Category: Gen, Drama
Spoilers: Early S4
Summary: Sam's forced to make a devastating choice when Dean becomes infected with a supernatural plague.
Word Count: 2,152
Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters are the property of Eric Kripke and co. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This is for entertainment purposes only; no financial profit has been gained from this story. This story is not mean to infringe upon the rights of the above-mentioned establishments.
Sam burst into his motel room. The dead weight of Dean's upper back and shoulders pressed against his chest as he backed into the room, while his two companions lifted and carried his feet. They were careful not to trip on anything as they moved toward the bed and dumped Dean's body onto the sheets.
Immediately, Sam went to work. He uncoiled rope from his bag and started to tie Dean's hands and feet to the metal bed frame. He tried not to look at the boils that were forming on Dean's arms or his face. There would be time to worry about that later.
"This isn't going to work," one of his companions, a hunter who only went by the name Smith, told him as he stood by the bedside. Sam had become acquainted with Smith during Dean's time in Hell, much to his chagrin, but he wasn't denying the hunter's help this time.
"We have to try something," Sam said.
"Try what?" asked the other hunter, a woman Sam didn't know. "There is no cure."
"Tabby's right," Smith said. "Once infected, there's no going back. We've got thirty minutes tops before he's contagious."
One look at Dean and Sam knew they were right. The spots on Dean's face and neck had already turned a bluish color, when just ten minutes ago they had been an innocent shade of pink. The bacteria worked at an alarming rate, and once it came to the surface, Sam knew no quarantine would prevent an outbreak.
But he couldn't give up. Dean had been back a month. He couldn't lose him all over again.
"You and me both know we can't let this spread," Smith said. "The diseases the bunyip carries spread fast."
"Its main objective is to infect as many people as it can." He heard Tabby swear. "Bringing him back into the city was a rookie mistake."
"Tabby," hissed Smith.
"Its true. I would've thought a Winchester would know better."
"I wasn't going to let him die in the swamp," Sam said. He turned to her, his face dark. "This is my brother."
"Then be a good brother and do something." She motioned to Dean's unconscious body. "Don't let him be the cause of an epidemic. You know what you have to do."
Sam knew. The bacteria couldn't thrive if its host's tissues stopped functioning. The best way – the only standard way – to stop this supernatural disease was to take out victim zero.
Yet, if these hunters knew anything about Sam, they would know he was anything but standard.
Smith must have sensed Sam's hesitation. He stepped forward and withdrew his 35mm. "I can do it for you."
Sam shook his head. "I'll do it. It has to be me."
With a nod, Smith stepped back. He didn't seem convinced, but at least he gave Sam room to breathe.
"He's going to awaken soon," Tabby said. "The first thing he'll do is beg you to untie him. It's not him. It's the disease talking. Don't listen. You got it?"
"I got it."
Sam edged closer to the bed. For now, Dean looked peaceful, as if he were just in a deep sleep. When the bacteria roused him, he knew this would be much harder.
"I need to do it alone." He glanced over his shoulder. "Leave."
Tabby hesitated, as did Smith, and it was apparent they didn't trust him to do the job.
"Stay outside. You'll know when it's done," Sam said quietly.
They finally relented and moved to the door. With a soft click, the door shut, and Sam found himself alone with his diseased brother.
Sam cursed whoever brought the creature from Australia. If they had left well enough alone, he wouldn't be in this predicament right now.
He shook his head and sighed. "Why did you have to jump in front of it?"
Then, what he feared the most happened. Dean started to stir.
He opened his bloodshot eyes. "Sam?"
Dean glanced down at his hands and feet, giving them a shake for good measure. His eyes found Sam. "What's this?"
"Sorry?" He jerked his hand, frowning when it didn't break loose. "You getting kinky on me, Sammy?"
Sam let the misplaced humor go. He had no desire to play Dean's little verbal sparring match. Not when he literally had twenty minutes left with his brother.
When Sam never responded, Dean moaned and closed his eyes. Beneath the rope, he struggled, rubbing so hard against the mattress and the binding that Sam was afraid he would prematurely break one of the infected boils. Finally, he opened his eyes. "You got to let me go, Sam. I got to go."
"I can't. You're infected."
He shook his head. "I'm not sick, man. Just let me go." He squirmed again under the restraints, a light sheen of sweat now forming over his skin. "Come on, I got to go. I need to go."
Sam ignored him and walked over to his own bed. Quietly, he picked up one of the pillows and walked back to where Dean was fighting, now more frantic than ever, against the rope that kept him bound.
"I know I…I haven't…" Sam couldn't finish the words.
In the months that Dean was away, he had been on his own, aside from Ruby's instruction. She had been a means to an end for him, a way to find Lilith, to be strong enough to kill the bitch that claimed his brother's soul. Somewhere deep down he thought maybe everything he did would help to find a way to bring Dean back. But somewhere after the third month, he'd started to give up hope that he'd ever see Dean again. It was him and Ruby now, and his world focused on Lilith and Lilith alone.
Dean's sudden appearance had thrown him. He wanted to hold onto his brother and never let go, for them to both find a way back to the how things had been before he'd died. Sam knew that wasn't possible. He knew Dean couldn't be a part of what he was doing now. He knew Dean needed to rest and regain his strength.
Or maybe he just didn't want Dean to be disappointed in him.
Either way, he'd kept his brother at arm's length. Maybe it was because Dean seemed different to him somehow. Maybe it was because Sam was different. Or maybe it was because he was afraid to hold on only to find Dean would be gone again.
Now, he was going to lose Dean again, and everything he'd done seemed so far away. They were just starting to be brothers again. And now he was going to lose it.
"Sam, come on." Dean's voice was heavier, raspy, as if he was struggling to draw breath. "Lemme go."
"I wish you could know," Sam told him.
For a moment, he thought Dean understood. Somewhere, beyond his feverish eyes, he had seen through Sam and knew how hard his absence had been. He understood how Sam had missed him and how afraid he was to draw close again. He knew he cared.
But the lucidity was gone as quickly as it had appeared, leaving Sam to wonder if he'd imagined it.
"I need to go. Sam, I need to go."
Time was running short. Sam couldn't keep dwelling on the past. He took the butt of the gun and whacked Dean on the temple. He fell limp.
Without another word, Sam took the pillow and covered Dean's face. He paused, took a deep swallow, and withdrew his gun.
Two shots rang out through the motel room.
A few minutes later, Sam exited the motel room with a body covered in white sheets. Smith and Tabby both looked simultaneously impressed and heartbroken.
"Didn't think you had the balls," Tabby said.
Sam said nothing as he brought the body to the Impala. He laid it across the back seat and hopped into the driver's seat.
"Sam, where you going?" Smith asked.
"I'm going to burn the body." He glanced down at his watch. "Sterilize the room for me?"
Smith nodded, but before he could ask any more questions, Sam had peeled out of the parking lot and was speeding down a dusty dirt road out of town.
The Impala spun its wheels over the dusty roads. The dirt kicked up like a dust storm, not only obscuring his view, but also leaving a fine coat of brown all over the finish of the car. The Impala was a mess, but Sam didn't care.
He glanced at his watch again. Seven minutes.
There was a clearing in the woods up ahead. He slammed the car into park and jumped out, grabbing Dean's body and dragging it toward the opening. Inside, he could see Ruby standing with her arms crossed beside on old oak tree.
"You dragged me out here for this?"
"Ruby, just get started."
She sighed but complied. Sam could see she had already started working some kind of spell in the clearing. He had learned long ago not to ask what was involved. It was better not to know.
She pointed to the spot where Sam should place Dean. With a grunt, he dragged Dean's body into the center of the circle she'd created. Sam was careful not to knock any of the candles, or the bowls filled with God knew what, and remained focused on unraveling the loosely tucked sheets from around Dean's body.
He cringed when he was done. The bluish colored spots were now a deep purple, each filled with a round pustule that vibrated.
"Nice, Sam." Ruby leaned over and made a face. "Could you cut it any closer?"
"I had to lose the hunters," he said. "As it is, they'll figure out I blew the bed and not Dean as soon as they see the lack of blood."
"Yeah, whatever. Leave it to me to clean your mess." She walked to the center of the circle and stood over Dean. Her voice echoed a light enchantment over his unconscious body.
Violent spasms overtook Dean. He convulsed once, twice, his eyes snapping open only to reveal his bloodshot whites. Then, as soon as it had started, it was over. Dean collapsed onto the ground, his breathing heavy, but without a sign of the boils that had littered his body.
"He's clean. Or as clean as he can get."
Sam glared at her, but he couldn't stay mad long. Ruby had saved Dean's life again.
In the center of the circle, Dean started to moan. His body shook from the cold air on his damp skin.
Sam turned to Ruby. "Now go so he doesn't see you."
"So much gratitude." She rolled her eyes. "Be sure to give Dean my tab when you finally tell him the truth." With that, she vanished.
Sam went and grabbed a blanket from the Impala, and when he reached the center of the circle, he brought Dean's shaking body to a seated position, draping the blanket over his shoulders. His eyes were glassy and unfocused, but he was breathing and the pustules had gone.
He swayed, his shoulder bumping into Sam's, before he righted himself again. "Where're we?"
His voice came out slurred, but at least he lacked the frenzy Sam had heard in his voice just twenty minutes ago.
"You were stung by a bunyip," Sam said. "You ran right in front of the thing."
Dean seemed to consider this, and then gave a sloppy grin. "I was totally badass."
"Badass until it stung you. What the hell were you thinking?"
To this, Dean fell silent. Again, Sam thought he saw the same ache, pain, and regret, the same understanding of how it hurt for them to be apart, swirling there beneath Dean's tough exterior. He knew he cared. More so, they both knew right then the lengths they took for each other.
Dean didn't need to say a word. Sam suddenly understood by the gravity in his eyes.
The bunyip hadn't moved to attack Dean. It had been after Sam. Dean had intervened.
"We're so not getting touchy feely in the middle of the woods," Dean muttered. He made a grabby gesture for Sam to help him to his feet. When Sam hoisted him up, he swayed again, but didn't push Sam's guiding support away. Instead, he frowned, looking down at the circle. "You doing voodoo?"
"Just something to help." He ushered Dean away before he could ask too many questions.
To his relief, Dean didn't say anything. He still seemed dazed enough to give Sam time to make up an appropriate story to keep Ruby out of it. He couldn't tell Dean. Just not yet.
But when he did, he hoped that Dean would be by his side and they could finish this together.