s
face and she cranked the engine of her classic. The
Dodge roared to life, its grumbling V8 challenging even
the roar of the Impala. Dean scowled with a slight pang
of ‘car jealousy’ but then winked as Val
began to pull from her spot.
smiled back, tapping the brakes lightly to address Sam.
“Still want to know how your smart-Alec brother
lost the two traffic cops?” Val waved an arrest
sheet in the air and then tore it in two. “My
brother works traffic, remember?” She laughed
before powering up her window and heading out towards
the lot’s exit.
way, man, of all the cops in Wisconsin you’re
lucky enough to get her brother?”
you I was charmed, Sammy.” Dean winked again and
headed back to the Impala, hands in pockets.
scurried behind, still not getting something. “So,
gonna tell me why the self-confessed babe magnet that
is Dean Winchester didn’t just try to hand over
his cell number to one very pretty nurse?”
because I think the husband, Tony, might have something
to say about it.” The elder Winchester pulled
out his home-made E.M.F. meter and pointed it at the
Charger now vanishing into the milling traffic on the
highway. Even at this distance, the meter was red-lining.
“That thing makes Christine look like
a pussycat.” He slipped the meter back in his
pocket and climbed into the Chevy.
not going to tell her?” Sam joined his brother
in the car, incredulous that they were letting a spook
do you want me to do? Say ‘Hey, you're wrong,
your husband is with you everywhere you go, just like
you hoped. Now I gotta get rid of his spook ass?’
C’mon, Sammy, he’s watching over her.”
Dean shrugged, and then a playful grin spread across
his features. “Either that, or he really does
love the car more than his wife.”
Sam slammed a mock-punch into his brother’s arm
but then sobered, “Seriously, Dean, we’re
just leaving Wisconsin? Leaving Matt, leaving,”
he shot the highway a glance, meaning the ghost of Val’s
I feel for the kid as much as you do, but we’re
not doctors. We did our best and there’s nothing
more we can do here.” Dean fumbled with the Impala’s
keys, trying to think of something useful to say, but
he was never the philosophical one. “I know you
wanted to save him, to have answers to everything, but
at least we know more now.”
what? I mean, what the hell is "we’re the
balance" supposed to mean?” Sam’s tone
wasn’t angry, but it was clear that frustration
was building the more he thought about things. “All
I know is that some damn demon is hell bent on taking
certain kids for reasons unknown. The harder I try to
understand, the more people die!” he slammed a
fist into the dash, taking out pent up rage. “And
what about the guy in the cemetery? Was he a bad guy
too? Are we being watched that closely?”
It was Dean’s turn to raise his voice. “You
didn’t just stumble on this, the priest and his
note played a part. Now, I don’t know him, or
the guy in the cemetery, maybe I never will, but they’re
either with us, or they’re working for Mr. Sparkly
eyes the fire freak. The way I figure it, the priest
at least is like you, Max, and the kid. That means eventually,
we will find answers, Sammy. You’re not
alone in this.”
looked to the floor. “No, we just feel alone.
Can you imagine how it must have been for Matt to learn
what he could do and have no one to confide in? No family?”
No big brother. “How terrifying to know
that demons do exist, and that one of them is after
you? He was just a kid!”
is just a kid, Sam. He’s not dead.”
Dean slid the keys in and fired up the Chevy’s
engine. When the roar of ignition dulled, he looked
over to his woeful brother with a glimmer of hope. “You
have to think of it this way, little brother, Matt isn’t
dead, he’s just someplace the demon can’t
hurt him anymore. I have a feeling when this whole gig
is over, a lot more people will be wishing they were
didn’t say anymore, he just headed out for the
highway towards Melrose’s motel. It was doubtful
Nick was still held in the protective circle there,
but if he was, the Winchesters had one last debt to
pay in Neenah, and damned if they wouldn’t enjoy
sending his demon ass back to hell.
he steered the roaring car down the empty track to the
motel, dust clouds billowing in its wake, Dean never
even noticed the stranger watching from the roadside.
Some might have said the fresh rain spattering the car’s
windshield had obscured the hunter’s view, others
might have given a more startling reason- perhaps the
stranger wasn’t even visible unless he so wished
old man’s head cocked to one side and he smiled,
his almost-white beard twitching with amusement just
as it had back in the cemetery. Matthew Ismay’s
soul had been saved from the demon’s grasp, the
balance, although skewed had been saved from further
stranger’s eyes twinkled with satisfaction as
he watched the Impala and its very special occupants
disappear from view over the horizon. For now, he could
leave, free in the knowledge that something very big,
and very bad had been averted. That day would come again,
however, because the powers of darkness were relentless
in their pursuits. And when that day came, he had no
doubt he and the Winchesters would meet again.
small breeze blew across the nearby road surface, churning
yet more spirals of dust in the air like mini-whirlwinds.
The old-timer turned into the gust, his insubstantial
form melting down into the zephyr and vanishing as quickly
as it had appeared.
In the Impala, the Stones' ‘Gimme
Shelter’ blasted from the overburdened speakers,
but for some, until the crusade was over, there would
be no shelter, no peace, no respite.
the episode here