Dean's ears rang with the sound of Mia screaming, crying out for him to save her. He choked back the bad taste in his mouth and sat up, his head swimming from all the booze. A hangover was setting in but the nightmare had to stop. His senses cleared but the crying continued. He rubbed his eyes and the world became clear. Someone was calling his name. Crying out for him. A thud upstairs put him into action.
Glass bottles rattled and rolled across the floor as he pushed himself up and toward the sound, hand on his gun. He took the stairs two at a time and as soon as he reached the landing Mia's bedroom door flew open and she hit her knees in the hallway. Dean's heart stopped and he nearly fell down the stairs. He dropped to his knees, gun abandoned on the step.
"Dean?" she sobbed, holding her arms, staring at him with fear and confusion.
"Mia, I…" he touched her carefully, as though contact might burn him or his hand might move right through her and he'd realize he was trapped in a bad dream. But now; he could feel her. Her skin was still cool but warming up quickly. She was soft and supple and alive.
"What's going on?" she asked and Dean pulled her close to his side. "Sam he… I thought he killed me…"
He did, Dean thought, his arms clutching her tightly. With one hand he patted his pants pocket and realized the Impala key was gone. "Sammy," he whispered. "Hey, give me a minute and I'll come right back okay?" he said, pulling away from Mia. He stared her right in the eye. "I'm not going anywhere, I promise. I just need you to sit right here."
She was hesitant to let him go, but he was here now and she knew he'd keep his word. Shakily she pushed herself into the corner by her door, away from the stairs. Dean stood and walked down the hall to Sam's bedroom, Mia picking his gun up from the top of the stairs and holding onto it tightly. What in the hell was going on? Flashes of Sam beating her to death came back to her and she could remember the pain of it. She could remember calling out to Dean.
"Dammit it Sam," he said through gritted teeth, punching the doorframe. He took a deep breath and returned to Mia, sitting in front of her. "Mia… I don't know how to say this but.. Sam did kill you. Or more, the demon that possessed him killed you. I drove as fast as I could but," he hung his head, shaking it slowly. All those what ifs swirled around in his mind. "I didn't get here fast enough. You were already gone when I got here. Me and Bobby sent the demon back to hell but it was too late."
Mia wiped away a tear and grabbed his hand. "This wasn't your fault, Dean. I know you did what you could." She bit her lip and cupped his chin as he had done to her in the car, forcing him to look her in the eye. "I told you I forgive you because I didn't think you'd make it in time. I don't want you to carry the weight of what happened, I just want to know what's going on right now. I'm supposed to be dead and here I am and… and you," she bit her lip to keep it from trembling. "What's going on?"
"I think Sammy made a deal. His soul to bring you back."
She could see the despair in his eyes. "What do we do?"
"Don't know if there's anything we can do. My soul's already goin' to hell in a few months, I definitely can't make a deal," he shook his head.
"What about me? What if I tell them to take it back?" she asked, not willing to let Sam waste Dean's life, or his own on her.
"I don't know if I can let you do that. The only way they'd let you reverse it is to give your own soul them and you drop dead where you stood. I'm not going to let that happen again," he said, a little too aggressively. He calmed his tone a little. "Besides, they want us; me and Sam. There's no way they'd let him out of the deal."
"How long do you think he has? Maybe we can figure something out."
"Usually it's ten years. You get whatever you want but they send the hounds for you in ten years."
"Then we'll save you. Get you out of your deal, and then we'll work together to get Sam out of his."
"Mia stop," he said. "I understand why you and Sam are so set on tryin' get me out of this but I just don't think it's worth it. You and Sammy, you want something more for yourselves. But me? Hell even if I wanted to stop hunting, I don't know what I'd do with myself. This is all I've ever known."
"Have you given up?"
Dean looked at her, unsure of how to answer that. "You know I've always protected Sammy. I don't regret the deal I made. But I won't sit here and say I'm ready. I don't want to die, but I feel like I'd be even worse living without Sam."
"But don't you think it would be just as unbearable for him to be without you?"
"I don't know," he said, "I think he'd be fine."
"And I think you're a bad liar."
Sam pulled up to the house and cut the Impala's engine. What was done was done. Now he just had to explain it to Dean. Sitting in the car forever wouldn't save him from Dean's wrath, or from the way Mia was bound to look at him. She was alive and most likely awake right now and would remember him beating her to death.
He opened the front door and heard voices at the top of the stairs. Taking a deep breath he walked to the bottom of the stairs and looked to where Dean and Mia sat talking in the darkness of the hallway. His heart wrenched up in his chest as Dean stood, helping Mia up. He said something to her, too quietly for Sam to hear, and ushered her back to her bedroom, closing the door behind her.
Dean walked down the stairs to his brother, stopping on the bottom step. He didn't know what to say. So many thoughts rushed through his head, questions that begged for answers. But Sam spoke before he had a chance to sort out his thoughts.
"How is she?" he asked, hooking his thumbs in his belt loops.
"She's shaken up. Confused, but okay. Alive," Dean said, setting his jaw, eyes staring hard at Sam.
"I couldn't let her die like that. Not by my hand," Sam explained.
"So you made a deal?" Dean crossed his arms over his chest, doing his best to restrain his emotions on the situation. The last thing Mia needed was to listen to them fighting.
"Yeah," Sam admitted. "yeah I did."
"What was the deal?"
Sam didn't answer.
"What was the deal, Sam?" Dean growled, raising his voice a little.
"She's got ten years," he said, shifting his weight.
"For what? Ten for ten?"
"What do you mean, not exactly?" Dean didn't like the sound of that. Sam remained quiet and Dean took the last step. "Dammit Sam, tell me. Ten years for what?"
"I didn't want you to die alone, Dean. If I can't take back your deal then…" he couldn't finish it.
There were no words. Dean rubbed his face. He couldn't believe his brother would do something so stupid. "So I traded my soul to bring you back and you're going to throw it away like that?"
"What? Dean, I'm not throwing anything away. I appreciate what you did for me, trust me, I do. But you didn't want Mia dead any more than I did. She's alive now. She has a chance to make something of herself. And me and you… we'll go down together. If we find a way to break the deals then we'll do it but if we can't…I don't want you to die, Dean. I don't. I don't want to die either but I also don't want to go on knowing your blood's on my hands. And hers," he said pointing up the stairs. "I killed her Dean. I was awake for it all. I remember beating her to death with my bare hands while she begged me to stop. What was I supposed to do?"
Dean clenched his jaw and turned away.
"Could you have just salted and burned her bones and walked away without a second thought?" Sam pushed.
Dean couldn't answer that. He bit his lip, thinking back to only hours before when he'd leaned in to kiss her. He'd said he didn't have long enough to offer her anything and now Sam didn't either. "Go talk to her," he said finally, walking to the kitchen and returning with a bottle of whiskey. He didn't want Sam to go to her. She'd be gone for good if he did but hell, it wasn't like she felt toward her the same way he did her.
Sam watched his brother as he sat on the floor in the living room, tossing some logs on the fire to keep it going. Dean was angry and hurt but Sam felt that there was something else under his brother's skin but he didn't ask what it was. He let him pop open his bottle and take a swig, staring into the fire while Sam went to Mia.
He called her name from the door, rapping his knuckles on the door. There was silence, hesitation, then she told him to come in.
She sat on her bed, knees drawn up to her chest. Sam sat toward the end of her bed, nervous about getting too close. She was shaken up and skittish but she had every right to be. His eyes fell to his hands, then to the bruises on her face and chest.
"I'm so sorry, Mia."
"I know," she said. "I know it wasn't you. It was the demon. I don't blame you Sam I just… it's weird being around you right now."
"I understand," he said, starting to stand.
"Wait," she said, stopping him. "Would you think I was crazy if I said that I didn't want you to go?"
"No. No, of course not."
"So… how much of it do you remember?" she asked, hugging her knees.
"All of it," he admitted.
Mia nodded. "You know, I never slept with Dean. When we were gone all that time, it was my fault. This guy I used to date was causing trouble and I fell right into it. He hit me. Knocked me off my bar stool and Dean jumped on him. They followed us outside, where I sprained my ankle, and we drove. Out to the river. Sat out there and talked for a while." She swallowed hard. "He kissed me."
"Oh," Sam said. "I didn't know he and… you."
"I told him he was too wild for me," she said, noticing his change in demeanor. He seemed disappointed when she told him about the kiss but she couldn't admit her feelings with a secret like that hanging between them. She only hoped that Dean would understand, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to what had happened since then. "When I was trying to tell you about a guy that I had a thing for? I was talking about you. Don't look so surprised," she chuckled when his eyebrows went up. "I had a crush on you as a kid and I don't guess it ever went away."
"Really? Mia, the last few days, all the terrible things I said and did… none of that's me."
Mia sat forward on the bed, kissing him sweetly, her hand lingering on his neck. "I know. And although I think you made a mistake in bringing me back, I'm glad that I have the chance to tell you how I feel." He still looked a little dazed as she sat back, wincing with the movement.
"Why don't you get a hot shower and we can talk about this," he said, standing and holding an arm out to help her up. As much as he wanted to talk to her, it was gut wrenching to try with her clothes stained with blood.
"Thanks," she mumbled through gritted teeth, letting him help he along.
Mia closed the bathroom door, biting her lip and she smiled to herself. Sam heard the water turn on but he waited outside the door in case something happened. She reached down to pull off her shirt but pain shot from her shoulder and she let out a little whimper. She tried again and failed, leaning her hands on the sink. "Sam?" she called out, knowing he was still nearby.
"Look, this is…" she sighed. "I can't get my shirt off."
"Sam? You still there?" The door opened slowly to reveal Sam, looking a little flustered. He closed the door behind him but made no move to help her, unsure of what to do. Mia laughed at him. "Don't look at me like that, I really need help."
He gulped as she faced him. He grabbed the hem of her shirt and slipped it up over her head. She flinched in pain, taking the shirt from him and set it on the sink. She looked up to thank him but his eyes weren't on her face; they were on the bruises that darkened her skin. His touch was so gentle as he reached up to touch one of them.
"Hey," she said, drawing his eyes back up to hers. "That wasn't you."
He didn't reply. There were no words that could describe how he felt about what he had done to her but there was still something that needed to be said. She'd kissed him and in doing so told him how she felt about him. But he hadn't said anything to her about where he stood.
Sam took another step forward, gingerly wrapping his arms around her. She returned his embrace, looking up at him to study his face. He'd done so much over the few days that showed nothing but the demon that had possessed him. It was time that he showed her the side of him that she claimed to care for so much.
Steam began to fill the bathroom as Sam kissed her again, his hand cradling her head. Her fingers tangled in his hair, pulling him in close. Deep purple bruises throbbed with every move but it was worth it to be in his arms. His hand slid up the curve of her back, unhooking her bra with ease.
She was caught up in his strength and the passion of his kiss, taking the pleasure with the pain as he lifted her and put her on the counter. She bit her lip to keep from crying out when she pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it aside. Her nails bit into his forearms as she came down from the pain.
"We can stop," he said, panting into her lips. She was hurting but if she'd allow him, he'd show her that his strength could be controlled. He could be passionate and gentle with her.
"No," she said, relaxing her grip on him, fingertips gliding up his arms and down his chest.
Sam slid her bra straps down her shoulders, freeing her breasts. She moved to cover herself shyly with her arms but he grabbed her wrists gently, pinning them to the wall.
"You don't have to be shy," he said, his mouth warm and wet on her neck, his body hot against hers. He let go of her hands, her back arching into him as he trailed down her arm to trace the curve of her breast.
Mia wrapped her arms around his broad shoulders and pulled him close, feeling him press between her legs. Her fingers traced his belt line, moving over the curves of his muscles, grinning when he bit her lip. She pulled his belt loose and he kicked his boots off, his hands never leaving her body.
Sam slid her jeans off and she unbuttoned his pants, letting them fall away. Mia gasped when he entered her, moaning into his mouth and wrapping her legs around his waist, pulling him deeper. He cradled her in his arms, keeping his rhythm slow and steady, reining in his own desire to be wild and passionate with her.
The last memory she had of him before her death was blood spattering his face and a wicked smile on his lips but that memory was fading fast, replaced by the heat of him and the loving way he touched her. She moved her hips against him, pain mixing with the sweet sensation of him moving inside of her and she wanted more of him; to make him a part of her. No matter how much of his skin she touched, he still didn't seem close enough.
"Sam," she moaned into his ear, his fingers digging into her flesh as he restrained himself. Her head swam, legs tightening around him as she climaxed. The hot pulsing of her around him sent him over the edge and with one more thrust he came in her, breathing heavily into her hair.
They held each other close, steam thick and white around them, sweat trickling down their bodies but she didn't want to let him go. She clung to him as if he was the only thing keeping her from slipping away. He would hold her until she was ready to let go, no matter how long it took. Had he known what she was thinking, he never would have let her go.
"Sorry, I don't know much about this whole deal business but let me get this straight," Mia began, leaning into the doorframe. She'd been listening to Dean and Sam discuss what to do. Or more, Sam talking and Dean drinking and arguing with him. It really was like he'd given up on saving himself but she knew he just wanted to save his brother and Sam had given his own life for hers. She felt like she was intruding. "If your deal is broken, Sam dies. And now if Sam breaks his deal, I die."
"That's how it works," Dean said, taking another swig. "And I've never heard of anyone goin' back on a deal."
"But it must be possible. I mean, if there's rules and consequences, there has to be a way," she said.
"She has a point Dean. There has to be a way," Sam repeated.
"Stop Sam, just stop," Dean snapped, fire in his eyes. "God I've had it with this constant back and forth over what to do."
"I'm not going to stop," Sam shouted. "Not until I know that you're going to live. That we're both going to live."
"Is that what this is about Sammy? You think that since your life is on the line too that I'm going to help you find a way out of this? Well what if it doesn't go the way you plan?"
Mia slunk away to the kitchen, leaving them to argue. At the end of the day it wasn't about them. Not really. She knew that Dean felt some way about her, though he'd never said as much but he was harder than Sam. His brother meant more to him that anything, even his own soul. Dean would have had a hard time burying her or burning her bones, but he would have done it and moved on. Their shouting match in the living room was growing louder and her hands trembled. She had to do something to stop them. To put their lives back to the way it was twenty-four hours ago.
She exhaled, pressing her hands into her palms to stop the tears she knew were coming. She knew what she had to do and it would be the hardest thing she'd even done.
"I know what to do," Mia said, calling Sam and Dean's attention to her.
"Mia, what are you doing?" Sam said, noticing the gun in her hand.
"I'm setting you free Sam."
"Don't do that Mia," Dean said, taking a step closer.
"Stop Dean," she said, freezing both of them in their tracks. "Please just stop. We all know how to free Sam and that's what you want more than anything right? You can't say it isn't. I remember when we were kids and you were his protector. I was so envious that he had someone who loved him that much. And now you've given your soul for him? And for what? Him to waste it on me," she said, unable to hold back tears and she cocked the pistol.
"You're not a waste Mia," Sam said.
"I didn't mean it like that," Dean said, remembering his conversation with Sam when he'd come back from the crossroads. His stomach wrenched up inside him and he knew she'd heard what he said. "I didn't want you to feel like that. Just, put the gun down."
"This is the only way to break the deal," she said, putting the gun to her chest. "I want you guys to bury me, say what you want, then drive away. Get in the Impala and drive as far from here as you can. It's what I want. It's my last wish."
"Mia," Sam started, but she interrupted him.
"I love you two. I have since we were kids," she said, choking on a sob. "I wish I hadn't have wasted so much time and now… now I can give you time, Sam. Time to save Dean. Do you think you can do that? Find a way to get him out of this mess?"
Sam' fists clenched at his sides, a hard knot rising in his throat.
"We love you too, kid," Dean said, his voice shaking as he edged nearer to her. She was so far away. If he could just get closer maybe he could stop her. "You know I can't let you do this."
"Goodbye Dean. Sam. I'm glad I got to see you again."
They were at her side as soon as the shot fired. It seemed to echo forever through the house. Dean caught her before she hit the floor but she was gone before he touched her. Sam stroked her hair, his tears falling into the black locks and he leaned into her. Dean hid his face in the crook of her neck as he had in the Impala and he wept.
In the end Dean couldn't make himself burn her bones. He and Sam gave her a proper burial, soaking the soil with holy water. Sam got a bad feeling about it but his brother was dead set on his decision. They covered the grave and did what Mia had asked them to do. They got in the car, drove away and never looked back.
The Impala roared down the highway and Dean never moved, never flinched. The sun was setting on the horizon when Sam decided he couldn't handle the silence anymore. He'd noticed a trinket hanging from the rearview mirror; a silver wing. He hadn't ever seen it before and although he knew Dean must have taken it from the house, it was his way to start a conversation about what they'd just experienced. "What's that?" he asked.
Dean set his jaw, adjusting his grip on the steering wheel. "It was Mia's."
"Do you want to talk about what happened?"
Sam sighed, used to getting shut down by his brother. "Dean, I want to make sure this never happens again."
"And how do you plan on doing that?"
"We can't trust these pendants," Sam said, ignoring the bitterness in his brother's tone. "They can get pulled off, broken, stolen, lost… I think we need to do something more permanent."
Dean got the idea. Tattoos. It was their best bet at doing what they could to never have another incident like what happened to Mia. "Fine. And Sam?"
"I don't want to ever talk about this again."