Car keys jingling in his hand, Sam closed the door of the motel room firmly behind him and trotted to the Impala, letting out a gusty sigh of relief as he dropped gratefully into the driver's seat.
Sam loved his brother more than life itself, but lately he was starting to miss how quiet he'd been in hospital.
Mostly around the fifth time in ten minutes Dean asked what time it was. Or when he wanted to know why there wasn't anything good on T.V.
Or the many, many times Dean had proclaimed himself to be "fine" and he was ready to go out and kick monster ass.
Sam got it, he did. For Dean, downtime was worse than the injuries themselves. He wanted, needed, to be out and about. Driving. Hunting. Fighting. Whatever. The only time he ever wanted to be in bed was to sleep, or when he was indulging in some "Sammy Time", as Dean called it.
Not that there'd been much of that lately. Per doctor's orders, Sam had been – well, withholding was probably the best way to put it. It hadn't been a popular decision, for either of them.
Starting the car, Sam started to crank the radio, then paused.
Now that he thought about it, the doctor had said that Dean should abstain for at least a week.
It had been six days, today.
Treating Dean to some Sammy time one day early couldn't hurt.
No, he decided after a minute, breaking into a wide, anticipatory grin. It definitely wouldn't. Especially if he did all the work. Which Sam was more than happy to do.
Sam pulled into the parking lot of the local Safeway, going through a mental shopping list, trying to figure out what he could pick up for dinner to smooth out his brother's agitated edges.
Roasted chicken sounded good. And maybe a couple of those twice-baked potatoes from the deli.
And dessert? Sam grimaced. Pie, of course. Not for himself, though. He was seriously pied out. The last week was a blur of freaking pies. Apple, peach, chocolate cream, blueberry, strawberry freaking rhubarb for fuck's sake.
Whatever. Didn't matter what he went back with. Whatever it was, Dean would be happy.
He had a sudden inspiration and grinned wide.
Whipped cream! He could think of a lot of things the two of them could do with whipped cream. Slapping it on top of a piece of pie was the least of it.
Looking forward to the look on Dean's face when he found out sex was back on the table, Sam parked the car toward the back of the lot and trotted into the store.
As the automatic door closed behind him, a lone figure approached the Impala and, after a short struggle with the back door, slipped into the car.
The chicken and twice-baked potatoes were no problem, but it took longer than it should have to get the rest of what he needed. Sam had been in the store just a few days earlier, but the store was reorganizing their dairy department and it had taken him forever to find out where they'd hidden the Extra Creamy Cool Whip.
He'd had trouble with the pie, too. There'd apparently been a run on pies, and they didn't have a lot left. He'd settled on Boston cream, and then picked up a platter of fudge brownies in case Dean was feeling deprived.
Grocery bags dangling from one hand, Sam unlocked the Impala, depositing the bags on the passenger seat before sliding behind the wheel. It was only when he shut the door that the smell reached him, sickly sweet and rotten. His eyes widened and he started to lunge for the door, but a shrill scream split the air and a strong arm snaked around his neck from the back seat, jerking him back.
Sam didn't waste time trying to push away the arm around his throat, just grabbed for the gun beneath his jacket. Before he could pull it free, a knife clenched in a dirty, long-nailed hand drove for his throat and he dropped the gun into his lap and grabbed the hand, trying to force it away.
The cry came again, deadly in its intensity and intent. "Murderer!"
Dean would be pissed if his little brother died in a Safeway parking lot, killed by what Sam was damned sure was the only ghoul they hadn't managed to kill a week ago.
Not that Dean would know what the hell had happened. The thing would probably eat him and then steal the fucking car!
The thought about the agony Dean would go through if Sam allowed this to happen sent a shock of violent energy through him. With a growl, he put everything he had into his next push. The blade went back one inch, then another, and then with a wild screech the thing in the back seat jerked the blade away and leapt into the front seat beside Sam.
No words now from the monster now, just maddened screams as it stabbed at him. Sam was able to deflect the blows into the upholstery, and damn, Dean was going to be mad when he saw that, and then one blow got through Sam's defenses and plunged into the meat of his right shoulder.
He screamed and the creature cackled in satisfaction, punching the blade in further, and drawing another hoarse cry from Sam. Then it pulled the knife out and tried to plunge it in again.
Yelling hoarsely, Sam lunged forward into the ghoul, narrowly avoiding the next knife thrust, and knocked the thing onto its back. It banged its head against the door and, momentarily stunned, lost its grip on the knife.
Without hesitation Sam snatched it up and drove the blade straight into the thing's throat, cutting off its rage mid-shriek and turning it into a ghastly gurgle.
Groaning, Sam pulled himself off the ghoul's body and sagged back onto the driver's side, holding onto the steering wheel and fighting to stay upright. Breathing choppy, he looked around the parking lot to see if anyone had seen, or heard, but he'd gotten lucky. The store hadn't been too crowded, and the owners of the few cars parked near the Impala were apparently still inside the store.
Shaking as the adrenaline slowly started to drain away, Sam stared at the ghoul, sprawled half on and off the seat. After a moment, he leaned over, gritting his teeth against the pain in his shoulder, and pushed it the rest of the way to the floor, then clumsily pulled off his jacket and flung it on top of the corpse.
He sat still there for another minute, trying to get it together enough that he could drive. His cell phone rang but he didn't pick up, knowing who it was. Dean was just going to have to wait.
Then he saw something else.
Something really terrible.
The plastic grocery bags that he'd placed so carefully on the passenger seat had been crushed beneath the bloody struggle. The chicken, the potatoes, the cool whip and the brownies – the fucking pie - was toast!
His cell phone rang again, and Sam uttered a heartfelt curse.
He'd been fucking stabbed. The Impala was trashed. Dinner was ruined.
But worst of all?
Sammy Time was gonna have to wait.