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Fic: Sibling Metamorphosis 2/2


The news made a series of odd expressions cross Sam’s face, and Dean wondered how in the world his brother planned on being a lawyer with a poker face like that. “Dad slipped one past the goalie?” he asked.

“Ew, Sam. No talking about Dad sex, if you don’t mind. I just had some damned good pancakes and I’d like to keep them.” Dean closed the book and fastened the latch. “Remember that Christmas when you were nine and Dad didn’t come home?” The Christmas when Sammy had found Dad’s journal and learned about hunting, and one of Dean’s bigger screw-ups. It had hurt to realize what his father had been up to when he hadn’t shown up for Christmas, but the presence of his new brother had made up for it a little bit.

“That’s where he was?”

“He was laid up from a hunt for about a week. Adam’s mom was a nurse who was caught in the crossfire and learned about what Dad was doing, and one thing led to another.”

Sam made another face, hilarious in it’s execution. “Now I’m a little grossed out. And kind of pissed off, but that’s pretty much usual.”

“Adam’s a pretty good kid. He’s gonna come visit us at Bobby’s this summer. You should show up.”

“I’m done hunting, Dean.”

“Yeah, well, done hunting doesn’t mean done being family unless that’s what you want. You and Dad are so much alike sometimes it’s scary. You both think it can only be one way, hunting or head in the sand.” Dean clamped his mouth shut, keeping back all the words that were threatening to pour out. He had some issues with his brother despite how much he loved him, and chief among those was the way Sam had left his family behind without so much as a backward glance. “Adam doesn’t know anything about hunting, Sam. His mom wanted him to grow up completely normal, so he doesn’t even know about salt lines and how to shoot a gun. I’m hoping once he turns sixteen I can at least fill that gap, but it’s not looking too promising.” Dean leveled a steady gaze at Sam. “And he’s still family.”

“It’s not the same thing, Dean.”

“Sure it is. You’re family, Adam’s family, and Ben’s family. Ben knows enough to stay behind salt lines and how to make a circle, even though I’m planning on him never becoming a hunter. The world’s full of grays, Sam. Quit trying to make it all or nothing.”

There was the quick, light sound of Ben’s returning footfalls. Dean considered that the end of the conversation. “You ready for the movie, kiddo?”

“Yes!”

“All right, then. Sam, you wanna show us how to work your tv? You have way too many pieces and parts over there for me.”

It was a way out of the conversation, for the time being. Dean didn’t want to talk about it in the first place, so changing subjects to something as innocuous as watching his son’s favorite movie (surprisingly entertaining, although the enjoyment began to pale after the tenth iteration when you were an adult) seemed like a good start.

Sam huffed out his usual sigh, but he got up out of the chair and headed into the living room after a bounding, joyful Ben. Dean tossed back the dregs of his coffee and started a fresh pot. It was going to be a long day and he needed all the help he could get. Besides, he’d noticed how much Jessica had savored her coffee and it would go a long way towards smoothing things out with his potential in-law if he had newly brewed coffee waiting for her when she woke up.

He got a break from the movie right about the time Edna was showing off the super suits to Elastigirl when Bobby called with an update. Adam was fine, Kate was pissed off but trying not to show it, and Bobby was digging in for a potential long haul while he put down wards for the Milligan house. God Bless Bobby.

Syndrome was grandstanding with Jack-Jack and Dean had just gotten comfortable again on Sam’s thrift-store couch (seriously, it’s not like he had high standards when it came to the comfort of his furniture but this thing might be too lumpy for even him) when Jess blearily came into the room. She was clearly not a morning person, which endeared her to Dean a little more, and he missed the rest of the movie while he made fresh pancakes for her (and one or two more for himself, but it’s not like anyone was counting) and brewed yet another pot of coffee.

He gave their cheap DVD rack a quick scan while he was up, spotting several movies that would be all right for Ben to see, six that he really wanted to see but that even Dean knew were a bad idea for a kid Ben’s age, and two that made him shudder a little at the memory. He really, really hoped that someone had given them the copy of ‘Harold and Maude’ as a gag gift and that his thrifty brother just hadn’t gotten to the point of donating it yet. He was similarly praying that ‘My Fair Lady’ belonged to Jessica, because Audrey Hepburn might be hot but enough was enough when it came to chicks in musicals.

Once they’d watched ‘Jack-Jack Attack’ he switched out that DVD with a copy of Back to the Future, which might be a little much for his son at a couple of places, but he’d fast-forward past the skeevy parts where Marty McFly’s mom was hitting on him.

Jess came into the room with her coffee and a Chemistry textbook and curled up in the room’s only armchair, highlighting parts and scribbling notes and occasionally looking up and commenting on some part of the movie. She made Sam rewind whenever she missed a scene because she was too caught up in her studying to hear it, so they watched the scene with Doc Brown and the supposed mind-reading device twice, the run-through of the plan three times (she got distracted halfway through by thermodynamics and missed the part where Marty’s mom came by and talked him into asking her to the dance), and then the part where they performed Johnny B. Goode twice through because it was such an awesome scene. It was a little strange, because Dean remembered getting sullen glares and bitchfaces and angry rhetoric when he’d tried to watch television back when Sammy was in high school and trying to study. He’d always assumed that when quote-unquote ‘normal’ people were studying they didn’t want distractions, but apparently Jessica loved them.

They managed to put off the ‘Incredibles’ rewatch with the original Star Wars movie. Dean’s fingers itched with the lack of tasks to accomplish and he ended up heading back down to the Impala for his bag of electronics. He would rather have been cleaning guns or sharpening knives, but he had a feeling that the sight of his weapons collection would make the current goodwill he was feeling evaporate. Instead he settled for seeing what useful thing he could build from the parts he had scavenged in his last thrift store raid. People had no idea how much good stuff was hiding at the Salvation Army.

He started with an oversized tape deck from an old boom box as the first component and began to tinker from that jumping-off point. It should be possible to turn this thing into a way to rewrite magnetic strips, maybe even duplicate them, which might come in handy for getting into secured areas. It was at least as illegal as the weapons he would have brought up to clean, but much less likely to raise any eyebrows right now.

After Star Wars, Jess gave in to the inevitable pull of Ben’s pleading brown eyes (the same eyes as Lisa, though none of them knew that little detail) and went for the red and yellow DVD case. Dean got up while Mr. Incredible was getting back into shape and made sandwiches and tomato rice soup for lunch. He needed comfort food today of all days and, short of pie, it didn’t get much more so than that for him.

Ben came into the kitchen and sat down at the table when he was called, though he ate his food quickly, with the obvious goal of getting back to the movie. Jess was shortly behind him and ate her turkey sandwich and soup almost as quickly as Ben, her textbook at her elbow the entire time. Sam was the only one of them who appeared to savor the meal. “I haven’t had tomato rice soup in forever,” he said, and Dean smiled despite himself. It was one of the few things about their mother that hadn’t hurt to share when they were kids, and also one of the few things about their upbringing that Dean felt Sam properly appreciated.

“All you have to do is ask, dude.” He gave his brother a refill on the soup and sat down to eat his own food.

xxx

The knock on the door came at about ten in the evening. Ben had fallen asleep during the third rewatch of ‘The Incredibles’ (after a viewing of an episode of Mystery Science Theater, during which most of the jokes had flown right over Ben’s head) and Dean had left him on the couch after covering him up with a blanket. The kid could sleep in his clothes. He was a Winchester, after all, and such things were pretty commonplace in their family. Sam and Jess both had classes the next day, though Jess at least had the good sense to not schedule anything before eleven on Monday, and were getting ready for bed at a depressingly early hour for college students.

Dean envied them that opportunity. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight, no matter how tired he was. Every nerve in his body was tensed and twanging, though that was probably as much from the copious amounts of coffee as the fact that it was the second day of November still, and now that the sun had set all sorts of things were comfortable and free to roam around the countryside. If it hadn’t been for Ben, Dean would have probably been out hunting for something especially vicious and messy and satisfying to kill. It wasn’t a full moon, so werewolves would have been out of the question, but he could probably have found some kind of creature to fit his needs. Instead, he was here with his young son and his dumbass brother, twitching and reaching for the gun tucked into his waistband while Sam went to answer the door.

It was obvious that his brother was more than a little irritated that one of their friends had decided to come by at this time of night when he had an 8 a.m. lecture the next morning and that aggravation clearly showed on Sam’s face as he opened the door. Dean pulled back at the last second, slotting into the place he had scoped out in his first hour at Sam’s place. It would give him at least a partial view of the door and the person behind it while giving him decent cover from sight.

“What’s wrong, Brady?”

The guy at the door was blond and Dean guessed that he might have been considered handsome, if you were into the reedy type with high-maintenance hair. “I need a place to crash tonight,” the guy said, his voice riding the edge between needy and hopeful. “I was thinking your couch would be good.”

“It’s not a good time,” Sam said, his hand on the doorknob. “We’ve already got company on the couch.”

The guy’s gaze flitted past Sam and Dean shot a look at the couch where Ben was sleeping. The blanket camouflaged his form fairly well, thankfully, and he was already tall for a kid his age, so it didn’t look specifically like a child was asleep on Sam’s couch. “Really? Anyone I know?”

Sam shrugged, the motion a little too casual, and Dean wanted to pinch the bridge of his nose. His brother was one of the smartest guys Dean knew, with the possible exception of Bobby, but he almost always overplayed the con. The only time he’d been able to effortlessly and correctly play a part where hunting was concerned was when they had needed a student for something or another. Sam could charm the glasses right off a spinster librarian in a way that Dean simply didn’t have and get her to unlock the special collection with unbelievable ease, but he just tried a little too hard when it came to pretending to be anything else. “Just some friends of mine. No one you know.”

The stranger’s expression changed slightly and Dean felt a shiver crawl up his spine. Something wasn’t right here. ‘Brady’ was clearly pretending to be wasted. Dean had seen enough of the real thing to know, from early childhood on, and this was definitely not it. He had a feeling that the only way Sam’s friend would be able to come into the apartment would be if someone else broke the salt line.

Despite Sam’s rusty and sometimes practically non-existent instincts, he’d clearly picked up on the messages that Dean was trying to telepathically beam to him, or possibly he’d noticed that his friend hadn’t moved past the door frame and the salt line spread across the top. “You going to come in? Coffee should still be hot and there’s a cup left.” Sam had watched him make the coffee with holy water an hour ago, after all, and even though he’d snorted in laughter when Dean had done it the idea had definitely slid home.

Dean had spent forty-five minutes painting protective symbols around that door from five different cultures in paint that almost matched the walls, except for the slight red-brown tint that came from mixing in a little of his own blood and a tiny bit of graveyard dirt, and he had a feeling that whatever this guy was, it had noticed as well. “Nah, I should get going. Maybe Becky or Zack would let me stay with them.”

“Maybe,” Sam said. “Sleep it off, Brady. I’ll see you later.” Sam waited until Brady had turned around and headed down the stairs before he closed it firmly and turned the locks.

Dean stepped back into the room from his hidden alcove. “OK, something was up with that guy,” he said, releasing the achingly tight grip he had on the Colt tucked into his waistband. The hairs on the back of his neck was still standing at attention and he reached up with his stiff right hand to smooth them back down.

Sam sighed. “That was my freshman roommate, Brady. He probably wasn’t really looking for a place to stay. Last time I let him crash here all my cash went missing.”

“Great friends you’ve got here at Stanford,” Dean groused.

“He’s not a bad guy,” Sam protested. “Brady’s the one who introduced me to Jess. He just kinda lost his way about halfway through freshman year and he hasn’t gotten cleaned up yet.”

“Drugs?” Dean asked, and rolled his eyes with disgust when Sam answered yes. “And he’s still a student here? It’s a fucking Ivy League and the junkie cliché is still enrolled?”

“He’s functional,” Sam insisted. “I wish you could have met him freshman year. He was such a great guy. Pre-med, if you can believe it, but he’ll never get into a medical school now.”

“I would hope so.” There was something off about the whole thing, but Dean couldn’t quite figure it out. Dean had met more than a few addicts in his time and Sam’s friend had seemed a little too clear, his eyes a little too focused, his demeanor a little too controlled and not really desperate. He crossed the darkened living room and glanced out the window, letting out a quiet curse at what he saw.

“What’s wrong?” Sam asked, joining him at the window.

Brady was standing in the street below, staring up at Sam’s apartment. The guy smiled at the two of them in the window and Dean saw his eyes flash dark for a second before Brady turned and walked out of sight.

“Damn it,” Dean said, practically snarling, though he had the presence of mind to remain quiet. “You better wake Jess up. We’ve got a problem.”

“What was that?” Sam had obviously seen the same thing Dean had witnessed, but he lacked the experience that Dean had built up over the past few years. “What kind of creature has eyes that do that?”

“That, Sammy, is what it looks like when some poor sap gets possessed by a demon,” Dean said grimly, double-checking his weapon and digging through the duffel for a flask of holy water. “Dad always did his best to keep us away from demons, but if you spend a little time with Bobby you pick it up pretty quickly.”

“He can’t come in past the wards, can he?” Sam asked. “He could feel them so he didn’t even try. That was the first clue.”

“The first clue was probably when he suddenly became a different person three years ago,” Dean told him. “But yeah, I’m pretty sure he picked up on the wards, and now he’s seen me at the window and knows I’m here and his cover’s been blown. We have to be ready to move.”

“But we’re safe behind the wards,” Sam protested. “He can’t get in here.”

“He can’t get into the apartment,” Dean agreed. “He can’t stand outside and use his freaky demon powers on anyone in here, either. That doesn’t mean he can’t stand outside and start shooting or put some kind of poison gas in the air ducts. Demons aren’t exactly concerned with collateral damage.”

“So what do we do?” Sam asked, and Dean felt a rush of relief that his brother was following his lead. It would have been just as in character for Sam to dig in his heels and argue about this disruption of his normal life.

“I’m going to paint a devil’s trap in front of the door, just in case it can shove in through the wards.” He rummaged in the duffel again and handed Sam a thin leather-bound journal. “There’s an exorcism about halfway through, the best one Bobby has in his arsenal. How’s your Latin?”

“Not bad,” Sam said, a smile making his dimples appear briefly. “What do you think I should tell Jess?”

“Tell her Brady’s strung out and you think he’s going to start some trouble,” Dean said. “I’m going to wake Ben up and get him in your bedroom with Jess, just in case. No way in hell he needs to see an exorcism.”

“I’ve never seen an exorcism.”

“They’re messy,” Dean said shortly. “Not, like, Linda Blair, pea soup messy, but demons like to try and get into your head. There’s some kind of water-cooler gossip going on in Hell and they really, really like to fuck around with Hunters. Any secrets you have are fair game, and they’re going to play rough.”

“How rough?”

Dean took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “You ever learn about how Bobby got into hunting?” Sam shook his head and Dean grimaced. “His wife was possessed, but back then Bobby didn’t know anything. He ended up stabbing her in self-defense when the demon went after him. Every single time he does an exorcism, the latest jackass tries to poke him with it. They started bringing up Mom by my second time. If this demon’s been in your friend for as long as I think, it has plenty of ammunition and no compunction about using it. Anything you ever said to Brady, any complaint you made or corner you cut can and will be used against you. That’s the way these things work.”

“So what should I do?”

“No matter what, keep reading. There’s a good chance your friend isn’t alive in there anymore, so even if it pulls out a knife and start’s stabbing its host just keep going with the Latin. The best thing you can do for Brady is to send that son of a bitch back to Hell before it can hurt anyone else.”

“And if he goes for one of those other plans?”

“Then we’ll have to get creative,” Dean told him. “We can’t let that demon walk away, no matter what else happens.”

Sam breathed in and let it out, the sound a little raw and uneven. “All right. I’ll go talk to Jess. You go ahead and do what you’re going to do.”

Ben was light in his arms when Dean picked his son up and transferred him over to Sam, and he only stirred a little. “You’ll take care of him?”

“I’ve got it, dude.”

Dean nodded and went for the can of spray paint. “You make sure Jess knows she’s in charge of Ben. He gets out first thing, as soon as we get the demon trapped. I don’t want it anywhere near my son.”

“I’ll make sure she knows,” Sam said.

He had lots of practice with Devil’s Traps over the last few years, so painting one large enough that it couldn’t be avoided in front of the door took only a few minutes to finish it and then double-check his work. His nerves were tingling still, fingers twitching slightly from the rush of adrenaline. Demons freaked him the hell out and this one had all kinds of dirt on Sammy, things he was going to use to get both of them. It would make the whole thing way more difficult than it already was.

“They’re ready to go,” Sam said from behind him, and Dean looked up and smiled. Jess was clearly nervous and holding onto a backpack in her right hand with a white-knuckled grip. Her left was holding onto Ben’s hand, thankfully less tightly than the hand on her bag. Dean had no idea what Sam had told her, but it had apparently worked.

Ben was more or less awake, blinking a little in the light of the room. “What’s going on?” he asked, and Dean scrambled to think of something that he could tell his son.

“We’re going home, Ben. I want you to stay with Jess, OK?”

There was a sleepy blink and then a nod. Ben might be a chatterbox when he was awake, but half-asleep like this he was almost disturbingly pliant and reserved. In this situation, Dean would take it as long as the kid stayed with Jessica.

They were fifteen feet from the door when the floor trembled, dishes rattling in the kitchen cabinets and bottles clinking from their space on the top of the refrigerator (because he’d learned the hard way about the hazards of a curious child and had child-proofed the booze first thing Saturday morning.) After a second, the trembling happened again, this time more violently, and the smell of sulfur filled the tiny apartment. “Damn it,” Dean muttered. “It’s trying to break down the wards.”

“It can do that?”

“A normal stunt demon shouldn’t be able to do a thing, but if it had some friends with a little more power, or just a lot of friends in general, it might stand a chance,” Dean admitted. “You don’t normally hear about them teaming up like that, though. Usually they’re just in it for the murder and mayhem.” More of that weird pattern his dad had picked up, Dean would guess, bracing himself as the room shuddered again, dust dropping down from the ceiling. Whatever this was, it wasn’t anything he wanted to tangle with, not with potential hostages in the room with him. “Fire escape?”

Sam peered out that window. “There’s someone on the ground at the bottom.”

Dean swore under his breath. “All right then. Any other windows we could use?”

“Maybe the one in the bedroom.” Sam headed back in that direction to check.

The door cracked down the middle, not completely broken through but getting there, and the Devil’s Trap blocking it took some damage. “Is it clear?” he called, watching as his brother ran back into the room.

Sam shook his head, his eyes wide. “It’s blocked, too.”

Dean didn’t even have time to curse as the building shook one last time and the door splintered inwards. The frame, with its carefully painted wards and symbols, cracked into pieces, taking the protection with them, and a tall, middle-aged man stepped into the room in a suitably dramatic cloud of smoke billowing in from the hallway. Dean could hear the telltale crackle of fire, something else to note in his future retreat.

“I have got to say, Dean-o, that you’re more trouble than you’re worth.”

The voice rasped down his spine like a snake’s dry scales and he had to fight to hold back any sort of reaction. There was something almost painfully familiar about the way the thing spoke, the words it used and the way it used them. He had few clear, concrete memories of his mother’s death: most of them were cobbled together from what he’d been told from his father, on different occasions. He couldn’t help but feel, however, that whatever this was, it had been there. Dean had met this thing before.

“I was just going to leave this whole business to my boy here,” it said, eyes gleaming yellow as it moved further into the room with the guy from earlier at his heels. “No offense to your girl or anything, Sammy, but she’s no Mary. I didn’t feel the need to handle this personally.” There was a casual wave of a hand, and Jess was ripped away from Ben and thrown into the wall. “But then you went and locked your friend out. That wasn’t very nice of you, Sammy. I’m going to have to do something about that.”

The screech of a smoke alarm in the apartment broke the melodramatic mood a little, though it didn’t do a thing to lessen Dean’s tension. The thing sighed, yellow eyes rolling and coming to rest on Ben. “Still, I will say that Mary Campbell was the gift that keeps on giving. Such fascinating children.”

“You stay away from him,” Dean growled out, trying to move forward between the demon and his son and finding his body flying back against a wall across from Jessica. His gun clattered to the floor when he hit the wall, the force of it making the weakened structure of the building shudder yet again.

“Wait your turn,” the demon said, it’s voice deceptively mild. “I’ll get to you in a minute.” It crossed the room to Jessica and Ben and Sam struggled against whatever was holding him in place. Dean was fighting just as hard, a growled litany of curses in more than one language slipping out past clenched teeth.

“You better get to me now,” Dean spat out. He’d managed to pull out the knife that he kept stashed away on his person and held it up in a familiar pose. “I’m the one who’s going to kill you, bastard.”

That diverted the thing’s attention, which was exactly what his brother was aiming for. “I think you’re overestimating your own importance, Dean-o. Still, you are a bit of a distraction, and you’ve been causing trouble for my children.” There was a gesture, like a clawed hand sweeping across the air, and Dean made a slight sound through his teeth as blood appeared on his grey t-shirt. The knife dropped and skittered out of range. “I think things will be a little more simple if I just take you out of the equation altogether. After all, you sent my daughter back down to Hell two weeks ago and it took a lot of work to get her back out. That kind of thing really can’t go unpunished.”
Another grunt of pain, followed by more blood, but for once Sam’s brother was quiet. Dean had the thing’s complete attention and that was exactly what he’d been trying to accomplish. Sam needed to focus on getting Jessica and Ben out of danger. His mind cast about for anything that could help and any escape from his once-loved apartment. The smoke was starting to visibly fill the air and there were sounds of panic out in the hallway now. Someone hit the fire alarm and he flinched as the sound pierced his eardrums.

The demon ignored the sounds of human alarm and kept his focus on Dean. There was a third gesture, this one more of a fist clenching, and Dean let out a half-strangled groan. They were running out of time if Sam wanted to save his brother’s life as well as his own.

There was an odd sound at the door, barely heard beneath the blare from the siren, and Sam watched as Brady’s head turned towards the door and the newcomer decked out in firefighter gear. There was something a little off there. The guy was moving as if the protective uniform was no more consequential than a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and Sam knew from a job that he’d worked before Stanford that the cumbersome outfit weighed an easy fifty pounds and possibly more. The fireman tilted his head, seeming to take in the entire bizarre tableau, before turning to the yellow-eyed demon. “That is enough,” he said, the voice muffled behind the helmet.

It made an oddly similar head-tilt and gestured to the demon inhabiting Brady, and Sam watched as it moved towards the interloper like a vicious predator. He spent a moment of worry for this stranger, a good man about to become a victim to something he probably doesn’t believe in, before trying out new methods of escape that included the distraction that this new variable offered. He was so busy plotting possible escape routes that he very nearly missed the hand that went to the demon’s forehead and the bright light that abruptly shone out of it’s eyes. Brady’s body dropped to the floor without fanfare and the helmet turned toward Sam. “Run,” the voice grated out, and Sam fell away from the wall and collected his nephew and his girlfriend, hurrying out as fast as he could. He would come back for Dean with more weapons once they were safely closed up in the Impala.

The smoke and flames made the escape even more chaotic. Sam had Ben hauled up in his arms to make running down the crowded hallway easier, Jess right behind him with her hand gripping his shirt tightly enough to tear the fabric. The small group dodged around his neighbors and out into the street where the Impala was sitting, gleaming black a little distance down the road. “You two stay here,” Sam said, setting Ben down on the hood of the car.

“Sam, don’t go,” Jess said. She hadn’t let go of his shirt and her eyes were wide with the realization of what she’d just seen. Sam gently untangled her hands and guided her to sit down next to Ben. The Impala’s suspension could handle it.

“I have to. It’s Dean.” He popped the trunk with the spare key he had never been able to give up and rummaged around a little wildly. He had no idea what would be effective against a demon, but there was no way he was heading back up there with at least something to use against the bastards. After a slight moment of hesitation, he loaded a familiar automatic with a clip of consecrated iron and closed the trunk before Jessica could get too curious and come around to the back.

“Does my Daddy know you have a key?” Ben asked suspiciously. It made Sam start a little, because he hadn’t been aware that the boy was paying that much attention to what he was doing.

“He knows, Ben.” Sam didn’t elaborate on why he had the key. There would be time to explain that whole mess later. He turned to Jessica instead. “Watch over Ben?” he asked, and she nodded and gathered the struggling little boy into her arms, making soothing sounds as she sat down in the driver’s seat of the Impala with him. He didn’t want to leave them, but Dean was upstairs and he needed to save his brother.

It was a little difficult to slip around the firefighters and back into the burning building, but Sam was a Winchester and he found a way back to his brother. He would always find his brother, no matter what.

The inside of the building was significantly less crowded and far more smoky than was healthy for him. Sam ran up the stairs to his apartment with his heart in his throat, gun tucked in his waistband just in case he runs into another firefighter. The door to his apartment was still hanging open, the frame a splintered ruin, and Sam slipped the gun from its hiding place and peered around the broken doorframe.

The empty shell that used to be his best friend was still crumpled near the door. It was something of a miracle that no actual firefighters had wandered onto the scene yet and
Sam was certain that the time on that particular piece of good fortune was rapidly disappearing. He could hear the rumble of the supposed firefighter’s low, slightly muffled voice, the words slightly indistinct, and the slightly higher-pitched tones from the yellow-eyed demon. Just as Sam angled for a better view, a reflected flash of light dazzled his eyes for a moment. He blinked and saw the firefighter pull an oddly-shaped and strangely shiny weapon from the host’s neck. There was a slight flick of one hand and the long knife (or was it a short sword of some kind?) disappeared. Whatever it used to be, the being dressed as a firefighter was no longer human and Sam adjusted his responses accordingly.

The faceless helmet turned to Sam, and he fought back a shudder at the thing’s obvious perusal. Then it turned to Dean and lifted Sam’s brother off of the floor with one hand before lifting him into a fireman’s carry. “We should go, Samuel Winchester,” the voice said, walking past him. “Your brother needs medical attention.”

By the time Sam had turned around to follow him, the gun still held in his hand, the thing had disappeared. Sam coughed as he hurried down the stairs, remembering to put the weapon away only at the last second, and saw it set Dean down on a gurney before stepping back and allowing the paramedics to swarm his brother. He lost it in the crowd for a moment and then the firefighter was gone completely.

The next few hours were a blur of paramedics directing him to the local hospital because there weren’t enough emergency vehicles and all three of them needed to be checked for smoke inhalation. Answers about Dean were frighteningly vague and for the first time in a long time Sam wished he had their Dad’s new number memorized. Dad should know what had happened. They needed to plan for the worst, to figure out how to defend the hospital from whatever that guy had been.

Ben had fallen asleep across the two of them, his head resting on Sam’s right leg while his feet dangled off of the edge of Jessica’s lap. There were tear tracks on his not-quite-clean face, but his expression was peaceful and his breathing was even. There was no sign at all of smoke inhalation, according to the doctor, and Sam was grateful. He could smell the smoke in his hair and on his clothes, though, and more than anything he wished for a shower. The scent made his stomach twist unpleasantly, and he could tell that Jess felt the same. But even greater than his longing to be clean was the fear that the doctor would come out to talk with them while he was gone and he would miss it, so Sam kept his butt planted on the uncomfortable couch with his girlfriend and his nephew. He hadn’t had much success raising his father on the telephone, but he had managed to get Bobby and Pastor Jim and those two were both on their way.

Jess had nodded off to sleep beside him, her head resting on his shoulder, when the doctor finally made an appearance. “Dean Winchester?”

Sam scrambled up, cradling Ben in long arms. “That’s my brother,” he said. “What can you tell us? Is he all right?” He dislodged Jess, but she would understand his abruptness.

“He’s doing quite well,” the doctor said. “We have him sedated right now, but you can come and see him once we’re done talking. We’ll be keeping him for a couple of days, just to keep an eye on him and watch out for infection, but he should pull through just fine.”

Sam felt his knees go a little weak at the knees, but Jessica was supporting him. “Thank God,” he said. Ben shifted in his arms, stirring but not waking up. “How is he? I really need specifics.”

“To be honest, I’m surprised that he doesn’t have any more serious burns. The majority of them are superficial, with some second-degree burns on his legs. The most troubling injuries are the wounds to his chest. Do you know how they happened?”

Sam thought about the way the demon had gestured and made his brother gasp in pain, blood blooming across the front of his gray t-shirt. “No,” he said. “Dean sent me out with Ben while he went back for Jess. How bad are they?”

“They’re not good,” the man admitted. “It’s strange. There are several puncture wounds, deep enough to nick internal organs, but I’ve never seen a pattern quite like this before. There was significant blood loss, and with the burns and the smoke damage to his lungs there’s definitely cause for concern, but we did manage to patch things up.” He seemed to pause, planning out what he would say next. “Did they bring in the fireman who pulled your brother out?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Sam said. This lie was easy to say. “He wasn’t injured. I think he just went back to the station. Why?”

The doctor shook his head and gestured for them to come back to the room. “The burns on his shoulder are particularly strange. I’ve never seen a burn victim with such strange scarring before.” The door to Dean’s room was open, though Dean’s bed was hidden by a curtain, and the three of them followed the doctor inside.

Dean was out cold, as advertised, propped upright and wearing an oxygen mask to make his breathing easier. There was a sheet and a light blanket drawn up to his waist and a hospital gown over his upper torso, though Sam could see the thickness of gauze bandages underneath. The doctor approached him and delicately drew the sleeve back. There, on his otherwise unharmed left shoulder, was a clearly delineated handprint of bright red burn.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
jujuberry136
Jan. 21st, 2012 04:01 am (UTC)
Thank you thank you thank you for a sequel!! It was awesome - I loved seeing Sam's take on Ben and how Dean has changed. Meeting Jess was nice, I feel like we actually got a chance to know her as a person instead of a plot device :D

And Castiel! Did not expect that at all - so sneaky, saving Dean from the YED so early in the story.

Awesome story, thanks for sharing!
faithburke
Jan. 21st, 2012 12:17 pm (UTC)
You are quite welcome! To be honest, the opening scenes from this one were the reason I started the first one. Therefore this story had to be written.

Jess is fun. The show never really gave her much of a personality, not even in flashbacks, so I'm free to make her as awesome and interesting as I like.
darkestnight12
Jan. 21st, 2012 04:14 am (UTC)
Oh my god. I love it. I love how Castiel makes his appearance before everything goes to shit. I adore Ben and Dean's protectiveness of him. Jess not dying was perfect, but I wonder how she's taking this new development and how it'll affect her relationship with Sam. Now that the big bad Azazel is taken care of and Jess is still alive so that Sam's vendetta never starts...what does that mean for the Lucifer arc? Will there be another sequel to this? ;DD
faithburke
Jan. 21st, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it!

I honestly have no idea if there will be more to this 'verse. I have no clue what happens.

I will tell you that if there is a sequel, it's going to take a while. I am currently signed up for five different big bangs.
shadownashira
Jan. 29th, 2012 01:06 pm (UTC)
This was an enjoyable read and a great sequel. I liked seeing daddy!Dean from Sam's perspective, and that Sam was a little leery but remembered how Dean raised him. Loved Castiel the firefighter (makes me snicker every time I think of it) and how BAMF he was.

I would love to read more in this verse! It would be interesting to see how things unfold with characters like Jess and Adam who never got much development in canon.
faithburke
Jan. 29th, 2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
Wow, thanks!

I have to be honest, I'm not sure what comes next. I have about three different directions that I have considered, but it's going to take a while to decide on one.
lidoshka
Jul. 6th, 2012 02:21 am (UTC)
damn that angel, can't get his hands off Dean!
=P

nah, I actually loved Castiel, he was kinda surprise, cause I was tentatively hoping for John Winchester to show up with the Colt maybe? so yeah, deux ex Angel thres me off. Still, it's all good because DEAN SURVIVED! and he now has a COOL AND SEXY SCAR!
XD

and yeah, Sam is in for a loooong chat with Jess, after which hopefully she won't dump him... and is she does stick around, she'd meet Bobby, and Pastor Jim, and if John checks his voicemail maybe even Papa Winchester!

thanks for the story! I loved Parental Evolution so I was really thrilled to see a sequel!
space_monkey52
Nov. 15th, 2012 05:12 pm (UTC)
Found Parental Evolution and loved it so I had to read this which was just as awesome. I really love the idea for this 'verse. Ben is adorable and so is Dean as a dad. I missed Sam in the first part but you made up for that in this story, especially with the interactions between Sam and Ben. The juice scene made me laugh. Also cheered when Cas showed up. Him poping up was definitely a surprise.

Anywho, ridiculously awesome job writing this 'verse. Any chance of more? *hopeful face*
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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