Last Chance 6

AN: I'm glad everyone enjoyed my descent into madness last chapter wherein I discussed the nature of feet and the people who have them. I added a new one to my list of things I hate about feet: Feet with a second toe so long that even when they are wearing a sandal with a half inch platform said toe is still long enough to dangle over the edge of the shoe front and leave drag marks in the dirt while it's brother toes are so short they barely peep over the edge. (Drawing back in horror, I assume) When said toes are also hairy (think Bigfoot) I defy ANYONE to be able to smile at a customer and say through grit teeth "Those look really great on you!" When what you really want to say is, "My God, put that thing away, there are children present!"

Seriously...where the hell do they put a toe like that in a closed in shoe? Comb it and then roll it up like a party horn?

(You're looking at your toes now aren't you?)

AN 2: Gets grip on self. A few weeks ago I spent the weekend with my favorite partner in crime and my best effort at corruption, Gaelicspirit, her patient husband and their three year old little ball-of-fire daughter, who, for reasons I will never understand actually likes me. Waves at Mo Chuisle.

We had a great time seeing a movie in a theatre where they actually serve food in the movie like a restaurant. You order from a menu and they bring it to your seat; there's a table in front of each section of chairs with cloth napkins and real silverware, anything from pasta to a box of Goobers. And the drinks, the place included a full bar, come in real glasses. (I collect coasters; beer mats to those of you who don't know what a coaster is, and they had their own private label ones, my fave kind, I literally have hundreds, so I stole some). Unbelievable. It was wonderful and unique and a lot of fun. We saw Daybreakers, which unfortunately I can't say the same about, but the company was perfect.

Gaelic and I also went to a solo concert with Aaron Lewis, the lead singer for the group Staind (compliments of Gaelic's lovely husband. Hugs husband virtually) which was great, more enjoyable to me because of getting to see Gaelic experience in person, someone whose voice and words mean so much to her. It was so foggy on the way back from Kansas City, I think Gaelic navigated by smell because you couldn't see twenty feet in front of the car.

Gaelic, on the other hand, got to watch me stumble around half blind after I tore one of my contact lenses Monday morning, the day before I was to go back home. I am legally blind without my lenses. People say they're blind without they're glasses, but I actually am. 20-750 in one eye and 20-850 in the other. My field of focused vision is approximately 4 inches from my face. The new ones I had ordered didn't arrive before I left for Kansas, they came the afternoon AFTER I left. Of course. I managed to get the eye doctor to find a ground ship service that was running on Martin Luther King Day (no mean feat there) so that I would get the lenses on Tuesday at some point. Then I had to call work and tell them why I wasn't gonna be at work Tuesday with a story that sounded trumped up even to me. Right up there with the dog ate my homework.

Do you know what a true friend is? Someone who will still go to lunch with you in public when you can only see out of one eye and have NO depth perception (I poured coffee all over her counter trying to fill my cup); will grab your arm to keep you from wandering off the sidewalk, enter your pin number because you can't even tell where the screen is, read a menu to you and manage not to laugh out loud while you hold a pair of chopsticks up to your totally bad eye so it has something to focus on so you can at least look out of the good eye while you try to talk. (Then again she may have been laughing her ass off, I wouldn't have been able to tell...) I held the menu over my eye for a while, but decided the chopsticks were more subtle. (You can make yourself believe anything...)

I know the people at the table across from us were torn between morbid curiosity and a sense of how nice it was that that lady would take her obviously mentally deficient friend out to a public place and be so at ease about it. (Gaelic had to tell me what I was eating and where it was on the plate). For those of you who aren't severely nearsighted, a side effect of NOT having your corrective lenses on is to literally put your face as close as possible to EVERYTHING to see what the hell it is and get a really good look at the texture of whatever it is. I've spent a lot of time studying the lines on my hand and I have a serious compulsion to look at the weave of fabric. The fact that said fabric is being worn by someone at the time is not a deterrent to me.

Gaelic has the patient tolerance of a saint, let me tell you

I gave up being one-eyed the next day and just ran blind which meant I sat 12 inches from their nice new BIG TV set and watched DVDs of SN while Gaelic and her husband got on with their lives. I could only focus on small parts of the screen since my face was basically against the glass, and yes, whenever possible those parts had Dean in them.

Therein I discovered one nice thing about being so frigging blind I had to get that close.

I got to see every twitch, eyebrow cock, lip curl and oh-so-subtle facial movement that Dean has in his bag of tricks better than I ever had WITH my "eyes" on.

I'll take whatever silver linings I'm offered.

AN 3: Look! There's actually a chapter! Fior me it is a long one, and it is the end. If you enjoyed the above AN's, you may want to quit now while you're ahead... I hope this chapter isn't too disappointing, it's high on gag factor, but I fear low on quality, but anyway, it's the last one. Vanessa I wish it could have been better, but I think I got everything on your request list in some version or another.

AN 4: Seriously, if you have a problem with bugs, you've been warned.

AN 5: Gaelic, always Gaelic

Chapter six: Never Look Back

The blow to Sam's head as he was snatched out of Dean's grasp didn't put him totally out, but left him too groggy to do more than hang limply in his captors grip as he was hauled through the blackness, held under the thing's arm like a sack of feed. His bound feet dragged along uselessly, unwilling to respond to his commands, his aching head bobbing sickeningly.

By some miracle his headlamp had stayed on, but was canted at such a severe angle he had to turn his head sharply to one side and roll his eyes as far as he could to the left to see ahead of them, but the erratic movement of the light was nauseating. The creature paused briefly now and again to sniff loudly at the air before moving on in a direction it obviously knew well.

The thick, rough hair of the muscular leg that brushed against Sam's face as it walked smelled like formaldehyde and the continued immersion in the scent, coupled with the blow to his head left Sam pretty sure he was gonna be puking sometime soon.

He reached out, the palm of his hand smacking against the side of the tunnel, but sliding loose before he could even try to grab anything. The unpleasant ride continued for several more minutes until the chemical odor grew suddenly worse and was joined by the unmistakable smell of blood and rotten flesh as they entered a large open chamber.

Sam retched helplessly, trying not to choke as he was slammed to the ground on his back, the breath blasting out of him.

Struggling to draw air- even the thick, rancid air of this hole- into his shocked lungs, he heard a strange squish sound above him, and twisted his neck awkwardly to try and get the light to where he could see.

His first close-up look at the Avae caused him to choke on what little breath he could get.

Corded muscles rolled under the pale, thickly matted hair covering the part of the creature's body he could see as it crouched over him. Long arms ended in wide hands with thick fingers, each tipped with a curved talon that made a bear claw look harmless by comparison.

It kept its head facing forward but cocked at an angle as if listening. Most of its face was covered with more hair but the area around the mouth was shockingly pink and bare. The mouth was a round, loose-looking opening; almost circular, with jagged teeth of varying lengths jumbled in it like a pile of jackstraws around which the lips could not close. It sucked air in wetly through this aperture, then snorted it back out again through a broad nose, thick ropes of drool falling unnoticed.

The upper part of its face was almost flat with two slight, hair covered hollows where there should have been eyes.

As Sam watched in disgusted horror, the squish sound continued and gelatinous goop began to drip from the Avae's broad palms. It dribbled across Sam's chest and belly with a heavy, wet heat.

The Avae began drawing the slime over Sam's body with its hands, in back in forth movements. Sam cried out and tried to rouse himself enough to struggle, scared at the lethargy of his muscles, but the crap dried to the gummy consistency of rubber cement, tightening perceptibly, so fast that before he could even twitch he was bound as tightly as a fly caught in a spider's web.

After several minutes, apparently satisfied somehow with its handiwork, the Avae grunted, turned away Sam and shambled a few feet away, crouching down again. Soft thrumming sounds and gentle grunts began to fill the air as it attended carefully to something on Sam's right, his view blocked by the creature's body.

He turned his head to the left.

He yelled again, recoiling in horror from what that lay next to him, but unable to actually move further away.

Dull eyes stared sightlessly at Sam from the mangled remains of a bloated face, mottled skin skirted with graying beard, a dark, swollen tongue lolling from the slack lips. A quick flick of his head showed Sam the blood-blackened uniform of the missing guard, his body twisted and bent unnaturally. Translucent bugs scampered over the body and as Sam stared in horrified fascination, a pale centipede ambled out of the left nostril, down to the open mouth and proceeded to disappear inside.

His skin attempted to crawl off his body as he gagged and snapped his head away, his repulsion meter shooting off the scale. He was not at all grateful when the movement shifted the lamp back toward the center of his forehead as the Avae stood abruptly and shambled away into the darkness.

Giving him an unobstructed view of what lay on his right.

Sweat rolled off Dean's body in sheets, even though he was shivering. Magic powder or not, Dean couldn't imagine that thing not being able to smell him coming from a mile off.

Stumbling as he moved along the tunnel wall, his flashlight-gun combo held unsteadily in his left hand, the throbbing ache that was his right arm hugged against his belly, he forced his mind to concentrate on finding his way to Sam. Getting his eyes to cooperate by focusing on the tiny dots on the screen of the tracker was another matter.

Sweeping his arm across his eyes, blinking to try to clear them, he squinted at the tiny screen from time to time to get his bearings and make sure he was moving in the right direction.

Dean pressed close to the cold stone wall, trying to move quietly, smothering his coughs against his arm as much as he could, every spasm making him feel like his head was splitting in two. He might be able to muffle the coughs but the raw drag of breath sawing in and out of his lungs was harder to hide. The backpack on his shoulder was a dragging weight that forced him to lean forward in an exaggerated effort to keep his balance.

He was both gratified and chilled when a sweep of the light revealed blood splatters on the ground amid tumbled rocks that told him he had arrived at the point where Sam had been taken. The sensation of once again feeling his brother being ripped from his hands left him shaky and dizzy and he went awkwardly to one knee to keep from falling, allowing himself a brief moment before shoving back to his feet, using the wall as a prop.

Holding the light at an angle that allowed him to see ahead, but showed enough of the rock-strewn floor to keep from stumbling or tripping, he followed the rough tunnel as it turned to the right before splitting into two openings a dozen yards later.

"Fuck," Dean spat, staring at the rift. Angry frustration welled up in him as he stared at the two tunnels. He could take one branch and go far enough to hopefully be able to tell if he was going the right direction, but then he would have to backtrack and who knew how many twisted or joined tunnels there might be.

"FUCK!" he snarled again, kicking out at the ground.

Pain flared up his arm to join the party in his head, doubling him over with a low groan. The downward movement of his flash washed over the lower outside edge of the opening on the left and he jumped forward, momentarily forgetting his pain, reaching out to rest his hand on the smeared, but obvious print of a palm and five fingers burned in blood on the stone wall.

He stood, rocking unsteadily, bracing his good hand on the wall. Eyes closed, he sucked in a couple of strained breaths, trying and failing, not to cough. It was becoming a toss-up as to which hurt worse, his arm or his head, although his head had the added deluxe extras of unfocusing his eyes and sending his balance to hell.

Pushing past the pain with a herculean effort, Dean shone his flash down the left hand tunnel, face tightening at the sight of blood droplets splattering the tunnel floor, but their presence telling him Sam went this way. He moved on, the light played over the ground as he tried to avoid a misstep on the rocky and uneven floor, afraid if he went down he wouldn't be able to get back up. It was hard to hear over his own ragged breathing and he stopped moving, holding his breath from time to time in an effort to discern any noise that would indicate he wasn't alone.

Reaching another branch after a short distance he paused again to listen. Glancing at the screen on his tracker he could tell he was closing in and that gave him a brief rush of adrenaline, adding shaking to his list of physical complaints.

The closest to a rest he allowed himself was to lean against the stone wall as he tried to figure out which tunnel to take. No telltale bloody handprint was present to tell him which way to go this time.

Mopping his face with a forearm, he smothered a sneeze in his elbow and damn near knocked himself over.

"Shit..." he growled, disgustedly wiping his nose on his sleeve. Sniffing several times he stopped suddenly and switched from trying to clear his nasal passages to scenting the air, wrinkling his nose as a cloying odor caught his attention.

Stunned he could smell anything, he crept forward a few feet into the right tunnel and sniffed again.


Moving back he crossed to the left tunnel and went in, testing the air. Even in his clogged state he could smell it, curling through the air, thicker with every step.

Rotting flesh and a dozen other things Dean couldn't identify rolled down the narrow tunnel toward him like death fog, thickening the air as he walked on. Raising his gun to light the way, heart starting to race, he fought the urge to call out Sam's name, knowing his brother's atterntion might not be the only thing he got.

Sam wanted to close his eyes, had in fact, but they traitorously opened again trying to satisfy some macabre curiosity quirk in his brain that had apparently lain dormant until this moment.

Sam knew the twisted figure to his right was what was left of Ruth Denby, the missing worker from the rail car that had been attacked two months prior. He had seen her picture, a strong looking, heavyset woman in her fifties with dark red hair and blue eyes. The only physical resemblance now was the matted dark red hair. She had been smiling in the picture, but the taut rictus of her lips now, was a cruel parody of that moment.

Her clothes had been torn away, lying about her like a shed cocoon, her body reduced to nothing more than a thin papering of parchment shriveled over bones, skin so transparent the veins and arteries were tattoos of red and blue lines mapping her body.

Hands twisted into fists were drawn over her chest; whether they were there as a result of pain or an initial effort to cover herself was impossible to tell.

His eyes were drawn to the grotesque swell of her belly, a huge missdhappen mass that stretched her flesh impossibly from her breasts to her crotch. Even in the flickering light Sam was sure he could see a shape through the delicate covering of skin. As he stared, the shape inside her shifted and rolled lazily, like a monstrous animal searching for a more comfortable position.

The movement rolled Ruth's body toward Sam. He yelled in horror as her face came clearly into view.

Her eyes opened.

And his light went out.

The sound of Sam's voice crying out, galvanized Dean. His own pain forgotten, he surged forward, made a sharp turn and found himself in a stalagmite-filled cavern- the stench instantly becoming ten times worse.

"SAM!" Dean yelled, Avae be damned, trying not to inhale. He swung his flash all over the cavern, searching for any visible sign of his brother.

"DEAN! God, Dean, over here! I can't move!"

Stumbling over rocks and what looked like an incredible number of animal bones, Dean fought his way around a large outcropping of rocks, his light finally falling on Sam, tightly wound in webbing that was apparently solidly stuck to the ground.

"Sam, thank God..." Dropping the backpack, Dean would swear to the day he died he knelt carefully next to Sam, but in truth his knees buckled in more of a controlled fall. "Are you okay?" he tried to shine the light on Sam, but couldn't handle the fact that he had to point the gun at his brother to do it. "Hang on," he panted, digging his knife out and slashing the flashlight free.

"I'm okay, I think. I just can't move. Careful," Sam warned, "the guards body is right next to you." The sight of Sam thrashing his head back and forth would have been comical under any other circumstances.

Dean flashed the light to his side and flinched, hissing at the sight of the guards mangled remains. "Jesus-" He swallowed hard. "Hold still, I'm gonna cut you out of this and we're gettin' the hell out of Dodge."

It was difficult to do left-handed; using his right hand wasn't even an option; it no longer responded to orders to move, but still managed to send burning pain up his arm if it shifted position even slightly.

Slicing the sticky webbing off of Sam was like cutting honey- covered rubber bands, but after several awkward minutes he managed to get Sam's side free enough for his brother to pull out an arm and get some leverage to extricate himself. Whatever toxin produced the muscle weakness initially from the webbing had worn off, and with one side free it didn't take long for him to struggle out.

Dean was rocking unsteadily on his knees, the hand with the knife falling limply to his thigh. He wasn't aware he'd slumped forward until Sam's caught his shoulders.

"Whoa, Dean. Christ, you're burning up-"

" 'm okay...just winded...let's go before...that thing comes back-" Dean allowed Sam to drag him to his feet, nausea rolling through him. Sam's hand was gripped tightly around Dean's upper left arm as Dean swayed, sending the flashlight beam arcing wildly.

"Wait," Sam said tersely, "We can't leave her like this-" He bent down and grabbed Dean's gun.

"Leave who...?"

Sam grabbed Dean's hand and moved the flash to illuminate Ruth Denby's deformed body. The creature growing within her shifted heavily.

It was too much.

Dean gagged, twisting away from Sam to vomit.

Sam lifted Dean's gun, mouth tightening as Ruth blinked up at him.

The first bullet went through her head, the second through her belly.

A quick rummage in the backpack and a few quick turns of duct tape had the flashlight re-strapped to Dean's gun. Reaching down, Sam hauled Dean back up to his feet, ignoring the pained sounds his brother was making.

Another quick sweep of his hand snatched up the softly glowing tracker and he thrust into Dean's left hand.

"I can't take point and watch this, you have to help me find our way out. Can you walk?"

Sam knew Dean would make no effort to save himself if he thought it would endanger Sam. Sam knew that he had to give Dean a job, a purpose, a mission. He could feel how far gone his brother was; finding and freeing Sam had been the only thing that had gotten him this far. If they were going to get out of this mess—together—then he knew his brother needed to feel as though he were saving Sam once more.

Dean reeked of sweat, vomit and blood. He was barely conscious and burning with fever; Sam wasn't even sure he even knew what Sam had said, but he nodded and gestured shakily with the tracker, his voice a hoarse rasp.

"Out of this hole...then right..."

Sam nodded, gripped Dean's upper arm once again and pointed the way with his light.

The claw wounds on his ankle where the Avae had gripped him stung and ached, making him limp, but he was prepared to crawl if that was what it was gonna take to get them out of here. The only noise was the scrape of their feet through the rocks, wheezing breaths and Dean's unwitting sounds of pain as they hurried down the tunnel, following his gasped directions.

It couldn't have been more than fifteen minutes when they heard the scream echoing down the passage they had come from. It was an ear-shattering cry of fury and grief on a level so primal, Sam actually felt a stirring of sympathy.

"There!" Dean's hand shot out, drawing Sam's attention to the tiny flash of a red light ahead.

They had reached the ledge!

Sam's light hit the other backpack he had shoved over the ledge and the dangling rope was the best thing he had seen in days.

Dean stumbled and fell as his legs gave out and he went sprawling. Agony exploded as his right shoulder hit the ground and he almost blacked out, grateful to just be still.

Sam didn't give him the option. Grabbing Dean under the arms, Sam dragged him to the rope and looped it under Dean's arms, wrapping the rope several times around Deans forearm and hand.

"Grab this!" Sam snapped, closing Dean's fingers around the rope. "Hey!" he barked, seeing Dean's eyes close. He slapped Dean across the face, hating himself.

Dean's eyes popped open. "The fuck..." he murmured in bleary surprise.

Sam closed Dean's hand over the rope again. "Hold onto this!" Sam ordered, relieved to feel Dean's hand close reflexively around the rough hemp. "Dean! You hear me?"

Blinking, Dean finally nodded. "Yeah...I hear..."

"Good!" Sam tossed the gun onto the ledge to give himself light, then jumped up and grabbed the rope, shamelessly using Dean's good shoulder for a step as he pulled himself up the line, dragging his body over the ledge.

Once on the ledge, he turned the light forward and grabbed the rope again; bracing his boots against the most sold rocks he could find and began to haul in the rope. Pain from his injured ankle sharpened his attention as he pulled, grateful and relieved to see Dean appear over the edge, releasing the rope wound around his arm to try and find a grip to heave himself up.

Sam scrambled down to the edge and grabbed Dean's good arm, dragging him roughly over the top, buoyed by Dean's broken invective.

"I gotcha," Sam panted as they lay there, chests heaving, his arm wrapped tightly around Dean's chest.

A not-so-distant warbling cry snapped Sam's head up. "Shit." He pushed to his knees and started pulling on Dean. "We gotta move!"

Dean groaned and rolled his head. "Can't..."

"My ass!" Sam spat. "Get up!"

He swiftly untied the rope from its mooring and began crawling up the rocky slope, feet sliding in the loose rocks, sending them cascading down on Dean. He made it about ten feet then wound the rope around the outcropping of rock that held the deer antlers that had impaled Dean, flashlight revealing the bloodied tips of the horns.

"C'mon, you lazy bastard! Move!" Sam cursed, alternating between climbing and hauling, knowing that his curses would penetrate the fog of pain and sickness that was almost-visibly wrapping around his brother.

It took several agonizing minutes and a lot of creative swearing, but he finally managed to get Dean up the slope in two jumps, literally shoving him out the original opening they had fallen through onto the mining tunnel floor.

The Avae's whining barks sounded below them as they disappeared into the upper tunnel. Sam leaned back in, shining his flash and taking a shot as he caught sight of the whitish fur of an arm coming over the ledge below them.

He saw the bullet drill into the creatures upper arm as it disappeared with a howl of pain.

Sam backed out of the opening and grabbed Dean under one arm hauling him upward.

"RUN!" Sam yelled, dragging Dean along with him.

Somehow, after a few false starts, Dean managed to get his feet under himself and break into a stumbling run, compelled more by Sam's urgency than any real thought. There was no reasoning, no sense of peril. He just did what he was told. When he faltered, Sam shoved him forward, the light from the flash bobbing wildly as they struggled up to and past the rail car, still shrouded in its cloak of webbing.

Behind them, the coughing barks had become furious howls, bouncing and echoing up and down the tunnel, closer with every passing second.

Dean collapsed at the bottom of the staircase, chest heaving, out of his mind with pain.

"Gimme...the gun!" he wheezed, coughing, holding out his good hand. "I'll hold it get outta here..."

"Are you outta your fucking mind?" Sam yelled. "I'm not leaving you here for that thing!" He yanked on Dean's arm, trying to pull him up, staring down the tunnel as he spoke; they had less than minutes.

Dean groaned. "Sammy, no..." He'd lost interest in anything that wasn't rest, but he couldn't ignore Sam's desperate pleas, no matter how much he wanted to.

"Get UP! You can play hero some other time! Dean, please!" Sam reefed on his arm once more, the fervor of his will shaking from his body and into Dean's.

Despite himself, Dean began making an effort to rise, the hundred feet of shallow steps above them looming higher than Mount Everest. Somewhere in the past few moments his fever addled brain had forgotten why it was so important, but if Sam wanted him to climb, then he'd climb-

Howling suddenly filled the air and he was shoved forward by Sam, sent sprawling against the steps. A mass of grey white fur exploded out of the blackness at them. Sam turned and fired; three blasts in quick succession.

Sam went down under the weight of the creature, landing on Dean's legs, crushing them painfully against the wooden steps, but the Avae didn't move again.


"I'm okay!" Sam snapped, not wasting time. "Are you?" he wriggled and twisted, dragging his legs out from under the beast. He caught Dean under the arms and pulled him up a few steps.

Dean was shivering. The flash revealed bright new blood staining the bandages wrapped around Dean's arm and hand. The bottom of Sam's own pant leg was wet with fresh blood where the Avae had clawed him.

"I've been better..." Dean gasped, cradling his arm, lying exhaustedly against Sam's legs. "I think I'm...gonna be sick again..." He swallowed hard, looking down toward the heap of greyish fur below them. His head fell back. "Is it dead?"

"God, I hope so," Sam replied, "Let's get the hell out of here." He got wearily to his feet, "C'mon," he said gently, taking Dean's arm once again.

"Do we...have to?" Dean coughed, every inhalation a groan.

"You want to stay here?"

"If it means I don't have to move..."

"It's just a little further," Sam said, being as careful as he could trying to get Dean up.

Dean looked up the stairs to the far away door. "'s a fucking mile..." he rasped.

"Well it's not gonna get any shorter standing here. We gotta get outta here before the morning crew shows up." Sam made an exasperated noise when Dean resisted yet again.

"What about that?" Dean asked, nodding toward the Avae's still form.

"They can stuff it and put it on display for all I care." Sam growled. "C'mon for God's sake. You need to be mainlining some serious antibiotics."

"What I need is a drink," Dean replied, allowing Sam to put an arm around his waist, Dean's good arm over Sam's shoulder as they began to struggle up the steps.

It was the longest one hundred feet of Dean's life; every step jarring his battered body as he tried to lift one foot after the other and move up. He was so hot he was surprised the wooden rail didn't just combust spontaneously when he touched it, not to mention the fact that everything was sliding in and out of focus. The only thing keeping him on his feet was Sam as they struggled upward.

"You can do it..." Sam kept murmuring in an apparent effort to be encouraging.

"I know I can do it!" Dean finally yelled; it was his intention to yell anyway, but it came out more of a pathetic yelp. He heaved for breath, dropping his head on his forearm where it rested on the rail. "I just don't fucking...want to. God...I feel like shit..."

He leaned over the rail and retched weakly. Sam gripped his belt to steady him, giving him a moment. "C'mon, it's just a little further," Sam urged, tugging gently when the spasms stopped.

Dean cleared his throat and spit, mopping his face again, then nodded, taking as deep a breath as he could. "Yeah...okay..." Grunting, he lifted his leg, settling his boot on the step below the door that led back to the mine lobby entrance.

Sam fairly lifted Dean the last few feet, so grateful to see the heavy metal door he felt like kissing it. One final step and they were through the soft half light of the lobby a welcome embrace.

Dean literally melted out of Sam's arms, collapsing to the floor to lie on his back, breathing heavily, thanking God for the cold tile floor, shutting his eyes in relief as Sam leaned back against the door to close it.

Seeing the door suddenly burst back open, sending Sam crashing into a display case, where he floundered helplessly, stunned, trapped in a morass of broken wood, glass and tools had such a surreal slow motion quality to it that Dean thought he was hallucinating.

The sight of the Avae filling the doorway, screaming in ear-splitting pain and fury, fur blood soaked from the wounds in its chest and shoulder, told him otherwise. Adrenaline Dean didn't know he had left pumped through his body, electrifying him as the enraged creature lurched toward his trapped brother.

"NO!" Dean screamed, struggled to get to his knees, his right arm refusing to support him.

The Avae ignored him, somehow seeming to know Sam was responsible for its agony. It was obviously in its death throes, but determined to take Sam with it, even as it staggered forward, clawed hand reaching out for Sam's foot.

With no memory of how he did it, Dean was suddenly standing, feet braced apart, left hand death- gripped around the handle of the display pickaxe he had seen when they had first arrived. He let fly with an arcing, backhand swing that buried the pointed blade in the center of the Avae's spine with a satisfying thunk.

With a scream more horrendous than any before the Avae reared back and clawed madly at the iron stake buried in its back.

Sam scrarmbled madly to get out from under it as it abruptly fell forward in a heap, twitching as its nerve endings conveyed the message to its brain that it was dead.

Still on his back, arms bleeding from the broken glass of the case, Sam stared open mouthed at Dean, rocking unsteadily on his feet.

Dean's mouth quirked in a crooked grin, eyes burning fever- bright, arm wavering as he pointed at the Avae. "Told you that'd make a great weapon..."

He was down before Sam move an inch to catch him.

"How's the arm?" Sam asked as he watched Dean flex his fingers, grimacing.

After a hastily contrived story about falling down a ravine and being gored by a startled buck, two days in the hospital for Dean, some minor surgery, the truckload of antibiotics Sam had predicted-not including the three prescriptions Dean was pretending weren't in the glove box-they were now back in another scummy motel for a three day rest at Sam's insistence.

Sam's clawed ankle and various glass cuts had caused Dean more concern than his own injuries, and he had agreed to the additional break in deference to Sam's (somewhat exaggerated) limp.

Now, though, they had packed up the Impala and were readying themselves to hit the road.

"Hurts like a bitch," Dean replied in surprising candor, his voice still hoarse and scratchy. "But everything works. Sort of." He slid behind the wheel, finding comfort in the sound of Sam's door shutting with its trademark screek. He knew he wasn't at full speed yet, planned on letting Sam drive after a few hours, but wanted the feel his baby tremble under his hands for a while.

"You were in such a hurry to go," Sam said, working to find a comfortable position for his legs. "Where are we headed?"

"Gonna pay a visit to Bobby's friend and express my gratitude about how well his magic dust worked as Avae repellant," Dean replied with a smile, bringing the engine to life and wheeling the big car around in a circular turn, heading them toward the nearby interstate.

" didn't work," Sam said, eyeing Dean suspiciously. "Not really, and it made you even sicker-"

Dean nodded, still smiling, looking straight ahead. "I know."


"He damn near got us killed, Sam," Dean said, matter-of-factly. "I'm gonna see the guy, tell him what I think of his dust, rip his other arm off and beat him to death with it." Dean continued as though he were talking about grabbing a six pack at the corner store. He glanced at Sam. "It won't take long," he assured.

"Dean. Be serious. You're not gonna do that."

"Hide and watch."

"We're not gonna go…threaten some guy..."

"I'm not gonna threaten him."

"Dee-een! The dude's already down one arm-"

"Then he damn well better learn to eat with his feet," Dean said grimly, gunning the Impala and turning the music up.

The End

End Notes: I hope it didn't suck too much. It's my last ride on the carousel for a while so that I can pursue some other projects. I'll be mainly doing art, banners and posters for other people for SN stories and such. I'll still write something from time to time I'm sure, but I'll be here, watching and reading.

If I could, I'd light a candle for every one of you who sent me a review or lurked, or even just thought about me. Positive vibes can always be felt, they're never wasted and like rain in a parched desert, breath life into an arid soul. You will never really understand how much your gentle rain has meant to me.

For that beautiful gift, I thank each and every one of you, known or unknown.

Ta so much.